Yesterday I had a meeting at Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). It’s a bit far, but I thought I would cycle there. I left NTU at around noon, with my pockets filled with google maps to make sure I would not get lost. I did need to check the maps on a few occasions, but it was relatively easy to find my way. The beginning of the ride is particularly lovely because it is through open countryside – actually, it is more cemeteries and army camps than open countryside, but at least I felt I was riding through countryside, and could see an open sky. It is quite difficult to get the sense of the open road in Singapore – the distant view is blocked by trees (good) or buildings (not so good). Finding my way through Choa Chu Kang was the trickiest. Mandai Road and Mandai Avenue are the longest stretches (even went past the Zoo entrance!). What was surprising was how little traffic there was – admittedly it was not rush hour, so I found the ride very enjoyable.
Anyway, my route is shown below:
It took just over an hour for the 27 km. KPTH is really beautiful. I have not seen many hospitals, but KPTH is certainly the most magnificient I have ever seen, with lovely open public areas and a sense of space. I liked the wood flooring in the central garden. It was a good place to eat my picnic lunch and to cool down. Of course on the day I also cycled from home to NTU (19.5 km) and from KPTH back to home (another 19km) so I cycled more than 60km yesterday. The ride home from KPTH was in the dark, and in heavy traffic, so not so pleasant.
Overall, It is a great feeling to know that this ride is quite feasible on a working day – I will probably do it again sometimes.
My front derailleur is giving me grief. According to tne bike manufacturers it is a Shimano 105 FD-5700. It started rubbing a few days ago. I tried to fix it, but now I can’t get the chain on the large chain ring at all. I’ve ridden bikes all my life, but I never learned to fix derailleur problems. Anyone has a good book on how to fix these?
I fixed it! After reading a few web sites, it all became clear. This site was particularly helpful: http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-help/front-derailleur-adjustments. As expected, I had to play with the height of the cage, and adjust the Low and High screws. Better lighting allowed me to understand what these screws did. That was really helpful. The cage adjustment for the middle chain ring just needed a tweak on the cable tensioning lug.
What about these birds! I just spotted them on a lamp-post in our street yesterday at about 07:30. They are hornbills, and on the Singapore critically endangered species list: http://www.wildsingapore.com/wildfacts/vertebrates/birds/albirostris.htm.
I just had time to grab the camera before they flew off. It was very exciting.
Before Christmas last year, as I was cycling to NTU on my way to work at about 08:00 in the morning, I stopped at a traffic light at the junction between Jurong West Ave 2 and Jalan Boon Lay. A pedestrian came up to me and said: “Don’t you know that Thursdays are working days in Singapore?”
I was too surprised to come up with an appropriate response, but it illustrates how foreign the concept of using bicycles for commuting is. It is also an indication of the impressive work ethics in Singapore. I regret not to see more who use bicycles for commuting. In spite of the climate, it is quite an attractive method for combining the practical with exercise.That being said, it is dangerous. The news of two young brothers killed on their bicycles in Tampines last Monday bring home the dangers of Singapore traffic. I am so sad for these children and their families. I cannot imagine greater suffering. My heart goes out to them.
It has been a long time since I commented on this blog, but this does not mean that I stopped cycling. In fact, I have continued cycling to NTU and back home about 4 times per week. I have been religiously using the mapmyride.com app on my iphone to record all my commutes, and found it rather addictive. Apart from mapping my route everyday and giving me information about duration, speed, calories burned etc, the web application compares my performance with other cyclists with whom I share some of the road segments. Some of the ride segments can be defined as climbs or routes, and points and awards are gained depending on one’s performance. The problem of course is that I am continually under pressure to improve my times. This is quite exhausting.
I discovered that in my cycling, I use about 1600 calories per day! as a result I realised that I needed to eat more to avoid feeling exhausted all the time.
I have also used cycling to get to meetings in Singapore. I cycled to TTSH in Novena from NTU (57 minutes), and from NTU to Biopolis (45 minutes). These rides were done around lunch time and did feel quite hot, but I took advantage of the swimming pool and showers at the NTU Alumni Club before my afternoon meeting. Very pleasant indeed.