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 :))

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Change

November distance: 54 km

Upper Thomson, 20 km. Decades pass and little changes. Then someone, somewhere, decides to widen this two-way road one way. Don't know whom, don't know why.

Things remain the same, then, within a year, or even within the blink of an eye, so much can change.

Change may come about by accident; someone somewhere makes a mistake, and someone else may end up paying the price, be it careless driving or unhygienic food practices.

Change may come about because of an impulsive decision, or a life decision made after much agonising.

Because of change, what was once important becomes unimportant. Like km clocked in a year.

I used to cycle as cycletherapy, for my mind. Now, it's for phyical therapy.


Friday, November 23, 2018

What goes around, comes around

Upper Thomson, 18 km. One reason I started running years ago was, I got tired of dragging my bike out, the accoutrements and paraphernalia. Running was much easier; just about the only equipment I needed (besides clothes) are running shoes.

Instead of cycling in trails, do trail running.

Then, the injuries came. Injuries that last and last from single-day ultra marathons, which I didn't suffer from mountain bike multi-day stage races.

I reckon it's better I get back on my bike, for physiotherapy more so than cycletherapy!
 
And so, my bike tyres are going round and round again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Back in the saddle, looking back

Upper Thomson, 16 km. It's been nine months since I last cycled. Many days, few rides, few km.

Much has changed. Then, I had to look out for mobile phone zombies jaywalking across the road. Now, it's not only them, but also PMD users zipping past at electric motor speeds, from pavements to roads and all over the place.

The road I've cycled on for over a decade used to be two lanes, two way. It's wider now - and one way! What used to be a nice loop is no more.

When we were younger, life used to be mostly play. Then mostly school and some play (school holidays). Then mostly work and little play (annual leave). These life stages are undergirded by family, friends, health and financial matters, in varying proportions.

The time will come when work is no more and other things come to the fore. Like family and the meaning of life.

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.