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 :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Missing

File photo
Bukit Brown,  22 km. I'm tired and I hear distant thunder. I drag myself out to cycle. The moment I'm on the road, I feel good. I travel back to where I was last week and I find what I seek: the missing cover from my tail light, which was shaken apart. How that happened, I don't know.

Back home, I fit the missing piece back but realise that another piece is missing.

I thought it was so easy to find the missing piece. Too easy.

When something is broken, it's hard to put everything back together. When you miss someone, it's hard too. To move on when the person is gone, especially when gone for good from this world, forgive yourself.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Small wonder

Bukit Brown, 36 km. I'm so bored today, I cycle in the mid afternoon sun - not literally of course, I
mean I ride under the sun. I have several options: go north? east? In the end, I head south, the way things seem to have gone.

What a journey. From roads with traffic whizzing past (this is Sunday, in the suburbs, but the traffic volume exceeds peak hour traffic in Auckland or Adelaide), to a trail with no one in sight, to a busy cemetery (busy with live people, I mean). And grassland, where I can train for my race.

Yes, living on a small island sucks, but it's so compact, there's variety to be had in a short ride.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Mental toughness

Mar distance: 129 km

Buangkok, 26 km. As I do my loops, I see the road sweeper open drainage covers and sweep their undersides. Why does she do that? Who asked her to and what difference does it make? I wonder what she thinks as she sweeps in the deepening darkness of dusk.

Back home, I fiddle with my front shifter. When I press the lever, it moves but does not click and the derailleur does not shift. In other words, the shifter is merely going through the motion. I spray lube to dissolve the gummed up grease and shift it furiously. Until it stops shifting. Oops. My heart sinks. I probe the inside with a screwdriver from the outside and everything clicks.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Memory lane

Punggol, 46 km. It wasn't meant to be this way. It was meant to be a short ride, down memory lane.
Wherever the wheel turns, I'll go. Just an hour or so.

As I wandered, time and distance passed quietly by. Before I knew it, more than two hours passed.

Last Sunday, she passed away. Gone, light as the wings of a butterfly, leaving a heavily-burdened life behind, where luxuries were just simple pleasures. I wish I was there, just one more time, but I wasn't. I've said goodbye several times, I wish I was there to say it just one more time. Goodbye.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Systems thinking

I see the light!
Tampines, 31 km. The haze is back, in the moderate range. As I cycle the trail, my tyres are low pressure, suited for hard pack, grass, sand and gravel. Not quite suited for road in terms of speed, but good for comfort. I don't bother to pump the tyres up then let the air out. While there are variables (not to mention tyre tread), the constant is traction and balance.

The slope is so steep, I lean forward to shift the centre of gravity forward. Near the top, the front wheel lifts up and I fall. I go so slowly, I 'm not punctured but twist my ankle as I fall at an awkward angle.

At its core, cycling is about balance. You need gravity for traction; gravity is your friend and enemy. When it comes to people, the core is about care. Self-sacrifice vs self-preservation, friend vs enemy, thinking your enemy is your friend or vice versa, treating your enemy like a friend. There's a system there somewhere?

This post is dedicated to NY, has it been eight years since I last cycled with you?

Sunday, March 02, 2014

A sudden message, a sudden adventure

Tampines, 26 km. Yesterday was a crazy day. A sudden message, a sudden visit to hospice. I've seen
dead people, but never someone dying. There's nothing left to do but wait.

Today, I ride. At first, it's aimless. First, dog territory. I skirt them, along a single track, if you can call it that in the expanse. The wind blows and I wonder if my scent will draw them.

Look hard enough, and see the jungle in the concrete
Ahead, I see a shimmering. I hope it's the sun glinting off gravel, but it's not. It's water. Soon, I am more than rim deep in muck. Imagine the quagmire I'd be in if it wasn't for the regional drought. I hear grinding from below me. Yup, the brake pads are grinding down my rims.

I grab a fence to skirt the muck, while untangling vines from the handlebar with the other hand and balancing all this while. At one point, I see a leaf 30 cm long, covered with fiery red ants as big as my thumb nail. I'm glad I didn't grab it nor did it brush against me. They're just a face-length away.

The trail goes on. I see a group of people sitting on the grass. Soon, it's desolation again. Where am I? It's getting dark. I gotta get out of here!

I see a human figure in black. As I approach, I see he's got wild vegetables. I ask him where he's going. He speaks some English and points. I follow him through an obstacle course. Adrenalin flowing, I heave my bike like it's a pillow. It goes over railings, hedges, a drain, then I'm safe.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Things have changed

Feb distance: 129 km

Tampines, 28 km. I used to go north. Today, on a whim, I go east. Things have changed. There used to be jungle by the road. The jungle has been flattened. The road, which used to be "free flow", now hosts major junctions. I go past factories which are still being built.

Well, at least the dogs that used to hang out here and chase me are gone.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Dying and dead

Jurong, 69 km. Yesterday, I visit an (ex) colleague spending her last days in a hospice. Today, I go to a wake - another colleague's grandpa is dead. He would've been 108 if he'd lived till his next birthday. H

The dead guy lived through five governments (including the Japanese Occupation) and the Great Depression. The dying lady is half his aged and didn't even get to retire. She's so responsible; when she was on extended leave (before going to the hospice), she'd help her replacement by phone.

This is the first time I've cycled to a wake and "meet" anyone a century old. I get lost on the way home, but make it back, taking the long way home. The route is the same, but a large part has been widened, with new asphalt.

I ponder about life, about what I'm doing with mine, and how a few seconds of adjusting the air conditioner for my dying friend made such a difference to her.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Scaring myself

Good life eh?
Seletar, 32 km. After cycling on grass, roadside debris and grass, I hear hissing. And my front tyre

looks flat! I dismount and squeeze my front tyre. It's hard like a rock. So what's hissing?

Ah, a gardener spraying water on parched grass. Sometimes, things aren't as bad as they sound?

It's Chinese New Year. Another year, the year of the ssssnake, has passed. Last year was the 10th anniversary of my first epic ride.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

New road

Jan distance: 116 km

Seletar, 36 km. I read the once-sleepy airbase that's Seletar is become even more expansive, with more new roads within and without being built, so much so that even the land on which a petrol station stands will be acquired.

I head out to take a look before the place is obliterated, only to stand in memory. I trundle around the area, wary of dogs. I cycle on roads where I'm the only wheeled vehicle; everyone else is a pedestrian. There's another road where there's no one in sight. Does this portend of a new road to take in life?