To Admiralty Road West, 46 km. It's stressful rushing for the Wed night ride; it's like trying to beat a deadline. I wolf down my dinner and rush to grab my bicycle instead of having a leisurely dinner. But I know I'll be restive instead of rested if I don't cycle. It's stressful trying to keep up with the roadies. I'm bound to fall behind, as sure as everyone fell behind Lance Armstrong five times on the Tour de France. Tonight, I ride at 51 km/h but still see the three roadies pull away from me. I cycle and breathe so hard my diaphragm hurts. But I know if I don't push myself as hard as I can go, I'm not being me. It's stressful trying to keep away from chendol and char kuay teow. After all, Lance Armstrong avoids ice cream. Clogged arteries don't go with good performance. But if I don't give myself a treat, work stress may get me first.
Photo courtesy of GKTSun 27 Jul: Golden bike, folding bike
To Changi, 73 km. I cycle alone to Changi, looking out for AD, whom I've been trying to contact. I don't even know what he looks like. Changi Coast Road is full of solo cyclists. I see a car up ahead drafting(!) behind a Caucasian lady. She's going at a steady 26km/h. I overtake her. But something's wrong; I can't go my usual 30+ km/h. Then, an "uncle" complete with silver hair and plastic bag on his handlebar overtakes me on his spray-painted golden racer. I draft behind him. He stands on his pedals to shake me off. I hang on, but as he heads towards East Coast I u-turn. I head for Tanah Merah ferry terminal; first time I'm there. AD finally makes contact and we meet; he rides an Airnimal. First time I've ever seen a performance bike that's foldable. He hollers to a couple of Europeans - their jerseys tell me they've done some charity ride in Thailand. One of them buys us sugarcane with lemon. Sheer pleasure. Merci!
Tech note Back home, I shift my headset down so I get a little more aerodynamic. Wedge is rusted solid!
Fri 25 Jul: Slow ride to slow food
To Holland Village, Bukit Merah, 36 km. The 14 of us cycle slowly (25 km/h or less) to Holland Village. Some are from NPCC, plus guests. At Dyson Road, we go slower. "It's so steep!" one cyclist says, as if I made it so. Well, I'm the bike leader. At the village, the guys don't want fast food; they want "slow food" from coffee shops. A couple of us scout around but couldn't find halal food. We mill around on our stationery bikes until ride organiser TKL suggests we go "ABC", which turns out to be at Bukit Merah. I buy some of them drinks as a "thank you" for the wonderful round island experience. We rest our legs and move our jaws eating and chatting, then us older types go home while the younger ones ride on. The night is still young for them. I wanted to keep cycling, but it's been a rough week for riding. Last Sun's ride to the southwest corner of Singapore was a washout thanks to rain. And I've been in solitary confinement all these weekday nights in the office, missing my Wed ride. Almost missed tonight's ride too ...
Sat 18 Jul: Old acquantainces, new people to avoid
To Mt Faber, Kent Ridge, Mandai, 65 km. At Tiong Hin where we start our ride, a couple walks up to me. It's K and D. I remember K because she broke my bike leader's crash-free record. Mr Trek OCLV is also there. He's come a long way - and quickly too. In a matter of months, he's transformed from a wannabe roadie into a full-fledged one who cycles in Malaysia. After we soar up the hills of Faber and Kent Ridge, we break away at Mandai. I draft behind him, until he spins off at 60 km/h. Now, he's the one who's waiting for me. During the ride, a couple of guys look at my horse and marvel. Solid frame, comfortable ride, they say. I also come across a couple of chaps worth avoiding for safety's sake. An honest mistake when cycling is one thing; reckless disregard when changing lanes is another.
Tech note Cycling with a freshly oiled chain is sheer pleasure.
Wed 16 Jul: Spin cycle, drip dry
To Mandai, 21 km. If a biathlon is two sports in one, perhaps cycling in heavy rain is a biathlon - part cycling, part swimming. It's hard to breathe with all that water running into nose and mouth. It's hard to see with all that stinging rain pelting down on eyeballs. My eyes redden, like when I swim. I shake violently, as if going off-road on my rigid bike and 40 psi tyres. But I'm just shivering from the cold of being drenched, as the wind whips about me. We're just die hards, the eight of us who ride in the rain. First, the night sky turns pink, giving Seletar Reservoir a strange hue. Lighting lights up the sky. Storm clouds rumble like someone is going to have diarrhoea. And soon enough, the portals of the sky open. Water pours down. So, this is fun? I have to clean my bicycle before it rusts. And you could rear fish in my shoes.
