Saturday, July 15, 2017

How far would you travel to buy a handlebar?

Dr Mike Khaw drooling and salivating over the original Jones H-Bar!


Having seen a Jones H-Bar on my friend Mike Khor's new Surly Troll, I have been rather smitten and the urge to get one seems to be growing. However, it is quite expensive and sells for S$200 and because it is too long for me, I would have to cut it shorter. When the Ergotec Space Bar was recommended to me, a quick research confirmed this was the bar for me. It sells for just 25% of the price of Jones Bar or 1250B and the smaller dimensions seem perfect for me.

Pic - Tyro Bike

Uncle John's Bike Shed has written a nice blog about the Space Bar here.

However, nobody seems to sell it in Singapore or Malaysia. Not even the renown tourer SK Lah who also runs the bicycle friendly hostel Tree in Lodge! After 3 days of searching and enquiring, I was elated when Tyro Bikes in Hat Yai responded that they stocked one and can order more if needed. This led to the perfect excuse to travel 1000km north to buy it and a hastily put together plan to visit the lovely coastal town of Songkhla as well. KC, my ever faithful cycling buddy, signed up for Mission Ergotec and we booked our bus for the 14 hr journey up north to the Land of Smiles.



The idea is to enjoy 2 nights in Songkhla, which itself is a fascinating town made up of a tapestry of Thai, Chinese, Malay cultures and sits between 2 seas. It used to be a coastal trading port where Arabs, Indian and Persian merchants did business and is historically rich. The Japanese Army also landed here in WW2 and began its invasion of the Peninsula all the way to Singapore so I look forward to discovering this historically rich town.

Pic from http://www.asienreisender.de

My friends tell me we are crazy to go all the way up just to get a handlebar but I now have a deeper understanding of why the famous touring website is called Crazy Guy on A Bike.

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Bike Friday Tikit - my foldy of choice thanks to its incredibly fast folding time, compact size for easing loading into the bus luggage and it rides well, very very well. It takes 2 Ortleib front packs on rear rack easily but I have learned to manage with just one.


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Reflections on finding something valuable after a long search...

This experience of hunting high and far for the illusive handlebar and eventually finding it, resulting in great joy reminded me of a similar story told in the Bible about a woman and her lost coin. The message is that God loves all of us so much and goes through great lengths to find us. 



Luke 15:8-10The Message (MSG)

The Story of the Lost Coin

“Or imagine a woman who has ten coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and scour the house, looking in every nook and cranny until she finds it? And when she finds it you can be sure she’ll call her friends and neighbors: ‘Celebrate with me! I found my lost coin!’ Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.”

Wiki has the story here. 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

A great write up on the joys of bicycle touring

Definitely worth a read! Enjoyed this article  in the Straits Times today as it captures beautifully why we tour and don't mind busting our bums.

Pic from ST - My friend Ah Pek Biker

Check out his blog!

Malacca Chendol Ride - 300km




Winter is the time that I return back to Asia as I don't particularly like it when it gets below 5c and it is school holidays in Perth, where things slow down. Took this opportunity to organise an impromtu ride up to Malacca. The plan was originally to ride from Spore to Batu Pahat, then onward to historical Malacca over the weekend.

But the huge distance of 150km to BP would be rather exhausting for me as I have not trained and so I opted to leave one day earlier to break at Pontian, then meet the rest of the gang. George and KC decided to come along with me and we met at 740am at Kranji MRT station on Friday. Crossing the Causeway was a bit of a drama as I used the wrong booth on the Spore side. Note - only the extreme one on the left #1`can accommodate bicycles. The ride up to Pontian was easy enough but we had our first break at Hainam Kopitiam. As we approach Taman Perling, it poured cats and dogs. Our reward however, was a beautiful rainbow.


Another unexpected blessing was a car stopping for us and it happened to be Irene and her son of Khass Cycles. They wanted to know if we needed any help. Perhaps we looked like drown rats but we were fine. It was very nice of them.

Moving on, George went through a puddle and was not expecting a huge pot hole. This caused a pinch flat and he to stop to fix the puncture. We made it to Amin's for morning tea and continued on to Pekan Nanas where we went to a bike shop to get another tube. We arrived in Pontian relatively fresh as it was only 70km and the first thing we did was to have the famous Chendol.

Oikos Hotel, recommended to us by Chris, proved to be comfortable and bike friendly. We had a most amazing foot massage for RM$40 and enjoyed dinner by the seafront.

