Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pacific Carry Me review

The late Paul Lim on a Pacific Carry Me 8" bicycle on dirt road.

30km/h if you spin hard!

In 2007, I wrote a review for the CarryMe 8" bicycle. I forgot all about this and chanced upon it when I was researching for pictures I needed for my late friend Paul Lim.

It got translated into Chinese and is featured in one of the Pacific bicycle website for the Chinese market. If you can read Chinese, here it is. I have no idea where my original copy of the English version is at this moment. Apologies. So this brief one has got to do for now.

This fascinating bike is designed by Mr George Lin, Chairman of Pacific Cycles. I had the chance to ride with this esteem bicycle engineer in 2007. He showed up in this strange mini-wheeled contraption, wheeling it right out of the MRT station much to everyone's amazement.

After a quick test ride, I was shocked that it rode so well. That got me hooked and I now have 2 CMs in my fold, a red and a white. I take it overseas regularly and one feature that it really does supremely well is its ability to carry a full size standard cabin luggage bag on its generous rack. This is engineering design at its best!

Moreover, the Carry Me is the perfect bike for multi-modal commuting. Boarding trains, buses etc is a breeze as it weighs only 8kg and folds up to a footprint that embarrasses even the reigning compact champion, The Brompton. Mind you, at 1/3 the price too!

Downsides? Only 2 I can think of. There is a weight limit of 85kg and it is single speed though a Dual Speed version (more a downhill gear than anything) is available.

The CM surprised me way back in 2007, and still does today. Try it and I bet you will surely be impress!

*More here about the CM at CGOAB on a short tour and there is now an e-version as well of the Carry Me. This is where you can find out more about Pacific bikes in Singapore.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

When a light goes off…. Remembering Bro Paul

Cycling in Heaven

It has taken me a month before I can blog about this sad tragedy. On 30 Apr when I was in Singapore, I got the shocking news that my riding buddy Paul Lim had been killed. He was on the way to the Changi Ferry Terminal with 2 other friends in a truck, with their bikes behind. It was 630am when a drunk driver hit their moving truck along the ECP, and caused it to flip. Paul and another friend were flung out of the cabin. Paul died from head injuries. A local bike shop MBS has the details in their website.

It was a few days before the accident that Paul invited me along for the 90km ride to Sedilli Kechil in Malaysia. I was keen but I pulled out last minute. I could have been on the truck with Paul that Saturday morning. I could have been killed too or badly injured.

I first met Paul on 4 Aug 2007, when we went on an overseas ride to Sungei Rengit, Malaysia on a ride I help organized for Diginexx . Chris Wee brought him along and what impressed me was his amazing ability to ride off road on a Carry Me 8” wheel bicycle.

He looked gangster tough with his dark tan, powerful legs and mirror-coated sunglasses. But inside, Paul was a koala bear with a great sense of humour, ferocious appetite and had absolutely no airs whatsoever. Paul was always ready for a laugh.

Fridge cool Helmets - the latest technology for high performance

He would accept anyone to be his friend and I found Paul so refreshing, in a world so full of pretence.

What followed were many rides together both local and overseas. It helped that we both lived within 2km from each other and we met up often to talk bikes over numerous Teh Tarik sessions. I guess I really got to know Paul and his wonderful wife Sandra when we went to Pai, Thailand in 2008 - 3 fun biking couples together with the Wees.
Every morning when the wives were still asleep, we would get up early to explore the country roads of Pai – Paul in his white Birdy, Chris in his blue Cuppa C and I on my green Tikit.

My last ride with Paul was on 27 Jan this year where we did a night ride to Changi Village. We met at Gombak MRT station with our foldies and trained to meet the gang. I remembered distinctly that at the end of a long night, we were riding back home at 130am and I found myself alone with Paul along Lornie Road. I was sleepy and exhausted. I told Paul to go on without me as he is a fast rider. However, Paul very graciously told me he would prefer to ride with me and said, “Come draft me!” It was one heck of a fast ride home.

Paul is an exceptional person and is always game for rides as he enjoyed the company of fellow cyclists. He would ride competitively, leisurely, for charity, for food and even to accompany his friends to buy something from the bike shops, preferably one that is located far away. The joke between Chris and myself is our fear of his morning call. “Eh brudder, today got riding or not?”

3rd placing - Ipoh Race 2009

His portfolio of bicycles was also impressive. After his first folding bike ride, Paul bought a Strida, a Carry Me and a Birdy all within a month. He then went on to buy a Dahon Curve, a Dahon Speed Pro, a Brompton and finally, the Aston Martin of folding bikes, the Moulton. Apart from foldies, he also had a Rocky Mountain MTB and a road bike.

