Friday, August 31, 2012

Sharing foldie joy with good friends!

Its always a wonderful privilege to introduce a newbie to the immense joy of cycling. My good friend Y has not ridden for 2 years, since her last bike lesson with me. Looking at all the lovely Spring pics of my cycling adventures, she decided to re-kindle her interest again with a brand new white Tern C7 foldie especially flown into Perth.

A couple of days ago was her first ride on the Tern and we went to Shelley Foreshore after a refresher lesson at a nearby park. Y got it in no time, and like swimming, once its in you, it stays.

She was on the same route 2 weeks ago on an old clunker and crashed, badly scraping her knees and bruising her legs. I felt so bad! Thus, the impetus for a new foldie and with the utmost determination and fortitude, Y was finally enjoying herself.  She managed a very respectable 10km. It helped that we had another good friend ML who came along to encourage Y.

Today I wanted to check out a new cafe, Little Stove at Bicton, some 15km away and Y was keen to join me. So together with her hubby who borrowed my Speed Pro, we braved light showers and pressed on. The weather was cloudy with a bit of sprinkle here and there, but was perfect for cycling. Passing through the beautiful shores of Mt Pleasant, Canning Bridge and into Applecross, Y was visibly delighted cycling with an unusual big grin pasted on her face. Most times, she was faster than M, leaving him in her wake!

The threatening weather meant that the bike path was absolutely deserted and we had it all to ourselves, which was heaven. This gave Y the space to grow confidence and there is no short cut to developing that, except to cycle and cycle more. I was pleased that despite some rather strong head winds and rain, the 3 of us just kept on going, and braving the elements is part of the fun in cycling. I'm glad they both share my all-weather cycling philosophy.

The last 2km to Little Stove up at Harris Street from Burke St was a bit tough as it involved climbing quite a steep hill.  We decided to push our bikes and it was tough work. We shall cycle next time once Y is more experienced. The rains became heavier and this made it a bit more miserable but when we finally reached Little Stove, it was truly satisfying.

The two easy chairs outside the cafe, with a 1960 TV between it provided the perfect spot to just catch our breath.

Even the Speed Pro felt a bit tired, and need a lie down.

I was thrilled to bits to see a bright yellow bike shaped parking rail! It made me felt so welcome to arrive on a bike and kudos to the Little Stove bosses for the warmest of welcomes for us cyclists.

The welcoming extended inside with warm colours and retro decor. We were fortunate to be served by Sally, a bubbly law student who speaks Korean. Y and her got along like a house on fire.

We couldn't believe that Sally was really into all things Korean including the latest dance hit video by Psy, Oppa Gangnam.

The pumpkin soup and smoked salmon baguette we ordered were excellent. Washed down with Cappuccino and Chai Latte, we felt we could stay there forever with such a quaint and cosy ambience.

Yes, Psy came along with us, without his sunnies!

Our ride home seemed quicker, helped by a flying start thanks to the nice downhills. It was amazing that we spotted some dolphins playing just near the wooden bridge at Applecross when we stopped to take some pics. I got M to swap bikes with me and he immediately was blown away by the responsiveness of the Bike Friday Tikit.

31km was registered on the odo and that is a truly awesome distance for a newbie. Y was feeling top of the world and asking me about Brooks saddle. The poison has seeped in... Welcome to the Fold, Y. Fremantle anyone?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Beautiful Taiwan on bicycle

I have done many bike trips and have seen many beautiful places. But Taiwan seems to stand out. Its natural beauty, friendly people, superb bike culture and great food packages itself so uniquely. This video by Eddie Chen captures a bit of what I mean because words do not do justice to adequately paint such a beautiful experience.

Do enjoy! God willing, my family and I shall be there again in Dec on our Bike Fridays.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Pretty in Pink

I first got to know little Megan better when her family came over in May and stayed with us for a few days. She is a precocious little girl and loves the camera. Recently, her Daddy bought a new set of pink wheels which she was absolutely delighted with.

Enjoy your bike Megan! May you have pots of fun with it.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Majulah Singapura!

Pic by my schoolmate King Hidajat

Wishing all my fellow Singaporeans a very happy and blessed 47th National Day. Its a beautiful city island state that lies on the tip of the Malaysia Peninsular and beside the East of Sumatra. With 5.3 million people on 42km by 23km, its one of the densest city in the world.

This Garden City is well known for its cleanliness, safety and order. The country takes pride in its well oiled efficiency and I can get out of the plane, clear immigration, collect my luggage and be at the taxi stand often in 20 mins flat. Always a joy to return to Singapore! With no natural resources save for its strategic location, Singapore has to depend on its people which are described by The West Australian newspaper as innovative, forward-thinking, successful.

But as a cyclist, Singapore roads are not too bike friendly due to space limitations although there are world class bike lanes confined mostly in the parks. Sharing road space with traffic when road manners are not exactly the best can be harrowing at times. Its good to know there are bicycle advocates working hard to fight for the bicycle its rightful place as a pollution free and healthy form of transport and I salute them. Its certainly an uphill task.

Pic by Daniel fm LCSG

However, what I love most about Singapore is its varied food and friendly folks. Its multicultural heritage means one can eat 3 different types of food at the same time. That combine with cycling is what the fun loving 2000 strong Love Cycling Singapore Group does each week. Do check them out if you are in Singapore, especially on their rides along Park Connectors.

