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 :))

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Softly, softly

Jul distance: 447 km

Woodlands, 50 km. I start my journey to address one of the seven problems that have afflicted me so far in the seven months of this year. Today's mission is a fact-finding, bridge-building visit, to understand the situation before offering any solution. Softly softly, friendly friendly. Even if no solution is in sight (yet), at least, I hope to see why things have turned out the way they have, just by seeing how one side of the argument lives.

Softly, softly, the way a well-tuned bicycle moves: smooth, no rattle, no jerk. And, as it turns out, my bicycle is part of the conversation piece. This is a new role for me; I've done cycling meditation, but not cycling mediation.

What seems to be working: be a friend first; only then can advice be seen as friendly, acceptable advice

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The big C

Woodlands, 50 km. Cancer. It came as a shock to her, and to us. What started as a nagging cough at the end of last year turns out to be the final stage of the big C. We've worked together for ten years. Now, she's got a few months left. Unless, a miracle happens.

Do I believe in miracles? This is the seventh month of the year, which has inflicted me with seven pieces of bad news. Three of them this month, which have to do with comradeship, career and the big C. C'mon, enough already!

 To cope, I cycle. As I cycle, I contemplate life. Even if there are no miracles, there can be courage. As the Brits would say, "keep Calm and Carry on". Km by km, hour by hour, day by day, till the last breath.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Twilight time

Woodlands, 51 km. To ride or not to ride? There are reasons for and against. Since I didn't run this week, I might as well rest my legs from cycling too. In the end, I mount my bicycle. My heart is still heavy. After 1,000 km cycling overseas, I thought I'd figured out why the loss happened and what it means. Then, I realise the loss arose more from an error a question of judgement than anything else. But so what? What's happened, has happened.

Back to the present: a dog chases me. I see a wild boar, which bolts when i ride past. And drivers who stop their cars at blind corners. The air is cool. Wind roars in my ears. My bicycle slices through the dusk, silent apart from the occasional clink. The gears shift like they should, the machine surges forward as I pedal with power and form. For a while, all is right in my world.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Ride for Rations

6-8 Jul, Malacca, Malaysia, 296 km

Hope in hope
Day 1, Fri 6 Jul, Malacca, non-cycling day. Usually, for any charity ride, I'd take a day's leave. This time, I cycle to office (16 km) and work half a day. My friends have the pleasure of cycling to and fro, while I bus north from Singato Malacca with the main party. I see some familiar faces from a Sarawak charity ride, I've not seen most of them in two years. Coming along for the ride are some magnificent machines, including mountain bikes with titanium, carbon and exotic parts. I'm the only one on fat tyres. Fat, knobby tyres.

I think about yet another piece of bad news, which I get today. Looks like my life isn't going to change. Still, many would say: "Are you crazy? I'd like to have your problems". I, for one, don't need anyone to raise funds for me so I have food. My problems are higher up Maslow's hierarchy, but they are problems, and they are mine. I can only hope in hope. Well-placed hope, I hope. I receive a message from a donor, who wishes me well for the ride. Sweet.

Nightstop: Emperor Hotel

Personal best
Day 2, Sat 7 Jul. Batu Pahat, 106 km. The heavy storm peters to a drizzle by the time we set off. I go with the lead riders, led by an Ironman. I drop behind within half an hour, cycle solo and catch up with some of them at the lunch point. They don't lunch; they're off after some bananas and drinks. I cycle solo again until the outskirts of Batu Pahat, where i stop to have iced coconut drink. The lady sees me pour ice into a water bottle and gives me a free glass of ice.

Some cyclists pass by and give me directions to the hotel. I'm the seventh cyclist in, I reckon. This is not a race but I'm glad to have done my personal best. In around 1.10 pm, I wait almost two hours for my bag in the support vehicle. Note to myself: put bag in car #1.

While waiting, I talk to cyclist #6, who says he broke a collar bone earlier this year. He lost control after cycling over a dip in the road. A few months later, he broke the other collarbone on a motorbike accident. He broke his toe too, and can't run fast. Tough for a triathlete.

Nightstop: Pinetree Hotel 

Not how you start but how you finish
Day 3, Sun 8 Jul, Singapore, 174 km. Yesterday, my solar-powered watch, veteran of several expeditions, resets to Y2K. I fix it, but this morning, it goes back in time. As I push my bicycle out the door, I'm dismayed to find the rear tyre flat. Ridiculous: fat, knobby tyres getting punctures cycling on the road instead of offroad?! If I wanted flats, I'd have used my road tyres. There's breakfast and flag off ahead of me. I go into a frenzy to find the leak and the cause: a 5 mm long intruder, which I pull out.

After flag off, I catch the tailwind of an excavator and draft it at 40 km/h, leaving everyone behind until I'm winded. A middle-aged lady on a motorbike rides alongside to chat, asking where I'm from, where I've been ...

Peloton #1 overtakes and the only way I see them again is when they stop to check directions; we're ahead of the support crew and "supply lines". We stop for a break; the only one between breakfast and lunch. The chief organiser, who'd strongly advised everyone to use road tyres, asks if I'm giving people a handicap with my fat tyres. Well, I do feel disadvantaged.

We lunch at Pekan Nanas. We park our bicycles in the sun. When I put them back on, my gloves, helmet and sunglasses are sun-dried and hot. From this point on, no more breakaways. With all the junctions ahead, we ride in packs so there're enough support crew to space out among support vehicles and junctions. Our pace drops from over 30 km/h to 25 km/h so others can keep up. Mountain bike speed, I like :) and I pull so long, others ask if I'd like to drop back. My odometer records average speed of 26.5 km/h. Which is just as well, since some roadies go down in  a crash, one of them ends up with fist-sized road rash.

At the end of the ride (at the charity we're raising funds for), I've just one puncture but not a scratch on me. And I declare my new shoes "expedition proven tested for expedition" :) While others board taxis home, I continue on my Little Red Tank.