Tuesday, May 29, 2012

First impressions: 2012 Bike Friday Pocket Llama Select

A brief note
The Bike Friday Pocket Llama is synonymous with Heinz Stucke, a famous Bicycle Tourist who traveled the world on this folding bicycle.
Today, Mr Stucke's Pocket Llama is on display at Bike Friday's headquarters in Oregon, USA.
Its also a small and nippy little fella that has enough ground clearance for bikepacking in the jungles of Malaysia.

Riding the Pocket Llama
The brief test-ride
I met Doc Andy of My Family Cycle Services at the Bandar Utama Clubhouse yesterday.
Introduced him to my buddy Ed Foo of Atmosphere Outfitters.
Foo is the official distributor of Ortlieb products in Malaysia.
Together, we checked out three new Bike Friday models at Doc Andy's new showroom.
On our plate: there's the BF Nuvinci 360 New World Tourist, Future Tikit and the 2012 Select Pocket Llama.
I must admit that I am a BIG fan of the Pocket Llama.

A solid ride: The Llama
The 2012 Select model is made entirely in the US.
It comes with a pricetag of RM8,338.
I love the built-quality of the bike, but since this is something that Bike Friday selects for their customer, there were some shortcomings.
For long-distance hauls, I wouldn't go for the handlebar grips. It would be better to bolt-in a pair of Ergon GR-2 grips.
The handlebar and stem components too can be improved.
Since the version that came has a 'take down' stem, would prefer a folding piece for ease of use and transportation.
The Select model came with a 27-speed drivetrain. Shifting is smooth and this is something that you would need when it comes to hauling your gear in a set of panniers or simply towing a trailer.
No issues on the quality crankset and Schwalbe Big Apple 2.0 20" tires which I endorse for riding in any condition.
The Llama comes with a set of Avid mechanical disk brakes. This is better than a V-brake, but is inferior compared to hydraulic disks brakes.
Another thing that I would discard are the cheap pedals.
For this, a pair of MKS Exim Superior would do the job.

For the pricing package, the 2012 Pocket Llama Select is a bike that you would acquire as a second bike for touring and offroad bikepacking.
It certainly has the features to transport you to and fro to your destination.
What's readily available is decent enough. All you need to do, is to tweak it a bit.
In short, the bike is for cyclists who are already experienced with folding bikes and are looking for a more reliable ride that is custom-built.
RM8.3k is a lot of money, but this one is backed with a lifetime warranty, so, if there is a crack on your frame, BF will make it good.

An offer you can't refuse
Doc Andy is throwing a special discount as a pre-launch offer to customers seeking a Bike Friday. You can find out more about this at Doc Andy's website and word has it that a new Bike Friday ambassador for Malaysia has been chosen. This also includes the Malaysia Bike Friday Club which Doc Andy says: is open to all cyclists..

Monday, May 28, 2012

Bike Fridays are here!

It's here!
I made a beeline to Johnny Ng's store in BU4 at Bandar Utama this afternoon.
Passed him some promotional materials and saw two Bike Fridays hung in front of the store.
There was a Hyperfold Tikit on the left and a Pocket Rocket 2012 Select on the right hand side.
Both bikes were shown to the public and are for sale.

I was told that the PR 2012 has a pricetag of RM8.9K.
The frameset looks really solid, but for a hefty sum of nearly nine grand, I think it should be outfitted with better components.
Doc Andy Ng's BF hyperfold Tikit was also shown at the store.
The BF Pocket Llama is also here. Not sure how much this one would cost.
Seems that some Folding Bike legends have already tried out the PR and Tikit.. 

Sungai Tua slow shutter capture

No time is wasted..
Sungai Tua delivers in terms of finding the right spot to set up a slow-shutter shot.
After capturing a few bugs on my Canon EOS5DmkIII, I diverted my attention to a stretch on the river and set up my tripod for a slow-shutter capture of the water movement.
I had a Canon Powershot G1X for this purpose and snapped a few shots using 1/4th, 1/15th on the dial selector.
The results were pretty pleasing to my eyes..


