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, August 29, 2010

Shouldn't have, could have

Aug distance: 355 km

Changi, 55 km. Changing a bottom bracket shouldn't affect the front derailleur shifting, but it does. I turn the barrel adjuster, turn the screws, then cycle to bikeshop man for expert opinion. He fiddles some more then says "ok". He could've charged me for the service, but doesn't. My front derailleur plates shake though the entire assembly is clamped tightly on the seat tube; I ask if it's time to change it. He says, "no need" and declines to make a quick buck off me. I cycle around his shop, with his screw driver in hand, until I'm content that the shifting is just so. Then I cycle to the easternmost end of the country, to buy a bag for my top tube. So I can stuff it full of calories and other stuff for the coming weekend's two-day, 400 km charity ride.

I'm going to need the calories and the sleep. This week, an intense week including a 1-hour forum on radio and some human resource matters. Then 400 km to cycle. And, 21 km to run the weekend after that :0

Sunday, August 22, 2010

When early is late

Lim Chu Kang, 71. I usually cycle in the late morning (except that, for most people, cycling so late in the day is unusual since they ride at dawn). Today, I laze about and have lunch before I cycle, which means I'm on the road in the early afternoon. Early afternoon is usually when I get home, followed by the view of the inside of my eyelids. Instead, I'm awake as adrenalin pumps as fast as my heart as traffic buzzes me. I see there's a new sport in town among motorists, to see how close they can brush past cyclists.

As I cycle, I can't wait to get home. My mind is filled with thoughts of a nice cold drink, with lots of ice. Meanwhile, my head pounds, my eyes smart from being dried out by the wind and my legs burn. And I soon feel sleepy, because my legs pump like pistons when they are usually still in sleep as I nap. I want to keep going but dark clouds hang low on the horizon, sort of like the sword of Damocles hanging over my head. Any excuse to cut short the ride, so I head home.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Double trouble, double pedal

Lim Chu Kang, 95 km. Two bad things happen on Fri, which affect my sleep. On Sat, I don't quite want to eat. On Sun, I just feel like doubling my usual mileage, partly because of next month's charity ride and partly because I have so much energy - or is it angst? or a new bottom bracket that feels so good? As I head out, a neighbour sees me in my cycling gear and says "wow". Not because of how good I look, but because it is drizzling.

On the road, I see a roadie ahead and give chase. To narrow the gap, I shift to the big chain ring. Click, click, click, where's the power surge? I look down and see the chain around the crank. As this is a non-stop ride, I get the chain back on the chainring and overtake the roadie. I play with the front derailleur cable, until the chain somewhat behaves. But at a steeper slope; under higher load, the chain sticks again. More fiddling, and the shifting seems to work fine.

I start to weary, my legs burn, but I keep going. Strangely enough, I don't feel hungry though all I have for breakfast is a little packet of cereal (without water, just chew it like cereal in a cereal bar - but without a bar that gets crushed). The only water I drink, I what I carry. The only rest stop I get is when I stop at traffic lights. And for a train. It would be ironic to say, "I'm out to train, I won't stop, not even for a train."

When I get home, the sun shines.

I wonder if the cereal packet holds a lesson for me. It's frustrating to eat a cereal bar or biscuit that's all crumbled. So, might as well eat crumbs right? Just pour it down the hatch. From making a virtue of necessity to double loop learning?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Worn out and cranky

Serangoon, 16 km. My crank shakes even when the bicycle is stationary. I cycle to see bikeshop man. He tells me the bearings are worn out and the entire bottom bracket has to be replaced. Although his shutters (the shop's, not his eyelids) are half shut, he doesn't turn me away. As I didn't expect that I have to replace the entire assembly but just ball bearings, I didn't have much money with me. I hand bikeshop man all my cash. Bikeshop man rounds the price down so I have $5 left in my pocket.

When I left home, I'd wanted to train for next month's charity ride. But dark clouds hang menacingly overhead. The overcast leaves me downcast and I cycle home. Yesterday was a sad day - a team member's last day in the office. And another member gives me bad news in similar vein. I wonder if the sun will shine tomorrow. I desperately need some sunshine in my life.

Tech note: the broken bottom bracket, installed in Jan 2005, has spun for almost 30,000 km. At home, I listen to my new toy. To hear your bottom bracket sing, place your ear on the saddle (with ear still attached to head of course, or else sound quality will be affected). Then turn the crank. If the bottom bracket makes a racket, it sounds like trouble. My new toy sounds so good, a nice smooth rrrrrr. It rides smooth too.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Bait and switch

Lim Chu Kang Road, 71 km. How I want to laze about on this public holiday, National Day. The thought of training for next month's charity ride puts me off. Ok then, no laps, no interval training. I pack my camera. Just go out and cycle for fun, that’s the bait. The sun is out and blazing. As it to be expected. It hardly ever rains on National Day. Don’t rain on the parade!

I stop and snap photos wherever, whenever I like. Places that had unforgettable memories (eg where I donated blood just to get beyond the barb wire a couple of hours out earlier). Places that had dogs chase me in the dead of night. Places where, in 1942, people fought to the death to defend the mangrove shoreline from invading Japanese. It’s so peaceful now.

When there are hills and slopes, I charge uphill. That’s the switch, no mind-numbing laps, just the thrill of cranking uphill.

As I cycle past military installations, I hope I’ll see the hardware on the roads or take to the air. I see none of them; I must be too late. I rush home to watch the parade on TV. Majullah Singapura!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Pull factors, push factors

Mandai, 47 km. I’m so tired, from sleep deficit bulit up over the work week. When a key appointment holder quits, someone I dearly want to keep, there's the emotional load and the workload to be spread around the team with care. Soon-to-be ex colleague even recommends a replacement and goes through the CV :0

Today, I feel tired even after an afternoon nap. Being tired of feeling tired is the push factor for me to go out the door to cycle. But even before I’m out of the house, I already look forward to coming home. The pull factor is that by training, I won’t suffer so much during next month’s charity ride.

Cyclists are out in force. I see a recumbent and a dozen foldies, in addition to the usual roadies and mountain bikers. Also out, to get me, are two dogs. I hear them before I see them. Fierce barks from across the road. Two black shapes hurtle out across two lanes, locked on my scent, hot on my trail. Their nails click on the road. I am fortunate in my misfortune: I could’ve been on their side of the road going uphill. They have no chance of gnawing on my bones as I crank it up, speeding downhilll. By now, I’m wide awake.