Cable ties – to the rescue of my pedal cage during NTU Bike Rally 2012

One thing I have NEVER checked all these years have been the screws on my pedal cage. On the ride just before the NTU Bike Rally 2012, my pedal cage fell off, but I tucked the parts away and rode home with minor inconvenience.

Amidst the hectic week that followed, I forgot about it until the night before the NTU Bike Rally. Failing to change my pedals when I could not find my wrench, it was down to cable ties: itsy-bitsy cable ties which I could thread through the pedal cage and pedal! 


And it worked, for all 169km of the ride I did that day. I carried spares but never had to use them. Pretty neat. I’ll check my pedals during bike maintenance from now on.


That 130km bicycle ride with NTU Bike Rally 2011

I rode my 7th NTU Bike Rally yesterday, with a whole bunch of NTU undergrads and members of the public. An undergrad I chatted with under a scorching sun some 80km into the ride, learnt it was not my first rally. She asked me painfully, “why did you come back?”

I felt your pain, sistah!

A quick dump of my Runkeeper graphic (click to see route details) was plotted with an iPhone I carried and left on the entire journey – powered with spare battery chargers. Twitter posts were done via using my text-only handphone, so the tweets were composed old school SMS-style.

sivasothi_s Activities | RunKeeper
Sunday, 27th February 2011

Night before
11:40 PM Feb 26th – Portable charger for the iPhone allows Runkeeper plots of long rides
11:49 PM Feb 26th – NTU Bike Rally 2011 jersey

The joy of the early morning
5:31 AM Feb 27th – Lit up like a Christmas tree and tyres pumped. Off to the F1 pit stop for the NTU Bike Rally. [It was 8+ km from HV to the F1 Pit Stop, which I why I clocked 130km]
6:08 AM – Reached F1 pit, registered. Met @acroamatic Erm legs shaky after ride down!
6:56 AM – About to head off. Met Daryl, Athena and Kai Meng.
{We were chatting so left with the 3rd wave}
7:50 AM – HV to F1 8.8km, avs17.8. 1st stop. West Coast Park 23.37km, avs18.7, 1.14.47.

It begins to heat up
9:11 AM – Reached NTU, 37.73km, avs18.6kmh, 2.01.27. Sun’s up. Knee hurts a bit. They have bananas.
10:27 AM – What a head wind! Kranji Rsvr 53.16km, avs18.3kmh, 2.53.43. Heat and cramps.
10:31 AM – NTU undergrads tackling the ride in shorts, t-shirt and rented bikes, champion!
10:57 AM – Fighting off massive cramps on Mandai Road. Every muscle taking its turn!
11:26 AM – Twisted and turned in saddle, imbibed water, shifted pedaling leg. Fought off cramps, Yaaay!

Trouble begins
11:33 AM – Yishun Stadium, 66.89km, avs18.0kmh, 3.42.55. So when is that rain coming?
11:37 AM – Looks like the virus community gave me the day off. No trouble from them today.
11:49 AM – Hmmm, have they run out of water? Am down to 0.8L so a stop needed.
12:22 PM – Heat takes out a number of cyclists including my kaki. Safe than sorry, a good call.
12:32 PM – Took awhile for cab to come for kaki. The log rest did not shake off cramps. Twist and turn!

We head into Punggol
1:15 PM – Oooh, rural Punggol is quite lovely. Degraded but nice!
1:24 PM – Horizon Primary School, Punggol. 81.60km, avs17.8kmh, 4.33.27. Second wind and clouds.
1:32 PM – Alvin from Punggol spots me from his window!
2:09 PM – Lunch was served from a roadside mobile canteen! [Ladybug and Alvin] NTU safety car checked to see if I was okay!
2:36 PM – The clouds are very nice, but what is it, with these headwinds? C’mon!
2:46 PM – Pasir Ris park car park B. 96.28km, avs17.8kmh, 5.23.51
2:52 PM – Heading to Changi now!
3:59 PM – East Coast Park edge. 113.46km, avs17.6kmh, 6.25.53. Winds blew my front wheel off course!

[missing somewhere here – “now it is all about pain management”]

I am completely drained
4:09 PM – Ladybug having a picnic under a tree at NSRCC. I watch in a stupor. One leg left of about 15km. Yes, I should have used slicks for this ride.
4:12 PM – [earlier] Chatted with undergrads about places we were passing and handed out Salon Pas. Riding with slower cyclists is about the journey.
5:30 PM – At the F1 pit. 130.12km, avs17.6kmh, 7.23.13 A good way to start the year!
5:31 PM – Congratulated the organiser. They did a great job.
5:37 PM – NTU Earthlink was involved hence the recycling msg at all check points today.
8:06 PM – I’m radiating so much heat, Mr Bats the cat curls up next to me purring.

The day after
~9.30 AM Feb 26th – After yesterday’s 130km ride, I declare: a well-maintained bicycle is a joy to ride and Brook’s saddle = no butt pain!

