Long before cars, the story of Škoda first began with bicycles. For over 120 years, the Czech automaker has honoured its heritage through its continued support of cycling – most notably, as the official partner of the Tour de France since 2003. This year – amidst a global pandemic – Škoda is more committed than ever to its mission: to bring together cycling communities all over the world and inspire them to ride on.
ALWAYS THERE FOR THOSE WHO RIDE
Much has been said and written about these trying times: how they affect our lives, relationships, jobs, businesses and, last but certainly not least, our beloved hobbies. Activities and sports help maintain and improve our overall well-being and for many enthusiasts, bicycling plays an important role. It might seem like the world of cycling has come to a complete standstill even after restrictions are slowly being eased but as with everything worth fighting for, where there’s a will, there’s a way.
With the #Ride2Unite cycling initiative, Škoda aims to bring together cycling pros and enthusiasts from all walks of life and keep them motivated in these trying times. On Škoda’s online platform We Love Cycling, readers can find shareable experiences and meaningful connections through videos, debates and live stream interviews – all in the name of keeping the cycling community connected and letting them know that they are not alone in this fight.
Closer to home, Škoda is continuing its commitment to cycling through its support for local cycling event Charity Bike ‘n’ Blade for the third year running. As the Official Support Car, the automaker will play a crucial role in the logistical needs of the event, as well as ensuring the safety and well being of riders.
Read on as four cycling enthusiasts share about their passion for the sport and how it inspires them to ride on.
RACE DRIVER AND OWNER, THE FILM DISPENSARY
Claire Jedrek’s taste for adventure knows no bounds. As Singapore’s only female racecar driver, she’s no stranger to blazing a trail on the track. Off-duty, the 37-year-old mother of two has tried her hand at competitive sports such as in-line skating, duathlons and triathlons. Eight years ago, itching to add another feather to her fitness cap, Jedrek bought her first mountain bike and the rest, as they say, is history.
“The first time I cycled with a team, it pushed me to reach another mental level I didn’t know I had,” she recalls. “That’s the beauty of cycling – it’s just you and the bike. You can push as hard as you want; you are in control. This way of thinking motivates me in my everyday life to keep going the distance and find a way to reach the end point – no matter what.”
Jedrek found a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic – a chance to slow down and focus on herself. “I realised that all the extra time to look after my mental and physical health made me a better mother, wife, friend and team player.” Part of that self-care routine included solo bike rides every morning as a way to have “some consistency during the tumultuous times.” Despite getting into a cycling accident, which required two months of recovery, Jedrek remains undeterred and ready as ever to get back on her bicycle: “You can’t let life scare you. Like the Covid-19 situation, you’ve got to let go because life goes on.”
Community and communication: Jedrek believes the two Cs are key to getting back to a more connected world, post-Covid-19. “That’s why we need more initiatives like Škoda’s #Ride2Unite. Cycling has no barriers to entry or prejudice and it’s important that their efforts rally people together during times like these.”
FOUNDING CHAIRMAN, CHARITY BIKE ‘N’ BLADE, AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, BEYOND LIMITS
Charity Bike ‘n’ Blade started in 2005 with a simple idea – that a group of cycling enthusiasts could raise money for the underprivileged doing what they love. And so they did: in its first year, the local cycling event took on a gruelling 300km-long route from Desaru to Mersing and back, and raised $212,000. 15 years on, Charity Bike ‘n’ Blade has raised more than $5 million for various causes ranging from community healthcare to youth-at-risk, dementia and the elderly sick.
In view of Covid-19, this year’s Charity Bike ‘n’ Blade has been postponed to 2021. Event registration and fundraising for the two beneficiaries, St. Luke’s ElderCare and The Salvation Army Peacehaven Nursing Home, will remain open.
Despite the setback, founding chairman Sidney Lim remains cautiously optimistic. “I expect fundraising will be even more challenging with many individuals and businesses impacted by the pandemic, and regional economies taking several years to recover,” he says. “But to quote Albert Einstein: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” So we must press on, keep cycling and do what we can for our community.”
