Monday, November 29, 2010

Put your records on

Rarely do I see a music video made of a sultry singer gliding on bicycle with so many of her friends on the same... having fun. Very easy going tune with lyrics about letting your hair down and finding oneself. Saw it on Copenhagen Cycle Chic. Enjoy this from Corinne Bailey Rae!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Lovethefold is 3 years old!

I still remember when my son turned 3. On the morning of his birthday when he just woke up, we took him for a birthday treasure hunt around the house. Looking at the delight on his face when he found and opened each present still brings a big smile in my heart to this day. Being able to discover new things about the world and oneself, turning 3 is indeed a very special time of a young boy’s life and perhaps even for LTF, my online “son”.

One of the pleasant discoveries I have made recently is that readership has increased 50% from 2000 a month to over 3000 now. When I started writing about folding bicycles, my aim was and still is to get people on to bicycles, especially foldies. I am humbled that more people are visiting LTF and hopefully, discovering the joy of cycling.

Being on a bicycle adds so much to our learning and experiencing life to the fullest through meeting and making new friends, often very interesting folks.

Being out in the fresh air and soaking in all that nature has to offer - the cold, the heat, the smells, the breezes, the sun, the rain and even the insects all make one feel truly alive.

Not to mention being able to be at the right place and right time to see with our very own eyes, the beautiful tapestry of clouds in a blue sky, a flock of birds in perfect formation and even that perfect golden sunset. These are special snap shots given to us by our Maker that are imprinted in my memory and forever carried with me as I journey through life.

Although I have not been on any new tours this year yet (Bintan does not count), my plan to ride the Bolaven Plateau in Laos is finally set in concrete. End Dec will see 4 of us fly into Pakse to enjoy great riding with magnificent waterfalls to enjoy and coffee plantations to savour.

Before that, I will be in Cambodia for my annual work with the orphans and hope to do some riding especially in the chaotic streets of Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat.

Disappointingly, I only bought one bike this year – a used Japanese Mamachari commuter which I enjoy using to the markets when I’m back in Singapore. Most times, my domestic helper uses it to for her errands, relishing the privilege of riding rather than walking. My 16 year old Bridgestone and 8 year old Brompton got new brake and gear cables thanks to Chris and the Tikit got a pair of new Kojak rubbers. I will endeavour to do better next year and am looking at something with the Shimano Alfine 11 speed hub, but it does get a bit crowded with 9 bikes!

I plan to bring my Surly LHT over to Perth soon to do some touring here in Western Australia next year and there are plans for a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun as well. These and other exciting plans all add to the unfurling of little “presents”, which make for the anticipation of many delightful tomorrows.

Once again, my grateful thanks to you for "cycling" with me online through the journey of life on the saddle and if LTF somehow adds a little bit more colour into your world wherever you may be, then I cannot be happier. Wishing you lighted paths in the days ahead...

Pic taken from Green Living Blog

By your words I can see where I'm going;
they throw a beam of light on my dark path.
Psalm 119 v 105

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Why I ride

This is a very beautiful poem cleverly written by a Mary Bernsen, who submitted it for a photo contest at Eco Velo. I think it truly captures the joy and delights of cycling so well. That pic is also absolutely inspirational. Can't wait to get back on the saddle.


The view is different from the handle bars.
When my legs start moving, clarity of thoughts start flowing.
The busy pace of day-to-day is forgotten.
The senses begin to awaken.

The view is different from the handle bars.
I feel the chill of the morning, the heat of the mid-afternoon sun, and the breeze at night.
I smell the sweet scent of the flowers, the newly mowed grass and the wet pavement.

I hear the insects buzzing, the birds chirping, and the air whispering behind my ears.

The view is different from the handle bars.
Strangers become acquaintances and new friendship emerges.
Scenic locations are discovered and unknown paths are explored.

My soul rejoices as the sense of wonder waits in every turn.
The wind gently strokes my face, and a smile begins to form.

The view is truly different from the handle bars.

Mary Bernsen

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brommie Yummie

I have been corresponding with a folding bike shop in New York City called NYCE Wheels and they pointed me to a very interesting folding bike club called Brommie Yummie started by a Steven Huang. Here, fellow foldies apparently ride around the Big Apple in search of good eats.

Really sounds like my cup of tea or more aptly, my bowl of noodles. I think there is no greater joy than exploring for yummy food on the saddle with like-minded folks. Don't you think?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When there is a will, there is a way.

Ben & Pru, "welcome" relatives of ours are here for the hols and of course, one of the must-dos for anyone visiting Perth is a bike ride. Trouble was that there were 4 of us and only 3 full size bikes. Laying around my backyard was a kid's BMX bike, left here by one of our young friends. Ben immediately suggested that he could use it so ALL of us could ride together. I was shocked.

With some adjustments to the seat post and handlebar, and a layer of very thick skin, it was actually quite ridable for Ben. We went to Heathcote, some 8km away for the great views and managed a very decent 20kmh. Ben, being an excellent racing biker, had no worries adapting to the very smallish bike albeit the comical stares. The "sacrifice" he made for his wife was truly admirable.

