Monday, 21 November 2011

Heng Ooi Khiang, Singapore's PBP Randonneur Extraordinaire

Meet Heng Ooi Khiang, Singapore's PBP Randonneur Extraordinaire.

If you're wondering what PBP stands for, it's not Pasir Ris Bishan Punggol but Paris Brest Paris. It's one of the oldest cycling events in the world and is held every 4 years in Paris. As suggested by its name, the ride will take the rider from Paris to Brest and back. The monster ride is 1200km long.

1200km is no mean feat. If 128km denotes iron butt status, surely 1200km falls under superhero class. And to cap it up, there is a time difficulty of 90 hrs. 1200km in 90 hrs, which is the average speed of 13km/h (not including sleeping time). Insane, if you ask me!

Before, you get too excited and leap off your seat to sign up for the next PBP, there is a time trial for interested participants. 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km, all under time controls.

Clear all four and you'll be rewarded with this qualifying medal...

Mr Heng shared his inspiration and words of wisdom with the 20 odd group gathered at Lifecycle@Punggol. One of the more notable advices we took home was that " it is not about the bike, but the rider."

From his testimony, you've got the fixies, recumbants and market bikes that managed to complete the entire PBP so it's definitely not about the bike. Some of us might be guilty of focusing too much attention on improving our bike specs and neglecting the real engine behind the ride - our legs and stamina.

The session also redefined how we look at things. There was a rider twice our age, a handicapped rider who participated with a prosthetic leg and a billow on a bike (lady that rode with a skirt). All three of them managed to complete the grueling 1200km in under 90hrs. This really makes you wonder if they can do it, maybe with ample training, you can too! It's all about the mind and making it work!

It was a fruitful and inspiring session and we were very privileged to be able to hear from the legend himself.
some stunning shots credited to Taiwoon

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Balestier Whampoa Heritage Ride

The crew gathered at 730am, Novena MRT for today's Balestier Whampoa Heritage ride.

Before we explored the neighborhood of Balestier and Whampoa, we made a slight detour towards Mount Pleasant Road, rode past the Polo Club along Jalan Mashhor(where we rode last week as well) before cranking up Andrew Road towards Mediacorp@Caldecott Hill.

We didn't see any stars. The closest stars we saw were from those while climbing uphill.

From Caldecott, we rolled down back towards Thomson Road and made our way to MacRitchie Reservoir. It was crowded, with lots of folks visiting the reservoir park. Most were joggers. It was really nice to see so many making a conscious effort to keep a healthy lifestyle.

The MacRitchie Reservoir landscape was beautiful. Somehow, despite the crowd, it exuded stillness and peace. There's just something about MacRitchie.

A lady found her Brompton calling and we gladly allowed her to take our's out for a test spin. Her friends in the background suggested pestering her son to get it for her, which we thought was hilarious.

Riding is for everyone, young or old!

Tucked in nicely at the corner of the street next to Whampoa Hawker Centre is where you'll find a traditional bakery that offers fresh bread.

Happy patrons spoilt for choice with what we call real bread.

The equipment and infrastructure that made it all possible. I finished an entire loaf, and that was after I had dinner. It's that good.

Did you know that there is a water dragon nestled in the midst of Whampoa? We were intrigued with the Whampoa dragon ever since we first read about it on RememberSG. Finally, we got to meet the relic in person today!

And it sure was a glorious sight. Tall, majestic dragon reaching out towards the sky. It's really a wonderful work of art, something that Singapore can be proud off.

Legend has it that the water dragon was built as a symbol to ward off fires in the kampong.

They should consider reinstating the dragon to its former full glory by reactivating the water fountain. Just imagine the sight...

The fountain is now defunct, so we took the opportunity to dunk in and perform our best impression of a water dragon.

Riding along the Whampoa PCN, we rolled by the old Shaw Bros studio and checked in at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, a museum established to commemorate the overseas' chinese contributions to the revolutionary movement in China, led by Dr Sun.

An entrance fee is chargeable to enter the museum, however you are free to roam outside of the building.

Monumental statue built in memory of Dr Sun Yat Sen.

Again, it was another enjoyable and enriching Sunday morning ride. Balestier Whampoa is an area rich in its own culture and heritage.

