January 9, 2017
We’re back from an extended New Year holiday but what better way to kick off 2017 than with a Club Focus featuring Singapore’s biggest and most iconic cycling club … the JoyRiders. And who better to speak to than the lady who started it all, the fabulously famous Joyce Leong.
When did you start the Joyriders and was there any particular catalyst to forming the club?
I celebrated my 50th birthday with a bike ride for over 25 friends back in January 2006. I had no intention of starting a cycling group but somehow the group grew after we formed a Yahoo forum for the group. That’s how the “Born to Ride” slogan was created … so it was a birthday ride that started it all!
How many Joyriders are there at present?
Officially we have over 2,000 registered members and on Facebook we have 2,893 followers.
Could you ever envisage having so many members when you started out?
Not at all because running was the craze back then … not cycling. And the best was just after three years, JoyRiders was awarded the POSB Everyday Champions Award and received the trophy from President Nathan back in 2009.
I’m proud of the fact that we are helping to keep the community healthy and our number is still growing, making us the biggest cycling group in Singapore!
How do you manage such big numbers on the road?
Simple, we break up the group according to pace, so we don’t block the roads and other road users. On Saturdays we have as many as five trains running every 20 minutes and within each train we break them up to different speed levels. Safety is our number one concern, and educating riders and other road users to share the road!
What’s the ratio of male to female members?
Over the last five years we have seen an increase with female riders. As for the ratio, for every 15 males, there’s at least one female!
How long have you been cycling personally and what got you started?
I used to be a marathon runner, triathlete, adventure racer but because of a back problem with my L4 and L5 discs pinching on my nerves, I had to give up running and became a full-time cyclist. That’s how JoyRiders continued to exist! I was basically riding six times a week … partly to ensure all things are “riding” smoothly along!
How many bikes do you own?
One Rocky Road Mountain bike, two collector road bikes – Vitus and Serotta (no longer in production), Ciocc, Cervelo and Bianchi.
And what about the club, is there a bike sponsor or a favoured brand?
Two bike shops are JoyRiders main supporters, BYX Bicycle and Bikes n Bites. Both shops offer discounts for their services, bike parts and bicycles to our members.
The Joyriders are an international bunch, how many nationalities are within your membership?
I’m proud to say we have JoyRiders members around the world, expats who are members in Singapore will continue to be members and represent JoyRiders wherever they are! It is great because when we travel we always have friends to cycle with, to show us the best routes and the best places to eat or hang out! It’s great for networking too!
We have members in America, Canada, South America, Europe, Africa, India, Australia, New Zealand, China/HK, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and of course, most members are in Singapore!
How does somebody become a member of the Joyriders?
To join JoyRiders there will be a one-time S$120 membership fee which comes with a JoyRiders jersey and the JoyRiders black T-shirt. Go to joyriders.sg to find out more about how to sign up. After that, the following links will be sent to you to complete your membership: Yahoo Forums, Facebook, JoyRiders APP and Database for emergency contact.
Members are required to wear JoyRiders jerseys for safety, bonding and identification reasons for weekends and public holiday rides.
The Joyriders kit is very distinctive; who designs it and is it a conscious decision to maintain a certain familiarity from year to year?
Consistent identity is important and our “snail logo” is definitely very eye catching! We are grateful to JoyRiders member Kevin Thio and his company Yellow Octopus who created that logo.
Why the JoyRiders snail? Just after we had the group name as JoyRiders, I had three bad falls caused by: stones on the road along Lim Chu Kang; a pedestrian crossing the road on West Coast Road when it was our right of way; and a fallen tree trunk around the bend in Neo Tiew, Kranji. After that I was always posting “who would like to join me for a snail-pace ride” during my recovery. So that’s how the snail got stuck.
Then we had different colours of JOY for different years. We have covered most colours but from now onwards we will just have the three major colours of white, black and red JoyRiders jerseys. We also have our 10th anniversary jersey.
Do the Joyriders have any sponsors?
Sponsors are mainly JoyRiders members who are working with their companies because they know we don’t collect yearly membership fees and we do need money for jersey production, banners, website and other costs. Sponsors over the 10 years of JoyRiders include, League, Samsung, Nissan, Landesk, Brunel, BYX, Bikes n Bites, IFan, Nunn, Alcatel Lucent, Rockwell Automation, Edgen Murray, MicronDr, SIS, Ball Watch, UOB Bank, Cunningham Lindsey, Powerbar, Polar, Ascend, Schneider Electric, and Crampfix.
Do the JoyRiders have any signature weekly rides?
We ride six days a week with Monday our day off. One of the rides on Saturday is dedicated the newbies and we have wonderful leaders Chris Neo and Yoong Hwee who are consistently advising and giving guidance to new riders. To me they are the most important front line as they educate the newbies to ride safely from the start. On Wednesdays and Fridays at 5am we have rides for advanced newbies. Other days we break into different train paces so as to make the packs smaller for safety reasons.
On Saturday we start our first train at 4:40am – named as the Secret Society because of the early ride time so that they will be back for the 6am ride after their 36km loop. By starting so early, the Secret Society cyclists are able to clock over 100km and can still be home for 9am for their family or work. Of course, on Saturday we also have a round island ride for those who are training for Ironman.
The full Saturday menu is: 4:40 am, Secret Society, 36km; 5:30am, Steady Stress Free; 5:40am, Newbie train; 6am, the biggest group which we break into smaller trains; with a 6:20am Soul Train for those who prefer a later ride.
On Sunday we have the 6am hill training ride and the 6:20am recovery train. On weekdays, we start at 5am so riders can go to work, send kids to school, etc.
What about weekend post-ride venues; do the big bunches have any favourite coffee shops or hawker centres?
On weekdays it depend which route you take, there are three choices – Kranji, Clementi or Newton. Kranji and Clementi rides end at Amoy Hawker Centre in town for juice. Newton ride ends are at Newton Hawker Centre. Weekend rides depend on which train.
The Joyriders don’t just stick to the roads of Singapore do they? How many overseas trips does the club organise and what’s the biggest number you’ve taken on a single trip?
We have trips every month! Our biggest trip was in August 2016 where we had 60 sponsored riders to Lake Toba in Sumatra, Indonesia. We were the only cycling group in Singapore to be sponsored by them! The ride was partly to promote tourism to Lake Toba. So it was great that we were recognised as the biggest cycling group in Singapore!
What’s on the Joyriders calendar for 2017?
Plenty. Thailand, the Philippines, Japan, different parts of Italy, and at least five times to Malaysia to train in Fraser Hills and the Cameron Highlands since Singapore doesn’t really have any hills at all!
We like to end with a big of humour, so do the Joyriders enforce a sock length rule?
Ha ha ha, no sock length rule! But we like to look good even though we can’t ride fast!
And how about the shaving question; are hairy legs discouraged?
In fact, I remember one of the Christmas party, we had a contest for the most hairy legs!
The Joyriders adventures must have created many funny/strange stories; any one incident that stands out?
Hmmm, can’t think of any at the moment … but our parties are fun! We had guys dressing up as females to compete with the ladies!
But I’d like to mention that the JoyRiders have been invited to participate in the National Day Parade 2017 – which I think it is a fantastic milestone for us. With that we hope to continue our messages of promoting cycling and sharing the road with others.
Photos courtesy of JoyRiders.