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, July 26, 2009

Check and test

Jul distance: 193 km

Lim Chu Kang, 75 km. The unofficial motto of one elite fighting force is "check and test, check and test". Which is poles apart from its official motto. I check and test 2 pieces of equipment today, including an 8 year old (estimate), 2.1" tyre (a first, none of my tyres have been that fat). I don't want it to crumble away on a high speed turn. A lad with disc wheel and aerobar slices past me as if I'm pushing a pram laden with groceries. A lass labours past me. Is she cursing me or chattering with her clattering drivetrain? There are tell-tale signs no one has talked to her much about cycling. I think about helping but I don't understand her swear words. Telling her the intricacies of of shifting might get lost in translation. Moreover, I don't speak 'roadie' and am more familiar with MTB shifters. We part ways at a junction and I continue with my road test/recce ride. It is a hard, "2 bottle" ride.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Going cycling keeps me going

Woodlands, 57 km. It is overcast. It might rain. It might not. Should I stay in bed? I reluctantly get out to cycle and feel better. A hard ride is when I keep above cruising intensity most of the time. My legs strain and my water bottles drain. I get lost and end up cycling along uneven ground covered by grass, at 7 km/h before I see a hill. I ride up and see a road. Back to normal. I notice that when I strain, I get flu-like symptoms: nose runs, body aches, temperature probably rises. I might cough too, if I squirt water wrong into my throat. I see a guy pitch a tent beneath the noonday sun, a little girl plays by his side. He sees me, I nod, he smiles. What's that about, some output but what's the outcome? A little touch of humanity, I guess.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tour de Timor: pre-trip preparations

Information is drawn from the Tour de Timor website and other sites. Quality of information may vary. Please use with discretion.

Registration 23 Aug 2009 (Dili)
Race Dates: 24 – 28 Aug 2009

Tuesday or Saturday: Singapore to Dili. Planned arrival on 22 Aug.
Austasia Airlines. Flight schedule. Retrieved 15 Jul 09

On arrival, USD30 cash, no credit card, no IOU :P
Immigration Department of Timor-Leste. Tourist & Business Visa. Retrieved 15 Jul 09


“Accommodation arrangements during the race will be the responsibility of the organising committee, which will include Sunday 23 Aug and Friday 28 Aug accommodation in Dili. For those competitors wishing to come earlier or stay later, a number of accomodation options are available in Dili ... The Tour de Timor will soon release accommodation partners in Dili.”
Tour de Timor. Race information. Retrieved 15 Jul 09.

Race briefing will be held at Timor Lodge. so that’s where we could be.
Tour de Timor. Program. Retrieved 15 Jul 09

Timor Lodge: from USD29, “Just a stone's throw from the airport”.
Timorleste-hotels. Accommodation in Timor Leste. Retrieved 15 Jul 09

Re other locations, it seems we would be putting up in a built=up area (in Old Bacao), mountain retreat (in Viqueque), seaside town (in Betano), guest house (in Maubisse; at 1,464m it might be a cold nite, below 20 degrees C)

On race website: “All participants will require personal gear for 7 days on the road including mosquito net, torch, hat, toiletries, sleeping bag and camping mattress, wet and warm weather gear ... Sleeping accomodation will be provided for all competitors from Sunday 23 August to Saturday 29 August 2009.”

Route: start in Dili, head east in clockwise direction back to Dili. Total distance > 400km
Route map: UNHCR. Timor-Leste Atlas Map. Retrieved 15 Jul 09
Dili map: Discover East Timor. Retrieved 21 Jul 09
From those who have been there:
Lonely Planet Thorntree

Country profile: BBC
News: World Time Server
Travel advisory: Foreign and Commonwealth Office (UK). Retrieved 22 Jul 09
US Department of State Retrieved 22 Jul 09.
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Australia Retrieved 22 Jul 09. Crocs, crime and UXOs ...
Time: UTC +9 hours. Weather. Wind speed is 2 to 3x that in Singapore, head wind / cross wind as we head east (especially along the coast) and south, tail wind as we head west and north :O Singapore humidity 70-80%, compared to Dili 60-70%, except at river crossings :P
SingTel has coverage through Timor Telecom :)
Currency, language, availability of ATMs, use of credit card etc, there's some from Timorleste-hotels and references below.

Answers below are from Stone, M (email dated 23 Jul 09).

1. Food and water on the road:
a. how will we get these while on the road before we reach our destination each day;
b. will we have to carry what we need or will there be official rest stops / shops enroute?
Answer: supplied by tour organisers.
From race rules: "For stages longer than 90km a feeding station will be provided at approximately the half way mark. Water and fruit will be available at the feed station. Riders can place their own food in well marked feed bags (rider numbered please) at these points by leaving them at the rider sign-on table each morning. Riders are welcomed to buy food along the course as required and where available."

2. Emergency:
a. will there be a safety vehicle / medical crew we can call if we get in trouble?
Answer: yes,organised by tour organisers. Much of this is being supplied by local organisations such as the UN.
b. will we be issued with communication devices or
c. do we bring our own mobile phones (if so, what is phone coverage like throughout the route)?
Answer: A mobile phone will be supplied to each team. You can also use your own mobiles on Global Roaming or by purchasing a local SIM card. There is good coverage around all of the major centres but limited once in the countryside. A Satellite phone will be in use throughout the race for special requirements and emergency's.
3. Terrain:
a. this is mostly road and dirt road / gravel / sand? or muddy?
Answer: Mostly road and dirt road.
b. any areas accessible only on foot and we have to carry our bikes?
Answer: No, except between Same and Fleisa it is very steep so some riders may choose to walk sections.
c. riverbed crossing: how deep is the water, waist high or lower? how quickly does the water flow?
Answer: Most riverbeds will be dry in late August and running rivers will be shallow.
4. Race:
a. this is a cycling race or do we also have to bring running shoes?
Answer: Cycling only.
b. what time does it get dark in Timor Leste?
Answer: 6.30 pm
c. is there a cut-off time
d. is there a "sweeper" vehicle we must board if we don't pass a certain point by a certain time?
Answer: This will vary for each stage but as an example the first stage will have a time frame of approximately 6 hours to complete, plus a nominal 1 hour for those close to finishing, then any remainding (sic) will be picked up.
Extract from race rules: "If a competitor fails to finish any stage of the race ... then at the discretion of the race jury the competitor may be allowed to continue the race. The jury or race organisers may impose a time (last rider + one hour), or other penalty.

e. what kind of sign-posting will there be so that we don't stray from the route and get lost?
Answer: This is still being sorted out by the local police and District Administrators.
5. Hazards:
a. what can we expect eg dogs / wildlife?
Answer: Dogs, chickens and goats mainly.
6. Accomodation arrangements:
a. we're told to bring mosquito nets, sleeping bags etc. Does that mean that we'll be camping outdoors most of the time during the race? Or some of the time? Or none of the time?
Answer: Whilst on the race course it will be camping conditions, though some large huts are being build for competitors, and some will be in tents.
From race guestbook: "a light sleeping bag will be more than enough".

b. are there shower / washing facilities at every night stop?
Answer: Portable showers are being set up at each camp.
Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
And this too

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rainy or sunny?

Changi, 61 km. Just like last month, fatigue stopped my wheels turning first week into the month. Under a cloud, I spend most of yesterday reducing sleep deficit. I was going to cycle in the night, when the rains fall. Today, the sky is overcast. And I've cleaned my drive train. I head out anyway. The sky clears, the sun shines, my wheels turn. I meet a friend who hollers from the roadside. I explore a place I've never been to before: Johor Battery. And all is well.