Cycling is like life. Cycling with no goal is meaningless. What meaning is there cycling in circles? Or living aimlessly? Meaning comes from direction and destination. Join me in my life's journey on a mountain bike :)

Blogging since 2003. Thank you for reading :))

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Relationships

Feb distance: 72 km

Sembawang, 31 km. I cycle to my friend's house for the annual new year visit, instead of taking the train. The change in transport mode is a break in tradition, to make time to ride. There are fewer people there this year compared to past years and I ponder about relationships.

Blood relations: we don't choose our parents. To be able to choose, we've to be around in the first place, right?
Work relations: generally, we don't choose our colleagues. We join a workplace and "inherit" the workers who are there. Sometimes, we can choose. For example, if we like a certain team and ask to transfer there. Or that team invites us to start employment there.
Marital relations: generally, we choose our spouse, except in arranged marriages. We don't quite choose our in-laws; they're part of the deal.
Friendships: this is where we have the most choice. Even as kids, we choose who to play with. This isn't as straightforward as it seems. We might want to choose certain friends, but those friends have to choose us too. And friendships, like all relationships, may drift apart. So, roadies tend to ride with roadies, ditto with foldies. Indeed, the prerequisite to join some groups is, you've got to have that type of bicycle first.

The above categories aren't mutually exclusive. Say, we join a group of strangers and make friends. One of them asks: "My firm is hiring. Would you like to apply?" and friendship becomes work relationship. A workplace romance blooms, which leads to a marital relationship. Or we could start with work relations and after resignation, remain friends / get married. So how does one start a blood relationship? Oh, when the relationship turns bloody, you say? LOL

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Over hydrated, over wrought

Mandarin oranges symbolise abundance. This crime scene
(littering, feeding wildlife) has abundant abundance.
Woodlands, 41 km. Today is my first ride in 2018. I don't mean it's my first ride in the Chinese New Year, I mean it's my first ride in Common Era 2018. I apply sunblock but I needn't have bothered.

Less than an hour after I start cycling, thunderclouds block the sun, from one end of the sky to the other. Instead of cycling on the road, I feel like I'm cycling in a stream. Water pours down on me from the sky, gushes over my shoes (that's how high the spray from the front wheel is), sprays me from the side from passing traffic.

At Sembawang Hot Spring, people sit in the rain, using wash basins as umbrellas, soaking their feet in hot water, as cold rain pours around them.

I get lost (literally). Thrills and (almost) spills, as a truck brakes behind me instead of running me over.

So exciting! This is my first ride since Jun 2017, a break of eight months. It's my longest break from cycling since I started cycling.

Life is unpredictable. Perhaps that is why I cycle: it is mostly predictable. It involves physics and engineering. It is physical: push / pull the pedals, it turns. Something squeaks? By the process of elimination, I can find the cause and eliminate the squeak. It may be tedious and frustrating, but diligence will do the job. Emotional stuff? That is a different world, with a whole new language and culture ...

Monday, September 04, 2017

Changes

Dear readers,

I haven't blogged in Jul-Aug. That's because I didn't cycle in Jul-Aug, and my policy then was "I ride, I write".

My life changed a lot in 2016 and change accelerated more than my bicycle last year and this year. I'd like to say I'm taking a break, but I didn't. In the past two months, I trained for, then ran an ultramarathon. It's my fifth ultra. I'm still recovering from it.

I'll be back, likely with something new. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Swept away

Moving off in the morning mist
Jun distance: 325 km

9-11 Jun, Pahang, Malaysia, 283 km

Background
Charity Bike n Blade #11, a charity ride in aid of Beyond Social Service and Peacehaven (The Salvation Army). Over 80 cyclists raised close to SGD300,000, which, with government matching grants, amount in total to about SGD500,000.

Route: Day 1 by bus to Kuantan (non-cycling day), Day 2 to Lanjut 142 km, Day 3 to Tanjung Leman 141 km.

Ride details
Day 2. At “wheels up”, I take care to hang back so I don't cycle with the fastest. After a great two hours, I drop off. My lack of training (just over 40 km per week for a month) shows.

Another breath taking sight
M comes up behind me and says “Hi, I think I'll stick behind you." Then she offers to pull me along. "I might not be able to keep up," I confess. "I'll pull you at 20 km/h,” she says. That doesn’t last long. When I see a support car by the roadside, I and stop to top up on Gatorade (sponsored) and bananas. She pedals on.

The crew take good care of me. When they drive past, they ask if I need anything and stop when I do.

The broom wagon comes along at 1pm. I ask for permision to carry on and it is granted. Two other cyclists get off to join me, including intrepid sweeper S. It’s so early in the afternoon, why be swept up? The reason is lunch, or rather the lack of it. There is no food along the way other than Gatorade, bread and bananas from support vehicles.

I arrive at 2 pm, 2 hours later than the faster cyclists. At least, I make it on my own steam, in the steaming heat.

Day 3 is like Day 2: a great 1-2 hours speeding through the cool morning air, then the first stop at a water point. I linger and watch the roadies ride off. I'm solo most of the time now. While people overtake me, I don't see the recumbent cyclist. It seems some other cyclists don't ride today, not just the casualties from yesterday who lost skin and blood when wheels touched and when someone went into a pot hole and took others down.

Whole lot of calories. Thanks, crew
for keeping me going
To save time, I don't have a hot lunch today when I could’ve, just bread and bananas. I pass a roadie who stopped upslope. "I am done," he says, and claps to cheer me on.

