Tips for Nparks Coast to Coast Trail

Nparks Coast to Coast Trail is popular on the island. I have uploaded more photos on Facebook album.

Two things are common during Covid19 measures, folks cannot clear leave and families are exercising more!

So we (me and colleagues Daniel, Francis and son) did a 2-in-1 by walking the 36km Coast to Coast trail (C2C).

And we realised it was 42km instead of 36km :p

Startpoint at Lakeside MRT (7.15am)

We started at Lakeside MRT, and I had to take the earliest train from Sengkang.

Rough estimation of distance between checkpoints.

This might help in planning for your rest points.
~Lakeside (Start) to Hindhede (CP3) – 8km
~Hindhede (CP3) to Adam (CP4) – 6km
~Adam(CP4) to Bishan(CP5) – 8km
~Bishan(CP5) to Sengkang Swim(CP7) – 8km
~Sengkang Swim (CP7) to Coney (CP9) -7km

Total= 37 to 38km (real walk will be longer)

Singapore coast to coast trail map (credit Nparks)

If add Rower’s Bay (CP10) from Sengkang Swim (CP7), add another 7km +

Coast to Coast trail Singapore
Coast to Coast trail Singapore

Back to our trail…

There are a lot of constructions and detour around Jurong Lake Garden, walk under MRT viaduct, along PCN markers next to Boon Lay Way.

Park Connector Network (PCN) and Coast to Coast Trail signboard.
Image below indicates Bukit Batok Park (CP2) is 6.5km away.

Checkpoint 1 Chinese Garden(7:38am)

As we begin our walk, no worries about toilets and water points. There are MRT stations, coffee shops and 7-11 for pit stops.

Checkpoint 1 Chinese Garden

If you are first time attempting c2c, I would recommend Npark app to pinpoint your checkpoints. But take note keeping this app running in the background will suck your mobile phone battery!

Another useful webpage would be NEA’s rain area. Although not real time, you can get a pretty good idea of whether it will be a passing drizzle or island-wide thunderstorm (NEA website recommended, as the app is not responsive).

Rain clouds and forecast

The viaduct and PCN provides much needed shade.

After CP1 (checkpoint), cross overhead bridge and walk towards Block 115. If you are cycling, head to the junction of Jurong Town Hall Road and Boon Lay Way.

You will be heading North East under MRT viaduct, between Jurong East and Bukit Batok stations.

This is part of Ulu Pandan PCN.

**Detour** Do take note of ongoing work down the “slope” (at GPS 1.34294, 103.74523). Keep left at this junction.

Refer image below, you will have to walk along Bukit Batok Ave 1, pass by swimming complex (on your right), and turn right along Bukit Batok Ave 6.

Ulu Pandan Park Connector
Ulu Pandan Park Connector

Just follow “Bukit Batok” direction,  and not “Toh Guan”.

Image credit Google Map

Walk another kilometre from Swimming complex and you will reach the stone zodiacs at Block 280 (BB East Ave 4).

Checkpoint 2 Bukit Batok (8.55am)

I would say the first 3 checkpoints are relative near to each other, and offer a lot of shade.

Checkpoint 2 Bukit Batok

We love the awesome amount of greens as we skirt around Bukit Batok hill. Beyond the shades, the pathway beckons you to explore inland.

Continue along the shared path and you will pass behind Autobacs.

We passed by Liveband pub, which used to be a Firestation.

Bukit Timah fire station

Checkpoint 3 Hindhede Drive (9.28am)

This is very near to CP2. And if time permits, you can sprint up SG’s highest hill Bukit Timah. We noticed a crowd, even on a weekday.

On second thoughts, stick to the Coast to Coast trail, unless you do not mind completing in 15 hours :p

Coast to Coast Hindhede Drive
Bukit Timah Market & Food Centre might be a good pit stop for some snacks. Most folks will actually eat at Adam Food Centre (CP4), but price and queue might be higher.

15 min break, nice Bak chang.

5km more to reach Adam Road Food Centre.

Many sights and memories along Bukit Timah road. King Albert McDonald, Railway line, and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

More slopes, kerbs and junctions along 4km stretch of Bukit Timah. The road-work around here makes driving tough, and biking harder.

If you are cycling, the narrow paths and pedestrians add to the congestion!

We are amused by all the atas MRT stations. Remember to have fun along the way, it makes the journey so much more relaxing.

Laughter does help to delay fatigue.

Rochor river runs along Bukit Timah road.

