Wed 30 Apr: C is for Cool
To Changi Village, 61 km. Tonight is the second time I cycle with the Wednesday night riders. I meet C, who has an A-frame Canondale. She tells me it's about 8-9 years old and was modified extensively at Batu Pahat for about RM500. A cool-looking bicycle, with a cool cyclist to match. On the way to Changi, she has a few close calls - a taxi and a motorbike which cuts really close to her path. But she keeps her cool. At Changi Coast Road, I push myself really hard, playing tag with G, who rides a golden brown Cannondale. He cranks a furious pace notwithstanding his knobbly tires. At Changi Village, I have a quick bite, then head for home so I can snatch a few hours of sleep before the Ubin ride tomorrow.
27 Apr: Ride of contradictions
A couple of cyclists tell me an hour before the ride that they're backing out and I think I'll only have half a dozen cyclists. As it turns out, there are double that number, thanks to Gentle Giant (aka XTR) who has two batches of riders join her.
Yesterday's weather report says it's going to rain this afternoon. Instead, it was a scorcher - I can see heat waves rise from the roads. Even the water in my water bottle turns warm. Not to mention my headache as the sun beats down mercilessly.
The rider (his initials and bike both start with K) in ordinary togs and shoes rides faster than another cyclist with fancy bicycle and clipless pedals. In fact, I could barely keep up, though I now have slick tyres.
The group comprise those who ride a few times a year - and a group from Togoparts (Gentle Giant's pals).
After lunch at River Mall, Mr Trek OCLV and I take two of the BOAC cyclists back to Hougang / Ang Mo Kio, then we sprint back to River Mall to join the die hard riders to Changi.
And it is good to see my bike pals again - if you're reading this, you know who you are :-)
Wed 23 Apr: Cycling with the guys
To Yishun Ave 1, 31 km. First time I'm cycling with the Wednesday night riders, who meet at Salvation Army at Bishan at around 8 pm. They ride rather exotic bikes, some of which I've never seen before. Corratec, FSR. One of them, GKT leads the ride. He's really fast, on his semi-slicks. After the short ride, we stop by Casuarina Rd for food and beverage. This is the only time we stop for a break - they believe in cycling first, talking later. Which is the way it should be.
Tech note This is the first time I've taken my slick tyres out for a spin. Hmmm. Faster acceleration, lighter too. Think they add a few more km/h to my cruising speed - from 32 to about 35 km/h. Top speed on a flat road doesn't seem to have changed compared to my semi-slicks though; still about 41 km/h. Doesn't make sense. More testing needed.
13 Apr: Cycling with roadies
To Punggol, 37 km It's Sunday again, the third day I'm cycling in seven days. Where shall we go today? A few days ago, ST said she didn't mind going to Punggol, so I go there again.
ST calls DC, who calls TSY. I invite BS - I've never cycled with him but he's e-mailed me after reading my bikelog. He says he's a newbie and needs to practice balancing and cycling on the roads. He rides a Trek OCLV racer. TSY rides a racer too, and is an ex-national cyclist.
The ride to Punggol isn't that far, so I manage to keep TSY in sight while BS brings up the rear. At Punggol end, an elderly gent walks up and wants to ride with us someday. ST agrees and I give him my e-mail address. Who knows, he might kick all our butts, judging from the way he runs. Cycling with others is about giving chances, just like I gave BS a chance and just as AF gave me a chance (sight unseen) to ride to Johore at a frantic (for me) pace.
After Punggol end (which has only a vending machine), we cycle to Punggol Marina and Punggol Port Road. DC tells me she's glad to have met me as she's never seen such scenic places. Not sure she is glad to see the metre-long snake with flies buzzing about its split head - or was that the tongue? Well, I sure am not going closer to inspect it.
During lunch, ST tells us about her rides in Indonesia and Japan. Wow, such wonderful life experiences. And here I am, messing around on this little island, going no further than Johore. DC talks about getting a friend FP (see 18-19 Apr) to arrange a ride to Malaysia.
Tech note After lunch, ST takes us to her friends bike-cum-computer shop, where I fiddle again (see 2 Apr) with my front derailleurs. I guess I don't leave well enough alone. Anyway, I don't make a mess of it - and perhaps it's my imagination but does the chain shift a teeny bit better now on the chain rings? ST tells me I should go back to the Ang Mo Kio bike shop since my handlebar grip got loose after changing the handlebar. I go though I didn't think it would do any good. Sure enough, bikeshop man says there's nothing he can do - if I remove it and clean it, I'd find it hard to put it back on. But that's what I do - I struggle to put it back on but now I've got a firm grip.
PS: Got home around 1 pm - unusually early but I'm glad to be home. I've been spending a lot of time cycling, at the expense of other things - like cooking (imagine, a mouldy frying pan) and cleaning ... Maybe that's why I cycle so much :-(
Fri 11 Apr: From zero to uphill in 10 seconds
To Esplanade, 37 km. It's Friday night. Thanks to Gentle Giant, I'm addicted to Friday night cycling. I used to dread cycling at night because it's hard to judge the speed and distances of cars from the size of their headlights. But somehow, I get by. To night, LSL does the honours again. I meet him at Thomson Road near Dyson Road, and get a taste of what my pals must have felt on the "hills are alive" ride I led last week.
10 Apr: The little joys of life
To Punggol Point, 37 km. I take half day leave and can't contain myself as I put on my bike gear and jump on my bicycle and pedal away to rustic Punggol. It's an interesting place. You can (almost) trace the history of Singapore in reverse in this little place.
