Sunday, January 30, 2011

Hulu Langat Series 8

Reaching the 11km mark today
Fresh from our 86km ride yesterday, we shot straight to Pekan Bt 18 in Hulu Langat for our weekly training ride.
As far as we can, we won't miss it. Even when I work on weekends, I have stayed committed in training.
The strength and stamina ride, although short, has improved my fitness level.
It helped in many other rides and I intend to keep the Dahon Speed P8 as my training bicycle.
While I was discussing with my fellow folding bike riders Wey Pang and Ming including our ride guru Bil Choy at a coffee shop, I summed up that there are at least three classes of riders.

Level 1 - Riders who are very fit with strength and stamina, able to do an average of 25-30km/h on their rides. These are the strongest of the lot and would be on the forefront.

Level 2 - Cyclists that are average in strengh, lacking the stamina. We are looking at folks who can do at least 15km/h on their bicycles, usually form the second tier of the ride. 

Level 3 - Beginners who are unfit, lacking in strength and stamina.

I would say that with the different levels of strength and stamina, we are no able to streamline the riders according to the difficulty of the rides. Longer rides would attract level 1 & 2 riders while the easier fun rides would sufficient enough for level 3 cyclists.

Training is an important aspect and if a person lacks of discipline and couldn't manage his or her time, they would never achieve anything.. 

Tanjung Karang - Sungai Besar Endurance ride

At stage one of the ride in Tanjung Karang

Siang riding on the dirt road in Sekinchan

Our Speed P8 and TR - some eight kilometres away from Sungai Besar
I floated the idea of engaging in a 108-km endurance ride from Tanjung Karang to Sungai Besar in Selangor.
This is moderate ride in the state's rice growing hub and since the terrain is mostly flat, I managed to get at least half-a dozen people to participate.
During the ride, I was fortunate enough to have the company of veteran rider TT Siang whose knowledge of Sekinchan and Tanjung Karang was indispensable.
Earlier, I planned to begin the riding route from Jalan Kilang Padi to Sg Besar. That'll yield 54.2km in a single journey. 
Roughly, the journey would take about two hours or slightly longer.
Since Siang and Catherine, his friend was rather late, we adjusted the route a bit and staged our ride to Sekinchan A village. 
The real ride began at Parit 2 in Sekinchan when we joined the Sungai Tengi road. 
This is roughly about 18km towards Sungai Besar. 
By the time we hit the road, the sun was already out. We had an overcast earlier which made riding a breeze earlier.
I guess that most of the less-experienced riders were worn out when they cycled on the gravel road in Sekinchan.
Lucky for us, our Dahon Speed P8 and TR were equipped with Schwalbe's Big Apple tires. These proved to be useful on uneven terrain although they were much slower on the road.
Michelle was getting used to her new Dahon Speed TR which is equipped with a SRAM dual-drive system that gave a wide range of gear.
My Dahon Speed P8 held up pretty well on the road. Its now rigged for some light touring and our pannier systems are also ready for a trip to Southern Thailand next week.
Back on the endurance ride, one of the cyclists had to drop out as he suffered cramps on his leg. He had a support vehicle and this proved to be a blessing in disguise.
We made it from Tanjung Karang to Sungai Besar by 12:45 in the afternoon.
Lunch was at a restaurant in the town centre and as soon as we were done, we took a quick ride  to a fishing village and started to head back to Tanjung Karang.
By 2:30pm, the weather was starting to turn on us. 
Heavy rain forced two more riders to drop out. 
The remaining riders: Siang, Catherine, Michelle and me remained committed to our objective - complete the ride. 
When it rained too heavily, we took shelter at a farmer's house who gladly offered us his vehicle shed.
About half an hour later, we rode in the rain towards Sekinchan.
The rain, wet road conditions and a section of off-road area in the paddy fields had slowed us down. 
At this stage, the true test of mental and physical endurance was in full swing.
We managed to ride to Sekinchan by 5pm and reached Tanjung Karang at 5:45pm.
On the cyclometer, we did 86.5km - about 13.5km short of 100km. 
Total time spent cycling was 5hours 35minutes.
We have pushed our Dahons as far as we could and 86km is a decent mark.
I have TT Siang to thank for his knowledge of the area and some useful advice about long haul trips. 
Soon, we'll be planning some extended rides to parts of the country and at the mean time, its back to more training rides for strength and stamina.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Mrs Samo's new bike...