Checkpoint 4 Adam road Food Centre (11.15am)

Took a well deserved 40 min lunch break. The longer you rest, the harder it is to resume your pace :p

Order any food, but do pamper yourself with some cold beverages.

Adam Road Food Centre good food

After cp4 Adam lunch, compose ourselves and march on, this time under the merciless sun. From CP4 onwards, it is easier to navigate but distances between checkpoints are longer too.

Head towards Kheam Hock Park and go through the underpass (GPS 1.33043, 103.81966).

You will pass some tombstones, this area was part of Bukit Brown cemetery. Do not be spooked, especially when you are walking in the night.

Cross the overhead bridge and land on the new Lornie Road PCN.

Lornie Park Connector
Lornie Park Connector

Head towards Macritchie Reservoir carpark direction. Toilet or water break, or take a small detour and enjoy the scenic water view.

Take the underpass (in the direction of St Theresa’s Home, GPS 1.346073, 103.838151) and exit to Marymount Road.

This stretch towards Bishan Park is exposed to elements, and dust from constructions.

Checkpoint 5 at Bishan (1.52pm)

You need to detour left and walk 500m in.

Checkpoint 5 Bishan Park
Checkpoint 5 Bishan Park

We took a small detour, crossing the overhead bridge to catch some merlions (infront Block 218).

Ang Mo Kio merlion

Decided to treat ourselves to some cool ice cream, celebrate 25km completion, about 2/3 of trail 🙂

Pass by AMK Town Garden West, this used to be my childhood playground. There were some hidden “forts” at the top.

Turn right towards Ang Mo Kio 5, Buangkok and Sengkang direction.
Looking at the sidewalk flora distracts us from the long trek.

If you follow this trek between 10am to 12pm, you might see some happy butterflies.

Checkpoint 6 Lexus Hills Park (3.25pm)

The rain clouds were threatening us from Punggol and Sengkang.

We decided to have a sweet pitstop at Esso Yio Chu Kang.

Checkpoint 6 Lexus Hills

Pocari and Eclair boosted our energy and spirits.
9km to Coney island end point, but only 2km from home!

Just follow PCN and river to Punggol.

Buangkok Kampong is just behind us.

3 more checkpoints to go, 7, 8 and 9.
We will not attempt Checkpoint 10 at Rower’s Bay, which is out of the way.

On another trip, I had cycled to Rower’s Bay to catch the beautiful sunset.

Sunset at Rower’s Bay Seletar

Checkpoint 7 Sengkang Floating Wetland (4.10pm)

The park connectors in Sengkang and Punggol has one of the most scenic routes, mixture of nature and man-made.

One loop (Sengkang Punggol Hougang Buangkok) is 25km, checkout my running route. Imagine exercising along the riverway.

 

Iconic Jewel Bridge (GPS 1.409512, 103.89587).

Punggol Robot wall
Punggol Robot wall

The robots mural, next to Block 308C (S822308).

Checkpoint 8 Punggol Waterway PArk (5:02pm)

Can smell the ending already! Quicken our pace. The whole C2C trail has taken us longer to complete (both distance and time).

Oasis Terraces, plenty of F&B options here. I thought it is less crowded than Waterway Point.

Oasis Terraces Punggol
Oasis Terraces Punggol

Checkpoint 9 coney Island (5.40pm)

One feeling: Relive!

One picture for memories.  Had estimated to cover route under 8 or 9 hours, but we took 10 hours (including breaks).

Nparks Coast to Coast Trail
Nparks Coast to Coast Trail

Relive Video. (Use Strava to clock your journey, then just run Relive app to get the animation)

After the trail, some will choose to have dinner at Punggol Settlement. We chose to Grab home 🙂

More Nparks Coast to Coast Trail photos are in my Facebook album.

Coast to Coast Trail photos
Coast to Coast Trail photos

I have friends asking whether we need to be super fit to attempt the Coast to Coast trail. Long distance walking should not be new to those who have done NS (National Service 24km).

But walking 42 km (sorry not 36km) still exerts a fair bit of energy. We know we can complete, but we often add undue pressures for ourselves. Go easy.

As a guide, if you wish to complete in 9 or 10 hours,  you should be comfortable walking 10km around 2 hours 10 minutes. Go practice first or even try Coast to Coast in installments.

Factor in rain and sun (humidity) elements. First timers might even miss a junction or two :p

Photo below, my Crius Master at Bukit Batok. I jogged and cycled the trail to identify the checkpoints beforehand.