Sun 13 Jul: Smurfs in Sentosa
To Sentosa, 77 km. Mountain biking is fun, but I didn't know it'd be so fun just watching a bike clinic - conducted by "smurfs" dressed in blue. Credit goes to Papa Smurf N, and his entourage including a mechanic smurf, stunt smurf, Shrek the medic smurf, Archer the ride smurf (who also dramatised the various crash positions of a casualty) and poser smurf. It's an eventful day, with several firsts in my life, including going off-road in Sentosa with my slicks and remaining upright. LSH had a worse time; a couple of cyclists crash into her. She loses some skin but doesn't lose blood. As for her bike - its modesty is outraged.
Fri 10 Jul: The Road Queen
To River Valley, 37 km. I've heard about her from different groups of cyclists, but I've never met her. Until today, when LSL introduced me to the Road Queen. She rides an exotic bike - Sintesi. She's bubbly, full of life, friendly, but not to be trifled with when it comes to road safety. And safety, or the lack thereof, is what gets us 40-plus riders chewed out by bike leader N tonight, after we ride like kings of the road all over the place. Tonight's ride is larger than usual, because it includes Friday West Nite Riders on top of the usual Friday East Nite Riders. K asks me what's the difference in the psychographics between FWNR and FENR cyclists. I tell him some of the differences , then reflect further. FWNR usually has a dozen or less riders and seems more closely knit than FENR, which is like a loose group of sub-groups. It's is like being at Bukit Timah, where different species of humans (bikers and hikers) interact more since there are few of each other. Compared to being in an HDB estate, where interaction among strangers is less understandably because it's hard to interact with so many people at one go.
Wed 9 Jul: The gathering
To Woodlands, 45 km. A dozen cyclists meet today, including Bikerboey. I haven't seen her for half a year. She's a big girl with a big heart - she's back after trekking alone for four months in South America, including a stint with Operation Raleigh. R is back too, stitches and all, after his crash two weeks ago on another ride. That doesn't stop him from outpacing me (for a while anyway) on his full-suspension bike fitted with 2.35 /1.95 knobby tyres. We have a new rider join us for supper; it's W, who's emailed me before while I was caretaker for BOAC rides in Bikerboey's absence. She was cycling alone and was invited to join us. She remembers me as "the one with the Iron Horse". Tonight, I set a new personal speed record: 60.2 km/h.
Sun 6 Jul: Serendipity - a journey of discovery
To Tuas, 109 km. The bar off Portsdown Road is a wooden house all decked out in blue. Outside, you can dine alfresco and be one with the elements. Inside, it has two large rooms for dining, on small wooden tables and an assortment of chairs. You can choose your meals from a menu with names I've never seen before. This may well be the only bar in Singapore that serves Marmite sandwiches. I order a Magnum ice cream. So creamy, no wonder it's called ice cream ...
But all this will be no more come 13 Jul. After decades of existence, Col Bar will close down for good and fall down in pieces, as bulldozers come in to build a road. The picturesque, idyllic Portsdown Road will become another raging road, as torrents of traffic pour into the area.
We've come down Portsdam Road after exploring various hills eg at Marymount Road, Toa Payoh, Dyson, Coronation and Kent Ridge roads. Today's ride is the sequel to my first hills ride. I lead the first leg, while LCT leads the second leg around Jurong, which is his turf. I want to go to Jurong via Jalan Buroh; I've seen the scenes when I cycle on this road during round island rides at night, but never by day. Cycling on bridges across water is scenic. And the air in Jurong can be aromatic, especially around the coffee and toiletry factories.
We stop by Pasir Panjang, where we lunch courtesy of Gentle Giant, who graciously agrees to treat us as she is busy trekking around dreamland in the morning instead of cycling with us. Our last stop is at Raffles Marina, where we see white boats and tanned bodies. On the way home, LCT shows us a few attractions including Discovery Centre and SAFTI.
What a pair, LCT and I. Together, we probably know most corners of Singapore.
Tech note The mystery of shredded rims has been solved. LCT tells me XTR brake pads are called "rim eaters", because they gouge rims. Just as well I replaced the pads (see bikelog 25 Jun 03).
Wed 2 Jul: Heavy shelling
To Sembawang, 34 km. Bad day today; got caught in a cross fire. I barely make it out in time and in one piece for my ride back towards serenity. Tonight, we have a guest star for our ride - someone who's been seen regularly on TV and (surprise surprise) had been on the NPCC round island ride. The "padre" is also cycling tonight, but we seem to have run out of places to go to. They don't want to go to Toa Payoh Rise, so off we go again to Kampong Wak Hassan. I draft and overtake most of the roadies, but today isn't really a good ride - couldn't get past 40 km/h on my own steam. Must've been all that artillery fire.