Latest addition to the Speed family - Speed TR

The SRAM Dual Drive II transmission box
After owning two Dahon folding bikes for more than two years, I've decided to upgrade my wife's ride. 
The toss-up was between a Jetstream P8 or a bike with a wider gear selection and the Speed TR came in hands-down.
I must say that the 2011 edition of the TR is impressive.
It has a joule II dynamo power generator that came complete with the Biologic Ree-charge system to enable small electronics like a cellphone and GPS to be charged on the go.
An integrated light on the bike's new Andro stem system came in really handy. It also has a battery compartment of the dynamo is out of commission.
And when you factor in the chromoly frame, weight bearing is absolutely no-frills.
I've had my Dahon Speed P8 rigged in the same manner - front and back traveller's rack. 
With the Speed TR, this came as a standard fitting.
There's a spanniga rear light which was a neat package.
While the Speed P8 is meant for short to middle distance commuting, the TR comes with a set of gear that yields greater distance.
I must say that I marvel at its dual-drive II system which is a combination of traditional cassette gears and a hub with a planetary gear system.
This gives the bike the torque that it'll need to haul stuff and go the distance. 
I don't think tackling hills is now an issue with the 8x3 gearing system.
On the whole, I am pleased with the bike's handling and overall built quality.
Cost wise, I feel that its my Ringgit and Sen well-spent.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Finally - a week off!

After working for 11 days in a row, I was finally given a week off. 
It was a well-deserved break in my humble opinion, but it came with a price.
On Sunday, I overlooked something in my workflow and the cascading effects that came with this costly blunder was like being hit by a rogue wave.
First thing at night, a management staff rang me up and started screaming at me.
I told her that there's nothing I can do to exact changes as the paper had been printed.
This was followed by an apology and when I was asked: "How to you tell it to the bosses?", I simply told her to dump everything in me. 
I accept the blame as I am solely responsible.
And if that was not enough, my boss called up. Breach of protocol, he said. 
I owned up to the mistake and was given a lecture. 
It wasn't so bad getting it from our side, but those ruthless and heartless people on the fifth floor would think otherwise.
Anyway, its not going to ruin the rest of the week that I have left, so fuck them! 

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Breaking the 10k uphill barrier

At the state boundary marker this morning

Jubilant: Michelle is one of the very few 16" folding bike rider on a 3-speed bike to reach the 10k uphill mark
Veteran rider Bil Choy remarked: "Ah, you guys ah! If you keep this up, the folding bikes are going to be respected in the Hulu Langat circuit.."
Choy was making reference to this morning's training ride where a small group of folding bike riders including Uncle Meng on a recumbent and Choy who rode his hybrid bike who made it all the way from Pekan Bt 18 to the Selangor - Negeri Sembilan's boundary marker.