Cycling Coast to Coast Trail
Cycling Coast to Coast Trail

Additional tips for Nparks Coast to Coast Trail

1.Nparks link and detours
Brochure  (and side visits)
*Latest updates (detours and Mobileapp)

2.There are plenty of walking groups in Meetup groups! Long queues too.
Do search for “Trailblazers coast to coast” or “Deep breathing coast to coast“. You can identify your own pace and join a group, someone more experience will help you hunt for the checkpoints.

3. Packing. Besides hydration, powerbank and waterproofing would be most important. You might wish to use Strava to track your journey too.

-I brought along a 500m bottle, but we can always find 7-11, provision shops and coffeeshops nearby.
-Umbrella or rain coat, slippers for heavy downpour
*Suntan lotion, muscle rub
-Sunglass, towel, cap
-(optional) Spare tshirt/short to change after walk
-Cash for taxi and food

4. Start/end at Coney Drive or Lakeside?
Lakeside has MRT, but one-hour journey from Sengkang.

Coney Island entrance has no public transport. Nearest LRT is Punggol Point, followed by 1km walk. (Punggol Coast MRT is still under construction). You can grab bus 84 to Punggol end, but service is only available weekends.

Punggol Point LRT to Coney Island

5. I will recommend weekday walk as many folks will be tramping this route over the weekends. For first timers, choose daytime over night time especially if you need to “pose” at the milestones.

Once you have completed Nparks Coast to Coast trail, there are other Round-Island trails (up to 150km) waiting for you!

6. Wear a pair of shoes instead of sandals or slippers. Your sole and calves will be sore after the walk.

*Follow our families’ hiking adventures here. We hope to climb Malaysia Gunungs soon. Happy Walking!

 

ps Updated 2021 Jan 22, we walk Coney Island(CP9) to Adam Food Centre (CP4), Relive video

 

Tips for foldies selection (2/2)

This is part 2 of my foldies (foldable bikes) selection experience. I will be sharing some Tips for foldies selection. Bear with me, as this post is written from a newbie’s perspective.

I have only tested Crius Master, Java Neo2 and Tern C8/D8.

Please share your knowledge and tips with me too.
You may read post 1 here where I shared the benefits of foldies.

Just roll to your nearest MRT and explore SG!

With Covid19 and circuit measures. Everyone felt confined and wanted to explore more of Singapore! Be it Jog, Cycle, Hike, you should see the Meetup groups bookings. So many folks are queuing to walk the 36km Coast to Coast walk :p  (photos here)

I guess these sudden active lifestyles are good for individuals and families. Besides the health and sporty aspects, Singaporeans get to appreciate our freedom, nature and PCN (Park Connectors) more! We are busy exploring all corners of the island!

But tough luck if you are buying foldies :p
Supply is struggling to meet demand.

Covid19 has disrupted supply chains. Be prepared for Parts shortage, long waiting time for your “ideal” bikes. Bike prices have easily appreciated by 20 30% over the last few months.

 

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A post shared by Andy Lee (@sengkangbabies)

1.My foldies selection criteria

Everyone will have their priority. Shall we start with Budget?

a. Afterall, a foldie can start from $150 all the way up to $5,000. I set $1,000 for my bike, which is considered mid-level. (But I told the Mrs bike is under $500)

You should always ask for test ride opportunity. Only you know which bike feels right for yourself.

b. The second most important criteria is your riding style and behaviour? PCN or road? Or you prefer off-road and gravel? Maybe you are going for RI (round-island) 140km rides?

c.Wheel size? 16″ or 20″ (20″ more cushioning on road, perhaps more comfort for longer distance)

d.Weight -Anything around 10kg should be ok. Too heavy (12+ kg) and you might struggle on public transport

e.Brands (Zoom in on a few brands. At the point of writing, FnHon, Crius and Java is popular)

f.Models and parts. Even same model might have different parts, resulting in price difference! (super confusing for newbies during shortlisting)

g.Warranty and servicing (Buy online or real bike shop?)
Most online shops would not provide maintenance or servicing.

h.You might need to take your height and weight into consideration too. Not all foldies are suitable for those 1.9m or weighs above 100kg.

2.Brands and Models

After shortlisting, I can guarantee you will have more questions.

When I first started, I did not even know about established brands like Dahon, Birdy etc. I only know Decathon and Aleoca (SG brand but recently out-of-business)

Then you will hear about brands like Dahon, Tern, FnHon and many others. Where can I touch and test ride?
As you do more research, suddenly more Brands pop up!
Vert, Crius, Rifle, Mint etc. Some of the bikes are actually OEM and replicas, that explains why some frames look identical.

