In January this year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched the Singapore Bicentennial celebration as it marks 200 years since Sir Stamford Raffles set foot here. During the launching event, PM Lee said that the year 1819 was the beginning of a modern, outward-looking and multicultural Singapore.
In celebration of this historic year, a group of six patriotic men in their 50s, have embarked on a rather unique bike ride, where they will be travelling over 13,000km across 10 countries in Asia.
“It’s a lifetime experience for all of us because we are all above 50s and it was a challenge getting all the 50-year-old riders to blend and bond. Also, we all had the passion to celebrate Singapore’s Bicentennial, and riding was our way of showing that Singapore started from a tiny red dot that has 200 years of rich successful history,” said P. Pannir Selvam, one of the riders of this iconic bike journey.
According to Mr Pannir Selvam, the idea to organise this significant ride called Centennial Ride derived over a coffee session between him and his friend, S Balachandran. The duo wanted to do something out-of-the-box that will be remembered by the masses, sparking the interest of this long-journey ride.
When asked on why they have decided to embark on this ride of a lifetime, Mr Pannir Selvam said that as individuals in their 50s, all the six participants were part of Singapore’s growth ever since the Independence, thus making it a huge inspiration for them. Besides that, he also said that this expedition will give them the passport to explore and see new places, meet different people and partake in their culture as well as to witness the beauty of the countries they will visit.
The riders began their trip on the 26 March and plan to complete it in 48 days, stopping for about two to four days in each country before continuing their journey to the next one. Based on their plan, from Singapore, they will first ride to Malaysia before moving to other countries like Thailand, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, India and finally ending at Sri Lanka.
For such a large-scale event, there’s no doubt that it requires detailed and thorough planning. As such, Mr Pannir Selvam said that it took them about six months to ideate this entire journey. “The planning took about six months which started in March 2018. Final plan was materialised in June 2018,” he explained.
As for the type of bike that they will be using, the riders had decided to ride on a Honda Goldwing GL1800, which is a Luxury Touring Motorcycles. However, they do foresee this bike becoming their “greatest challenge that will become both historic and legendary”.
This is because they’re unsure if the Goldwing Motorcycle will be able to withstand the road conditions of Myanmar, India and Nepal. Therefore, in order to overcome this problem, they’ve mentally prepared themselves by watching videos on the road conditions of these countries, prior embarking on this expedition.
Besides that, the group are also worried of their health due to the harsh weather conditions in some of the countries – India’s temperature can rose up to 45 degree Celsius while the temperature in Bhutan, Nepl and Tibet can drop below 10 degrees.
Mr Pannir Selvam added, “Our final worry is our timeline as we have to cross many countries with Immigration and Customs restrictions.”
The group is expected to be done with their road trip by 12 May and return back to Singapore soon after that.
At the time of writing, the group of riders are in India and are heading to Pune, a city in the state of Maharashtra.
To view more of the riders’ journey across these countries, please visit their Facebook page here.