Confessions of a cycling instructor
He started Singapore's only cycling instruction school
One would imagine that as a cycling instructor, Mr Kenneth Wee would be spending most of his time teaching children the basics.
The 47-year-old laughed when he was asked who the bulk of his newbie students are.
He said: "It is actually adults that form more than half of the customers for my basic cycling classes.
"Some people never got around to learning, or they had a traumatic experience that held them back. I help them get past that and discover the joy of cycling."
Mr Wee is the founder of Singapore Bike School, a cycling instruction school here.
Started in 2009, the school caters to all ages and levels, including how to ride a BMX - an off-road sports bicycle used for racing and stunt riding.
Mr Wee has a coaching diploma from Union Cycliste Internationale, the global governing body for sports cycling, and he has even coached the national BMX team.
The credentials he has may be impressive, but Mr Wee feels that being willing to listen to students and help them work out difficulties is essential too.
"Just because someone is a great cyclist does not mean he knows how to help you become one. A good coach is someone who has the skills and knows how to share them clearly and confidently," he said.
This means being adaptive.
For instance, he shared how a student last year was especially reluctant to learn - he was forced to attend the lessons by his parents.
Mr Wee spent the first lesson talking to the boy, trying to understand what he liked.
When the boy said he liked physics, Mr Wee told him to read up about the science behind cycling.
Mr Wee said: "He came back with so much knowledge, and he even told me things I did not know. I wanted to encourage it, so I attached a speedometer to his bike so he could keep track of his cycling."
After that, the boy picked up cycling quickly and now enjoys it, Mr Wee said with a smile.
But not all students are easy to manage. He shared that some students like to complain - and they are the ones he has to be patient with most.
"Some students complain about the weather or how difficult they think cycling is. But I try my best to listen and understand - all their fears and whining have to come from somewhere, and it is my job to help soothe them," he said.
Mr Wee has a few venues where he takes his students. He takes the basic students to the Road Safety Community Park in East Coast Park and meets the rest in other parks where there is enough space.
For specific kinds of cycling such as mountain biking, he carries out his lessons in some of the cycling trails located around Singapore.
Each lesson lasts an average of an hour and half. It costs around $80, but it is also subject to what kind of lesson the student wants.
Mr Wee said: "Every student goes for a personalised lesson because every student has his own learning speed."
Besides cycling, Mr Wee also teaches students how to be a bicycle mechanic at Bike School Asia, which he founded four years after setting up Singapore Bike School.
He left his job in advertising 10 years ago to pursue this career.
While he enjoyed the creativity in the field, he felt bogged down by the pace. He then turned to one of his greatest passions - cycling.
"I was at the tail end of a long first career, and circumstances at the time gave me a chance to reflect on where my passion was and if I could turn it into a new opportunity," Mr Wee said.
"As soon as I saw my first student successfully cycle on her own, I knew I made a difference in her life, and I felt assured that this new path was something more rewarding and meaningful."
Since he spends every day on two wheels, one would think that Mr Wee has his daily fill of cycling - but it is never enough.
"Actually, since I am always teaching, I never get to cycle as much as I would like to.
"It is okay though - when my students are done, it is my turn to play," he said cheekily.
Secrets of the trade
Get certified. Customers need to be assured of your ability and one way is to have the paper qualifications.
Listen more than you talk. As a coach, you need to understand the problems that students are facing and help them overcome the challenges.
Be prepared for unpredictability. The weather and terrain conditions can turn unexpectedly, and you should be able to adapt your lesson.