Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: The year in perspective...

Archery, archery, archery....

With KP Lau, my archery buddy
IT's only fair to say that 2016 had pretty much centered around archery. The year opened with an opportunity to compete in Thailand at the Princess Cup Archery tournament in June. Prior to that, we spent most of our weekend training at our little range in Subang Jaya.

Our team's concept logo
After registering at the Thai tournament, I came up with the idea of forming a team with its own identity.
Hence, the "Subang Barebow Archers". It's a steep learning curve for me as I designed the logo from scratch and when things started to take shape, it's a satisfying moment.

At the tournament venue in Bangkok
A humbling experience...

Bangkok taught me two things: how to get over performance anxiety and proper shot placement on the target.
Timing is everything and one does not need to rush on the shooting line. I used this experience to continue to stay in the game back at home, training resumes at the 18-meter lane with a 40cm, 10-ring target face salvaged from the tournament.

Staying in the game...

Training with a Martin Cypress takedown recurve bow
Exit Bangkok, we took part in a couple of local tournaments in the country to stay focused on overcoming anxiety and hone our shot placement.
In the months to come, we continued training in our small range and worked on our consistency.
The year draws to a close and we look forward to 2017 with the Princess Cup Archery tournament in Thailand. 
In the mean time, its back to more training...

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Malacca Barebow Open

Staying in focus...

We have another seven or eight months to train for the 2017 Thailand Princess Cup archery tournament in Bangkok.
And one of the best way to "stay on edge", is to participate in local tournaments. It surely helps to calm the nerves while shooting with a crowd and since the Simpang Pulai event in September, there has been a steady string of events for barebow archers.


One of our guys has gone into "semi-retirement". So, out of the lot, only three people are left in the team.
I was pretty keen on to carry on with the local meet and when an opportunity came, I grabbed it without hesitation.
The event was held in Malacca in conjunction with the National Sports Day. It was a 15-meter shoot at a local hypermarket in Ayer Keroh.

With one of the regular Barebow archer at the shooting line

That "moment"

Taking aim

Beating the competition...

Among the group, there was a really good archer from Cheras who shot his way to the top spot in Simpang Pulai.
He was also pretty humble and easy to get along with. Encik Khairulnizam from Sabil Archery team shot 224 points to win the Barebow event.
Spare the agonizing wait, the six-arrow, five-end shootout ended in a flash. I had a few misses on the 20cm target face and managed to score 144 points.
I tied with an Austrian dude with the same score and came in at 10th place. Poor indoor lighting made it hard to zero-in on the target and I guess this is something that I had to address, especially when it comes to local tournaments.
The next shoot is in December and I will have plenty of time to train for this...

The crash

That dreadful phone call...

I was about to fix myself breakfast and a cup of coffee when my cellphone rang. "Sam, please hurry, Michelle is hurt!"
There was a panic-stricken voice at the end of the line. By the time the call was made, my wife was already in the hospital.
Some good samaritan took her to the emergency room after she crashed her bike during a leisure ride.

The cracked helmet...
Head protection, why it's important

I never ride without head protection. I don't preach about this, it's just pure common sense. There are folks who don't care about head protection and I am not going to go into that... Michelle had a bad fall, the right side of her face was scarred and she suffered a concussion. Her helmet saved her from a severe head injury.
Upon closer inspection, I found a crack on the right side of the helmet. The plastic cover on the side was delaminated.
Clearly, the head protection has done its job. Similarly, I had a bad accident more than 12 years ago. My Shoei full-face helmet saved my head.

A costly affair

Five days and four nights in the emergency room, treatment, a cat scan, X-ray and all that private hospital mumbo-jumbo costs nearly RM15K.
Thankfully, she had insurance that covered the huge sum. Apart from a laceration on her right knee, there were no serious injuries. 
But a follow-up MRI scan did yield good results. She suffered spinal injuries from the crash.

The road to recovery...

It's been more than three weeks since the crash. Michelle is recovering well. She is now able to walk without assistance. The rest of the months to come will be focused on physical rehab.

A cautionary tale...

Nothing prepares you for an accident. But when you take the necessary precautions, the risks of heavy injuries will be lessened. And as a rule of thumb, I don't cycle with people who want to go further, be the fastest or simply out there to prove a point. They either get hurt of put other people in harm's way.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Malaysia Cup Archery - Round 1

Malaysia "indoor" Archery Tournament...