On Škoda’s support for Charity Bike ‘n’ Blade and the cycling community at large, Lim adds: “Just as the world has to unite in its fight against the coronavirus, Skoda’s initiative to get cyclists to support one another to remain positive and motivated is a testament of its leadership – living out their heritage and values of their love for the sport.”
On a more personal note, the 56-year-old turned to exercise as a way to destress during the Circuit Breaker. That meant quality time with his wife during daily walks and runs, which gave him the opportunity to “stop and smell the roses amidst the chaos.” But what he misses most is the social aspect of cycling: “It may not seem like it, but cycling is a team sport. My fondest memories are the friendships formed and the camaraderie over drinks or a meal post-ride.”
FOUNDER, JOYRIDERS CYCLING CLUB
Fourteen years ago, it started out as a ‘joy ride’ between a few friends to commemorate a milestone 50th birthday. Today, JoyRiders has blossomed into a 2,000-strong club of cycling enthusiasts from all walks of life. The woman – and the moniker – behind it all is Joyce Leong.
As founder, the spunky 64-year-old embodies all the qualities one would expect of a leader of a recreational fitness group: grit, determination and an unwavering passion for sports. Unsurprisingly, she is a heavyweight in the arena, having participated in marathons and triathlons around the globe such as the Moscow Peace Marathon in 1986. Most notably, she represented Malaysia in the 1985 SEA Games for cycling.
The accolades don’t stop there. Shortly after forming JoyRiders, Leong clinched the inaugural POSB Everyday Champions award in 2007 as one of the 57 winners honoured for their contributions to the sporting community. Together with JoyRiders, Leong also participated in the 2017 National Day parade and entered the 2018 Singapore Book of Records for the largest convoy of bicycles delivering groceries to All Saints Home as a part of an initiative by the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth.
With fitness playing such an integral role in her life, Leong refuses to let anything dampen her spirit and passion for cycling – not even a Stage 3 cancer diagnosis earlier this year. Shortly after recovering from surgery, she was determined to get back on her bicycle to “keep sane” and slowly regain her strength. “Having almost died from cancer has taught me not to take life for granted,” she says. “The experience is proof that motivation and a positive mind helps in the recovery process.”
Like a true rider, she has her sights set on what’s ahead: reuniting with her fellow JoyRiders for a good cause at upcoming events, Ride for Ration and Charity Bike ‘n’ Blade 2021.
TRIATHLETE AND TEACHER OF PHYSICAL EDUCATION, UWC SEA
2019 proved to be a milestone year for Vicki Hill. The triathlete competed in the World Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, and placed eighth in her age group. Her triumph didn’t come easy: to prepare for the competition, Hill followed a gruelling schedule by training twice a day and over 20 hours a week. This included 5am swims, evening runs, cycling on weekends, and regular strength and conditioning sessions – all while working full-time as an educator. Impressive as it may be, finishing the race with a new personal best has spurred the 45-year-old to keep going: “Naturally, I was delighted to make it to the top 10 but it has left me wanting to go back and better my position next year.”
Fitness is second nature to the UWC South East Asia Physical Education teacher. Growing up, the keen sportswoman tried her hand at many different activities, but eventually found her passion in competitive running. When an injury forced her out of action for months, she turned to swimming and cycling. And thus a triathlete was born.
Hill credits her beloved Cervelo P5 triathlon bicycle for lifting her spirits during tough times. “I’m always in a happy place when I am on it! It’s a chance to train with my friends, be social and enjoy the outdoors.” Keeping herself busy during the Circuit Breaker was imperative: be it with online fitness classes via Zoom, gym sessions in her home studio, daily runs or, of course, bike rides. “Healthy bodies equal healthy minds,” she notes. “Since we’re not allowed to travel, getting out on your bike is a great way to explore your surroundings from a different angle and keep a positive mindset.”
Visit here to find out more about #Ride2Unite and the various cycling causes Škoda supports.
Brought to you by ŠKODA SINGAPORE