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, November 30, 2003

Nov: 703 km

Sun 30 Nov: Better at night
To Sengkang, 31 km. I've been to Sengkang at night. I check it out in daylight - parts of it look like construction sites, not mysterious grass plains shrouded in darkness. But that large boarded-up bungalow surrounded by emptiness does look spooky. I see some cyclists and overtake one motor-bicyclist - he splutters at 38 km/h while I pass silently at 43 km/h.

Tech note Today's ride is my first all week. It's more of a tech ride, to test my new bikeshorts and fanny pack. And to see if my left hamstring is fine. I could barely walk on Wed - doctor says no cycling for five days. Strangely enough, it may have been the sit-ups which got to me. Still, hamstring may have been damaged on 17-18 Oct. And left thigh cramps after barely 10 km! How decrepit - I used to go 200 km without any pain. I drop by the bikeshop to tighten my headset - another perennial pain.

Sat-Sun 22-23 Nov: Real horse vs Iron Horse
To Desaru, Malaysia, 148 km. I move by bike, boat, go-kart and a real horse. Differences between a real horse and Iron Horse:
  • Real horse has a real name: Charlie. Iron Horse is just Iron Horse or horsey for short.
  • Real horse eats. Iron Horse doesn't eat; only the rider does.
  • Real horse likes grass; good for its transmission. Iron Horse detests grass; bad for transmission.
  • Real horse has four legs. Iron Horse has two legs and two wheels.
  • Real horse needs stirrup for riding. Iron Horse uses pedals.
  • Real horse has big saddle, comprising leather and cloth. Iron Horse has small saddle, comprising synthetics and titanium rail.
  • Real horse has a tiny handle bar ("bit") in its mouth. Iron Horse has longer handle bar that doesn't fit into mouth.
Bikerboey goes airborne in an ultralight. She gets lighter too when she loses her breakfast after landing. But she gets on her bike and is her usual buoyant self. As for me, I feel dour when I lag behind LCT and JC who charge ahead on knobbies, while I'm on slicks. I hang on for a while, then drop back. LCT says I lose momentum when going uphill. That's true, but the return leg is flat. I gotta learn how to breathe and pedal again.

Tech note I set two personal records on 22 Nov.
  • Max speed on flat road (at Hougang Ave 2) is 49.2 km/h; I had a boost from the hill behind me I guess. Previous record: 47 km/h.
  • Max speed (downhill) is 60.3 km/h at Desaru; previous record: 60.2 km/h.
It's a matter of getting used to the gear ratios. I need to get used to my new saddle; I stop to tweak the seat angle a few times. On the way back to the Pengarang jetty, the saddle goes "sproing" and slides back. I thought it's broken; I need an excuse to get another one! About half of the 13 riders on this ride have Specialized saddles. What a pain in the butt. If a new saddle or pedal causes so many adjustment problems, it must be immense pain to have a new bicycle.

The pain behind my left knee comes back. I tweak my cleats, then realise the pain may be because of unclipping. The niggling clanking sound comes back too. It seems my front d has to be lubed for every ride to get rid of the sound. Maybe the crankset is incompatible with my new chain.
Photos courtesy of Gentle Giant
Wed 19 Nov: The old and the new
To Sengkang, 36 km. There are some old faces today, and a new one (J). I introduce them to the long quiet stretches of road in Sengkang and Punggol, which they seem to like. We end as usual at Casuarina Road, and a few more old faces drive there to join us.
Tech note GKT and WH cruise past me uphill, but not by much, before we run out of hill. New saddle hurts a little less; I've been desperately massaging it to soften it.

Fri 14 Nov: Pain in the butt
To Sengkang, 28 km.
Tech note It cost me over $100, but my new saddle a pain in the butt after 30 minutes. And try as I do, I still don't break the 40 km/h barrier. And the chain clanks somewhere around the front d. Try as I do, I can't find the problem area. So much for new equipment. But at least my hubs coast real well. Now, to find myself on a slope with some of the Wed nite riders and see if I can tear uphill like them.

Tue 11 Nov: Moon river
To Sengkang, 34 km. The moon glows like a brown mooncake through the clouds, with the silhoutte of trees across the glass plain cutting a jagged pattern on the orb. I sit by the the river, a shiny black ribbon, and reflect. God gives clear answers, but I find them hard to accept. I get back on my bicycle and continue exploring. Like life itself, Sengkang / Punggol has many roads. Some are enticing, but get me nowhere.
Tech note Still can't go above 40 km/h, though my cruising speed now seems to be 38 km/h instead of 35. Acceleration is slower than with my 7-speed casette. I'm still unused to the gear ratios. And there's a niggling clanking sound - I can't isolate the source.

Fri 7 Nov: The kung fu master
To Sengkang, 33 km. I get off work too late as usual to join any togoparts ride. I cycle around the carpark, tweaking my front d. It's not been working well since I got it on 1 Nov. I finally get it going to my satisfaction and head for Sengkang. Several long, quiet roads there with few traffic lights. As I head home, my entire front d shifts and the chain falls off. I twist it back and desperatly head towards Ang Mo Kio bikeshop man. It's almost 11 pm, but he's still around. In mere minutes, he sorts it out and the front d works better than when I first got it. His "kung fu" sure is good.

Sun 2 Nov: Journey to the west
To Jurong Hill, 73 km. It's nice to be at the receiving end of a BOAC bike ride, following instead of leading. I meet lots of new people today; as it turns out, someone knows the park connectors in Jurong by heart. Birds literally flock together. We walk on an abandoned railway track, ride past still waters, lunch at the top of Jurong Hill. And get wet.

Tech note It's just a drizzle, but my water vapour appears in my shifters. I don't have that problem with my cheap thumbshifters even in a deluge. There's so much gunk on my chain after two days of rain. At home, I remove the rear wheel and put it back on. Oops. Chain clanks now. Did bikeshop man force chain stays apart to fit 9-speed casette? Bike originally came with 6-speed. Today, I try to break my speed record but find I'm not fit enough for my new gears.

Sat 1 Nov: Smooth and light
To Kent Ridge, 51 km. Yesterday, I cycle towards a bikeshop in town, detour to one nearer home, and upgrade my bicycle there instead. It's got to be left overnight; first time ever that someone fixes it without me looking on. Feels strange to be without my bike. The upgrade is for a long ride; I decide to stand by by trusty steed after considering a touring, hybrid or new mountain bike. I write-off $200 from a past upgrade of Alex wheelset and 8-speed LX rear d. Bike now has XT cassette, hubs and chain, 9-speed LX rear d, Mavic 221 rims, Deore front d and shifters. This is the third (and last?) major upgrade. Today, I pick up my bike. Takes me a while to get used to rapid fire shifters; thumb shifters have one lever and are more intuitive. XT is smooth and light. Bike is now 1 kg lighter (same weight as a $2,200 Scott). I don't't break my speed record, but marvel at how easy it is to pedal. Total damage: $560. Too bad bikeshop man fits silver hubs instead of the agreed black! And I didn't know my Schrader tubes have to go.

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