akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Thursday 10 October 2013

Saddles: Tioga Spyder - be cautioned

sexy arachnid
I love the idea and technology put forth by Tioga in their Spyder saddles. They are weird (almost always a talking point) and weigh no more than 150g (for road variants). Perfect for weight-weenies.
In their offering, there are three variants:
Spyder Twin Tail (recommended for Road, 135g),
Spyder (recommended for road, 140g), and
D Spyder (recommended for offroad, 175g).
It is not uncommon for mountain bikers (XC especially) using the ones recommended for road bikes. No problem, I guess. However, they are not guaranteed to last long. In fact, Tioga also mentioned a recommended rider weight limit on those. So, know what you're sitting on.
If you own any of these, then read on:
1. Spyder
2. Spyder Twin Tail
Important information taken from Tioga's FAQ page.
1. How Durable Is The Spyder Saddle?
--> While the SPYDER and SPYDER TWIN-TAIL saddles surpassed standards set under well established and respected methods for testing bicycle saddles, lab testing is only able to simulate very specific riding action and thus impossible to take into account real world riding environment which have vast varieties of terrain conditions, rider ability/skill, rider anatomy, etc. Tioga therefore advise riders to replace the SPYDER and SPYDER TWIN-TAIL saddles after one full year for safe and effective operation.
2. Shouldn't A Quality Saddle Last More Than One Year?
--> While a saddle may appear to last a long time, its effective performance lifespan is usually shorter than it seems.
A performance saddle has shock absorbing parts such as padding and plastic shell, but similar to the sole of a pair of high performance running shoes, these shock absorbing members deteriorate quickly with fatigue. To insure most effective energy absorption and optimal performance, it is generally advisable to replace any high performance saddle often, regardless of its appearance.
In the particular case of the SPYDER and SPYDER TWIN-TAIL saddles, the articulating shell is not only designed to absorb energy, but also to support the rider's weight. To avoid any inadvertent failure of the saddle due to fatigue, Tioga especially urge users to replace it with another SPYDER saddle once a year.
3. Is There A Weight Limit?
--> The SPYDER and SPYDER TWIN-TAIL saddles have been tested to adequately absorb shock for riders up to 190lbs. There is no weight limit for the D-Spyder saddle.
Note: 190lbs = 86.2kg
Anyway, I'll take the above as a guide. I believe real world usage may seem to differ.
Do you own one?
What's your experience?
photo taken from here.

Thursday 3 October 2013

Running Complements Cycling

I find this true. Such a revelation.

Perhaps because when I'm running, my heart rate is higher compared to when I'm cycling.

As my heart is conditioned to the much higher threshold, cycling seems a little bit easier. My heart rate during cycling (offroad) is about 30-35 beats per minute lower than during running. Only during a steep climb it would match my running heart rate.

So every now and then it is good to have running as part of my exercise. Get my heart some extra loving. It is much easier (and cheaper) to do, equipment wise.

May I suggest that you take it up too?

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Tuesday 24 September 2013

23.09.2013 - First Ride in Senawang

Monday 23.09.2013
Taman Seremban Jaya - Taman Desa Ros - Taman Seremban Jaya

I brought the bike back to Senawang after BH2013, primarily to have it cleaned up. At the back of my head, I was thinking of doing night rides perhaps once in a week besides running. I missed out last week's NR up to Bukit Putus (also in my ride wishlist) with the gang from Perpatih Cycling, and this was in a way a warm up for this week's ride.
I was supposed to have a look-check on the grille and electrical works for the house in Desa Ros, so I decided to go there by cycling. Good excuse, eh?

The distance is not that far from my parents house in Senawang, only about 7km. However, my Sports Tracker registered an elevation gain of 147m. Mostly climbing, along the way. I like it that way, for the payback awaits on the way home - only one mild climbing uphill. A total of an hour to get there and back, I think it is enough for a night's spinning.

Well, not too bad for my first ride in Senawang.

Looking forward for the Wednesday's ride up Bukit Putus.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

My earliest writing about bicycle

While doing some cleaning at his mother's house, my schoolmate Ahmad Bahar found the school magazine. It was of the year when we were leaving primary school. Pretty cool.

To my surprise, I didn't even remember about this piece that I wrote back then.

