Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Jetstream Adventures 04: Chinese New Year Ride - Part 02

The journey home...

We had it all figured out.
The plan was to ride into the city centre, then take the KTM Komuter from the Kuala Lumpur Railway station.
The journey to Jalan Semarak was smooth. From there, we cycled towards Jalan Daud and the Kampung Baru intersection.

Cruising along Jalan Semarak...
Old and new: Kg Baru with the Petronas Twin Towers in the background

Photo opportunity
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman: the deadliest passage

The one route that I would avoid is Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
It stretches from the Jalan Raja Muda Musa junction towards the Jalan Raja intersection.
This is a long stretch that is full of buses, taxis and cars. 
There's hardly any run-off space for bicycles.
Through it's existence, Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman had claimed numerous lives, namely: the unfortunate pedestrians and motorcyclist.
That's why I am not a fan of those "Night Ride in the city" events that runs through this route in Kuala Lumpur.
If you want to ride along this route, you must have nerves of steel and an aggressive stance like those messenger riders in New York City.
We avoided a stretch in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and exited near the Jalan Sultan Ismail intersection.
From there, we rode on the pavement and made it as far as Jalan Raja.

Crossing onto Jalan Raja Alang
At Jalan Raja near the Sultan Abdul Samad building
Forward to Kuala Lumpur Railway station..

We halted at the traffic light junction near Jalan Raja and waited patiently for the lights to go green.
Then, it's a short ride to the historical KL Raiway station.
In it's past glory, this station has a hotel and caters to rail travelers from all over the world.
What's left now, is a pale shade from its glorious past.
We took some snapshots at this Colonial-era building and packed out bikes.
A group of KTM ticket inspectors walked past us and were talking about folding bikes being packed.
From here, we covered our Jetstreams and worked our way towards the KTM Komuter platform which is bound for Port Klang..

Photo ops at the KL Railway station

Waiting for our train to Subang Jaya
And as predicted.. 

Thirty years ago, Kuala Lumpur's streets were deserted. Not a single soul on the road as half the city's population are out of town.
Today, it's business as usual as the city's landscape changes with the arrival of new economic migrants from West Asia and the developing countries of Southeast Asia.
More apparent are the Burmese people who settled here as "refugees".
Seriously, I don't know how they ended up as asylum-seekers as most of them ended up being employed. And they brought their families along to set up little Rangoon's in places like Jalan Silang and Jalan Pudu.
The Bangladeshis and Nepalis too are nicely settled-in here.
I told Michelle that the KTM Komuter service is preferred choice of transport for such economic migrants and it turned out that what I said was true.
KTM is revamping its electronic ticketing system to go in tandem with their ETS services to the North and South.
This is something that we will experience in the later part of this year.
As I made a beeline towards the ticketing booth, hoards of Banglas were making their way out of the station in transit either to Rawang or Seremban.
A guy jumped the cue just to be turned away by an abusive KTM staff.
The man had literally abused a couple of Banglas verbally and told them that only group tickets are sold on the electronic gate.
A single-journey ticket from KL Railway station to Subang Jaya costs about RM1.70. 
Michelle was really surprised with the cheap ride. This is also one of the factors why foreign economic migrants love to take the train. In their country, they will even sit on the roof to get from one station to the other.
Stupid politics aside, we Malaysians are ignorant of this and do not appreciate the peace and freedom that the country has to offer.

Some "ladies" in the women-only coach
Setting up for the ride home.. 
We hopped onto a coach which is meant for ladies only.
There were a group of Bangladeshis in the train, oblivious to the fact that the coach was meant from women.
They sat next to Michelle and were looking at our bikes.
I stood next to my wife and after a few stations, a ticket conductor walked past and asked the Banglas to move to the common coach.
I played possom and stood there all the way to Subang Jaya.
The ticket guy realized that we were hauling heavy cargo and was kind enough to ignore us.
Station after station, the foreigners kept coming in and each time they were about to settle down, they were herded away like cattle to the common coach.

Rolling along SS16 in Subang Jaya
On final approach

Home at last! 
On the home-run

We reached Subang Jaya about 4:45 in the afternoon.
There's another 11km stretch to cover from the train station and we covered our usual route towards Jalan Kewajipan.
After clocking-in nearly 40km, we pulled over at the Main Place mall where I made a detour to grab some vegetables to cook dinner.
On the whole, the multimodal commute and ride in PJ and KL was a smooth affair. We avoided some major roads and enjoyed the ride through some interesting parts of the route..

