akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

23.04.2010 Night Ride on road

Friday night Night Ride.

This is the second time I’m joining the guys in Pasir Gudang for their NR. The first time was their offroad, and this time on road (the usual). As the ride was confirmed by Panjang to be on road, I didn’t change the slicks on the wheelsets from the previous RTW. Advantage for me, then.

Hehehe…

 

I was a bit late going out, for I had to dig out the rear carrier rack from the storeroom, install it on the car, and hang my bike there securely. When I arrived, I had to park a bit far from the meeting point – quite a big crowd that night. Didn’t waste much time, I was on my feet and got ready. One thing I left out – my water bottle. Darn it. Bought a 600ml Revive from the nearby grocery store and got a few rubber bands to secure it on my frame bottle cage. Boleh lah…

 

We went out at about 9.45 pm. Rode to Taman Scientex roundabout, and headed towards Taman Cahaya Masai. A little bit of offroad and we went through to Kota Masai. Headed out to Tanjung Langsat via the long stretch. That’s where the fun began.

 

Panjang led us, and I followed near him at the back. Then suddenly he pulled up steadily. I drafted along. What pure bliss of speed, without as much effort. We reached 43 km/h at times, and that’s for quite some time. I didn’t feel quite as exhausted as I would, comparing that to my lone RTW sprints.

 

We went into Kota Masai (forgot which area), took a right and cut through the offroad to go up the E22 highway. Nice. My first time riding a bicycle on the new highway (or any other highway, for that matter…). Again, I rode in the front group. Kadafi, led and 5 of us packed behind him drafting merrily. Most of the time it was around 25 km/h, perhaps due to his 32T single front (with 9 on the rear).

 

At one section I went in front and took charge. Whoa! Such a big difference when you’re in front trying to pull up high speed (and maintaining it). Albeit, it’s a different kind of high. I think I didn’t lead for long, perhaps only for a few kilometers. A glance on the meter, it showed 43 km/h for quite some time.

 

We stopped at Shell station and recharged while having a rest. From Shell we took a back road and soon after we were in the darkness of Sungai Tiram en route to the dam. Not long after that we were back in Taman Scientex; and again, Panjang led the charge towards Kafe Ruza. Me, drafting while panting to keep up. My meter showed 40.78 km distance covered.

 

I enjoyed the ride enormously. Road riding at night with slicks, drafting, E22, and my odometer now passed the 4000 km mark. Simply fabulous.



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Friday, 16 April 2010

Why I RTW

RTW = Ride To Work
!caution: plenty of words below (1,175 to be exact), with no photos or fancy diagrams.
 
to justify the $
Oh yes, $ is the first factor :)
 
I spent quite a considerable sum (to my standard) for a pedal-powered two-wheeler. A 25 km ride over a weekend seems to be unjustified with the amount of dough and passion spent over it. Thus, to extract as much possible benefit, I make it a point to ride at least 2 days in a week to the office. That would easily make my odometer reading added about 50 km per week. Added with an offroad ride during the weekend (not on working Saturday weekend, though), it would make my total riding about 75km a week. Not much, but it's definitely better than having the bike idle sitting pretty in a showroom condition in the house for two weeks.
 
saves me some $
Af course, it would. Albeit, I don't really calculate it. That may come in a direct and indirect avenues. Directly, that means lesser $ spent on fuel. Yup, just fuel. No tolls in Pasir Gudang and no parking fee for my workplace parking space. Indirectly, $ saved (hopefully) would be on medical bills and gym. Okay, those don't actually qualify, as my company medical support is quite good; and I have never joined a gym. However, the maintenance of the bike and worn parts to be replaced may offset the measly amount of $ from the fuel saving (15km to and fro the workplace by car). So, no, in my opinion RTW does not really directly save me big $.
 
get the kilometers
I'm working on an alternate Saturdays basis. To be fair to the family at home, I'm restricting my offroad rides to only during non-working weekends. That means, blood donation, mud splattering (and perhaps proper bike wash after all that) are only on the first and third Sundays. So, if I'm consistent enough, that would make my total monthly riding about 250 km. Good enough, compared to 50 km of weekend-only offroad rides.
 
to satisfy the crave
Before RTW, I used to crave for bike rides (perhaps endorphin), so much so that I would go for weekday night rides. Of course, that's much to the dismay of the missus, and a quite lethargic feeling at the office the day after (unless if I RTW, to combat that - see below). There's still an urge within to go for night rides, though, as the feeling is different. However, it is not as bad as it was back then. I would be okay to stay at home if I couldn't ride with the guys (currently people in Pasir Gudang doing night rides every Friday), for I have enough kilometers from my RTWs.
 