The Whampoa dragon is stunning, plus the bakery with the real bread, it won't be surprising if we find ourselves heading down the area soon again.

group shot credited to Steven Tang.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bukit Brown Ride

We visited Bukit Brown cemetery this morning with the announcement that this historical land site will soon be exhumed to make space for a new road to lessen traffic congestion along Lornie Road.

The start point for today's ride was at the Botanic Gardens but we opted to meet up with the group at the "gates".

We set off from Marymount MRT and headed towards Lornie Road via Thomson Road.

Like Lentor Ave, Lornie Road can get really busy with many fast moving cars. The pavement along the road was a great escape from the busy road. If you were not aware, the path connects all the way along Lornie Road, until just before the PIE exit.

In other words, it was as good as a cycling path to get through Lornie Road.

For most riders, the PIE exit at Lornie Road can be a real nightmare, having to filter at least 3 lanes to avoid the PIE.

A little known secret is that you can actually bypass that dangerous stretch via Kheam Hock Road.

Turn left at Kheam Hock Road and you'll find yourself in a very quiet and peaceful lane, away from all that chaos along Lornie Road.

Head about 200m down and you'll come to a T junction.

To get back onto Adam Road, continue going down Kheam Hock Road. Make a right along University Road and then another right at Chee Hoon Ave to rejoin Adam Road.

Turn left along Lor Halwa and you'll reach the "gates" of Bukit Brown Cemetery, which was the highlight of our ride today.

The path inside the cemetery goes in a loop. One way in, one way out.

Expect lots of serenity and peace within and maybe a few dog walkers. Seriously. If you're lucky, you might just bump into some horses. And no! It's not your eye playing tricks on you!

After a loop round Bukit Brown, we continued along Mount Pleasant road, Jalan Mashhor and bumped into this not so Singaporean sight.

It was our first time near the Polo Club and it was definitely a sight to behold.

While we were riding our steel horses, we bumped into riders on their real horses.

One rider, three horses!

By now, stomachs were churning. We got back on Thomson Road and made our way to breakfast at Upper Thomson. While some settled for Roti Prata, we went for Bak Chor Mee, which was excellent.

Together with great company and team spirit, we rode and explored a historical site, stumbled upon beautiful horses and had our share of good food.

Honestly, we couldn't ask for more. =)

some stunning shots credited to Taiwoon and KC.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Yishun Pond and Riding Lentor Avenue Safely

When I first got my Brompton, I opted for the raw lacquer because I thought it was a really cool finish. It was like love at first ride/sight. My heart melted with the "gold" brazing. In the few months thereafter, I've met up with quite a few fellow raw lacquer Brompton riders out there.

Here we have the Raw Lacquer Bromptons assembled for a photo shot at the start point for today's NParks Northern Explorer ride which was organized in conjunction with the launch of the new Yishun Pond.

From Sembawang Park we took the PCN towards Yishun Pond, which was located directly next to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital. This is some fancy hospital. You'll be forgiven for mistaking it for some high end apartment from afar. Definitely one of the good looking hospitals around.

There was a carnival awaiting us at the pond. We had the MPs from Sembawang GRC join us and they got on their bikes as well!

Ok, they were stationary bikes and they pedaled for a good minute or so. Some water works display was supposed to happen but I didn't see anything. Maybe they did not pedal hard enough...

On the ride home from Yishun Pond, I stumbled upon this gem of a path that runs along the entire stretch of Lentor Ave.

Lentor Avenue is one of those roads in Singapore whereby most cyclists would rather avoid. Lornie Road being another. Mainly because it's quite a long stretch without traffic lights and cars tend to go a bit faster. The exits to the SLE and PIE respectively can really be daunting, even for the seasoned cyclist.

This path provides an excellent alternative and acts as safe way in and out of Yishun without having to take the road.

The pavement can be a bit narrow at times, so it might get a little tricky when an oncoming jogger/biker approaches but that's about it.

Do note that the path only runs along one side of the road (alongside the MRT track), so if you're coming from AMK, you have to cross the traffic lights (at the junction towards YCK road) and head on to the path against traffic flow.

To avoid the tricky Lentor Ave, we used to take the train to Khatib whenever we wanted to get to Yishun Dam. I think we might have just found our safe way to Yishun Dam directly.

