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, May 17, 2015

Eclectic

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.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sun shiny day

Woodlands, 50 km. It was sunny when I started cycling Matt Black, kitted up with a rack and bag for the first time as a trial. Then it rained. Another first for Matt Black. When I get home, the sun comes out.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Island in the sun


Mar distance: 219 km

St John's Island, 64 km. Who would've thought that:
  • A tiny island could be so pretty?
  • This island, previously used to hold those with cholera and then political dissidents, is now a holiday camp?
  • Another island nearby could become a country, and when its first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), died, the world's largest democracy, India, declares a day of mourning? And Australia and New Zealand pay homage to him in their parliament?
  • While LKY was alive, British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the former to learn how to govern.  A British Prime Minister learning from an ex-colony, five decades after independence?  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Twists and turns

Photo courtesy of Ah Tak
Seletar, 57 km. There are about 20 golf courses in this small country. That's a lot for an island which has only three official mountain bike trails*.

Tonight, the two become one. Sort of. For the first time in my life, I get to cycle in a golf course. What a treat!

Five km per loop. The first is with a volunteer guide, a club member, who takes us where the buggies go. Only it's at night. It's kind of dark, but not quite. There's a lot of light pollution that hinders night sight. It doesn't help when a girl wants to avoid sprinklers, turns her bicycle around and shines her light right in my face. Then the sprinker hits me, it feels like someone turned a hose on me.

The path twists and turns, just like at work, and goes up and down. Lights from cyclists behind and in front of me light up my way, but the way the light twists and turns on their handlebars is distracting: sometimes the road is bright, sometimes dark, and there are drains, kerbs and water hazards.

I let everyone close behind me get ahead. By the time I'm on round 5, I'm alone. The golf course is all mine. I start sprinting as if I'm racing. Just like old times, on my Little Red Tank.

*After Tampines trail got bulldozed. The number varies, depending on source. National Parks lists three, Razor TV mentions five.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Nightfall

Admiralty Road West, 37 km. Dark clouds gather. I wait for the rain to fall as dusk draws near. The clouds hold back, but the light inexorably fades. So out I go. As I head back from the ride, lightning flashes. I speed up to beat the rain. As I near home, I see that the rain has fallen, but not on me.

The dark clouds didn't blanket the entire sky, and I had options where to cycle. I'd headed where the dark clouds faded. I escaped.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Beauty and the bleak

Sengkang 36 km. I feel tired, but I cycle anyway. On the road, the tired feeling slips away. With traffic around me, I have to keep my wits about me, or I might end up in permanent sleep.

I look for a beautiful place and find it. No matter how bleak things look, there's beauty to be found somewhere.