Ride often enough, and you collect a set of preferred routes. Routes that you can navigate on auto-pilot. Here is a ride that my friends and I regularly make.
Occasionally we change things up a little by making diversions. For example, turning left off Jalan Lapangan Terbang Subang and riding the long way to the Subang Airport roundabout. Whenever we do this, we turn right at the T-junction to get back to the Subang Airport roundabout.
On our group ride yesterday I decided to turn left on Jalan Masjid instead. To see where the road would take us.
We had to turn right again at the Universiti Kuala Lumpur – Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology. 1km later, the paved road became a mud track.
Undeterred, I rode as far as I could on the mud trail. Which wasn’t very far. I started walking while the rest of the group watched me from the end of the paved road. 50 meters further on, a motorcyclist came toward me. The trail is too narrow to fit both of us side-to-side. He stopped so I could push my bike around his motorcycle.
Me: Does this track lead to a road?
Me: How far is it to the road?
Motorcyclist: It is at the top of the hill.
Me (to myself): That doesn’t look very far.
The motorcyclist rode on. I continued walking and one by one the rest of the group followed. I’m not sure that they wanted to follow me, but I give them credit for doing so.
Well, the hill was further than it looked. The trail didn’t get any better as it turned upward.
After 200 metres of clambering up the slippery slope, we got to the Sri Sakhti Durga Amman Temple at the top of the hill. As far as I can tell, the temple is accessible only via this track. We scraped the mud from our cleats and pedalled on along the now straight and flat trail.
200 metres later, Jake recognised the rear of the Tropicana Golf and Country Club nursery. We rode through the gate to the front of the nursery and Jalan Tropicana Utama.
Fortunately for the rest of us, Jake is familiar with the amenities at the Tropicana club. He led us straight to the golf buggy washing area. Where buggies can be washed, mud-packed cleats and bikes can be washed.
I think everyone enjoyed the bike hike. It was an experience. Now that I know where the left turn onto Jalan Masjid goes, I won’t be making that left turn again.
I fill my travel-restricted days by reading online newsletters and watching online documentaries and other programs. One of those shows is called Saved and Remade. People bring treasured but unused belongings to the Saved and Remade team, who reimagine and transform them into functional items.
In one segment a pile of swimming medals was transformed into fish-shaped wall display.
Some of these swimming medals are plain, while others look interesting. Seeing those medals made me look at the designs of the cycling medals in my collection.
Most are simple designs. The medals display the name of the event and incorporate a cyclist or a bicycle component in the design.
The 2015 Kedah Century medal mimics a bicycle chain ring.
The medal from the 2015 Janamanjung Fellowship Ride includes a cyclist and a bicycle chain ring.
A bit more thought went into the design of the medal from the 2019 Bentong-Raub Golden Ride. Like many others, this one features a cyclist. But it also stands out because of the Eddy Merckx quote.
A few designers incorporated in their medals an element unique to the event. A simple motif is the logo of the event host. Here the Avillion logo provides shape and colour to the 2017 Avillion Coastal Ride medal.
The designer of the medal for the 2016 Perak Century Ride must have been a soccer fan. That medal includes a Gaur or Seladang. The mascot of the Perak F.C. semi-professional soccer team. The design also has an outline of the state of Perak.
Another medal showing a geographical outline was handed out after the 2018 Campaign for a Lane ride. This medal has a map of Penang island that includes locations along the ride route.
Two medal designs that incorporate cultural motifs come from the Melaka Century rides. The 2014 medal contains a depiction of the A’Famosa Fort. The Portuguese fort is a historical landmark in Melaka. It dates to 1512.
The 2015 Melaka Century Ride medal is in the shape of a Tengkolok. A tengkolok is the traditional Malay headgear that forms part of the formal regalia of the Agung (King) of Malaysia. The tengkolok is also part of the formal attire of Sultans and the Yang DiPertuan Besar, the monarchical state rulers.
A more recent landmark to appear on a cycling medal is the Sri Wawasan Bridge. Putrajaya is the Federal administrative centre of Malaysia. It is a planned city built around a man-made lake. Eight bridges of different architecture cross Putrajaya Lake. The Sri Wawasan Bridge is a longitudinally asymmetric cable‐stayed box-girder bridge with an inverted-Y shape concrete/steel pylon 96 metres / 315 feet high. The main span is 165 metres / 541 feet long.
Sponsor logos rarely feature on the cycling medals I have collected. The same is true of this medal, despite it being from the 2012 Amstel Gold Race sportive. Dutch beer brewer Amstel has served as the race’s title sponsor since its creation in 1966. This medal naturally carries the Amstel name. It also includes a group of cyclists crossing a finish line together. In a clever nod to the sponsor, this medal doubles as a bottle opener.