I couldn't believe it myself as I pedalled my Dahon Speed P8 and made it to a slope area where the rest of the riders were cheering.
Earlier, an elderly rider who rode past me said: "Dah dekat geng!" (you are very near!).
I knew that the next 200metres meant everything I had and one of the riders Wey shouted: "Hey Sam! You must hit the signboard and turn back.."
The rest was history.
Make or break, today was the 'decision day' after we rode to the Kuala Kelawang - Semenyih junction.
Michelle had some reservations as we had a late night on Saturday.
She had drinks with her cousins while I lay sulking away because no beers were served at her cousin's wedding dinner.
I also had little sleep because we had to push off from our home at 06:00am to reach the starting point at pekan Bt 18.
We were the first to arrive, followed by our friend Wei Ling, Wey and Ming.
Uncle Meng, a regular feature now at the training ride. He's a recumbent bike rider and an experienced tourer who inspired many of us.
As usual, I shot off early and after riding continuosly at an average speed of 24.2km/h, I started to wear down.
This was apparent at the km-7 of the route where I was struggling.
At km-10, our usual pit-stop, I arrived with Wey and Wei Ling already waiting.
We weren't sure as to how far we would push and well, as usual, the last 800 metres to the Kuala Kelawang - Semenyih junction was a test of skill and endurance.
I rode behind Michelle who was struggling with her 3-speed bike.
Finally, after reaching the junction, the gang was resting on the left hand-side of the junction.
At this point, the word was cast in stone. "Make or break".
Uncle Meng gave a few words of encouragement and led the way.
The next 10km was an uphill ride that took nearly an hour.
I struggled all the way, making a few stops to regain my composure. If I push myself too hard, I end up suffering from cramps.
At one stage, I was very comfortable with the low gearing, but with a bike that could only yield 8-speed, the challenge was to stay focused and on course.
Some roadies overtook me including a dude who looked like a Polar Bear in a pink riding jersey.
He was escorted by a pick-up truck.
After riding the last 100metres, the Selangor - Negeri Sembilan boundary maker came in sight.
To me, it was all over. My wife and friends were waiting on the other side of the road and this called for a photo session to capture the sweet moment.
It took another 45-minutes to reach pekan Bt18 and to my surprise, another group of folding bike riders were already having their breakfast there.
These are high-end people with their fancy British-made Bromptons.
One of them was a familiar face. A lady who rides in the middle of the road.
We laughed it off and exhanged notes on the ride.
Since I had to work today, I excused myself from the crowd and headed home for a shower.
For the rest of the day, I am really spent. But the feeling of making the 10K uphill challenge would be an inspiration to take on more training rides in Hulu Langat.

Dahon Malaysia FBC 2nd Meeting

Me and the brand-new Dahon Vector X10 folding bike at Bangsar's Rodalink yesterday...
After two months of meeting and planning with Chanson Lau of Le Run Industries, the second Dahon Folding Bike Club meeting went smoothly as planned.
Michelle and I went to the outlet as early as 09:30am in the morning and we found an elderly man for Banting who was already in the store.
He later walked away with the IOS XL, Dahon's 2009 Eurobike winner.
When Le Run's Ruey Chan made the opening address, my turn was up as the first speaker.
At the meeting, I shared my experience as a Dahon user and this has attracted the attention of two on-line reporters with Baik.Bike magazine.
They wanted to do a seperate session with Michelle and me riding our folding bikes.
During my talk, I accidentally bumped the parked preview bikes and that was an embarassing moment.
Later, veteran rider Bil Choy turn was up.
He shared some valuable insights on safety and also showcased his vintage 'Da Bike' to the crowd.
On the whole, the turnout was just lukewarm, but people are getting aware of Dahon and Le Run's efforts in introducing the bikes to the local market.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 Team Building session

Strapping up for the 'Leap of faith'

Another session concluded..

I am happy to report that this year's team-building session at Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan was concluded with many satisfied customers.
Two months of planning was put to good use in the three-day two-night stay and sessions.
Some of the staff were happy to have taken part in the outdoor activities namely: the high rope sessions.
The food spread at our BBQ dinner was great as I had diverted some resources into it.
I toured two sites before settling down for Thistle Resort in Port Dickson.
The first place I inspected was the Golden Palm Resort in Gold Cost Sepang.
It was a crappy place and I had to deal with a domineering foreign prick at the counter.
With the distance as a factor, I dropped the fucking Gold Coast place and took the HR department guy's recommendation.
I was lucky as the stars and moon was aligned during that two days and nothing untowardly had happened.
With this done and over with, there are several other challenging projects this year. Hopefully, I would be up to it..

Forty-something and still going..

Birthdays are just like any other days.
For years, I dread it because it sucked so bad.
Tomorrow will be another milestone in my life. I am a year older.
I guess being a person who has it all, it would be hard to receive gifts and such.
As a matter of fact, gifts from the family and friends has never existed.
Through time, I have worked very hard to reward myself.
To me, my personal belongings are sacred.
Speaking of gifts, well material things aside, I am blessed with a wonderful wife and family.
We've been married for six years and going without fighting.
I also have to lovely dogs that are the reason for me to go home after a long day at work.
Apart from that, there are the folding bikes, cameras, gadgets and knives. All intact.
Career wise, I couldn't have been happier at the present work place. The people are nice, I am appreciated for my contribution.
This was a far cry from my days in an establishment newspaper where I had to put up with racism, double-standards and discrimination.
The least I can say is that I am in a true professional set-up.
With cycling in the picture, I made more friends. This is another positive aspect.
All that said and done, I couldn't ask for more but for God to keep on showering his blessings.

