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 :))

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Making the numbers

Pasir Ris: beauty of friendship
Dec distance: 388 km

Pasir Ris, Upper Thomson, Seletar, Ubin, Lim Chu Kang 317 km*. I was resigned to 2015 being the year of my lowest mileage ever since I started serious cycling 12 years ago, in 2003 (the year of my first expedition). But I didn't want this year, a tumultuous one, to end that way.

Mileage is within my sphere of influence, though this year's haze (supposedly the longest in local history) was not. So I resolved to ride the miles and make the numbers. But this wasn't going to be mindless performance driven. I want to have some fun too, and ride to nice places, not do mindless loops like a demented hamster or a trapped rodent in the rat race.


As I ride, I have flash backs of good things in life, mostly abroad with friends and family. Not about work. Someday, work ends. But friends and family: in a life well lived, friends and family will be gathered around my deathbed. Worked till death, no.

Christmas is meant to be a merry occasion ("merry Christmas"). But not for someone I passed on the road. He passed away. He lies on the grass, with a "fatal accident" sign metres away from him. A small crowd gathers around him, all deathly silent. He's still, but probably still alive [afternote: when I passed the site again, I notice the fatal accident sign is dated Nov. No confirmation bias here!].

Ubin: blue skies and sunshine
I erred elsewhere though. Newbie errors. At Ubin, I wipe out twice: first, my wheels lose traction over roots; second, I make a tight turn on the trail and stall. Somehow, no falls at the black diamond trail (ok, I got off to walk at the neck breaking spots).

I'm happy overall. Ubin, on this weekday, has people including a skateboarder who ignored my warning and blundered into my path. The coffee shop is closed. For "lunch" I've an ice cream cone from a nice lady and a cereal bar.

2x2 matrix

If I take a pessimist's view, the km target will be within grasp, but slip away. So many km, so few days left - and worse, if the remaining days of the year are dreary and wet instead of bright and sunny. If I take an optimist's view, the remaining days might be bright, not grey.

Rain or shine, I want to make the numbers and have fun in the process. On New Year's Eve, I'm
If life's a bitch, heal at the beach
rained on twice. And twice, metal nearly hits me. The first is elbow distance away. The taxi driver who saw the near miss was astounded and shouted in my support. The second near miss comes from behind - the driver jammed brake in time. In both cases, I'd the right of way. I could've been dead right …

I reckon I could plot all rides on a 2x2 matrix (sun or rain, safe or unsafe). The "magic quadrant" (would be the top right box: bright and safe). This ride is both wet and unsafe. But it's successful. I exceed my target. This year has been horrible, but it isn't an all-time low mileage.

Tech note: there is a colourful film of oil in puddles which spray up onto rotors and brake pads. I guess this causes my new brake pads (just a few weeks old) to screech. The screech went away after I poured water on the pads and squeezed them against the rotor. The screech came back after I wipe the rotor dry …

Well, I sure am not going to get a third set of pads! I replace the new pads with the initial stock brake pads. No screech!

Bikeshop man had asked me to buy new pads, because once oil gets on the pads, they will screech. Fixes include using a blow torch to burn away the oil, or to use prescribed solvent that won't damage the pads or rotor. Thinking there should be less drastic solutions, I brushed the stock pads with detergent and soaked them for several nights. Let's see how they work on the road.

*Instead of writing a post for every ride, this is the first time I'm combining several days' ride (25-31 Dec) into one post.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

See, sea

Sembawang, 41 km. Yesterday, it rained so hard, parts of the country flooded. Water even flowed into some public buses (looking on the bright rather than stormy side, at least buses were running). I plotted how to get to dry "land" as a pedestrian, but I haven't done standing broad jump for a long time. And I might slip and fall too as pavements and roadsides have turned into streams.

Today, rather than risk being rained out at my usual ride time, I'm on the road earlier rather than later. I head towards the sea. I like water in me (hydration) and outside of me (landscape), but not on me (drenching, blinding rain).

Sunshine, sea and greenery: some of the best things in life are free.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Resolutions, resignations, ruminations

Balestier, 30 km. I'd resolved to ride Matt Black henceforth, and retire Little Red Tank. It's been plagued with front shifter problems and clicks when I pedal. But I couldn't relegate it to this role, and took it out for a spin.

When I'd tried multiple times to fix the shifters and trace the clicks, it defied me. Now, old bicycle, old faithful, rolling over 44,700
km, has somehow "healed" itself. Somehow, all the problems disappeared, and I didn't have to do anything. What's the meaning of this?

Matt Black, on the other hand, has just over 1,800 km on it and it squeals like an irritated pig when I brake to a halt.

I don't know if Little Red Tank is safe to ride, after crashing it several times during races, after carrying loads on tours up and down mountains. Which is why I retired it, resigned it to its fate of short errands. I might be short-changing it, but better safe than sorry eh?

Last weekend, I ruminated (nay, agitated) whether to ride or not. If I'd cycled, it would be to chase numbers. My annual total mileage is at risk of a record low. But what's the point? What do the numbers mean? Racking up mileage (kilometre-age?) for the sake of numbers and not enjoying it seemed senseless. If it's not fun anymore, and the result is just a number, why bother?

So, instead of riding, I went running. I intended to run just an hour, so I fueled on coffee and a couple of dried prunes. I was on the trail for 2.5 hours, none the worse for wear. I didn't even feel hungry.

I even thought of blogging here about running, instead of confining blog posts to riding. "Confining" is just that, confining. Why not spread my wings, and go where I've not been to before?

Dear reader, what do you think?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Peace and quiet

Nov distance: 152 km

Central Business District, 33 km. I head to town to get Matt Black tuned up. The shrieking front brake persists despite persistent washing. At the bikeshop, I explain the problem and the solution is not more solution (liquid) but replacement. Huh? The pad is barely wornout. Whereas, the solutions thrown up by Mr Google involve washing with various liquids / sprays to remove oil.

So how did oil get on my front brakes? Road spray? Do motorbikes don't seem to have this problem too?

On the way home, I look for a road to peace and quiet, and find it.

Back home, I do my sums and find, to my pleasant surprise, that Matt Black has covered about 1,800 km. How did that happen, since I was riding Little Red Tank too?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Suffer and hate it, or suffer and enjoy it

Not Jurong Town Hall Road, not Old Jurong Road, but Jurong Road
Jurong, 65 km. There've been times when I don't feel like cycling and when I do, I drag my feet.