Sweeper S and my room mate KC debus. S says he'll ride with me. He punctures and changes two
tubes before his tyre is fixed. Time ticks away. A support car comes along and the crew ask me to go on. I speed to avoid being swept up. Barely 12 km from the end point, the broom wagon catches up with me, sweeping me up. We see KC, there is no room on board for him. S is apologetic as I don't get to finish the ride but I’m glad we get to ride together; in past years, he’s the sweeper while I’m ahead.  We arrive just after 2 pm. What's the rush this time? To catch the bus home.

Why am I slow this year? Besides my lack of training, Day 2 offers high heat and headwinds while Day 3 has high heat and rolling hills. And fat tyres don’t help!

Nightstops
Zenith Hotel, Kuantan: this big hotel feels new and things work. The hotel sets aside an empty hall to lock up our bikes.
Lanjut Golden Beach and Golf Resort: I've been here before. It's more dismal this time. The ceiling pours when the shower is turned on. The toilet doesn't flush well. For another cyclist, the aircon in his room doesn't work, but he got a room change.
Tanjung Leman: Felda Residence Tanjung Leman. We don’t spend the night here, but I wish I did as it has big and luxurious grounds. The hotel lets us stop here to shower and ready our bikes for the bus ride back to Singapore.

Tech note
After struggling with a stock saddle that came with my then new bicycle in Sep 2014, I'm back to my Brooks saddle, owned since 2011. After several adjustments, I've gotten to the bottom of it and found the sweet spot. Sweet! The only pain isn't at my rear end, just heart ache that I got swept up and didn't ride all the way to the end.

Oh! This is my 800th post on this blog :)

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Going around in circles

Seletar, 42 km. I’m fed up after going around in circles at work these past weeks. But today, I don’t mind going in circles, furiously cycling along a 2.3 km loop I discovered. Traffic is light and there is only one traffic light along the entire route.

When I cycle loops, I tend to get bored and frustrated: all that effort but going no where really. Ironically, cycling round in circles this time, I feel better. Perhaps going at speed with just one stop per loop gives the illusion of progress?

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Micro adjustments, major pain

A dead end is a pain; a poorly adjusted saddle is a rear end pain
May distance: 156 km

Seletar, 39 km. Millimetre by millimetre, I adjust my saddle, because I know the pain that comes from thousands of kilometres of pain that comes from a “maladjusted” saddle. Too high or too low? Too far forward or too far aft? Nose tilted too high or too low? Trail and error is a pain, and only time will tell.

I got my current beau, Matt Black, in Sep 2014. Why adjust the saddle again after taking a year dialling in the stock Selle saddle that came with Matt Black? Because I decided to replace the stock saddle with my Brooks saddle, which I bought in 2011 for my now-retired Little Red Bike.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Fast and furious

Seletar, 45 km. This residential area, with names like Picadilly Circus, used to be a quiet, idyllic place to cycle. It also has an airport.

Besides the airport, the area is increasingly more and more an aerospace hub, with Airbus and other giants here. The aircraft traffic is still light, but road traffic is heavy: fast and furious.

Cycling here would be hair raising, but for the helmet I am wearing.

Cycling here used to have the thrill of speed without traffic lights.
It's a good place to train. Now, the thrill is filtering without being killed by speeding traffic.

Photos:
Top right, 2011: it used to be a path, leading to wooden houses with zinc roofs. The only things buzzing around were mosquitoes.
Bottom left, 2014: construction for buzzing traffic.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Excuses and reasons

Add some colour to grey
Seletar, 41 km. I knew I should ride yesterday. The sky was clear, I’d eaten too. But instead of burning fuel, I stayed home. My excuse: I stabbed my hand last week. It still hurt and hurting hands don’t go with handlebars. Wait till Sunday.

Today is Sunday. Dark clouds are overhead, so I shouldn’t ride. But I need to train for my charity ride. Otherwise, I’ll suffer and worse, get a “DNF” (ok I exaggerate, such status is given only during races and this isn’t a race).

Well, since I have a reason to ride, that beats any excuse. I look at the weather app, see where the clouds have been going with the wind, and ride.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Life happened

Pasir Ris, 31 km. It looked like it was going to be a dark and stormy night: dark clouds hang overhead, thunder rumbles. I even see lightning flash in front of me. What a great reason to stay home. But I ride.

I'd signed up for a charity ride. That leaves me four weeks to train.

How things have changed. In the past, I'd have trained for months. Now, barely a month. In the past I'd grab every opportunity to ride. Now, I grab every excuse not to ride. I even thought of doubling running and stop riding.

How big would've the change been? In the past, I blog only after cycling. Now, I was going to blog without cycling.

What's happening? Life happened: there are physiological, psychological and preferences changes.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Days gone by, place gone by


Apr distance: 64 km

Woodlands, 45 km. The rain has stopped. Dark clouds are still overhead. In the past months, that’s a good reason to stay home. But today, I want to ride. I’m off to see a place before it gets torn down: Woodlands Point.

To be here used to mark the start of adventures across the border, into the great beyond. We'd wait here, outside McDonald's, till everyone was here, then we'd ride over there.

Malaysia was the great big yonder. I've spent many happy hours there years ago, cycling with new friends, exploring, eating and talking.

Those days are pretty much gone.

And this place will be gone too.