This bicycle was built by Alchemy Bicycles, then in Austin, Texas. At the time I lived and worked in Houston, Texas.
My bike followed me on my travels to Den Haag in the Netherlands, and finally to Kuala Lumpur.
The travels of this bike had something to do with international commerce. I would not own it if I hadn’t been working in Texas. My Bike Chick and I were able to live outside Malaysia because we worked for organizations trading in multiple countries. Organizations that encouraged the international relocation of some of their staff.
Keeping the bike running depended on international commerce. A new saddle from an Italian manufacturer. Chains and cassettes from an American company with manufacturing in Taiwan. Tires from Germany.
The rear derailleur hanger did its job for ten years. Cut to a month ago. I had just started a ride when I heard a “crrrrrruuuuunch”. The rear derailleur had over-shifted into the spokes and snapped at the lower knuckle. The hanger had bent as it tried to do its job of protecting the derailleur.
I had a spare derailleur on hand. I did not have a spare hanger.
The mechanics at my local bike shop managed to bend the hanger back enough for it to be usable. There were signs of a crack, and it would be just a matter of time before the hanger broke in two.
There are hundreds of derailleur hangers available. No bike shop stocks them all. International commerce to the rescue.
First, I had to identify the hanger I needed. Wheels Manufacturing LLC is in Louisville, Colorado. Their website lists more than 350 different hangers. Alchemy is not among the bike brands in the Wheels Manufacturing database. I searched for hangers with two fasteners. There are more than 160 to choose from.
I was not sure if I found the one I needed. Wheels Manufacturing warns that an incorrect hanger will not fit.
Next, I did what I should have done to start with. I emailed Alchemy Bicycles Inc, which is now in Boulder, Colorado. I got a quick reply with a link to Paragon Machine Works in Richmond, California and the hanger that I needed.
It is a good thing I checked. The hanger I needed was shorter than the one I had initially identified.
A few minutes later, I placed an order on the Paragon website for two hangers. International commerce in action again via the magic of the Internet.
By the end of that day, a package was on its way to me from Richmond via Los Angeles and Hong Kong. The two hangers were in my hands four days after I had placed the order.
Up until a month or so ago, I took international travel and the Internet for granted. Globalization, despite its drawbacks, was here to stay.
Then the novel coronavirus spilled out across the world. The COVID-19 pandemic has already badly affected global trade. International travel is at a standstill. Economies worldwide are staggering. It may be well into 2021 before we see the end of this pandemic.
Cracks have already appeared in the global economy. How big will those cracks become? How will international trade be affected?
In the meantime, all the local bike shops are closed until at least the end of March. Thank goodness the Internet still works.
My first review of a Redshift product was for their ShockStop suspension stem. At the time the ShockStop suspension seatpost had just been launched on Kickstarter. I pre-ordered one and have been using it for a few months now. It was on my bike during the 280km IIUM Endu-ride at the end of last month.
One knock against suspension seatposts is they are not particularly attractive. The Redshift ShockStop is fairly minimalist compared to, from left, the Cane Creek Thudbuster ST, the Kinekt-BodyFloat, the Suntour NCX and the Specialized CG-R suspension seatposts.
The ShockStop seatpost is made of 6060 T6 aluminium alloy. It is 350mm long and 27.2mm in diameter. Shims are available to fit 30.9mm or 31.6mm seat tubes. The saddle clamps are compatible with 7mm round and 7x9mm oval saddle rails.
This seatpost weighs 497gm.
The 35mm of suspension travel is provided by a main spring. A second inner spring can be combined with the main spring to provide a stiffer spring rate, up to the rider weight limit of 110kg.
The spring stiffness can be fine-tuned by adjusting the preload plug at the bottom of the seatpost.
Installation is straightforward. A comprehensive set of printed instructions comes with the seatpost. An installation video is also available on the redshiftsports.com website.