Photo by Alvin Wong


Previous NTU Bike Rally rides

  1. 2010 – photos
  2. 2009 – pre-ride blog post
  3. 2008 – blog post
  4. 2007 – blog post
  5. 2004 – photos
  6. 2003 – annotated photos

NTU Bike Rally 2011 jersey

We took a gamble of $35 for a bicycle jersey design we had not seen before. But I trusted that the students would be more picky than I was and it turned out very nicely indeed. In about five hours, we’ll find out how this jersey performs in the heat and rain we should expect over the 120km+.

This year I hope to last at least half the ride and to remember to take it really easy so as not to strain myself. So to Kranji at least, then I can alert the ladybug ambulance for recovery if I feel as awful as I have felt the past few days. Alternatively, I hope the fresh morning air revives me.

Well, we’ll see.

Portable charger for the iPhone allows Runkeeper plots of long rides

Runkeeper makes greats plots of bicycle rides or other journeys but uses up lots of power. I discovered this when I borrowed Ladybug’s iPhone so that I could plot my Changi breakfast ride one Sunday. The phone lasted about 3.5 hours (we took long breaks that morning) before giving up its ghost. So there was no power for the plot of my ride back via Pasir Panjang.

I wondered aloud at how to manage the long ride that beckoned in February and one of the Zendogs, Aaron Chia, sent me this ebay link – it reads “Portable Mobile Charger 1900mAh” sold by togytech. At US$9./unit, I decide to go ahead and buy three – if it worked, the iPhone would be powered for the entire NTU Bike Rally – even at my speed.

I checked my Paypal record and this had cost me SG$31.87 in total.

Portable Mobile Charger 1900mAh for iPhone 4 Gen 4G 4th on eBay (end time 08-Mar-11 10:23:02 GMT)
Aaron Chia’s recommendation

The portable charger was delivered to my doorstep

I charged one of the portable chargers for the LSM2251 Ecology class’ trip to Pulau Ubin. I activated the Runkeeper app on the bumboat as I headed over and it worked like a charm! Admittedly the iPhone was somewhat ungaily with the charger attached, but I no longer had to worry about battery life anymore.

When I got back home that Saturday, I gleefully shared the map of my morning’s roving between all the module’s groups over the four hours (they were on foot, I had been on a bicycle).

The map certainly helped demonstrate the utility of simple mapping tools which are available on smart phones.

Ubin today
Pulau Ubin on 12 Feb 2011

If you have laboured over manual plots, you appreciate this convenience, surely. However, I still do manual plots, especially in unfamiliar territory. For how else would I really know where I went or will be going to?

Well, the iPhone I have borrowed will last the ride easily. Since the recent flu left me in a weakened state and also put to bed any thought of a preparatory ride, the question now really is will I last the ride?!

Probable route (2008 route plotted by leews on bikely)

NTU Bike Rally 2009: Preparations

We’re leaving at 5.00am tomorrow to ride down to the NTU Bike Rally 2009 start point and waterproofing might come in useful, as always. KX is coming from the far west, and will probably taste the rain before we do.

We’ll reach ECP before 6.00am, register and fight off the aircon in Mc’s long enough to grab coffee. And then sette down for flag off. This year Lekowala will be with (or way ahead of) us, along with a bunch of the usuals!

Time to check the packing list…

  • Helmet, helmet rear light
  • Clear glasses and sunglasses (King’s Safety Goggles)
  • Bike jersey and Arm warmers
  • Gloves
  • Bike pants – the padded Adidas
  • Knee guard (going to need it!)
  • Socks, Ankle reflectors, Shoes (regular ones; I use a pedal cage)
  • Handlebar: Speedometer, front light , wipe mirror, check bell, handphone (alarm set), handphone pouch
  • Saddle pack: Crank Brothers pump, spare inner tube, bike puncture kit, First Aid kit w/Brave Soldier
  • Rear lights (two)
  • Water bottles (2 x 0.8L)
  • Camelpak w/1.5L Nalgene bladder, Gatorade powder, house keys
  • Credit cards, ATM card, NRIC, Organ donor card, cash
  • Deep heat and sunblock lotion

Set my alarm for 4am and hope for good weather.

NTU Bike Rally 2009: 160km in a sizzle or a pour?

Time to revisit my recipe for a long ride. I have the NTU Bike Rally 2009 this Sunday – 128km and we haven’t been cycling enough so will definitely suffer. With the ride to and from the start point, I’ll end up clocking 160km. The critical thing is – will it sizzle or pour? Heat will amplify a ride’s distance while I do well in the rain. It’s a March instead of a June ride this year so less sizzle, I guess.

We have to be at East Coast Park at 0530 so I’ll leave home at about 0445. Response was good this year so one of our friends found out places were full up. Another had his bike stolen while shifting house and so that leaves this handful of kakis whom I think are riding:

ECP 128km start point:

  • Lekowala
  • Ladybug
  • Kian Wee
  • Aaron
  • TKX
  • Kok Fah (the singlet sunburned man)
  • Otterman

NTU 80km start point:

  • Cat
  • KMY
  • Jaswant

Wonder whether I’ll meet riders from previous years like Patience, Patrick, The Big Z and Audrey.