His passion for cycling led him to putting aside his career as a professional Life Guard and Swimming Coach to work for a while in a bike shop. Many of his customers were obviously impressed with him and many became his friends. One friend wrote:

“Thank you for teaching Ethan how to swim. Thank you for your advice to Wendy regarding bikes and gears. Always ready to help and advise. Brother Paul you not only show us that you are helpful, kind, patient and humble. Above all else brother Paul you have shown us how to be a gentleman and have fun and fitness on the bicycle. Rest in peace and we dearly miss you. We will continue to ride with pride thinking of you!”

Paul has indeed touched the lives of many people in the cycling community in Singapore and this is evident in the large number of cyclists that turned out at his funeral. I was privileged to give the eulogy and was deeply touched by the generousity and support of so many people including strangers that came along side to stand with Paul’s wife Sandra and their 2 young sons. His tragedy also made the local newspaper and his cortage had a 15 bicycle convoy to send him off.

The recent Ride of Silence held on May 21 in Singapore also saw people remembering Paul with a signed T-Shirt and even a flag.

I think Paul would feel very "pai-say" or embarrassed to receive so much attention as he is such a humble and down to earth friend.

A great light has gone off in my heart and the hearts of so many. I miss you dearly Brother Paul but we will meet again in heaven, and cycle on *streets of gold. Perhaps there, I could draft you again…

*The twelve gates were made of pearls--each gate from a single pearl! And the main street was pure gold, as clear as glass. Revelation 21:21

Photo credits: Chris Wee, Tai Woon, Matt Chia, Diginexx Forum et al.
More about Paul by his cycling friends here:
1. Matt
2. TW
3. CW
4. FB page set up by Diginexx
This song is specially chosen by Paul's special 20 year cycling buddy CW for him, and for all of us. We grieve together for this great friend and extraordinary cyclist.

Eulogy for the late Bro Paul Lim - 1st Anniversary update, April 2012

Good evening family and friends of the late Bro Paul. My name is Alvin Lee and I am one of Paul's many buddies. We are all here because our lives have been positively touched by Paul in so many special ways. Our coming together tonight is to celebrate Paul's life and to express our deep respect, admiration, gratitude and love for an outstanding cyclist and friend. To see so many of you here, especially his riding kakis (friends) from various cycling groups throughout the island is a powerful testimony of the people Paul has touched through his passion for cycling. Although the internet is abuzz with election happenings, it is also abuzz with tributes to Paul from bicycle forums, blogsites and websites. They described him as a local legend, a great man, the greatest Singaporean one has ever met, positive attitude, a gentleman, always ready to help, a loyal friend, having a unique charm and blessed with a caring spirit and joy.

The famous Scots Olympic champion runner from Chariots of Fire, Eric Liddell, in 1924 once said he felt God's pleasure when he ran because it was the reason God made him. I believe Paul felt God's pleasure when he rode because God designed him wonderfully to ride, and ride he did. Those of us who had the privilege to cycle with Paul will know that his piston legs could make any bicycle go fast. It was always exhilarating to ride with Paul because of his speed and boundless energy that never fail to inspire many of us.

For a while, Paul rode a bike with tiny wheels called the Carry Me with only two speeds. He had a race once with someone on the fastest Dahon folding bicycle, the 24 gear Speed Pro at ECP, and guess who won? He took part in many races in Singapore and Malaysia and in the OCBC race last year, Paul came in top 3 among over a hundred cyclists and he was 50 years old!

I met Paul through Chris Wee and we have had the great privilege to tour together in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia. You don’t really get to know someone until you have slept with them. Thus, one essential and critical equipment you must bring when you tour with Paul are sound-proof ear plugs if you want a good night's sleep. Such is the thunder of Paul’s snoring!!!

His good buddy of 22 years, Chris Wee has done more trips with him and one thing that stands out is Paul's great spirit of adventure. He was always game to cycle to new and faraway places and I guess that is what endeared him to us. I have many stories to tell you but I think this one best captures Paul’s unique character and sense of humour.

