Sunday, May 25, 2014

Ipoh - Part 2

Rise and shine! 

I pushed my bike to the hotel lobby at 06:15am.
There already people waiting there.
Minutes after that, Uncle John arrived.
He led us to the Petronas station near Tambun Inn.
There, we linked-up with another group of cyclist.
I met Patrick Tham for the second time and exchanged greetings with him.
It was Uncle John who roped-in in the Ipoh gang and I was grateful for that.
As far as the hotel stay is concerned, I have checked-out.
All my gear was in my bag.
Some guys wanted to head back the hotel for a shower, making the ride to Tg Tualang from Ipoh a "Touch and Go" affair.
We had little time at this quaint little town.
The route included a detour to Kellie's Castle. 
When in Ipoh, this is a "must see" destination. Well, at least for one.
The group pushed off from the gas station at 7:30am and the plan was to ride to Station 18 for breakfast.
We did just that.

Fair Park at Dawn

Uncle John (left) making sure that everything is in order

The gang at Petronas
Ipoh, like we've never seen before...

Riding with Uncle John gave me a totally different perspective about Ipoh.
This capital administrative district of Perak is indeed a large township.
We road about 10km towards Station 18 and regrouped with a few more cyclists.
At this point, the group was 30-odd.
It's a good mix with families and a couple of seasoned hands joining in the ride.
After a good breakfast, the ride towards Kellie's Castle was interesting.
It's a course of undulating terrain and it claimed our first casualty.
Evelyn Tung, a Sub-Editor from the EDGE Business Daily had gone down with a faint spell.
Her boyfriend Norman and decided to call off the ride.
I brought her bike towards a shaded area, made sure that she was okay before we parted ways. 
Patrick, our sweeper had done a decent job looking after us.
Back in Petronas, I indulged in small talk with one of the Ipoh cyclist Mr Phuan.
He had a distinct look, mustachioed with a pony tail. 
Phuan was with his wife and seemed to me like a serious rider.

Mr & Mrs Phuan, friendliest people I ever met in Ipoh..
My decent Kari Mee breakfast

Johnny and the MBS gang digging-in

The couple being cared for along the route to Kellie's Castle

Happy Campers at Kellie's Castle
A test of endurance..

We took snapshots at Kellie's Castle and pushed off towards Tg Tualang.
Before we could do so, we have to ride past Batu Gajah town.
Being a long-distance cyclist, this was a moderate task for me.
I was riding my Tern Eclipse S18 and this by far, is the longest ride I've taken with the bike.
I've already done some 40-km commutes to work.
In the case of Tg Tualang, its a typical touring scenario.
With my load, I was averaging at 15km/h.
The rest of the Ipoh gang were sprinting towards the destination.
None of the KL guys were familiar with the terrain..

One of the last remaining tin dredge in Perak

A snapshot in Tg Tualang with Johnny, Mohd Radzi and Jamell...
We arrived in Tg Tualang at about 11:00am and took a break at a hawker centre.
The group had split into two.
Our Chinese gang were having drinks nearby while I kept a watchful eye.
Then, from a distance, I saw the party pooper gesturing.
I felt that something was amiss when two cyclists broke away from the main group.
The ring leader tried to rally a few more people. But to no avail.
Gino Wong, one of the old hands, well, new at cycling, but experienced enough -- told me that it was not right to do so.
As a courtesy, I rode towards the duo and asked if their decision is final. They said they wanted to "do things" in Tg Tualang and that they will "Find their way back"
Johnny said they were old enough to make their own decisions and had allowed them to be on their own.
So, that said, we rode back towards Ipoh.
Batu Gajah is the next town and I was riding with Yun, Mohd Radzi and Mr Phuan as our sweeper.
At the junction to Ipoh, I signaled for the guys to pull over for a drink.
We cooled off at a stall selling coconut juice and continued with our journey towards Ipoh.

