Samaritan On Wheels

Bike enthusiast Ricky Sapuran Singh uses wheel power for charity 

5/8/2018 6:54:05 PM
written By : Abhijit Nag Print

Businessman Ricky Sapuran Singh is wheeling to help. He uses wheel power for charity. Every year of late he has been getting on a bike, burning rubber, eating up the miles on gruelling, long cross- country rides with his biking buddies from Harmony on Wheels to raise money for the underprivileged.

The way he sees it, he is doing himself a favour while helping others. “Cycling is a good way of keeping fit,” he says. Yes, except that he fractured his ribs on one of his “bikeathons”. But soldiers don’t quit easily. Singh, a former army officer, picked himself up after that fall and continued cycling with his injuries, going to the hospital for treatment only after completing the charity ride. True grit? That’s Singh, director of the entertainment hotspot, Moshi Moshi Bollywood club, which prides itself on its international dancers, and who also has a yen for charity.

The robust, weather-beaten former major in the Singapore army who doesn’t look a day older than 45 but says he is 56 recalls how he began cycling for the needy. Two and a half years ago, he was at the Central Sikh Gurdwara on Towner Road when he saw a notice about a charity ride all the way for Singapore to Malacca and back. Something made him sign up – and he has not looked back ever since despite that rib-crushing fall. He fell on his very first ride in 2016. After cycling for more than 500 km from Singapore to Malacca and back, he was almost home, only two km from the finishing line, when he struck a pothole. Down he went – and snap! His ribs cracked. But he got back on his bike and rode up to the finishing line before going to the hospital, mission accomplished, just like the soldier he used to be.

The 2016 ride from Singapore to Malacca and back raised S$252,000. The money went to the Sikh Welfare Council and the Sunlove Abode for the Intellectually Disabled. Forty-eight cyclists took part in that ride. It was organised by Harmony on Wheels, a multiracial group of bike enthusiasts of all ages who do their bit for charity.

This year again, Singh and his buddies from Harmony on Wheels cycled from Singapore to Malacca and back. There were 38 riders this time who made the road trip from March 23 to 26. They cycled from

Singapore to Batu Pahat on the first day, from Batu Pahat to Malacca on the second, from Malacca back to Batu Pahat on the third, and from Batu

Pahat to Singapore on the final day. It was a gruelling journey. They cycled more than eight or nine hours a day, stopping every two hours or so for a short break to get back their wind before pushing on.

They were divided into three groups – fast, medium and slow riders – each group accompanied by two safety cars, one travelling in front and the other behind the group just in case any of the cyclists needed help. The journey was exhausting but rewarding. “Sitting on the small seat of a bicycle is different from driving a car,” says Singh. “You see places on a cycle. Your situational awareness gets better.”

Singh, who is also a grassroots leader, wants to help the underprivileged not only in Singapore but overseas too. He took part in a 100 km charity ride around Singapore which raised $52,000 for poor women and children in Faridkot, Punjab. Last year he cycled 700 km in seven days in New Zealand with 360 other cyclists, ending up in Wellington and cycling around the parliament buildings on the eighth day. They raised NZ$850,000 for eight charities in New Zealand. He and two of his friends from Harmony On Wheels were the only Asians who took part in that ride, he says. He loved that journey across the hills and mountains. His wife and teenaged son followed him in a car. They spent the nights in hotel rooms, but not all the cyclists stayed in hotels. Many had their families travelling in caravans where they would rest at night. “They know how to enjoy life,” says Singh about the people he met in New Zealand.

Outdoorsy, adventurous, running an entertainment spot, he has a zest for life, seizing unusual opportunities with both hands. So when he was suddenly offered the role of a Mafia don in a Hindi movie though he has never acted in a film before, he grabbed it. The film, a romantic thriller called Pareshaan Parinda, partly shot in Sydney, is coming to Singapore. From former army officer to movie Mafia don, it’s quite a role change for our Samaritan on wheels. But Singh is game. Good luck to him. 

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