Today, as in past weeks, I peer out the window, hoping for clear blue sky and clear air. Today seems like such a day. I'm off, in search of memory lane - a pretty road I saw years ago while on a bus, but never cycled on.

The sky turns grey, but not with haze. Water falls, visibility falls, temperature falls, danger rises. I was about to shelter in a bus stop till the rain stops, then remember Velominati rule #9: "If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass … you could suffer and hate it or suffer and enjoy it. Fixating on the unavoidable does little to make one feel better about the matter."

And then I find memory lane. The green open spaces are gone, but it's still a nice, quiet road. There's a busy expressway beside it, but the quiet road remains quiet, the way I like it.

In future, even if there're blue skies and clean air, even if I don't feel like cycling, at least, I can feel grateful.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps

Bukit Batok, 54 km. Years ago, I sat in a bus and saw a picturesque road. Beside it, there was green grass and open space. Is the road still there? How do you find a road when you don't know it's name or where it is? I set out nonetheless; have bike will travel. I wandered about, but didn't find it. Perhaps it's no longer there. Perhaps it's there but I missed it. Perhaps it's changed so much, I no longer recognise it.

As the song goes, "perhaps, perhaps, perhaps".

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Blue skies!

Layers of colours
Oct distance: 107 km

Sembawang, 41 km Smell it! See it! That's right! Pollutant Standards Index is an almost good 56, and it remains so. Sunlight pours down from the clear blue sky through cotton ball white clouds, instead of being shrouded like a corpse in toxic grey ashes.

I cycle to the sea, well, the straits. And stop at a bar which hasn't opened yet (it is afternoon). She serves me a Coke anyway. I have the place all to myself, as staff arrive to start work.

After the ride, I find my tyre flat. What looks like the tip of a nail is stuck in the tyre, beside a knob. The metal didn't hit any knob, the knob didn't elevate the tyre over the tip. Somehow, the tip hit where the rubber meets the road, the point which would cause damage. In thousands of km riding on knobbies, I don't recall finding debris on knobs. Do knobs repel debris back onto the road or onto the tyre where it'd cause damage? Perhaps, it's more likely debris would miss knobs since a smaller surface area of a tyre is knobby?

Wednesday, October 28, 2015


"Main road" on a little island north of main island
Coney Island, 66 km. I haven't cycled for almost two months, the longest break ever. Not that I
wanted it. It's the weather. Grey skies, grey with particulate matter and toxic fumes Made in Indonesia.

Today, after heavy rain, 3-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was 47. Then 57. Then 67. With 10-point increments, I could go somewhere worthwhile: the recently-opened Coney Island. It is mostly rustic. I hope they don't pave the roads. Leave it like dirt ok? But not dirty. The beach is almost litter free. I'm impressed. As for the crowd, I'm surprised. There''re people about on a weekday afternoon. The "main road" allows two cars to pass, but it's like a single track as people walk five abreast.

By the time I get home, PSI is 97. No wonder my throat feels funny in the last hours of the ride. I return home lighter. Not just because of fluid loss, bit because my rear light dropped off. I stopped in time to see it run over by a public bus.

Surprisingly, it's still recognisable as a rear light!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

PM, pm, pm

11-13 Sep, Johor, Malaysia, 197 km

Day 1: 11 Sep. Kong Kong, 63 km
Polling day. Another watershed election (just like in 2011, where percentage votes to the ruling party was the lowest ever). This year, all seats are contested for the first time since independence. What will be the vote share in the Prime Minister's constituency? As I leave the country after voting, will I return to a different kind of government and so a different kind of country?

Polling day is a public holiday over here, but near the border, it is rush hour traffic as we cross in the afternoon (post meridiem). Over here, I'm almost hit by a car passenger who opens her door and crosses the road without looking even once at traffic. and a motorbike wing mirror wings me at immigration.

My bicycle feels funny. Or at least, I feel that it feels funny. It's as if the rear tyre is flat. Phobia? Turns out to be my bag swaying, creating a flat tyre feel.

Night stop: Kong Kong Taison Seafood Resort

Day 2: 12 Sep Kota Tinggi, 70 km (approx). We're temporarily misplaced. Google Map says there's a road here? Then I get lost, separated from the group in mere moments amidst the foilage.

I call out. Blow my  whistle. Make ohone calls. No answer. I backtrack to the the tarred road and wait for a call. What a first...

More off-road. This is Matt Black's first fully-loaded off-road. Even my Little Red Tank hasn't experienced that. I wonder how the tourers, on their skinny three, handle so well: gravel, gullies, soft sand that decelerates tyres suddenly. I plunge downhill as my bike scrabbles downhill on the gravel at over 28 km/h.

At a fork in the road, we somehow split, some take the high road, others the low road. We meet and eat at Ulu Tiram. I've seen it on the map years ago. Now I know why we've not visited before: it's a dusty busy town.

Night stop: Mayres Hotel

Day 3: 13 Sep, Singapore, 64 km (approx). The air is bad, visibility is low. Sure, we can see the road, but not the blue sky. The clouds blend into the battleship grey of Made in Indonesia particulate matter. Around this time in the past few years, haze season would've ended. But the season seems to have shifted. Political mood has shifted too; landslide win for ruling party, with the "men in white" rolling back the "blue sky" party.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Private investigation, public interest

Upper Thomson, 39 km. Over two days (7-8 Sep), I use my bicycle to take photos (with a camera, not the bicycle haha). When facts are interpreted, they might be coloured by opinion not be based on facts. Since I'm the one most affected, it fell upon me to put things right as a matter of public interest: to go onsite, to take photos, stitch them together and ask tough questions, lest misfortune befall other members of the public.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Slow and steady

Good morning Mersing
4-6 Sep, Johor, Malaysia, 279 km

Day 1: 4 Sep. To commeorate Bike 'n' Blade's 10th event, we reprise the route of the 2005 inaugural ride. Instead of a ferry to Desaru, we bus up on 4 Sep. The only cycling I do on is ride 10 km to the bus pickup point. DHL volunteers wraps up our bicycles and loads them. "It's a mountain bike," one volunteer says. Instead of stuffing my machine with the other carbon road bikes in the bus hold, he carries my heavier bike into the bus.