Fooling around before the shootout...
We came to know about a local indoor archery tournament taking place in Perak. The gang and I have been training our shot placement and agreed to take part.
This is also in preparation for the 2017 Princess Cup Archery tournament in Bangkok, Thailand.

Tournament day

I made arrangements to round up the Subang Barebow Archers team and shoot straight off to Simpang Pulai in Perak on Sept 24.
The plan was to leave at 04:30am and arrive just in time for registration and get along with the day's program.
Traditional archery was first on the list and there were at least 132 people taking part in the event.
Our buddy Mr Lau was first to go as he was prepped with the first group.

Lau, sleep-walking to the field.. Hahah!

Michelle setting up her bow
Listening to the briefing

Lau, at the shooting line
Something we didn't quite expect...

The "indoor" tournament had turned out to be an outdoor event. The shooting line was set at 18-meters with 10 shooting lanes.
We didn't expect the organization to be so bad, that the shoot actually started an hour late. Four groups were queued for the event. 
It was bad enough that most of us had grumbled about the repetition of the traditional archery event.
Instead of the usual one-round, archers were given two. 
Such, said the organizer, was done to give "satisfaction" to those who came from afar.
It was an agony to wait till our turn was up, nine hours later!

The advantage of training and mental conditioning

Taking my shot

Michelle in the second group

Taking scores

Michelle in action

My spotter...
Towards the last stage of our shot placement training in Subang Jaya, we took our shots mostly on a 40cm, 10-ring target face.
This helped us to hone our grouping and shot placements. 
When we got called to the shooting line, we did exactly what we had trained for.
I took my time, much to the frustration of other archers in the group. We were given 1 minutes 30 seconds to empty our quiver.
On the average, I took about 20 seconds to nock, aim and shoot.
My arrows landed mostly in the blue, red and yellow. 
In the first round, I scored 165 points and on the second-round, my scores improved at 186. I was a bit nervous during the first few ends, but having the advantage of shooting at the Princess Cup in Thailand had taught me to take my time. Pace each shot and try to make as few mistakes as possible. 
We were tested under rain and shine and I must say that Michelle did extremely well by scoring 168 points in the first round and getting 177 points in the second.
By the time she was done, it was way past 7:30pm. It got dark and we were done. We weren't bothered to go into the quarter-finals. 


Out of 54 archers in the barebow category, we came in at 10 and 11 respectively. We qualified for the next round, but were too beat to carry on. We have a two-hour drive to get back to Subang Jaya. That said, we had to forgo the shootout. 

The good...

Well, I have to say that the fellowship of archers was the main draw for this tournament. There were a lot of nice folks at the event ground. I met some familiar faces and some folks from the Monster Chill tournament in Malacca last year.

The bad...

Bad organization really marred the reputation of the tournament managers. The event went on until midnight. Many of those who qualified did a walk-over. 

The ugly...

I have to say that safety was the major issue here. While some folks were taking their practise shots, people can be seen walking in the background. And some idiots were smoking on the shooting line, this is a no-no in terms of sporting ethics.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Jestream: Resurrection

A year in hypersleep...

The bike in its "tomb"...
I last rode my Dahon Jetstream EX in Cambodia.
That was more than a year ago. Ever since I packed the bike in a suitcase, it never saw the light of day.
Until the time came for the bike to be revived for its task. I have a ride in the North next month and the Jetstream fits the bill for a bikepacking adventure.

Unpacked: the Jetstream had laid dormant for a year...
The trouble with lock nuts...

I must have done things wrong in Siem Reap. Seems that I didn't fit the rear hub properly, causing the wheel to be misaligned with the disk brake calipers. This caused brake drag and it was truly unpleasant.
Such - is the perils of packing a bike in a suitcase. But it was also a good learning experience.
I later realised that there is a notch for the hub to be fitted before the lock nut can be tightened.