one less car
If you're on your motor-powered vehicles along the Pasir Gudang Highway on a weekday morning towards Pasir Gudang, you'll be greeted with a couple of hundred meters traffic jam right before the entrance to MMHE. Ditto on the evening (5-7pm), towards Johor Bahru. You'll get stuck in a jam right after MMHE. Right now, there are more than 3,000 workers in the yard at any one time on a weekday. Thousands of motorcycles in the external parking area and in the yard. Hundreds of cars too. My in-yard motorcar parking privilege has ended last year, hence I have to park my car outside in the parking area. This, plus a 10 minute walk into the yard to the office.
 
RTW eliminates not only one car on the highway, but on the congested parking lot.
 
door-to-door transport
RTW provides the most delightful, walk-free transport. I don't have to walk from the parking lot to get to the office, rather cycling straight to the office building entrance. It's door-to-door commuting, literally. Okay, not really from the door of my house, but from the gate outside.
 
consistent journey time
It's quite a straightforward thing. My RTW would almost definitely ensure a consistent 40 minutes journey maximum, if there's no emergencies or accidents.In many occasion it's much lesser than that, particularly if I decided along the way to do it aggressively.
 
At first I thought the journey time would be affected by how early I get out of the house. A few minutes before 7 am would ensure a smooth ride, with lesser vehicles on the road. Ten minutes after 7 am, and I would face a heavy traffic. However, as the route is more or less regulated by traffic lights at a certain spots, it does not make much difference, time wise. Of course, I prefer to be early - not much smog along the way.
 
health
I can't really say that my health improves, for I did not measure it. However, my general wellbeing is taken care of. I had a period of weight loss for some time, but my colleagues and friends told me that I'm too skinny. Now I'm back to my normal weight of around 70 kg, and I'm feeling good.
 
exercise and peace of mind
It is also obvious that RTW provides me the exercise that I need. With the sweat (and odor), endorphin released and I get inner satisfaction. This translates to positive attitude in the office. Stress at work (if any) got released during the evening ride home.
 
'me' time
My RTW rides are quite solitary. I take the opportunity to be alone, just me and my bike gliding through the tarmac. It is also a good time for reflection, sometimes. Most definitely, as I don't use any ear-plugging device for music or such (solely due to safety reasons), it is filled with zikr. Albeit, I would sometime slip into humming a song playing in my head. Hmm...
 
no more instant coffee
I used to chug a mug of Nescafe if I'm feeling sleepy at the office, especially due to short of sleep the night before. Now, to combat that, is a refreshing RTW. I could manage to keep awake for the day provided that I have a short nap during lunch hour. The ride may be a bit slow at first, and the body is a bit tired; when I break sweat, however, the ride is as normal. Also, my stomach seems to reject Nescafe and coffee in general nowadays; while at the same time, I prefer tea.
 
patriotic
This one is a paradigm pointed out by fellow bicycle commuter, Azizan Fixie. I'm using lesser petrol, hence lesser subsidy from the government. I save some $, and hopefully it would be channeled to appropriate causes.
 
carbon footprint
I don't really calculate what's my carbon footprint. However, 2 days in a week without using the car for a total of about 40 km journey to and fro would certainly count into something. That's my contribution to the environment, no matter if it's small.
 
 
Ultimately, I RTW because I can.
Alhamdulillah, I hope this blessed bliss would continue for many more years to come.
 
With the support from Mak and Naza, it's doable. Thank you to you both!
 
Thanks for dropping by.
Have a nice ride.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

11.04.2010 Seri Alam Offroad: MMHE > 1/3

aerial view of the lake, taken aboard Kuching-Senai flight last Thursday.



15 riders, including me. 6 from MMHE altogether – that’s more than one-third of the pack, a good sign. Perhaps MMHE could send a respectable number of contingent for this year’s Petronas MTB Jamboree. Yad, however, didn’t turn up (woi der, bila nak start kayuh offroad lepas kawen ni?). He told me that approval for ride permit could not be obtained. Err… welcome to the world, man. On the other hand, Mlake the newlywed did turn up after a very long hiatus.



Panjang decided to start the ride coming in from Flora Heights; and so I met them there, atop the hill on the tarmac. Quite an effort on my side, I must say, tackling the hills en route to FH. Luckily I went out early, so I could get a few minutes of rest before joining the rest of the riders coming from Nusa Damai. Among the riders was a newbie, Hj Mat from MMHE with his T-Bolt. Quite a delight to see more and more of MMHE folks taking up mountain biking, I’m smiling inside.



