Thursday, July 5, 2012

LTA needs our feedback!

You want to be heard?

Do the survey here:

And the so called discussion or forum here:

You want your bicycle lanes? Wider berths? Better bike rack security? This is your chance to voice out! Do it!! I urge you!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Epic ride: The not so usual Desaru

I was anticipating not joining the ride at all, but it's hard to say no to hundreds of kilometres of rolling hills without traffic lights. Long rides for base training!

I woke up at 4am there about, and the meeting time was 530am. I knew I would need about 1 hour for a slow ride there. I always cut through the Ulu Sembawang Park Connector when going over to Msia, there's no lights there and a little eerie but that's how I like it. You should try riding through!

Once everyone arrived, we set off promptly. Pass the checkpoint and immediately I forget to make a right turn and we waste some time backtracking, and just as we made the original right turn (now a left turn) JY gets a puncture. And I feel a little guilty, maybe he wouldn't have had the puncture if I remembered to make the right turn...

It's where I find out about the Topeak Glueless Patch, application was so fast! I was sold! I'm getting a set! Rough the area with the hole, put it patch on like a sticker, and we are done! No sweat!

Once done, we set off again... Nice hills... Than we decided to take a break at Macdonalds!

The Sun was up, and the rays hit our bikes like it was the spotlight on our bikes. A family feast later we were on our way to Kota Tinggi!

It was relatively easy, and we didn't really need the break but a photo at the spot seemed obligatory:

Right after setting off from photo taking, ZY hit a puncture... Me and JY were up ahead and didn't know, but as we glanced back we didn't see them... So we stopped at a roadside railing with some shade and chatted for a good 15+mins before we saw them again. While waiting, many a Malaysian drivers honked at us and made gestures to ask if we were ok, so friendly!!

Off we go, reaching a right turn onto route 92. From here, JY and ZY decided to try a tactic we talked about during breakfast where you continue pedaling down a decline (instead of coasting) and put some effort on the incline to preserve the momentum and use it to finish the climb a little easier. However, I thought they were doing a little too much... As I continued riding at a comfortable pace...

The road was good, although there was no shoulder to ride on, most drivers gave as a wide berth and were so patient to wait behind us if there were big oncoming vehicles. The going gets tougher as the hills become more frequent and starts to wear me down.

As the sun comes up, ZY gets another puncture. Unsure of what the cause was, I passed him my spare tube as his spare tube didn't hold air as I tried inflating it before putting it in. Must be a faulty tube... Unlucky!

We try to be thorough on checking inside the tire for any debris, but it seems the tires are reaching their end of life... As we continue on, ZY tire seems so suffering a slow leak despite my new spare tube.... Petronas at Desaru seems so far! Hill after hill, the sun blaring just as the end didn't seem anywhere in sight we see "500m to Petronas". Halleluiah.

The Petronas petrol kiosk actually had seats inside with aircon, as we enjoyed cold drinks and some snacks for journey into a small town (Bandar Penawar) for lunch and to decide after lunch if we head for the ferries or U-turn and ride back from where we came.

Lunch at Marrybrown!
Photo taken from aznanie

It was just awesome, fried chicken with cold fizzie drinks, right as the Sun's heat peaks! Great!

After the lunch we topped up drinks at a 24hr mart instead of at a bus terminal we stumbled upon. As we loaded up, we all decided taking the ferry was a better choice since our legs were already complaining! Without much thought about whether we had enough time to make the ferry we set off towards Sungei Rengit.

The way to Sungei Rengit was just insane! The headwind is the single biggest enemy! There were many points on the road was it was downhill and I was going at 22km/h... Downhill! Uphill was a painful crawl... some 11kms later, desperate for a rest from the Sun, (there wasn't much shade by the side of the road) we stopped at what seems like a bus stop. Finally!

As we weighed our options, it was 2.30pm, last ferry at 4pm, we probably wouldn't make... The backup plan was the more expensive commercial ferry, where we don't know the timing of the last ferry but expected it to end rather late.

We U-turned at the busstop, and headed for the commercial ferry... We went faster than usual, as the anticipation of the end of ride usually brings... We soon burnt out as the hills towards the ferry were impossibly steep despite there being no headwinds.