It's great to catch up with some repeat charity riders; we meet once a year. E flew back home from Shanghai just for this. And I'm glad to have  a room mate who doesn't snore; room are assigned randomly.

Nightstop: Pulai Desaru Beach Resort

Rain and shine
Day 2: 5 Sep, Mersing, 135 km. We ride at 7 am. It rains. It's cold. I zip up and ride. The sun comes out. I'm glad, until warm becomes steaming hot.

Non-horizontal, to the horizon
I stop and talk to one volunteer support crew. When I cycle, I have wind to blow away heat, but they stand in the sun. One says cyclists riding in the heat inspire them.

Mersing. I was here two weeks ago. And here I am again. It doesn't get easier. And my butt still hurts. I stop and fiddle with my saddle several times.

So many people pass me by, including a roadie who says "Yay, mountain bike." Two volunteers are on motorbikes: a lady on Ducati and a guy on KTM. I wish I had one of those.

At the hotel, I use an ironing board to dry laundry in the sun, and improvise a plumb line  to adjust my saddle fore-aft position.

Nightstop: Hotel Seri Malaysia Mersing

Feeling at a loss
Day 3: 6 Sep, Desaru, 124 km. After breakfast, I notice my rear tyre is flat. It was ok when I sat on it yesterday afternoon to adjust my saddle.

I look for the hole in the inner tube: I can't see it, feel it, hear it. I fill the sink with water using a makeshift bung, but still fail. I feel the inside of the tyre with both hands but feel at a loss. I replace the inner tube, hoping that what's happened would be like in Inner Mongolia: replacing the tube would fix the problem.

Bad morning
A volunteer checks out of the hotel for me; he says the rest left 5-10 minutes ago. At 7 am, the official flag off time, I sprint to catch up. In the cool morning air, my sweat drips like rain drops on my top tube.

I catch up with riders at the first rest stop. At every stop, I pump up my tyres. It's a slow leak, and I ride slowly. For the first time ever, I see the sweeper, S. He's a regular at charity rides over the years and for the first time, I have a break with him.

Less than 15 km from the end, a sweeper vehicle stops. The crew gently talk me into boarding. This is the first time I'm swept up. I feel deflated like my tyre. Yesterday, "slow and steady wins the race," a roadie told me. Today, a slow and steady leak gets me.

What's the use of cycling on knobby tyres if they puncture like slicks on the road?

On the bus to Singapore, I examine a punctured inner tube. Back in Singapore, I turn the tyre inside out and study it. I just can't see it. I flip the tyre right side up and study it. There, clear as day, a wriggly piece of wire, 1 cm long. It looks like a staple. How did it penetrate the tyre where it hurt most, missing the big knob beside it?

Moral of the story: stick to the discipline of checking the outside of the tyre at the end of every ride, and check the tyre first thing in the morning.

Well, at least my saddle and butt are ok.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Saddled with a problem

Aug distance: 648 km

Woodlands, 52 km. It's a pain in the butt to deal with a pain in the butt.

I ride with a different pair of shorts and find myself fiddling with the saddle, mm by mm. Then it hits me: when I cycle uphill, I feel better. Perhaps it's not the fore-aft saddle position that's the answer.

I raise the saddle. Have I found the sweet spot? In a few days' time, when I do a >300 km charity ride, I'll find out.

I also modify my sponsored helmet. The built-in visor dries out my contact lenses. And I need my sight to spot car drivers who veer across my lane to turn, and parents who let their kids play on the road then lose track of how many kids they have. They caution one kid that I'm coming. I jam my hydraulic brakes (my first emergency braking on this rig!), skid and see the dad reach out - not to steady me, but to grab his other kid.

Traffic. What a pain.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Pedal for penance

Straight and narrow, peace and quiet
Pekan Nanas, Johor, Malaysia, 158 km. Still feeling regret at not doing a 1,000 km ride, I cycle north with A to welcome the magnificent seven who went the full distance.

Since we're early, I head off to explore Ulu Choh while A wants to meet a friend.

Ulu Choh: for years, I've passed the road sign pointing to this place. What's there? A map can only tell you so much.

Ulu Choh has a big school, a temple, a mosque and a quarry. Wow. Really quiet roads. It leads to some fenced off official-looking installation. Is there a short cut to Pekan Nanas? Let's ride and see.

I end up off road. Mosquitoes. Mud. A small stream, then a big one with a partially collapsed concrete bridge. I hear traffic. My compass tells me where to head. But where do the trails lead? Under time pressure, I ask a worker for the way out. He directs me towards a road beside a house. I bash through the foliage, then see the sign of danger.

Dogs. Rats, got to back track
I back track to where I came from to where the magnificent seven stop for lunch. They arrived about 20 minutes before I did.
After lunch, they celebrate their 1,000 km milestone by the roadside and toast themselves with 100-Plus from a support vehicle which was part of their charity ride.

On this ride, I found my answer to the question: should I have chosen the soft option of cycling 390 km instead of 1,000? The answer is "yes". I suffered on this ride, and it's only 158 km. I don't mean the off road part, which was so eventful I didn't think about pain.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Food for thought

15-18 Aug, Johor, Malaysia, 390 km

Clear blue skies, feel the heat blown away by breeze
Day 1: 15 Aug, Tanjong Sedili, 129 km. I was thrilled to ride in Pengarang a decade ago, with its quiet, winding rural roads sprinkled with gentle villages and villagers. Now, the place is ruined by development, with long straight roads and hurtling lorries (at least, the drivers give us a wide berth).

I don't recall going to Sedili was so no fun, with rolling hills, headwinds and searing sun. The ride is like eating a baguette: I start at one end and end up at the other. When W rumbles past me on his fat bike (29 niner with 3" tyres), I know I'm in a bad way: dead tired, dead last. Until G ends up at the end, worse off than I am. I wait for him in the shade, then pull him along.

Night stop: Jason Bay Beach Resort

Paleo diet
Day 2, 16 Aug, Mersing, 84 km. At breakfast, I listen to WK talk about his paleo/ketosis diet and marvel how he powers himself to ride his possibly 30 kg, fully loaded fat bike which includes a 1.5l bottle.

At lunch, there's no room at the inn. Inn Keepers, the riverside  coffee shop where we used to lunch and luxuriate after a day's hard ride, has moved. With ferry services gone, business dried up. All good things come to an end. And what goes up, must come down. That's true when it comes to cycling hills and mountains. How true is that for life?

