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, April 18, 2010

Can't think of everything

Apr distance: 383 km

Woodlands, 53 km. When I get up this morning, I don’t feel like cycling. But when the sun is shining, I go riding, as sure as the sun rises from the east. Today’s ride is not just for the cycling. What if regular readers visit the blog and find nothing new? Also, I might as well do an equipment test. I can think of some things but not everything and that’s where road tests come in.

My water bottles (veteran of thousands of km around the region) have tasted of plastic. Yes, they are made of plastic but when you taste plastic, you ingest plastic. Sigg bottles are reputedly safe. But they don’t fit conventional water bottle cages. Or so I think until I force a 1 litre bottle into the cage with usually carries up to 0.75 litre. Though slightly bigger and heavier (250g of extra water), the bottle is ok to drink from on the move. It does not squirt, so suck from the nozzle. This means lip balm accumulation, the balm being needed to prevent wind chapped / sunburnt lips. Squirts would be helpful when cleaning road rash. Also, hitting bottle against frame may damage paintwork. Recommendation: Sigg bottles are good for bicycle tours if they fit in the bottle cage. They can carry more water (1 litre), don't leak plastic and can contain hot water. But carry a squirt bottle if you need to squirt, like when the Sigg bottle nozzle is dirty and you don't have a nozzle cover.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Almost empty handed

Changi, 71 km. I go shopping today at a shop that doesn't sell bicycles but rents them. They have a wide range of "cheap and good" accessories which regular bicycle shops don't have. When I reach the shop, what I came for is out of stock. "Come back in June", I'm told. I look also for a light light but the one with velcro comes only with red beam; the white one is - you guessed it, out of stock. I wonder if having more lights would save my life on the road, weeks after Ben Mok was wiped out from this world on a night ride. I visit bikeshop man and ask him if I need to change my chain. He measures it and says "no need". I see if there's something else I can buy. Not really. Just as I'm about to leave empty handed, my headset creaks. Badly. He removes it with some difficulty; it is rusted. He tells me it's a sealed bearing and replaces it. As he works, I point out the stem and tyres to him: "I got these from you seven years ago". So thus endeth shopping day.

Incidentally, bikeshop man is the sponsor of Singapore's first "ghostbike".

Saturday, April 03, 2010

North and south

Tanjung Piai, Johor, Malaysia
Day 1, Good Fri, 137 km. Usually, I pass up the chance to get up before the crack of dawn to cycle. Usually, lying in bed is means more to me than sitting on a little saddle. But I need to "decompress" from my Borneo ride (since I'd headed to work hours after touching down). So I'm up before 5 am, meeting some Bike-Aid friends up north. There are dozens of roadies on the road and I chase after them on my fat tyres just for fun. After crossing the Malaysian border, we head south. As far south one can go on mainland Asia. Complacency hits me. So what that I'm a veteran of solo rides in Cambodia and Borneo. I forget how much water is left in my bottles and I almost run dry. Later on, I get too wet. After laundry wash and a cold shower, we cycle out for a seafood dinner. On the way back, it pours. We wait till it stops, then ride on. The rain ambushes us. Cold, wet but not hungry. 1 out of 3 isn't bad? In over 45,000 km of riding, this is just about my most miserable night. Up till now, I've aimed to be off the road by nightfall.

Day 2, Sat, 122 km. After a heavy breakfast (nasi lemak + nasi goreng for me), we cycle for an hour before stopping for lime juice. We then lunch in the same shop we'd lunched yesterday: the one with the future "Asean scholar",  a little girl who was glued to a computer yesterday. Today, she and her younger sister are helping in the kitchen and serving customers. If they were in Singapore, they'd be learning ballet or bossing the maid around. It rains again. We wait till it lightens then ride, but get "ambushed" again. What a mess, even mud guards on the bicycle in front don't stop the "free flow" of water spraying up at me. We cycle at our own pace, with me leading the sole roadie (the others have touring bikes complete with panniers). Like the story of the tortoise and the hare, we are overtaken when we stop to wait. We go our separate ways; the tourers head inland, we go by the coast. Yet, we meet as if by design. Nice. And custom officers wave us through. Nice.