Rolling into Ipoh
Fixing a flat

My tire got screwed!
Mission accomplished.. 
Despite the heat, undulating terrain, we did good time.
By 2:20pm, we were back at the hotel.
We had time to rest and while we were at it, Norman came to inform us that the party poopers were not back from Tg Tualang.
I gave him the reasoning of doing an average of 10km an hour. Tg Tualang is 37-km away from Ipoh and they need at least three hours to complete the journey.
They won't make it back in time.
So, Norman took their belongings and headed back to KL.
Later, we found out that the duo had boarded the ETS from Batu Gajah.
What kinda pissed me off was the non-chalant attitude of the ring-leader. As if nothing had happened. 
That said. this is the last time we are cycling with such a selfish individual.
Back in Ipoh, we rode out towards the town area for a late lunch.
Heavy rain had prevented us to leave earlier.
After lunch, we rode towards the end of the train station in search of a place to have a cup of tea.
That was when my tire had a flat.
A piece of screw had pierced the thread and punctured it.
My only option was to replace the inner tube, inflate it at a petrol station nearby and resume our journey.
That done, we rode into the train station to pack our bikes and regrouped with Johnny and a few others minus the party poopers.

A journey concluded..

The ETS was delayed for 10 minutes. This means our journey back to KL Sentral was later than the usual.
At Kepong Sentral, a large group got off and only three of us were left in the train.
When I arrived at Sentral, the first thing on my mind was to hop onto a cab and head straight home.
I had no desire to cycle as I was mentally-drained.
As far as the journey was concerned, we did quite okay.
The only grouse so far, are the non-stop riding. Perhaps for beginners, we should have turned back to Ipoh after Kellie's Castle.
Having said that, the route was given out earlier, so, any protest or feedback would be entertained..
With Ipoh checked-out, our next ride is Taiping and I am working on it.. 

Ipoh - part 1

Collaborating with a bike shop..

I was asked by Johnny Ng of My Bicycle Shop to organize a follow-up on their successful outing to Ipoh last year.
The shop arranged for 20 cyclists from KL to travel to Ipoh where the town's own foldies had led a ride around the historical area.
That said, I worked with my buddy Eddie to arrange for a group discount for ETS tickets from KL Sentral to Ipoh.
We managed to get 25% off the Gold Class ETS tickets and the number of people traveling via train to Ipoh was 10.
This was a manageable number and in terms of logistics, the plan was to meet at KL Sentral and board the ETS on Platform A in the station.

With Mohd Radzi Mohd Nor, Mazwir Anwar and Johnny Ng
Handing over the tickets
The group, at KL Sentral prior to departure
Accommodation arrangements.. 

I had Uncle John Pah to thank for booking us a night's stay at the Fair Park hotel.

This place is about 15-minutes ride away from the Ipoh train station and is very near the Indera Mulia Stadium.
We booked about 10 rooms, narrowed down to eight after four fellas decided to drop out from the trip.
This is usually expected when people came up with plans of their own.
That said, I rode out towards KL on the morning of the event. It rained, so, I diverted to the Subang Jaya KTM Komuter station instead.
It took me about 25-minutes to arrive in KL Sentral where the group was already waiting.
They had an early lunch at McDonalds, a place that I would usually wait for my riding buddies on my tours to Southern Thailand.
I handed over the train tickets and went up to the departure area.
There, I met Yun, a fellow bikepacker who was already waiting with his bike.
We had lunch at KFCs and prior to departure, I met up with Siti Ayu, a KTMB staff who arranged for the tickets.
She explained about the boarding procedures which I am too familiar with and I assured her about the publicity that will follow-up after the ride.

Party pooper

Everyone checked out in the list of cyclists except for one.
I don't know who invited this person who boarded the train from another station and joined us for the ride.

Nevermind that, there's room for people, but the one thing that burned me was the fact that this particular individual had broken away from the group during the ride from Ipoh to Tg Tualang the following day and this had many of us worried.
This, bearing in mind that the said person had decided to break away with a new rider.
That said, Johnny reminded me to inform participants in future rides to follow the ground rules.
I don't mind people coming aboard on the last-minute, but if they decide to do things on their own, being so selfish its bad for the morale of the group. What if something happens to them? 