The Redshift website says that the ShockStop suspension seatpost “lets you float over rough terrain – ride further, faster, and more comfortably on the bike you already own.”
This seatpost delivers on that promise. Saddle movement is fluid, without any jerkiness as it moves through the 35mm of available travel. This creates a plush feel that is effective at isolating the rider from vibrations and larger impacts.
The four-bar linkage keeps the saddle angle constant throughout the range of movement.
A nice touch is a fender or cover that attaches magnetically to the rear of the suspension linkage. This keeps the moving parts of the linkage and saddle clamp bolts clean when riding on wet roads.
The Redshift ShockStop suspension seatpost is well-engineered, easy to adjust and has a smooth and impressive suspension action you can tune to your own personal preference.
I like this suspension seatpost so much that I bought a second one for my other bike.
For me, the standout feature is the high mount backlit digital gauge.
The gauge sits at the top of the pump barrel. The backlight comes on automatically when you start inflating a tire. The red numbers are about 12mm high and are easy for my sixty-plus-year-old eyes to read.
This pump is not a one-trick pony. The list of features is impressive.
The gauge can display one of three different measurement units: psi, bar, or kg/cm2.
You can set a target pressure alert using the “+” and “-” buttons. When you reach your desired pressure, the display flashes.
Silca claims the gauge is accurate to within 1%.
The SuperPista Digital includes Silca’s Hiro chuck. This all-metal chuck seals completely on Presta valves as short as 10 mm. The chuck is rated up to 220psi or 15.1 bar. The locking lever can be operated with one hand.
The SuperPista combines a full metal shock piston design with the classic Italian leather plunger washer that has been a feature of Silca pumps since 1917.
An alloy barrel and German Igus linear bearings create the highest efficiency, smoothest running Silca floor pump to date.
The pump has a top-mount hose design with a magnetic dock beside the gauge for the Hiro chuck. A strap holds the handle in place for storage or transport.
The hose is 130cm long, which is enough to reach the valves of bikes clamped in repair stands or car racks.
The pump stands about 76cm tall. The handle extends to 132cm. By extending the handle all the way, a tire can be inflated to 90psi in 24 strokes. The pump is rated to 220psi.
The three-footed base exceeds 28cm at its widest point. Rubber feet ensure that the stable base does not slide around on the floor. The weight of the pump and the wide base make the SuperPista difficult to accidentally knock over.
Is the SuperPista Digital Worth the Price?
This is an expensive pump. There are no rivals in this price range to compare it with. What do you get for your money?
You get Silca’s outstanding build quality and attention to design. The SuperPista is handcrafted from first-rate materials and is a pleasure to use.
This pump is covered by Silca’s Lifetime Warranty, which covers defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the user, plus 7 years of coverage for non-defect reasons such as fatigue, wear and tear, etc.
With the proper care and maintenance using Silca-supplied replacement parts, the SuperPista digital will probably be the last floor pump you will ever buy.
The high price makes it impossible to recommend the Silca SuperPista Digital on a pure value for money basis. There are lots of cheaper pumps that do a fine job of inflating tyres. But the way this pump is designed and constructed makes it a joy to use. It has beautiful touches all around. If money is no object, this pump scores 10 out of 10.
During a R@SKLs ride in November last year we met a group from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) who were doing a recce for a planned 280km / 1,200km cycling event. They invited us to take part. “Not a chance,” we all thought to ourselves.
Never say “never.” Fast forward to this weekend and Johan S, Kenneth, Mokhtar and I had signed up for the 280 km / 174 mi ride from the IIUM campus in Kuantan to the IIUM campus in Gombak via the IIUM campus in Gambang. We had 26.5 hours to complete the ride.
The 1,200 km / 746 mi Ultra-ride event includes a visit to the IIUM campus in Pagoh. That event (going on as I write this) is many kilometres too far and many hours too long (105 hours) for us.
