Taking the Bull by the horns
Next month, S'pore's Team Braap Brothers will be in Romania for the gruelling, five-day Red Bull Romaniacs. Biker Boy catches up with them
Has reality sunk in that it's almost race day?
Ben: Yes. And there's nothing better than a bit of fear to motivate us.
What's training been like in the last three months?
Peter: We have moved away from the technical stuff and are trying to get longer rides in. My strengths are my technical skills and bike set-up. My biggest weakness is endurance over multiple days. I can ride three days solid and feel okay, but I start making stupid mistakes due to fatigue.
Muhammad: I make sure that the sponsorship, media, branding and logistics are taken care of. On race day, I would play mother and make sure the guys get their team support... I just want them to focus on the racing.
The team has participated in enduro races in Malaysia. How does this help you?
Ben: We learn to ride within our limits and not blow up after starting too fast. I just keep reminding myself about the story of the tortoise and hare. Peter: It's hard to replicate the intensity of racing by just practising. So taking part in actual races is the only way to get close to the intensity that will be felt in Romania. Training has gone well, and I have lost nearly 7kg. I would like to shed a few more kilos before the race.
The team has switched dirt bikes from KTMs to Husqvarnas. Have you got used to the new Husqvarna 350FE?
Peter: I am still working with our suspension guru, Michael Tan of Fluid Mechanics, to find a set-up on the Husky forks that suit me. Ben: The front end with the WP forks has been the focus of many conversations after a few too many moments and one or two decent offs. I like the bike noisy and loose - the FMF pipe has put a big smile on my face.
What will the team be lugging to Romania?
Ben: We may need a small troop to help us with luggage, forks, shocks, exhausts, radiator guards, lever protection, bash plates, exhaust guards, grab straps, two or three sets of riding kit, nutrition and a blender for the EPN morning shakes, medical kit, safety kit. This is going to be a mission.
Looking back, what would you have done differently?
Peter: I guess there were days I could have trained harder, done a few more reps, or another lap on the track. But at the same time, I am not injured and am getting in better shape. So who knows? Probably a few less beers overall would not have hurt.
- Mr Ben Crookenden, 36, Briton, insurance broker
- Mr Muhammad Alkhatib, 39, Singaporean, owner of a digital firm
- Mr Peter Grinsted, 40, Australian and Singapore PR, energy sector loss adjuster
Patients sometimes ask the weirdest questions. JUDITH TAN gets doctors to confess what has fazed them during consultations
1 Tiger mum: "Did I develop my thyroid disorder because I scream at my kids too much?"
Medical fact: Stress may be harmful for the thyroid gland but not constant screaming.
2 Young man's family members to a neurologist: "Please give him a neurological examination. We want to know why he still doesn't have a girlfriend."
Medical fact: A neurological examination only looks at a person's nervous system, brain and spinal cord.
3 Woman: "I love chicken and I eat it all the time. Can chicken cause fibroids?"
Medical fact: There is no scientific evidence that consuming chicken can cause uterine fibroids.
4 Expectant mother: "I drink a lot of cold drinks. Will my foetus catch a cold from that?"
Medical fact: It is a myth that pregnant women stand the risk of giving birth to babies with asthma and other respiratory diseases if they consistently drink cold water.
5 Male cancer patient: "Can we not do a biopsy on my lungs? I was told it will make my cancer spread."
Medical fact: A recent study of more than 2,000 patients has dispelled the myth that cancer biopsies cause cancer to spread. Instead, patients who received a biopsy had a better outcome and longer survival than those who did not.
I can give them the $8,000 grant
Book sells out after NAC withdraws grant — let me help
Drones' new job: Nab exam cheats
China using unmanned aircraft to hunt down rogue students during world's most stressful test
Confessions of a suicide hotline volunteer
With a phone, he saves lives. He talks people out of hurting themselves.
Donovan, who is in his mid 60s, is a volunteer with Samaritans of Singapore (SOS).
It is not his real name as SOS keeps its volunteers anonymous.
For four hours each week, he's at the SOS call centre at Cantonment Close and waits for calls to come in.
SOS has 220 volunteers who take turns to man the hotline.
Out of the 120 calls they get daily, 20 per cent are from people with "a suicide risk".
Another 40 per cent are people deemed to be in crisis.
As each call can make the difference between life and death, volunteers treat all calls seriously even though they might be a false alarm.
All volunteers have to undergo rigorous training before they can man the phones.
The training can last from nine months to a year.
Says Donovan: "It is not as frightening as it seems. Before one goes 'solo' on the phone, they would have received months of training."
Read the full report in our print edition on June 7.
Subscribe to The New Paper, now available in print and digital, at http://bit.ly/tnpeshop.