Saturday, July 31, 2010
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
I've rented a Japanese style Mamachari bike years ago in Chiang Rai, Thailand and always rememered how surprisingly well it rode. Smooth, reliable (no gears) and supremely practical with its front basket and centre-stand. It's outstanding user-friendliness just stayed with me till today. Tokyo by Bike spells out why the Mamachari is Japan's most popular bike.
While pottering through a traditional bike shop in Pontian last weekend, I spotted 3 used Japanese Mamachari looking for new owners.
After thinking about it for 2 days, I made a trip to buy one. Its hard to justify another bicycle sometimes and the vehement objections from the fairer sex can get scary. I wanted the model with the 3 speed Nexus IGH but unfortunately, it was a bit faulty and settled for a single speed. Less troublesome I reckon in the long run.
It came with a traditional dynamo front lighting system, build in frame lock with 2 keys, full fenders and rear rack. I added a front basket and changed to new tubes with Schrader valve. The original ones were Dunlop valves which can be very troublesome to pump.
The total damage was only US$68 and I was happy as Larry. There is a shop in NZ selling used Mamachari at US$250 upwards so I can't complain! I have a dentist appointment tomorrow in a HDB heartland and will ride my Mamachari there. My search for my CPF bike is finally over!
Ps 1: Grateful thanks to Ben and Pru for helping me bring back my 9th child all the way from Pontain. You guys are the best.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
People too seemed more affluent especially when we had our hotel breakfast - more than half of the guests there were "plus" size. Fortunately, we noticed the culture of cycling around town is still alive and vibrant. We took the opportunity to shop at one of the many traditional bike shops. I was tickled pink to find that in a baby rocker, the "baby" put there by the shop owner was that of a bike seat. That speaks volumes of where his passion is.
CW and I bought old fashion bicycle bells - and I fitted mine immediately on the BF Expedition. The sound was really very loud and rich as you can hear from the video here. Was also fun to ride around and chat with the local bikers. One of them had a 20" Durian coloured cream bike with a modern dynamo hub plastered proudly with badges of Johor. He purported that his unique colour really glowed at night and we were happy to take him at his word.
I also visited the 40 year old crumbling Princess Hotel (stayed there 2002) and its still in operation. US$10 for a room but be warned, very basic with aircon. Maybe.
It was great to walk around the old part of town and explore the rickerty fishing jetties.
As dark clouds loomed, we decided to take a bus back to Johor Bahru. Somehow, cycling in a monsoon was not so appealing. Upon seeing our bikes, the bus cowboys got all excited as this was their chance to earn some pocket money.
Although the bus fare was a mere US$1.80, we paid US$10 for 2 of our bikes after some serious haggling. What clinched the deal was the bikes could fit into the huge cargo bay without any dismantling. If I brought my foldie bag, my Expedition would probably have travelled free.
Clearing customs in the Singapore side was no worries but the new immigration system in Johor, Malaysia led us on through a long maze of flyovers and spitted us out a good distance from the causeway. Fortunately, all of custom officers we met were very polite and friendly. One of them kept commenting, "Friday, Friday!" not that he knew anything about foldies but that got all of us smiling.
We decided to get off the main road and take the quieter road to Gelang Patah, a small town near Pontian. Development has gone on full steam in this area as part of the Iskandar Region and everywhere, there were new housing estates replacing the jungles much to CW's disappointment. He used to MTB there in the good ole days. Thus, we ended up a bit lost but arrived at Gelang Patah 5pm in time for afternoon tea. The good thing about Malaysia is the numerous coffee shops around providing great snacks and drinks.
Just at the shire of Pekan Nanas, we nearly fell off our bikes in excitement when we spotted the Shimano factory. This is where they build the wheels that set the bicycle world in motion. The security guard must have thought he met 2 cyclists just out of a mental institution as we snapped pics and behaved with so much awe and "reverence".
I was out like a light when I hit the comfortable bed oblivious to anything and anyone. I reckon a 100km ride is the best sleeping pill, rain or no rain.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Pics from CW's blog post.
*This song by Celine Dion is dedicated to each of your special someone. Their understanding and support of our passion to give us that "visa" to cycle off is much appreciated and valued.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I rode my Carry Me there hoping to take some shots of it in the sunset, high up in the clouds. In my mind, I was picturing what angles to shoot it from etc and the soft lighting was almost perfect. Alas, when I was at the ticket office to pay the $5 entrance fee, the security staff said I couldn't bring the CM up to the Skybridge as it was a bicycle.
Despite folding it up into its most compact upright stance and promising not to ride it, they refused to budge, stroller-size notwithstanding. Rules are rules! Thus, my little excursion was scuttled, leaving me low and dry. O well, we live and learn.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
He showed me his little notebook of cycling where he pens down his thoughts and musings ever so neatly. Unfortunately for me, its written in Chinese but his pictorial illustrations and patient explanation fascinated and illuminated me.
One of a weight weeny trying to shave off grams on his carbon fibre bike while he himself was "sumo-rish" brought lots of chuckles over our Nasi Lemak breakfast this morning.