Day 2 Sat we had a Fishball noodle breakfast and set off to Nictar Farm, some 17km away near Pekan Nanas to meet up with Claudine, VT, Sue, Ying Chang, Berenda and Freddie. We had to wait as some were delayed crossing into JB from Spore due to the rains and traffic. So nice to see them finally as we waited at the coffee shop and together we continued on towards Batu Pahat. The ride was a bit hot but we all maintained a very good pace of 22-24km/h. Just 10km before reaching Batu Pahat, the touring legend Mike Khor appeared in his brand new Surly Troll. He had taken an earlier bus from KL to join us. When we hit Crystal Inn in BP, Berenda who rode from Tampines Spore on her Brompton clocked 177km!

Pic B

We ordered a lovely Chinese dinner and had a bit of a walk after that. What blew my mind was the local desserts, which was quite good and costs a grand total of RM15 for the 10 of us.

Our final ride to Malacca was "easy" as it was only about 100km. A highlight was meeting our new friend another famous tourer Acid Mustafa in Muar for lunch. Enjoyed sharing news and touring tid bits. I learned that he has double the bikes than I and that made me feel very happy! The ride to Malacca was very hot and an unexpected durian stop was most welcomed and invigorating.

Pic KC

We were very blessed as we approached Malacca to see a black Vellfire van stopping to meet us at our drink stop. Friends from Malacca, Siew Yung and KC Tay popped out beaming and welcoming us. What made this trip so special is the many friends we meet as we rode along. KC Tay hosted us to drinks along the beautiful Malacca River and that was most appreciated!

It was a bit of fiasco for those needing to go back that Sunday due to work commitments etc as only 2 bus tickets were available. Fortunately, Claudine and VT has a most amazing mother who was willing to drive down from KL to pick them up in Malacca, and drive them home to JB. She was even wanting them to have a leisurely dinner with us before setting off.

The rest of us 6 enjoyed staying at 3 Little Birds and sampled the delights at Jonker Street where we rewarded ourselves with magnificent Chendol desserts, some topped with durian.

All in, though this ride was a short weekend one, it was long distance wise and we had a most amazing time together. But more importantly, I discovered afresh what a lovely country Malaysia is for touring and am planning for the next long weekend ride - Malacca to Klang for BKT in late Sept.

Pic KC


Touring on the Bike Friday Pocket Sport


First time I took my wife's BF on a tour and this bike is fast! Was not sure if I could get used to drop bars but it proved comfortable. The Pocket was happy to cruise at about 25-28km/h and was in its element when it rode behind Freddy's road bike. To keep things light, I bought a Topeak Backloader 10L rear pack which proved to be more than enough for me.

And when it came to storing in the bus, it was as expected, much easier than a full size bike. Bike Friday rocks!

Missing photos

If you have been wondering why this blog has been dead, it has something to do with the missing photos on my posts. It is so frustrating to put up a post only to have the pictures disappear.

My research from Google shows that one reason is when we delete photos from Picasa, which automatically stores my photos, the pics in the blog also disappears. Fair enough, but I have not done this and I'm at my wits end.

If you know how to solve this issue, I would be grateful for any suggestions or solutions. Thanks!





Update 1 - I learn that Picasa has been retired from May 2016. Which somehow explains why my photos after May are all missing?  What I do for most of my pics are to take from FB and copy them into my posts. This was how I have always done it.  Don't yet understand the connection. Which I did on the above image. 

I've now saved this image into my computer and then uploaded it. Let's see which eventually gets deleted and which stays on the blog.




Monday, January 23, 2017

A step back in time - my first cycle trip to Riau Islands, 1996.




Very grateful to receive from my good friend KG an article I wrote for a magazine some 20 years ago about a trip we did to the Riau Islands. Those days we did not have internet nor smart phones. A time where life was simpler and I rode my 93" Bridgestone MB3 which I still have today.

Hope you enjoy the first post for 2017 here at LTF!




Friday, December 30, 2016

SRT Day 5 - The long way home but not without a last visit to the best bike shop in Hat Yai!

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Our last morning in Hat Yai was a most fruitful one. Despite the rain, we decided to cycle for breakfast. Unfortunately, Siew Yung's pedal got stuck due to the rain washing away the lube.

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Small issue easily fixed and as we cycled, we were amazed at how near our destination was. A mere 3-4 mins bike ride and that only made us a bit annoyed about yesterday's Tuk Tuk driver, how he took us for a ride literally!

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Breakfast was supposed to be at Chok Dee Dim Sum but we were attracted to the huge crowds at an eatery beside it selling soup and rice. This place is frequented by the locals and we had challenges parking our bicycles even. The fierce old lady/owner scolded us for not parking properly and she was truly a food Nazi. That can only mean one thing - amazing food!

