Sunday, June 30, 2013

Lowering Cholesterol by Cycling

Pic fm


In my research on how to lower cholesterol, it seems hard cycling like sprinting or hill climbing for 15 mins 3 times a week brings the best result for HDL. LDL unfortunately is dealt with through careful diet. Anyone keen to join me, for cycling that is?

Useful information from


Condition: High Cholesterol

Cholesterol is a soft, waxy substance that floats along with other fats in your bloodstream. HDL cholesterol is good; LDL is bad. The American Heart ­Association recommends keeping total cholesterol below 240—less than 200 is ideal—with HDL above 40 and LDL below 130.  
Cycling Rx: Lactate Threshold Intervals 

Though all riding intensities can improve your cholesterol profile, some studies suggest that HDL cholesterol responds best to training in the 75 percent max heart rate range--about a 7 or 8 on an exertion scale of 1 to 10, with 10 the hardest. That's the intensity of classic LT training. Find a ride with two or three 10-to-15-minute climbs. Ride at a heart rate of 60 to 75 percent between hills, then push into the 75 to 85 percent range on climbs. Do this workout two or three times a week.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

The bicycle "engine" needs attention too!

Cycling enthusiasts are known to spend a lot of money on making sure their steeds are in tip top shape and constantly upgrading parts. This to ensure they perform better and this pursuit has even become an obsession for some. I was very intrigued to see one enthusiast who had a really upmarket and rare Dahon folding bicycle recently. This Dahon is a limited edition one that was sparkling in its jet black paint and oozing with the latest gizmo and technology.

Pic fm Japanese Blog -

Just standing still, this bike was a work of art that demanded admiration and respect. Sadly, its owner like many of us, don't quite do justice to the bicycle with our modern city challenged physique and one pack, instead of 6 pack, abs.

As I get older, fighting the battle of the bulge has been a constant challenge. But more importantly, it is important to stay healthy so that we can enjoy cycling more. Hence, we need to pay attention to our "engines" and give them even better attention than our bicycles. This motivated me to go for a routine Health Screening. In Singapore, a comprehensive package can easily cost about US$800 but in Bangkok, the land of smiles, the same treatment can be had for less than half the price.

A quick research led me last Thursday walking into the Health Check clinic of St Louis Hospital in Bangkok. I opted for the Ultimate package that covered everything that is needed all for a very reasonable 9150Baht or US$310. There is a need to fast for 8 hours as a blood test is done. The program included X-Ray, Ultrasound examination of our internal organs, ECG, Stress Test, Urine analysis done by 3 specialist physicians including a radiologist, cardiologist and a GP.

St Louis started as a non profit hospital and is not an upmarket hospital like the more famous Bumrungrad Hospital which is well known for medical tourism and the prices reflect that too. I brought along my little friend Sol Sol to keep me company and he was sufficiently amused too.

Although I was afraid that my lack of Thai was going to be a problem, all the doctors and nurses spoke decent English and the service was very warm, friendly and professional. Hospitals are notorious for making their patients wait on end, but waits were minimal. It helped that I reported at 730am and there was always someone who guided me through one station after another. What really topped the cake was a 100B food voucher included. I was done at 10am and returned at 2pm for my results.

Medical results are something we will all ultimately fail as we get older and that is life. So it is with mild trepidation when I walked into the clinic to have the condition of my health explained. Dr Visannu, an elderly physician with a no nonsense demeanor, presented my findings one by one. I was relieved to know I was given the all clear except for slightly high cholesterol - in which he said, "Must avoid certain fatty foods and exercise more!" No need for any sort of medication for now. Nothing like a medical reason for me to put more miles on the saddle, so that is in effect, great news!

Life is short and we must not take it for granted. We owe it to our love ones and our bicycles to get our engines checked - for better life and for better performance.

He knows us inside and out,
    keeps in mind that we’re made of mud.

Men and women don’t live very long;

    like wildflowers they spring up and blossom,

But a storm snuffs them out just as quickly,

    leaving nothing to show they were here.

God’s love, though, is ever and always,

    eternally present to all who fear him

Psalm 104:14-17

Special thanks to my dear friend and uni classmate Prim for helping make all the necessary arrangements for me. Kup khoon krup Nong!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Pun Pun Bike Share program in Bangkok!

Bike sharing has been around for some time especially in Western countries so I was amazed to see this program in all places - jam packed super polluted Bangkok. It makes such perfect sense as the roads are choc-a-bloc and travelling a mere 5km can take up to 1 hour in peak traffic. A motorcycle taxi will cover this in 10 mins but we got lobbed with a 100B vs a 30B fare on the train fare. 

Tourist price I supposed. I had a chance to talk with the operator and found out that it costs only 320B per year to join (which is US$13) and each ride is a mere 10B (3 cents).

What helps is that you can travel to over 50 stations around the city and just leave the bicycle at any of the 12 BTS stations from - Silom, to MBK all the way to Central World. There is even a Personal Accident Insurance that covers up to 50000B or US$1800 though medical expense claim is a paltry 500B or US$18.

It is also commendable of the Thai City Council to provide bike lanes but I noticed this is also illegally used by the many mopeds, often zipping at pretty high speeds. That said, it is better than no bike lanes.

On my next visit to Bangkok, I certainly must give it to go. I reckon I can do 5km in 15 mins and the challenge is to beat those motorbike taxis. It can be done! Anyone wants to join me in the great Bangkok bicycle race?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Watch out Bike Friday!

