Thursday, May 31, 2012

Rainbows and Hopes

The sky turned darkish as we began our usual ride this week to Pt Walter. It was Rod and I only this time as the others couldn't make it. If there was anyone who is truly 110% committed to ride in any weather, Rod takes the cake here. I supposed his background as a bicycle Postman first in England, and later in Australia for over 35 years has something to do with that.

One great blessing we usually encounter through the threatening weather is the occasional appearance of beautiful multi-coloured rainbow. But today was special as two appeared before us as we rode along the Canning River at Applecross. One was distinct and the other one faint which I barely captured on my camera.

Rod and I were just taking it easy and enjoying catching up with one another. He is a very special friend with a great heart for people and we talked about many things in life. At 66 years old, his fitness is unbelievable and he cycles 3 times a week lately, each about 50km. Obviously, his 8 year old Giant Hybrid is well worn and we talked about how short life is, and inevitably the need to get a new bike cropped up as replacing the parts of the Giant will cost about $350!

At Point Walter, I stopped to admire some canoes that were going out for a morning paddle. They were canoe buddies who come together regularly to different parts of Perth to just enjoy gliding on the waters.

What struck me was that these folks were all seniors and Daryl, the nice gentleman I spoke to also loved cycling. He was impressed with the Speed Pro and asked the usual questions about foldies. After all these years with foldies, I still enjoy the curiousity that they draw.

On our way back, we decided to stop at a riverside cafe at Mt Pleasant to enjoy a Latte and a Cappuccino. There was a very interesting mural on the wall about opinion and truth that caught my eye.

Sitting under the umbrella on nice table and chairs, admiring speed boats as they tow their skiers behind, while enjoying our coffees and a chat made for a very special morning. I turn 50 this year and Rod discussed the possibility of a ride down south from Albany to Walpole to celebrate it. That got me all excited.

If rainbows represent our dreams and hopes, then I can't think of a better way of crossing the half century mark on small wheels with my good mates later this year.


Then God said, “I am giving you a sign of my covenant with you and with all living creatures, for all generations to come. I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth. Genesis 9:12-13

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What every VW Golf badge should say...

No offence to those who love playing the popular game of Golf, but I just couldn't help affix these words to my car. I'm sure many, at least readers of LTF will agree with me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Una Mattina Italiano

The Italians have had a long history in Western Australia, arriving way back in the 1800s with a significant exodus coming in just after WW2. They have left their mark in many ways here in Perth most notably through the famous coffee cafes especially in Fremantle, numerous Italian restaurants and of course, their bakeries. They even have an Italian Club here in Perth which was established in 1934 aptly named “Casa d'Italia”. 

This morning I wanted to visit an Italian bakery called Casa del Dolce along Lake Street. I have sampled their Apple Crumble some time back when one of my guests gave it to me and it's taste still lingers in my mouth. What better way to go there then on my Bike Friday Tikit. Ken C met me at the usual spot and we took a leisurely ride northwards to the city in freezing cold. Perth had its coldest night in 98 years and it was still 3c at 8am. 

All suited up, we braved the cold and enjoyed the amazing views of the Canning and Swan River in glorious sunshine. What stopped me in my tracks were two Pelicans that were sunbathing and pruning. It was special when a 3rd one came flying in from nowhere and landed on the water. Admiring them caused us to be a little late meeting Pat but such beauty must be savoured.

It was easy navigating through the city of Perth but I always much prefer riding on bike paths than sharing the roads with cars and buses. Still, there is no better way to move around the city than on bicycles. We reached Casa del Dolce in no time and there was Pat reading the papers, coffee in hand basking in the sun and demolishing some fruit tart.

Casa del Dolce is not a glitzy sort of bakery, just a quiet honest to goodness neighbourhood shop that does great pastry and cakes. Their display though was impressive and extremely tempting. 

As providence would have it, they had a $6 special for any type of coffee with their Apple Pastry (with a generous dollop of cream). Ken and I ordered Cappuccinos and it didn't disappoint. Beautifully done and just the right strength for me.

While Ken and Pat went off talking about everything under the sun from medical technology, politics to business opportunities especially the growing silver market, my eye caught a most appropriate steed parked just beside us - a black Italian Alfa Romeo Mito.

I had the Pininfarina-styled 164 Twin Spark many years ago and as temperamental as it was, problems and all, it gave me buckets of driving pleasure with its racy exhaust gurgle and razor sharp handling. Soon, the boys were also joining me admiring the "character" of this little hot hatch. Whatever you may say about the Mito, its certainly not boring with its 1.4 turbo engine and Noddy-like front face.

Cycling back to Bull Creek was easy enough but the wind was blowing in the wrong direction. Which was just as well as we needed to burn off that rich morning tea. All in, a most bello Italian morning here in Perth. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hatch-ing a Foldy

My Speed Pro's headset has come a bit loose from all the riding these few weeks, especially the off road excursion to York. The headset was replaced by George's Bikeshop at Willetton some time last year. Its a relatively easy job to tighten the headset but the challenge is you need a huge 10mm Allen key to do the adjustment. Sadly, I don't have that big an Allen key so I had to go back to George's. Patrick kindly offered to help me but his home is a 25km drive north vs a 3km drive! I was also very impressed that George's did the adjustment FOC. They are really serious about customer service and I appreciate that.

As I was doing some errands today, I decided to drive there. One of the wonderful things of having a foldy is its compactness thus fuss free ability to be transported around in cars, trains or even planes. It helps that the car is a hatch or wagon style type as it makes for easy and fuss free transportation for our foldies. In my new Golf, I reckon I can put up to 3 foldies and 3 adults plus gear with no worries.

