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, January 07, 2017

Hot, tired, hungry but not unhappy

Pasir Ris, 40 km. I’m hot, tired and hungry. But I keep going, as I’m training for a long ride, as  one leg is 175 km long. I expect to be hot, tired and hungry on that ride, so I train for the feeling.

If this was my job, I’d be unhappy with my boss. How can one work when hot, tired and hungry? But this is not my job. Since I’m not working, this is supposed to be play. Same ride, same conditions, yet the feeling is different. Hot, tired and hungry, yet not unhappy.

And that’s what purpose is about. Make sense?

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Adventure, not adversity

Dec distance: 193 km

Woodlands, The last morning and last ride in the last month of 2016. This month’s mileage is decent. Today, I cover about 1/3 of the dreaded 175 km distance I’d be covering in Myanmar. But I shouldn’t dread it. I’ll frame this as a challenge, not a chore. Adventure, not adversity.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Planning vs worrying

Admiralty, 43 km. On the way: 175 km fully loaded on fat tyres in a foreign land. Longer, if I get lost. I know from experience that 160 km (a “century” of miles} is the upper limit of tolerance. 140 km or less is leisurely, and that’s what cyclotouring should be about. But 175 km? A painful ride.

I’d a boss who said I’m stoic. Perhaps stoic on the outside, but not on the inside. Eric Barker writes: “A key part of Stoicism is just asking yourself, ‘Can I do anything
about this?’ … Next time you're worrying, pause and ask yourself, ‘Do I have control
over this?’ If you do, stop worrying and get to work. If you don't have control, worrying won't make it better.”

So, what can I control?

  • Ride time: I’ll need lights so I don’t have to win the race against the sun(set)
  • Weight: improve power-to-weight ratio. It’s weight weenie time, eg, I fuss with lights and spares: high power yet low weight (especially “button” batteries, lighter than AA). I don’t know how “barren” Myanmar is, but I’ll pack light yet calorie dense food
  • Route: don’t get lost! I pour over maps, mark out distances and plot routes. With the “terrain” feature on Google Maps (click the three horizontal lines at top left corner of Chrome browser), I drastically change my route.

Will the plan work? I don’t know. I worry it won’t. I ask myself: “Is there more I can do? I should’ve trained more. I add km, but time is running out and it’s been raining. Can’t do more? Stay home, pack and check equipment.”

As Eric writes, there’s no point cursing the rain. “You accept the rain. It's here. Denial and shoulds won't change anything... but that doesn't mean you can't grab an umbrella.”

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Working holiday

Sembawang, 35 km. I've a cycling holiday coming up. Not a holiday from cycling, but a holiday for cycling.

Trip preparation involves:
  • Route planning. This includes looking at distances, terrain, sights and sites (for food and sleep). Sitting at a table, looking down, pouring over data: sounds like work but doesn't feel like it.
  • Cycling to keep in shape for the big ride, That sounds like fun but it feels like work. 
Weird. Why does sitting on a bicycle, slicing through the air feel like work? Perhaps it's the traffic. Dodging traffic is no fun. But that's only a partial explanation. Perhaps cycling to be in shape, rather than solely for fun, makes it no fun.

Tech note: at several bike shops, I was told the solution to wailing brake pads was to replace them. So, new brake pads each time I ride in the rain? Twice, I remove the pads, wash them with soap and soaked them overnight. It works, until the next downpour; a cheap but tedious solution. Next, I tried "flossing" the brake pads: soak cloth in water (without soap). Slip the cloth between the pads (remove wheel first) and floss. It works: a cheap and easy solution.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Training for holiday

Time to explore!
Pasir Ris, 39 km. Another year is coming to an end. Another holiday is coming. It's easy for an office worker to leave for a walkabout vacation. While I don't sit on my behind all day, would I be able to be on the saddle all day for multiple days? So I train for my holiday.

Someone said that the first few days of a long trip is the training ride. After that, the body adapts to the new regime. While that seems to be true for long rides in my experience, I wish that applies to ultramarathons. Surely the first few days of a multi-day run would be detrimental for the untrained?

I wonder if I should find out. Time to look for a multi-day ultra run?

Sunday, December 04, 2016

Stick to the schedule

Lentor, 20 km. I’ve been fiddling with my derailleurs as shifting seems to be deteriorating. Fiddling to no avail. Then, as penance for neglecting my ride (while training for an ultra marathon), I lube the chain.

Presto, shifting improves like new.

Now, if only I’d stuck to the schedule of tender loving care for drive train after a specified distance or a messy ride, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Why running is hazardous for cyclists

Nov distance: 38 km

Upper Thomson, 21 km.

She: So, who is she? You’re seeing someone else, right?
Me: Huh?
She: Don’t pretend. You come home from work, change, then go out. We don’t go out anymore.
Me: Oh, that. I’ve been out running, training for an ultra.
She: Sure. It takes three months to train for a marathon. And you are training for an ultra in two? 
Me: Really! See! [Shows finisher medal]
She: I knew it! There is someone else!
Me: No, no. Your wheels are rounder and stronger than the medal. When I was running on the trails and saw mountain bikes, I missed you so much.
She: Now that your race is over, let’s go for a spin.
Me: Uhhh, my legs hurt.
She: Do your hands hurt?
Me: No, why?
She: You haven’t lubed my drivetrain. Get to work, boy. After that, let’s go shopping for bling bling!
Me: You know what? What I need is "active rest". Let's go ride :)

Sunday, November 06, 2016

I wish, I wonder

Sri Lanka (file photo)
Buangkok, 17 km. I wish I was cycling beside the clear green sea beneath the clear blue sky, with the sun shining (not scorching) and a breeze blowing (gently, not giving a headwind headache).

But I’m not. I’m cycling in a high population density city-state, surrounded by death metal (refers to traffic, not music).

To find some peace and quiet, I head into a park. An industrial park. Ah, peace and quiet. On a Sunday night, many factories are silent and dark. Peace and quiet in unexpected places.

And I wonder why:
- when I can ride, I don;t
- when I can’t ride, I want to

Friday, October 21, 2016

Weekend rush

Oct distance: 104 km

Woodlands, 34 km. A five day week offers 2.5 days of weekend (it starts in the evening of Day 5). Having been deprived if that for six months, I 'fold" time to make the most of it.

I could've taken a train to pick up some gifts from M. It'd be faster than taking a bike ride. But I choose to cycle. A train ride would save me about 30 minutes in travel time. But if I cycle 90 minutes after that, I need an additional 1 hour. So cycling there actually saves me time.

Back home, I look at M's stuff. They are years old, but look as good as new!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Like the wind

Sembawang, 38 km. Like a bird bolting from a cage, I ride like the wind towards freedom.

Free, beneath the blue sky. Free, no need to pay money: for petrol, tap water or race fees. A roadie passes, I crank up the pace and hang on until he fades into the distance.

Down by the water, I soak in the sights and breeze.

It’s great to be free.

PS: today's ride is double my "usual" distance per ride in the past half year!