Category Archives: Randoms

Choosing your bicycle Part 2

After 47,992 km, 2 cracked steerer tubes and 1 broken derailleur hanger, it was time for me to go through the process of getting a new rig. The frame might have lasted another 12,000 kms or more, but having almost no chance of obtaining bits of spares for the frame like cable guides, cable stops etc was the nail in the coffin.

Unlike the professionals (some, not all), most of us are not regularly issued equipment. I classify myself as a heavy user, based on the number of tyres, chains and handlebar tape I go through. So knowing that I can prolong and/or extend the lifespan of my equipment at minimum cost sits quite high up the priority list. One of the important factors for me is after sales support and availability of spares. And yes, I wash my equipment regularly.

I started by going through the UCI-approved equipment list, which you can find here. I didn’t want to get caught up at equipment checks during races so if you don’t intend to race, you have a lot more options.. It is also interesting to see some new frames already on the list that have yet to be launched.

I knew it was going to be an interesting process to narrow down my choices. Price is definitely the main consideration for me. I also had to stick with rim brakes because a complete disc brake bike is not within my budget. With local bike shops (LBS) limiting walk-ins, some only by appointment and the majority with almost no online presence prior to Covid-19, it was almost impossible to see what past season models were still available. I also wanted to explore the Taiwanese/Chinese options. I sit more along the side of practical over brand names. So I would actually ride the bike, rather than look to resell it in the near future. With that said, I also wouldn’t say no if someone gave me a new bike.

Other than price, I also look at frame size geometry and where my current setup sits in the sizing chart.I started by going through the frame geometries of what I could find online and I filtered out a handful of options. After a number of messages online with a few manufacturers, I settled with this:

With only a slightly higher stack, the Memil Hanshi has very similar frame size geometry (Stack and Reach) to my current setup. It runs a direct-mount brake on the front fork and Pressfit bottom bracket, both which are on my existing setup. That’s three ticks right there. What was most impressive was the communication I had with the guys. They were prompt, detailed and professional in helping with the process of building up the bike. They have been extremely helpful not just in getting the frame over, but making sure that I had no problems putting it together.

Not forgetting the sick paint job.

 

Looking forward to seeing how this rides

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What bicycle should I get?

If you’re looking to start cycling, getting your first bicycle should not be a daunting and mind boggling task. The thought of having to deal with the technicalities might be foreign to you and the preconceived idea that it could be a hefty investment may be a few of the contributors to procrastination. But with a little focus and some support, it could turn out to be something you might enjoy in the years to come. Here are a few things you can think about which can hopefully help you make the decision.

 

Purpose

 

It could be getting your kid started, an alternative mode of transport to work, a form of family activity or exercise, having a clear idea on what you want to use it for helps to get the ball rolling.

Bicycles are usually grouped into 4 broad categories: Road bikes, City/Leisure bikes, Hybrid Bikes, Off-Road bikes. These can be further divided into subcategories, for example, Mountain Bike, Cyclocross and Gravel bikes are usually considered Off-Road bikes. The name typically suggests what the bike is designed and/or should be used for. For example, if you are looking for a bike to primarily get around town, to the shops or to work, start by looking at bikes in city/leisure, road or hybrid category but that’s not to say you cannot consider a Mountain bike either. Whereas, it is going to be very very difficult if you want to ride a full mountain bike trail on a road bike, or complete a Grand Fondo on a city bike.

It depends on how much detail you want to go into. For example, mountain bikes may have a slight weight penalty on the tarmac but the wider, knobby tyres make it easy to get through the narrow drain openings along the park connectors, compared to traditional road bike tyres. The more specific you are on the type of riding you want to do, the easier it is to narrow down the categories.

