Sun 28 Sep: Singaporean sheds blood on Malaysian soil
To Pengarang, 86 km. AD and I go on a charm offensive in Johore. To dispel the notion of stuck up Singaporeans, we wave and say "hello". But the ground rises against me - when I unclip my SPD on the left ... and fall on the right. This is the worst fall ever; the fifth fall on my fourth ride. My falls are all in Malaysia. Today, I bash my elbow and knee. My worst case of road rash ever as an adult and one of the dumbest moves ever. Someone asks me if I'm insured. I reply there's no insurance for stupidity. Also with me today are M and M, a couple (Z and S) on Dean titanium bikes, and medical student SY, who takes great interest in AD's first aid kit. I have a headache too on the way there - it's the heat. But when I get on my bicycle, somehow the pain is gone. I see trees, the sea, the road meandering through the tall grass which waves in the breeze, the hill in the distance.
Tech note Had been struggling to remove my SPD pedals, struggling till I sweat, to no avail. It's not that I'm screwing in the wrong direction. I drop by bikeshop man, who gives it two light taps and voila! it is done. SPD - rhymes with speedy, which is why I put them on. But so far, I haven't broken my 47 km/h record. And they cause me pain literally.
Wed 24 Sep: Cancer man
To Sengkang, 25 km. Mr Lim wears slacks and boat shoes. He used to ride a Honda Goldwing (1,500 cc). Tonight, he rides a rigid Gary Fisher. He's cycling now instead of motorbiking because he's a cancer survivor, he says. Also riding tonight is a cyclist with a well-lit rear: five blinkers from the saddle down to the seat stays. If he could synchronise the blinking, what a sight that would be. Tonight, the only regular rider besides me is WH. The rest are guests from Bishan Park group.
Fri 19 Sep: Slow motion
To Sembawang, 32 km. It looks like the speed limit was below 20 km/h. Sometimes, they were going at 10 km/h - on a flat road. Enjoying themselves, I guess. Or perhaps they were off form months after the NPCC round island? Maybe I'm off form too; with my SPD, I could barely hit 40 km/h; or perhaps I hadn't warmed up yet. I cut short the ride; instead of going to Admiralty Road West, we just go to Sembawang Park. Hope they like it; some of them haven't been on tonight's route. TKL, who organises all these NPCC night rides, brings a guest tonight - the guy who gave her a KHS. He rides one too.
Sat 13 Sep: Northern territories
To Admiralty Road West and Sembawang, 62 km. I recce next week's NPCC ride; don't want to lead anyone astray. At Kampong Wak Hassan and Sembawang Park connector, I'm the only one on the road, except for three other cyclists. I could've been off-road in Pengarang this weekend with Bikerboey & Co, but I'd to work all day.
Tech note I've logged almost 100 km on my clipless pedals. No falls so far, but two close calls. Pedals seem harder to unclip today. And I've not hit above 40 km/h on my own steam. Pedals too tight? Or I'm too tired? So tired, I tell AF (I'm at his housewarming today) that I'll skip his Sun Johore ride. Have forgotten what it's like to snooze into a lazy Sun morning. I've been working - and cycling - so hard.
Tue 9 Sep: Riding like a newbie
To Sembawang, 36 km.
Tech note I buy a pair of Shimano 520 pedals. Last night, I install the right pedal plus all the cleats but the left pedal defeats me and my allen key gets bent. LSL tells me I screwed the wrong way. I buy a wrench and get it right. I try the clipping on and off a few times at home, then I hit the carpark. It's easier to clip out than to clip in; at first, I have to tap dance to clip in. My phone rings, I stop to answer it. I forget I'm clipped in, but manage to unclip in time. I get out of Ang Mo Kio go fast enough to overtake a tortoise at Old Upper Thomson Rd. I explore Sembawang / Canberra, stopping now and then to adjust pedals and cleats. Amazing how $45 (the pedals) can bring so much happiness. Cycling is cheap fun - for $10 (food and beverage), I can have fun all day. With my new toys, I can't wait to race with the roadies again.
Sun 7 Sep: Bridge over water
To Johore, 81 km. The road on the bridge soars over Sungei Pelentong, drawing me inexorably towards it. I spur my horse and charge uphill, overtaking the other cyclists. I don't want to struggle with the heavy frame at slower speed uphill. As I near the peak, I slow down to enjoy the scenery on either side. AF, who leads the ride, tells me it used to be a mangrove swamp. Down the bridge, I smell the pong. Ugly smell but negated by the beauty. Another beautiful scene on this ride: the east side of the Straits of Johore, where there's a short stretch of beach, with trees and shady spots. Feels kind of strange looking at the Singapore coast from Johore instead of the other way round. Other interesting memories of this ride: yong tau fu with chee cheong fun at a rundown coffeeshop, ice cream at McDonalds.
Tech note I drop by to see bikeshop man about clipless pedals. He has various Shimanos, the cheapest being 515 at $75. The price of convenience I guess, compared to half price at www.togoparts.com.
Wed 3 Sep: Escape velocity
To Seletar, 31 km. The "padre" lets me have a spin on his $4,500 Trek OCLV. A few spins of the crank and whoa, what a thrill. That speed would've put paid to the bloodsucking mosquito that flew into my ear at Seletar dam. While chowing down prata and stuff at Casuarina road, they talk about death defying US mountain bikers, and how people die on the mountain that towers above all mountains - Everest.