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 23, 2011


Jan distance: 266 km

Woodlands, 47 km. Another evening ride, along a road I’ve not cycled on for a long time. When I’m there, I remember why I’ve not been there for so long - the risk of having to say “so long, farewell”. The kerb side of the road, usually safe ends when a major road joins it in a Y junction which turns into a “merge lane”.  So, instead of just fast traffic whizzing by on one side, I’m cycling along a white line with traffic whizzing by on both sides. Hence the saying, “putting your life on the line”.

Nothing bad happens. I trust my bicycle and all its parts especially where the rubber meets the road. As I tear down the streets and go round corners at speed, I take it for granted that my wheels won’t wash out. My tyres are squishy. I let it be so - though the contact patch is bigger and hence I cycle more slowly, I’ve realised it’s worth the trade off of a more comfortable ride.

All alone at home is a stranger - an Orbea. A road bike, with unknown handling characteristics. It’s even got carbon parts! Thoughts of “torque wrench” and “5nm” keep buzzing in my head. My friend lent it to me yesterday, with no return date ...

Monday, January 17, 2011

And the click goes on

Serangoon, 11 km. Click, click, click. With every pedal stroke, the click drives me further round the bend. I grease the seat post. That usually works - but not this time. Then I remove the seat from the seatpost and grease all contact points. I bounce on the seat, no click. So it must be some rotating part. Not the pedal nor crank, since the click continues when I coast and rock from side to side. The wheels then? I squeeze where the spokes cross each other. There are no clicks when I place the bicycle upside down and spin the wheels. The click stops when I cycle uphill. I hold the handlebars down with my bodyweight and turn. Click, click, click.

I cycle to see bikeshop man. I wait about two hours, as he works on an "are they still in production?" Made in India Hercules bicycle. Then on a Lynskey. Finally, it’s my turn. Bikeshop man takes apart my headset, soaks part of it petrol and says “lots of sand”. Not to mention water that flows out. “Ride in heavy rain?” he asks. I pick up a rag and wipe the head tube. He puts everything back but before the job is done, another cyclist shows up. It’s now past 10 pm. Bikeshop man starts giving advice to him and I finish my own job before paying up and cycling off.

Troubleshooting? Use your head (and ears). Isolate and eliminate, what’s left is the problem. This method (use head and ears) works elsewhere in life too.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Give it a rest

Mandai, 48 km. Mid-day comes and goes. My nose is running, my throat is burning. I don’t even feel like buying lunch so I microwave some noodles, which takes 1/4 the time to cook pasta. I’m torn between cycling and sleeping. The latter wins hands down and I head down to dreamland. By the time I’m on the road, it’s evening. I’m in such a rush, I forget my water bottle. But i know where to get water; I head to a secluded part of a reservoir where there’s a water cooler. As I tear down the dark grey ribbon of road, I strain my eyes for monkeys and other things that go “bump” in the night. Then I head for a vending machine (at a compressed natural gas pumping station for taxis) that sells drinks for almost 1/2 price.

Today, I log almost the same distance as a ‘usual’ Sunday ride. But without the sunglasses or sunblock. Nor stress of dragging myself out to cycle.

What a difference some sleep and some hours of “being good to yourself” makes.

PS: last week, I posted about how unpredictable life is. Some surprises are nasty. But surprises needn’t catch us by surprise. We may not know when they’ll come, but if they come we can be prepared. It’s like having a tyre pump and testing that it works before packing it, having spare tubes ... Being prepared applies to other parts of life too.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Sprint training

 Lim Chu Kang, 75 km. Today is supposed to be a “cyclist artist” ride, where I take photos, not cycle above lactate threshold. But it wasn’t me. A roadie on a Fondriest overtakes me with a “good afternoon”. I just have to return the greeting. I couldn’t stay ahead of him but could sit snugly on his tail until I turn a different way. Down a road I mistake for another. Fangs for nothing. Four dogs, one leashed, the others not. The "friendliest" one lunges at me. I negotiate. More barking and jumping. As negotiations fail, I flee. I crank up my pace, which turns out to be the doggies’ volume and kinetic energy control. I wonder why jaws didn’t attack and attach to my ankles or calf. Perhaps they were admiring before biting.

At the correct junction, I turn again. More jaws but this time on a sign: “crocodile spotted”. Strange, crocs have scales not spots, right? I spend many minutes here, shooting (photos, not crocs).

As I ride on, I see a scarecrow beside a chicken farm and stop to shoot it. Two dogs are about. The one in front looks at me then looks away. I put away my camera, mount my bicycle and cycle away. Which activates furious barking. Here we go again but this time I’m caught off-guard - after all, Fido had let me go, why does it want me now? I crank up again - this time it’s zero to hero, but uphill. Fido drops away only when I’’m on my big chainring. He stops to scratch itself.

How unpredictable life is. it rains, but I’m camera ready. Dogs with many sharp teeth, but none sink in. Crocs, perhaps, beneath water still and placid.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Look for the bright spots

Seletar, 43 km. The weather forecast threatens rain. The sky certainly looks as grey as the roads. I wait for the rain to fall and for the sky to clear, but neither happens till hours later. Again, it’s late afternoon when I cycle. I’m off to the place which I want to shoot but minutes later, a drizzle starts.

I head the other way, where the sky is bright. Can’t have everything in life, like clear skies wherever I want, but i can have something - to be wet by sweat but not by rain. What I’d really want is a creak-free bicycle. I greased my seatpost and where the saddle connects to the seatpost, but the creaks aren’t gone.

Seletar has changed so much since I was last here. A little airport with a slice of colonial England, with places llike Picadilly Circus, is now being torn apart. Little country roads have become multiple lanes as befits an aerospace centre. Sure, there’s still some black-and-white bungalows that haven’t gone under the bulldozer, but I reckon the place will have a lot more buzz - the sound of business flying about.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

It’s about time

Sembawang, 42 km. At the stroke of midnight, an old year and an old decade make way for the new. Not as exciting as the turn of a new century but still ... I want to cycle today, but I dawdle. Doing something is one thing but doing it when I want it is another. A little luxury for a brand new day, not to be driven by the imperiousness of the analogue tick tock.

Rest and relax. By the time I head out, it is late afternoon. What I didn’t count on is rain. It rains on my ride and my camera. Oh well, let’s see how well I’ve waterproofed the latter. Not too bad. When the rain is a feathery drizzle, I start shooting. Whoever sang “I love a rainy night” sure wasn’t out cycling or shooting photos.

What can I make of the inaugural ride of the new decade? I could’ve cycled with some friends overseas, or with some roadies, but choose to take it easy. I could’ve cycled when the sun was out, but choose not to. When I'm on the road, a jerk cuts across my right of way and doesn't even look at how close he came to me. I could’ve let the driver ruin my day, but why bother with him. That would be a waste of my time, better to get over that fast.