Majulah Singapura (onward Singapore)!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Eat, ride and burp through Malaysia - Day 1 @ Ipoh

My dear friend Papa Mike has been hankering about the wonderful cuisine of Taiping, a small town in the state of Perak, Malaysia ever since I've bumped into him some years back. He spent his formative years at St George's School and when he finally put a trip together for us recently, it was an opportunity not to be missed. A culinary 300km ride through Taiping, Ipoh and finally to Penang through the back country roads!

6 of us met at the Golden Mile Complex, Beach Road in Singapore to board the 5 Star overnight bus to Ipoh. It certainly lived up to its name with an electric adjustable seat and first class super spacious legroom.

I have never been on such a comfortable coach that I had no trouble falling asleep throughout the 7 hour bus ride. At 5am, I was gently woken up and could not believe we have arrived in Ipoh. The boys were kind enough to unload our foldies from the luggage compartment so here was I barely conscious finding my feet on the quiet and dark street.

We wasted no time to put the bikes together and my choice for the Brompton paid out handsomely, at least for now. 3 mins was all it took to assemble the Brompton out of the bag and all ready to go. This allowed me to help the others with their Dahons and Bike Fridays. It was still dark and a ride through the fresh morning air of Ipoh was invigorating. Everyone was still asleep, save for an over friendly lady of the night, and the streets were deserted. Most offeeshops were still closed but we managed to find one and had breakfast #1 of noodles and coffee. With so much time in hand, we ended up doing a very early morning tour of Ipoh visiting the famous colonial train station and of course the 100 plus year old St Michael's School.

As it was still only 7am and our hotel would never allow us to check in till at least noon, we hung around the Padang (big field for official events). A huge Perak flag fluttered gracefully catching the morning breeze. Many morning joggers were running around it, strangely in an anti-clockwise position. Our foldies drew curious stares and questions. Papa Mike entertained us here with his impressive swordsmanship, a skill he learned from a Kung Fu master. KC of course was a little apprehensive as the "sword" was none other than his precious camera tripod.

Dr Mike working out at Ipoh' s Padang

Having had his morning workout, Papa led us to breakfast #2 where we had toast and a host of other local delicacies. I usually am not used to a heavy breakfast so having a second one in a span of 2 hours was a bit much.

Little did I know that after this, we proceeded for breakfast #3! This time for the best curry noodles in Ipoh but not before passing a very special place. The Law Practice of the father of James Bond actress Michelle Yeoh.

I was amazed how the rest of the boys could still be excited about another bowl of noodles and Christoph, my German buddy and I were a bit noodled out at this stage.

We knew that the Maker of Heavens and Earth was with us when we rode to Ritz Garden Hotel and was allowed an early check in! Better still, our foldies could be kept in the safety of our luxurious room.  At just about US$35 a night, I was beginning to love Malaysia, at least this part. A quick shower and all of us were ready to paint Ipoh with a bright splash of red.

We gathered at the lobby and walked to lunch. We settled for wonderfully spicy Nasi Kandar - an Indian rice dish with various meat and veggies doused with 3 different types of curries. At US$1.50 a plate and a taste that brought us to the clouds, we couldn't be happier.

As the heat and humidity were rising uncomfortably, hitting an easy 33c, we made our way to an aircon shopping mall. On the way, we got distracted by a soya bean shop that was supposed to be the best in Ipoh. Funny Mountain was the name. The owner must be laughing at the long line of people, cars plus even a tourist bus that made a bee line to sample its delights. We enjoyed having our soya bean curd there, feeling even more bloated.

Our afternoon was spent at the movie, The Dark Knight. That was the best decision ever watching Batman coming out of retirement to save a city from the bad guys. If he can do that, so can we oldies who like Batman, aches and pains aside, still have some mileage left for a greater purpose if you can consider trying all the famous food places a noble goal.

Dinner that night was at the famous Teck Kee Restaurant, a 2km stroll from our hotel. Papa had already  pre-ordered a whole suckling roast pig days before and the last time I saw one of these beauties was when I had to carry one for my best friend's wedding to his in-laws 20 years ago.

At least, now I get to eat it. The 6 of us were squealing in delight at each specially chosen dish that accompanied the mothership dish. There was a claypot filled with of fish maw, mushrooms, abalone and other goodies, veggies and a special yam rice. That downed with plenty of Carlsberg made for a very good start to our trip. O yes, did I forget the dessert, steamed coconut with cream?

The walk back to our hotel did us good to digest the degustation and if that was not enough, some of us went for a foot massage while others plunged into the icy cold pool at the top of the hotel. Needless to say, we slept very soundly at night all excited for the adventure to begin tomorrow.

As I drifted to sleep, I still could not believe we had 7 meals that day. If ever there was a target for carbo loading, we exceeded that very comfortably indeed.


I think this song by Van Halen best captured the excitement we felt for the trip as we all could not wait to JUMP into the ride!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Holidays on a Saddle

This article appeared in Spore General Hospital's magazine sometime back. Thought it makes for a good read here in Lovethefold. Enjoy.    *Do click the picture for easier reading.