Bearing one another's burden is a trademark of good buddies so I volunteered to ride it for a while to share the "shame" while Ben hopped onto my Brompton. I found the kid's BMX quite fun actually to ride and was surprised it rode decently though spin out came rather early being a one speed bike with a wobbly rear tire.

All in, the four of us enjoyed a lovely bike ride along the Canning River proving that when there's a will, there is certainly a way - getting strange stares and giggles notwithstanding.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A bright Red Light

It is said that visibility is a cyclist's only defence. During the day, wearing luminous yellow or orange jerseys, white helmet and even reflective vest play its part to help make us stand out to traffic.

At night, good lights are essential. The brighter the better for both front and rear lights. It also helps that they blink especially the rear so that drivers can notice us from behind.

My best friend got me The Fibre Flare tail light for my birthday. It gives out 360' of illumination and can be seen up to 300m away. Its operation is simple - just a button to choose between a steady light or a blinking one. Easy to mount, it won the 2009 Eurobike IF award. The USP is unlike other rear lights, it can be seen not just from the rear but the side as well. This can make a difference between being seen or not! Being alive or not!

Check it out here:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sunday along the Singapore river

The Singapore River has historically been the heartbeat of early Singapore, where ships from all over the world would unload their goods here with the help of many bumboats and even more coolies or labourers. Today, it has been transformed into an absolutely beautiful place to unwind and cycle.

Littered with all sorts of trendy sidewalk cafes and restaurants, together with modern skyscrapers of the financial district and the colonial presence of grand old government buildings, as a whole they make for an architectual visual treat. It was also special to ride across 100 year old British built bridges like Cavenagh and Elgin Bridges. There are also interesting sculptures strategically placed to add to the pleasant ambience.

Mike and I took the opportunity to explore and breath in this delightful part of Singapore last Sunday on my very brief 6 day visit. Our foldies were the perfect vehicles to slowly cruise and meander the shared paths from Havelock Road all the way to the Singapore Flyer, a very nice 4km route. Because of the need to negotiate through very tight corners and through pedestrains, its small wheel ability to turn on a dime put big smiles on our faces.

On the evening of weekends, there are live performances and I particularly enjoyed listening to the melodious sounds from the 60s, with the Singapore skyline in front of me and cool breezes along the river.

I reckon this is a perfect way to spend a Sunday evening if ever you are in this part of the world, on small wheels of course.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Outback at Mandurah

We had the privilege of having Keong, a fellow foldie rider (Dahon Vitesse) from Singapore join us for our regular ride to Mandurah. He was in Perth for a visit with his family and gladly accepted the invite to ride overseas for the first time.

Keong was thrilled to use my Speed Pro while I used Chris' missus' MTB, a Marin with a very special AMP fork.

Catching the 607am train was a challenge but we made it and rode to Uncle Ken's home 4km away from the Mandurah Train Station. As usual, Ken was there waiting for us, grinning like a Cheshire cat, all ready to dance.

It so happened that the weather got really warm and it hit 30c at 10am, making it like a typical Aussie outback. Still, there were enough cool breezes to bring some relief. Both Keong and Chris were taken in by the beauty of the coastline and I truly never get tired of doing this ride. We took it easy and Chris was really keeping his camera busy.

I was enjoying a good yarn with Ken on the saddle and noticed that our guests were nowhere to be seen. That got me worried and after 15 mins, Keong showed up with his left knee all banged up and bleeding. He had misjudged one of the downhill hairpins and crashed. Fortunately, Chris brought a first-aid kit and we spent the next 10 mins playing ER.

Despite this, Keong was sporting enough to continue. We rode through some dirt path and I nearly lost it as the front wheel got bogged by the soft sand.

Morning tea came 5km early at Dawesville Cut given the crash. We carried our bikes down steep long stairs to picnic at the lovely jetty.

With the heat rising, so did the number of flies. Not wanting to hang around longer than necessary, we made our way up and headed home. I felt for Keong but he seemed alright. A really tough cookie he is! Schwarnager's famous words, "I have no time to bleed" wouldn't be out of place here.

We had to take more water breaks than usual and rode past a huge brown snake! That got everyone excited. Just before town, my bike somehow lost its chain and it laid on the ground, like a metal snake. I was spinning like the Flintstones for a while before realising what had happened.

It had snapped but once again, Chris the saviour brought along a spare link (he is truly a mobile workshop) and fixed it in no time.

At Ken's house, we were so grateful for cold drinks and warm fellowhip. It happened that Barb, Ken's wife is a retired nurse and when she saw Keong's injuries, she brought out the largest first-aid box ever and started to have fun cleaning and dressing him up.

Ken very generously fixed us a lovely lunch of cold meats, bread and salad which we woofed down hungrily.

While we laughed and joked over lunch, Ken remarked that this ride with the heat and all the adventure and excitement made this a truly outback experience. As we returned home in the cool aircon train in 36c heat, I couldn't agree with him more.

Keong - you are the man!

Photo credits of Pics 1,2,4,10,11,15 & 16 - CW