18km in from route 92, to the ferry... it seemed like forever... In Singapore, there distance would probably take 45mins at most, even with hills and traffic lights... But to the ferry terminal it took more than an hour, even with dogs chasing WJ. That was quite amusing...

As we neared the ferry terminal, I saw a car from the opposite direction flashing his lights at me... As I think back... He was trying to tell me something... There were less and less cars as we approached... And once we reached the terminal, we were very reliefed.

Only to find out that we have missed the last ferry that departed a 4pm. The same timing the smaller boats operate! Oh my... god.

The backup plan has failed.


After coming to terms with reality, some of us bought ice cream... (perhaps as a pick me up) and thought the best plan was the head for the small town earlier with had a bus terminal and take a bus closer to Singapore, or we would be look at a total distance of 330+km (including the distance thus far) to home.

We didn't have enough money for taxi home (since we probably can only fit 1 guy on one taxi, at most 2), so bus terminal it is! 5+pm.... when we get out... 6pm... and probably around 7pm at the town.

Alright! Let's do it!

Back to those torturous hills, and out to route 92. Where we had a short break and some sugary treats (that was a life saver btw, ZY! Thank you!!)

And we reached Bandar Penawar just before sky dark, the worse dawned upon us... The bus bay was empty and instead, stood two taxis...We had to ride back.

We had to.

We decided to take a longer break, get some fresh batteries and exchange some spare SGD into RM. We pooled our remaining money together and figured it would be enough if we spent most money on food. As long as there were no more punctures.

Just as we were about to leave, I spotted a bus... And I was like.. Damn wouldn't it be good if we could take a bus... WAIT A MIN. A BUS!!!

JY and WJ rushed forward to ask the bus driver where it was headed.... As they went ahead, the driver flipped the sign from initially "Bandar Penawar" to "Kota Tinggi". And he came down the bus.

What I thought I saw, after much anxious waiting the bus driver decided it was ok for our bus to go up. Lucky! We paid him a little more than the usual to show our appreciation!

And so we took up the back of the bus, had an incredible sense of good fortune and caught up on some sleep on the one hour journey to Kota Tinggi. As we came to, our bodies and cooled down but our jersey were still wet... Shivering and cold we made our way to Macdonalds at KT, chowed down an extra value meal in record time and took a little time to compose ourselves and embark on that final stretch in to home.

The ride back was a blur, from Kota Tinggi to Johor there were only sparse streets lights are traffic junctions, of which i only counted 2. We were riding in the dark with one JY leading the way with his brighter lights and me using my blinkers (surprisingly bight btw, blackburn flea. shall do a review).

Riding with the road lit only with blinkers, is like walking with only the moonlight (there was no moonlight). With a lot of faith and trying my best to concentrate and avoid potholes with <1 sec reaction time we finally hit Johor, where we took a break and agreed that was one scary ride.

I even hit a pothole so deep, my water bottle flew out and I had to stop to retrieve it. Right after I picked it up, i realized how riding with my mates made me psychologically calmer... And so put extra effort to catch up.

Once in Johor, traffic increased and there were many lanes changes required... Somewhere along, ZY had a puncture on a flyover... With zero patches and zero spare tubes... He decided to ride down, and unfortunately warped his wheel. JY passed ZY some money to get a cab back.

We regrouped at bus stop before checkpoint, and just as we cleared customs, JY had a slow leak. Talk about dramatic... Oh btw, JY rides a mountain bike, so he had his own tube.

And after the change, JY clipped on his bike but couldn't pedal off, because he on a high gear and a hump was blocking his way. So he fell.

And he yelled as he anticipated the fall, you know the feeling?

You are clipped in, panic sets in. And you know you just have to fall.

Back to Ulu Sembawang PCN, than when reaching Thomson road... Just had the hunger come in, and so wanted to eat at Hans... But a new eatery beside it seems really welcoming... So there was where he had a really fine meal!

We ate like a boss and I continued home to sleep for the next 14 hours or so.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Race report: National ITTs

Dad offered to give me a lift to race venue, first time I had such support and I'm worried about my warmup...