Probable route (this is the 2008 route plotted by leews on bikely)

Rest points

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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NTU Bike Rally – 15 March 2009

The NTU Bike Rally 2009 falls on Sunday, 15th March 2009 this year and for the second year they will have two start points – East Coast Park (128km) and Nanyang Technological University (85km). The 128km route passes by Labrador Park, NTU, Kranji Reservoir, Seletar Reservoir, Pasir Ris Park and Changi Beach before ending back at East Coast Park.

This is the best long distance public ride in Singapore and I have ridden with them since 2003. I blogged about it a bit last year and in earlier years and will probably do so a few more times as we rouse ourselves up with  preparatory, intermediate-distance rides and update the tips for long distance rides. 

By riding there and back, I get to clock 160km and this year, my long suffering saddle gets replaced to something shamefully comfortable – well in theory at least! 

A fun part of last year's ride was twittering the bike stats during the breaks and seeing the responses of Kevin in NY and John in Sydney appear on my mounted handphone! The news of the prata stop at Jalan Kayu was saddening for them of course, but it was a thankful break in the afternoon heat.

Coming in to end point during the NTU Bike Rally 2007

A bunch of my kakis have already confirmed their participation: Ladybug, Cat, Jo, Kaixin, Lekowala, Jas and Min Yee

Visit the website at

Posted via email from otterman’s posterous

NTU Bike Rally 2008 – Twittering the ride!

Topeak handphone handlebar mount[Sat 31 May 2008: 10:34 PM – Alright, 30 mins to prepare, sleep for 5 hours, wake up and ride down to ECP at 5am. Meanwhile Adrian Loo is in the Sundown Marathon.]

The night before the ride, as I prepared for the ride I remembered that I meant to twitter my NTU Bike Rally stats at each leg. The new Topeak mount on my handlebar would make twittering and taking photos with my handphone convenient – the holder’s position meant easy one-handed access. So long as it was not raining, that is!

So I set ‘devices to ON’ and twitter returned a “your device has been verified and is on…” message at 10.56pm. Besides providing some entertainment for keyboard pounding buddies on a Sunday, I figured twittering would provide a backup of my stats. My current setup also updates my Plaxo Pulse and Facebook status – but without an exact time stamp. Still the messages were safe.

Twitter posts via SMS – cost 15-20 cents per SMS in Singapre

Twitter feeds posted on Plaxo Pulse

Facebook status updated by the same Twittter feed

Twittering KakisIt got a little surreal during certain lonely stretches, like in Mandai – I had set off in the morning with four hundred others yet my only human contact were SMS’s from John Larkin in Australia and Kevin Lim in USA!

Both of them could appreciate the idea of the long ride – John has joined me on my early series of Pulau Ubin rides and Kevin twittered my stats for me last year when he was back in Singapore. They offered some encouragement including a virtual massage amidst a discourse over the state of science fiction!

Somewhat predictably, the mention of an ‘illegal prata stopover’ at Jalan Kayu triggered the most response! John returns to Singapore frequently enough to be able not to flinch too much but Kevin said somewhat poignantly, “@sivasothi I miss Prata. You pained, but you have gained something I cannot have. Carpe Diem and Bona Petit! ;D”

I didn’t really twitter much, as I was riding with my cycing kakis, the Zendogs. They are so full of inanejoyous conversation that it takes singular determination just to remember to text the stats off at each checkpoint.

Why bother? I enjoy the experiment and it provides ideas for relevant use then the time comes. If it was just to backup data, I could simply SMS a friend locally to archive my SMS’ or even use a notebook. Twitter, however, was fun to use and reached more friends.

The idea of remote updates is not new of course. In 1999, my M1 handphone had an email address (no longer, I believe) which was subscribed to the Zendogs mailing list and could update everyone. The willing conspirator trumps it all of course – in 2003, I was solo at the NTU Bike Rally. I reported back to Ladybug who was then in wintry Toronto and she reposted coherent messages to our mailing list. As I tackled the route, Chi in Los Angeles and the rest of the Zendogs in Singapore discussed the ride.

Unlike a mailing list, there is no obvious way to link to the twitter archives. So I harvested the tweets I posted during the ride. After a bunch of copy-paste and find-replace executions in Text Wrangler, Word and Excel, the repetitive junk text was dumped and the chronology recovered.

And I’ll use that to blog about the ride later.

[Part 0. 160km on a bicycle around Singapore – NTU Bike Rally 2008.]

160km on a bicycle around Singapore – NTU Bike Rally 2008

I twittered and grabbed some photos with my handphone, during the NTU Bike Rally 2008 today. See my twitter feed and my Flickr set.

This photo below deserves an explanation, one of many typical Zendog moments during the ride, but perhaps later, along with the other stories. For now, the most important note to say that the NTU Bike Rally team from NTU Sports Cub rocks! Thanks guys and gals!