Jetstream Adventures 04: Chinese New Year Ride - Part 01

Another year with different bikes.. 

We gave much thoughts on "what to ride" on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year and decided pretty much that it's our refurbished Dahon Jetstreams.
Why? It's 20", easy to lug onto the train.
Last year, we rode all the way down to Kuala Lumpur and back. 
So, we did something different for this year's celebrations.
I had my 2011 Dahon Jetstream EX tuned-up and tested it during the ride to Sungai Way and Kuala Lumpur.
Everything checks out fine. But there's still some creaking noise. 
I suspect that the bottom bracket is giving way. The Jetsream EX has clocked-in around 6,000km, it has a lower mileage compared to my Dahon Speed P8.
The wear-and-tear came from a lot of trail riding and last year's Tour of Sumatera.

Leaving our home in Subang Jaya
The plan..

We rode out from our home in Subang Jaya towards SS3 in Petaling Jaya.
Traffic was pretty light in the morning.
Michelle had suggested that we cycle towards USJ20 and turn to USJ 11.
I hated this route due to the really bad road conditions and it's also full of slopes.
Since it was the first day of the Chinese New Year, it wasn't so much a hassle.

Cruising along USJ23
From SS19, we rolled down towards the Federal Highway motorcycle lane. 
A passage that we are very familiar with.
There were few motorcycles on the road as we cruised towards the Nanyang Siang Pau exit near Sungai Way.

Reaching road 50 in SS3, Petaling Jaya

At the gate of my in-law's home
Family obligations.. 

I hung around Michelle's parent's home, mingled with their relatives and caught up with my brother in-laws.
We spent a few hours there before heading out to the Paramount LRT station.
To board the train, we brought along our carry-on covers.
The Jet's aren't really compact when folded, so, it tends to take up a lot of space on the piece of nylon cover.
The ride from SS3/50 to the train station takes roughly about 20 minutes.
When we got there, we worked on bagging the bikes.
An auxiliary policeman came up to scout the situation and went back to his sentry duties.
We lugged the covered bikes without any issues at the station and proceeded towards the platform to board a train to Wangsa Maju.

At the Paramount LRT station

Entering the platform

Taking a ride on the LRT
A word about commuting on the LRT

There aren't many people who carry their folding bikes onto the LRT on a daily basis.
My emphasis is: "There aren't many".
And bikes, ONLY folding bikes that are folded and bagged, are allowed onto the LRT coaches during non-peak hours.
Although Prasarana Bhd did not put it on bold print that folding bikes should be bagged, we did it out of courtesy for the convenience of other passengers.
An uncovered folding bike can be intimidating to other people. But I am not here to argue on whether the bikes should be bagged or not. It's your call if you decide to bring yours onto the train. Good practices ensures that you are allowed into the train with your bike without paying a single sen or being thrown out of the facility. 
And when you lug your bike into the train, try not to leave it all over the coach. Be nice! Stand near the bike where you can keep an eye on it.

Exiting the Wangsa Maju station
Riding along Wangsa Maju to Jalan Mata Air off Jalan Genting Kelang
More family obligations..

Our destination was Jalan Mata Air.
It was way past 12noon and I signaled to pull over at a row of shops for lunch.
There's this makan place called "Nasi Vanggey" and we settled for some food there.
I pulled out RM20 and placed it on a zippered pocket on my Zoic Black Market shorts.
My estimate was around RM8 for a plate of rice and a drink.
This food outlet has a very interesting point of sale system. You order, get your food placed onto the plate and the server gives you an RF card.
Bring this to the cashier who issues you a receipt. 

The clear passage
This and a drink, came up to RM9.20
Lunch was just so-so.
My aim was to carbo-load so that we could continue with our journey.
I anticipated that my 77-year-old aunt had not cooked and is expecting lunch to be brought to her home by my sister who came around 3.30pm. 
What annoyed me the most, was the wait. My aunt was starving. We hung around to hand over red packets to my sister's two daughters.

Arriving at Jalan Mata Air
Handing a hung-bao to my aunt
Cat-poop and fart-face

My aunt lives with her partner, some old dude who is part of some weird Christian parish. 
He claimed that God gave him a pair of new kidneys when he was really ill.
So, there I was, sniffing around and found that there was a foul odor permeating from my old room. 
Upon closer inspection, I found some soggy cat shit on a sheet of vinyl cover. The contents underneath it was not soiled.
I told my aunt who immediately went to work on cleaning up.
Her boyfriend was upset and started grumbling. This strange guy also did not hand out Hung Bao. 
Instead, he gave cash to the two girls who came to visit their grandmother.
He said it was against his believe. 
My sister came with her husband and two kids, started to serve lunch.
That was my cue to leave.
I handed over Hung Baos to Jasmine and Delilah, her daughters. 
We mounted on our bikes and rolled out towards Jalan Semarak...