The way to Punggol is through a built up area, with condo-like flats. You also see things being built, like mass rapid transit and light rail transit. There's also bare land which has just been cleared and waiting to be built on. You cycle a bit more and hey - it's like you've just crossed a time warp. Narrow, rustic roads winding past trees. Little streams. And the relentlessly blowing headwind. Soon, you reach the end of Punggol Road, which has a quaint little bus "terminus" - more primitive than the one at Sembawang Rd. There's some off-road too, off Punggol Port Rd. I pedal slowly at 7 kmh, trying to keep my chain clean of the sand. I cycle by the sea, parallel to the coast of Coney Island. Finally, I've seen of Coney Island. Several times last year, I've gone to Punggol to look for Coney Island but never found it. Just look at the waves in the foreground, with the island tantalisingly close but unreachable.
Tech note I'm still amazed how smooth my transmission is (see tech note 6 Apr). It is so smooth, so effortless. So easy to cruise at 32 kmh. Going at 35 kmh takes a little more effort, but not as much effort as it was before the drivetrain change, when my max speed was 36 kmh. Now, my max is at least 41.9 kmh. I wonder what it'll be like if I change my rims too. After all, I had to stop twice just now because the brake pads make an ominous sound against my front rim. I find bits of stuff on the brake pad. Perhaps it's grit. Perhaps it's part of the rim. I drop by a bike shop. One pair of ordinary looking wheelsets cost $110. Another pair of sleek, black Jalco rims cost $135. Maybe next time. Now, I gotta clean my chain.
4 Apr: Down by the river
To Singapore River, East Coast Parkway, 54 km. LSL e-mailed me last night asking if I want to ride with him. We've e-mailed to each other before, but I've never met him, much less cycled with him. I say "yes" and the ride is on. We meet at IRAS Building, and the route after that is all a blur as he takes me down little roads here and there. Soon, we are on Scotts Road, Kim Seng Road and then the heart of the city along Singapore River.
What a first, cycling by the river. The city lights shimmer on the black water, mirroring what I see above water level. The reflection in the water of the bridges is Impressionistic and more picturesque than the real thing. We go past Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, Esplanade and Marina Park, then another flurry of detours that take us to the National Stadium and East Coast Park.
Maybe it's the rain, but the crowd is really thin at East Coast. It's safe to ride. We stop by McDonalds and LSL buys me a drink. He offers to drive me home because it's late and it may be dangerous on the roads. Well, I don't know sidelanes like he does and cycling on the road is the only way I know how to go. I cycle home under my own power and arrive past 2 am.
Tech note LSL rides a Bridgestone MB3! It looks good, somewhat modified with RST suspension fork but original Ritchey headset. He's got slick tyres; incredible acceleration that leaves me behind. I have to pedal fast to catch up with him. My chain is still skipping and flaking particles, but less so than before. When I did my road tests, the chain skipped every other stroke or so, then reduced to every eight strokes or so. Now, it's just occasional. I'd say this is getting tolerable. I did cover 54 km after all, no chain suck (though chain almost fell off once) and no grating against the front derailleur. Really glad I changed most of the drive train. Smooth, real smooth. Back home, I'm dismayed to find my brand new chain is peppered with dirt - the outcome of cycling on wet roads and grass. I degrease it and apply dry lube. Smooth, real smooth. I clean up at 3 am.
Wed 2 Apr: Monkey business, horsing around
To Windor Park Rd and Old Upper Thomson Rd, 27 km. I'm not satisfied with the results of last night's road test. So I hit the road again, partly to repeat the road test and partly to recce part of the "hills alive" ride this Sunday. At Upper Pierce Reservoir, motorists stop to feed the monkeys, ignoring the signs which say "don't". The monkeys know humans = food and congregate. Naturally, they associate cars with food too, instead of death. And the monkeys toss food about, including the middle of the road, and dine there. I wonder who has more brains - the monkeys or the motorists.
Tech note Horse is perking up after some tweaking. There are still some things it won't do - as if it's now got a new personality after all those transplants. I learn to work around the characteristics. I don't know what the top speed or cruising speed now is, since the chain rings are smaller. But it's smooth, real smooth. Bontrager crankset, Shimano LX bottom bracket, Shimano IG chain. Without the Iron Horse frame, you are just bike parts. Well, let's see how you all work together this Sunday against aluminium machines equipped with XTR / XT parts.
Tue 1 Apr: Clanking chains in the night
To Old Upper Thomson Rd, 22 km. My dear bike pals want me to lead a ride this Sunday. But my horse doesn't seem well. I get home from work and hop on my bike. Cycling solo on Old Upper Thomson Rd in the dark isn't fun. It's really spooky - especially at one stretch where the lights are out. Anyway, even with street lights, it's so dim I can't see what's happening with my drivetrain. And I see a van stop against traffic flow. A guy got out - he is alone. Why would anyone go there except courting couples and a crazy biker? I don't dare stop to tweak my bike, in case dogs, monkeys and dunno wat else jump on me. A kid on a bicycle nearly crashes into me. An a pedestrian treats me like I am transparent. He ignores me though I'm within spitting distance of him.
Tech note Horse isn't riding well. When I get home, I see my brand new chain is flaking - tiny particles are coming off. That's because the chain is skipping like kids on steroids. Bikeshop man says it's because the chain is newer than the freewheel. So, change freewheel? But he doesn't have a seven-speed Shimano freewheel. Some of the gear ratios don't work ie chain gets stuck on one of the chain rings and won't go down. Gonna have to figure out how to resuscitate my sick horse because I think bikeshop man is sick of me.