In 2004, Paul mountain biked in Thailand with Chris and got lost in a jungle track near the Burmese border. They had crashed too many times over the rough terrain, ran out of water, were totally demoralised and it was getting dark. Fortunately, they stumbled upon a small village and spent the night in a Thai army camp. The soldiers shared with these two tired cyclists their food and showed kindness upon them. Later that night, some girls were brought to camp. Paul remarked to Chris, "Do you think they will share their women too?" They are probably the only Sporean cyclists who have experienced the wonderful hospitality of the Thai Border Patrol army. 

But more than his extraordinary ability to ride, Paul's other passion was people. He loved nothing better than going out for rides with anyone, and enjoying delicious unhealthy food and Teh Tarik with his kakis. From newbies to hard core riders, young and not so young, Paul would join in as many rides as he could. He would be sharing his vast expertise with all of us and was always patient and helpful with all. I have always wondered how he can get his visa, or time off, so easily from his family that he loved so dearly. For those of us who are married and love cycling, that is a constant challenge.

However, Paul seemed to have so much freedom which got me very jealous. How did he do it? Well, I had the privilege to meet his lovely wife Sandra when we holidayed together in 2007 and it is her very unselfish and giving nature that enabled Paul to do this. Pastor Moses shared how Sandra demonstrated God’s peace during Paul’s accident last year. 2 nights ago when I first met her, she said to me, “You have lost your great friend!”. She put my pain above her pain. Her peace truly must come from God. My wife commented how she sensed the love both Paul and Sandra had for each other, and for the Lord Jesus. On behalf of all of Paul's cycling buddies, I want to thank Sandra and her boys, Gideon and Silas for sharing Paul with us so generously, so that we all can be blessed by Paul.

Our dear Paul has lived a truly rich life, surrounded by a loving family, plenty of great friends and many wonderful bicycles. Not forgetting also his many exotic pet and animal collection that made his home like a mini zoo. I still cannot understand why Paul had to leave us so suddenly and all because of an irresponsible drunk driver. The pain we feel in our hearts today is deep. Perhaps these words from Jesus can bring us some comfort.
John 12:24 (Common English Bible)
24 I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit.

I believe Paul's life is like that seed. He has put in each one of us the seed of child-like acceptance for one another, the seed of gentleness and humility, the seed of heart-felt kindness and the seed of unconditional friendship. Let us allow these seeds in us to bear fruit to make this world a better place, just like how Paul has made our world a little bit better and brighter. Paul will certainly want us to continue living life to the fullest and to continue cycling and building bonds of friendships. Let us give thanks to God for the privilege and honour of the wonderful times we all enjoyed with Paul. I know his spirit continues to live in our hearts and we will always love and remember our dear brother Paul who is enjoying his rides in heaven now. 

The Love Cycling Spore group will be holding a ride to honour the late Bro Paul on Apr 29 with a 128km round island ride. Check out their website for more details.

UPDATE - 14 FEB 2013

I'm very grateful to Bro Taiwoon for organising yet another 128km ride for our buddy Paul on May 5. The drunk driver has been charged with 6 months jail and banned from driving for 8 years. Sandra and the boys are picking up the pieces very well and I can see God's hand in their lives. Life is short and I'm challenged to value relationships while we have the opportunity.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Mekong Express

Pic from Vik

It was 1am when I got a call from Walter L of Bike Friday. Usually I don't take calls at this time but I did. Turned out he was following up on my enquiry about getting another Bike Friday. Nothing like an upcoming expedition to provide the excuse, opps, I mean reason to get a new set of wheels.

Come mid-July, I shall be leading a group of foldies (you know who you are folks) along the Mekong in Thailand from Nong Khai to Chang Khan, a scenic 220km ride. My weapon of choice is the Pocket Sport. Its basically a New World Tourist with drop bars and zhnged for a bit more speed. My fellow BF enthusiast the highly respected Vik and Guru CW seem to like drop bars so I thought I would give it a try.

Ordered of course the mandatory racks and fenders. You cant call it a touring bike unless you have these fitted. Also, I got MKS pedals for easy quick-release and Japanese made precision.

Can't wait for BF No. 3 to arrive!

Amy, a happy owner of the Pocket Sport, wrote:

I love my Pocket Sport! It’s the best thing that has ever happened to me! I put at the very least 2000kms on it this passed summer, it carried me and 4 heavy panniers up and down psychotic hills across British Columbia, a 900km tour. Fits super nicely in a suit-case, no trouble at the border. The bike likes Hawaii, somewhat dis-likes dirt paths but if you’re careful it’s fine. It’s perfect for touring and the only thing I’ve replaced thus far was a stretched chain. Get one!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Surprising fun in the rain

Just as I was getting out of my house at 0715 this morning, it started to pour. I called Rod and started wingeing about the rain but he said, "Alvin, don't you dare chicken out on us!" So off I went, chucking all my stuff into the waterproof Orbs with a very sleepy Celia in tow.