Is Dahon, Tern, FnHon, YnHon related? Is Travelo, Crius, Litepro related?

Surely Java and Sava must be from the same factory? Yes/no
Then there is Police brand too haha.

It might be harder to buy a bike than a car :p
Brompton and Birdy is out of my budget as these rides cost $3k plus easily!

3.Initially, I shortlisted either travelo or tern

Then the list quickly expanded!
Price listed below is 2020 Sep to Oct estimation, and price went up again  in November.

1)Crius Velocity (9 speed) $800+ or Crius Master V or D $650+
(Why got V and D?)

Fyi, Crius is a sub-brand under LitePro. Yes, the same brand which sells popular light accessories and parts. LitePro also label their bikes with their own brand.

2)Tern link c8 $750+ (8 speed)
I tried C8 and D8 ($1000), but prefer C8.

3)Travelo FS-S $900+ (9 speed)
Heard Travelo came from the same family as Crius. Travelo is not the cheapest but their parts are good. Sold out! (OEM, but sold as SG brand)

4)Java Aria $1200+ or Fit $700 (Some Java models got 18 speeds?), Xelo $400 or Neo2 $800+

Not related to Sava Z $1200+ :p

5)FnHon got different models like Gust $800+ and Blast $700+

Once you have shortlisted a few models, go for test rides. Head to distributors, or borrow from friends. You can then compare apple to apple, bikes parts, ride feel and gut instinct.

The experience gained will help you to prioritise your wishlist.
But, testing might be hard to arrange, due to shortages or Covid19 measures.

4.more research, more questions!

There are tons of information on Facebook, YouTube and WWW.
I would recommend you to shortlist a few models first, then dive deeper.
(Otherwise, you will be overwhelmed by all the brands and replicas)

IG Crius Hashtag

It is a chicken and egg thing.
How do I shortlist, when I am not sure of my requirements :p

More information can sometimes lead to more confusion, especially for newbies. If your budget is similar to mine, do try to research more about these brands Crius, FnHon and Java. They are quite popular for their price points.

You will definitely adjust your criteria as you learn more.

Some Facebook groups for your research (tons of friendly folks):
Generic groups: SG PCN Cyclist, Love Cycling SG, Singapore Foldies, Foldies@SG, SG Folding Bikes

Brands specific groups in Facebook (There are many more) :
Crius, FnHon, Java, Tern, Travelo (BikeActually),Brompton, Birdy

Tips for foldies selection
Tips for foldies selection

If Brompton is too expensive, you can try replicas like 3Sixty and pikes too!

I did warn you about the tons of groups online haha!

5.Where to buy?

The whole research process took me one month plus.
I could only test ride at three outlets/shops.  Most shops no stock or do not allow test rides due to Covid19 measures.

In the first blog post, I shared where you could test or buy your bikes.

-Traditional bike shops
-Online Taobao (eg, without local “presence”)
-* Online Carousel with local warehouse
-Second hand

I would not be comfortable buying a bike which I cannot see, touch and test. But we know traditional shop fronts might not have the brand and model which you need. During Covid19 period, our choices (bike and parts) would be limited.

Would highly recommend you to head down to test ride the bike. This investment is not cheap and you must feel comfortable. With touch, you can prioritise and understand your requirements better.

For the same reason, I would hesitate to buy from 100% online distributor. If part is delivered faulty, it is hard to fight for recourse and warranty.
A $500 bike is not exactly small change 🙂

The next best option might be Carousel, identify reputable outlets (research again). Once confirmed, you can pop by their warehouse or shop-front.

Carousel outlets (At least 20 shops all over SG! Headache):
-BZ Sport Cycles (Gavin)
-Bike Republic
BikeWarehouse (I got my Crius Master here)
-Bike companion (Or OutdoorFollows)
-CyclicWorkz
-WheelOnFireSG

I only visited one “real traditional” bike shop. MyBikeShop (Yishun Branch). Tested Tern C8 and D8, and encounter friendly chap Anthony.

If you have a few brands in mind,  it would be easier to identify the distributors and find out the reputable outlets. Link up with them, and go for test rides, clear your questions. (some would not bother to reply via Facebook messenger). This is where online peer to peer resources prove invaluable.