The logistics were painless thanks to Mokhtar. He has an apartment in Kuantan where we stayed on Friday night and a pickup truck that transported our bikes. He even drove us from KL to Kuantan.
We got to Kuantan at about 1:00 pm. We had some time to burn before collecting our ride packs, so we got a head start on carbo-loading at lunch.
The ride pack collection and briefing went very well.
I don’t know why my name was the only one not in all capitals.
I’m not sure that we needed to carbo-load as much as we did at dinner.
We were ready to roll out of the IIUM campus in Kuantan as scheduled at 7:30 am. Fazwan was a great help driving the pickup and loading and unloading our bikes.
We had a detailed plan for the ride. Our strategy was to take short breaks every 25 km or so and to maintain a pace which would get us to the Suria Hot Spring Resort on Bentong by 6:15 pm. That was the plan anyway!
The route to the IIUM campus in Gombak from Bentong is via Genting Sempah. That road is unlit and in need of resurfacing. It would be a risky ride in the dark, so we chose to spend the night at the Hot Spring Resort.
The first checkpoint was at the IIUM campus in Gambang.
We got there on schedule but stayed much longer than planned. The organiser was serving cendol, and we had to have some after we got our MyPassports (akin to a brevet card) stamped.
The cendol was worth lingering for. From that point, we fell further and further behind our schedule as each five minute stop stretched to ten or fifteen minutes.
Our next stop was at Restoran Mak Lijah in Kampung Berkelah. We ran into Brian, who was doing the Ultra-ride.
I have driven to Kuantan and back along these roads many times. Passing through places like Kampung New Zealand. I don’t know why it is so named, but now I have cycled through it.
Our next scheduled stop was the just after we rode through Kampung New Zealand. The Two Brothers café was closed, but we made ourselves at home anyway.
About 10 km later we pulled over to chat with AiLin and Mark, who were on their way to Kuantan by scooter.
We got to Taman Jaya near Temerloh at about 1:45 pm. It was 36ºC / 97ºF, so we lingered at over lunch for an hour and fifteen minutes.
Despite it being even hotter at 3:00 pm – 38ºC / 100ºF – we had to get moving if we were to have any hope of getting to Bentong before nightfall.
We only made it about 20 km down the road before we needed to cool down at the Petron station in Mentakab. By which time we had resigned ourselves to getting into Bentong after dark.
We had 45 km to cover before the next checkpoint at Mempaga. Those kilometres happened to be some of the hilliest of the day, with gradients approaching 10%.
We got to the Mempaga checkpoint at about 6:30 pm.
We all needed fluid, and in some cases, food. It wasn’t until 7:15 pm before we turned on our front and rear lights and left the Petronas station in Mempaga.
The run into Bentong includes a nasty little climb which rises 125 metres over 5.8 km. Welcome to Bentong!
The last 10 km to the Suria Hot Spring Resort is along an unlit road. I would not like to be riding on that road alone at night. Which is what Johan did. He stopped to eat as soon as he got to Bentong town. We planned to eat dinner at the resort. Johan told us to proceed without him. He made it to the resort unscathed.
234 km in the bag.
We all slept like babies that night, despite the children carousing outside our rooms at 1:00 am.
We were ready to get going again at 6:20 am. We had to be at the IIUM campus in Gombak by 10:00 am to make the time cutoff. 46 km and 570 metres of climbing away. We couldn’t afford to dilly-dally today.
We stuck to our plan of short stops at the Bukit Tinggi and Janda Baik junctions. We made such good time to the McDonald’s at the Genting Sempah R&R that we were able to have breakfast there.
A McDonald’s scrambled egg sandwich always tastes better during a ride.
All that was left between us and the 19 km descent to Taman Permai Jaya was the 1 km 7.9% average gradient climb up what is known as Hamburger Hill.
There was a slight sting in the tail on the final 3 km to the finish at the IIUM Gombak Sport Complex. A small matter of a few 6.5% slopes to get over. We got a bit lost inside the campus too, but that didn’t dampen our sense of achievement as we got our MyPassports stamped at the finish.