Brommie with a Chubby trailer

They say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. I knew it would be a matter of time before someone comes up with a design that will "improve" on Bike Friday's trailer system. Radical Design from the Nederlands is a specialist soft bag manufacturer, and they have put their know how into making an ingenious traveling system for the ever popular commuter Brompton.

Using soft bags seem to have the advantage of a smaller package and that really appeals for light tourers. I can see this used to tour Japan in conjunction with its excellent train system. It is also easier to tow compared to lugging a huge Samsonite behind and that is very appealing.  The downside though is the limited protection offered to the Brompton when traveling as compared to the hard case style ala Bike Friday. As they say, good things don't come cheap and the trailer/bag setup will cost 490 Euros excluding postage.

I think the poison is seeping in... Help!

The late Bro Paul powering away...

My Bike Friday Tikit trailer set up with a Pacific Carry Me

Friday, June 21, 2013

A crisis of Haze in Singapore

My friend George all ready for Haze weather riding, or not...

I was supposed to lead a group of cyclists to Kundur/Karimun Islands in the Riaus of Indonesia yesterday but that got smoked out literally. Singapore and the surrounding region is presently suffering from a crisis of haze and smog no thanks to intensive slash and burn cultivation clearing from Sumatra. It does not help that the seasonal monsoon winds  are directing all the smoke and pollution to our backyard.

This has happened annually for the past 20 years or so and the record psi reading in 1997 was 226. Yesterday, it hit 401 and that has got the nation choking in every sense of the word. Health experts say that anything above 110 is in the unhealthy level and 300 is hazardous! This has posed a health risk to the elderly, the very young, asthma sufferers as well as people with heart conditions.

Needless to say, all outdoor activities have grinded to a halt except for those who really need to be out there. Donning a N95 mask helps and the great demand for that has depleted stocks overnight. It is said that through crisis character is formed and I am very heartened to read about kind people who volunteer their time and resources to help those in need. SG Haze Rescue is a citizen initiative and kudos to them for their big heartedness.

Meanwhile, cycling paths are deserted and we cyclists are really getting restless. I have another trip to Singkep planned in early July and am hoping and praying that the winds will be in our favour. But I'm not holding my breath... or perhaps I should.

Here is our Singlish Minister reporting on the Haze Crisis...

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Free flights for foldies

I was elated when I read the above news in a Malaysian newspapers. Many airlines blindly impose an additional fee for sports equipment including folding bicycles despite their packed sizes in small, "normal" size packages. Culprits include Tiger and Air Asia and it is done simply to be a source of additional revenue. For instance, an Air Asia flight from Singapore to Sydney via KL will add another $66 to the ticket. In the USA, many airlines really hit hard for checking in bicycles and this can be $150 per trip for full size bikes. Kudos to Jetstar, as well as many other regular airlines like SIA, Garuda, Qantas, Silk Air for allowing bikes both folding and regular with no charges.

The impetus for this move by the Malaysian Tourism Board is to increase cycling tourism and is yet another indicator of how foldies are gradually making its impact on society. Datuk Abdul Khani was delighted that 300 cyclists participated at the launch of his Bicycle Countryside Packages.

I'm not surprise if the honourable minister himself owns a foldie, or two.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Pasadena, California embraces foldies for last mile transport

It was great to read that Pasadena is giving people $220 to ride foldies in conjunction with public transport as the last mile solution. I'm very glad that the advantage of a foldie is recognised by Transport providers.

How to get from the transit station to work or home: this perennial transportation challenge is known as “the last mile.” And it is a real obstacle to getting people out of their cars and onto trains and buses.

In Pasadena, California, they’re now trying to solve that puzzle with folding bikes, and a little assist from social media.
The city’s new FoldnGo program offers people who live, work, or go to school in the Southern California City $220 off the price of a folding bike. To hold up their end of the deal, program participants are supposed to ride transit with their folders at least twice a week, and are encouraged to check in with pictures on Facebook to prove it.

As last-mile solutions go, folding bikes have a lot of advantages, according to Fred Silver, vice president of Calstart, a consortium promoting clean transportation technologies that is implementing the program for Pasadena. "Folding bikes are less intrusive that regular bikes on trains during peak hours," says Silver, who says that folding bike technology has advanced a lot in recent years, making them easier to fold and more like conventional bikes in their ride. "You can bring them on the bus, which you can’t do with a regular bike. You can bring them to your cubicle. And they’re getting to be like luggage – you can drag them behind you now."
Silver says that the folders provide a "triple bottom line" – good for the environment, good for people’s health, and good for the finances of transit agencies, which typically have to pay about $25,000 to build each parking spot at a transit station – if the land is even available.

Altogether the program will hand out 600 vouchers for the purchase of folding bikes from Dahon, which is partnering in the effort. Depending on the model the recipient chooses, the final cost will be anywhere from $214 to $258. Pasadena City College students can get another $80 knocked off the price.

Silver says that Calstart hopes to create programs like Pasadena’s elsewhere in the sprawling region covered by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and has published a “Folding Bike Implementation Plan” to assist interested municipalities [PDF]. He says subsidies on folding bikes could represent a meaningful part of the solution to many of the transit problems in the region and around the country. "It’s a win, win, win situation."