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 :))

Sunday, May 18, 2003

To the waterfall

To Kota Tinggi, 126 km (Woodlands to Kota Tinggi by car). For the first time in Iron Horse's existence, it gets strapped to a car. And this is the first time it's going to Kota Tinggi too. At Kota Rainforest Resort, we unload our bikes and we're off on whatever trail looks like it leads somewhere. Several times, it leads nowhere. But no matter, my Horse is here to ride. Hospital D and LCT take us further afield. Rubber and oil palm plantations, even farms. Dirt tracks leading everywhere and nowhere. We head for the road towards the waterfall for lunch and the ice kachang is great stuff - never had such heavy duty stuff in Singapore. At the waterfall, people stand below the falling water - a vertical jacuzzi on the cheap. The weather is sizzling; the water must feel good.

We head back for the resort and chill out as the sun beats down on the outside. When it gets cooler after a few hours, we head for some new trails - at least there's shade among the foilage (and mosquitoes, who have a giant feast on Giant). This last leg of the trail is the messiest I've ever been on. Mud. Holes in the ground, big and small - and places where the ground simply falls away (I had a few close calls, whew - when I'm bouncing that much, so do my spectacles, my brain and my eyeballs). Branches on the ground. Branches overhead. Twigs that whip me as I ride by. Hilly, bumpy ground - so bumpy that one of my waterbottles bounces off. Horse protests at the punishment by creaking (headset? handlebar? fork? I don't know). Once, I am forced to dismount - the deep tracks made by trucks, the branches and stones make the going tricky. Worse, it's uphill. Now and then, AZ and her friend L zip past me. Strange; they'd pushed their bikes uphill earlier on. Anyway, I come to bike, not to hike. I mount my Horse and try to pedal uphill. My rear tyre loses traction (I'm using semi slicks). My foot slips and I get a "bear trap" when the pedal swings around and gashes my shin. Ouch.

We go deeper and deeper into the oil palm plantation. It's going to get dark soon. Somehow, Hospital D's global positioning satellite thingy doesn't quite help us find the way out - the foilage is too dense for the satellites, I guess. He and LCT decide to backtrack. So here I go again, bouncing back from whence I came in.

Back at the resort, I marvel at how AZ and Hospital D lovingly wash their magnificent machines (both Specialized). Me, all I have is a Specialized helmet and bottlecage. I'm going to throw away the aluminium cage - someone tells me about aluminium poisoning ...

Half of us head for home that evening. The other half head for town (the resort is too expensive) to spend the night. Next morning, we head south for home. Along the way, a puppy zooms after LCT like a heat seeking missle. Target acquired, but lost. Missle turns to face me. I bend down and shout at it. I think it's winded; it looks at me blankly. Wonder why it targetted LCT but I'm glad this dog didn't go after me.

Thanks to Giant, who suggested I feed Horse with lube, my machine is frisky again. The lube must have been washed away as I sprayed my bike yesterday. I'm also surprised how much air has gone out of my tyres too; must have been the pounding on the trail yesterday.

Hills, hills and more hills. The morning mist dissipates, the cool morning air melts away as the sun - and temperature - rises. The roads around Johore Bahru become filled with hurtling metal monsters, anyone of which can make mincemeat of LCT, Giant and me. While rolling uphill, a bus stops. Darn, gravity has a love affair with my heavy Horse. I weave around the bus and a heavy truck blares its disgust as it bears down in my direction. (That makes two well-deserved chastisement - the first one being on the way to Woodlands yesterday to meet everyone.)

Giant is getting winded. LCT and I slow down to wait for her (LCT leads, because he knows the way home). Back in Singapore, we have a long lunch break - over an hour. We then taunt the noonday sun and ride our last leg home. I escort Giant as far as I can in Ang Mo Kio, then break away for home to clean my Horse. Well, that's the end of a trip which I'd waited agonisingly for. Sometimes, I wish I didn't know about cycling, because waiting for rides like this is painful. I survive by telling myself I should be feeling the joy of anticipation instead of the agony of waiting.

Tech note LCT and Hospital D comment about my bike being a rigid one, while they ride in relative comfort on the trail. At Bukit Timah (15 May), Giant's colleagues say that if my rides are filmed, bike shops will close and if I change to a better bike, I could be "Singapore's best rider". Yeah yeah, one day I'll get a hardtail. But not now, while Horse still has life in it. Anyway, who knows, it's a man-machine interface thing. I know how my Horse performs. Who knows if my next bike has that same frame geometry and everything else that makes my bike what it is today.

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