Lastly, I might not recommend second hand bikes for first timers.
You need to be aware what to look out for, and the quoted prices can be on the high side too. This option could be ideal for seasoned bikers.  So grab a guru to go “second-hand shopping” with you.

Cycling Jurong -> City- > Sengkang (50km)

6.Warranty, servicing, tuning and accessories

Given a choice, I would feel “safer” if bike shop offers servicing and warranty coverage, ie I can “see” the shop, and know the owner’s reviews.

But it is hard to find a shop which sells your ideal bike (ex Stock) and also provide maintenance.

95% of those under Carousel will only provide limited warranty. And no servicing. Better test and ask all the questions before you cycle off from shop :p

I am still new to accessories and servicing, so my recommendations are limited. But these few outlets have received good reviews.

– UCIG (Yishun) – No hard sell, friendly boss and mechanic. Would go back again for accessories.

308 Cycology (Punggol, by appointment only)- Tuning and servicing, and they seem to be popular in Facebook groups. Will bring my upgrades over for them to fix and tune (soon)

Jet Cycle (Changi Road) – Like a bike minimart, with plenty of accessories

More accessories shops are listed online portals like Carousel/Shopee/Lazada/Taobao. Do buy with caution, not all parts are genuine!

7.First tip. Do not think about Upgrades first

Poison is never ending, 没完没了.
Some well-meaning folks will tell you to buy the best bike you can afford.

The best bike is the one you are riding with today

For newbies, take the time to understand your bike, the parts and mechanics. You will then know what is your wish-list and upgrade accordingly. No rush.

One good example is the lack of Shimano groupset now. Mid-level bikes might only have China-made Sensah groupset.

But my SenSah is good enough for newbies. Yes, the gear transition might be less smooth than Shimano, and there is no resale value.

But my 9 speed Sensah brings me to places effortlessly!
If I do upgrade to Shimano eventually, I would better appreciate the differences. (even Shimano has different grades from Sora, 105 to Ultegra!)

Another example would be wheels profile.  Some will start with 20″ 406, then upgrade to 451 (thinner profile) for speed.

Upgrading (aka poisoning) is very subjective, and expensive.

Some hardcore folks will only buy the frame, and everything else piecemeal!
Some will upgrade all parts to titanium, to shaved an extra kilo off the bike.
Other folks will mod until their foldies cannot fold (my neighbour haha :p )

In short, get the bike which has options to upgrade in the future. (eg from 9 to 10 speed), and within your budget.

First priority for me is to use my bike for exploration, enjoy your ride.

8.Best Tip. Wait for supply to stabilise

If you can wait, please wait a few more months. Supply (bikes and parts) will slowly catchup, offering more variety and price points.

But to wait, means I would lose months of Cycling joy. I convinced myself that the upgrades can come later (dilemma haha).

9.Gears and Speed

7, 9 10 or 11 Speed?
How much speed is enough for me?
With low speed, can I climb hills easily?

Eg my Btwin foldie (6 speed) struggled with Sentosa’s hilly terrain, and I had to push. But my Crius Master (9 speed) scales the slopes much more effortlessly.

This is the part where the gurus will come in and urge you to train your legs and stamina first :p

I believe 8 and 9 speed is more than enough for newbies and PCN rides, 50 km rides and slopes. Foldies generally do not have as many gear\speed selection as Road bikes.

Train your legs and stamina, then upgrade the bike. Some would say bike is only 40% of the equation, and human power 60% !

10.Tyres and Brakes

Then you might also think about tyre profile differences between 406 and 451.

For travel and sand or mud, a 20″ bike (406 with minimum width 1.5) would be easier to ride than a 451 profile! 451 will keep slipping in the sand.

V Brakes are those traditional brakes. Easy to maintain,  cheap and effective. Disc Brake provides better braking, but might require more maintenance.

Last Tip:
If two bikes feel the same, choose the cheaper one.

11.What is next?

I will continue to explore more of SG on bike and MRT. This mode allows me to ride beyond my physical and time limitation! MRT and Grab cabs can ferry me home in the event of thunderstorm.

I hope to roll my foldie oversea too (in a 29″ suitcase). Would be super contented if the Mrs joins more of my wheels journey.

Disclaimer : I am sharing my bike shopping experience as a newbie. I hope the Tips for foldies selection would be useful for your own research too.

What is your Tips for foldies selection? Please share.

Do follow my family’s cycling experience here . The best trip was 4D3N Hualien to Taitung . Choosing between Mountain, road or foldable bikes, read here.