Is going up good in life? But an "uphill climb" sounds like a bad thing. And "going downhill" also sounds like a bad thing too. In cycling, "up" is usually bad and "down" usually good - well, to some cyclists anyway.The famous wanton noodle store at Jemaluang is closed for business today. It's the first time I've seen it closed. Some customers direct us to another shop nearby, not visible from where we are. It is a nice place with good food. When one door closes, another opens. There, I take WK's fat bike for a joy ride. It has indexed, friction shifters!

Back on the road, I've an "extended discussion" with Matt Black, which is on its maiden expedition. Several times I stop to adjust the saddle.

At the end of the day, I sing a song to the tune of "We are the world":
"There was a time, when my butt didn't hurt so much, and the hills they weren't really so tough.
I was on my Tank, it blasted everything.
But now I'm on Merida."

I'm ambivalent about whether to go on with the rest of the 1,000 km ride. My room mate, M, says I could go on if I want to. True. But if I go on, it'll be because I push myself to. If it's for fun, I wouldn't. In the end, it's the reason that makes the difference. Why would I want to cycle 1,000 km? Is it to show (to whom anyway?) I can ride 1,000 km? Been there, done that, and then some. I ask J for help, she answers with a question: "What have you got to prove?

Night stop: Hotel Embassy

Long, quiet roads
Coffee and coconut
Day 3, 17 Aug, Kota Tinggi, 102 km. Regrets, I've had a few. For example, I could've joined an airborne
course but didn't, because I wanted to prepare for my exams. Years later, I still regret not jumping. But who knows what would've happened if I'd jumped? And what would've happened to my exam results?

It's been said that people "regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did". Reason: "we can’t console ourselves by thinking of all the things we learned from the experience because… well, there wasn’t one". Yeah, right. Tell that to those who made seriously wrong choices and lived to regret them.

So, do I go the full 1,000 km or not? I decide by looking at what I'd regret less. Perhaps there's no right or wrong decision here. If there's no right or wrong, what's there to regret?

More clear cut is today's bitter, powdery coffee. Some people might like it. I certainly didn't. As for the MYR2 coconut (with ice), it was wonderful.

Night stop: Mayres Hotel

Birthday cake
Day 4, 18 Aug, home, 65 km. I feel relief and regret. Relief, because the five of us survived Johor Bahru rush hour. Near the border, we stop to rehydrate at a coffee shop. Two of them excused themselves then reappeared with rich chocolate cake to celebrate A's birthday. We gave a big slice to the coffee shop lady who let us use her crockery.

Thanks for the company and the ride
Regret, because we part company today. We've cycled together for a decade, through thick and thin, be it thick noodles in Taiwan or thin thosai in Malaysia. I also regret not cycling the full 1,000 km unlike the other seven who headed north from Mersing.

When I signed up for the ride, I didn't commit to doing the full distance; 400 km was an option too. I was going to wait and see and I decided to take the short cut. I've taken a risk with my ankle, which still hurts when I put my foot down. Yesterday, the pain short up when I banged mud off my cleats against the pedal.

There's a saying: "Quit while you're ahead." There's another saying: "Pain is temporary, surrender is forever."

So, did I do the right thing to quit?

I found the answer about whether it was the right thing to do on 23 Aug.

Saturday, August 08, 2015


Old Upper Thomson Road, 29 km. This post has an odd label: "training". I'm not training for a race. Or for a charity ride. I'm training for a long ride. It could be 400 km. Or 1,000 km.

I have a choice of distance. I know that if I don't train, it's going to harder. So, do I spread suffering over time, like instalments, or pay in one lump sum? Well, that lump sum will be spread over time too: during the multi-day ride. But, with training, instalments are spread out during the training period and the ride itself.

And why am I unsure whether it'll be 400 or 1,000 km? Because I don't know how my injured limbs will hold up. And it'll be Matt Black's maiden expedition too.

Today, for the first time, I remove her brake pads, which have been screeching complaints at me. I brush it with toothbrush and water (but no toothpaste) and the complaints stop.

If only I could brush away the misfortune that's befallen me again and again, at work and at play. But then, these are the vagaries of life.

Sunday, August 02, 2015


Sengkang, 19 km. I like ginger tea, ginger beer, ginger cats. Today, I ride ginger-ly.

In a right-hand drive world, the left leg is the landing gear. The one you twist to unclip and use for "take off and landing" when cycling. It is this left ankle I twisted last week in an ultra marathon.

Just a few minutes into the race.

Which means that I've get to cover the entire distance on a bad ankle. Make that two bad legs, when I stumble mid-way through the course.

X-rays show left ankle foot wasn't broken. "No running for two weeks," says the doctor, annoyed that I didn't pull out of the race immediately. He didn't say anything about not cycling! I go off-road, but dismount when on uneven ground. If I've to unclip suddenly and plunge my foot down, I'd be in a world of pain ...

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Rolling good times

File photo
Jul distance: 94 km

Lim Chu Kang Road, 83 km. Little Red Tank rolls silently and smoothly. It feels like new. Was it because I'd lubricated the chain two times, without cleaning it before the second time?

I revisit places I last went to in 2009. Some of these places now exist as map coordinates, but which no longer exist in time. That is, what used to be there, like farms and forest, are no longer there. They're just memories.

All the more reason to explore. With M.

The cycling "loosened" my legs too. My calves are tight from all that training in the past weeks. Well, this time next week, I'd be racing and missing my wheels.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The one thing

Around my home, 11 km. My bicycle creaks incessantly. It's not the seat post. Is it the chainring? Chain? Crank arm? Bottom bracket? To get rid of the noise, get rid of the bike? That's over the top.

On a whim, I change the pedals. I crank it up, no noise, no matter how hard I try.

I've neglected my pedals for so long. I brush off the dirt and oil it with tender loving care.

What's the one thing in your life you need to change?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Doing something worthwhile

Jun distance: 126 km

File photo
Kranji, 69 km. Working hard on the big chain ring, trading fewer revs for more effort, and ultimately not having much fun?

Here's the "theory", now practice. What are the results? Change cadence, change effort, how do the results compare?

Learning isn't not a waste of time, if the student is an earnest learner.

This applies to life too, doesn't it? Putting in so much effort, not really going anywhere. What's the "theory"? What to change? What do you want anyway?