Hatching a foldy around cannot be easier...

Update 1 - 28 May

Just collected my new personalised number plates LTF 777. It was very kind of Ken C to come along with me to Willagee Licensing Centre and he had the honour of screwing them on for me.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shadow riding

As winter approaches, the sun seems to casts very long shadows and it fascinates me as I did my ride with Ken C this morning. If I remember my geography lessons yonks ago, its got something to do with the Winter Solstice that causes shorter daylight time.

Despite the morning cold of 10c , many hero cyclists here could be spotted just wearing shorts and jersey. I however, had to wear 2 layers and long gloves.

Growing up in the tropics, I guess it will take me some time to acclimatised.

The brilliant lighting made for wonderful photo opportunities and I am always grateful to Ken C for his patience in putting up with my constant stopping to feed my hungry camera. Hopefully, the result of these interruptions to our cycling is worth the trouble. It was magically to see two ducks just cutting a beautiful wake in the still water.

Even the colours of the trees somehow just came out and I tried to capture it as best as I could.

All the dilly dally-ing around on the first part of our cycling caused us to be a bit late as Ken C had to rush to work at 9am. Returning, we rode back at a good clip. Maintaining a constant 25km/h was easy on the Speed Pro and naughty me could not resist shooting some more pics on the move.

Shadow riding can be lots of fun, at least for me but I have to make sure I don't draw down the patience and goodwill of my ride buddies too much.


On the topic of shadows, there was a song called Shadow Dancing when I was growing up. It was a hit by Andy Gibb, who tragically died very young at 30 years old in 1988. His brothers were the famous Bee Gees and sadly, Robin Gibb just passed away from cancer 3 days ago on the 20th of May. The Gibb brothers had unsurpassed talent and their music and songs really touched the hearts of millions. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The first time ever I saw your face

I was preparing my Speed Pro for tomorrow's early morning ride and a feeling of nostalgia hit me. This bike is special because it was my first brand new foldie purchased from My Bike Shop, Singapore in Dec 2006. It retailed at a princely sum of US$1800 and held the honour of being the fastest folding bike that Dahon produced then.

With a X7 RD and SRAM Dual Drive 24 gear system, it had an enviable gear range of 26" - 124" which is massive and even today, very few foldies can match it. It was equipped with 120psi Stelvio skinny race tires on Kinetix Pro rear rim and a Rolf Prima front rim with sexy minimal 14 spoke set up and this baby really flies. Cruises easily 30-35km/h on the flats and I've hit 61km/h on downhill sprints.  

I've since put in fatter tires - a Big Apple in front and a Supreme on the rear for tackling the occasional off road excursion here in Perth and for better stability. The Syntace VRO adjustable handlebar system also ensured a perfect fit for any rider, ingeniously doing away with fixed stems. Matt who is heads taller than I used it recently and it fitted him easily with quick adjustments.

The first time I saw it at the shop with its pearlised racy Orange, I just knew I had to have it. The fit and finish is absolutely flawless and is a testament to made in Taiwan quality.

6 years on, my Speed Pro has only done 3000km (blame it on too many bikes) and has aged relatively well still looking quite beautiful. I'm surprise it manages to evoke something in me after all these years. Call me crazy but I think I'm in love again...

This oldy guy Larry is one of my favourite You-tube singers. His style is magic and sings songs of my era - the 80s. Yes, I'm old...


Fast forward 2012, Dahon's top of the line Speed Pro replacement is the Vector X27h. It looks very formidable and still keeps the orange racing colour. Handlebar is Speed Pro TT style. Prices have of course gone up slightly at US$2100 (in Singapore) but the weight is still about 10kg-ish so not much improvement in this department.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A new friend & new wheels

Long gloves needed for the cold!

On our usual Wed ride this morning, we had the honour of having Pete with us. I met him a few days ago when my nephew bought an almost brand new Honda PCX scooter from him. Pete sold it as he just acquired a sparkling Kawasaki W800 retro motorcycle and we got along so well as both love anything on 2 wheels, with or without motor. I was honoured that LTF somewhat inspired him to take his bicycle out of hibernation after 18 months. He was reading it for 2 days! Thus, he had had to cycle with us today.

Yes, it was a freezing 8c this morning but the 5 of us enjoyed the warmest fellowship ever on our saddles. I have not ridden with Uncle Ken for a while and am glad he has recovered enough from his spinal problem to join us today. Our ride to Pt Walter seemed too short as the 17km whizz by so quickly. Caught up with Rod too and enjoyed that. It was a glorious morning with the sun burning off the cold and the skies as blue as I have ever seen.

We had a lot of fun too playing "fetch" with a most intelligent dog. Would you believe he could throw the ball back to you? Watch this video.

We 5 boys total more than 290 years in age and the party spilled over to my home where we continued our yakking over Ken C's Pidemco e-bike as well as the test riding it. The almost new Honda PCX scooter was also not spared and I was amused to see everyone so excited over boys' toys. I made a simple lunch of chicken curry which we all woofed down.

I had to shoo everyone home at 1230pm as I had to go collect my new car today - a VW Golf hatchback 6 speed manual. It is extremely fuel efficient claiming 6.2l/100km and its turbo engine makes it a joy to drive. But most of all, it can carry 3 foldies with 3 adults!

New friend and new wheels. What a glorious day it was today indeed !!!

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!  Psalm 118:24