This has got to be my earliest writing of a bicycle related article found so far.

Notice my affection with Skyway BMX was hinted therein.

Familiar with the other name in the photo? No, not Lincoln and Munsyi Abdullah. Google the name together with 'Titiwangsa'.

Monday 17 June 2013

Event: Wa Cycles XC Challenge 2013 (16.06.2013)

48km (plus 4) in a day on a hardtail
Almost without much thinking, I registered 10 days before the event date. Thankfully the organiser did not impose late entry penalty fee. So, what the heck.
I'm not that much into a race, but somehow this one seems interesting. FYI, I registered under Men's Open category, of which I definitely don't have the slightest chance of winning anything except the lucky draw. Anyway, I created another race category just for me - Challenge Yourself.
So, the main objective of my entry is to see whether I can finish the whole 46km route. It's a tall order for me, with not much training except for last week's night ride event and twice a week dose of 6km running.  Another objective is to enjoy the trails in Seri Alam and Plentong which I hadn't set foot on for a few weeks already.
That said, I did prepare my machine to get me through. Parts from Trance were transferred to the dormant EPX Hollowpoint frame. The idea is to have a lighter bike to get me through the challenge. Unlike the previous rides, this time I planned to pack light. No backpack, no hydration bladder, just a small pack on the saddle and a water bottle plus hand pump on the bike frame. Ride free with nothing on my back. However, I still have the essential spares and ready, stuffed in the saddle pack (okay, that makes the lightness of the bike nearly cancelled out but I do need the peace of mind).
The starting point is at Tasik Seri Alam, in front of MUCH college. It is just 2km away from my house, so no problem for me in terms of logistics. I got ready from home and pedaled to the place.
Below is something that I'd like to note about the event.
My ride
I was in the third group of riders at the starting line, at about 8.15am. The organiser arranged so that the flag off is done in a group of 200 riders. I started quite strong for the first 2km (haha!) on the tarmac before hitting the first of the series of hills leading up to Flora Heights. Being familiar with the route does help, in that I could plan my energy and when to exert power or relax.
I almost caught up with the urge to race, being in the atmosphere where most of the riders were spinning like nobody's business. I stuck to the game plan - to finish the ride.
The ride to the first checkpoint (CP1) was quite torturous at the beginning. I was pushing the bike up to the apex of Bukit Wajib after Flora Heights. After that, I was really enjoying the ride especially down the rodeo line at the rubber estate albeit on a hardtail. I arrived at CP1 feeling exhilirated. Replenished my bottle and moved on.
However, unexpectedly, I had this feeling of wanting to bail out at CP2 but it was not that strong. This is after the climb behind Cactus Inn, and 1km away from CP2 which is at a place PG Gerekers dubbed as 'Simpang Brake Pad'. Perhaps I was thinking too much about my lack of training and lack of sleep making me wanted to give in. Perhaps also my back and thighs could not stand the torture of the trail bumps on a hardtail. At least I wasn't slapping my forehead for not taking Trance for this ride.
When I got to CP2 (26th km) circa 10.00 am, there were no bananas but only water available. And the misinformed lass at CP2 told me that CP3 is 20km away (what?). Whereas, Brake Pad is only 3km from the starting point. I asked her about the chicken route. She said that thus far nobody had gone on a chicken route. So there's my dilemma: on the right is a torturous 20km home and to the left is the short ride home but with my pride crushed to pieces. Of course, a man would sacrifice torture for his pride. And so I took the right turn.
Along the way, I bypassed my schoolmate Fahmi of Kulai's PTK. Right then I knew that I'm faster than him as he was in the first group at the starting point. I also met a group of friends on their leisure Sunday ride - Helmy, Zack and his wife Pah with 2 others. I stopped for Pah's offering of pineapple tarts and a quick chat, then sped away with a tart in my mouth for my energy burst along with some moral boost. Thanks, gang!
Fortunately, CP3 was only 10km away at Ban Foo. I took my sweet time devouring a couple of bananas and replenish my water bottle. Soon after I was joined by Fahmi and we went off shortly after. And shortly after that I left him and headed strong towards the finish line.
With about 10km to go and in Plentong, it was not going to be easy. However I persevered and reminded myself that this is not a race with others but only to prove myself that I could endure some suffering. It is doable, if I take it easy and manage my energy. Much like what I've learnt a few days before that on a run at Lake Garden - as I wanted so badly to stop after the first 3km fast loop, I ran at a slower pace and steadily finished another loop.
I'd say the finishing 2km was torturous - a desert-like area full of gravels and a couple of hills after that really squeezed ounces of energy and mental juice out of me. I triumphed over them, and was out to the tarmac and crossed the finish line at about 12.15 pm.
Yesss! Alhamdulillah, I did it! And alhamdulillah, the weather was nice for offroad riding. Yes it was hot, as it has been these past few weeks, but it's not wet that it would make a good ride a bit torturous and even risky.