Well, knowing what you don't want is a start.

Sunday, June 21, 2015


Serangoon, 18km. I cycle to where I first learnt to cycle, on the road where I rounded a corner at high speed, crashed into a drain, and I limped hone while my dad pushed my bicycle. So, so much has changed. The area where I grew up looks essentially the same. But that was last century, people have grown up, moved away, moved on. What mattered then, doesn't matter now. And what matters now, didn't matter then.

And there are threads that connect the past to the present, and perhaps the future.

I learnt to cycle, to explore, to live with pain. That hasn't changed.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Soft pedal, hard fall

Mandai, 39 km. The blazing, sunny sky grows dark in the afternoon. Will it rain? I've cleaned and lubed Matt Black's chain for the first time. No matter, let's ride.

I'm more hurtling round the bend than cycling. This is dangerous, as the trail is two way. Some cyclists hurtle past me. I finally get to a quiet place. I see a tree root, attempt to roll over it, and crash with a bang.

The crash is so hard, my cyclocomputer dislodges. What happened?

If I was on my rigid Little Red Tank, I wouldn't have crashed. Still unfamiliar with the suspension fork, I wasn't rolling fast enough. The fork absorbs the impact from the root, I stall and crash.

My first crash on Matt Black!

Sunday, May 17, 2015


May distance: 121 km

Upper Thomson Road, 27 km. What a strange ride. From secondary forest, where there's no one in sight, just foliage, unseen biting insects and a spider web that sticks to my handlebars when I blunder into it. To an industrial estate where a pack of dogs goes into a frenzy and one slinks through the bars in the gate and lunges after me. Then to where the landed gentry live, tending gardens outside their compound.

I'd keep exploring, but thunder rumbles above, so I cycle home pronto. I marvel at how effortless this feels, even though I'm non "non-series" Shimano hubs.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sign city

Mandai, 42 km. This land has been called a "fine city". Fine for littering, for offences big and small. It's a sign city too. On a park connector, on what seems like secondary forest, there are signs again and again, warning of falling branches and to stay on track. On the remains of a road, which part of the track is for those on foot, and those on wheels?

As I surge up and down the slopes, I marvel at the fluid dynamics of my fork, the comfort and speed with which I ride on Matt Black. What a difference front suspension and hydraulic disc brakes make over a rigid bike and V-brakes.

But I guess cycling the hard way has made me a better rider, because I've had to use my limbs to absorb shock for years.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Reminiscing about running

52 km. Yesterday, I did my first race. At night. On foot. When it started, I thought: "My training was
tougher than this." And then it happened. Going uphill, I found myself leaning forward. At one point, crew were yelling: "There's a rope you can use to pull yourself up." There were people crowding to use the rope, so I went to the ropeless part, which was even steeper. I'm on all fours to scramble up, but there's no one in my way. Going downhill, I find myself leaning backwards.

Twice, something grabbed my toes, but I kept my balance and kept going.

My training, running solo at night in the jungle trails, paid off. I made good time.

I want to see where I was running yesterday.

So, I go back there today, on Matt Black, which is it's first off-road ride. Wow, I'm glad I didn't see the terrain during my run, just as far as my headlamp could shine - a pool of light a metre wide, three metres away.

It was a good run, and a good ride today, as I cycle among workers tearing down the tents, barriers and equipment set up for yesterday's race.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Deft handling

Apr distance: 151 km

Pasir Ris, 36 km. A front derailleur that shifts to the big chain ring, the granny ring but skips the middle? And the problem is not fixed after more than one trip to the bikeshop? Ok, I'll take a look at this strange phenomenon on L's foldie, though I'm doubtful I can fix it if professional bike mechanics can't.

The derailleur plates and all three chain rings are aligned. The chain can go up the big ring, but won't come down to the middle; it stays on the big one and grinds away on the derailleur plate. Click again, and the chain goes to the small ring. Two clicks, two chain rings. Well, it's not as if the chain jumps from big ring to granny in one click. This can only mean one thing.

I fiddle with the barrel adjuster and voila, job done, just a few seconds.

On my way back, I see another phenomenon. A guy doing a track stand. He doesn't even have his hands on the handlebar. We're not talking about a split second here! Now that is what I call a master.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

HIgh noon

Seletar, 65 km. I'm on the road at 0615. Cyclists are out in force; clustered along the roads, red tail lights blink like fireflies in flames.

At 1100, when the sun beats down, there are still cyclists on the road, but mostly cycling solo. There is a lone runner on the road, clutching a water bottle.

I wonder what she's training for. The five of us cycling today are not training; we spend six hours on the road, with some of the time on Myco mushroom farm eating (mushroom stout and ale?!) and gawking at Animal Resort.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Sun shiny day

Woodlands, 50 km. It was sunny when I started cycling Matt Black, kitted up with a rack and bag for the first time as a trial. Then it rained. Another first for Matt Black. When I get home, the sun comes out.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Island in the sun

Mar distance: 219 km

St John's Island, 64 km. Who would've thought that:
  • A tiny island could be so pretty?
  • This island, previously used to hold those with cholera and then political dissidents, is now a holiday camp?
  • Another island nearby could become a country, and when its first prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew (LKY), died, the world's largest democracy, India, declares a day of mourning? And Australia and New Zealand pay homage to him in their parliament?
  • While LKY was alive, British Prime Minister Tony Blair visited the former to learn how to govern.  A British Prime Minister learning from an ex-colony, five decades after independence?  

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Twists and turns

Photo courtesy of Ah Tak
Seletar, 57 km. There are about 20 golf courses in this small country. That's a lot for an island which has only three official mountain bike trails*.

Tonight, the two become one. Sort of. For the first time in my life, I get to cycle in a golf course. What a treat!

Five km per loop. The first is with a volunteer guide, a club member, who takes us where the buggies go. Only it's at night. It's kind of dark, but not quite. There's a lot of light pollution that hinders night sight. It doesn't help when a girl wants to avoid sprinklers, turns her bicycle around and shines her light right in my face. Then the sprinker hits me, it feels like someone turned a hose on me.

The path twists and turns, just like at work, and goes up and down. Lights from cyclists behind and in front of me light up my way, but the way the light twists and turns on their handlebars is distracting: sometimes the road is bright, sometimes dark, and there are drains, kerbs and water hazards.

