Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A slightly different type of cruising

Church ladies having fun with the Venox.

I was surprised that my Spore motorcycle driving license could be transferred to the Western Australian one without any drama. Just pay $38.50 and its done! No theory or practical test. Seems Spore and Japan are the only Asian countries recognised here and that is good to know.

Although I have been cycling since I was a boy, I started on motorcycles as soon as I turned 16. Learning to ride a bicycle, especially MTB sharpens your skill as a motorcyclist and this has been very useful in getting me out of many hairy situations. Now that I am legal to ride in WA, an itch soon developed immediately and turned into a rash. A quick check with the wonderful Missus and it is a green light! Searching on Gumtree, I soon found a nice cruiser in exceptional condition. What a great Christmas present this is!

Kymco is still a very young brand in Australia but being "Made In Taiwan", the quality is guaranteed. Those of us cyclists will know that arguable the best made bicycles are Taiwan made. Top end Dahons are made in TW, lesser ones in China. Amazing finish and quality are assured, and I dare say its even better than Japanese made bicycles.

A quick look at this 3 year old Kymco Venox up close impressed me no end. Deep lush maroon paint, sparkling chrome, beautiful crafted by German Naumann Design (who does Audis), got me drooling and a test ride sealed the deal. After negotiation, I managed to get it at the price of a mid spec Bike Friday folding bicycle and that truly is a blessing. The only thing I was not too happy about is the after market loud exhaust which could wake up the dead!

Nevertheless, this is a cruiser and its a lifestyle type of motorcycle. It is very high on "show" but being a small 250, its "go" is average. Nic my nephew and I took it to the river side on the first day and we met a friend who was immediately impressed with the cruiser! 

I love keeping my things sparkling clean and the Venox is truly a polisher's dream. It was a joy just detailing it and seeing the fruits of my labor come to life literally before my eyes. After all, it was easy as I have quite a collection of different wax and polish for the cars in my home.

It was very kind of my cycling buddy Pete to invite me for a motorcycle ride with his mates Alan & Paul yesterday to Beverley. I was very impressed with their riding skill, discipline and road safety. They were very patient and considerate and that was appreciated as being new to the bike, I rode cautiously.

The 240km round trip brought us through some spectacular scenery passing through quiet roads and vast farmlands. Although we reached Beverley in relative comfort and speed, it got me thinking about riding my bicycle there. 130km is very do-able and the roads here are made for cyclists. Recently, a classic bicycle 160km race was held here in the cooler months of Oct.

Pic Pete

One of my friends commented that I have "upgraded" to a motorcycle but I beg to differ. It's just a different form of two wheels and a different type of cruising. Although arriving at your destination with the help of a smooth thumping V-Twin engine is nice, nothing beats covering the distance with our own 2 leg power! 

Guess my first love when push comes to shove is easily the bicycle, and particularly a folding one.  Viva la Lovethefold still!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Seven is Heaven


The saying time flies when you are having fun is so true, especially when it comes to pursuing and blogging about one's passion. It has been a really quick 7 years since my first post on Lovethefold and I am amazed that it is still going, albeit at a much slower pace gauging by the number of postings made this year. Blame it on general busyness, other pursuits or distractions but at least I got all the major adventures logged! That said, the readership has surprisingly not fallen that much, averaging at 7000 per month last year to about 6500 this year. For that, I am very grateful for all your support.

Reflecting on 2014, it began with the ultimate adventure - The 1000 Hills Ride through Northern Thailand. This was memorable and will continue to be so for a long time as the the climbs were really tough, almost akin to climbing a wall.

Pic KC

All 6 of us came home champions especially the 3 touring newbies, Ian, Anne and Jan. I almost feel guilty that their first initiation to touring overseas was so darn tough. Without going for Basic Military Training, they parachuted straight into the Ranger course - and survived intact!

I am so proud of them and what is encouraging is that Jan (& Pete) joined me once again for another adventure in August. 500km from Phuket to Chumphon through torrential monsoon rains across beautiful Southern Thailand with our team of 7.

Pic KC

We celebrated the end of our ride in style by chilling in balmy Ko Tao island and did an amazing 600km overnight train ride to Penang where we met up with more friends and family where we ate too much. Penang is undisputedly the food capital of the world, as confirmed by Lonely Planet.

Though all the adventures are special, the one that really took the cake this year must be Taiwan with the chirpy Spring Riders. Our big team of 17 led very capably by Ying Chang, rode literally the whole East Coast covering 600+km over 9 days.

This is my second tour there and it confirmed for me that this is perhaps the best destination for bicycle touring. Amazing scenery, great climate, superb infrastructure (dedicated long distance train with bike carriage for instance), friendly people, quaint accommodation and great cuisine. Though I was apprehensive about joining such a big group, it turned out great fun for most of us and I deepened some beautiful friendships.

It is no surprise then that those who made the effort to give, share and care in a group end up enjoying the most, and the inverse is true. There is wisdom indeed not just in touring but in life, that it is better to give than to receive. To live for more than oneself makes all the difference to the team, and to ourselves.