These rather plain medals display the logo of the Audax Club Parisien and part of a bicycle wheel. The Audax Club Parisien is the governing body for randonneuring worldwide.
The key differentiators are the colour of the medals and stripes. As well as the numerals. These medals were awarded to cyclists who had successfully completed an Audax ride of the stated distance. I earned 200km, 400km, 300km and one more 200km medals between 2016 and 2019.
I included these medals because they reflect conscious design choices that are updated every four years. The design above was for 2015 to 2019. The 2020 to 2023 medals are below.
Some design elements – the Audax Club Parisien logo, the colours of the medal and stripes and the text denoting the distance, and a bicycle wheel – have been kept. New elements are the round shape, a loop to hang the medal on a chain and the partial map of the world. I assume the inclusion of the map is recognition that randonneuring has become a global sport.
I have a 200km and a 300km medal from the latest series. I don’t see another 400km or a 600km or 1,000km medal in my future.
Cycling events in Malaysia became much less prevalent after one organiser absconded with the registration fees he had collected for a century ride in 2016. I picked up a few more participation medals in the following three years. And nothing since the COVID-19 restrictions on mass-participation events. It will be some time before I can look at new cycling medal designs.
One complete bicycle was on the Time Magazine list. The Gocycle GXi folding electric bicycle.
The bicycle has come a long way in the 150 years since it was invented.
The forerunner of the bicycle is widely accepted to be the Laufmaschine (running machine) invented by Baron Karl von Drais in 1817. As the name suggests, this two-wheeled device was propelled by either walking or running. This style was known as a velocipede in most of Europe, a Draisine or Draisienne in France, and more generally a Dandy Horse.
The most important moment in bicycle history came in 1867 when Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement added a mechanical crank drive with pedals to the Dandy Horse design.
The bicycle has been fertile ground for inventors ever since.
Here are some patented ideas that didn’t gain widespread acceptance.
This single-wheeled cycle patented in 1885 by J.O. Lose was not a winner. Despite the integrated umbrella to keep your cigarette (or is that a joint?) dry.
In 1900, C.H. Bemenderfer invented “…a simple, inexpensive, and light attachment readily applicable to an ordinary bicycle without entailing changes in the construction thereof and calculated to carry a considerable burden without greatly increasing the labor of the bicycle rider.”
Racks or panniers turned out to be a more practical way to carry cargo on a bike.
In 1901 W. Eastman and W.H. Sayer adapted Bemenderfer’s third wheel design to run on rails. Given that full-sized bicycles are not allowed on some trains in Malaysia, it might be worth reviving this idea. If you can’t beat them, join them 🤣.
Another invention that didn’t float is this water bicycle, patented by D.H. Mosteller in 1913. Both the arms and legs provided the power to turn the propeller shaft. The legs were underwater, which would have made pedalling difficult. Note that the water bicycle was steered by the chin, which sat in a chinrest connected to the rudder at the front of the water bicycle.
L.S. Burbank patented this arm-powered machine in 1900. You might have thought that this idea was not a winner either.
You would be wrong. You can buy a very similar machine, the Rowbike, today.
Other early ideas continue to attract innovation. G.H. Williams patented this spring-cushioning device in 1902. I have something like it, the Redshift ShockStop, on my bike now.
The compact bicycle has gone through many iterations since this version was patented by C.H. Clark in 1921. This design was easy to carry “…through revolving doors or conveniently into trains, street cars, or any place where the room is restricted or where there are a considerable number of people moving about.”
It was not easy to pedal. Look at the size of that chainring compared to the rear sprocket.
Clark’s design is one of many that fell by the wayside. New transportable / folding bike designs continue to surface. A quick search on kickstarter.com revealed the Halfbike, which is not far removed from Clark’s patent.
Other folding bikes on Kickstarter of course include a number of e-variants. The differentiator is usually the ‘revolutionary’ folding mechanism.
There are full-size bikes on Kickstarter. One intriguing design is the 8bar MITTE. Sliding dropouts and two different forks allow the frame to switch from a road-oriented geometry to a cross-oriented geometry.
We will see if these designs survive or fail the test of time. Whatever the case, we are sure to see new ideas in bicycle frame design, some wild and wacky, for many years to come.
I don’t see any concerns about body weight amongst the people with whom I ride. Then again, we aren’t competitive cyclists looking for our next PR or KOM.