After lunch and cooled down, I pedaled home. 52km in total that day. Whew!
The results:
261 in Open category (377 riders completed)
416 in Overall ranking (586 riders completed)
FIRST in Challenge Yourself
Event organisation
My registration was done without much hassle. No problem with that. Good job.
Goodie bags collection was done a day before the event, up to 9pm at Jason's bike shop in Masai. As usual, they could also be collected during the morning before the event starts. Good job.
The race is using timing chip by DirTraction. Accurate timing is ensured and would dismiss any dispute in regards to timing and ranking. A good move in employing available technology. Kudos.
I tried to listen to the pre-ride briefing, but could not really get the details. This is because the position of the speakers are not facing the riders. At the back, all I could hear was some mumbling and noise. I had to go the front and could only pick up some of the info being briefed to all. Need to be improved for the next time.
The starting line is at Tasik Seri Alam, with the road closed to give way for riders to spread along the effective 4-lane road soon after the flag off. Flag off was done in a multiple groups of 200 riders. This is a manageable crowd and ensures that the road is not jam packed at the beginning. Besides, for a race it is a good way to give the faster riders in each category a chance to make way to the front of the pack.
The route was an eclectic mix of terrain with gradients for each. There are tarmac, open trail, loose gravel, rubber estate singletracks, palm oil plantation double tracks, sand, roots, long flowy downhill (after a torturous climb), small stream crossings, with a small section of technical singletrack.
Much of the trail is under the shade. The ending is a crossing of a desert and riders are met with a climb on a loose gravel route. I thought that if the finish line is not nearby, I'd given up spinning and take a good rest before climbing up.
I love the trail. Not too punishing, but not quite a walk in the park. I'm sure the organiser was spoilt for choice when it comes to concocting the right trail mix for the riders to enjoy (or suffer). Just that I was looking forward to go through the canopy trail but that was not included in their mix.
Check out the route map here.
Waypoints and Manning
It's a 5/5 stars rating from me. The markings and waypoints along the route are not too far apart, with potential astray exits cordoned off i.e. at forks. Shredded papers are more than enough strewn on the trail at strategic points. I don't think that anyone would be easily leered away off the trail and get lost.
Apparently, some did. I did at a point, but that was because I was blindly following the rider in front who perhaps was so eager to ride down the steep hill and cross the bridge over a small river. As soon as someone alarmed that there are no markings ahead, we backtracked and quickly found the right path.
Manning is adequate with some trail crews were stationed at turns and danger points to give caution.
I think the CPs are nicely distanced apart. I had no problems getting to CP1, but towards CP2 was quite tiring. If only the people at CP2 had correctly informed me that CP3 is just 10km away instead of 20km, that would be a morale booster for me to go through.
Bananas were not available when I reached CP1 and CP2 but water aplenty.
Toilets: I don't see portable ones nearby. Perhaps some riders went into the ones in MUCH building for that?
Bike wash: None around, so people had to go home with dirt on their bikes and spend some time later at home (or a nearby carwash) for cleaning up.
Lunch and finish point drinks
Lunch provided is typical Malay food - rice with curry chicken and cabbage. More thatn enough to fill the stomach but perhaps some would reject the curry. I had no problem with that, though.
Apparently there were 100 Plus drinks being served but not available for slow riders like me. However, I got lots of cold grape cordial drink while cooling down while having lunch under the tent next to the main event tent. But not the same as downing 100 Plus after draining your liquid through the trails.
Goodie bag
A very nice Giant paper bag, filled with a (not 100% cotton) t-shirt and some tidbits. Personally, I'd do without the t-shirt and have the entry fee lowered or spent on a decent metal medal instead. Too much bike event t-shirt and jersey in my wardrobe already. Medals are now my favourable collectibles, but only good quality ones.
Lucky draw
I didn't stay for long to wait for the lucky draw and left my plate with someone on my behalf. Anyway, I didn't win any. Never mind, for it would be a big hassle for me to bring home a bike frame on a bike.
A note to the organiser:
Kudos for putting up a successful event. The trail is good, and the mix was nice - not too punishing, but not that easy also. Anyone with ample training would be able to finish it, only the time to finish it would separate the best, the good and the able.
Thank you for having the event put up for us to enjoy. I'm sure there are complaints and points for improvement being thrown to you. I have a few points too, within the paragraphs above. Do take them positively, and I'm one here to say that it is not perfect but good enough, with a few things to be looked at for the next edition.
Race results (downloaded, in .PDF):
Thanks for coming by and taking the time to read.
Enjoy your ride!