Riding the ETS to Ipoh
Gino Wong setting up his Dahon Vigor at the Ipoh train station

Rain, again and again..

The weather was not kind at all.
It was raining all day long.
By the time we arrived in Ipoh, Uncle John was already waiting for us.
I handed over the agenda to him and the first thing we did, was to set out towards the Fair Park hotel.
The rest of the afternoon was a free and easy affair.
We decided to group up at 7pm for the night ride around Ipoh town and hook up with the rest of the Ipoh foldies group.
Plans were also afoot to link up with Jamell from Taiping the next day.

Rolling around town with my Tern Road Warrior

The night ride

My Bicycle Shop's Randy Yap handing over a prize to Zairil Hakimi Ishak at a lucky draw
And the rest of the night.. 

I've planned with Johnny a simple lucky draw.
It's more like an appreciation for those who took the train and rode with us.
During dinner, I had the opportunity to meet up with some new foldies from Ipoh and enjoyed a conversation with them.
Later, we rode back to the hotel for the draw as prize were handed down to everyone.
After the dust had settled down, Uncle John invited me to some beers.
I also asked Jeff, my roomie to tag along.
We had beers at a hawker centre near town and indulged in a good conversation.
Uncle John told me that it was hard for him to round up some good cycling kakis as opinions differ.
I told him that I went through the same situation and concurred with him that good kakis are far and few in between.
After a couple of beers, it was time to hit the sack before the long day ahead the next day..

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Cycle to work: The Al Jazeera experience

Honoring a request...

I was contacted by Pak Hardjito Warno, a cameraman and video editor for Al Jazeera (a middle-eastern cable TV news channel) to do a video for their Bike to work feature.
He needed some footage of people cycling to work.
I also informed him about the MBPJ Car Free Day which enables him to get some extra footage on cycling activities in the Klang Valley, in which he did.
Then, we've made an arrangement to meet up for the shoot.
I told him that I cycle to work from my house in Subang Jaya to Petaling Jaya.
And that the course is about 43km in a loop.
Hardjito agreed and engaged a colleague riding a motorcycle to trail my ride.
I've actually done a "Cycle to work" video last year with The Star Switch-Up TV and gave Hardjito the reference on YouTube.

Screen grab: Leaving home for the office..

"How on Earth did you find me?"

I asked Hardjito on how he had located me.
"Google", he said.
So, after filming the required segments, we met up at the One City Mall and I had my Tern Eclipse S18 rigged with a GoPro action camera.
The guys came to my house and taped me leaving on my bike. You can see my pooch Sir Naughty in the background.
I rode towards USJ 1 onto the Federal Highway where the crew had set up a few shots.
This includes an overhead shot on the bike lane from the 222 intersection near Petaling Jaya..

Riding along USJ 20

Rolling along

Negotiating traffic in USJ 1

The 10-second interview

We did a few re-shoots and I was actually running late.
By the time I arrived at my office, I had 15-minutes to boot before the morning editorial meeting.
The shoot took place on a Monday where I am rostered on duty as the person in charge.
So, on the whole, the shoot had turned out fine and when the footage was released, I was suprised that it was used as the lead segment in the feature.
This was a recognition given by Hardjito's editors and I am glad to be part of the Car Free movement especially when it comes to cycling to work.. 

Al Jazeera Arabic: Bike to work video

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

So, you want to cycle to work.. Part 2

In part 1, I covered some background on what got me started cycling to work. Now, I am going to share some of my thoughts on the highs and lows of riding a bicycle to the workplace..

Okay, you are raring to go, but are your employers ready? 

On any given day, bicycles or any form of personal transport are not allowed into the office.
There are designated parking spaces for bicycles.
In this case, factories do have them.
You will find a wide open space where bikes are parked. And from this perspective, cycling to work is a norm..
So, the argument here is purely from the urban and city dweller's context.
Will your employer allow a bike in the office?
If you have spent a substantial amount of money on your bike including all the bells and whistles, surely you wouldn't want to bolt your ride in the basement. The risks are simply too high.
Near my office block, there at least two salarymen (Japanese term for office workers) who cycles to work.
Every evening, I can see at least one of them, a roadie, making his way home.
They must have struck an agreement with their management to stash their bikes at the workplace.
In my case, the top echelon are supportive of employees taking the green initiative.
There was snag in the beginning. Someone raised the issue of bikes being brought to the office. I gave the head of security my reasons. He demanded for paperwork, my colleague drafted a letter which was signed by the company's CEO, end of the story. Bikes are allowed.
So, my take on this: Be nice, negotiate. 
Don't behave like just because you cycle to work, the entire universe owes you a living. 
Nice begets nice. Word!

