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, 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.