On the other hand, I do see a fixation with the weight of bicycles. Generally speaking, the lighter the frame or component, the better. A fixation that is common to cyclists around the world.
That reminded me of a bit of not particularly scientific research I did some time ago into the cost of reducing weight on your bike. I looked at the difference in weight and price between an alloy component, in this case, stems, bars and seat posts, and the equivalent carbon version.
In summary, I found each gram of reduced weight cost an additional MYR10 / USD2.42. On average, a carbon bar weighing 100 grams less than the equivalent model alloy version cost MYR1000 / USD242 more.
Coincidentally the latest issue of the Road Bike Rider newsletter has an article in it titled “How Much Does Bicycle Weight Matter?” In it, Kevin Kolodziejski presents a more thorough investigation of what it costs to reduce the weight of a bike. Kevin looked at websites like trek.com and competitivecyclist.com to compare the weight and price of “standard” items and their lighter equivalents. His findings are below.
Kevin looked at a broader range of items than I did. His “all-in” review averages out to a premium of MYR22.69 / USD5.50 per gram of reduced weight (at prices as of 8th April 2021 and at current exchange rates).
He implies that there is little meaningful speed to be gained from the expense of reducing grams on your bike. With the exception of lighter wheels. Buying lightweight wheels is commonly accepted as the number one improvement you can make to your bike.
Kevin goes on to suggest more cost-effective ways of shedding weight on your bike. These include dieting. Taking one kilogram off your bike will cost between MYR10,000 – 22,690 / USD2,420 – 5,500 as per mine and Kevin’s data. Taking one kilogram off your body is free. In fact, you will save money by not buying so many of these.
I have to admit that buying a lightweight frame or component is much more fun than losing weight.
Mount Everest is 8,848.86 metres (29,028.87 feet) high. As of 8th December 2020 anyway. The day China and Nepal jointly announced the newly-agreed height of the world’s mightiest peak.
The verb Everesting refers to an activity where a cyclist climbs a cumulative total of 8,848 metres. It was thought George Mallory made the first Everesting attempt in 1994. That George is the grandson of George Mallory, who disappeared on Everest in 1924.
Inspired by the Mallory story, Andy van Bergen founded Hells 500, the creators and custodians of the Everesting concept. Incidentally, Andy and George are friends.
In June 2020, Andy received an email from Francois Siohan with evidence that he had Everested on 1st July 1984. The first Everesting is now acknowledged to have happened a decade before George Mallory did it.
The rules of Everesting are simple.
An explanation of the rules and other information are available at everesting.cc
According to the Everesting Hall of Fame, there was only one successful Everesting between George Mallory’s in November 1994 and Carlo Gironi’s in July 2012. Klaas Veenbaas did it in June 2009.
Five cyclists completed this challenge in 2012. Ten did it the following year. Andy and the Hells 500 crew organised a group assault in 2014. Of the one hundred and twenty riders invited, thirty-three completed the challenge.
Since then, the popularity, if one can call it that, of Everesting has exploded. To date, 10,410 cyclists have Everested. 4,729 other riders have climbed at least the height of Everest on a trainer. On the home front, 151 Malaysians have Everested since August 2019.
104 countries have at least one person who has Everested.
The number of hours it takes the average cyclist to climb 8,848 metres can reach into the twenties and beyond. Professional and elite cyclists do it in much less time.
The chart below shows the evolution of the women’s world Everesting record from Alice Thomson’s 12 hours 32 minutes in 2018 to current record holder Emma Pooley’s 8 hours 53 minutes in July 2020.
This is Emma Pooley during her world record ride.
The women’s world record fell 1 hour 8 minutes in five months last year.
This is the men’s chart.
Lachlan Morton thought he had set a new world record in June 2020, only to have his attempt nullified due to bad elevation data. So he went out six days later and set a legal world Everesting record.
I rode with Lachlan in 2015. He looked like a potential Everesting world record holder.
This is Lachlan during his world record ride.
The current record is held by Ronan McLaughlin. Ronan reclaimed the world record eight months after losing it to Sean Gardner.
Ronan did 78 laps of this almost dead-straight 810-metre section of road that pitches up at a punishing average gradient of 14.2%.
The men’s record has fallen 1 hour 11 minutes in less than a year. 6 hours 40 minutes is a phenomenal time in which to climb 8,848 metres. No doubt someone will come along and do it faster.
I won’t be earning one of these Everesting achievement badges. I have too much mass in my ass.
Here is a closing thought. Mount Everest is getting 2 centimetres higher every year. Will the record book have to be rewritten when Nepal and China announce that the mountain’s new height is 8,849 metres?