Bicycles at a factory near Tangkak, Johor

Parking my 16" folding bike near my table at work
So, which bike? 

My weapon of choice: a folding bike.
Why? It can be folded, carried into the office and if need be, tucked underneath my table.
For this job, the 16" bike fits the description extremely well.
It folds small and doesn't get in people's way.
But to do a 43km round trip from my home in Subang Jaya to Menara Star in PJ, one has to be really physically fit.
So, to sum it up, I have ridden 16", 20" and 24" bikes to work.
I have also incorporated the "bike to work" thing as a means to test new bikes.
You can cycle a road bike or a mountain bike, just as long as you have a place to store it safely.

This 2008 Dahon Curve SL is one of my favourite commuting bikes

Be kind, clean up...

Sometime back, some dude took a lashing on me. 
He said I posted a picture where I was smelly and dirty.
Come on! The last thing I want to do, is to give my co-workers a hard time.
I pack a spare change of clothes and it does help to shower (there are shower rooms in the company's gymnasium) or do a wipe-down.
Petty things like body odour can be a small issue and create dislikes among co-workers, so, be mindful...

Doing it, and be prepared to take the risk and face downtime...

Okay, say you are ready to cycle to work, there are some issues that stares at your in the face when you ride along busy roads and on bike lanes.. Here's what I know: 

  • Be early, try leaving your home before peak hours
  • Be street smart, avoid busy roads if you can, use alternative routes
  • Make it a point to be seen. In this case, use lights, blinkers and wear a bright shirt
  • Safety is paramount, be sure you ride with head protection (yeah, I know, its a choice and some psychos with issues will go after me for "imposing" my opinion. Fuck them!)
  • Always carry your bike tool, tire lever, spare inner tube, first aid kit, puncture repair kit
  • And whenever in doubt, call off the ride. If you own a folding bike, bag it and switch to public transport.
  • Always make it a point to informed your loved ones that you are on the road. That way, they are kept in the loop.

Share the road.. Really!

It doesn't mean that if you are a cyclist, other road users must drop on your feet.
To earn respect, you must give respect.
Give way to pedestrians, motorcycles and cars. Observe the traffic rules. Do not attempt to jump the traffic lights.
If you make a hasty decision on the road, you might end up getting hurt, or go home in a body bag. There is no two-ways about it.

The benefits of cycling to work

  • You burn fat, not fuel
  • More parking spaces for your co-workers
  • You spend less on gasoline and parking fees
  • You don't contribute to environmental pollution
  • You end up physically-fit
Short, medium, long? 

So, what is the ideal commute distance? 
From experience, some dudes cycle about 10km a day from their home to their office. I making reference to a guy who has his own business.
Some dudes conduct a multi-modal commute. They bag their bikes, take the train and ride to work from the train station.
In extreme cases, I knew a scholar who rides about 80km from his home in Kajang to the city centre. This outstanding individual have calves as big as coconuts!
I cycle an average distance of 43km from my home to the office. 
It takes me 1hour 30minutes one-way.
And along the route, there some hills, flats and roads paved with debris such as broken glass, nails, metal shards and so on.
But, with the advent of technology, my tires are made to resist punctures. So far so good.
And for the record, I am not a fast rider.
My average moving speed is 13km/h. And I am comfortable with that..

Lastly: "Be Prepared"

Don't be an idiot, carry your tools and bike recovery kit, our weather is uncertain, always pack your rain gear. If your bike is equipped to accept a luggage rack, a pannier would do the job of transporting your spare change of clothes.
And do make it a point to learn on how to recover from a puncture. Best to do it yourself rather than depending on watching YouTube.
Well, I hope I have covered some grounds here, feel free to contact me if you have any questions. I'll be glad to answer them to my best ability.