So I reached the venue and saw many prepping for the race... What I didn't expect was the amount of foreigners... I mean, in my mind it was a National event... Than again... Shall not touch on this...

So I started putting on the race bib and timing chip...

The race chip is the blue thing at the bottom of my fork... I preferred the trifactor race chip as it incorporated the use of the slotting the race chip into the QR skewers.. Very clean and no zip ties required.

After setting up the bike and feeling a little awkward when asking one of the staff to help me pin the race bib on my skin tight jersey... I set off for a warmup ride... I targeted about 20mins of easy spinning, just to get me sweating and to try out the elevation of the route. I saw my speedo at 30km/h and wondered if my legs were ready... 20mins later, i felt I needed more time. But start time was closing in and I went to the start point.

After some anxious minutes because I didn't know exactly when was my turn, I was on the start ramp. One official grabbed my bike as I clipped in, and felt super uneasy with both feet clipped in but at a complete standstill...


Wobble... Don't fall down!

random pic from spectrum cycling at how uneasy i felt the launch was...

*don't burn out in the beginning!*

I cranked, but not as hard as I imagined, steady acceleration, tucked into aero position and checking of speed. 35km/h... ok... relax... turn ahead anyway..

out of the turn, it was eerie. No one ahead of me, no one behind me. I spun the wheels more, hitting 38km/h on what seems like an incline...

Up that incline and down... Hitting 40km/h now... Feeling ok, shall hold this speed.

Hump ahead, relax... Ouch... my elbows still on the aerobars... ok will take it differently on the next lap... U-turn ahead.

brake hard before the turn and corner... Out of the corner at 22km/h... Seems so slow... Hard acceleration out of the corner!

Omg, direct headwind! 35km/h... This is hard.... 33km/h... Giving a hard effort, keep it up!

Passing the the start point gave me more motivation to pedal hard, U-turn point! Crank it up! Feeling better as I warm up... Damn the warm up was not enough! Never mind, concentrate... 42km/h... Nice speed, must be the tail wind.... Good stuff....
Than I hear the familiar whine of a disc wheel, whoosssshh, a ang moh passes not more than an inch away from my front wheel!  That was awfully reckless of him... I look down at my speedo... Still 42km/h and he is pulling away from me.
I know I had to keep my own pace, no burning out for me.
U-turn than 32km/h.... Push harder... It's faster when you push on the incline/headwind and recover on the decline/tailwind... (read somewhere on the net)
3rd lap, 42km/h down again, U-turn point, more confident at turning I go into it at higher speed, spotting the apex and waiting to accelerate... PANGGGG I hit a small rock sending my front wheel sliding out.... WTF. I straighten out and brake! GOSH THAT was close! I accelerate out and catch a glimpse of a camera man gasping... Damn... That sure ruined my confidence of cornering...

Up and down, with pretty much the same speed, on the 2nd last lap one of my thigh muscle feels like it's gonna cramp... hang in there!

On the last lap a guy wearing the same skinsuit as me overtakes me before the U-turn point. I corner faster than him and end up side by side... No drafting, but I'm supposed to keep 2metres away from him according to the rules... damn it... So weird... Riding side by side in aero position as we reach the incline..

Going down now as he pulls away from me... I'm saving up for the final stretch into the headwind after the U-turn point.

Hard effort after the u-turn point look a head and see the end... Push harder! .... 36km/h.... All I have got! 39km/h and I cross the finish......

Mad.... I pant hard as the official at the finish pit stop help me cut the race chip and tag me as finished... A bottle of isotonic handed to me, as I look for a place to sit down... Wow, that was hard...

After some rest I went over the result tent-age to see my time of 56 mins... An average speed of 37.5km/h... Pretty satisfied since the headwind was just so punishing. And just as I go off, Darren Low comes into the finish line 4th... With a very happy girl beside me jumping around... Apperantly, someone related to the National Time Trial winner that day.

Wondering if that will one day be me.

My own race support... Oh ya, I finished second last in my category... And to console myself I was the 8th Singaporean out of 25 riders... Haha, till the next race! Ride safe all!