Expectations

Then comes a list of other factors to consider: budget, comfort, size, weight, space constraint, durability, aesthetics, after-service. The key is to prioritise and be honest. If you absolutely do not have space in your residence to park a full-sized bike, or if you plan to take it up the trains and buses, folding bikes are an option. We also have to be honest with our expectations. I have had many conversations with people asking me what type of bike they should get to start doing some leisurely rides. Similar to taking up any new hobby or exercise, there will be a change in your existing lifestyle and it can be difficult to predict whether we will stick to it, drop out after a week, or go on to become a regular enthusiast. How much time are you going to spend on it? Where will it be on your list of daily priorities? Do you have a buddy to help get you started? If you already have a particular look in mind, you want the flash, or feel the heavier mtbs or hybrids are too slow (slow is relative and can be a function of not your bike but your fitness level) for your liking, you have to bring those up as well. People tend to leave certain information out for fear of being judged.

Unless it is in your nature to always go all in right from the start or have a bottomless budget, the common and recommended approach is to gradually progress with your equipment. Don’t short change yourself either by starting right at the bottom. The more you spend does not also necessarily mean the better your chances are that you will stick with it. Get out that checklist of criteria and be honest with how much effort you are willing to try.

Everyone should get a chance to have a go at all sports and that includes cycling. Even though cycling has a bit of a reputation for being an expensive sport, if you don’t get sucked into all the flash and glam, you can definitely still enjoy the sport without short changing yourself. Don’t be overwhelmed when you walk into a bicycle showroom. Have a clear idea what you want it for and be honest with yourself on what your main considerations are. Don’t feel shy to ask questions. Speak with someone you personally know who you think has similar buying habits and considerations. If circumstances allow it, try out the bike. If it’s your first bike, it would be a really tricky task of getting it online without trying it out. Nothing is worse than riding a bike you don’t feel comfortable on. Take your time, don’t rush it. When you have decided on one, don’t second guess yourself.

Now go out there and enjoy the ride.

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Talking indoor trainers

I don’t know any one person who hasn’t been affected by the pandemic that is happening at the moment. Countries are handling it differently, people are reacting and responding differently as well. In Singapore, our idea of a partial lockdown, the Circuit Breaker, has recently been extended for another 4 weeks along with additional measures, which is hard to keep track because of the ambiguity of some of the measures and there seems to be additions every other week. How has your riding/training been affected? Let us know in the comments section.

If you haven’t already set up your pain cave or at least started thinking about alternatives to your training/exercise regime, now is probably a good time.

Having alternatives in your workout bag empowers you to be adaptable. It does not necessarily mean you have to permanently add them to your routine. In any case, your routine has probably gone out of the window. It’s like having a 9 or 12-piece allen key set, instead of just carrying around the 4, 5, 6 mm.

Depending on the movement restrictions that have been imposed, and the situation going on at home (Work from home, kids on home-based learning etc), if you are now unable to ride outdoors as much you would want to, the next questions are: What turbo trainer should I be getting? And what sessions do I want to be doing? It’s like going through the same decision-making process when you were getting your first bike. You can’t really be sure if you are going to continue using the turbo trainer after the restrictions have been lifted because you might realize that you hate riding the turbo all together.

Wheel-on trainers are cheap these days. Not the smart ones of course. It’s straight forward, wears your rear tyre out, fast, unless you have a spare rear wheel with a trainer tyre. Will it get the job done? Yes, if you have a power meter on your bike and some inclination on how to efficiently plan your own training, because there will be some specific workouts that will be difficult to execute with a wheel-on trainer. Or if you just want to turn those legs over, burn some calories, nothing fancy, and want to save the coin for that beer afterwards. Chances are, you won’t be using it very often if you can go riding freely.

Direct-drives are gaining popularity due to the increasing range of products and it’s falling prices. Once viewed as only for serious/competitive cyclist, in recent years because of the affordability of the non-smart direct drive trainers, it’s become a choice for riders who are drawn to the social aspect for virtual riding platforms such as Zwift, Bkool, Sufferfest, TrainerRoad, FulGaz etc. Most offer a 14-day free trial (Some less), followed by a monthly or annual subscription if you wish to carry on.

 

 

 

You would at the least require a ANT+/Bluetooth speed/cadence sensor. You can still get on without a smart trainer, but it would be fair not to expect the full experience. If you already have the necessary hardware, you could consider signing up for a month to see if you enjoy it and determine for yourself how likely you are to stay on.

