To Batu Layar (Johore) and round island#4 Singapore, 198 km. I didn't know so much can be packed into one day of biking. I'll give today's ride an "A" grade.
Anticipation: AD's email on Friday was a sight for sore eyes, since I've been wondering how to spend the weekend in Singapore instead of Thailand (see 13 Aug entry). I sign up eagerly for his ride to Desaru and I anticipate meeting his pals - who knows, we might become regular bike pals.
Awe: AD's pals show up early - quite a feat compared to some bikers I know! They are mostly roadies and cruise along at 38 km/h. One of them, Belgian W, rides a Canondale with 1.25" slicks and I hear he can go at 40 km/h. My crusing speed is 35 km/h and I strain to keep up. I do keep up, but it's taking a toll. I'm glad when the road turns stony and I'm awed by the sight of the roadies pedaling along. What does it take to stop them? They're charity riders who've gone on the 1,000 km "Riding for Life" trip to Pahang this year. In Johore, they take turns to break the wind. AD, on his 24" bike, cruises along at 32 km/h.
Agony: we take a short break at Batu Layar. "Let's take the uphill road," says TSY on her old but trusty carbon Giant. And off they go, uphill and against a strong, constant headwind. My speed drops to 16 km/h. The roadies disappear into the distance and I'm alone. I try to enjoy the scenery but wonder about getting lost and stories about robberies haunt me. This is the first time I'm cycling solo in Pengarang. But since this isn't my first time there, I make it back safely to Sungei Rengit.
Admiration: two of the cyclists didn't join us for the ride; they'd crashed earlier on soon after landing in Johore. Both ride cromoly bicycles - all ligher than mine. LYL has a reconditioned 6-year-old KHS; it is in showroom condition. It got scratched while being stacked on the boat and must've gotten knocked about when he crashed into a ditch, taking his friend HWM with him. Both shed blood, with HWM sporting abrasions on her chin. Both don't make a fuss.
Anxiety: my tyre is punctured. The first time in the 8.5 year, 6,500 km history of my bike (that'll teach me to pump my tyres to 50 psi - another record). Over my protests, LYL changes my tyre. I'm embarassed, because he's the injured guy. AL helps to find what caused the puncture - a tiny fragment had penetrated the tyre cover. AL is really helpful, despite suffering from a stomach ache. He'd offered to let me draft behind him as we head for the jetty at Tanjong Pengelih. I'm drained and can't catch up with AD. Since it's only 4 pm, I decide to go round island Singapore. I'm ill-equipped; no lights, no map, no route, no compass. Still it's going to be an adventure; I hope the tyre puncture is the worst thing that happens to me today.
Adventure: I buy a rear blinker at Mr Bikes Enterprise. At 5 pm, after snacking at Changi Village (it's too early to eat after that heavy seafood lunch), I draft behind AD at Changi Coast Road before breaking off to continue on my round island Singapore. I'm drained; I can barely go at 32 km/h and soon drop to the mid 20s. At Shenton Way, it pours. I take cover at a bus stop and tuck into rice biscuits. This might well be my dinner ... Fortunately, the rain stops after about 30 minutes and I continue on my way. My bike is a mess from all that rain; to think I'd cleaned it thoroughly only last week. At East Coast, I meet SL - what a surprise. He asks me why I'm training so hard when he's content with just 70 km a day. I tell him I want to know what it's like to log 200 km in one day. I get lost in Jurong and it's only after asking a few helpful people that I'm back on track. It's deja vu as I follow the NPCC round island route. (In fact, if I travel faster than the speed of light, at some point in time and space, I'll overtake the sight of us going round island.) I seem to be making good progress though I'm going below 30 km/h. "Dinner" is just another snack from a petrol kiosk in Jurong. I cycle warily in Kranji, listening for the sudden rush of dogs. Sure enough, I come across a pack but the head monster merely barks a warning. I make it home just after 11 pm. The ride has taken 7 hours, including the one hour ride from home to Changi in the morning. Just as I reach home, it pours - for hours. I take off my socks, which were already soaked in Johore. My feet are white and wrinked.
Tech note Headset is loose again. Bike shop boy at Pengarang says I can change the thingy at the top and bottom of the headtube for RM10. I decide to get it fixed by my regular bike man.