The light drizzle actually was quite refreshing to ride through as every cold drop on my face reminded me that I'm so blessed to be alive! I had to ride a bit slower than the rest as I had no mudguards on my Speed Pro and this got rather uncomfortable as my rear started to get wet and sandy.

I seriously need to get one set soon in this wet season. However, this was more than made up for the magnificent beauty of mist, dark clouds lighted up with orange hues and the beautiful reflections all around me.

It was indeed a photographer's paradise and it was a pity I only had a very simple PHD Canon camera with me.

I finally pulled in at Point Walter after too many stops for pics to find my 2 "young" friends grinning from ear to ear. We shared our delicious morning tea, blessed with the most spectacular scenery. A black Swan glided past us with all its poise and it was special just to see such a graceful sight.

I brought along a brand new kite hoping to have delightful action in the air but alas, there was no wind!

Rod went on to say that although the route is the same, somehow every ride is different. A definite case of "same same but different" - and for today, it was stunningly different. The tide was high too and some parts of the bike path got flooded and it was fun to ride through the waters. Ken remarked how he should have brought his folding kayak!

It was good to see so many cyclists and runners, even moms with prams, despite the wet weather - all having good fun in the rain.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

3 Men and a Lady @ Mandurah

Rod's well used bike - 9000km

It was great to have Celia join us for our bi-monthly 50km ride in Mandurah. The last time she came the hills winded her and she ended up having coffee at The Jolly Frog Café (abt 21km mark). This time with the Bolaven Plateau, Laos under her belt (done in Jan), Celia took the hills with aplomb and had no trouble keeping up with us men, well almost no trouble.

After Singapore’s hot and sticky weather, it was absolutely refreshing to ride in 15c cool morning along the fabulous coastline of Mandurah. Being 3 weeks to Winter, the waters were noticeably rougher and watching huge swells crashing onto the beach provided for spectacular entertainment.

I saw a couple loading up their horses after a ride on the beach and it reminded me of the great lifestyle this part of the world offers.

Indeed, Mandurah is an ideal place for retirees and we saw many of them just soaking in the beauty, tranquility and space. Some were walking with friends chatting away, others taking their dogs for a walk and we met our elderly gentleman friend on his electric bicycle comfortably seated next to the water edge, reading.

As usual, we enjoyed great conversations among mates and we are all excited about our upcoming Mekong ride in July.

But before that, we want to take advantage of the great weather Perth offers and hope to plan a local overnight ride somewhere interesting.

Ken took the Brompton for the first time and he remarked how rigid and responsive it felt compared to his MTB, though the steering felt very light to him.

On the other hand, I found his MTB very hard to steer, having been used to the Brompton. What happen to the power steering?

All in, a delightful morning well spent for 3 men and a lady on bicycles.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fold it, pack it, GO!


Come mid-July, 8 of us will be hitting the scenic Mekong River in Thailand/Lao border for a 220km ride. As I would basically be returning to Spore and flying off to Thailand with very little time to spare, I decided to prepare my 2 Bike Fridays for travel.

It was quite easy fitting the Expedition into the regular Samsonite F'Lite. However, squeezing the rear rack in was challenging. A few experiments and I finally found the best way to put it in. I've travelled with the BFs this way several times and this truly is the best way to go. Being in the suitcase give the bikes a very important stealth status at airports, avoiding all sorts of unnecessary charges while offering peace of mind, security and ample protection.

Fold it, pack it, go. Viva la Bike Fridays.

A folding vote

Last Saturday 7 May was polling day in Singapore. Expecting huge crowds, I popped my Carry Me into the boot and drove to the Yusok Ishak School, my designated voting centre. The traffic police were there to ensure there were no illegal parking which got many drivers scrambling to their cars.

I dropped my family at the school and parked at a nearby housing estate 800m away. It didn't help that the weather was uncomfortably hot and to have had walk the distance would turned me into a drowned rat. Whisking the CM out of the car and unfurling it took just 30 sec, and it was an easy 5 min cycle ride.

I felt smirkish passing all the cars trying desperately to find a park. Locking the bike against a lamp post, I was all ready to vote.

Like many of my mates, I did my civic duty and rode back to the car. The CM saved all of us a long walk in the heat and voting with foldies can truly be so convenient!