Hamzah was of the guys who last November invited us to take part in this event. He was at the finish line.
This was the view outside the MesaMall in Nilai at 4:05am.
Why would anyone be awake, let alone ready to ride, at that ungodly hour?
This is why.
Twenty R@SKLs did the Pink Ride 2.0 in 2019. Four of us from that group signed up this year. Eight other R@SKLs, including six who had never done a 200km ride, joined us this time.
I collected brevet cards for most of the group the day before the ride.
Together with the brevet / cue card we got a Pink Ride 3.0 sticker and a cash voucher worth MYR150 / USD37 from the Cyclist Wardrobe.
Some of us spent the night in Nilai. Better to be asleep than driving from KL very early in the morning. That plan didn’t work for me. There was a night bazaar next to my hotel. And live bands that played until midnight.
Despite the interrupted sleep, I was at the Old Town White Coffee On The Go outlet at the MesaMall just after 4:00 am, waiting to hand out brevet cards to the rest of the R@SKLs. They were already arriving at the mall.
While riders were waiting for the start, they could take a selfie in front of the Cyclist Wardrobe banner. The selfie with the most likes on social media at the end of the event would win an MYR888 / USD218 cash voucher. Thank you, Max, from Cyclist Wardrobe for your generous support for this event.
We were ready to roll at 5:00 am. Except for Marvin, who set his alarm for 3:00 am and then went back to sleep until 4:30 am. We started without him.
Which is why none of us was wearing the reflective bands that Johan Sopiee bought for us. He rode from his home to Nilai 😳. Marvin had the package of reflective bands in his car.
The route took us clockwise from Nilai to Seremban 2 and Rantau on the way to the first checkpoint in Port Dickson. The second checkpoint was at Morib. From there the route passed through Banting and back to Nilai.
The public restrooms at MesaMall weren’t open that early in the morning. I, for one, was glad to see a Petron station 1.5km after we started.
Our first proper stop was 30km later at Mambau. Our group had split into two after a series of short climbs. Marvin caught up with us before we stopped. We didn’t have to wait long before the group had reassembled.
Our next stop was at the Shell station in Rantau. It was starting to get light as we left the petrol station. We had an unexpected stop 10km later when Ernestine had a puncture. That was the only puncture our group suffered.
It was overcast to Port Dickson. The home of the Army Museum. The temperature was between 22ºC / 72ºF and 24ºC / 75ºF for the 78km to the first checkpoint.
We got to the McDonalds at the PD Waterfront at 8:30 am. We were ahead of schedule, in spite of the flat tire.
We got stamps in our brevet cards and queued up with dozens of other cyclists to order breakfast.
Afiq latched onto our group as we cycled past the Army Museum. He introduced himself as we waited for a traffic light and asked if he could continue to ride with us.
“Of course you can Afiq.” He is in purple on the right.
The roads from Lukut to Sepang run through rolling terrain. Rain fell on that part of the route while we were eating our sausage and scrambled egg sandwiches.
Sam Tow founded the Audax Randonneurs Malaysia (ARM) club in 2015. Sam is now the country representative for ARM, which organizes audax events which adhere to the regulations set by the Audax Club Parisien.
As well as overseeing the logistics involved in running an event for nine hundred cyclists, Sam also drove the route in his personalized Land Rover Defender. He took almost two thousand photographs along the way.
Sepang marked the end of the rolling terrain. It was also where we stopped to regroup, catch our breath and refill bottles.
The sun broke through the clouds as we left Sepang to ride the remaining 95km. By the time we had covered the 27km to Tanjong Sepat, it was 31ºC / 88ºF. It was also almost noon. We were ready for a cold drink and some food.
Mark planned to meet us in Tanjong Sepat. He sent me his location via WhatsApp. It looked strange to me. I remember that point being in the middle of a group of houses. “Maybe he found a little-known restaurant,” I thought.