Tales of the Blue Tiger Beetle

It came out of nowhere..
I first captured a Blue Tiger Beetle on camera three years ago.
At the time, I was using a 50mm F2.5 compact macro lens.
The closest I could go, was a cropped shot of the magnificent beetle which is easily spoofed.
You can't even get close to this bug as its pretty skittish.
Following the first encounter, I made two more captures. Most of the shots were not even clear.
Today, while trampling the Sg Tua Forest Park, I came across a few Blue Tiger Beetles.
Most were too skittish to capture.
One in particular, actually stood still.
I pressed my camera's shutter button and as the flash fired - three shots were recorded.
Later, after a review, only two shots were acceptable.

Tiger beetles are predatory insects. 
But from time-to-time, they too get eaten up.
My last capture was a dead beetle which was eaten up by a crab spider.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

An uneventful day..

Murphy's Law..
I set out early today to capture some bugs on-camera.
Went to Semenyih town to get something to eat. 
And what a fucked-up little place.
No food in sight. 
I went to a stall near a Chinese school. Sat down and was told that there was no more food.
So, taking that into consideration, I went to another shop, had fried Koay Teow. 
Its just so-so. Even earlier in the day, I had a bad start.

Sunday bloody Sunday..
The Tekala nature park is about 14km from Semenyih.
I've had some success here - especially with a Portia spider.
Thinking that it would be a moderate day, I was shocked to find the park packed to the brim with families having their picnic.
Every person who passed by had a picnic basket with food.
This is an apparent problem as people eat in the river and dump their plastic plates and cups at the park.
Malaysians rear their ugly faces when they just couldn't be bothered with cleanliness.
I hiked up the Tekala falls in search of spiders.
Hardly seen any and as I was moving along, I spotted a winged-ant.
So, I found a place to set up my gear and as I was doing so, I saw two 'ladies' - one Chinese and the other, an Indian making their way up the steps.
They were pretty rough and were talking in Malay using foul language.
From the tone of their voice, I knew that they were transvestites.
One of them asked: "Hey mister, you cameraman ah?"
I ignored him and went on doing my stuff.
Then the persistent trannie asked again, I made eye contact and gestured that I don't understand a word he said.
They moved on, muttering more insults.
I found the winged-and and worked on it.
Only managed to grab two shots before it flew away.

The winged-ant
I spent less than an hour at the park and left with disgust.
There were hardly any bugs in this place.
Later, I drove towards Putrajaya.
I was half-hearted. 
When I saw 'Putrajaya Botanic Park' on the GPS, I made a turn to check out the place.
Today is also the One Million Youth gathering in the same place, fearing the crowd, I made a pass around Precinct 1 and found that the coast was clear.
The botanic park is a familiar landmark as Michelle and I had cycled through this place countless of times during the Putrajaya Interparks Ride.

Another major disappointment
The Putrajaya Botanic Park is a large place.
It has a visitor's centre and a bike rental facility.
But, hardly any bugs.
There was a Fern and Pandanus garden. In my mind I was thinking out aloud: "What the fuck?"
The previous day, I cycled about 120km, so, my legs were still pretty sore.
I walked about 2km around the park and came out empty.

The bee and the little green spider
Being utterly disappointed, I made my way back to the visitor's centre.
While I was at it, a bee landed on my arm and started licking up my sweat.
I grabbed the opportunity to cap off a few rounds on my Canon EOS5DmkIII with the MPE-65 and MT24EX twin lens.
The results: a decent shot. Only three frames and it came out allright.