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Holy Zamst!!!

I am ignorant...

Socks are part of my everyday wear foot garment that I don't really take too seriously.
There were days where my feet felt like minced meat after a long day walking and cycling.
After hitting the 50-kilometer mark, my feet felt like it went through a meat grinder.

Compression garments

Okay, I've seen some folks wearing lycra. It's tight and the extreme folks that I met cycling on the road wore compression tights.
Do they go faster? Nah.
But it does help in relieving fatigue and muscle aches.
Says who? The people who wear them.

Zamst Ha-1 Short compression sock
And old injury that came back to haunt me...

I don't have a good left-side of my limbs.
They either ended up fractured or badly banged-up.
My left foot, especially, tends to swell around the ankle area if I walked too much of sat too long.
If I over exert myself, the first indication of pain comes from my feet.
So, to cut the long story short, the folks who brought Zamst compression wear had tracked me down and asked if I would give their socks a try.

What? A 107-ringgit pair of socks????? 

Yeah, you heard me. 
20 bucks is the most I would pay for a pair of socks. Well, make that a two-pack ankle-length short sock.
I nearly fell of my chair when Tim, my go-between person told me the cost of a pair of Zamst Ha-1 Short compression socks.
Why on Earth are these so expensive? The answer was printed on the box.
It reads: "Made in Japan".
Back in the days, we laughed at Japanese goods being imitation. 
Now, its the Japan-made products that are being imitated.

These are the Rolls-Royce of socks!
An expert in rehabilitation...

Okay, Zamst, the namesake of the product, is actually produced by Nippon Sigmax, a Japanese company specialising in orthopedic rehabilitation established in 1973. There is a wide-range of compression products from this premium brand costing hundreds of ringgits a pop, but I wouldn't delve into that.

The moment of truth

I laid off cycling for a month and got back on my saddle a week ago.
We rode for 20km and this time, I had a pair of Ha-1s on my feet.
The socks fit very well and is tight around the ankles.
It felt a bit odd in the beginning, but as I progressed further, I noticed that my feet didn't really hurt as much when compared to wearing just a pair of ordinary socks.
I felt needles and pins on my arch after breaking the 30km barrier. But with the Ha-1, going a little further didn't result in cashing in some pain.
So, I grew to like the socks even more when I wore it to work. 
When I sit down on the desk and stare at my computer screen for hours, my ankle would hurt like hell when I get up and walk.
It doesn't hurt as bad when I put on the compression socks. I took the socks out for a walk and noticed that even after 6,500 steps, my foot didn't felt like it's been smashed by boulder.
That said, I think I can do with another pair and am willing to pay the premium because the compression technology does help in long-distance rides.

Getting Zamst..

The product is distributed here in Malaysia by Egonutritions (03-7804 8970) and for more details on the products, you can also visit Ego Nutrition's Website

Get your spouse into Archery!

There is life after cycling.. 

This year's teambuilding/Glamping affair changed the course of my life.
I found that I don't hang out at bicycle shops that often.
Some even said I had burned out, I am no longer interested in cycling anymore and had sold all the bikes. I wish that was true.. Hahahah!
Instead of heading to the bike shop, I made regular trips to the Archery store to outfit myself. Why? Because I had all the bikes tuned up and kept on standby for our mid-year adventure.

Popping the question

I asked Michelle if she's interested in archery.
Her answer was "yes" and she is willing to give it a try.
My wife has never shot an arrow in her life.
So, I made the necessary arrangements with Coach Tan who also runs Elite Sports Archery.
He agreed to give Michelle a crash course. I was just happy that my spouse became a willing party in giving archery a try.

Michelle learning to draw a traditional bow

Learning from the best: Coach Tan showing the finer points in handling a bow

Taking aim

Good sportsmanship, wrong bow!

Michelle drew a 30lb traditional bow and found it too heavy to anchor and take aim.
Her shots went either too wide or short of landing into the target bud.
Beginners are given a  10-meter target practise at the Kompleks Sukan MSN Taman Kerama, which is one of the few active outdoor archery range in the Klang Valley.
On weekends, this facility is swarming with archers, both novice and experienced.
I was just too happy to practise drawing and shooting my Martin Panther Recurve Bow!

