Saturday, 30 July 2011

Hometown Glory Part I : Tiong Bahru Ride

It was a Friday night. The weather was cool, the bikes were tempting, and our feet were itching to work the pedals. The clock read 2300hrs. We got into our cycling gear and hit the road.

We took the route from Upper Thomson Road > Thomson Road > Newton Circus > Scotts Road > Patterson Road > Kim Seng Road > Tiong Bahru. Distance covered was about 9-10 km. Time taken was less than an hour.

We would attempt to ride down memory lane. Tiong Bahru, one of Singapore's oldest housing estates. Gwyn spent a good amount of time growing up in Tiong Bahru. Her family still lives there. There's something about Tiong Bahru. The rustic atmosphere is still very much in place today.

Tiong Bahru Market, one of the first modern markets ever built in a housing estate. Though the present building is relatively new (4-5 yrs old). Not to mention, a lot of good food can be found here.

Our Brommies were quick to pose for the camera.

Allow us to introduce to you Cafe Pralet, one of our favorite hang outs. Located at a blindspot along Eng Hoon Street, this cafe is not the easiest to locate. However, if you do manage to find it, you should try them out. Rice, pasta, salad, sandwiches, cakes, bread, soup and whatever's on their menu, it's all pretty good. And the pricing is reasonable too!

Some random shots along the estate. Buck with the resident rides...

Buck with the classic mail box...

Apple and Buck with the classic spiral stairway...

Apple and Buck in front of a classic alley...

Gwyn's family were relocated from the low rise flats to higher rise 20 odd storey buildings. Today, these low rise apartments have since been converted to rental flats. We last saw a banner by the road that charged 3-4K for a unit, which we both think is crazy!

It was a nice relaxed Friday night ride down memory lane, which included a impromptu stop by my startled in-law's place for a toilet break. (You should see her face when we dropped by armed with our bikes and helmets at 1am!)

To read about the rest of our Hometown Glory adventure, click here

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Matt Black, Gloss White and The Office Recce

The cyclist's rule of thumb - Safety first. Stories shared from the more experienced riders we have had the pleasure of riding with cannot stress further the importance of wearing a helmet. One fine example was shared by Taiwoon. His friend had a nasty fall and was spared from more serious injuries by his helmet, which cracked during the fall. We wouldn't dare imagine the outcome if not for the helmet. After 20 mins of vain testing, we settled for the Limar 575s. Here is Gwyn with her first ever helmet in white, clearly very ecstatic with her new purchase.

Unlike Gwyn, this actually isn't my first but second helmet. I received my first helmet when I turned 18 and they gave me a green one that weighed a ton and told me to decorate it with some leaves and what not. Even till now, they haunt me every other year and make me put it back on. And I must point out the quite magical powers that it possess; Put it on and your brain stops functioning, makes you feel like sleeping. If you don't believe me, just ask any Singaporean son!

Evidently, I am much happier with my second helmet.

After some thought, I went for the Matt Black in the end.

Late at night, we went for our usual Mid-week night cycling. Today was a bit special. On top of test-wearing our new Limars, we were going on a reconnaissance ride. We call it The Office Recce. Gwyn will be attempting to cycle from home to work this friday, in commemoration of her last day in office. The planned route took us from Bishan Park through the Bishan-Kallang PCN to Potong Pasir Ave 1. From Potong Pasir Ave 1, we would hit Macpherson Road through Sennett Estate before getting on Tannery Lane to our destination.

Here is the overhead bridge that we had to cross on the Bishan-Kallang PCN at Braddell Road. (And yes there was a man bringing his bike down when the pic was taken) The ride was a breeze. It took less than an hour to reach our destination. Miraculously, the time taken via cycling compared to public transport (train + bus + walking) is about the same, if not shorter. Mission accomplished, we popped by the Soya Beancurd stall at Potong Pasir again on our way back. There was also time for some late night grocery shopping. Our T-Bag sure did come in handy!