Two minor tours were done in Malaysia, one pre-Chinese New Year ride in February to Malacca with many newbies and a recent one to Mersing in October, aptly called the Legend Ride. I had the privilege to ride with Heng of Audax fame and the venerable, unconquerable Uncle KC where I never had to ride so hard and so fast. We also did a marvellous 2 day tour from Busselton to Dunsborough in Western Australia with Rod, Patrick and Pete in Sept.

My latest acquisition bicycle wise (#13) is a practical Bridgestone Jobno Mamachari that I lugged all the way from Matsumoto Japan 11 months ago. I wanted a souvenir from Japan and didn't expect to buy such a big one. It's 5 speed internal gear hub, lightning with intelligence, dynamo hub, auto steering lock and great Japanese finishing meant I had to own this important icon of Nippon. O yes, did I mention the stainless steel front basket?

If I was asked to name only one thing that I truly enjoy most about cycling foldies, I have to say it is the people that I am privileged to meet. New friends who sometimes grow to become firm and priceless friends. They truly are God's gifts to me and fill my life with so much joy and laughter. Proverbs 17:17 instructs us that a friend loves at all times and I hope we all become such friends to one another.

As Lovethefold turns seven, it is my wish that this written expression of my passion for cycling and life will inspire you - to be a little more curious about our wonderful world that is waiting to be discovered, to be a little more motivated to get on the saddle and wear out those tires and perhaps to be a little more bold in meeting and embracing new people. Time may move quickly but the wonderful moments and memories that God allows us to enjoy together on our small wheels will stay with us forever!

That in itself, is a bit of heaven experienced already, don't you think?

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Newbie no more

It is always wonderful to introduce newbies to the wonderful world of cycling. Last Saturday, we had a new friend Hui join us for a spot of cycling. She is from Taiwan and sister of my ride buddy YC. She and her nephew are here in Perth for a holiday and what better way of enjoying Perth than to explore on a bicycle.

Trouble was that she had not ridden more than 3km. An accident some time back also made her loose confidence, which was very understandable. Challenge is how do we get her to the Lo Quay Cafe at Fern Bridge and back, some 18km without her fainting or dying from exhaustion if ever that happens?

Here is where my Prodeco E-bike comes to the rescue. I told Hui don't worry, anything happens you hop onto this and your worries are over. With that, she felt very assured and our group of 6 headed out to the beautiful Shelley Foreshore. It was a glorious late Spring day and the sun was shining nicely at a lovely 23c.

I made sure we took breaks at 5km and 8km for pictures and when I asked Hui if she was feeling ok, she smiled cheerfully, "No problem!"  We were very blessed to be able to get a table on a busy Saturday morning at the famous cafe and enjoyed our coffees.

Our return home was easy enough too. It was to be a last 500m gradual climb back to my home and I offered Hui the Prodeco. She gallantly and politely refused and managed to make it back in one piece, surprised that she broke her previous record of 3km by 6 times!

Perhaps it was the wonderful scenery, excellent bike path, great company, cool weather all put together but the most important thing was that Hui had fun. We will be cycling again this Sat for the Jacaranda Festival at Applecross, and I'm delighted to say that Hui is a newbie no more.

Pic - marinos

Thursday, November 13, 2014

An unnecessary death

Rod and I were cycling along the beautiful bike path at Cottesloe admiring the emerald blue waters and expansive beach when we were stopped in our tracks by this bicycle memorial. A white "ghost" bike honours the memory of a young man Tim Anderson who sought to make a difference in this world.

This 26yo bright chemical engineer was killed at 8pm  in March 2012 while cycling along Curtin Ave by a hit and run drunk driver. He was training for a charity ride. Tim had all the safety gear (lights, hi visible clothes, helmet) but all that did not help as the driver was stoned drunk. He had been drinking in a Fremantle pub for 4 hours. What made it worse was that the drunk driver was racing with another car at 100km/h on a 60km/h zone.

Although the culprit was caught and jailed for 5 years, I can only imagine the pain, loss and grief his family faced and still are facing. The loss of a son is unimaginable. We were very touched to see this beautiful memorial put up for Tim and to encourage safe driving. It stands out with its gleaming white life-size bicycle overlooking the beautiful ocean. A memorial ride will be held this Sat Nov 15.

Which makes me think about bicycle safety and all those who have lost their lives needlessly to drunk drivers, particularly my buddy the late Paul Lim. I am very glad that the authorities are slowly paying more than lip service to making it safer for bicycles on the road and while demarcated bike lanes are good, the key is to separate the cyclists completely from drivers. This is the Dutch way and I reckon the best way to prevent drunk drivers from killing yet another cyclist.

Sadly as much as I hope not, you can be sure there will be a few more unnecessary deaths in the future.  Meanwhile, please ride safe and may God's protection be upon all of us. And yes, live life well and like the late Tim, let us all try to make a difference in our world with whatever God has given us.

A beautiful song dedicated to his friend Paul by CW.


Update 14/11/14 - A dear friend just brought to my attention that her former boss, an avid cyclist and a Professor at Curtin University was hit by a car from behind as she was cycling along King's Park Road about 2 weeks ago.  Tragically, shared roads somehow do not work very well unless cars and cyclists can learn to accommodate one another better. Given the "war" between both parties, this will be a real challenge.

Pic Ian Munro - The West Australian