Sat-Sun 20-21 Sep
So, why am I on slicks off road? Because there's so much road between Singapore and Kota Tinggi, and perhaps 10% of that distance off road. Besides, I hadn't planned to go off road. I wanted to snooze after last night's ride. But LKS, whom I meet for the first time today, persuades me: "The trail is dry." Well, most of it is. But my bicycle, being chromoly, has such a magnetic personality - it attracts dirt. Oh, what a mess. I try pushing through the mud but that just gets my cleats all muddy. All the better to get stuck on my pedals. I'm so happy when I see the tarred road. A welcome sight, notwithstanding the series of rolling hills between me and a soft bed.
We stop by a car workshop to give our bicycles spa treatment. Hose it down, soap it up, rinse it and blow dry (no kidding!). All for two ringgit per bicycle. The air jet is so powerful, it blasts crud off my cleats and brake pads. First time I've ever played with an air jet; what a toy. Other firsts on this ride:
Crossing not one but two streams. The water is so clear. My shoes are wet but nope, didn't catch any fish with it. When I peel my socks off after the ride, my feet are deathly white.
I twist my chain! !@#$% front d mangled it while I'm trying to change gear at high speed, trying to keep Belgian W in sight. Had to straighten it with pliers.
Seeing someone trash me on road and off road: that's Belgian W. See him wheelie in the dirt. Cross streams without getting his shoes wet. Disappear into the distance uphill on road and off road. My consolation: he's only 25. He tells me was attracted to his Canondale mainly because of the yellow colour, and after the road test, he was sold on it.
TYS is there too, and she gains the respect of even W. We marvel at how she powers on slow and steady. In fact, she's the first in Singapore, way ahead of us. Duh, I didn't even see her overtake us. W and I get lost in Johore Bahru. We think the right way is left, but right is right. I pay for my folly by getting all muddy. Somehow, W stays much cleaner - what amazing off road skills. Aye, that's what cycling in the Alps does I guess.
The ride was so so, because I hate dirt on my bike and having to clean and lube it. But the company - and food - are great. Glad that Bikerboey and H are around. Bikerboey was the one who got me a gang to hang out with. H, his video and his song-and-dance. Well, that's the magic of the fellowship of the spins. LKS is a marvel too - look at his heavily laden bike - for once, my bike loses the "heaviest bike" contest. He (and TYS) knows Johore like home.
Tech note My knees don't hurt despite the SPDs. Glad I got the cleats in the right place after all the by-the-roadside adjustments on the past three rides. While they are risky, SPDs do make a nice difference in pedalling. Will keep them on for road rides. Too bad they're scratched now from the falls. Less than a month old, but how seasoned they look now.