Tuesday, May 13, 2014

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...

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