AUG 25, 2002

S'porean woman's 2,000-km solo bicycle ride home

Photographer to brave heatstroke, isolation and language problems to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation

By Edward Tang

BANGKOK - Singaporean Wendy Chan calls herself a Yuffy - Young Urban Fiscal Failure.

The 37-year-old freelance photographer said she was more interested in cycling than chasing the other common Cs - condominium, car and country club membership. 

In the past year, she has also developed a passion for helping the less fortunate. The awakening was partly due to the painful experience of the death of a close friend. 

Next month, the cycling enthusiast, who has ridden from Malacca to Singapore, will embark on a solo journey from Bangkok to Singapore to raise funds for the Breast Cancer Foundation. 

She aims to cover the 2,000-km journey - named Cycling Abreast - in 14 days. She has set a modest target of $10,000 but expects the final sum raised to be more. 

'I also hope to raise women's awareness of breast cancer,' she told The Sunday Times in Bangkok during a recce trip here recently. 

Although not a victim of the disease, she has friends who were, and has been following the recent discussion on the subject. For now, her thoughts are on the challenge ahead. She is aware of the dangers of solo cycling, especially for a woman. 

First time on her own

Although Ms Wendy Chan has been on previous charity rides, this will be the first time she is cycling alone. With the 2000- km journey, she hopes to raise $10,000, and awareness of breast cancer.

For one, the heat will be unbearably harsh. To prevent a heatstroke, she will need to drink regularly throughout the trip. 

Some stretches of southern Thailand are isolated and do not have hotels for her to stop for the night. There is also the language problem - she does not speak Thai. 

She has not decided if she would want a car to trail her in case of emergencies. 

'It would not be a real solo ride,' she said. 

Without a trailer, she will have to carry her own supplies such as water, medicine, and food. 

A small consolation is that her racing bike is specially designed to let her to ride comfortably for at least eight hours. 

She plans to begin her trip on Sept 21, covering an average of 150 km a day, resting for a day each in Haadyai and Kuala Lumpur. 

Many companies have agreed to be her sponsors. Swiss Lodge Hotel will pay for her accommodation in Bangkok, The Body Shop will supply her with Sunblock lotion, and Canon will provide a digital camera.

Help also arrived from Campers' Corner which is supplying her with energy bars, Cycleworx her jerseys, and Rudy Project Singapore a pair of sunglasses. 

She has been on charity rides before, but only as a group. The most recent was held this year in aid of the Children's Cancer Foundation which raised $300,000. 

The coming trip will be her first time riding solo. With less than a month to go, some of her friends are hoping to talk her out of it. 

But the self-confessed cycling nut had a poignant response. 

'Getting through the day alone was harder than cycling for a day,' she said, recalling the period of bereavement she underwent last year. 

Copyright @ 2002 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.

Sunday Times 25 Aug 2002