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, November 25, 2012

Same shop, different world

Nov distance: 283 km

Woodlands, 51 km. According to my log, chain change is overdue. Yesterday, I returned to the shop where I'd been scolded. The scolder isn't there, but mechanic A is. He installs the chain one way. I show him the manufacturer's instruction I'd brought along and he cheerfully installs the chain the other way after failing to persuade me it made no difference.

I complained about chain suck too. He said the chainring was worn. To replace it, he removed the crank without any fuss, though I said it wasn't necessary (he said he gets better leverage when the crank is off the bicycle). He finds that chainring bolts are a bit too long and files one bolt by hand at first, then all by machine. Without me asking him to, he cleans the jockey wheels. He washes the crank so much till it gleamed, I didn't recognise it at first. He tuned my front and rear gears until, as he says, shifting is "crispy". As I waited, another mechanic offered me a cold canned drink.

I enjoy the fruits of his labour today. No more spongy shifter. It's the same bicycle I cycle, but it feels different with a new chain and chainring, and crispy shifting. Same shop, different mechanic, different experience. Give life a chance too; most things may not change, but one person can make the difference.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

HC ride

17-18 Nov, Teluk Ramunia, Johor, Malaysia,125 km

Day 1
On a slow boat to Pengarang, I try to catch on some sleep. When I get off the boat, it's as if I've landed in another land. The last time I was here was in 2006. The place looks different now. Where we once gathered outside a little door to get passports stamped, there's now a big building where we queue inside. We ride to a hotel, lunch, and I chill out in the air-conditioned room, which feels a tad better than the burning outdoors. The rest chill out outdoors - they visit a barber and eat.

Evening comes, the plan is to cycle again when it's cooler. But it is not so; I'm told they have "no mood to cycle". What?! I don't get my passport stamped just to cycle 40 km. I grab my bike. I'm told that yonder is danger. OK, I'll cycle to the most peaceful place I know in the area, where tall grass bend in the wind and waves caress the shore. I even do some off-road, on a Mars-like landscape. After all, men are from Mars ...

As I cycle, they eat. And eat. Four more meals or more, I'm told, between 3-8 pm. I only have two, and I'm the one who's gone the extra mile! I tell them where I cycled, and it turns out where the tall grass bend in the wind, have lurked robbers. With big knives ...

So, the most peaceful place I know, turns out to be the most dangerous. "You're lucky," one of the eaters say. And to think I stopped a few times to shoot, not with a gun, but a camera. To think that the little picturesque road I was on ends in a cul-de-sac too. Ooh.

Nightstop: Sin Hin Hotel

Day 2
Uh, where shall we cycle today? To the jetty, after breakfast of course. On the way back to the jetty, we stop. For durians. So, this is an HC ride: Hair Cut, High Calories and (for me) a bit of Hazardous Cycling.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Fiddling or fixing?

Woodlands, 56 km. My front derailleur shifter has been spongy and I've wanted to change it. Still, that would mean downtime and money. As I cycle, I fiddle with the barrel adjuster. Performance markedly improves. Which reminds me of a photo of an old couple and its caption: we come from a generation where if something is broken we fix it instead of throwing it away.

The adjustment came about as, after changing the bottom bracket, the chain ground against metal when I shift gears. The front derailleur hasn't shifted, perhaps the new spacers for the bottom bracket are thicker than the slimmed-by-age old spacers, and changed the chain alignment. Fixing one problem (the chain) might have solved another problem (spongy shifter).

So, I've saved money, time and a wee bit of the Earth. I wonder if the repair will last. Wouldn't that be nice: instead of one problem leading to another, one solution led to another.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Sore in the life, soar in the sky

Woodlands, 51km. It rains at the time I want to cycle. I wait. By the time I'm on the road, it is past 10 pm. Usually, I dislike wet roads. Dirt gets sprayed up and clings to the bike, jersey turns dirty. And oil stains, stain. But tonight, I like. The days have been bad, so tonight I must ride. Who knows if the sun will shine tomorrow?

My new bottom bracket performs like a dream. The crank no longer creaks. It is smooth and I glide over the puddle-strewn road. Riding in the damp, cool night air, on water that came from the sky, is like soaring in the sky.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Bye bye BB, bye bye money

From black to brown. How did dirt get in?
Non-cycling day. I guess the creak is from my bottom bracket. It's over 40,000 km old, which means it would've circumnavigated the world. I get a quote for a new BB from a bicycle shop, bring my bike there a few hours later, ask the price again and am quoted a higher price by another guy. I get scolded (well, excuse me for checking before you installed it!) and sort out the price with a phone call to a senior guy.

BB is changed (with a dent in the crank axle in the process). I ask the scolder to check my chainring bolts, since they seem loose and get told off again. Other mechanics tighten bolts without removing the cranks but this guy says he doesn't do it that. He wants to remove the crank and charge me extra for it. (In the end, he doesn't charge extra, after asking the senior guy.)

He says the bolts are loose since they don't stop turning, removes the crank (by bashing it out again), tells me a chainring is the wrong way round (guess he knows he's wrong, as he doesn't flip it round). Then he says the chainring bolts are too long and sells me new ones which cost half the price of the BB! The new bolts turn too after tightening. Well well well.

Well, with the design of the new bolts, i don't need special tools to tighten them. They are aluminium, not steel like the old ones, so they must have less rotational mass, and lighter. My wallet is lighter too, but it's better to have a little light moment than rue the deal and be all glum. Oh, i now have spare bolts too.