The new standard for virtual group rides/races removes the reputation indoor training/cycling has in the past as being mundane. Gone are the days of staring at block graphs with target numbers and a timer. Before you jump onto the virtual bandwagon, have a think on whether there is something in your training/workouts you had wanted to work on, or think you should work on. Sometimes the simplest of set ups, paired with an appropriate workout focus, can reap alot more benefit.

Photo by Velo Velo Singapore

Rollers are the not so popular sibling in indoor training, for various reasons if you speak with different people. There is a reason why there are much more roller-fail clips going around than there are of turbo trainers. When you add an additional element of staying upright, putting down the power or holding an effort isn’t as straightforward anymore. In fact, pedalling hard and putting down power is not straight forward at all. Saying they are not able to provide enough resistance for your workout is possible but a HIIT or a smash-fest is not the only way to skin a 45min session on the bike. If you’re stuck with what type of session you can do to benefit you the most, it’s probably worth speaking with a coach to help you look at the bigger picture.

Ultimately, it would be nice to see more people continuing to ride their bikes outside when the situation improves, and learning to ride their bikes properly and safely. You are much better cyclist and considerate road user if you can ride smoothly, in a straight line, keeping close to the side of the road (If sharing with cars), then needing to be in the middle of the lane, trying to mash the pedals and going in zig zag all over the place.

What is your indoor set up like? Let us know by leaving a comment.

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Sigeyi powermeter

A few developments building up over the past couple months. More to be done. In the meantime, a little more about the Sigeyi powermeter which i’ve been using for about 6 months now.

Like most equipment, if it isn’t broken and it ticks all the boxes for you, stick with what you have.

If you haven’t used a powermeter before and want to give it a go, put the AXO Spider down in your list of consideration. Unless you’re after a scientific powermeter for a specific reason, this does what every other powermeter does, for what I perceive majority of the cycling community is after in a powermeter.

I can’t validate the accuracy of the readings because I don’t have anything else to compare it with. But it was pretty much spot on when I had a go on the Cyclus2 ergometer. Good enough for me.

As for the battery, I could go for 4 weeks, with an average of 15 hours per week of riding without charging and it still had around 50% battery.

There hasn’t been any problems to be honest. Auto-calibration, it has gone through multiple home washes, bike shop washes, ridden in rain and grime build up, without any issues. However I don’t have one on the mtb and not a hardcore enough mountainbiker to tell you if it can take a cake a mud.

Over the past 6 months, I’ve updated the firmware 3 times and the app is now even on App store and Google Play.

If price and availability are a couple of your key decision factors, they now have a online store.

Have a look through and if they don’t have a spider for your existing setup, drop them an email. They’re quite prompt in their replies.

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Do we need to start talking?

Bi-annually, for a few months, usually during the second half of the year, news on local sports starts show up just a little more. What better way to kick things off with some controversial, split down the line drama about SEA Games selections.

SEA Games are the Southeast Asia Games. Held every 2 years, involving the ASEAN countries. Based on personal and conversational experiences, it would seem that a majority of sports association considers it as the most important event in their high performance calendar.

A rather highly talked about topic at the moment, based on a Google search is the exclusion of our 2017 and 2015 champion in the Mens marathon, Soh Rui Yong, from the contingent.

There has been quite a few developments since it came up. Here is what the situation is now, as reported.

http://theindependent.sg/soh-rui-yong-turns-down-spore-olympic-councils-request-to-keep-mum/

Reporting can be biased, depending on who reports it. Soh writes about as it happens on his blog

https://www.runsohfast.com/blog/snoc-says-i-own-a-media-circus-are-they-the-clowns

He uploads the lawyers’ letters so you’re better off reading that and coming up with your own opinions if you have the time.

The underlining matter, if the people in sport are still bothered to address, in my humble opinion, is that athletes and administrators don’t talk openly and honestly. Quite like when you and your boss don’t communicate, things go sour really quickly. A main difference is, a vast majority of athletes in the national system don’t get fat pay cheques. Neither are they your average joes waiting for the clock to go from 9 to 5. You need to somehow have or be able to truly relate to passion when dealing with individuals who lay your lives on the line.