We'll try it out some time soon.

Yishun Pond Carnival shot credited to KC

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Punggol Waterway Night Ride

On Hari Raya Haji, LCSG rode along the new Punggol Waterway.

We had our very own Three Bikerteers join us straight from the Woodlands Checkpoint shortly after returning from their ride to Mersing. Respect.

It's really quite a small world and cycling makes it even smaller. We met Mel during the ride. Our dogs (yeah you read that right) are long time friends. Reina and Billie Jean met online about 4 years ago. Reina says hi!

It was really nice having Mel join us for the ride. We look forward to riding together more often in the near future!

Bernard led us through the new Punggol Waterway. NParks and the relevant authorities have done a great job with the new Waterway. Punggol residents can attest to that. Property prices have probably gone up since the launch of the waterway. It is a beautiful place for cycling.

Group shot on the Waterway bridge. About 50 riders turned up for the ride. Massive for a monday night ride!

It was a great ride, more so when you get some love from Taiwan...

Encik George brought home a Brompton basket for us. Since the day we got our Bromptons, Gwyn has been on the look out for a front basket. We contemplated DIY, but ensuring that the construction was firm and stable was always going to be a challenge.

The basket fits perfectly!

Attached to the Brompton bracket and further secured by velcro, stability was achieved. Gwyn spent little time pimping up her new basket with flowers from our Wedding.

And we had our VID (Very Important Dog) grace the basket. Looking good, though it's unlikely we'll transport them in our basket. We'll probably get a dog trailer. The basket is more for our Mee Poks and Char Kway Teows...

night shots credited to Taiwoon

Monday, 7 November 2011

Bike and the City

The only thing predictable about the weather these days is that it's so unpredictable. It can be raining in the wee hours and the nation wakes up to news of a flash flood, get really hot near noon and then showers again in the late afternoon.

The unpredictable weather pattern can really be a nightmare for cyclists out there. Should we go riding today, should we not? Yesterday, we faced the same dilemma but thankfully, we made the right choice!

They say that luck favors the brave. Over at LCSG, they top it up with a lovely customized hand sewn key ring!

About 20 riders gathered at Lavender MRT, which would be the start and end point for the day's city sightseeing ride.

Cycling brings together people from all walks of life! Now, strangers no more!

From Lavender, we were led entirely on pavement to Kallang Riverside and the F1 pit building. The beauty about exploring the city on bikes is really the ability to go into places where motor cars can't and cover distances which our legs don't.

If you ask me, riding must be the penultimate way of exploring and experiencing our city!

The weather was perfect as Heaven's gate held up for us. Those present can testify how cool a ride it was!

The area between the F1 pit building and Singapore Flyer is like a gold mine for photography. On one side you have the splendid Flyer.

On the other you've got the view of the Marina.

From the Flyer, we proceeded on past the Floating Platform, Esplanade park and down Robertson Quay. All of it entirely on pavement. It's perfectly safe and ideal for riders not the most comfortable riding on the road. Definitely also one for the family!

We stopped at Zion Road hawker centre for breakfast. The centre has got one of the more bike friendly designs around. Look at the amount of space!

Unfortunately, Zion Road hawker centre is more of a night market. At 10 ish, most of the stalls were closed. If you do happen to be in the area in the evening, you have to check out Adam Road Big Prawn Noodles, one of the best prawn noodles we've tried to date. It's located near the extreme end, on the side of the washrooms.

From Zion Road, we continued along the Alexandra PCN.

It brought us to Dawson estate, where some of our members found their younger side!

I must say that Dawson estate is looking pretty good at the moment. It seems like a really peaceful estate. Situated just off Tanglin Road, it's near town and has a PCN that runs through it.

Currently, there are a couple of BTO flats in the building process. In a couple of years time, the Dawson area should be some sight.

From Dawson, we were merely about 1 km away from the Old Queenstown cinema. Not too sure how long this building will be around. The old hawker centre nearby is already gone.

We took every opportunity for a picturesque group shot.

We live in a beautiful city and more often than not take our city landscape for granted. It was a great experience slowing down and embracing the beauty of our City on a cool Sunday morning.

The City ride has always been one of my favorites and very much still is.

amazing pictures credited to Taiwoon