Friday, September 23, 2011

Surely the Surly?

Come Monday I will be riding northwards into Malaysia. Our destination is the Unesco Heritage City of Malacca, some 230km away. I've been there many times and in 2002, I rode back from Malacca to Singapore. This will be my first time riding up and I look forward to doing this with my trusty buddy CW and a new friend, KC.

Like many of you with too many bicycles, choosing which one to ride can be a real headache. I was initially thinking of using my brand new Bike Friday Pocket Sport as its a really fast bike with drop bars. Or for supreme comfort, the Expedition with its multi-position touring handlebar cannot be beaten. Then, there is my much neglected Surly Long Haul Trucker, arguably the best bang for your buck touring bicycle on this planet. My Surly is kitted with the commuter style, laid back, hang loose, M-swept riser Mary On One bar.

I took the Surly out of the box after a 3 year hiatus and was surprised at how well it kept. It was so easy to assemble it together - fixing on handlebar, seat post, pedals and front wheel. A bit of cleaning up and some air in the tires, it was good to go.

Being on a long wheel base touring bike is a different experience altogether from my usual foldies. Its a bit porky off the line but once at cruising speed, it seems to have a momentum on its own. Managed a very respectable 44km/h as well with a bit of a downslope.

The ride is also very plush and the LHT can be ridden for hours on end. It also tracks very steadily which is important on long fast declines. Here is how it performed in Sumatra a few years back. Yes, I was young and maybe a bit foolish then... and still am!

With XT/LX components, the gear system is butter smooth and a joy to use. I met up with CW for lunch and proceeded for ice cream and coffee. When it was cooler, I went for a nice long ride, and ended with a refreshing swim at the club.

I'm still undecided on which bike to use, but I'm leaning towards the LHT. I just hope that the coach we are taking back to Singapore will be able to fit 3 full size bikes in its belly. Surely the Surly cannot be wrong?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My new "Fixie"

Fixed gear bikes seem to be the new rage in cycling recently, trickling down even to foldies. My fellow Tikiteer Vik has finally succumbed! Therefore, it was with great delight and surprise for me today to know that my good friends gave me a brand new "fixie" from Japan. Tommi and Chi Ota are in their 60s and know my passion for bikes. They took the trouble to buy this fixie for me and I'm overjoyed!

Typical of Japanese quality, the intricate features include working brakes, side stand, gear shifters and even rotating pedals that operate the rear wheel fixie style.

In addition to the bike, they even thoughtfully included the latest Japanese bike magazine, The Bicycle Book.

More than getting such wonderful surprise gifts, I'm so grateful to God for giving me such dear friends that add so much to my life and bless me time and time again.

Arigato Gozaimas Tommi and Chi san! And special thanks to Kitty san for the courier service :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Comeback Kid!

There are two gospels I preach. One is that God loves us so deeply. The second one is that cycling is fun and good for your body and soul.

Israel hails from India, Zambia and New Zealand and I have known him since I came to live in Perth few years ago. Recently, he has expressed the desire to exercise and keep fit again. Needless to say, there is no better way than cycling.

Dr Ian Charlton, an Australian GP was on video "Doctor on a Bike" and instead of prescribing drugs to tackle the many diseases of sedentary modern lifestyle, he prefers to prescribe the bicycle. Doing so will reduce obesity, the cause of many illnesses we face today.

Israel picking himself up after a fall... note wet patch on left knee.

I can't help but admire Israel because he is approaching 70 and still full of life and vigor. He has not ridden a bicycle since 1964 and therefore it was a challenge to get him back on a bike. Despite a shaky start and a few mishaps, Israel got the hang on it and we went off cycling to Mt Henry Bridge.

It was a glorious Spring morning and a wonderful way to start the weekend. We even had some fun flying my kite at the jetty.

Check out this light-hearted video I made for Uncle Israel. If he can do it, so can many of your more senior friends out there. Get them out on a bike!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Merry in Bunbury

Our wonderful abode in Roelands. TU J & L!

I took the opportunity to pack along my nifty Brompton together with my overnight essentials for a weekend holiday in Bunbury. My friends Israel and Ravi know me all too well and made room for my foldie in their brand new Aurion 3.5V6 for the 150km drive down south.

Such thoughtfulness is truly appreciated and its wonderful to be blessed with such great friends who are so accepting of my quirks.

In 7 weeks time I would be cycling along this part of WA so it would be prudent to do a short test ride along the highway roads. Early Sunday morning when my friends were still having breakkie, I unfolded Brommie for a ride and explored the Australind area. Riding along Highway 1 from Raymond Road to Paris Road, I could sense that the rough shoulder of the Oz Highway was making me numb as the smallish Brompton wheels were not happy. 6 hours of this and I will loose all my teeth fillings but thankfully, once I got onto the side roads, things were fine.

It was great to finally see the Leschenault Estuary where I turned left and headed south at the Old Coast Road. Traffic was very light and the weather was a perfect sunny 14c. It was really special to see the world waking up on this lazy Sunday morning. I arrived at the Dolphin Discovery Centre where I met up with my friends and chucked the Brompton into the Aurion's huge boot.

This place was established for the purpose of education, research and conservation of the 100+ wild dolphins that set up camp in this very sheltered part of Bunbury. What fascinates is the passion of the staff there in helping visitors like us know as much as possible about the wonderful undersea world. I learned that Octopus can change color according to their mood and surroundings, and feeding time for her was most entertaining.

A short drive 20km away to the Ferguson Valley opened my eyes to the beauty of this wine growing region.

We visited Wild Bull Brewery and enjoyed the best Apple Cider ever. Coupled with live saxophone music and tasty food, it was an experience to savour.

