Spot the monkey!

Three, young and good looking long-tailed macaques rummaged my student's bag (quite appropriately, I might add) that we had left behind in one of the boardwalk shelters while mapping nearby. They leapt up the roof and onto the nearby Avicennia alba tree nearby when I came by to collect the bags. 

They are still wary of people, a good thing, since enough people are terrified of approaching cats let alone monkeys. Heaven forbid they see a crab-eating macaque in the mangrove; a glance might have them scuttling for their cars.  

All I had was my handphone's miserable camera so I took a perfunctory few shots that I now inflict on you and then we all watched each other in the breeze as the tide raced in.

See and download the full gallery on posterous


Tiger enjoying a snooze

Tiger has had me a little worried lately, he’s been a little less active, eating less and his fur has been reddish around the eyes.

However, the reddishness could be due to his sparring bouts with the others that take place at night. He can get feisty but usually pulls his shots, unlike Xylo and Mr Bats. So he is usually worse off where such marks are concerned. But the reddishness seems a little different this time.

He always feed much less than Mr Bats and Xylo but now it seems his dry food in take is reduced considerably; he is certainly unenthusiastic. But he’s always been a wet food enthusiast and waits for that night meal. Meanwhile, Mr Bats and Xylo have become more demanding about dry food – either our reduction plan has worked or they are in need of behavioural enrichment. We should repack one of the rooms since they love a messy place!

Has Tiger been slightly less active than usual? He’s not a senior cat as yet – he’s only about five years old and it takes roughly another three years for that classification. But Tiger has always been rather laid back – even going limp in a strangers hands – except for those occasional sparring bouts when he can surprisingly kick Xylo’s and Mr Bats’ butts.

All the symptoms are far from serious but enough to have me worried. Time for his vet to investigate.

First ride of 2009

I had been resting after the shingles and when I returned to campus I picked up the flu and a chest cold. I’ve just about recovered and with the 128km NTU Bike Rally (160km because I’ll ride to and fro ECP) only six weeks away, it was time to get back on the saddle.

After pumping tyres at the petrol station, we were late (6.40am), so we sprinted the 10km to 10th mile unction to meet up with a newbie rider. She has cycled all her life but just started riding a racer regularly with her collagues. She’s been clocking 15-18km per week on the average so we were supposed to stretch her legs a little.

For route details, see Bikely
Ride stats: Dst 52.77km, Tms 2:32:29, Avs 20.3km/h, Mxs 42km/h

Well, within minutes I realised from her form and control that she was good for much more than the 20km we had intended for her. So at the Kranji coffeshop stop, we suggested a slightly longer route that would take in the lovely wide stretch of Lim Chu Kang road in western Singapore. It’s great for racers and indeed after Kranji reservoir, she tore away and we struggled to keep up with her on our mountain bikes and knobbly tyres!

Kranji Reservoir – note the difference in posture for a rider of a mountain bike and a racer.
Amongst the tents in the distance on the Kranji shoreline is a police post; ever vigilant.

She found the 30m ride easy so its just a mental block and lack of opportunity that is restricting her. She definitely looks game to try the 128km NTU bike ride which would change her perception of distance, like it did mine. So to prepare for the bike rally, we invited her on a few more rides including the 70km+ Changi ride – preparation means having fun during the actual ride and time spent enjoying the companionship and scenery instead of suffering!

This route is Sunday/public holiday morning ride. Even on a Sunday morning, we start early and end by 10am. Bukit Timah can get dangerously busy and usually features a couple of impatient drivers, Sungei Tengah is a very narrow road with road dividers that buses have to squeeze through and you’d best stop or sprint to get out that situation. it gets extremely busy when servicemen are reporting/leaving the base. Meanwhile, Kranji is rife with heavy vehicles even on Saturdays.

So this route may be safe on a Sunday/public holiday morning, but I’d have to start two hours earlier to enjoy a similar sort of peace on a weekday or Saturday – I am not heroic enough to wake up and ride at 4am so I’ll use other routes.

A relatively peaceful Sungei Tengah early on the first day of Chinese New Year

My ride time was decent with no aches or strains (my mildly sprained ankle held out) – I am usually happy with a trip average speed of about 20km/h but gentle climbs peppered this route, so 19.0km/h would have sufficed. Climbs reduce the average speed mercilessly as I struggle up slopes which also means I’m traveling at lower speeds for a longer time! Then it takes forever to nudge that reading back up. So when I saw “avs 20.5km/h” on the speedometer outside the Hume Avenue ERP gantry (and amusedly thought of DM’s tomorrow-ed post), I huffed and puffed to protect that reading and was happy with the final 20.3km/h reading.

I was aided by the very cool morning and overcast sky – so much so the solar eclipse later might be a washout. I only needed about 300ml of water – if the sun was out it’d be a completely different story. Still, after the long lay off, it was good to be back and not to have completely lost it.

In other news, Lekowala, who will be riding with us during the NTU Bike Rally 2009, has a new racer! Fierce or not?

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