The little bee on my arm
At this point in time, I knew I had a decent set.
Later, I went around a bunch of plants and found a little green jumping spider on top of a palm leaf.
It actually jumped on my body and followed me.
Wow! Things had certainly picked up as I was about to leave this place empty.
I scooped up the spider and took as many shots as possible.
It has a translucent green exoskeleton and focussing on it was pretty hard.
I paid close attention on its eyes and as soon as the spider came into focus, I fired a couple of shots.
The MT24EX flash had malfunctioned earlier as sweat from my face had dripped down onto the 5DmkIII's hotshoe.
To remedy this, I wiped off the sweat and cleaned the contact on my flash.
Things were in working order again as I capped off a few shots..

Shot of the day: the little green jumper
From zero to three good sets, I left Putrajaya with a sense of relief.
I was very happy that the green jumper had turned out fine and after a little editing on the Adobe Lightroom 4, it was stunning!
Well, that said, I plan to spend the remaining offdays capturing more bugs...

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Flight of the Eclipse - Part 2

Mission accomplished..
I've set out on a long-distance ride yesterday from USJ 2 in Subang Jaya to Jugra.
Had a few buddies to accompany me on the ride and it was an equal mix.
At least this time round, my cycling buddy Roger Teoh had someone with a Tern to match his Joe D24 26" folding bike.
We rode for 120km (shorter distance for those who started from USJ2) on a round-trip.

Putting the Tern through its paces on the trail
Roger and his trusty Joe D24
Riding on the dirt track
Handling and performance
There's no doubt about it that the Tern Eclipse S11i is one bike that is built solid.
For a pricetag of RM7.7k a pop, it met my expectations as a short and middle distance commuter bike.
The Schwalbe Big Apple tires that came with it yielded plenty of comfort while on the road - taking off the bumps and rattle.
Its also a feature-packed bike with lots of good stuff thrown in.
On the surface, it appears like any other bike, but the genius - is in the details.
I love the Shimano Alfine 11 drivetrain.
After running it in for 100km (three rides from short, middle to long distance), the internal hub gear became much smoother.
On the average, I was doing about 21km/h. This was my 'cruising' speed.
Since its pretty heavy - at 14.7kgs, the bike's top cruising speed was recorded at 32km/h.
One issue I had with this bike was the rear disk brakes.
It was dragging as hydraulic fluid in its reservoir had 'swelled'.
I bled it a bit and it helped for the rear hub to freewheel a bit.
But this got worse with heat. It started to drag again and riding this bike for 100km was a real test of endurance.
I think the Eclipse bikes with mechanical disk brakes would fare better in our hot and humid weather.
As far as handling is concerned, the S11i was superb. 
This is by far, one of the more superior bikes around in the rare 24" market.

Getting there, and back: All good adventures ends up with a pleasant memory...
Total distance clocked-in with the Eclipse S11i

Speaking of the ride, I enjoyed the Eclipse S11i very much.
But when practical issues like cost and basic requirements comes to play, my money is on the more basic Eclipse P9. This would be the 24" bikes that I would invest in for me and my wife - which we will also bring along for our tour of the Peninsula.
Well, I'll keep the rest of my findings for my in-depth review for BaikBike.com, so, to you Samoholics out there, stay tuned!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gone full-frame..

Two years of planning falls in place..
I picked up my Canon EOS 5DmkIII body a couple of days ago.
This was the most highly anticipated event of the year.
I have ceased from buying any new bicycle in light of getting the 5DmkIII which has been tremendously improved from its predecessor: the 5DmkII.
Two years ago, I made a bold move by acquiring a cropped frame D-SLR: the Canon EOS 7D.
It was my first system in years and I had mainly focussed on nature photography.
I had intensified my macro photography outings and learned from the best in the business.
Still, there's a long way to go.

