On 6th May 2012 my former hons students Meryl Then (aka Otter Girl) and Amanda Tan (aka Gallus gallus Girl) joined my cycling kakis, Zendogs, on a ride to Changi Village.
And now I am really happy to share they have just completed their first Otter Trail guided bicycle tour from Changi to Punggol, talking about mangroves, red jungle fowl, otters and other aspects of nature and the environment in these areas. They had the support of Zendogs and other Raffles Museum Toddycats for cycling safety and nature guiding and covered 37km with participants.
A previous organised ride I had managed was Pedal Ubin, whose origins lie in June 1999. After more than a decade, I ended that series as Pulau Ubin had become much better known to all, and after most of the land had been returned to the state in preparation for reclamation (deferred in 2002), NParks had sign-posted the island well and good maps were available online.
Also, the third generation volunteer Pedal Ubin guide pool and project managers were tired. I had moved on to full-time teaching in 2007 and had no energy or time to train a fourth cohort of guides. So we retired the project in July 2009 with a farewell rideubin.rafflesmuseum.net page
As I rode with Zendogs almost every week this year, we enjoyed the many safe routes the park connector network had to offer us around Singapore. It had matured to a point a decent 40km ride could be made – that’s the width of Singapore!
However, most students and friends I talked to were still unaware of the opportunities available to them. Although I talked about these opportunities in lectures and at public talks I wanted to introduce a ride on mainland by our young volunteers in Raffles Museum Toddycats.
So in July 2012, three years after retiring Pedal Ubin, a new ride has emerged to take into account new spaces which have emerged in Singapore. its mostly not even secondary forest but the onset of restoration and recovery which participants will see along the way. We’re done with reclamation in much of the north-east, sliver of mangroves persists and otters have returning to seek refuge in some of these new spaces.
The students leading the ride went from suaku to gung-ho over two years, working on species biology projects. They have previously communicated their projects with stakeholders and public alike and now can mix it up on this cycling trail.
And you no longer need a mountain bike to handle our ride, a foldable will do!
I think the best part was – I was not there! Well, not so happily stuck at home with flu and fever, there were enough tweets and Facebook photos for me to feel happy and blog about in the Raffles Museum Toddycats page.
Congratulations to the team and I’m looking forward to more in the years to come!