Bunbury is fast becoming a retirement paradise and it is easy to see why. Nice beaches, easy going lifestyle, temperate climate and friendly folks. It was fascinating to watch the surfers having fun with the waves. That is something I must do one day.

I was excited at seeing a bicycle tourer too. Somehow, the thought of someone on a journey never fails to inspire.

I can't wait to ride through this area again in late Oct, probably on my Long Haul Trucker or my Bike Friday Expedition. The ride will be a long one from Augusta back to Bunbury and it should be barrels of fun with warmer days and with good mates. Christoph, are you ready?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Adventures with Lovethefold - movie trailer

My very own movie trailer thanks to iMovie!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A visit of sorts at Fremantle Hospital

Our dear buddy Uncle Ken has not been joining us these past few weeks as his dear wife has been warded at Freo Hospital. It has been a very trying time understandably and we decided to bring some cheer to them this week.

Of course, there is no better way than to cycle there the long way and we enjoyed a beautiful Spring morning ride along the Canning River. The weather is getting a bit warmer, from 6 to 11C mornings and it was glorious with the shining sun and deep blue skies. Moments like these remind me of God's goodness and love to us. It was great to have my nephew Nick join us for the first time too.

The ride to Fremantle is about 24km from my home and rather flat except after Point Walter where we have to ride through some undulating paths. This proved to be quite fun tearing down the slopes and I had fun playing with my Go Pro video camera.

It is heartening to know that B has been moved to the Rehab Ward and she is definitely on the mend. Her worse days are behind her and we are grateful to God for his healing and mercies. B was in bright spirits and we enjoyed our morning chat immensely. The nurse that came to attend to her was a very nice lady and I learned that she became one because she was a perfectionist. Her passion was dressing wounds perfectly!

The 2nd best news apart from B's recovery was that Ken is given the visa by B to cycle with us once again and he is going to try join us next week. We hope that he can and wish B a speedy recovery.

ps: We saw these beautiful shoes left at the park bench where we had our morning tea. A divine sign that B would perhaps be on her feet again soon?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Car servicing made fun!

One of life's dreaded chores is laundry. The other is to take the car for its routine service. I had to do that recently and this normally entails 2 trips - dropping off the car at the dealer, and then picking it up later. It usually is a painless job if you have someone to send and pick you but I don't have that luxury unfortunately.

My trip involved jumping on the train and then walking or bus-sing back to my home and vice versa. So in a way, its a bit worse than laundry especially if it involves lots of walking unless one has a folding bike.

It was easy to chuck the ever compact Brompton into the hatch of my Corolla for the drive to Scarboro Toyota some 15km away and then coming home via train/bike. 35 easy mins. When the car was ready in the late afternoon, I did the reverse. However, this time it was peak period and the train was filled with people going home from work. When space is at a premium inside the carriage, the tiny package of the folded Brompton comes into its element. I took up no unnecessarily space as it fitted snugly between the seats.

Of course, the Brompton is always a conversational piece and I could not help overhearing a nearby passenger talking about it with her friend. Upon arrival at my station, I unfurled her and rode to the dealership. It was a matter of paying the bill, putting the Brompton into the hatch, and driving home.

With a foldy, what was to be a boring routine chore turned out to be quite fun!

Monday, September 5, 2011

The art of foldy

My young 11 yo friend Ronny drew this for me recently. I was of course delighted! Ronny is a gifted artist and has won a scholarship to John Curtin School of the Arts. Can you guess which foldy this is?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Sprung on REVERSE

I'm not one who naturally like to view things from a reverse perspective but today's new experiment on the Go Pro proved to be quite successful. Being able to see the cyclist following you in detail is quite nice for a change. This angle could be very interesting to observe riding style and skill.

This is also the first time I notice the rear suspension of the Brompton in action. I applaud it because it is sufficiently stiff and doesn't bounce too much. Rear suspensions tend to bob during climbs or hard pedalling but I found this set up actually is very acceptable.

I had fun today with KC as we flew down the hill from King's Park, and we hit about 40km/h. It was exhilarating to say the least. Notice at 1.00 min where the Brompton accelerated and the Ventura got left behind due to it being in the wrong gear, and started to spin out.

Looks like I'm sprung on reverse for now and sometimes, one must look at life from a different perspective. New things to learn!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

SPRING in reverse!

Unlike many other countries, Australia being in the Southern Hemisphere, gets its seasons "reversed". Today marks the first day of Autumn for most countries but its the first day of Spring here in Perth. We celebrated that with a nice bike ride to the beautiful King's Park, and it was special as they had an opening of a grand Spring Festival.

I rode my Brompton which had been out of action for a while due to a broken seat shim. As usual, my wonderful buddy CW sprung into action and got one posted to me, thanks to his private bike parts store that never fail to disappoint. This would have cost me 17 pounds if I had to order it from the UK for just a piece of plastic!

King's Park is one of the largest park within any city and offers magnificent views from its high location. The impressive war memorial is here and the Garden of Contemplation to honour the fallen is a good place to reflect on the sacrifices that were made yesteryears so that we can enjoy peace today.

Of course, the park is also famous for all sorts of West Australian native flowers and fauna. It takes a lot to keep this place so pristine and a chat with the landscapers revealed that they mow the lawn 3 times a week! We enjoyed a very moorish morning tea with a priceless view, and that made for a very delightful moment.

I was particularly impressed with the board walk section of the park where a bridge path at tree top level was build. Spectacular views were offered and the chance to ride through it was absolutely heavenly.

I hope these short Go Pro videos, shot from a reverse angle, will give you a sense of the amazing beauty of King's Park especially this first day of Spring.