There is the snoc athletes’ commission, which has been fairly quiet all this time. I leave you to read about what their purpose and vision is supposed to be. What hasn’t been reported is how much involvement, if any, have they had in helping to improve the relationship between Soh and nsa.

This is probably one of the most publicised dispute between athlete and governing bodies in the recent history of singapore sport (i might be wrong). Along with it, hundreds more that have been swept underneath the rug.

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Training, Coaching, Exercise

The number of exercise and/or fitness programs has certainly increased in recent years. Along with our society promoting greater accessibility for an active and/or healthy lifestyle, it’s so much easier now for someone to pick up a new sport and/or a new fitness regime.

I don’t have the figures, but I’m fairly confident that just based on your social circle, the number of people who is a member of a gym or part of a fitness/exercise group of some sort now as compared to just 5 years ago, has drastically increased.

We all have our reasons for partaking in exercise. Again, with no figures for verification, my assumption is that the vast majority are on the path of active lifestyle or as a social activity, or both. There is the growing minority who have set themselves slightly more tangible goals. It could be an aesthetic goal: to slim down, build muscle etc. It could be a competitive goal: to prepare for a sportive, race, etc. It could be a quantitative goal: to lose or gain X amount of weight, lift X amount of weight, run X distance in X amount of time. It’s easy to transit from one to another to another and back to where you started.

You hear ‘I’m going for training’ being used often. If you have a competitive or quantitative goal, you are training for something. But if you aren’t, you are exercising. Describing your time in the gym or your run session as training to have an active lifestyle can be slightly exaggerating. Your body does need time to adapt to increased physical activity. But I would hardly consider that a training regime.

From 2007 to 2011, I was training to qualify and compete for the Olympics. The goal was crystal clear. So were the short and mid term goals. I fell short of that. To be precise, I was never given that chance in 2011 to attempt for qualification. When I switched to racing bicycles, the goal was not crystal clear and I didn’t have the short and mid-term goals. In short, it was a complete mess. I made the huge mistake of not getting a coach on board, primarily because of the costs involved. I began straddling the line until the grey area got too big that I went no where.

It’s not just about telling your mates that you’re going for training or exercising. Knowing where you are on the spectrum affects a bunch of other factors in your life: lifestyle and diet choices, work and/or study vs life priorities. If you have goals you are working on achieving, and serious about it, I strongly suggest getting a coach on board.

A coach should not only be giving you a training program to follow, you have to trust him/her as a life mentor. There’s much more to do between the ears than most would expect.

There’s now a whole bunch of cycling coaching groups/companies out there. If you don’t know where to start, give Kristján Snorrason, aka Snozza, a ping through his website:

Cyclingtraining.CC

His knowledge and experience in sport, along with his people skills, naturally steers people to put trust in him. Trust that he will get the best out of you, trust knowing that he has your best interests at heart.

After all, it’s still a two way street. There is no template to find out who you trust your personal goals with. But if even we ourselves aren’t sure what they are, no amount of training or exercise is going to get us there.

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Getting back in

All has been on the quiet front here and it’s probably a good time to kick start things again.

Being able to ride my bike has been absolutely brilliant. Another is going back to rekindle an old flame with my first love, rowing. I haven’t got around to getting back in a boat, but the erg has definitely sparked something. They say looking back isn’t particular helpful in moving forward. I do however believe in never forgetting your roots and to always have the people who have stood by you, close to your heart.

I’m excited to pilot Row Revolution‘s technique workshop class, where I will be sharing with you the little experience I have gained throughout the years with all my amazing rowing team mates and coaches, and hopefully help you to row better on the ergo.

Capture

Row Revolution, Singapore first and only indoor rowing studio is a great platform to experience and give indoor rowing a go. With 12 Concept 2 rowing ergs, it is also an excellent venue for crossfitters to get in a solid rowing workout with your squad.

Their class timetable is available here. The technique workshop will kick off on 8 May, 2019, at 7pm.

I will also be taking the regular workout classes pretty soon! Ping me if you want to find out more!