We went into the rubber estate up a mild ascent which continues for quite a distance. A mandatory rest atop the hill followed, before bombing down the rodeo. As soon as I stopped for a rest, my exposed skins (arms and calf) swarmed by a hoard of mosquitoes. Blood donation drive, there (and every stop elsewhere too). After a few minutes of rest, we continued down the rodeo. Moving on, almost everyone went down the steep and short ledge (Zaid, kau masih belum lepas lagi kan?). To tell the truth, I hesitated at first. In the end, I positioned my butt way back and tackled it nicely.



We went to the usual landmarks, but only for a brief stop at each place – Mashi Maro, Badminton.



9 of us went to the lake, while Panjang went back early, for he didn’t feel quite well. Ehm ehm, there were also 5 others who went out with him, as ‘escorts’. Quite a disheartening view at the lake, seeing it further depleted. You can see in the photo above, it’s the greyish section of the lake – left fork on the 5th 4th finger from the right. We didn’t stop for long, as it is quite a dumb thing to loiter around under the hot sun. Anyway, that’s the only stop where mosquitoes weren’t present.



Went out at Seri Alam, near the horse ranch at about 12 noon. I cycled home early that day much to the delight of my missus. And, the bike’s not so dirty, so I parked it in the house nicely without any cleaning necessary.

:D



Oh, I got a medal on my left thigh, from a fall. I have this nagging problem of tackling the snaking rut on one of the sections. Need to improve on that. Luckily I didn’t fall on the nearby stump.








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Wednesday, 7 April 2010

04.04.2010 - Seri Alam Offroad in the rain

Last Saturday after cutting the grass (or is it lalang?) I spent some time cleaning up both bikes - the missus' and mine. Plus the slicks wheelset that I use for my RTW. Well, not the whole bike, just the drivetrains.
 
Cleaned up the chain on the bike (a bit lazy to take it off for a full cleaning job), and cassettes too. Two chains and 3 cassettes. Lubed them up, and stood back to admire the gleaming drivetrain. Whole lot of fun.
 
The Area A3 (Kluang, Seri Alam, Pasir Gudang & YPJ) Div.A District 51 International Speech & Table Topics Contest was supposed to be on last Sunday, but postponed to 11th April. And so, I was rearing to go for offroad last Sunday, since I could procrastinate another week of speech prep and practice (aiyah... sure kalah one, like that).
 
SMSed Panjang on Saturday evening to check if he'll be riding offroad, but went unanswered until early morning on Sunday. The message tone from my phone was accompanied by the melody of the rain outside. It was about 6.40 am; still early to discount the ride cancellation possibility.
 
Yad, my office mate (a newlywed who had been putting off cycling offroad for quite some time due to ehm ehm), SMSed me asking if the ride is on. I told him Seri Alam is still raining, and I sensed that the bed is more appetizing than the ride with that kind of weather for him, that morning.
 
I hoped and prayed (while Naza was smiling as she snuggled on the bed fluffing my pillow besider her) that the rain would stop and daddy could go out and play. A series of SMS with Panjang and Yad later, I decided to stay at home. Err... in bed, more accurately.
:)
 
With the laziness of a Sunday, the comforting symphony of the rain, and the somewhat bright but cloudless sky, it's a reminiscence of the days in Manchester (yes, it's raining practically every day over there).
 
The prospect of cleaning again the drivetrain (of course, not the whole bike!) from mud, dirt and whatever-you-may-have, plus the possibility of grinding to zero my precious brake pads put me off the thoughts of riding offroad in the rain that day.
 
So I went back to bed lah.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Mahalnya!

Masa aku dah start boleh kayuh basikal waktu kecik-kecik dulu, waktu tu zaman BMX tengah popular. Tak terdaya nak beli basikal sendiri, sebab harga $200 (masih guna simbol $, Anwar Ibrahim belum tukar jadikan RM) untuk BMX Skyway bagi seorang budak darjah tiga masa tu amatlah besar. Berapa banyak Lego boleh dibeli tu.

Kenapa Skyway? Entah, mungkin sebab keratan rentas batang kerangka dia bentuk 'diamond' agaknya. Sakit punggung kalau tumpang duduk membonceng dengan kawan (harapnya orang takkan tumpang duduk). Agak unik juga lah, bentuk batang kerangka sebegitu. Apa kelass kalau batang kerangka jenis bulat, kan.