We rode to that location and found a group of houses. But no restaurant, and no Mark.
Then I saw this message from him.
We rode back to a restaurant where some of us had stopped in the past. There was some grumbling about having to ride extra kilometres, but everyone felt better after a cold drink and some calories.
We were on the road again at 12:45 pm.
We had managed to stick together as a train since that first stop in Mambau, and we continued to do so on the way to the second checkpoint at Morib.
We got to Morib at 1:20 pm. There were water and bananas for us at the checkpoint. Thank you ARM.
We claimed the shade under this tree for twenty five minutes.
1:50 pm. 35ºC / 95ºF. 50km to go.
The heat and fatigue were beginning to take a toll. So we made more frequent rest stops over the remainder of the ride. First at a Shell station in Banting, just before we crossed the Langat River. Then at the Petronas station in Olak Lempit.
We were 25km from the finish and still riding in a single group. Amy, Ernestine, Geetha, Huey Ling, Vanessa and Lokesh were well past their previous longest ride distance, and they were going strong. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
We took a five-minute break on the shoulder of the Nilai-KLIA Highway. Our last stop was at the Petronas station in Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi. We were there for almost ten minutes, mentally preparing ourselves for the 180 metres of climbing over the last 8.5km to the MesaMall.
As we started riding, we noticed low black clouds and lightning in front of us. It would be a race to get to the finish before it started raining.
It started pouring on us when we were less than 2km from the finish. A final 2km which included grades of up to 6.3%.
Everyone finished safely. Wet but very happy with hard-won medals in hand.
The rain did not dampen spirits in the least. Johan does look a little tired, though 😂.
Congratulations to everyone in the group for completing the Pink Ride 3.0. I am so proud of you.
As it turned out, those extra kilometres in Tanjong Sepat were worth the effort. The official route was 198.8km long. It would have been a bummer to be short of 200km. Riding around in Tanjong Sepat got us all over the 200km mark.
We celebrated our achievement in R@SKL style, with a feast on Monday night. An evening filled with laughter as we relived the ride.
I went to St. John’s Institution (SJI) in the 1970s. The SJI alumni, known as Johannians, maintains strong ties with each other and to the school. One of these alumni groups is the SJI Cycling Club (SJICC).
An SJICC WhatsApp group discussion about a Fellowship ride started in July. A suggestion to ride from Kota Warisan to Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) and back turned into a plan. About forty SJI alumni signed up for the ride.
It was gloomy and damp when I left home this morning. The drizzle started when I was on the MEX Highway. It got heavier as I drove through Cyberjaya and Dengkil. It was still drizzling at the ride start time of 7:30 am.
The wet weather put some people off. Twenty-three cyclists had turned up at Kota Warisan. As well as several friends on scooters and motorbikes. They had volunteered to be our outriders. All of us were wondering if we would ride, or just stay put and order more teh tarik, nasi lemak and roti canai.
At 8:00 am the drizzle eased up a bit. We decided to go for it. As Rashid said, it was time to apply Velominati rules #5 and #9.
Rule #5: Harden The F*** Up
Rule #9: If you are out riding in bad weather, it means you are a badass. Period.
Velominati: KEEPERS OF THE COG
Most wore their club jerseys. I don’t own one, so I hid at the back for this pre-start photograph. Jeff, the other rider in pink, is an old boy of Cochrane Road School. He was allowed to join us because he sells very nice bicycles 😂.
Not long after we started riding, the drizzle turned into rain. We were thoroughly soaked when we got to our first stop at the Sepang International Circuit.
The next stop was at the L32 end of KLIA runway 2. By that time, it had stopped raining.
After watching a few aircraft landings, we rode the length of runway 3.
Our last stop to regroup and buy a drink was at the PETRONAS station on Lebuhraya KLIA Extension.
9.5kkm after that we were back at the Restoran Nasi Lemak Royale.