2016 maiden ride

The Jet at Nissan's service centre

At KTM Subang station

Never seem to get tired of this bike...
After assembling the Jet, I packed it into my car. I brought it along to the car service centre and I rode off to Subang Jaya while the vehicle was being attended to. 
The idea was to get back on the 20" bike and whizz around the township. When I reached my destination in SS15, I noticed a sharp snapping sound.
A truck carrying eggs was too close to me. I jammed the brakes and that was when I realised that I have snapped a spoke.

Built to survive...

The broken spoke

Fixing the wheel...
I trust my Jet and it has taken me to places that are considered extreme in many ways. The last time I busted a spoke, it was in Indonesia. Despite having a missing piece, the bike continued without any further damage to the wheel.
I rode back to the service centre, packed in the bike and headed off to Johnny Ng's shop to have the broken spoke replaced.
The Jet's kinetic pro wheelset is as tough as the bike itself. The rim wasn't warped and I was lucky to have it back on the road.
Way I see it, the Jet has a lot of saddle time ahead as it is still in a good shape!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Penang - Part 5

Assam Laksa for the soul...

Balik Pulau's assam laksa

Patience is a virtue. If you can endure that, all good things come to he who waits. That, I can safely say for Balik Pulau's assam laksa.
We waited as hell for the shop to open and when our noodle dishes were served, it was a pure bliss.
The guys feasted on assam laksa and I ordered two plates of sotong kangkung, a typical street food in the island. 
Ricky, Johnny Ng's kid brother was attracted to the smell of heated lard and went on to check out a char koay teow stall nearby.
We ended up with a big feast!

Worth the wait: the assam laksa shop

The char koay teow man, hard at work

workers preparing the noodle dish

The gang

One happy camper: Ricky Ng and his hearty treat
William, one of the riders who tagged along is a vegetarian. He took the kangkung instead and gave good comments about the food.
We spent about an hour porking out in Balik Pulau. The guys were really happy with the spread of street food...

Processed squid

This stall has the best sotong kangkung in Balik Pulau
Forward to Titi Kerawang...

We rolled out from Balik Pulau to join the herd.
This time, its up again in the hills and the weather seemed pretty awful. I asked the guys to pull over and waterproof their belongings.
Johnny made a detour to meet up with some of his customers who were also riding along. The rest of the gang made their ascent towards the top of the hill. It was a straight-forward climb. About 10 kilometers.
I met some interesting folks along the way. While climbing, some dude with a fancy road bike greeted me. "Hey Sam! Keep it up man...", said the guy. There are many friendly cyclists along the way except for an asshole who cut in from the left when I rode towards Tanjung Bungah. The moron was wearing a "share the road, beware cyclist" jersey. What an ass! 

Rolling down from Titi Kerawang

There's no place like Hard Rock Hotel!

Siblings: Johnny and Ricky Ng

With William while waiting for the gang in Gurney Drive

Goodbye Georgetown!

We rode all the way down towards the city centre and made a beeline to Penang Road. I promised Johnny a Cendul treat before heading back to the mainland.
Ricky, who was obviously worn out, was asking if the place is far. I told him to chill out while we wait for the rain to stop before rolling out to the makan place.
The guys ate so much, I guess they are just looking for a place to hangout and cool down from a whole day of riding...

Waiting for the ferry to arrive

All aboard and a nice view of Georgetown from the lower deck

After a good fill, I led the guys back to their hotel before parting ways. From Macallum Road, I cycled towards Weld Quay and waited to board the ferry to the mainland. There were a couple of cyclists at the ferry terminal. One that stuck out like a sore thumb was did dude in tight lycra shorts. He rode a touring bike. What the fuck happened to Baggies? There were a large number of M.A.M.I.L.S (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) on the island. But this touring dude, well, he looked out of place...

The Pirate-Ninja performed its duty and is bound for Kuala Lumpur

Who's Kilroy?

My ride to KL Sentral

A very tired biker dude headed for Parit Buntar

Butterworth train station: a state of confusion...

As soon as I rolled out from the ferry, the first thing that came into mind was to find a path to the train station. There is no direct link from the ferry terminal to the KTMB station. After a nice runaround, I decided to head against traffic and found my way to the entrance of the station. There, at a bus stop, I bagged my bike and began my long walk to the platform. I met a fellow cyclist with his road bike. The man was headed to Parit Buntar. He missed the 2pm train and had to spend another two hours waiting for his ride. The guy said he paid a RM2 surcharge to have his bike onboard. It was a KTM Komuter ride to his home. I guess he was tired and he had to continue his journey.