I let everyone close behind me get ahead. By the time I'm on round 5, I'm alone. The golf course is all mine. I start sprinting as if I'm racing. Just like old times, on my Little Red Tank.

*After Tampines trail got bulldozed. The number varies, depending on source. National Parks lists three, Razor TV mentions five.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


Admiralty Road West, 37 km. Dark clouds gather. I wait for the rain to fall as dusk draws near. The clouds hold back, but the light inexorably fades. So out I go. As I head back from the ride, lightning flashes. I speed up to beat the rain. As I near home, I see that the rain has fallen, but not on me.

The dark clouds didn't blanket the entire sky, and I had options where to cycle. I'd headed where the dark clouds faded. I escaped.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

Beauty and the bleak

Sengkang 36 km. I feel tired, but I cycle anyway. On the road, the tired feeling slips away. With traffic around me, I have to keep my wits about me, or I might end up in permanent sleep.

I look for a beautiful place and find it. No matter how bleak things look, there's beauty to be found somewhere.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

High horse

Matt Black amidst the greenery
Upper Thomson Road, 25 km. I'm tired but take Matt Black through its paces: the slopes I trained on Inner Mongolia race and a bit of off road. With its 100 mm suspension fork, my new ride has a higher centre of gravity and feels less steady. But bouncing downhill is so plush. Instead of a jarring experience bouncing about, I glide downhill and just need a feather light touch to feather the brakes downhill. Going up slope, I use all 30 speeds.

I follow a single track along a stream and see a guy in his birthday suit, all lathered up, bathing in the stream. There's also a family with a girl on a high horse. She gestures me to pass but I don't want to rattle by and startle it.

Friday, February 20, 2015


Feb distance: 433 km

Tuas, 96 km. The Year of the Horse was neigh neigh neigh, nay nay nay. Would the Goat Year be meh meh meh?

The year has changed. And so has my bicycle. While I've been on Matt Black before, this is the first time it's for a long ride not a commute of a few km.

I fine tune my shifters, seat post height and saddle position since my back starts to hurt.

This is a faster ride than my Little Red Tank. Is it the Racing Ralph tyres? The non-downhill rims? The frame geometry? For sure, it's not the non-series Shimano hubs. I wonder how much better the ride would be if the XT hubs of my Tank were on it.

Matt Black has two bottle cages but one can't hold a 750 ml bottle. Still, the bicycle seems faster and I might need less water for that reason?

Monday, February 16, 2015

Highs and lows

13-16 Feb, Cebu, Philippines, 301 km

My bucket list includes a modest wish to cycle in all of ASEAN. The "easy", nearer countries are done. Two more to go: Philippines and Myanmar. Onward now, to the country of over 7,000 islands: Philippines, in a quick getaway.

Gearing up
View from Mt Busay
Day 1, 13 Feb, Cebu. This is my third trip to the Philippines, but first time I'm cycling there. When I get off the aircraft, 3 guys "help" me by pretty much just touching my bicycle box then ask me for tips. That took me by surprise.

Also surprising was when a motorcyclist shot out and almost side swiped me.

Most surprising of all was a climb up a 550m hill called Tops (Mt Busay). I'm glad I found it; the housekeeper at the bed and breakfast told me how to get there. I max out all my gears and I'm not even fully loaded. At one point, my speedometer shows 0 km/h, which means I'm going so slow, below 4 km/h, that the speed doesn't register. It's a wonder I didn't stall.

My ears pop and water bottle goes "psst" when I sip it.

Going downhill here is no fun. I ride my brakes but still go down at over 30 km/h; it is that steep.

Nightstop (for the whole trip): BugoyBikers B&B, run by a German who also runs a bicycle tour with three full time cyclists.

Herculean, sisyphean
Day 2, 14 Feb, Cebu.  We agreed breakfast at 7 and ride at 8. Past 7, the cook scurries in. "Sorry, sorry," she says and whips up breakfast. I wolf down eight slices of bread and two eggs. We needn't have hurried. Cook notices and asks me what I'm looking for. I point out that the guide is not here. She makes a series of calls.

Guide, G, shows up 45 minutes later. He didn't know he'll have to ride all day today. I choose the longest ride: over 70 km, though it is marked the most severe: "breathtaking", with gradients in some places at 19%, according to the guidebook.

We ride in the clouds. Downhill all the way, right? Wrong. It's a series of rolling hills. Down, then up. Interminable. Isn't this supposed to be the top? But up we still go, as slow as 3.6 km/h. My mind comes close to snapping. I tell myself: "Don't fret. Don't fight. Just sit back and pedal." So long as I pedal, the crest will come. One after another.

My sweat band gives up. Sweat drips into my eyes. Ouch.

Going uphill is tough. Going uphill on broken road is tougher; tyres lose traction going up and going down when braking.

As I head downhill, a jeepney comes up. Too close. I make a snap decision to ride into a gully filled with gravel. To brake here may break something. I roll out of the gully as another bus comes up. We pass with inches to spare. And there's cats and dogs crossing too.

The guide keeps going even after two hours of his. He stops only when I ask him to. We have just two short breaks and lunch. With two peaks at 700 and 890m, and total of 3,000m, he says.

The guides I met so far know their toys. "You have a strong bike."is it a Tank? I've only seen it online." "Nice saddle, a Brooks."
Copper mines, I'm told

G says today is he longest he's guided. "You survived back there. The Europeans I guided didn't make it. How old are you? How much do you ride?" I reply: "About 40 km per week." "You're the strongest ride I've guided. What's your secret?" "Drink Coca Cola."

Back in the city, G weaves and turns. I dodge traffic to keep up. Once, a pedestrian brushes against me.

As requested, G takes me to a bicycle shop, YKK. It is the biggest in town, and bigger than all but one shop in my country. It's even got Merlin and Lightspeed. The price tag is in six figures. Pesos.

Back in my room, I see the dirt from the aircon is still on the bed, though I did say the aircon was on the fritz. I raise the matter. The servicemen are other bike guides. They remove the entire unit to clean it and clear out the ants.

Sweet trip
Day 3, 15 Feb, Bohol. At around 4 am, the aircon shrieks like a banshee again. Dogs bark, roosters crow. I get out of bed at 0530 and prepare my own breakfast. The guide, D, is just 10 minutes late. But we needn't have hurried. The 0730 ferry is kaput. The next one is an hour later. So we do a fast and furious ride to Mactan and back. Sunday morning and the traffic is like a workday as we near 8 am. "People are going to church and market," says D.

