End of the Road – Tampines Mountain Bike Trail

On 1 December, the Tampines Mountain Bike trail officially ceased to exist. To make way for another housing estate to house the 6.9m population.

I first discovered this place right in the backyard of Tampines town way back in 2008. Back then, it was one big place with some challenging knolls, some small streams to cross and many many small trails criss crossing the places. Although not technically very challenging, it was a worthwhile alternative to the crowded MacRitchie. The only problem then was that it was a very rugged place without any toilet facilities and shelters. 
You can see more photos of the original trail here when we did a Eastside Trail Run.
Then in 2010, it was split into the Tampines Mountain Bike Park and Mountain Bike Trail for the Youth Olympic and 3/4 of the place was taken away from non-mountain bikers. Still there was a good enough 5 trail with a challenging 1 km narrow jungle trail complete with mud pool and stream, a small climb and breathtaking scenery.
When I moved to Pasir Ris, I ran there more often as it was just a 10 minutes run from my home. It was literally a run in my own backyard. But last year, the government announced plans to redevelop the area for Tampines North estate and that sounds the death knell for the place. After a short reprieve, the Bike Park closed last month and this month, the Bike Trail closes too. I managed to do a literally final run there on the morning of the closure. As I came out of the trail, the workers were putting up the fencing at the trail head. 
Here are the final photos of the place. 
The 1km stretch of jungle trail that is permanently muddy and wet. I have a video of a run I did there sometime ago in the mud and water. Rather long and boring but if you don’t mind taking a nauseating ride through the choppy video, the link can be found here

There are lot of wide open field like this with narrow trail

The view from the top of one of the small hill

This is my favourite part of the trail. Running under this canopy of trees

The death knell. Closed and gone but cherished with fond memories.


Tampines Mountain Bike Trail – Going Going?

Some time ago, the HDB had plans to close down the Tampines Mountain Bike Park and redevelop a new township there. There was some hue and cry and apparently they agreed to shelf the plan for the time being. But that seems to be only for the Bike Park and not the Bike Trail, the other part of the mountain biking trails there.

I first ran there back in 2008. It was a beautiful place, quiet and with some nice knolls to climb. Then they split it into the Bike Park and the Bike Trail with the Bike Park only for bikers. Quite sad but still it was a good rugged trail especially the forest trail with its twists and turns and mud!
But now it seems like the bike trail is going the way of the Dodo bird. The last time I ran there was barely 2 months ago so it was a great shock when I ran in today to be confronted by this:
A freaking cemented road where the dirt track used to be. And there are clearing work of the plants on the right.

Here are more photos of the place and the devastation. Previously and now

The main trail going inward

The main trail now (going outward)

 The wide open field just behind the 2 sheds with the main track in the background

The same open field now. Photo taken from the main track

The small stream coming down from the knoll where everybody always had great “fun” splashing through the water

Now a main part of it has been covered up. The way down from the knoll is no longer accessible

Looking at the work being done, it looks like they are building a main road in. Probably to facilitate the movement of the construction vehicles. The clearing of the vegetation is now confined mainly to the right so it will appears that Mountain Bike Trail is a goner cos the left is the Bike Park which will be left intact. So likely they will keep the Bike Park and build HDB flats on both side of it. What a waste!

Lion Dash Sprint 2012

A friend invited me to go down and look see look see. This is supposed to be the local version of an international event. So it being at the Tampines Mountain Bike park, I walked over to kapo. The website promised participants “a badass mud and obstacle race” with up to 10 – 15 kickbutt obstacles over a 5km route. On its website is the question: Are you a lion?” presumably because lion are fierce creatures but unfortunately, the participants turned out to be more “angry birds” than lion.
I reached the venue at 10am. There wasn’t a big crowd. I wanted to get my media pass but was told by my friend not to bother. His words: “No need. Its a mess. Just go where you want”. Hmmmm sound bad but from the look of the sparse number of participants walking around, nobody seem angry or frustrated. In fact, there was much cheer and laughter.
I walked around. The first obstacle I saw was this ramp where participants had to climb up a rope ladder and slide down. Not very interesting. Took a few pics and went on my way into the park.
Came next to a artificial mud pool. Now this looks more interesting. The participants came thick and fast. Some ran gingerly across the pool. Some jumped in. Some flew in. One angmoh rolled across the whole place. Majority seems to love the mud and went cavorting in it. It makes for choice photography. Too bad my lens was not long and fast enough to capture the action close up. I venture near once and immediately got mud splattered on my body from one over enthu lady who was flinging mud at everybody! Sighed.
Beyond the mud pool was a sort of “tunnel” which was just some black canvas draped across a water pool  The participants have to crawl in and out. Didn’t look too bad since nobody looks freaked out after emerging from it.
Continued my journey in. Seems like I was walking backing and at the tail end of the race. The next obstacle was some tyres on the ground. Participants had to run across the tyres. Noticed that there was no marshall here. But everybody seems game enough to run across on their own. No short cut here.
Walked further in and came to a wooden partition which serves as a sort of wall obstacles. Guess participants have to climb over. Noticed again no marshall. Some participants simply walked around it. Wonder what their point of taking part in this type of event if they do not bother to clear the obstacles. But fortunately most people attempted to clear it. Team spirit was in great presence as those who can’t climb were given plenty of helping hands by team mates or other participants. One guy gamely knelt down for a lady to step on to climb. Some students tried all means and methods to aid a friend to overcome it which she did eventually. Nobody was screaming for each other to hurry up. Everybody seems to be just having fun. One guy went the wrong way. I think he mistook the wall for a barrier. Where are the marshals?
Went further in and came to a double wall. Some people were climbing it.Some ran passed up the trail. Where are the marshals? And the signages? Decided this was as far as I will go. 
Went back to the race site. Discovered a giant ice pit. Employees from an ice company was pouring bags and bags of ice into the container but there was few takers for the ice. Weather was simply too good and I guess nobody was feeling so hot that they need a nice cold soak. 
Found out later that 40 or is it 40% of the volunteers failed to turn up. And directional sign and tapes were torn by mountain bikers. Sighed. So irresponsible of these people. But there were other complaints judging from the comments that were flying in fast and furious in the facebook page. But reading all together, I think everybody had fun and really enjoyed the event and at the end of the day, that is what matter most.