Kira-kira kalau kumpul seposen sehari, maunya ambil masa 5.5 tahun nak kumpul. Boleh la, seposen dari lima posen duit belanja harian. Ikat perut siket. Tapi itu kalau masuk Sabtu & Ahad, cuti umum dan cuti sekolah; mana ada dapat duit belanja sekolah pada hari tak sekolah, kan. Duit raya pulak masuk tabung. Jadi, senang cerita, lima posen sehari digunakan sepenuhnya di kantin sekolah.
:P

Namun itu tak bererti kita tak boleh berangan. Maka aku pergi lah jugak jenguk-jenguk antara kedai basikal tersohor kat KL masa tu, Kedai Basikal Sum Ming. Kedainya masa tu kat Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, kat belah belah panggung Coliseum. Sum Ming ni siap ada team BMX, bukan calang-calang juga. Kalau diorang masuk race Hari Wilayah kat Taman Tasik Titiwangsa, memang ada aje lah rider team lain yang makan pasir (BMX takde asap. Pasir? Err... pasir trek).

Terkejut aku tengok, kat dalam kotak tersergam kemas crankset Shimano untuk basikal racing (sekarang-sekarang ni orang panggil 'road bike') dengan harga selamba $250. Mak aii... harga barang aje dah lebih dari harga basikal idaman. Masa tu, Shimano aje lah brand yang up siket, yang kitorang tahu.

Tapi itu dulu... masa aku tak berapa faham tentang prestasi. Dah budak-budak kan, asal dapat kayuh aje dah kira sedap la tu. Tambah pulak bila tak ada basikal sendiri. Dan masa tu minda pun masih budak-budak lagi, belum disogokkan dengan ini:
Keith Bontrager kata "Strong, Light, Cheap... pick 2".

Maknanya, kalau nak basikal yang kuat dan ringan, tak murah. Kalau nak basikal murah dan ringan, tak kuat. Macam basikal-basikal kat Giant tu lah. Err... Giant supermarket, bukan brand Giant. Kalau nak basikal yang murah dan kuat, tak ringan lah. Ada betulnya, dan aku tambah lagi: kelancaran mekanikal, cantik, bergaya, dan (mungkin) tahan lama.
nota: basikal kat supermarket biasanya berat, tak kuat dan murah.

Lepas tu, masa aku makin membesar dan membaca lebih sikit dari waktu budak-budak, ada terjumpa kata-kata dari Confucius:
"Cheap thing no good, good thing no cheap".

Tentunya Confucius tak berkata-kata dalam Bahasa Inggeris, tapi kita fahamlah kan maksudnya tu. Kalau aku letak kata-kata tu dalam bahasa Cina, aku pun tak faham juga. Lagipun nampak macam cantik siket bila letak dalam Bahasa Inggeris dengan telo Cina.
:)

Lepas tu pulak aku belajar lagi, dalam kejuruteraan. Adalah sikit-sikit belajar pasal rekacipta, pembuatan, dan sebagainya. Maka fahamlah sikit sebanyak tentang prosesnya. Agak rumit dan perlukan masa yang lama. Kalau masa itu emas, maka kos untuk keluarkan produk yang bagus agak tinggi. Kalau nak masa yang singkat, senang aje. Beli masa. Maknanya, tambahlah pekerja. Natijahnya, memang kena keluarkan kos yang tinggi. Tambah pulak untuk produk yang inovatif dan pioneer.

Jadi sekarang ni aku dah faham tentang mengapa harga crankset tu macam tu (dan jugak mengapa kedai basikal jual kerangka sahaja; tapi itu untuk cerita di lain hari). Aku jugak dah pernah naik basikal yang murah dilengkapi komponen yang 'asal boleh'. Rasanya memang berbeza. Dan itulah yang kita bayar.

Orang putih-putih (kata abang aku) ada berkata-kata: "You get what you pay for".


Sekarang-sekarang ni kalau ada antara kawan-kawan aku yang tersenyum sinis bila aku kata basikal aku harga RMxxxx (empat digit tu), aku pun turut senyum juga lah. Kalau diorang nak tanya kenapa mahal macam tu, aku sedia huraikan. Kalau diorang nak bandingkan harga basikal aku dengan harga motor, silakan. Tapi tak logik lah kalau basikal yang jauh lebih bagus daripada basikal kat supermaket dibandingkan dengan kapcai aje kan. Kurang-kurang pun, taraf Ninja jugak tu.

Walaubagaimanapun, jom Ahad ni bawak masuk kapcai kau; kita layan offroad kat Plentong.