Paul Wakefield, 33
For the carpenter-turned-headhunter, the whole course of this A-Listers challenge has opened up many doors for him, and it was all kicked off by “some English idiot in a salmon jacket thinking he could ride a bamboo bike around Singapore”. Wakefield happens to be that “English idiot”, who built a bike entirely from bamboo and diligently clocked an impressive distance of 194km around the country, peddling it despite a swollen ankle.
So you built a bamboo bike. What was the process like?
Bambike, from the Philippines, spends a huge amount of time picking the right materials to work with. Once received the bamboo needs to be stripped, sanded, cut, bound and glazed to ensure maximum strength and quality. I love the frame I have and will keep it for years to remind me of the challenge. The process took us well over a week to put the bike together and I have to thank Ken at Singapore Bike School for all of this help and technical expertise throughout the campaign. He runs a small local business here and has so much passion for the sport and teaching – it just made the whole A-Lister adventure so much more enjoyable.
Did it turn out like you wanted?
The bike is beautiful and I have compliments every time I take it out. Plus, being made of bamboo makes it eco-friendly. With people getting more conscious about the environment, I wouldn’t be surprised if we start seeing them everywhere in Singapore. In fact, I am working with Bambike to sell more of such custom bikes in Singapore, and the money raised from that will then go towards building a school in the Philippines.
How did you manage to ride with an injured ankle?
The ride ended up being 194km around the whole of the country. My ankle is still swollen from a fracture so we strapped it up and I loaded myself with anti-inflammatory tablets before heading out. Boy, am I glad I didn’t commit to running the distance.
What was it like working with the bunch of boys and teaching them the ropes of putting a bike together?
I wanted to teach the guys something that would be useful to them, where they could be hands on and see a finished product. We started off quite basic, but then taught them some mechanics, which I bet most adults wouldn’t know. I was impressed by how quickly they picked them up. Because of that, I got well, demoted to screwing the bottle cages on. (laughs)
How easy was it for you be be comfortable around them?
Sports is a great leveller and puts aside background, race and wealth. So I guess you could say we started on even ground. The longer the classes went on, the more confident and comfortable the guys became – not just with me but with one another. Track day at the Tampines Bike Park was awesome too – we definitely have some Olympians in the making.
What are the boys like?
I intended to talk more about the future and what they wanted to achieve as the guys were more comfortable and open with that. One thing that was very clear was that they needed guidance to help them make such decisions. I think this is where CARE Singapore plays a great role in their lives and challenges them to become something better than they think they are capable of.
What are some of the lessons you think the boys have taught you?
That it’s way more fun to spend Thursday afternoons shredding up a BMX track than it is to be working!
Did any of them remind you of when you were younger?
Not a chance! They were far too well-behaved.
What do you want the boys to learn?
You never know until you try, be it career, sport, living abroad or… women. Get out there and try everything to find what you love.
Paul Wakefield, 33