Essentially confined to barracks for the duration of the current lockdown, I have entertained myself by looking at my previous blog posts. A lot of those posts are about rides with the R@SKLs. Here are summaries of those rides, with photographs and links to the relevant posts.
HCL introduced me to his R@SKL friends after the 2016 Campaign for a Lane ride in Penang. A meeting I will remember for the “lost pedal” incident.
My first ride with the R@SKLs was in October that year. The Melaka Century ride had been cancelled at the last minute. Our hotel bookings were non-refundable. We decided to go to Melaka anyway and ride from there to Muar and back.
Note: I do get asked if my blog is about cycling or about food. The photograph above may understate the importance the R@SKLs put on good food and drink relative to cycling 😄.
The closest I get to cycling during this latest total lockdown is looking at photographs. I came across this set of snaps from a ride to Paya Indah Wetlands.
The Paya Indah Wetlands – Paya Indah means Beautiful Swamp – is a man-made wetlands area that was created on land heavily degraded by tin mining and sand dredging activities. The excavations left by the mining works were converted into lakes which are now home to fish, lotus plants and water lilies, and some other more exotic species. More on those in a minute.
The R@SKLs rode to the wetlands just after the first Movement Control Order was lifted in May 2020. We couldn’t get in at the time because public parks, including Paya Indah, were still not open to the public. Paya Indah opened in June 2020, and we rode there again to see those exotic species.
On our way from Rimbayu.
As is so often the case on R@SKLs rides, the first order of business upon arrival is food and drink.
Here is one of the exotic species I mentioned.
Baby and Lily are the stars of the show at Paya Indah Wetlands. They are a gift from the government of Botswana.
Geetha drove there with her very excited children.
The kids loved the hippos.
And the crocs.
After viewing the fauna we explored the park. We found this lookout tower.
We convinced JS to clamber up the tower.
Then it was time to ride back to Rimbayu.
I fear it will be a while yet before we can do a similar 65km cross-district ride.
To many cyclists, “bicycle parts” means components like bars, saddles, cassettes, chainrings and wheels. Small parts do not tend to come to mind. Until something goes wrong with one.
Cable end caps are a good example. These ferrules are usually aluminium and crimped into place over the ends of shifter and brake cables. Their purpose is to keep the individual wires that make up a cable from fraying. Frayed cables can impair shifting and braking performance. The sharp wires can also give a cyclist a nasty scratch.
Cable end caps can add a little extra flair to your ride. Cable ends caps come in a multitude of colours to match any paint scheme.
Cable end caps rarely fall off. One may get knocked off in a crash. Not having cable end caps installed is more likely the fault of an inattentive mechanic who forgot to crimp them on after replacing cables.
Bar-end plugs fit into the open ends of handlebars. These plugs are installed to prevent serious injury in the case of a fall. Open-ended handlebars can puncture the abdomen in a crash, with deadly results.
Bar-end plugs fix the ends of bar tape to the bar. Bar-end plugs are usually replaced every time new bar tape is installed. Cheaper bar tape usually comes with friction fit plugs. These are held in place by a series of ribs.
Friction fit plugs can be dislodged when bars rub against something. For example, when bikes are moved into and out of car boots.
More expensive bar tapes come with expanding plugs. These are locked into place by tightening the screw on the face of the plugs. This makes them more secure.
Custom bar-end plugs are available in many colours and with any graphic imaginable to personalise your ride.
You could ride with frayed cables and no bar-end plugs. You wouldn’t want to cycle far without at last one bottle of water or other drink on your bike. Bottle cages are held onto the bike by M5 bolts. These are 5 mm in diameter.
These bolts do loosen over time, so they are worth checking occasionally. You will probably notice a loose bottle cage mid-ride. Hopefully, before one or more bolts have fallen out.
Loose or missing bottle cage bolts won’t hurt you. The rattling may bother you, though. As might carrying a bidon in your jersey pocket if a bottle cage falls off.
Bottle cages do not come with bolts. The M5 bolts are usually pre-installed when you buy a frame.
Bottle cage bolts can be another source of bling. They come in many colours and bolt head shapes. There are even Ti versions for the weight-obsessed.
Finding replacement cable end caps, bar-end plugs, and bottle cage bolts is easy. Much more difficult to replace are the quick-release levers on SRAM Red Aero Link brakes. These levers open the brake calipers, so the wheel can be removed. I gave no thought to these levers until I snapped one in a crash.
I needed a replacement because that brake caliper was almost impossible to open without the lever.
A brake quick-release lever comes in a set identified as SRAM part number 11.5118.000.000. The set has all the parts needed to replace the barrel adjustment assembly. And impossible to find in Malaysia. To my eternal gratitude, my good friend HCP was able to get a set from Taiwan.
The following two items on my list are not bicycle parts per se. They are parts of accessories essential to me, though.
This is the Garmin Varia 500 front light. It put out up to 600 lumens and was controllable by my Garmin Edge bike computer. I was happy with this light until a design flaw came to light (I couldn’t resist!)