My working 50s
Oh wow!
The last 35mm camera I worked with was a Nikon F4s and F4E. 
I had a selection of lenses and one of my working glass was an AF Nikkor 50mm F1.4 'standard'  lens.
As far as I could remember, it gave me some really good shots.
The Nikons were retired in 1995 when I became a reporter.
But once a while, I did take them out for assignments till it permanently became entombed in a dry box.
So, to live up the good old days, I've acquired a Canon EF 50mm F1.2L 'Standard' lens to go with my full-frame body.
And when I got it, it was really amazing.
Now, I appreciate my EF17-40mm F4.0L wideangle zoom lens even more.
There's no more crop factor and the images are just amazing.

The full-frame body and its 'Standard' lens

Simply awesome: The 5DmkIII
Stepping up the learning curve
I guess I have a long way to go by getting used to the controls on the 5DmkIII.
The camera is similar in appearance compared to the 7D.
But its a different system altogether.
With a 50mm F1.2L locked-in, the camera is pretty hefty. I love it!
I will spending a reasonable amount on time on my macro work, to catalog and build up a collection of jumping spiders.
This means, the outings will be intensified with a renewed interest in night macro.

The workhorse: EOS 5DmkIII
It's okay, I'm already dead..
I have worked very hard for this new system.
I plan to utilise it to the fullest and I am prepared to face the shitstorm from my other half if there's any.
In a world that is seemingly cruel and nasty where nobody gives a fuck, I stand firmly on my own two feet to say that the least I did, was to reward myself for all the hours I've put in to make this work.
With the 5DmkIII in hand, its total satisfaction!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Cycle a Tern to work day - Part 2

The clock is ticking
By 5pm, I was done for the day.
My worry, was the weather as the skies seemed gloomy.
The distance from Section 16 to USJ 26 is much shorter than the other way round.
My mission, is to ride towards Jalan 223 and enter the Federal Highway motorcycle lane.
With that in mind, I am also going with the peak hour flow and its a true nightmare!

The peak hour rush
Bikes were whizzing away and the trend that I've noticed was this: If you pack a helmet with all the safety gear, they will avoid you.
Only one or two idiots rode past really fast, barely missing me by inches.
But that said, the bikers were an orderly lot.
So, after riding non-stop for 25 minutes, I decided to take a break below a flyover.
This is my favourite spot near the Guinness Anchor brewery near Sungai Way.

Watching the world go by..
On the Federal Highway, things are looking good.
I cycled towards the Seri Setia Komuter station and saw a young traffic cop.
He nodded at me and to return the good gesture, I raised my right hand.
From there, it was a straight run towards the Kewajipan roundabout.
This is one of the toughest stage in the ride.
But since traffic was moving so slow, it was really easy to clear the small roundabout.
I was on the road towards Summit and I knew that at this point, after crossing the KESAS highway, I am bound for home.
To date, I have already clocked-in more than 17km with a pedal an a-half.
The bike was 'wounded', but it performed really well.
A busted pedal means a lot of discomfort. That was all.

The 'real' cycle to work dude: Overtaking a foreign worker in Persiaran Tujuan
On the home stretch
I knew that I was on a safe side after entering Persiaran Tujuan.
From there, the ride was a breeze.
Traffic was surprisingly light as I made my way to the end of the LDP highway.
Despite the shortcomings, I was mentally psyched to get home.
I knew that the Eclipse was a reliable means of transport to do the job.

The home marker: Near Putra Heights exit
After riding for one and a-half hours, I finally reached home.
My dogs were just too happy to see me.
The ride to work had panned out the way I had planned it.
In our hot and humid weather, middle-distance rides to the workplace would be tough as one had to manouver through heavy traffic. That said, you have to sum up enough courage to do so.
Way I see it, some people ride to work once a year on 'Car Free Day' and the real commuter who does so are far and few in between.
As far as the Tern Eclipse is concerned, its one classy commuter's ride. And I think that folks who are willing to spend money on a good bike as such would appreciate the good components that were thrown in to make the ride even smoother...