My bike, bagged for transport
The packed LRT ride to Putra Heights
Home at last! 

Total distance clocked...
Vomit, men with smelly armpits and the last push...

I had to endure six more hours on the train before I could get off at KL Sentral. The journey was really boring. Some music on the smartphone, food bars and a pack of meat jerky made the trip bearable.
Just outside of Kuala Lumpur, some dude barfed in the toilet. Then, the coach janitor yelled out: "Eh, siapa punya beg ni!!!!".
It was then when I realised that the floor was flooded. Piss and puke was all over the toilet floor. The grumpy janitor cleaned up while I moved my bagged bike to a dry place.
The excrement did not wet my carry on cover. Phew!
With KL in sight, I alighted at KL Sentral with the bike and made my way to the Putra Heights bound LRT coach. 
It was peak hour and the train was packed!
Some Bangladeshi dudes who stood nearby had body odour permeating from their body. I can see the looks on other passenger's face as the guys kept their composure.
After an hour's ride on the train, I got off at the Subang Alam station. There, I redeployed the bike and rode home.
My wife and dogs were waiting and as soon as I pushed the bike to the porch, it was a sigh of relief as I have completed my bikepacking ride. 
That said, I had Langkawi in sight and we will do this in November!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Penang - Part 4

Here we go again...

An awesome mural in Balik Pulau
I didn't sleep well. Noise from the street-level near the hotel disrupted my snooze. I made me felt really grumpy and by 04:30am in the morning, I was already packing up. I have to make sure that all my riding gear is properly set-up for the long ride. I have a lot of confidence on my 24" folding bike. This was the second time I rode round-island with the Tern Eclipse X20.
While riding towards Macallum Road, I noticed some resistance on the rear wheel. By the time I realised that air was leaking out of the tire, I have already ridden about two kilometers. A loose valve was the culprit. The first thing that came into mind was to recover the rear wheel. 
Lucky for me, there was friendly guy with a hand pump. When I took off the valve cap, a piece of the valve came out and air was immediately released. The tire was completely flat. I screwed in the valve and pumped in air to inflate the tire. Once everything was back in place, all I had the bike, its faulty valve and a prayer... 

At the hotel waiting for Johnny and gang...
It was till too early for some folks...

With the rest of the gang during early breakfast...
We met up with the rest of the cyclists and rode out towards a mamak restaurant where they had breakfast.
I did my carbo-loading at the hotel with some sandwiches I bought the night before. I had stashed some food bars and recovery drink in my pack for the ride.
As soon as we were done with breakfast, we slowly rode out towards Batu Maung, our first leg of the round-island ride...


The second bridge is in the horizon...
Riders moving towards Batu Maung...
Roadies will be roadies...

We rolled out from the Queensbay Mall towards Batu Maung and when we entered the road, someone yelled: "Careful!!!!"
Then came this dreaded screeching sound and a loud thud! I turned to my right and saw a couple of riders crashing onto the ground. That was it. Someone got hurt.
There was nothing to see as we slowly progressed to Teluk Kumbar. From there, the ascent begins at Bukit Gadong.

Climbing Bukit Gadong...
The round-island ride is something that one should not take lightly. It has its challenges and if you are not physically fit to do so, you might end up on the back of a truck.
Some folks just gave up some 20 kilometers into the ride. Many who were not prepared suffered cramps on their legs.
Others were just too beat to continue with the journey. I took my hats off to Johnny Ng who rode a 3-speed 16-inch folding bike. Man, he has the prowess!

Destination: Balik Pulau...

I kept my promise by leading the gang to Balik Pulau. There, we made a pit-stop to have some street food.
There is an awesome assam laksa shop that I wanted the guys to try out. Rather than using the planned round-island route, we rode straight towards Balik Pulau. We regrouped at a petrol station and proceeded to the town area.

With Ricky at a mural in Balik Pulau

The Tern Eclipse and Dahon EEZE
We rode towards the assam laksa shop and was told that business starts at 10:00am. There was nothing much to do, but wait.
The guys were cooperative and we chilled out by having some iced coffee while waiting for the shop to open...