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Building Rome in a day

Bukit Timah Trail Head - the new trailhead with sentry rocks guiding the ride up an armored slope.
Bukit Timah Trail Head – the new trailhead with sentry rocks guiding the ride up an armored slope.

It’s been some months since we’ve touch the trails. Bukit Timah Mountain Bike Trail, centred around an important conservation area is heavily used every weekend, and with the combination of heavy traffic, user conflict adding to a pretty much ‘old-school’ mountain biking trail design,  the trail is in need of some work in order for it to sustain our tropical weather and conditions. With the upcoming Singapore National Mountain Bike Championship,  we took the chance to fix one of the critical yet easy fix for this 13yrs old trail network. The trailhead is an important gateway to a mountain biking network. It provides visual clues on what’s expected and prepare riders to meet the trail challenges ahead, pretty much a natural signpost in some way. With the importance of a symbolic trailhead in mind, we figured a rock armored climb would be ideal to fix this once and for all, a good and highly sustainable solution for this 23% graded slope. The previous season(s) effort by general civil engineering contractor trying to do a quick fix, with the all almighty cement, was horrible. The trail head looks dreadful weeks ago, with sharp broken cement blocks creating cutting surface for some unfortunate shin and knees, in which the earth had hollowed out below the cement surface, there no other way to fix this unless we take away what’s left of the cement and redo the trail with proper mountain bikes rock armors.


Bukit Timah Trail Head - before the rebuild
Bukit Timah Trail Head – before the rebuild

National Parks Board coordinated the effort with SACA and Dirtraction. Our plans is to to get the trail head fix before this major event. Supply chain for rocks choke up in the past weeks and we finally got the call from Nparks late last week, that we are to do the fix early in the week, in which normally we wouldn’t want to touch the trail so close to the event.  We guess is better now or never and we started the process on Tues 13th Oct 2009. The excavator came in and removed the concrete within 30minutes, paving our way to work on the rocks all day.


Bukit Timah Trail Head - healthy earth ready to breath again
Bukit Timah Trail Head – healthy earth ready to breath again

With some help from general workers, we got the rocks man-hauled up the slope one by one, barrow by barrow, roll by roll. The process is lengthy and Jason, Jeff and me toil through the afternoon with the meticulous rock puzzle which will make or break the climb. A total of  34 man hour is spent today, in which we managed to all the rocks pitched, minus the last 2metres of the exit in which we are forced to stop as nightfall. The last 2 metres is completed the next day, together with some test riding (that’s always the interesting part) and further modification so to make it flows better. Stuffing earth between the cracks will be on going for the next few day and we hope this will give Bukit Timah Mountain Bike trail a new image of sustainability and fun.


Bukit Timah Trail Head - rock armored in place after a 7hrs effort.
Bukit Timah Trail Head – rock armored in place after a 7hrs effort.


4 thoughts on “Building Rome in a day”

  1. Hello,
    Good job!
    Did SACA and Dirtraction lay all the rocks by themselves or together with the contractors?
    How many meters in total is this trail head that was fixed? You mentioned ‘only the last 2 meters…’ but did not say total length.
    Are there other areas that were fixed before this championship?

  2. We’ve 3 other general workers from the contractor to help to move the rocks as we pitch it manually one by one.

    the total length of the centipede is 12metres and this is the only area that we’ve the chance work on before the championship.

  3. Hi been riding this centipede trail head for a while now, and have managed to clear this only in about 5 attempts out of many many 🙂

    I reckon based on the number of riders who can successfully clear this, it’s fair to say this is the most technically challenging part of the Bukit Timah trail.

    A friend of mine had a nasty fall while attempting to climb this section a couple of weeks back, and ended up dislocating his elbow.

    Is there any way the trailhead could be reworked?

  4. great work Cal, and we are totally aware that there’s a learning curve to this.

    Drop us an email and let us know how did he fall and we can try to see how we can lower the risk for this trailhead, and in hope we can suggest to National Parks on this.

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