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Sunday Ride: Khatib to Jalan Kayu to Casuarina

The weather was fine and the ride turn out was immaculate. Everyone was all geared up for Pratamania. Last Sunday, the lovecylingsg group went on the search for prata or some say Indian pizza. We gathered at 730am outside Khatib MRT, which was the starting point of what would prove to be an eventful Sunday morning ride. Here is our leader for the day addressing the pack just before the ride. Foldies, MTBs, Roadies were all out in good force. Here is the Touring Bag that we got on Saturday snuggly fitted. I anticipate it coming in real handy on future rides, especially the upcoming Pengerrang trip. We rode past the Seletar reservoir. Gwyn,with her ride taking time off for the camera. From Seletar resevoir, we took the Seletar North Link all the way to Punggol PCN. Besides the occassional trucks that consume the long stretch of road, Seletar North Link is usually free from traffic and really quite ideal for cycling. Do note though that Punggol PCN is still relatively new and some parts of the network are not fully functional/open at the time of writing, as we were to find out soon enough... As the saying goes, when there's a will, there's a way. MTBs braved the off road terrain, foldies and roadies precariously carried across. One way or another, with team work and spirit, we managed to overcome the obstacles along the way. Great team camaraderie displayed, exemplifying the love from lovecyclingsg... More road blocks along the way...It didn't take long to realise that nothing could stand in the way of those growling stomachs and prata kosongs though... Midway Checkpoint - SengKang Sports and Recreation Centre, one of the few SRCs with water slides. It was actually quite crowded on a Sunday morning. Finally, we arrived at Jalan Kayu and let the feast begin...It was kind of nice seeing a bunch of 30-40 odd cyclists invading Jalan Kayu with their bikes. How were the pratas? Decent, if you like the cross of fluffy and oily prata. I prefer them fluffy... After pratabrunch, we made our way from Jalan Kayu to Casuarina via Yio Chu Kang Road. Twice in a week, we battled the YCK road slopes. I guess that's why they say practice makes perfect. Less but still panting... At Casuarina, some inhabitants were spotted up to some monkey business... And that's when we came to a realization that not all litter are results from human inconsideration! We parted with the group as they went further on their journey via Old Upper Thomson Road and Mandai before heading back to Khatib MRT. We had a good time and it was a great workout. We'll like to thank the lovecyclingsg group for organising this ride.

Till next time, ride(and write) on!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Hunt for Handle-bar Bag

Today we embarked on a hunt for a suitable handle-bar bag for the brompton to load all our barang barangs during our rides. So far, we've tried haversacks, sling bags and saddle bags. The haversacks would usually end up soaked with our perspiration. Sling bags tend to sway out of position and imposed discomfort with its full weight solely on one shoulder. Saddle bags were great but the only problem was it is not big enough to store our camera! We started off with a short ride to Bike Stop along Upper Thomson. Nicely setup small bike shop catered to mostly MTBs and Road Bikes. Didn't manage to find a suitable bag there though and we ended up at Longhouse down the road for a quick bite. The popiah/rojak stall at the corner near the drinks stall is a must try! Next up would be C2C, Chapter 2 Cycling at Ang Mo Kio. We've heard good things about C2C but had no idea which part of AMK it was located. With the help of mobile internet technology, we managed to navigate our way there. It isn't that far away from Long House. C2C was a bigger setup, though, again we didn't manage to find a suitable handle-bar bag.

On our way back we rode past Skateline in Bishan Park. It had been making the headlines recently. NPARKS will not be renewing their lease at the park,which means no more bike rental at Bishan Park. Beats me why. We took a shot for keepsake.

Maybe we were looking in the wrong places, just as in life, sometimes the things that you're looking for are right in front of you. Well, not literally in our case. The Brompton T-Bag was exactly the bag that we were looking for. T stands for tour and the bag capacity is impressive. Like most things Brompton, the designs are well thought of. The T-Bag fits snuggly in front of our M handle bar. Fitting it in and taking it out is a breeze. We came to an agreement that this was worth the "investment" considering how it would help solve our barang barangs issue. Just as with the bikes, we got the bag from Diginexx. It's also worth mentioning that they were very kind to help straighten my rear lights after I took them out and couldn't "align" them back again. Great after sales service!

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Midweek Night Cycling: Khatib to Upper Thomson via Seletar and Yio Chu Kang road

Today, our foldies took their maiden ride on the SMRT train. Getting on the trains didn't pose major issues. It was however somewhat crowded along the NS line towards Khatib.

There was ample space and time for us to snap a couple of shots.

Many thanks to Joey for leading the way through from Khatib all the way to Upper Thomson. We rode across Seletar Reservoir which was surprisingly crowded with love birds, families, frat bros and such.