So, you want to cycle to work.. - Part 1

A little background.. 

I cycled to work in my late teens.
My longest part-time stint, was with a steak house in Plaza Bukit Bintang.
There, I worked as bus boy, dishwasher operator, waiter, cashier, cook and as an apprentice in the food assembly area.
Sometimes, I cycle to work with my Raleigh road bike.
I mounted lights on it and installed a Cateye cyclometer.
On the average, I cycled about 20km on a round-trip from my old house in Jalan Genting Kelang to Plaza Bukit Bintang. 
The outlet manager allowed me to park near the store room. And the bike was locked at all time. I didn't wear a helmet until I started work at the New Straits Times as a reporter.

The team Raleigh-Panasonic replica which was similar to what I have

Rebuilding a classic

My life had hit a "reset" button back in the mid-90s.
I switched careers from being a photographer to a reporter.
In late 1995, I took a bold move by enrolling with the New Straits Times' Pre-Entry Editorial Training Scheme (P.E.T.S).
I signed a contract for five years (bonding for cost incurred in the programme) and started work as a reporter in 1996.
I sold my car, a Suzuki Jimny 4WD because I could not afford to upkeep it.
So, it was back to the basic.
Walk, take the bus, board a cab, you name it, I've done it all.
I worked for another year before I had the idea to revive my Raleigh road bike.
Paid more than RM1K to get it restored with second-hand Shimano parts.
The thing was this: a bike from the 80s is already obsolete.
I didn't follow the development on road bikes at all and was completely oblivious to jargons like: wheelsets, groupsets and bla-bla-bla.
At the time, a bike is a bike, is a bike.
After restoring the Raleigh, I fitted it with a luggage rack and a set of panniers and rode it to work from my old home in Setapak to Jalan Riong.
This lasted a few months until constant breakdown got in the way.
Eventually, I abandoned the idea because a few years later, I bought a Piaggio Hexagon 150 scooter. This was followed by a Gilera Runner 180SP.
They've became my source of transport as the Raleigh was kept in storage. 

Toying with the idea of a folding bike...

Sometime in the late 90s, when the NST had a leased-line for internet browsing, I did some research on folding bikes.
The name "Dahon" came up on my Yahoo searches.
Eventually, I contacted a dealer in the US selling a Dahon folding bike.
It cost about USD$800 for the bike, and a further USD$300 to get it shipped to Malaysia.
I abandoned the idea and later, sometime in 2006, after settling down with my wife Michelle, I came across a selection of Dahon bikes at St Kilda's beach in Melbourne.
My interest in Folding Bikes was rekindled.

A vintage Dahon Speed, similar to the one I saw in Australia back in 2006

2008 Dahon Speed P8, my first folding bike...

I never hesitated to grab the Dahon Speed P8 when I first saw it at the Rodalink Bike Store in USJ 10, Subang Jaya.
It was going for RM2,095 and I managed to get a 5% discount for it.
I rode it around, found it nippy and compact enough to be carried in my Perodua MyVi.
Since I got acquainted with the Speed P8, I started to develop an interest of traveling and sight-seeing with the bike.

2011 World Car Free Day: The catalyst for cycling to work..

It was September in 2011.
Andrew Sia, a colleague of mine had wanted to do a story on World Car Free Day. 
He also wanted to cycle to work from his home in Bandar Utama with his Dahon Mu P8.
I told him that I would assist in terms of making the number by cycling from my home in USJ26 to Menara Star in Section 16, Petaling Jaya.
I clocked-in about 45km on the return trip and found that the route was quite practical for riding from Subang Jaya to Kuala Lumpur.
That was also the year I bought my third folding bike: The Dahon Jetstream EX. This was the last year the bike was ever made and I am very proud to be an owner of the Jetstream EX.

Riding to work from Subang Jaya to Section 16 using the bike lane on Federal Highway
Vehicle down-time, an excuse to cycle to work..