Cycle a Tern to work day - Part 1

Getting psyched-up..
Thursday morning. With one day to go before going on my break, I have worked for 12 days straight.
Its taken a toll on my mental health. Cycling is a way to blowout some steam and unwind.
My plan was to take my evaluation bike for a ride to work on a route I knew too well.
The day before, I stocked-up on two spare inner tubes.
For the test, I've divided it in three stages.
First, there's the short distance cruise where the Tern had passed with flying colours.
Second, a middle-distance ride. 
The commute from my home to my office is roughly about 45km two-ways.

Getting ready to leave my home in USJ26
It was a wonderful morning. 
The sun was covered in heavy clouds, so, it wasn't that hot.
My plan was to ride to USJ2 and make a turn towards Persiaran Tujuan where it joins to the Federal Highway motorbike lane.
The Shimano Alfine 11 drivetrain needs to be run-in so that it would yield a smoother ride on the Tern Eclipse S11i.
And since this is a 24" wheeled ride, rolling was much faster and smoother.
As far as puncture protection is concerned, the Schwalbe Big Apple tires are doing its job.
I've also transferred my water bottle cage and a Topeak Mini-morph hand pump to the Tern.
Everything looked good at this point...

Entering Persiaran Tujuan
A new tunnel on the Federal Highway
Changing landscape..
There is a new stretch along the Federal Highway opposite Empire Gallery.
There are two more tunnels along this route.
In the past, there is no need for these, but now, there's a new Shell petrol station along the highway.
And like any other commute, the bikes would whizz by, just clearing inches away from you.
After riding for 10km in 25-minutes, I finally reached the motorbike lane and rolled down to my favourite spot where I usually take a snapshot to remind me the ever changing scene on the motorbike lane...

My favourite photo spot
From the Federal Highway, the rest was an easy ride to the office in Section 16, Petaling Jaya.
The journey to the office is roughly about 23km one-way.
When I arrived at Jalan 223, I made my way to Section 13.

Expect the unexpected
The Tern Eclipse S11i came standard with a pair of MKS EZY Quick Release pedals.
These are really strong and only the premium-priced items would have it.
I don't know what the deal was with the Eclipse as it came with a pair of Wellgo plastic pedals.
So, while waiting for the traffic lights to clear opposite Colgate-Palmolive factory in Section 14, I started cranking the pedal and heard a loud crack.
When I made my way across the road, a piece of the pedal fell off and was left behind.
At this point, I had one and a-half pedal to work with. 
With another 3km to go, I decided to push forward.
I had a meeting with the OCBC people and Chris Robb from Spectrum Worldwide at 11am.
An appointment I had to keep or my ass would be on fire!

Broken: the cheap Wellgo pedal
From Section 13, its a short climb towards Jalan Dato Abu Bakar in Section 16. 
After that, it was a smooth downhill roll towards the office.
I made it in time and pushed the bike towards the elevator and moved up to level 3A.
At this point, I was upbeat about finishing my daily chores.
After working straight for 12 days, I can look forward to my break and I am not due to return back to work till May 31.

Another day at work
So, I spent the rest of the day at work, trying to close as many pages as I could.
Even with a broken pedal, I wasn't about to give up.
This is good training as far as mental preparation is concerned.
I could have rang up the K2 Asia guy and fucked the hell out of him. But its not a big issue.
To complete the evaluation, I might change the Wellgo pedals to my MKS EZY QR pedals. 
All I need to do, is to swap it from my Dahon Curve SL.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Say: Kanga!

Oh wow!
I received my Tern Eclipse S11i with a set of Kanga rack and a Tern luggage truss.
Initially, I told the K2 Asia representative to take it back.
But he said: "Eric insisted that you try it out.."
Having heard that, I bowed into pressure.
So, all good things said and done, I mounted the Tern luggage truss and later, fitted the Kanga.
This was really easy as the instructions were very clear.
There's even a VR code that you can scan on your Android phone or iphone to see the instruction videos. Now, how much cooler can that be? 