It was an easy casual ride, ideal as a warm up for this Sunday's ride with the peeps from lovecyclingsg. A couple of slopes were spotted along Yio Chu Kang Road towards Upper Thomson Road though. Slopes, always a challenge for novices like us.

I used the MapMyRide app for Android to track our route for the first time. App crashed a couple of times before finally saving our route. Handset restart did the trick.

Life's a journey, enjoy the ride!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Hello Brompton World!

Welcome to the world of Bromptons! We first came across the Brompton online during one of our research for our next foldable bike. A few makes made the fray; Brompton, Strida, Bike Friday and the IF mode. We came to a natural conclusion as to like most things in life, each has its own pros and cons. After some sleeping on and a trip down to Diginexx Singapore along Lavender Street for a test ride, we settled for the Brompton M6R. It didn't take me long to realise how effortless it was to fold a Brompton.

On the 16th July 2011, Kevin and Gwyn were officially bromptified. We're truly humbled to be a part of the Brompton community. Introducing, our yet to be named M6R Bromptons in Sage Green and Raw Lacquer.

Diginexx, along Lavender Street is the only place in Singapore to get your Bromptons.

Eager to get going and still burning from the existing hunger to cycle, we opted to skip driving and hit the road straight with our new rides. From Lavender Street, we slowly navigated our way home (Upper Thomson). Along the way, we stopped by a soya bean stall in Potong Pasir. If you haven't tried it, you should. It has got one of the smoothest soya bean curds that we have ever tried.

The compactness and portability of the Brompton were easily put to good use.

From Potong Pasir, we made our way to Bishan via the Kallang Bishan PCN. This is certainly not one of the most "well connected" PCNs available. There are a couple of traffic junctions to cross and a overhead bridge that you have to cross along Braddell Road. We were however very thankful for the weather. There were signs of a thunderstorm, but there was not a single drop of rain. It was like God knew we were cycling our way home.

Here is us getting a couple of snaps along the Bishan PCN. Someone looks very pleased with her new ride.

We made it back home after about an hour's ride. Check point- Mama Shop for 100 plus. An interesting thing about the Brompton is how the back wheel manages to slide its way forward to allow the bike to come to a stationary stop. And I must emphasis again how effortless it is to slide the back wheel forward.

And for the clean freak, it will be pleasing to note that once folded, the two wheels do not have contact with the ground! Simple yet ingenious if you ask me.

Kevin: Where should we go for dinner?

Gwyn: Let's cycle somewhere for dinner?

Kevin: Sin Ming?

Gwyn: New Ubin Seafood?

15 mins post per above conversation, we found ourselves seated comfortably, bromptons neatly tucked under the dining table, awaiting our dinner orders.

Dinner was quite good. The next time you happen to be there, try out their Ubin Bee Hoon. It's pretty good.

An Ode to Murphy and Tiki

Murphy and Tiki were our first rides. From the line of Raleigh foldable bikes, we stumbled upon them one fateful Saturday afternoon in a bike shop along Thomson Road. Ever since Gwyn and I moved to our own place in Upper Thomson, we had always wanted to pick up cycling as a new hobby. An hour, a couple of test rides and some deliberation later, our minds were set and we made payments for our first ever rides.

The next couple of weeks would be fanatic. We hit the road with Murphy and Tiki almost every other day. We embarked on our own Free and Easy itineraries, we tagged along a group of cycling enthusiasts for their weekly rides.

Here's Murphy checking in at the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

Being of the make Raleigh Broadway 20, they had 20 inch wheels and bore a 7 speed Shimano gear box. The 7 speed gear served us well, enabling us to tackle most of the slopes we've encountered thus far. Designed after the Dahon, they folded reasonably well, though not as compact as they could have been. As a gauge, only one of the them could fit into a SMRT taxi boot. The other had to go into the back seat.

At $350 a piece, I would consider them reasonable entry level bikes, suitable for the new rider looking to try out cycling as a hobby before taking the plunge to higher end bikes.

On 15th July 2011, we sold our first bikes to make way for the new Bromptons. We did get a little emotional after the transaction. Afterall, they were our first bikes and we have got a bit of those sentimental genes. Nevertheless, we're glad they found good owners and like they say with every ending is a new beginning, you just don't know it at that time. The only difference was, we knew it then.