About two months later, my Perodua MyVi had started to screw up badly.
It had to be repaired and was stuck at the workshop for a couple of days.
My only choice, was to cycle to work.
Since I have done the first ride in September, it wasn't a real big chore to repeat it.
But my Jetstream began to develop some issues.
I thought it was my SRAM DDII drivetrain, but it turned out that the Ashima hydraulic disk brakes were faulty.
From this point, I continued to cycle to work until my car was fixed.

It's official: Cycle to work
On my second day cycling to work
Better prepared

The Jetstream EX suffered from brake drag.
To get it running, I had to bleed the bike's hydraulic fluid.
Later, I found out that a broken piston was the culprit.
While the Jet was grounded, I had my trusty Dahon Speed P8.
This was a real nice bike to ride.
The Schwalbe Big Apple 2.0 tires took the knocks and bumps on the road and its puncture resistance provided me with a safe and uninterrupted ride from my home to the office.
But people in the office are not used to seeing a fellow colleague commute with a bike.
They say the small 20" bike and asked a lot of questions.
To me, it's all I have to take me from home to the office and back.
And my co-workers were very supportive. They didn't complain about the bike being wheeled into the newsroom.

The Dahon Speed P8 next to my table


I observe courtesy when I wheel my bike into the workplace.
To earn the respect of my fellow colleagues, I made sure that the bike didn't get in their way.
And when I am done with work, I pushed the bike into the elevator, head to the ground floor, set it up nicely and ride off.
Similarly, on the road, I observe the traffic rules.
No jumping the red light, constantly keep watch of impending traffic, especially maniac drivers.
And so far, so good!

Next, in part 2: What you need to observe if you want to ride to work...

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Blackburn Super Flea headlight

A discovery by chance..

Bell's Super Flea front headlight
I rode in from Songkhla to Hat Yai and the first thing we did, was check out a bicycle shop in the downtown area.
We ended up at a Vespa dealership that also sells bikes.
Everyone was fixated on the stuff that was sold in this shop.
While the rest were oogling a the gear there, I saw something familiar.
There was a Blackburn Flea 2.0 Solar headlight and a Super Flea.
It carries a pricetag of 1,050 baht (RM103.90) and even without a discount, it was an offer I can't refuse.
While the guys I rode in with did not understand this, I knew that it was an offer I could not refuse and I would regret it when I get back to KL without the loot.

A risk worth taking..

I knew I couldn't find this in KL and the idea of going to Singapore really threw me off.
So, I grabbed both the Solar Flea and the Super Flea.
And the good news is: It can be integrated to my Bell Muni Helmet.
This gives the Muni the extra boost for riding in any lighting conditions.
On a full charge, this beast of a front light spits out 120 lumens of output.
I tested it during a ride from Subang Jaya to KL and on half the power output, this light can really burn a hole in the night.
So, having taken the risk of getting it in Thailand for RM103.90, it paid off.
The Super Flea retails at USD44.99 (RM145.95), so, go figure it out because its retail price without freight, insurance and tax.

What's good

  • Solid beam shape
  • Triple mode: High, Low and Flashing
  • Robust design
  • Integrates with Bell's Muni Helmet
What sucks

  • Average battery life
  • Needs to be charged with a proprietary charging USB stick
Other than two minor grouses, I don't have much to complain about the Super Flea. Out of the box, it performs flawlessly. This would be my expedition-standard headlight on my Bell Muni Helmet.

Blackburn Flea 2.0

Power-packed light in a small package.

I purchased a Bell Muni bicycle helmet to replace my Limar 575 that was well-worn.
Cracks can be seen on the 575 and it was time to retire it for good..
What I love about the Bell Muni helmet is it's versatility.
There is a slot for a foldable mirror and a Blackburn Flea 2.0 headlight.

My old helmet: the Limar 575

Best touring helmet around: Bell's Muni

But, but, but..