Having fun with my new bow

Trying to get a decent grouping
Hitting the spot

After wrapping-up, I had to head to work.
The weight of the world was on my shoulder and it really sucks having to work straight on two weeks without Sundays off back-to-back.
I asked Michelle if she had enjoyed herself.
She said "yes" and was willing to take up archery.
And so begins our journey as a sporting spouse team! 

Tern's Trifecta

A good start in 2015 for Tern.. 

If you head to Taipei in March, do make it a point to visit the Taipei Cycle 2015 show at the Nanggang Exhibition Hall.
This is one of the most important trade shows in Asia and a prelude to the 2015 Eurobike show in Germany.
For their efforts, Tern won three awards for Design and Innovation.

Tern Verge X18
The no-frills speed demon

Verge X18 is the latest entry in the Tern 20" Verge platform.
This bike comes with a drop-bar and road bike shifters. Well, in short, it has the appeal of a folding road bike in a compact package.
This bike is a winner of the Taipei 2015 Design and Innovation Award.
It has a pricetag of USD$2,300 (roughly about RM8,200.65 excluding freight, duty and GST).
Based on the the current market trend, I doubt it very much that it would make it to our shores.


Tern's Kinetix X-Pro wheelset
 That one product that sets a new standard in folding bike wheels would be the Kinetix X-Pro wheels.
These are the latest and strongest wheels around for the high-end Tern bikes -- mainly in the 20" platform.
You will see these on the X-series Tern bikes such as the Verge X10, X18 and X20.
Each hand-built and trued wheel retails for USD$190/RM535 (front) and USD$250/RM892 (rear) excluding freight and tax.

Show off your Tern with pride..

The third and final award-winning product is the iF Award winner: Tern Perch Wall mount.
This one also won the 2014 Eurobike Award and is meant for folks who live in high-density homes such as flats and apartments.
It retails for USD$70/RM250 excluding freigth and taxes.

The Perch wall-mountI
Check it out in Taipei 2015!

The bike show will commence on March 18 (Trade visitors only) till 21 (Public admission) and All the Tern products will be shown at boot M1019a. I'm not sure if Tern is organizing their Annual Tern Social Ride, but if they do, this is one opportunity that should not be missed.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Make mine a recurve: Martin Panther Takedown Recurve Bow

A birthday treat...

I turned 46 in mid-January.
And rather than wasting more money on a stupid Garmin GPS watch and some faggy Garmin fitness tracker that sucks, I decided to spend my hard-earned cash on a beginner's archery kit.

All inclusive: The Martin Panther Recurve Bow Kit
Finding Mr Tan...

Tan Peng Loon is a successful coach and archer

The first thing that came in mind, was to locate an old friend of Mine.
He's Mr Tan Peng Loon, a US NAA Level 3 Archery coach and former SUKMA coach for the Federal Territory Archery team for 18 years.
I've known Peng Loon since I was 10 years old and fate has it in such a way, I met him again when I became an adult.
He used to work for an outdoor equipment supplier that caters to archery around Malaysia's sporting scene.
Tan decided to leave his old company to set up shop and the last time I met him was at the GoPro Hero 3 launch, which was a stupid affair. Meeting him at the event was actually the highlight of the day.
So, fast-forward to the second-week of January, I traced Tan to his new business set-up, Elite Sports Archery in Bandar Menjalara near Kepong.
We re-connected again and I was on my way to the world of traditional archery..

The Martin Panther takedown recurve bow

Smooth and silent: the bridged riser
Martin Panther: Not my first choice..

I did some reading on Best Recurve Bow Guide and learned that the Martin Sabre is one of the Top 10 Recurve bows available for the beginner and intermediate archer.
I've never owned a bow in my life and getting outfitted meant starting from scratch.
So, having done my research and by the way, the Best Recurve Bow Guide has some honest reviews on Recurve Bows that are made in the US, I've pretty much narrowed down my choice to the Martin Sabre.

But, but, but, but.. 

With some cash in my pocket, I made my way to Elite Sports Archery in Bandar Menjalara. Thanks to Facebook, I managed to locate the store. When I popped open the door, Mr Tan greeted me.
"Eh Sam! I saw you walking down the road.. How are you?," he greeted.
We exchanged greetings and I told him what I wanted.
There were little choices when it comes to Martin bows and displayed on the wall, were two Recurve bows: the Martin Jaguar and Panther.
These came as kits and the Jaguar is a lot cheaper than the Panther.
Personally, I am never fond of stuff that are named after predatory cats.
But, the Panther was an exception. And it was available in black!

