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 :))

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Dark clouds, bright outlook

Aug distance: 359 km

Changi, 55 km. I'm off to meet a friend who is collecting his new toy (a two-wheeler named what else but Wheeler) and his friends.

I go west past the airport and fly through the air effortlessly at over 30 km/h on my fat tyres. Fly, in a nice sort of way, ie behind, not in front of my handlebars. Dark clouds hover in the sky but it doesn't rain for a while. When it rains, it is a reluctant drizzle; so light, the white of my jersey doesn't get stained with the dirt from the road.

Speeding without incessant clicking from the crank is such joy. Instead of the sound of irritation, there is the joyful hum of fat tyres and the cheerful banter of the wind as it flutters past my ears.

There are dark clouds on the horizon, but it doesn't mean it'll always storm. And some preparation can be made in advance for rain.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Don't fix it till it breaks

Woodlands, 67 km. The clicks are too much. Not 'clicks' as in km but as in 'high pitched sounds that grate on the ears'. They (the clicks, not the ears) started in mid Jul, after I wiped the crank arms clean. Perhaps some water/dirt got in? Greasing, tightening, loosening the crank arm bolts and cursing haven't stopped the clicks. A wild goose chase to fix one thing (dirt), eventually led to wild tightening and breaking of steel.

Not the saddle nor seat post, not the chain rings nor chain. I'm now convinced it's the crank arm that clicks. I rue the day I cleaned it. Now, the squeaky clean drives me nuts. Instead of stripping the threads off the crank arm and ruining the entire crank, I put up with the noise. Sometimes, the clicks go away. Then they come back. "Just checking to see you're still around and irritated," they chirp. I ignore them. And, then, they go away!? I can't believe my ears.

Elsewhere, in the south, north, east and west, leadership change is through people power in the streets, or gun powder. Or those in power seem powerless, with revolving doors (6 prime ministers in 5 years?!), gridlock or bailed out governments. This weekend, here, change is relatively quiet, through the ballot box. The rancour is mostly online and some offline (booing).

I wouldn't say "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". Things can be better, but don't fix till it breaks; it's like cooking food till it burns ...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The right choice, the right line

Pasir Ris, 52 km. Let's see, ride with roadies today at 5 am, or hit the trails at 9 am? The latter sounds more fun, so I go for it. I end up being a sweeper, offering to look for some lost people then getting lost as the main group moves ahead.

I cycle down memory lane (Tampines trail), where when I last crashed and tore a strip of skin off my leg. The place looks so different now, with a lot more grass and some double black diamonds. I  choose to go offroad, I choose the right line but veer off as my front wheel on a rigid front fork catches onto some gremlin buried in the ground and I crash for auld lang syne. No damage to bicycle nor to skin, just crushed my my pride a little.

I eat humble pie and ask the organiser how to do a proper bunny hop. Guess I'll have to eat carrots too :p

Saturday, August 13, 2011

By the numbers

Changi, 127 km. 4 hours of sleep. 5 am rendezvous with 30 cyclists, all roadies but one (me, with the fattest tyres and biggest saddle bag).  Pace picks up, heart races, drive trains whirr in the dark.

Half the cyclists break off in ones and twos as we head from east to west. The remaining half end up in hospital. Well, not as emergency cases but as visitors, as we're training for a charity ride. We see and hear first hand what we're raising funds for. At the dementia ward, our guide says: "If you think you've got problems, wait till you come here ...".

As for the squeaks that have been plaguing my bicycle, they're gone, all gone. Or perhaps I can't hear them over my tired panting.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Will over steel

Serangoon, 11km. Now I've done it. Or rather, overdone it. Dot the i's, cross the t's, tighten every bolt to stop every squeak and rattle ... too much torque and the nut (that would be me) tears off the bolt ...

So I'm off for help; some bikeshops are closed, but not the one I already visited yesterday. And yes, the man does have a spare bolt; if it was any other shop, would I have ended up with a bolt plus entire crankset? He dismantles the crankset, cleans the chainrings, checks the other bolts, adds some grease, puts it all back. $5.

Amazing, yes. More amazing is, how an short allen key and some arm twisting can shear off a steel bolt. Morals of the story: mind over matter (or is it mind your force). And know your bikeshops :p

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Road rage

Sembawang, 47 km. It's late afternoon when my wheels hit the road, on account of rain since morning. Perhaps I should've stayed home to stay sane and a better chance to stay alive. Thrice, drivers hurtle their metal into my right of way. I'm on a major road, they're on a side road but might makes right, according to the unofficial highway code. Having taken evasive action through defensive cycling, I'm tested again by a pedestrian crossing a narrow road; she sees me coming and keeps walking, stopping only when collision is imminent. My odometer reads 12 km so far. And people tell me, it's dangerous to cycle overseas. Yeah, right.

I drop by to see bikeshop man, whose 12-year old dog has died. He was there when she breathed her last breath. He lubes my headset like I tell him to, though it isn't really necessary. And it isn't the headset that's creaking, it's the cranky crank. Again. I should've left well enough alone. So much for the relentless pursuit of excellence ...

Saving me the best for last, as I cycle home, a driver shoots out from a side road, goes against the flow of traffic (draining the blood flow from my face) and stops only when another metal monster behind me is too big to squeeze past like I did and blares a protest.