 

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Full steam ahead

The power of a positive environment. My competitive sporting career literally withered away over the past 3 years, not being surrounded by the right people, to put it nicely. With it, so was confidence, trust and belief. I would lying if I told you that it was a breeze trying to find a new life. No one from any sporting body will be there to help once you’ve done your service. There wasn’t even a ‘thank you’.
The working world was a whole new unknown. I stepped in on what I would consider as coming out from the lowest point in my athletic career. Not the best way to start, but what the hell. All I can say is that Decathlon helped me back up on my feet. The power of a positive, nurturing environment. I’ve always believed in it. It’s great to be part of one again. Thanks G.Horan, AB, Lizzi and SuBC, Al, Sandy and Mercs, Plews, John L, Andrea, Cormac, J.Baran, Big Dave, John H, Louis, Muzz and TCWA, Noda and CCC, DB, Wibbs, Matthews, Chuas and A.C for being the amazing people that you are.

I’m excited to see where this new journey with another bunch of amazing peps will take me.

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Enjoy the ride

So I’ve finally gotten around to pening some thoughts down. I’m at a stage where it’s challenging trying not to make honest sound negative. Well I CBF now.

I’ve always enjoyed sharing the journey and experiences. As much as I haven’t written much about it, I actually still do. Even if you DNF or come in dead last, you still take away lessons. In the society we live in, there’s usually nothing worth mentioning/sharing if you don’t win or podium. Everyone wants to read/cheer about winning stories. People either aren’t sure how to react to poor performances or feels it’s a waste of time.

I may not be a champion bike racer, but I’ve made it my goal to be a constant learner of things. However, if you don’t have a pro contract, haven’t worn yellow, green, polka or rainbow, it’s highly unlikely anyone will take you seriously. We whine about this city state being pancake flat with no real hills to train on. When I suggested to someone to think about adjusting his brakes on to hit the numbers he’s after, I got the eyebrow “that sounds ridiculous” raise. When I told him that was what a rider said in an interview about the year he won the rainbow bands, he looked away with a straight face.

I came into cycling with heaps of energy, negative and positive. The negatives have remained negative, the positives have now become negative. It’s pretty clear that the problem I’ve had with racing on the bike is all between the ears. The community involved in competitive sport is small and exclusive. I have yet to see the light, but I’m thankful to have a few who share the same philosophy to share the journey with. For now I’m just getting on the bike and enjoying the ride.

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finding myself

I’ve been lazy with the updates.

In regional news, the 2015 Asian Track and Road Cycling Championships was on a few weeks ago in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand, aka Korat. Great hit out, especially those gunning for a slot at this year’s SEA Games. If you haven’t heard, only the Road team will be out in full force. Bummer for the trackies, mountain bikers and bmxers.

I finished 17th in the Keirin and didn’t qualify for the sprints. Full results here. Needless to say, the competition ended for rather early for me. It gave me plenty of time to evaluate how I should progress. Preparation leading up was pretty solid. Squeezed in as much track time as I could get with the help of CCC Shuzenji and Track Cycling WA, but it dawned on me that I haven’t picked up enough of the technical skill needed to handle the sprint events. All the strength and power work I’ve been doing just isn’t going into the bike quick enough to stay in the race. You always question the decision you’ve made when I doesn’t turn out right the first time. Should I have dabbled in endurance right from the get go? Maybe. But I don’t regret it one bit.
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Focus on the process and you are sure to take something positive along the way. Well, at least it worked for me. I believe the people I’ve met who has helped me with my cycling, the tracks I’ve been fortunate enough to train on, was because of the decision to have a go at the sprints. The lessons learned along the way helps you find yourself. In my case, I’m better suited for endurance.

So I’ve started the long road back to 4 hours on the saddle and high intensity intervals. I almost forgot what torture and suffering felt like, but it didn’t take me long to get reacquainted. Looking back, with the measly amount of Ks I have in my legs, I could still put my head down and keep up in the 100-lappers in the Speed Dome. My first dabble back into bunch riding last week showed plenty of promise. Not quite like the speeds in a points/scratch race, but I wasted no time putting the hurt down. So you’ll probably see me on the road alot more now. Don’t forget to say Hi
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