An affordable training foldie - Dahon Dash P18

Affordable mini road bike with decent quality components
I was in Bangsar for lunch this afternoon.
Made a pit-stop at Rodalink's outlet and was impressed with their window display.
On the top shelf, there was the Dahon Dash P18, it was sitting pretty.
I saw the Dash X20 bike yesterday and was impressed with the overall quality of the bike.
The P18, which is built on the same frame design, is a an economical solution to those who wants the handling of a road bike with hybrid features.
If you examine the bike up close, the only difference is the handlebars.
On the Dash P18, you will get an upright riding position, similar to hybrids while the X20 utilises high quality shifters and brake levers on its drop-handles.
With a pricetag of RM2.65K a pop, I won't be surprised if the bike gets snagged at the Saturday FBC meeting and 2011 Dahon Folding Bike preview.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The best of Rodalink stores

Rodalink's new outlet in Tmn Botanic, Klang

I've been a Rodalink bicycle store customer for two years.
Bought two Dahon folding bikes from them and although their prices may be higher than the usual dealer, they have a good team of mechanics who doubles up as customer service agents.
Having said that, I've never had any issues dealing with them as some of the guys are really friendly.
I guess I'll have to eat my words when I went to one of their older branches in Jalan Bangsar today.
There, the Dash P18 mini road bike was previewed and since it was lunch hour, the store was quite busy.
I saw a whole new range of Biologic accessories on sale and asked about the new Biologic Arx grip.
So, I asked Jimmy, one of the familiar guys there what was the difference between the 100mm and 130mm grips.
Just as he was about to answer, this bald bony ass faggot with tattoos on his legs shouted an order: "Hey Jimmy! Go help the customer.."
I think the guy is from Le Run Industries HQ in Puchong and from his looks, I don't think he gave a fuck about other customers in the store.
There was a family there who bought a road bike. They were with their son. Obviously, this was the big fish in the ponds.
Minnows like me, well, are not worth a second look.
I don't know what got into that skinhead faggot's mind, he might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed or got fisted in the ass by a bunch of angry mountain bikers. Fuck him!
My point is simple: If you front retards like these in a service environment, your store is going to get a bad name. Period.
That said, the saving grace is the fact that Rodalink has a few good staff holding fort.
I would rate the store in Sri Hartamas, Putrajaya and Klang as the tops.
Bangsar, well sorry Jimmy, that skinhead faggot just fucked it up for you. Maybe he's your boss, but his attitude sucks. Big time.

They're here!!!!

The mini road bike

I was poking my nose around - looking for some answers to my wife's Dahon Curve D3's chain problem.
Seems that its slipping off as there is a slack on the chain.
Since its a single drive-train using an internal gear hub, the cost to replace a set of chain is not prohibitive.
So, I went to Roda Link bicycle shop in Desa Sri Hartamas since its the nearest to my office.
And while asking around, I saw the Dahon Dash X20 being assembled.
I was told that two bikes made it to Malaysia and one has been sold.
This bike has a price tag of RM6.25K and someone had grabbed it earlier.
Performance wise, I think this bike would smoke some roadies. It has some high-end components but what I find really ugly - is the body.
Then, I rang up my contact in Le Run industries and was told that since they don't have enough storage space, they decided to ship out their stock which went on sale a few days ago.
Yep, the Dahons are moving fast due to a higher level of awareness.
We'll get to see some high-end bikes over the weekend at the Dahon Folding Bike club gathering series 2.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Dogs 101

One of the toughest breeds in the world - Siberian Huskies

Dogs 101 came on the air at 9pm last night and featured a few breeds - namely: the Dalmatian, Pommeranian and Siberian Husky.
The Huskies were shown in the last segment of the documentary and we were glad to know that our dogs are among the toughest breed on the planet.
One of the stories told was about 'Moon', a Sibe belonging to an old time in Nevada, US, which went wandering for a week.
The female sibe had to plough through 80miles of the rugged Nevada terrain before it was found wandering in town by a good samaritan.
Sibes are said to have a special metabolism rate which enables it to haul for hours under the torturous arctic weather.
Our kids here are spared from snow and ice and could take the heat. One of the veterinary specialists who was quoted in the documentary said she wouldn't recommend Huskies for tropical and sub-tropic weather, but our dogs have proven otherwise..