The on/off switch was covered with a rubbery material that deteriorated over time. Once that cracked off, it became difficult to turn the light on and off. My light was, Sod’s Law, out of warranty and discontinued. Not that it mattered. The local Garmin distributor did not stock the replacement black case section.
I now use a Garmin UT800. This light puts out up to 800 lumens, is controlled from my Garmin Edge, and has a redesigned on/off switch, which looks much more robust.
More bad press for Garmin. I have not experienced this failure – yet – but it has happened to a friend. One or both of the tabs on the back of the Edge 100 and Edge 1030 cycling computers can snap off. These tabs engage with the notches on the bike mount and lock the device into place. If a tab snaps during a ride, an expensive cycling computer can fall and be damaged or lost.
Fortunately this is a part the can be replaced by the local distributor.
Back to SRAM for my last entry. I like their electronic Red eTap shifting system a lot. Including the convenience of easily swappable batteries.
Those batteries have a tab that fits into a slot on each derailleur body. A latch at the top then snaps into place to lock the battery onto the derailleur body.
Until the tab on the battery snaps, as has happened to me. I suspect this happens because of a combination of the plastic becoming brittle and not lifting the tab clear of the slot before tilting the battery away from the derailleur.
These are not ride-ending issues like a snapped derailleur hanger or a cracked rim is. Nevertheless, they are annoying when they happen.
You may have heard the phrase, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” In this case, the small stuff may make you sweat.
The ban on outdoor cycling goes on. Here are more things that are always in plain sight, which I only noticed on my walks around the neighbourhood.
The row of dance clubs at the end of Jalan Doraisamy are closed. No more bhangra music until late on weekends. The mural on the Maccal Luxe Club wall remains, though.
2 & 3
These are the Ali and Muthu murals on the wall of the Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock Dang Wangi outlet.
The last time I walked there, The waterfall in front of the KL Forest Eco Park dominated my attention. The next time I saw the various leaf imprints on the pavement.
I now know that pavement is part of the Urban Forest Trail. The manhole covers date from when the Eco Park was known as the Bukit Nanas Forest Reserve. Nanas being the Bahasa Malaysia word for “pineapple.”
The roadside electrical cabinets on Jalan Ampang near the Malaysian Tourism Centre sport city scenes. What a nice change from the usual dull grey.
The hoarding surrounding the empty lot next to the W Kuala Lumpur is a 225 metres / 740 feet long mural featuring Malaysian plant and animal life.
Jubilation IIis by the Malaysian artist Eng Tay. Cast in 2009, it is his ode to the simple joys in life. This installation is in front of Marc Residence on Jalan Pinang.
Next door is the Ascott Residence, where this little fountain lives.
The next buildings along are the Etiqa Twins. The two towers are set back from the road, so I missed the Bentley showroom the first time past. After I took this photograph, I noticed the Aston Martin showroom in the other tower.
Across the road is the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre and another fountain.
The Ruma is hard to miss from a bicycle. It wasn’t until I walked past that I realised the windowed box on the mezzanine level looks into the ATAS Modern Malaysia Eatery.
Executive Chef Tyson G sometimes rides with us. He serves up a delicious menu featuring fresh interpretations of local favourites featuring local herbs and produce.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall procured a range of posters commemorating World Children’s Day 2018. The magic of Google Map’s Street View reveals that in November 2018, the backdrop at this bus stop across from the Concorde Hotel on Jalan Sultan Ismail had the tagline Education, #For EveryChild in Malaysia.
Then it changed to #For EveryChild, the opportunity to fulfil their potential.
Now the message is about safety. The child on a bicycle is an appropriate way to close this post.
One of my friends regularly cycles along a particular road. It was only when he walked the same route that he noticed the Telecoms Museum.
Like my friend, I walk now as cycling is not allowed during the Movement Control Order. Similarly, I am noticing details that I was blind to when I cycled those roads. This just goes to show how much I have to focus on the road when I ride.
My walks have been around my immediate neighbourhood, with a few taking me further afield. The numbers on the map show the locations of sights I probably looked at but did not consciously see when I cycled by.
Ali, Muthu & Ah Hock is a kopitiam chain. One outlet opened within a stone’s throw of where I live. This is on the side of the building housing the café. Ali and Muthu have their own murals.
There are two signs like this identifying The Row of renovated shophouses. I’ve been up and down Jalan Doraisamy for years now. I didn’t notice the other sign until a week ago.
This mural is on the outside wall at the rear of Gavel café. This photograph is a mashup of two images. The quote is actually separate and a few feet away from the waiter.
This mermaid is on the side wall of Woo Pin Fish Head Noodle House.
This building was the sales gallery for the apartment block where I live. After the sales push ended, the gallery was refurbished. I assume these wings were painted as part of that refurbishment. There is no indication of what the building will be used for in future.
“Where to next?” My list is long. But who knows when the owner of this mural, MS Star Travel Agencies, will be booking tourist travel again?
This combined actual and painted waterfall is part of the KL Forest Eco Park. It sits at the T-junction where Jalan Dang Wangi intersects Jalan Ampang. I ride to that T-junction every time I cycle from home. I haven’t noticed it because when I turn left, my attention is on a bump and a grating at the corner. When I turn right, I am looking over my shoulder while I cross two lanes.
