Until Saturday’s photos are uploaded…

Hardly took out my camera but others were clicking away so I will see that in the days to come, I suppose.

Dst 32.48km, Tms 1:35:29 (6.25am-8.00am), Avs 20,3km/h, Mxs 53.5km/h (Loyang Ave). Had to pump that back tyre again. Suspect a very slow leak but saddle bad has a puncture kit and spare tubes so I’m not too worried. But got to be careful about timing allocation for rides. Ladybug could not believe we’d reach Changi in 90mins but its possible on a weekend early morning by staying on the road and off the PCN.

Received the Pedal Ubin group allocated to me—they turned out mainly to be recent NUS graduates. We did a slow ride to the Sensory Trail, Sungei Ubin, Pekan Quarry Heronry, German Girl Shrine, Ketam Bike Park, and the very high tides added to the scenic nature of the ride. I had to bail out a couple and led them back towards the village while a roving fellow guide led my group to the shrine. I caught up with them at the mountain bike trail and it was scorching hot by then! However, a few of the group were so relaxed from my leisurely pace that morning that they decided to head out to Chek Jawa before lunch.

Also interviewed a prospective Toddycat whom I realised I had met on Chek Jawa before when I was recently digging for a polychaete. She was also our first “casualty” in a few years but we were not going fast as usual so she just picked up a few superficial scratches from a fall near the German Girl Shrine. The first aid kit as whipped out of course and generously applied, ending with Brave Soldier.

Pedal Ubin guides and some other Toddycats holed up after the ride and played some games amongst other things. The lousy players (myself amongst them) were much more exciting to watch, poor play prompting the guides to shout out warnings and advise. You can play BattleCity online these days but this console was hunted down by I & T to relive simpler days. The attempt at Bingo was mind-numbing and we agreed we’d have to gain half a century and lose a few teeth before we’d be content to play that again.

Dismantled bikes into a cab’s booth to rush back for an evening with some marine biologists and friends. I could hardly stand by late evening and beat a hasty retreat before midnight. Anyway there are cats to feed. Thawing and toasting the fish was hell when Iw as that tired, but Mr Bats came to wake me when the fish had cooled!

Sunday’s ride

I forgot all about Old Upper Thomson Road so when we spun down there for a look see at the potential morning route, it was a pleasant surprise.

The ride’s down to just below 40km after shaving 2km off the Bt Batok detour. Bad spots would be lower part of Thomson Road and Bukit Timah. Looking forward to trying it out in the morning, one of these days when I sleep early!

Replacement route for Marina South ride?

I am looking for candidates to replace my 6am, 32km Marina South ride that had us meeting at the Kent Ridge marker stone at 5.45am and hitting campus by 7.30am. So I plotted the Inner Central Route which turned out to be 42.4km, after avoiding Bukit Timah and entering the Ulu Pandam Park Connector for the last bit.

It’s 10km (i.e. half hour) longer than the Marina South ride. Estimated intersection with traffic/roads are:

  • 6.30am – Upper Thomson Road near AMK Ave 1
  • 7.00am – Mandai Road (after Seletar E’way)
  • 7.30am – Bukit Batok Road
  • 7.45am – Boon Lay Way
  • 7.50am – enter park connector

Its obvious that for this route to be safe, I’d have to leave at 5am instead. Sheeesh. I’ll look some more.

Postscript – Not that the old route was wonderfully safe, but its good to consider when planning at least!

7.30am along West Coast Road

The Flying Scotsman

I watched The Flying Scotsman recently and the movie took my breath away. I hung on to the rented DVD to show my kakis tonight.

Graeme Obree was an out of work amateur cyclist who realised he was a world class athlete when fellow-Brit Chris Boardman, whom he occasionally beat in races, returned from the 1992 summer olympics with a gold medal.

So he decides to tackle the world hour record. With his 70-pound sterling home-made bike, no mechanic, doctor, nutritionist or any the usual regalia of a support team, Obree breaks the world hour record in cycling in his unique riding style in 1993.

He goes on to win the world 4km sprint title, and these are the toughest and most demanding races in cycling, whose winners read like a who’s who in cycling. Except for this out of work amateur.

And he does all this in spite of, or perhaps even because of, a bipolar disorder (manic depression).

The international cycling federation (UCI) tries to stifle this unorthodox champion instead of celebrating his achievements and the extent of what they do reaches the point of passing rules the night before a world competition in order to disqualify his riding style and bicycle. However, he comes back with a new riding style that others begin to emulate before UCI bans that as well.

In later years he is dropped two days after joining a professional French cycling team, declining to take performance-enhancing drugs, a rampant issue in the sport even then.

The film glosses over the technical background to his cycling methods and and frank discussion about his depression, but as he says himself, that’s in his autobiography. I’ve ordered that since from an Amazon reseller along with the DVD.

His wife kept him going through the bad times and encouraged his record breaking feats. In the end he realises he’d rather be with her and their kids.