Monday 15 April 2013

Plentong Epic Ride 2013 - registration is now open!

Registration is now open!

When: 26.05.2013 Sunday
Where: N1 31.420 E103 49.242
Flag off: 0830 hours

50km through palm oil & rubber plantation, fruit farm, flat trail, desert-like open trail, downhill (and of course, climb), technical trail, rolling wavy singletrail and tarmac.
5 checkpoints with a few chicken routes and lorry pickup points.
Packed lunch provided.
Lucky draw.

Was noted in their facebook page that the registration is open to 800 riders only. However, none stated in their event webpage.
Anyway, it's not a bad thing to register early and get it done with, right?

Registration page:

Event page:

See ya there, insyaAllah.

Thanks for coming over.
You have a good one.
I hadn't had mine for many weeks now.

logo taken from event page

Tuesday 29 January 2013

Plentong Epic Ride 2013

Breaking news!

Plentong Epic Ride is back this year, according to people in Cyclemotion.
It will happen in May insyaAllah.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday 8 January 2013

Run Forrest Run (or Run and Walk)

adidas supernova glide 3 - KLCC Park 25.12.2012

My weekly-basis secondment in KL being extended monthly and it has been about half a year already. With that, my cycling has been sporadic. Sure, there were night rides and offroad rides in KL but they were very few.

With that, my daily doses of endorphin is dramatically shrunk. What's more alarming is that I had to buy new pants (bigger waist, not smaller).

Fueled also by friends' running activities that they posted over fb, I took the plunge. It seems that running is quite cheap (if you don't splurge >RM500 for a pair of shoes, that is) and doable. More and more people are doing it, and there are also lots of running events nowadays. Well, I'm not in it for the competition, rather for my exercise. If I do compete, it shall be with my own self (oh yes, the tee-off cliché so as not to be discouraged).

I always savour the morning walk to the office through KLCC Park whenever I stay at Corus Hotel Jalan Ampang. I envy the morning joggers, and had been wanting to do the same. And so I did, on a nice 25/12/2012 evening. Bought a brand new pair of running shoes with ¾ shorts the day before.

Of course, the first couple of runs bought aches to my thighs. Strangely, I kept on with the running. And now after 24km (total, with walking), the legs are not complaining anymore. Just that I have to improve my running form and start to work on endurance, speed, etc.

I'd say that the smartphone is my essential companion, but not without the armband. It is quite motivating to see the results of my running sessions and to track progress, while listening to the recitation of Al Quran Kareem or songs. There are numerous apps for running, but I'm sticking with Sports Tracker. And recently, Strava.

While running is considerably and comparatively cheap compared to cycling, I still love what cycling could give - especially the bike assembling part. My version of Lego, I might say. On the other hand, running would complement my mountain biking in terms of stamina and strength. In-syaa-Allah.

So I'm hoping that I could do this long term, and I'm interested to see where it would lead me to. I'm looking forward for my first running event soon (short one, fun run perhaps) and gradually up to 10k, half-marathon and even a marathon.

Meanwhile, stay calm and keep running. I'm getting back my doses of endorphin, Alhamdulillah. Yay!

If you're interested in running, perhaps this is a good place to start reading:


Thanks for running by.
Have a blessed day.