I bought the helmet from Tukang Basikal Fook Sang (one of the best bike shops in the Klang Valley) and asked if they have the Blackburn design Flea headlight. The answer was "No". 
A dealer search ended up with a phone number in Singapore, I called.
"We don't sell to Malaysians," said the dealer.
I asked if I can get it from retailers in Singapore, he said: "No, I can't help you..."

Samo never gives up...

My second chance came with a visit to Nick Chia's shop in East Coast Road, Singapore.
He owns T3 bicycle.
I met an old-timer at the cash register, wasn't helpful and totally clueless.
They had the Flea rear light. And I explored the aisle, I found a couple of Flea 2.0 headlights.
Walla!!! Smells like victory! 
So, my quest to outfit my Bell Muni helmet was over.
I rigged both the front and rear lights and found it to be rather useful.

The Flea 2.0 front light integrates seamlessly on the Muni's visor

Samo's take on the Flea 2.0

I paid SGD$43 (RM111.18) for the Flea 2.0 headlight.
For a little illumination gadget, its very pricey.
It comes with a USB charger and before you get one, make sure its working because sending it back to the dealer overseas can be a real pain.

What's good

  • Compact
  • Fits seamlessly on your Bell Muni helmet
  • Has three modes: Full power, low power and flashing
  • Robust design
  • Lightweight

 What sucks

  • Poor run time on high power
  • Needs its dedicated USB charger to perform charging, lost it, you are screwed
It takes about one hour to bring back the Flea to life. It has a battery life indicator when you switch it on. Green says its good to go, Orange yields half power and Red means you need to charge it as soon as possible.
The Flea can be charged with any power source with USB slots. If you have a power bank, you can charge it on the go.
This light was tested extensively during the Tour of Southern Thailand III. And on a scale of 1-10, I would rate it at 5.

Friday, May 9, 2014

The highs and lows of going Solo..

When you want something done, you might end up doing it yourself...

Single-handed journey can end up in triumph or agony.
It depends on your mental strength, planning and preparation.
And if you fall sick on the road or met with an accident, you have to brace to abandon your trip or spend some time in the hospital getting well.
Some stories end up well, while some are filled with misery.

The mind game

When you decide to go on a long-haul, all you have is yourself and your bike.
All the gear that you carry is your lifeline.
Some cyclists prefer to be minimalists, carrying what they feel is just right for the ride and risk it.
While there are those who overkill their equipment list.
They tend to carry a little bit extra, an assurance that if anything would go wrong, they have what it takes to recover quickly and move on.
In this case, the cyclist who is better prepared would usually have a more pleasant day.
While on the road, planning and discipline is crucial.
You set your goals based on your physical capabilities, draw the distance so you could cover as much as you could before reaching your destination.
If you don't manage your time properly, you end up getting to your end point late.
And when you rush, many things can go wrong. So, plan ahead and be punctual.
I've seen people give up just falling short of reaching their destination. They have nobody to push them and help is not available. 
All bets are off when morale is low. But if you have the positive mental attitude to deal with this, you end up fighting your battle another day.
So, moral of the story here: "Be prepared and always better safe than sorry.."

Dealing with unexpected...

Murphy's Law always have the upper hand in anything you do.
Sometimes, even a bomb-proof and well-executed trip can go wrong.
In my case, it was an attempt to cycle 200km in a day Solo.
Everything checked out fine, but my bike had some mechanical problems.
I had to detour to a bike shop along the way and lost precious time.
My decision was to move on despite the delay and I ended up riding late into the night.
This was an "all or nothing" situation. 
I pushed as far as I could and reached the end point 194.7km, just shy of 200.
Riding in the dark and all alone, there are plenty of vulnerabilities. 
And with everything that I had, I completed the ride well after midnight.
This was a lesson well learned. Whenever in doubt, be prepared to abandon the ride.
Pride and ego would only lead to disaster.

Points to ponder

Well, if you decide to do it all by yourself, here are some key pointers:

  • Train yourself in basic bicycle repair and maintenance
  • Be in the best of shape, you will need it in physically-demanding situations
  • Stay healthy, if you are sick, there is no point in making things worse
  • Be disciplined, manage your time properly
  • If shit hits the fan, be ready to call off your ride and do it another day