Chocolate Hills, background, Green Grass, foreground
On the ferry, I lie down on the sundeck (at least, it looks like one) for a snooze. It's more peaceful here, no dogs, no roosters, no aircon.

Bohol has rolling hills. Not as bad as yesterday, but I'm already knackered.

There's a 600m climb, then up steep steps to see the marvels of nature: Chocolate Hills.

We head back the way we came to catch the penultimate boat, at 1845. We have a night ride back to "the office" (that's what the guides call the B&B.

Over the top
Day 4, 16 Feb Mount Busay , Cebu (again). I'm up at 0630 but cookie doesn't come at 7. So I help myself to breakfast then head out to cycle.

It's a manic Monday morning rush hour. Yesterday, a pedestrian bumped me. Today, a jeepney passenger hopped off and ran into me. Good thing I held steady. The bad city air and frenzy gets to me. Too many lungsful of PM2.5.

Enough. I head back to the suburbs. It's nice and quiet but I keep heading into dead ends.

Enough. Back to the mountain. Mt Busay.  'm relieved to reach the top. Not just because of the tedium. I've to check out of my room. It's scary on the way down the second time round. I reach a max speed of 52.6 km/h. That doesn't sound fast but this is with overtaking and oncoming traffic.

I do one more lap around the area and call it a day. At noon, checkout time, the owner reminds me to checkout. He gives me more time so I pack my bicycle in air-conditioned comfort.

It's been somewhat of a bad trip. It was arranged at short notice. A day's worth of photos ruined because of wrong camera setting. A lighter wallet, because of an air ticket booking error. The assistant supervisor goes out her way to escort me to a rival airline, works out a low fare and gets me a priority booking. I get a flight home the same day - which then gets delayed by 1.5 hours. But then, any ride you can walk away from is a good ride. Despite the mishaps on the road, off the road and in my room, there's not a scratch on me. And I do get my bicycle back notwithstanding the change in airline.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Afternoon delight

Seletar, 36 km. It's a cool afternoon, at 28 degrees instead of 33. There's a headwind, but I don't mind since I'm not going anywhere in particular.

The roads are mostly quiet, though, on the main roads, some vehicles came too close for comfort. Not 1.5 m away, more like 15 cm. Not spitting distance, but nose-blowing distance. Yucks.

At a traffic light, a door opens slightly, then shuts a split second later. Not that the passenger saw me. More like the driver said: "Not there yet." That door gift could've floored me. Imagine a hard edge against my face or knee cap.

I could've stewed over the near miss. but it's better to think about the otherwise delightful afternoon ride.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Shifting gears, changing lanes

Jan distance: 118 km

Seletar, 33 km. The weather is dry and cool, a refreshing change from muggy and hot. Instead of cycling in early evening, I'm on the road during dinner time. On a Saturday too.

I usually cycle on Sunday evenings. It's unlikely that people would want to drink themselves under the table and have a hangover on Monday. So, those inclined would drink on Saturday nights, no? Anyway, dinner time is too early to pub crawl, and so the roads would be safer, yes?

As I heard north, I turn right, on a whim, across what would usually be four lanes of sheer death. But the road behind me is eerily empty.

Besides those four lanes, the route is sort of quiet, with relatively long stretches without traffic lights.

As for my front derailleur, it shifts rather well. All it takes is a quarter turn. A quarter too much is too much. What a big difference a little turn makes.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Fiddling with fundamentals

Bukit Timah, 39 km.  Front derailleur is not shifting smoothly despite a new shifter cable. Worn chain rings perhaps? Or just poor adjustment? It makes no sense that the derailleur is over the biggest chainring but the chain remains on the middle chainring (which is what happened when the cable frayed on my 2014 expedition, but I've had the cable replaced). I turn the high adjustment screw, then the barrel adjuster this way and that. Until, finally, things click into place.

On the one hand, it's just fiddling. On the other hand, there are some fundamental principles involved.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Last light, first ride

Sembawang, 46 km. As was usual last year, I ride off into the sunset. This is my first ride of the year (excluding my last expedition which crossed two countries and two years - from last year into this year).

I'm in two minds. Last year, I looked forward to my 810 km expedition. This year, I'd to psych myself (a little) to go out and ride (a little).

Friday, January 02, 2015

Down to the waterline

Mersing to Pekan
Dec distance: 916 km (includes Malaysia trip)

25 Dec - 2 Jan, Singapore to Pekan, Pahang, Malaysia, 810 km

I wonder if I should count this trip as an "epic" one since I did most of this route in 2003, so it's not some uncharted territory for me, unlike my other trips. Still, it is 810 km long and so it counts for something.

Exit (U2)
Day 1, 25 Dec,  to Kota Tinggi, 68 km. As I head to the border, I see many cyclists, some of them in Santa hats. For this trip, its just the three of us, and both of them are half an hour late.

Bak kut teh (pork rib soup)
The causeway is jammed. It doesn't help that some cars have broken down. After I get my passport back from immigration, the exit barrier doesn't move. I knock on the thick (bullet proof?) glass. The officer presses a button. Nothing else happens. She comes out and asks me: "What did you do to the barrier?" I duck under it with my bicycle and cycle away.

It takes us half an hour to clear both immigration checkpoints.

We're supposed to lunch at Mawai but I cheekily suggest Kota Tinggi, and that's where we end up for the night, instead of Mersing.

I happily dine on pork rib soup, which I first sampled over 10 years ago, in 2003. Even the friendly drink stall owner is there. He tells me his family is driving up today for Christmas dinner.

Morning has broken (Cat Stevens)

Rolling over rolling hills
Day 2, to Mersing, 95 km. 6.03 am and we're rolling. Outside of town, with no street lights, it is dark.
My light cuts through the darkness. The beam is faint until it splatters on the road into a blinking blob.

In the dark, it's hard to see if the road is rising or falling. It's hard to see the side of the road, but for the little white line by the roadside. Sometimes, the line is a foot away from the roadside. At other times, it's the width of a car. When my knobby tires scrabble to bite the asphalt, I know I've veered off the road because the distance of the white line from the edge varies. And when traffic comes towards me, their lights blind. I'm glad when dawn breaks.