We hadn’t ridden very far. We had long forgotten all thoughts of a second loop. What was more important after a very wet ride was some signature nasi lemak and fried chicken.
It was a fun ride. Due in no small measure to the support car and the outriders who kept us safe on the roads.
There is already some chat about doing a longer ride.
Some of the best rides happen with very little planning. A chat on the 5th led quickly to an agreement to ride from Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson on the 11th. And back again the next day. We had four others opt-in within a few days.
Brian, Kellie, Kenneth and I started before sunrise from Petaling Jaya. We rode to the Sanctuary Mall in Bandar Rimbayu, where we met Jake and Mark. There was time for coffee, Milo and roti canai before we pointed our bikes towards Port Dickson.
We took our regular route to Jenjarom, and then rode the quiet secondary roads to Tanjung Sepat.
The only animal life we saw on the way to Tanjung Sepat was of the domesticated variety.
It took us about two and a half hours to get from Rimbayu to Tanjung Sepat. Which meant it was time for food and drink. We went to Hai Yew Hin. Home of excellent rice porridge.
And pretty good fish balls too.
20km later we were waiting for the ferry across the Sepang River.
Kenneth asked where the river originates. I didn’t know the name of the river then, let alone its origin. Thanks to Google Maps I know know its name, that it originates in Sepang, and forms the border between the states of Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
It was 1:30 pm and 34ºC when we got to Port Dickson. Our first stop was for bowls of . . .
We checked in to our usual PD accommodation. The Waterfront Boutique Hotel.
After a shower, it was time for a late lunch. We got into the Double Queue Thai Cuisine restaurant just in time. The kitchen closes for a two-hour break at 3:00 pm. A lamp post outside the restaurant was a convenient place to hang my laundered kit to dry 😂.
After a post-lunch nap it was dessert time. There is a McDonald’s within walking distance of the hotel. Mark has the McDonald’s app. As luck would have it, there was an ice cream promotion that he could redeem. A soft-serve cone, an Oreo McFlurry and the choice of a strawberry or a chocolate sundae for something like RM8.00.
Mark had the McFlurry. I had the cone and the chocolate sundae.
Mark and I sat in McDonald’s until dinner time. The others joined us there, and Jake researched dinner options. Gerai Hock Kee was on the opposite side of the hotel from the McDonald’s. We walked along the waterfront and past Port Dickson Public Library to Gerai Hock Kee.
The restaurant is small and unpretentious. No flashing neon sign here. The food – thick noodles in dark soya sauce, fried mantis prawns, fried shark, oyster omelet, and green leafy veg – hit the spot.
There was beer at dinner. Which was enough for most of us. But not for two, who had couple of nightcaps at the Pattaya Pie Kitchen & Bar.
It was bedtime for the rest of us.
There used to be a bhangra pub beside the Waterfront Boutique Hotel. The loud music kept us awake for most of the night on a previous visit. The pub is gone, so we all had a good night’s sleep.
We were on the road at 6:00 am, with a breakfast stop 10km away in Lukut. Dawn broke through cloudy skies as we headed to the ferry at Sungai Pelek.
Our route back was slightly different from the one we took to get to PD.
We took a detour to Avani Sepang Gold Coast.
We also took the more direct route along Federal Route 5 from Tanjung Sepat to Morib. We stayed on Federal Route 5 through Banting before turning right onto Jalan Kampung Sri Cheeding.
Restoran Al-Arefin Bistro is our regular hangout in Rimbayu. And for many other cyclists. So much so that the restaurant recently installed a sturdy bike rack out front.
Jake and Mark ended their ride in Rimbayu. Brian, Kellie, Kenneth and I made it safely back to Petaling Jaya. Once again, lots of kilometres ridden without any punctures.
Murphy’s Law – If something can go wrong, it will – didn’t strike.
Yhprum’s Law – Everything that can work, will work – held instead.