Mr Tan setting up the string's nocking point for my bow
Hell yeah!

I took an immediate liking for the Panther because of its blacked-out riser and limbs.
My choice was a 45lb bow because it's the minimal draw strength for hunting.
Recurve bow reviewers recommended at least 5lbs heavier because the bridged riser actually helps drawing the bow as smooth as silk.
What I found rather unconventional are metal and rubber inserts on the riser that aids in dampening vibration.
In short, the Panther is smooth and quiet.
It's also a pretty powerful bow.

What's in the box? 

As for the bow kit, the Panther comes with an arrow rest and a really handsome plastic box.
Well, it's a plano arrow case, but when you disassemble the bow, it fits nicely with all the bells and whistles.
For RM1.5K after a good discount, an arm guard, finger tab, bow stringer and three Victory Carbon arrows with field tips were thrown in. 
In short, straight out of the box, you are ready to shoot.

Firing the Martin Panther

My 13-yard target
The grouping

Practise at an archery range
On the learning curve

I must admit that I had struggled a lot with the new bow.
Stringing it was a challenge.
But, after a follow-up visit to the Archery store to pick-up my Easton XX75 Tribute Arrows that are custom-built for me, I asked for a demonstration on how the bow is strung and got it right after a couple of tries.
The next step was to learn to fire the arrows. This was not an issue as I found it rather easy to draw the bow string.
Next, I embarked on a small project. 
That is to set up a target stand and I achieved this by picking up some scrap wood and began building the contraption based on a set of blueprints I downloaded from the internet.

Picking up the scrap lumber

Assembling the limbs for the target stand
Almost complete

The target bud on its stand
I found that the stand was too high and there is a chance for the arrow to stray even from a 13-yard shooting course.
So, I cut off another 8 inches from the limbs to shorten it.
I was pretty satisfied with the results as the entire project cost me only RM5.

Of course when I shared this information on Facebook, I drew some flak and some stupid advise from nosy people. 
So, I let it be.
From the day I bought the Martin Panther, I've been going to the Kompleks Sukan MSN Taman Keramat to practise my shooting skills.
Coach Tan was there to advice and correct me, which is something that I am very grateful for.
In my humble opinion, the Martin Panther Takedown Recurve Bow is really fun to shoot.
And the US Company has a solid reputation of making good bows that are affordable. For a beginner like me, the Martin Recurve bow as an excellent choice! 

Luggage carrier evolved: Tern Cargo Rack

Setting a new standard.. 

Tern's new cargo rack for their 20" bikes is a departure from the traditional luggage rack system.
Having tried and tested the Portage 24 rack, I must say that plenty of thoughts has been put onto designing a practical luggage rack.
Tern's latest cargo rack allows your personal belongings to be hauled in a box (a set of elastic straps can be used to secure your cargo) for your shopping chores.

The cargo rack seen here on a Tern Eclipse S18
Reliable and practical

I've seen a lot of luggage racks and frankly, nothing comes close to Tern's rendition of the cargo rack.
It has a clean weld on its tubing and the top deck of the rack is pretty solid.
One noticeable change is the bungee straps.
In the past, the straps and hooked onto the lower part of the rack.
On the cargo rack, the cords are wrapped around its mid-section.
And for those who have a tail light that can be mounted onto a luggage rack, there is a slot on the cargo rack that enables you to secure it.

A tail light integrated onto the rack


If bicycle touring is your game, then you are in for a treat! 
The cargo rack accepts small and large panniers.
It's sloped tube allows a luggage hook on the pannier packs to be secured for long-hauls.
Best of all, there's ample space on the rack's tube to allow spacing so that you won't kick the packs with your heels when pedaling your bike

Bicycle panniers sits securely on the cargo rack
Standard-issued accessory on the "S-series" bikes..

The Verge S27h
Tern's cargo racks are bolted onto their S-series bikes such as the Eclipse S18 and Verge S27h.
This means, its ready to haul some serious luggage straight out of the box.
You can find it on the Verge S27h which is bound for our Malaysian shores sometime this year.
On the Eclipse S18, it's a standard item.
The rack retails at USD60 or RM215 excluding freight, duty and sales tax and also GST. This new product retails exclusively on Premium Bike Gear on-line store