The Kanga blends-in very well with the  24" ride
It's cool, it works, it rocks!
Overall built-quality of the Kanga rack is top-notched! 
There is a harness that enables you to strap-on your satchel and helmet while you ride.
The buckles are adjustable to allow a snug-fit.
Even the luggage truss is something that I truly marvel at.
Its high-quality and actually made by Klick-fix, a German-based company.
So, don't be shocked at the RM190 retail price for the Kanga rack and another RM140 for the luggage truss.
In order to fit a Kanga onto your Tern, you'll need the luggage truss. So, that's roughly about RM330 investment for further enhancing your bike.

My trusty Pango folding helmet on the Kanga rack

Who benefits?
Well, having seen the practical use of the rack, I'd say that those who cycle to work would really get a bang out of their buck for the rack.
Perhaps the best time to invest in one is during Rodalink's year-end or mid-year sale. There might be a 'suicide' pricing for the rack and luggage truss.
As for me, well, the Kanga goes back with the Eclipse S11i to K2 Asia once my evaluation period is up... 

Sometimes, I get fucked...

Ahhhh, believe the hype!
A co-worker of mine said: "Eh Sam! You should try this cafe at Ben's Independent Grocer in Publika, its called 'Swine' and its got some really cool pork dishes.."
So, having heard what he said, I took it really seriously.
Today, I drove to Publika near Jalan Duta. 
It's a high-class area and this complex in particular, caters for yuppies, the new-rich, wannbes and posers.
The last time I had some food there was at a Burger joint. Which sucked.

High-class grocery shop
Ben's Independent Grocery store is a high-class joint. You can liken it to Singapore's Jason's Market Place.
I found the makan place in the Pork butchery. Really high-class.
There were some yuppies and high-end office people already eating there. 
One or two stole glances as I entered the place and found a table right at the end.
A waitress dropped the menu. 
Nothing much, but a set of meals that are entirely meat-based.
I ordered a Hainanese Pork Chop.
My benchmark is Yut Kee's Pork Chop. If they can match this place, then they are good.
Eddie, my co-worker ordered some funky lemongrass Pork Chop.
For side orders, I ordered a plate of Siew Yuk (Roasted Pork).

Pretty stylish bling-bling signboard

Cosy set-up
Absolutely pathetic pork dishes...
Service at this makan place was prompt.
As soon as I've returned to my table from the men's room, I can see a plate of Siew Yuk. 
Six pieces, placed nicely on a bed of Japanese cucumber and some shredded spring onions.
Now, the shocking part was this: six pieces of Siew Yuk that is as hard as leather and a real poor attempt to produce a chilli sauce which is similar to what you eat at chicken rice stalls.
Next, my Hainanese Pork Chop came.
For RM26 a pop, it was the most pathetic dish of the entire lot. Truly amateur.
Its nowhere compared to Yut Kee.
Any Hainanese cook would roll in his grave!
I can't say much about the lemongrass pork chop.

Fucked over!
I called for the bill.
This was prompt. In a flash it arrived. Total was RM81.20.
The charge was for two main dishes and one side.
We only drank water. I guess that if we've had coffee, the bill would easily breach RM100.
Nobody likes to get ripped-off and in the case of Swine, I guess this is not the place to makan. Lousy food and utterly expensive.
They can fuck the yuppies and strangle the rich people who live around the neighbourhood.
Way I see it, only losers would hang out in this place regularly.

Fucking pork chop for losers...
A word to the co-worker...
I went back to work and my colleague was seated at his desk.
Then I said: "Dude, you have poor taste in food. I tried your recommendations and it sucks. Totally sucks ass!"
It was a painful RM81 lesson. So, moral of the story: If a person who knows nothing about good food talks cock, sing-song and plays mahjong, you better ignore him completely.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Close, but no cigars...