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Cycling and Hypertension

Me on a ride in Putrajaya

A Dahon folding bike ride who is based in China once said: "Cycling improved my issues with hypertension..."
And I tought he was pulling my leg.
Its been nearly six months since Michelle and I had made it a point to cycle our Dahon bikes which was gathering dust in our living room.
We started with Pulau Ketam and found it fun to bring the bikes for a short distance ride.
Later, we linked up with a bunch of folding bike riders and ever since, we've been riding almost every week.
Now, here's the best part: veteran folding bike cyclist Bil Choy suggested a weekend training ride in Hulu Langat.
He had organised four rides and it turned out okay.
Since I joined the rides in series 2 through 5, I found that my level of fitness has improved.
I am able to cycle a fixed distance along hills and steep gradient in Hulu Langat.
And each time I do so, I set a target: get to the checkpoints faster without tiring myself.
Since then, I had no regrets on attending the training rides as it is great for stamina building and improving my cardio-vascular movements.
Today, I went to my physician who took my blood pressure.
It checked out okay as I gave a 130/80 reading.
I told him that I have been regulary exercising and had set a target to shed some of my puppy fat by the middle of this year.
The more I cycle, the more I burn the fat and if I can achieve a 5kg reduction in six months, I may be able to reduce my depency on hypertension medication.
I can also look forward to longer rides and achieve great distance.

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's getting better!

Improved: the 2011 Jetstream EX

There is a three-month window for the Dahon Jetstream EX folding bike.
This full-suspension ride showcases some of the best components ever to be found on a folding bicycle and is said to be the most advanced ride of its kind.
For 2011, Dahon had streamlined the disc brakes on the EX, giving it a sleek and low-profile look.
Changes also include an lighter fork and since this bike is on the premium category, it has a mass appeal to folding bike riders in search of a better ride.
Two will make its way to Malaysia in the second quarter.

Dahon Malaysia FBC 2nd Meeting and Preview

Eagerly awaited: the Dahon Vector X20

I was asked to give a slide show presentation on Jan 22.
Its also a packed day as Michelle's cousin is hosting a wedding dinner.
The expected crowd is around 30 people, but I suspect that there will be more people as Le Run Marketing is throwing in some 'mystery gift' to the guests there.
Anyway, the most eagerly-awaited bike is the Vector X20 and one is already gone as it was pre-ordered.
This is 'the' road bike with some of the best high-end components utilised.
The SRAM RED drive train is said to be the best on the planet and with a price tag of RM10K, I'd say anyone who is gonna score this bike would be either a serious rider of some jerkoff who wants to show off..

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Hulu Langat Training Ride Series 5

Reaching the summit area at checkpoint 01 - Kuala Kelawang - Semenyih junction

The steep and gradual climb proved to be too much for this rider

A group photo before heading back to the 18th-mile village

We've been following the Hulu Langat training ride for the fourth time and so far, there's five in a series.
Michelle and I had charted some progress in our average speed and timing along the 20km loop.
So far, we've been as far as the Dam entrance, but didn't make it all the way. Twice, we had to turn back because some riders have became ill during the ride.
Yesterday, I clocked 18.6km on the average and my top speed is 43km/h.
This was a slight improvement from 15.6km when I first started cycling at the location.
I guess the hardest part is to maintain a steady speed and cadence as some of the major sections along this route has a 15-30 degree gradient.
The entire road is not as flat as it seems.
I did the first-half with my high gear and climbed on the lowes to reach the Kuala Kelawang - Semenyih intersection.
And all four attempts, I managed to pedal my bike towards the junction without stopping.
Now, I can feel my thighs sore and pretty banged up.
But all this is for a purpose and that is to complete our tour of Betong in Thailand next month.