Links about Grame Obree, the Flying Scotsman on magnolia: ma.gnolia.com/people/sivasothi/tags/flyingscotsman – includes articles and youtube video links to “The Battle of the Bikes.”

Changi on Saturday but no longer Marina South on Wednesdays

My recovery ride to Changi last Saturday with some of the Zendogs went well. The term “recovery ride” is usually applied to a short ride conducted a day or two after surviving a particularly long ride, like the round island. This time, however, recovery referred to my two months of the flu!

We logged 67km in all that day. Four of us headed off in the morning a little late (6.45am) and the difference in the air quality was already evident. Have to return to 6am start timings te next time.

Four of us started out together and we picked up two more along the way. We reached Changi in surprisingly good time even though I was back to climbing very slowly.

Some hardcore straight Aussie and Kiwi cyclists passed us on Tampines Road. Since we took a short cut through an industrial estate, we wound up ahead of them until finally, they vanished.

The long lay off finally showed its hand during the return leg. And the midday heat had me stop for drinks three times – but better safe than sorry on this first ride.

Construction along Lornie Road eventually had us abandon the normally wide and empty pavement n that stretch despite the sweet efforts of the construction workers to clear a path for us.

Now some Zendogs are nudging me about the Wednesday morning Marina South rides. That was a good early morning ride (5.45am) as it reached the fresh air of Marina South and on the return through relatively light traffic, included the option to climb Mount Faber and Vigilante Drive (we never did reach the point of including Telok Blangah Hill as well). Oh and the relatively safe southern approach to campus via South Buona Vista Road, the final climb of the route.

However, a recent Zendogs report says that there is poor air quality in Marine South and lots of small rocks and debris from the construction activity for the integrated resorts. People are already reminiscing about the ghost town there. So I should look for alternatives.

The Kranji loop is a little too far (about 50km) as the morning rides were then about a 32km+ – well, Bikely will help figure this out.

Recovery ride today

It’s been a long couple of bouts with the flu, right through my most intense teaching period. And I’ve finally just about recovered so I am off to join some kakis to ride to Changi for breakfast.
The ride from the Holland Village start point is about 33km one way. If we take it easy like we plan to, we should be there in 2 hours. So breakfast at 8.30am.

One part of the route I did refresh my memory about is the Yio Chu Kang to Tampines Road route. My route goes through the Rosyth Road residential area and its: Yio Chu Kang -> Chuan Hoe Ave -> Parry Ave -> Sandilands Road -> Glasgow Road -> Flower Road -> Upper Serangoon Road -> Tampines Road.

This spits us out early enough to do safe filtering through a gap in traffic across an otherwise fast road.

I am meeting with three others in HV (with one one coming from Tampines), we’ll pick one up along Bishan Road (she’s coming from Potong Pasir) and another along Tampines Road (he’s comng from Sengkang). Well provided everyone has woken up!

We are leaving late today, at 6.30am. So now its time to pump tyres, check my bike and gear and shower…

Cycling accident tragedy on Pulau Ubin

November has blogged the story at Ubin Stories: http://pulauubinstories.blogspot.com/2008/09/fatal-cycling-accidents-on-ubin.html 

It is very sad to hear about people getting badly injured let alone during a lesiure ride. It’s tragic, and my heart goes out to the poor family.

A critical thing about cycling safely is not going too fast – it’s not just about speed but also about a person’s actual skill in riding and breaking their fall. So you might not be relatively slowly compared to your friends but it could still be too fast for you.
The most critical thing that has kept Pedal Ubin free of injuries thus far is the very slow speed at which we travel. Pedal Ubin participants are mainly from the “how to use a mountain bicycle” group. We actually explain the use of gears, braking, fit, etc. Then when we set off, the pace is slow but we’re there to explore the island’s natural heritage and learn to handle a bike effectively in the process. With the regular stops, it is quite a tame ride with ly one real exertion at the Ketam mountain trail. The final element that helps us keep safe is ending while we’re still coherent – the midday end is good habit since accidents are more likely to happen when we’re tired. 

So we will keep puddling along at our slow pace when we have others in our care.

Posted by email from otterman’s posterous

Battered newbie cyclist

skitched-20080904-192852.jpgI was quite alarmed to see the battered leg of one of my kakis. It’s the third time in a short time that she has come off worse after picking up off-road cycling. Or trying to pick up, more like it. She’s now asked me to order lots of Brave Soldier the next time I do purchasing, which is not a good sign!

Apparently she thinks more falls are in store ahed of her. I’ve asked her to consider going for the Dirtraction Bike Clinic. When I started off-road mountain biking frequently, I attended a bike clinic myself and found it useful because it was structured and comprehensive. When I posted “Advice to newbie MTB riders” after teaching others, I suggested the clinics for acquiring a foundation.

There is the more painful way and the less painful way. Still, I admire her gung-ho spirit and she’s not complaining.