Good reporters are hard to find these days..
The NST came up with a decent article today on their 'Streets' section featuring the MPSJ's Cycle Fest 2012.
When I was having a conversation with some middle-aged dude, a girl came by and asked us where the organizer's booth was. 
We pointed her to the right direction and I noticed that she was wearing a media tag. Couldn't make heads or tails on whether she was a trainee, stringer or a full-time staff.

The article that appeared today..
 Later, the girl made her exit and stopped by to ask a few questions.
The first thing she did, was to get my name. So, I gave her my initials and Surname.
Then, she asked for my cellphone number and started taking notes on a piece of paper.
"Are you taking part?," she asked.
"No, I am just a spectator. I came here to support some Foldies who are taking part in the Folding Bike race," I responded.
She even asked me about the Tern Eclipse S11i which was parked near the starting grid.
From the initial contact to the time she left, the reporter spent no less than 30-minutes on the scene. And the results? A half-assed story on Streets.. Hahahahah! I mentioned 'Foldies' and was quoted as lending support to my 'Fixie' friends. What an ass!

Here's the on-line version I plucked from the NST's website: 

THE Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) recently held its inaugural Cycle Fest MPSJ 2012 where cyclists were flagged off from the council's headquarters.
The one-day event was a collaboration with Selangor Cycling Race Club and the police.

It was participated by both members of the public and also council staff.

Over 300 professional and amateur cyclists took part in the ride.

MPSJ president Datuk Asmawi Kasbi said the council was   still looking for a  place for the public to  cycle.

The Cycle Fest features three categories  -- namely, road, mountain bike, and others, which included fixies (fixed-gear bicycles), folding bikes and bikes for persons with disabilities.

Apart from the cycling race, another activity held was the  soccer for kids.

A visitor, P.M. Cheong, who was there to support his friends riding fixies, said the event would attract more people to start cycling.

"There are a few cycling groups in  Subang Jaya and with the hosting of this event, it will encourage   more people to  take up cycling," he said.

Cheong also said events such as this would bring the family together to enjoy sports activities during the weekends.

Rosli Che Di, 42, was there to cheer on  his son who took part in the amateur category.

Cyclist Luth Abdul Shared, 31, from Ampang, said he hoped that the organiser would reduce the RM50 participation fee.

The event was officiated by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

Subang Jaya Cycle Fest 2012

Sorry, no PIPR 16 ride..
I've made plans earlier to cycle in Putrajaya.
But, a fellow cyclist had informed me that it was 80% offroad, so, that said, I didn't want to ruin my loaned Tern Bike and decided to ride to the MPSJ Subang Jaya's Cycle Fest instead.

Lack of publicity
There weren't much media coverage on the Subang Jaya Cycle Fest 2012.
Many cyclists were unaware of it.
When I made my way to the town council's sports complex, there were already a big crowd at the area, but they were mainly residents using the place to conduct their weekend health activities like Tai Chi and other form of exercise.

Supporting some good friends..
My buddy Johnny Ng from My Bicycle Shop is entering his rider Shawal Shafee in the Folding Bike race category.
It was the third event to be held after the morning fun ride, handicapped cyclist race and fixie road race.
Entrance fee was RM50 per participant and this includes a goodie bag. I couldn't be bothered because I was not into racing.
But, this was a good opportunity for me to try out my Canon EOS7D and my trusty EF70-200 F2.8L telephoto zoom lens.
The truth to be told, I have never photographed a folding bike race.
Since it was held early in the morning, the lighting conditions were great!
The first guy I met was an old buddy of mine Teoh Teik Hoong. He was covering the event for the SJ Echo, a community newspaper

Foldies at the starting grid
 Later, Johnny came into the scene and he was arranging for his Dahon Dash P18 to be set-up for Shawal. In this race, there were two favourites: the Legendary Wong Ah Thiam @ Mohd Hafiz Wong and Shawal.
This year alone, the 21-year-old Terengganu dude have had an excellent run with two podium finishes at the Folding Bike Jamboree and SIC Kencana Bikeathon.
There were two other former national cyclists at the race.
Shawal, who remained unknown on the scene, is making his mark.
The race was simple: three laps x 3km loop around the MPSJ.
What looked rather easy has its 'hidden' loopholes. 
There were long flats and climbs on this 3km course as I had tried it earlier before riding into the sports complex.

