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 :)

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Rolling good times

File photo
Lim Chu Kang Road, 83 km. Little Red Tank rolls silently and smoothly. It feels like new. Was it because I'd lubricated the chain two times, without cleaning it before the second time?

I revisit places I last went to in 2009. Some of these places now exist as map coordinates, but which no longer exist in time. That is, what used to be there, like farms and forest, are no longer there. They're just memories.

All the more reason to explore. With M.

The cycling "loosened" my legs too. My calves are tight from all that training in the past weeks. Well, this time next week, I'd be racing and missing my wheels.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The one thing

Around my home, 11 km. My bicycle creaks incessantly. It's not the seat post. Is it the chainring? Chain? Crank arm? Bottom bracket? To get rid of the noise, get rid of the bike? That's over the top.

On a whim, I change the pedals. I crank it up, no noise, no matter how hard I try.

I've neglected my pedals for so long. I brush off the dirt and oil it with tender loving care.

What's the one thing in your life you need to change?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Doing something worthwhile

Jun distance: 126 km

File photo
Kranji, 69 km. Working hard on the big chain ring, trading fewer revs for more effort, and ultimately not having much fun?

Here's the "theory", now practice. What are the results? Change cadence, change effort, how do the results compare?

Learning isn't not a waste of time, if the student is an earnest learner.

This applies to life too, doesn't it? Putting in so much effort, not really going anywhere. What's the "theory"? What to change? What do you want anyway?

Well, knowing what you don't want is a start.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Changes

Serangoon, 18km. I cycle to where I first learnt to cycle, on the road where I rounded a corner at high speed, crashed into a drain, and I limped hone while my dad pushed my bicycle. So, so much has changed. The area where I grew up looks essentially the same. But that was last century, people have grown up, moved away, moved on. What mattered then, doesn't matter now. And what matters now, didn't matter then.

And there are threads that connect the past to the present, and perhaps the future.

I learnt to cycle, to explore, to live with pain. That hasn't changed.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Soft pedal, hard fall

Mandai, 39 km. The blazing, sunny sky grows dark in the afternoon. Will it rain? I've cleaned and lubed Matt Black's chain for the first time. No matter, let's ride.

I'm more hurtling round the bend than cycling. This is dangerous, as the trail is two way. Some cyclists hurtle past me. I finally get to a quiet place. I see a tree root, attempt to roll over it, and crash with a bang.

The crash is so hard, my cyclocomputer dislodges. What happened?

If I was on my rigid Little Red Tank, I wouldn't have crashed. Still unfamiliar with the suspension fork, I wasn't rolling fast enough. The fork absorbs the impact from the root, I stall and crash.

My first crash on Matt Black!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Eclectic


May distance: 121 km

Upper Thomson Road, 27 km. What a strange ride. From secondary forest, where there's no one in sight, just foliage, unseen biting insects and a spider web that sticks to my handlebars when I blunder into it. To an industrial estate where a pack of dogs goes into a frenzy and one slinks through the bars in the gate and lunges after me. Then to where the landed gentry live, tending gardens outside their compound.

I'd keep exploring, but thunder rumbles above, so I cycle home pronto. I marvel at how effortless this feels, even though I'm non "non-series" Shimano hubs.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sign city

Mandai, 42 km. This land has been called a "fine city". Fine for littering, for offences big and small. It's a sign city too. On a park connector, on what seems like secondary forest, there are signs again and again, warning of falling branches and to stay on track. On the remains of a road, which part of the track is for those on foot, and those on wheels?

As I surge up and down the slopes, I marvel at the fluid dynamics of my fork, the comfort and speed with which I ride on Matt Black. What a difference front suspension and hydraulic disc brakes make over a rigid bike and V-brakes.

But I guess cycling the hard way has made me a better rider, because I've had to use my limbs to absorb shock for years.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Reminiscing about running

52 km. Yesterday, I did my first race. At night. On foot. When it started, I thought: "My training was
tougher than this." And then it happened. Going uphill, I found myself leaning forward. At one point, crew were yelling: "There's a rope you can use to pull yourself up." There were people crowding to use the rope, so I went to the ropeless part, which was even steeper. I'm on all fours to scramble up, but there's no one in my way. Going downhill, I find myself leaning backwards.

Twice, something grabbed my toes, but I kept my balance and kept going.

My training, running solo at night in the jungle trails, paid off. I made good time.

I want to see where I was running yesterday.

So, I go back there today, on Matt Black, which is it's first off-road ride. Wow, I'm glad I didn't see the terrain during my run, just as far as my headlamp could shine - a pool of light a metre wide, three metres away.

It was a good run, and a good ride today, as I cycle among workers tearing down the tents, barriers and equipment set up for yesterday's race.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Deft handling

Apr distance: 151 km

Pasir Ris, 36 km. A front derailleur that shifts to the big chain ring, the granny ring but skips the middle? And the problem is not fixed after more than one trip to the bikeshop? Ok, I'll take a look at this strange phenomenon on L's foldie, though I'm doubtful I can fix it if professional bike mechanics can't.

The derailleur plates and all three chain rings are aligned. The chain can go up the big ring, but won't come down to the middle; it stays on the big one and grinds away on the derailleur plate. Click again, and the chain goes to the small ring. Two clicks, two chain rings. Well, it's not as if the chain jumps from big ring to granny in one click. This can only mean one thing.

I fiddle with the barrel adjuster and voila, job done, just a few seconds.

On my way back, I see another phenomenon. A guy doing a track stand. He doesn't even have his hands on the handlebar. We're not talking about a split second here! Now that is what I call a master.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

HIgh noon

Seletar, 65 km. I'm on the road at 0615. Cyclists are out in force; clustered along the roads, red tail lights blink like fireflies in flames.

At 1100, when the sun beats down, there are still cyclists on the road, but mostly cycling solo. There is a lone runner on the road, clutching a water bottle.

I wonder what she's training for. The five of us cycling today are not training; we spend six hours on the road, with some of the time on Myco mushroom farm eating (mushroom stout and ale?!) and gawking at Animal Resort.