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Of Grace and Singaporeans

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  • Jiahui Cai
    On occassion, I have found myself embarrassed at the lack of grace and courtesy of Singaporeans. As I type this, I am fuming but time and age has mellowed me
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 16, 2009
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      On occassion, I have found myself embarrassed at the lack of grace and courtesy of Singaporeans. As I type this, I am fuming but time and age has mellowed me so I will sleep well and awaken to an early morning physiotherapy session.

      I did a duathlon yesterday, the first I've ever done. It's a 3km/15km/3km race and I did the bike component on a unicycle because

      1) I don't have a bicycle (most important reason).
      2) I ride a uni better than I ride a bike.
      3) I would enjoy the race more.

      There you go. I don't need medals, I don't care much about coming in first and winning the applause of all and sundry, I run my race at my expense (of energy).

      My uni comes with a handlebar which I grip to ease the weight from my seat and I travel at a relatively lightweight average of 15km/h throughout on the left of the road, a very comfortable pace that's faster even than the slowest cyclists. At my fastest, I was probably moving at 19-20km/h. I don't believe I went slower than 13km/h at any point in time.

      I took precautions to slow down at U-turns to let faster cyclists bypass me and most importantly, I've been stuck dead last through the third of the race so there's no way I could have proved a road block.

      My first run took me 16.5 minutes, the cycling took an hour exact and the last run spanned 18.5min. I believe that to be a rather decent time and if anything, that's testament to how I was not, at any point in time, so tired out that I'd not have full control of my legs.

      About a third into the cycling, I got hit from the back by a bicycle. There was about 15-20cm of space between me and the curb, we were on a 2 lane road blocked of traffic and judging from the handlebar marks on my back, I have sufficient reason to believe he was trying to cut me from my left. He hit my wheel with so much force, I flew backwards while my uni flew forward.

      When I got up, the guy was looking at his bike so being incredibly pissed, I let loose a string of choice words at him. He looked down, paced around, never uttering a word. No apology, nothing. I sat on the curb for a couple of seconds, felt fine, then went on with the race.

      That was it. Or so I thought.

      Today, I received word that the person has lodged a complaint to the event organizers about the 'person on a unicycle who caused an accident' without elaborating on how. I emailed back with bits of what I've written above and am awaiting correspondence.

      Being quite curious and fully aware of the power of anonymity of the internet, I googled about the race. Then I came across, in particular, this post as extracted from here (http://www.triathlonfamily.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=7102). I quote

      "...On this occassion there were at least 2 idiots (at least) competing at todays race. Actually, one was just a fool and the other a total coward....

      The first is the moron on the unicycle (race organisers should never have allowed this in the first place). A unicycle on a narrow course with people going at all speeds and of varying ability, is asking for trouble. Of course that trouble resulted in a number of people crashing on top of this idiot who must have thought it was funny to use a unicycle in arace. I doubt the person taken hospital as a result of your stuipd, selfishness thought it was funny. I can only guess this person (I think it was a woman) is so starved of attention that they would do anything for it...."

      I doubt if the guy who hit me was taken to hospital because he was definitely walking around - not limping - as I spent the next 5 minutes after the accident yelling at him. I'm not sure where the 'number of people crashing on top' of me came from - perhaps some errant bicyclist lost a wheel mid-race and decided to pass that off as a unicycle.

      There have been countless opportunities where these people could have came to my face and told me off for my 'recklessness' but they were too polite to. But obviously not too polite to not resort to bitching on the internet about me.

      When I go for a run, a race, I do it for my own personal satisfaction; as leisure; as enjoyment and I don't understand why it becomes so serious an affair for people to want me banned because of the what ifs (yes, this has been recommended by some). Am I more dangerous than a leisure cyclist who has never ridden distance in his/her life? Am I more dangerous than cyclists on rental bikes that might fall apart because of ill-maintenance? My hands were on my handlebars so they weren't flailing into the eyes of competitors and at 15km/h, I don't wobble. What makes me a threat? That I'm slow? I don't see that as a valid point because regardless of your competitors' skill, you DON'T endanger their lives by charging blindly.

      For the record, the men's race started 10 minutes ahead of the women's and given that AND the fact that he was riding a bike, he wasn't going fast enough to not be able to avoid me when he saw me up front. But because I decided to keep my peace and ride on, I am now made scapegoat.

      In future, if this does happen, I'm taking the matter to a road marshal before continuing no matter how small the incident is.

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