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Yue Yong Sheng
Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014

Sports

S'pore PR cycles more than 6,000km in 39 days across US

The New Paper | Yue Yong Sheng | Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014

MAKING FRIENDS: (Above, from left) Mr Derek Wilson, Mr Timm Smith and Ms Angeline Tan. Mr Wilson was Ms Tan’s biking companion during the race and they met Mr Smith in Indiana — two-thirds through his 4,900 mile-walk (7885.79km) across the US.

Imagine cycling from Tuas to Changi and back twice in a single day.

Ms Angeline Tan, 35, did that every day. For 39 straight days.

The writer and social media consultant covered 6,437.38km as she cycled from the west end of the United States to the east coast in as many days.

She weathered the scorching sun, strong headwinds, thunderstorms, hail and snow, and battled all sorts of terrain. At one point, she was attacked by swarms of mosquitoes.

Why endure such a gruelling ride?

She told The New Paper: "Having lived in California for the past two years and having seen how beautiful the state is, I wanted to travel across the US to experience this great land in its entirety, from west to east."

She was taking part in the Trans Am Bike Race, a cycling event that requires participants to ride across the US through the Trans-America Trail.

Ms Tan started her journey in Astoria, Oregon, in the northwest of America, at 5am on June 7.

She set herself an initial goal of riding 100 miles (161km) a day and aimed to reach the east coast by Day 40. But the race proved too daunting. On Day 10, she cried for the first time during the race.

Ms Tan said: "It was because of the accumulated fatigue over the days. We were riding up a really steep incline and it got so bad that we slowed down to the point of walking.

"And that was only Day 10, I still had 30 more days to go. I couldn't fathom how to complete the race when it was already very difficult at that point."

Things got worse when she was riding downhill after passing through a snow-capped summit.

"It was extremely cold. My hands and legs were shivering for the two hours that we were riding downhill and I couldn't even feel my handlebar," said Ms Tan, who described it as "the most extreme situation in her life".

"It was dark at night and the roads were slippery because of the rain. I was just holding on for dear life, hoping I wouldn't crash." But every time she felt like giving up, she would muster up another ounce of strength to push forward. The battle against pain went on until Day 27, when she finally decided to pull out of the race.

Ms Tan had tried to raise US$25,000 (S$31,000) to pay a camera crew she had hired to produce a documentary on her experience to inspire others.

But having failed to raise enough money through her blog (angieacrossamerica.com), she had to find a shorter route to the east coast to cut the cost of the production.

QUIT RACE

She changed her route and ended her bike quest at Baltimore, Maryland, on Day 39 at 5pm on July 15.

She said: "I don't regret quitting the race because the race mentality had jeopardised the quality of the documentary. "I could not document inspirational human stories as I stopped very little to interact with people.

"It was only after I pulled out of (the race) that I started to enjoy the ride and savour the journey."

The documentary is now in the production stage and Ms Tan said she is hoping to hook up with broadcasters in Singapore and the US for its distribution.

Ms Tan moved to California because her Singaporean husband, who is a software engineer, was relocated.

She said: "I hold the words of Napoleon Hill close to my heart: 'Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve'. "When I could pedal no more, I would tell myself: 'Not today, Angie, not today'. So I would keep pedalling and get through each day one pedal at a time. And before I knew it, there I was, completing the journey in 39 days."

Safe Cycling Task Force president Steven Lim, 47, who has done long-distance cycling events like Charity Bike 'n' Blade, said: "After cycling for a certain distance, it would be the mental strength, rather than the physical strength, that matters.

"Taking into consideration the terrains and weather conditions that Ms Tan had to go through for 39 consecutive days, this quest is definitely a big achievement."


This article was first published on July 21, 2014.
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