The wife and I and a few friends had a fun morning last Saturday, riding with a bunch of Dahon foldie owners (see Flickr set). Our group rode from East Coast Park to Changi Point and back, 34km in all.
Inspired, I wanted to explore the rest of the Eastern park connector network. So a few nights after that Saturday ride, I decided to trace the route solo.
I started at 9.30pm and rode till 12.30am. 1 hour of riding from my Katong office to East Coast Park near Parkway, to Changi Point via the Coastal Park Connector, 22km.
Then 30 minutes to grab a drink and a little bite from Changi Village hawker centre.
Then another 90 minutes riding from Changi Village to Pasir Ris to Tampines to Bedok Reservoir Park then home, 23km.
A good chunk of that 90 minutes was spent getting lost and doubling back to look for the right way and to hunt down disconnected bits of the park connector path.
I was determined to try doing the whole loop via the park connectors as far as I could. The only bit I did not complete was the Bedok Reservoir to East Coast Park stretch, about 8km, but then my final road-based ride home from Bedok Reservoir was almost that far.
Conclusion? The East Coast Park to Changi Point bit was sublime. Just don't do it alone at night, like I did. It can get a little creepy being the only person for long dark stretches. Also the strong headwinds can be challenging.
The rest of the network was patchy. Loyang was ok, I could even speed on that bit, but the Tampines and Bedok Reservoir stretches sucked.
The bits I hated in the latter part of my ride? There were roads to cross, poor and fading signage, freaking speed bumps that jolted my rear blinky off a few times (and almost made me a eunuch), and an odd gravel path next to Bedok Reservoir that you should avoid.
At the Tampines Park Connector, there were stairs where you had to get off your bike and carry your bike or push it up a steep slope thoughtfully provided next to the stairs.
At another point, within the Bedok Park Connector, there was a short downhill slope so steep, I had to brake all the way down it.
The bridge across the Tampines expressway, found along the Tampines Park Connector, looks impressive, but you have to push your bike all the way across. They could have made it a little wider, and made the turns gentler for bikes. Noooo, it had to be 90-degree turns up the slope path of the bridge.
It is also easy to get lost in parks like Bedok Town Park and Pasir Ris Town Park.
It is not an easy loop for novices to try. Not because of the distance, but because it is easy to get lost, especially if you wish to do it all via the bike path.
When I got back on the road for my final leg home, I felt so relieved. The convoluted park connectors in the latter part of my night ride frustrated me and I hated doing only 15kmh and reaching dead ends.
Will I do it again? Sure. I liked the East Coast to Changi to Loyang bits. And it's a fairly safe way to see all the Eastern parks with the wife at a leisurely pace. But for commuting, I'd stick to the roads, thank you very much.
A good effort, this Eastern Park Connector Network, but hardly the cartoony seamless line you see on the National Parks website.