A ride in the paddy fields

Michelle riding along the paddy field in Sekinchan on Saturday

At the location marker

On a bridge in Sungai Tengi, Sekinchan, Selangor

I was supposed to have conducted a recce ride around Sekinchan late last month, but never got around doing it as the weather was bad.
A couple of weeks ago, veteran adventure cyclist TT Siang and his wife Angela had put up an invitiation to ride in Sekinchan which I gladly accepted.
I planned an early ride around the rice fields and linked up with the couple later along with a few other riders who came with their families.
So, we shot off to Sekinchan from our place in Subang Jaya at 06:00am and arrived there around 07:45am.
As soon as we got there, we wasted no time in setting up the bikes for a ride around the town area and proceeded to Jalan Parit 6 and made our way to Sg Tengi where Michelle used to work, laying down a network of gas pipes in the trans-Peninsular gas grid.
From the pumphouse, we rode to Sg Burong and the Bagan To fisherman's village.
Now, the tricky part was to get back on the West Coast trunk road where traffic is heavy.
On one instance, a truck flew past us so fast, we just a few feet away from being hit by it.
Fucking asshole driver!
The loop across the paddy fields and towards Sekinchan's coastal fishing village was roughly about 36km and with an average speed of 15km/h, we covered the route in about 2.5 hours.
Later in the day, we took a break in a coffee shop while waiting for Siang's group.
We caught up with them around 12noon.
They were late due to some riders who were not punctual.
In an outstation ride, its very important to observe time as there are many factors that would make a ride unpleasant.
Lucky for us, we managed our time pretty well.
From Sekinchan's Harbour View hotel, we rode back to the paddy fields and made our way to the Bagan for lunch.
That's where we parted way and shot back to Subang Jaya.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Hulu Langat Training Ride Series 4

Michelle, Me and Jackie at the junction (km10)

The mighty Uncle Meng and his recumbent machine

Michelle making it to the junction

Michelle and I took on the Hulu Langat training course for the third time and for this year, its a curtain-opener for more planned rides around the country.
I must admit that the hill-climbing sessions on slopes of various degrees along this 40km round-trip course has given me the 'turbo boost' during the Putrajaya night ride on Friday.
Believe it or not, when I made my way past the Putrajaya International Convention Centre, I actually smoked some GT foldies including the RallyArt racing folder.
That was an achievement as I powered away and took on the slopes around Putrajaya with ease.
In short, the 20km single-journey ride to the Hulu Langat Dam is working its course.
I found that the first 8km was just a warm-up session and as veteran rider Bil Choy would put it: "Ah, you get ready for the 10km climb towards Kuala Kelawang.. You can do it!".
Choy's inspiring words would be the catalyst for more rides especially on tough terrain in Peninsular Malaysia.
Today, I also had the privilege to meet Uncle Meng, a seasoned tourer who had completed a ride to Tibet.
He came with his RM15K recumbent bicycle which was a sheer spectacle.
Two other riders also joined in and one of them had a classic Dahon Boardwalk.
She rode all the way and was supported by her husband who drove to the starting point.
After we reached the dam area, we headed back to the Kuala Kelawang - Bt 14 junction and there, I saw a guy with a Dahon Jetstream EX.
That was a really solid bike and we also met up with his group at our usual coffee shop hangout.
Sadly, the guy and the rest of gang were quite stuck-up. So fuck him!
Anyway, I for one, am looking forward to another training ride session next Sunday!

A clean and sober celebration

Michelle, riding along Putrajaya's main boulevard

A shot taken with the Putra mosque in the background

We did it!

Instead of getting drunk and disorderly, Michelle and I took a new approach in celebrating New Year's eve.
Right after I was done with work, I rushed home to jump into my wife's car and with our bikes packed in place, we drove to Putrajaya's Precinct 2.
There, we joint a large crowd of cyclists - totalling to nearly 500 people for a night ride around the country's administrative capital.
All this, for RM2.50 a person.
Rather than blowing our money at pubs or restaurants, we chose a healthier alternative and that was to use our folding bicycles and ride it hard.
At the registration booth, we met up with some old friends.
Some folding bike riders were there too.
Riding around Putrajaya at night was an unforgettable experience.
The route took us on a 20-km loop, covering some scenic areas around this township.
We caught a glimpse of Putrajaya at night which can be rarely seen of you are cooped-up in your car.
The ride ended at 11:30pm and with some stage performance and lucky draw, we left at 02:30am.
Saturday was a day of rest as we recuperated from the ride.