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If you are fan of spare parts, and I mean of the piggy kind, this would be the place for you! Unfortunately, I'm not but there was enough variety for me to have a decent breakfast.

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So famous was this place that all the regulars even from overseas came here and KC met a very good friend who is also a tourer. Seems like we were destined to be meeting interesting people this morning.

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Pic Berenda

Following breakfast, we made our way to Tyro Bikes after we said goodbye to KC. He had booked himself for a 1030am bus to Malacca while ours was 1230pm and we had plenty of time. We knew we were a bit early but would try our luck nevertheless. Riding there in the rain, we wanted to wait at a nearby cafe but that was closed. Upon reaching Tyro, we saw the doors opening much earlier before their 10 am opening time. These guys are on the ball! They were amazing and welcomed us warmly.

There are bike shops and there are bike shops. Tyro Bike is one of those rare ones that presents itself as a lifestyle bike shop. Beautiful decor, soft lights, fantastic range of products, showroom style presentation and even a cafe that serves gourmet coffees.

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They carried top brands such as Moulton, Dahon, Birdy, Fuji, Miyata, retro bikes, fixies and so many other types of bikes. I even spotted an old Japanese red postman bicycle beautifully restored.

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All of us were truly smitten and we went on our own way like kids in a lolly shop, scouting for stuff to buy. Siew Yung spotted some Pearl Izumi gloves that she liked, Berenda went on a shopping spree for bike T-shirts while I managed to find a new very impressive kick bike stand for my Tikit.

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Thank you Berenda for this neat T!

The mechanic fitted it professionally and when we complained about how our bikes were squealing after being ridden int he rain, he started lubing all our bikes!

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It was wonderful to meet up with Khun Antz who came a bit later, like a boss. Young, adventurous, intelligent and passionate about folding bicycles, it was a great joy to have a friendly chat with her. Antz studied English in Singapore and it showed with her fluency in the language. She showed me her special anniversary Dahon Boardwalk and it was pure joy to hear from Antz about her vision for Tyro Bikes. What is exciting is her upcoming bike hostel/guesthouse for bicycle tourers!

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Good bicycle shops are like magnets, attracting famous cyclists and we had the privilege of seeing a couple of tourers who had just completed the arduous Mae Hong Son Loop wheel in. It was none other than Malaysian's top tourers Acid Mustafa and friends. His legendary goatie and shirt/jean style was immediately recognised by Siew Yung who has toured with him before. So it was a real bonus to finally meet up with him and to hear his interesting stories.

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We really enjoyed our visit to Tyro and even downed a cuppa of Latte, served with style! It was hard to leave Tyro but we had a bus to catch and it was off to The Colour Hotel to pack our panniers and head for the bus agent. We bade farewell to Siew Yung who had to catch a mini-van to Padang Besar where she would catch a fast train home to KL.

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Pic Berenda

Since Berenda had not had her Pad Thai, we managed to find one eatery near the bus agent selling it and it turned out to be amazingly good. On hindsight, we should have ordered an extra plate but it is hard to enjoy a meal when you know you have only 20 mins left!

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We made it to the bus agent office with 10 mins to spare and folded our bicycles in preparation for the long journey home. The agent told us that it was to be a 14-15 hr bus ride and we would be at Woodlands Causeway about 4am. This was perfect as it meant a smooth crossing.

Though it was a full bus with plenty of other luggages, our foldies had plenty of room in the bus storage compartment.

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YC and I rode in the front passenger seats and settled ourselves comfortably for the long journey home. Berenda was seated somewhere at the back, next to a lady eating smelly cuttlefish. The Sadao border crossing was smooth and soon we were back in Malaysia, cruising past the beautiful and vast rice fields of Kedah.

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The bus ride surprisingly did not feel as long as the 14 hr it took and I appreciated the coffee/toilet breaks along the way every 4 hours or so. We arrived at Woodlands just before 4am and thankfully, crossing was not an issue as well. I would highly recommend this timing as anything later could mean being stuck for 2-3 hrs crossing the causeway!

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We arrived at Golden Mile just past 5am and it was sad to say goodbye to Berenda who had to rush home to get ready for work on that same day!  YC and I had time to enjoy a traditional Singapore breakfast of tea and toast before I caught the first MRT back home.

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What a trip it has been! This experience of taking long distance coaches has been a very easy and comfortable one for me, and I can't wait to embark on my next adventure using coaches.

Thank you for reading Lovethefold and as we say goodbye to 2016 and hello to 2017, may I wish you my dear readers a very blessed and happy New Year!  May your experiences both off and on the saddle be filled with much joy, fruitfulness and meaning.  God bless you!



You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.
Psalm 65:11


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