Eastside Run 01012012

I can’t believe the last time there was a Eastside Run was exactly 1 year ago. It used to be a once a month affairs but due to the packed race calendars the past year, somehow I have not been able to find a free day to slot this in on a more regular basis. 
Anyway, I decided since there was an extra long weekend and being its anniversary, it was a good time to hold one. This time round, the route picked was a part trail part route covering 3 separate trails in the East. Invitations were send out via the sgrunners forum and Facebook. I had expected in view of the many runs over the weekend to have at most 15 – 20 pax but  the numbers kept growing and growing and before I knew it, there were close to 50 respondents which was more than the 2 of us can handle. So last minutes I had to rope in buddies from Simei to help manage the group. Many thanks to Gary, Zco, Ming and AC. Especially the latter 2 as they still had a World Harmony Run to do in the afternoon.
We started off from Sun Plaza Park at about 7.20 am. The first trail was the “carpet” trail of Tampines Eco Green, in my opinion the best and most comfortable trail in Singapore, JB and some say Batam! Surprisingly, many of the runners have not been to this park even though a majority of them stay in the East.

Next trail was the Tampines Mountain Bike Park, a more familiar place for most of the runners. But of course they didn’t bargain for a “water” obstacle. I had recced this place a few times prior to this and decided that the water course was more fun than the usual out and out trail. And it was hilarious to see the new runners to trails picking their way gingerly over the water. And some kind dude finally decided to help the ladies in distress and picked up some more rocks to help the ladies walk over the water. Who says chivalry is dead?

The final trail was the wild but scenic Tampines Quarry, a place that I believe was new to almost everybody.   We had a group photo taken at the most scenic park of the quarry before proceeding up to the wild trails.

And wild trails it was, with tall grasses, mud and 2 fallen trees which had everybody climbing and crawling all over. Surprisingly, it appears that Nparks or some kind soul had trimmed a bit off the 2nd tree on Saturday afternoon and we could easily walk across.
Finally, after a fun and exhilarating 12km, we reached back Sun Plaza Park for a final group photo.
And with that, it was the end of another Eastside Run. Hopefully, it will not be the last one for this year.  But whether there will be another this year will depend on the demand, the race schedule cos that will affect my ability to get pacers and whether I can hustle up new and interesting route instead of the usual Bedok Reservoir or East Coast Park. 

TNF 100 Singapore 1st Progressive Run

The 1st TNF 100 Singapore Progressive Run and the response was a bit disappointing. Maybe it is the location, the Tampines Mountain Bike Park which since the YOG, has been downsized and only half of the original site is now open to the non-cycling public. Maybe it is also due to some communication problems from the event organiser but quite a few of the regular TNF series runners have informed that they were not aware of the run today.

In any case, I am still not up to running yet. Nevertheless, I walked over while the sidekick ran over from our place in Pasir Ris to the park. This time round, the event organiser is Dirt Traction and not us run leaders. The route, as I understand, is 3 loops of the park for those doing the 15km. Gu drinks were served at the start point which also serves as the u-turn for the loops.

I contended myself with snapping away.

The photos can be found here and on my facebook.

The next progressive run will be on 10 September 2011. Venue to be confirmed. Look out for more details here and on TNF Facebook.

Trails in the East – Tampines Quarry

Been doing a lot of runs in the Central Catchment area so it was a nice surprise to find a trail right in the East that is near enough for me to run from home. So this, plus Lorong Halus plus Eco Green & Tampines Mountain Bike Park made 3 trail routes all within 5km from home. 
The entrance to the latest newly discovered trail:
The place is mainly forested area with lot of vegetation and sound of chirping birds all over. Of course, on the minus side, there are also plenty of mozzies.

Some part of the trails are lovely to run. Like this portion with beautiful overhanging trees forming a well shaded canopy.

Unfortunately, there were also plenty of mud pools like this one which almost render the whole path un-passable. In facts, there were many parts along the way where I had to u-turn in order not to get too dirty.

The long grass on the side hide many small little paths with bike tracks. Went along a few but unfortunately due to the above mentioned mud paths, was forced to turn back several times.

However, the reward for running in this virgin area was a great view of the Tampines Quarry.

Unfortunately ran out of time and couldn’t explore the far side behind Paya Lebar Airbase or the HDB sand quarry. In the end had to contend myself with a 5km run around the quarry. Will be back again and next round hopefully can carve out a 10km route.