VVIPs and a leisure ride
Selangor's Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was the guest of honour at the event. He was accompanied by Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo Burne.
The first event of the day, was a 6km ride around the course.
Cyclists who were hanging out at the scene were 'herded' to the starting grid.
Well, since the response was lukewarm, I joined in the fray to run-in my loaned bike.
And right at the back, I met a cyclist from Bandar Saujana Putra who was on his MTB.
The man, who is in his mid-40s was very sporting. We chat a bit and rode together.
Right behind me, was a couple in their XDS foldies. 
They didn't say much as I rode past them.
Since it was a leisure ride, I didn't pay much emphasis on riding fast.
On the average, I was doing about 16.5km/h on the Tern Eclipse S11i, which was an average 'cruising' speed.
After doing two loops, I waited patiently to watch my favourite racing foldies Shawal and Wong in action.
While hanging out at the starting grid, I met Anson Leow from Cycling Malaysia magazine who got me mixed up with another folding bike guru.
I cleared the air a bit for him and started a conversation about the folding bike scene..

Waiting for my shot at the starting grid
 While chatting with Leow, can a middle-aged dude who said he had done some mountain bike routes in Kuala Kubu Baru.
Never knew this guy and spent some time talking to him.
Then, the moment that I have been waiting for came.
The cyclists - about 15 folding bike owners were lined-up a the starting line.
I knew at least one couple, a husband a wife racing team who were among the crowd.
Shawal and Wong took their position behind the flock.
As soon as they were flagged off, I waited in anticipation to see the top foldies battling it off on the MPSJ Criterium.

Coming in strong
As soon as the escort motorbike came around the corner, the lead peloton came through after breaking away from the weaker flock.
And right there, Shawal was really bashing it out with Wong.
A couple of other riders in their KHS foldie including a former national cyclist who was riding a Carbon ORI was in the tight grouping.
On the second lap, only three rider were left with Shawal, the Carbon ORI dude and Wong pulling away.
Slowly, the other cyclists were filling in the far gap.
I saw a lady who was riding her Dahon MuP8 in the race, gracefully taking her stride as others struggle to complete the second lap.
Minutes into the final lap, Wong, Shawal and the ORI dude came sprinting onto the finish line. They had a timing-chip to clock in the fastest lap.

Leaders of the first lap

Checkered flag: The ORI dude, Shawal and Wong at the end of the race
Still a good season..
This was Shawal's third podium finish for team My Bicycle Shop.
As for the Legendary Wong Ah Thiam, he didn't do too bad by taking third place in the race.
Later, I met Shawal and Johnny behind the pen and congratulated them for taking second place in the race.
So far, the best has yet to come and seeing as it is, Shawal is a 'marked man' in such amateur races. 
He said he was clearly disappointed with the other riders who seemed to have been working in cahoot to block him.
Well, with prize money at stake, pride and bragging rights, I guess its no surprise to see these guys playing dirty.
But it was clear that the Dahons had performed with a 2 - 1 finish.
I hope Le Run Industries would lend some support to Wong for his effort at the race and further promote the Dahons.
As for Shawal, my hope is to see him as a Tern Bicycles sponsored rider who will compete in the Southeast Asian circuit...

Shawal and Johnny, post race

Hanging out with the team at the pit...


The lack of participation at this event made it a mediocre affair.
But, that said: I must commend the organizers for doing a decent job managing the traffic as well as holding a seamless task in managing the races.
What I don't see, is a carnival-like atmosphere as the event read: Cycle Fest. The festivity mood is certainly not there...