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, January 31, 2010

Cross border

Jan distance: 238 km

Woodlands, 53 km. When Singapore drivers drive across the border to Malaysia, they still drive like Singapore drivers. Malaysia drivers are generally far better drivers - they signal and are patient when filtering and turning. However, the two cars with Malaysian licence plates in Singapore today are driven like Singapore cars - what right of way; might makes right. One driver was cross enough to mutter at me as he swerved across the junction. If there was a truck going the same way as me, the driver would've thought twice.

Cycling puts us at the mercy of the sun, the rain and horrible drivers. As we're not sheltered by metal, it also means we're exposed to human kindness. People around us who'd not spare a thought to drivers and their passengers who go by, shower us with smiles, waves, greetings and kindness.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Solo twogether

Woodlands, 56 km. I cycle alone, minding my business. To breach the piddling 50 km barrier, I make a little detour. As usual, the usual monkey business is going on. I don't mean the little monkeys that scurry across the road nonchalantly, I mean the big monkeys sitting in their cars which stop on the road without pulling over at the sight of monkeys. Deer freeze at the sight of headlights and it seems some motorists freeze at the sight of monkeys.

I cycle on, minding my own business a tad too much. Then I see a solo cyclist by the roadside. He doesn't seem like in trouble, his bike is ok. I stop anyway. Turns out to be a Frenchman who'd flown to Bangkok, cycled to Laos then Cambodia back to Thailand, to Malaysia and today is his first day in Singapore. He peers at his laptop; he has no maps, just some street names. I become his guide and lead him to a petrol kiosk where he gets a drink and a roadmap.

Along the way we pass foreign labour who sit on a pavement facing each other, eating with their hands under the shade of trees. When they finish eating, they will lie down and rest from their labours in the sun.

I lead the cyclotourist to the housing estate and then I'm lost but he finds the right little street. I leave him at the three-story home of his friend of a friend. He's so happy, he asks a resident to take a photo of us. His next stop: Australia and New Zealand. Bon voyage!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Babbling brook

Bukit Timah Road, 46 km.

A babbling brook
Along the route
Quiet and safe
No motorists rude

Wheels that rolled along
The mighty Mekong
Home, it’s hard to find
A stream that sings along

The sun does beam
The birds do sing
A different journey
For wheels to spin

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Nature vs nurture

Singapore River, 42 km. I meet some friends who’d spent winter cycling in Taiwan. It might as well have been on another planet; they describe how local drivers drive patiently behind cyclists and overtake only when it’s safe. No middle finger salute either, more like a thumbs up from drivers safely ensconced within their cabins with shouts of “jiayou”. The cyclists were given free drinks in shops and a driver went out of his way to help frozen cyclists. Why are Singapore Chinese so different from Taiwan Chinese; common gene pool, yet today I get bullied by two drivers ruled by law of the jungle rather than law of the land. Perhaps it’s because Taiwan is bicycle factory of the world? But doesn’t the law of supply and demand mean that when something is abundant, it is less valued?

Today, I also get a personal tour of a museum by curator. It’s like he knows by heart the captions to the exhibits but ask him more and he’ll go beyond what’s written. A few pedal strokes away from the museum is a dig which uncovered remnants of World War 2, colonial building material, Temasek era pottery and pre-Temasek sand. All that treasure underfoot, covered by dirt. To some, that treasure is trash ...

Friday, January 01, 2010

First ride of the year

Kranji, 41 km. This post could've also been titled "dressed up, messed up". "Washed out". "Weather beaten". The day is so sunny, it shouldn't have been necessary to look at the weather radar. But I do. Just a handful of tiny scattered showers, including one patch where I'm going. Surely it'd pitter patter out by the time I get there. I dress up, colour coordinated from headware to socks, sunglasses, arm warmers and sun block. Camera. And a freshly cleaned, lubed drive train.

The grey clouds look down on me and sprinkle some water. I quicken my pace, hoping to ride out from under the cloud cover. It is a tease, it is a trap. When I'm neither here nor there, it pours. I stop at a bus stop.  And wait. A foreign worker from China talks to me and learns something. That taxis with red lights on the top don't stop. His bus comes, he beams and says goodbye. When the rain turns from "pour" to "trickle", I ride. Another trap; it pours again. I stop to eat. The rain trickles, then pours again. I wait no longer; all in all 1.5 hours have gone by in the rain. I'm cold, wet, hungry. I zip up my jersey and blink at the rain stings my eyes.

Is this first ride of the year a harbinger of things to come? Today is the first day of the year and the first day of a new decade. But yesterday is another day, it ended well as the last day of the year and the last day of a decade. Anyway, What's with all this symbolism? Reminds me of my Timor race, where I slipped and fell down the steps before the start of a day's race. "And that will be the last fall of the day," I told my stunned audience. And so it was.