The road to Mersing, with its rolling hills, is tedious. This time, there is little roadkill (just the occasional tiny snake or bird) to distract, unlike in previous Bike n Blade charity rides (when I saw pythons, monitor lizards and cats. The charity organisers got so bored with the route, they switched to Cameron Highlands this year).

The incessant drizzle becomes heavier. It's as if an angry man is jabbing me all over. I'm glad when we get to the hotel for a warm shower.

Nightstop: Embassy Hotel

Against the wind (Bob Seger)
Day 3, 27 Dec, to Pekan, 169 km. We cycle 30 km along a pleasant coastal road before we breakfast. Near Kuala Rompin, D breaks two spokes and has them replaced at a bicycle shop for RM10 including labour. The spokes are cut to length and bent to fit. D takes a taxi while the two of us press on to Pekan, a town called "town".

The sun is out. Dry from rain, wet from sweat. Cycling north in the northeast monsoon is no joke: we're cycling against the wind. Out of the blue, I see a small sign that holds out big hope: petrol kiosk, 15 km ahead. When I finally get there I have ice cream and 100Plus.

There are signs of flooding. One house off the road has water up to its windows. Kids make use of the "swimming pool" at their doorstep. At another house, a lady sits by the road, looking forlornly at her waterlogged home.

Hotel fit for royalty
The road is long. I can moan, or suck it up. Or even enjoy it. Since there's no escape clause, I look forward to a break every hour or so, preferably in a scenic spot.

I come across a flooded road. I pedal to "paddle" across. My reward after that: vanilla Coke. The shopkeepers offer us free samples of their preserved fruits. Such kindness to strangers.

We dine at KFC. We've heard the chicken is better than back home. Indeed, the servings are meatier and juicier.

Nightstop: An Casa Royale.

Holiday (Nazareth)
Day 4-5, 28-29 Dec, non-cycling days. Pekan. We're supposed to ride these two days. They do. They cycle in the rain, along the swollen Pahang River and part of  the flooded town. It is so bad, even KFC is closed.

There are 11 states in Peninsula Malaysia and seven are flooded, with over 200,000 evacuees (in one report, a quarter million people).

I have a cycling holiday instead, ie, a holiday from cycling. On my holiday, I drink tea, read the newspapers on my dry and comfortable room, watch movies, snooze and run for an hour in the gym while watching running videos. Being the sole person who signed in at the gym today, the attendant lets me use it though I don't have running attire. I'm in cyclist mode, you see.

The water is wide (James Taylor)
Day 6, 30 Dec, around Pekan, 98 km. It's stopped raining after two days. We cycle, off the main road
into flooded country roads until the water ahead appears to be top tube height (based on the height of the water reaching up a distant road sign).

Taking a boat to visit a home
I film my escapade until it the cross current makes steering too hard. The bicycle is like a boat, with the rudder in front. The road is impassable to cars.

At a coffeeshop, there is no coffee. At the hotel, no newspapers: no deliveries due to flood.

D and A head back to the hotel. As it's barely raining, I ride towards Kuantan. The northbound road is closed. Half of the southbound becomes northbound. I u-turn when I see cars parked by the road side. Only heavy vehicles plough through the water. I head to Tanjong Selangor instead and see the raging sea.

We dine at the hotel. Whether it's lunch or dinner, we're usually the sole diners. Each time, we get complimentary fruits and today, complimentary fries. The chef even came out once to shake our hands.

Blowing in the wind (Bob Dylan)
One joy of cyclo-touring: rest in picturesque cafes
Day 7, 31 Dec, to Mersing, 160 km. I've never spent four nights in a row in the same hotel before. We're supposed to cycle from Pekan to Segamat, then Kluang, Kota Tinggi, Telok Sengat then back home. Instead, we retrace our route, reducing distance cycled. The difference is, what was headwinds are now tailwinds as we head south instead of north. I think about the big comfy room as I cycle the barren road to Rompin.

The sun burns. We apply re-sunblock. We cycle into dark clouds overhead. It pours. The rain roars onto the trees beside the road. At my speed of up to 30 km/h, the rain, with its own velocity, stings.

Don't start too late (Black Sabbath)
Day 8, to Kota Tinggi, 94 km. New Year's Day. Up from a warm bed into cold damp clothes and socks. On the road at 6.10 am. We ride for an hour on rolling hills before breakfast at Jemaluang. It's not that there's no breakfast at Mersing, a much bigger town than Jemaluang. The wanton noodles here are reputed to be great. The shop (open from 0630 to 1630) is full and we share a table with a chain smoking local. It's not a public holiday in Johor.

Simply Red
My thumb hurts. Now I know why gears involve "thumb shifters". This is also "index shifting", so I use the knuckle of my index finger.

Lunch at a roadside shop that has over 30 cars parked around it. Business at Kang Kee Bak Kut Teh is so good, staff don't come to your table to place an order. Our table is 61 and that might not be the biggest number. Servers are from places including Myanmar.

A heads for home after lunch as he's got to work tomorrow. I'm tempted to follow A but it's a long way home for me; an American century away.

D and I head for Kota Tinggi. We're in before 2 pm. This is the way cyclo-touring should be. Some hours of cycling, 100 or so km with or without rolling hills (today's route is the former), then some daylight hours at our destination to do laundry, check bicycle and whatever we please.

Torn and frayed (The Rolling Stones)
Day 9, to Singapore, 126 km. After waiting a few years, I finally get to see Johor Lama, the old capital of Johor. In the 1500s, it fell due to superpower rivalry involving Aceh and Portugal and a sea-borne invasion.

Johor Lama
It is cool, windy and quiet on the ruins of the fort.

By this time, my front deraileur cable has frayed, since I hardly shift with my left thumb. With my right thumb in pain and my left shifter useless, my 27-speed MTB is now, well, pretty much single-speed.

At Telok Sengat, we sit for a couple of hours, shooting the breeze. Then we split. I cycle for home solo. I miss a turn and end up where I don't want to be: breathing the miasma and riding the pitted roads of Pasir Gudang. Traffic is heavy, with heavy traffic. Trucks pass so close to me, the slipstream first pushes me away, then pulls me along.

How did I end up in Pasir Gudang? I wanted to go west but to go west, I should've turned east ... Not intuitive. I hesitated, and took what seemed to be the safe, logical option. Which turned out to be wrong. But I made it anyway. Which sums up 2014.

PS: The title of this blog post is a song by Dire Straits.