The coloured spotlights lit the KL Tower as dusk fell while I finished my loops of the neighbourhood.
Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman is a one-way street. This mural is visible only when facing the flow of traffic.
There are two of these chrome red bears in front of Star Residences. I believe they are a references to Sleepy Bear Sdn. Bhd., the former name of the company managing this property.
I last saw this pink food truck three years ago at the TAPAK Urban Street Dining lot on the corner of Jalan Ampang and Persiaran Hampshire. It caught my eye because my late father hailed from Bera in the state of Pahang. In the 1970s, Kuala Bera was a tiny kampung with no electricity or running water, accessible only by laterite roads and a series of ferries. Now it is a town with hotels, supermarkets and fast-food restaurants. And at least one pizza-serving pink food truck.
This truck is now parked outside a restaurant on Jalan Liew Weng Chee that serves Pahang specialities. No doubt waiting, like the rest of us, for the resumption of sit-down dining.
The cycling ban has been extended to 28th June. I have lots more time to spot what I missed from the saddle.
As for what you see in the image at the start of this post. Pillars or men?
In my last post, I wrote about my muscles aching after walking and jogging for the first time in years. Over the next few days, general pain in both knees replaced the muscle aches.
I was delighted that my muscles did not hurt anymore, either during or after exercise. My knees were another story. The aching ceased after I started moving, but the post-exercise pain put an end to my attempts at jogging.
I continued to walk. Over the next few days, the generalised knee pain had narrowed down to two areas: the front and inside of both knees. The inner knees were particularly painful when rising from a chair or getting out of bed and walking.
The issue in the front of my knees was an occasional pinching pain while walking. Flexing the affected knee a few times resolved that issue. That leads me to think that it is Plica Syndrome.
Plicae are small folds in the synovial membrane, the thin structure that surrounds and lines the knee joint. Knee plica irritation occurs when the plica gets caught or pinched between the knee bones.
I was not very concerned about Plica Syndrome. The pain was minimal and intermittent. The medial knee pain was more worrying. My knees stiffened up. Standing and starting to walk was difficult, and I limped for the first few steps. All that pointed toward Pes Anserine Tendinopathy or Bursitis.
The pes anserine bursa is a small, fluid-filled sac located 2 to 3 inches below the knee joint on the inside of the lower leg. That bursa lies beneath three tendons that attach to thigh muscles and prevents the tendons from rubbing on the tibia.
I don’t have swelling on the inside of the knees. That makes me think that I have tendinopathy rather than bursitis. The tendons and the underlying bursa are irritated, but the bursa is not yet inflamed and swollen.
In either case, the suggested treatment is rest and regular application of ice. I will do both as I do not want to progress from pes anserine tendinopathy to pes anserine bursitis.
After a day without walking, my right knee is virtually pain-free. My left knee is still sore, but the pain has lessened. Positive signs and good reasons to be idle for a few more days.
I ran a lot until I tore the ACL in my right knee. That got me into cycling in 2008. I can count on one hand the number of times I have run since then. A company sports day in about 2014 was the last time I ran fast. That was hard work, and it was only 200 metres.
COVID-19 restrictions in Malaysia prompted my latest attempts at running. Jogging, to be more accurate. The first Movement Control Order in March 2020 banned all outdoor activities. So I walked and jogged up and down the multi-storey car park where I live.
Restrictions were eased in May 2020, and I was back on my bicycle. The only limits were how far away from home I could ride and with how many people in a group. So no jogging since then.
New COVID-19 case counts have risen dramatically since Q4 2020.
In response, the government declared a total lockdown from 1st June 2021. To the chagrin of many cyclists, jogging outdoors is allowed during this full lockdown, but cycling is not. It is not surprising that the government is not allowing cycling. Many riders congregated and rode in large groups, contravening the restrictions in place before the full lockdown.
So out with the cycling shoes.
And on with the running shoes.
There is a convenient 600 metre loop around where I live.
Having covered 12km over the past two days, mostly walking, all I can say is “ouch.” The only muscles that do not hurt as I write are the ones labelled in green.
Which made me wonder why. The same muscles used to pedal are used to walk and jog.
Some internet research enlightened me. Both running and cycling use the gluteals, quadriceps, hamstrings and calves to generate power. There is some difference in the degree of muscle recruitment and activation between cycling and running. Though not enough to account for the soreness I feel.
Cycling is regularly touted as an ideal form of exercise because it is a no-impact activity. Running is a high-impact sport. It turns out that is the main reason why I am now sore.
While cycling, my body weight is supported by the bicycle saddle. When running, my joints and muscles work much harder to support my body weight. The striding motion of running puts more stress on the gluteals, quadriceps and hamstrings than does the circular motion of pedalling. The small muscles like the hip flexors, extensor hallucis longus, and tibialis anterior have to work harder to stabilise the body and maintain balance, especially on uneven ground.
The only leg muscles that don’t hurt are my gastrocnemius and soleus. I suspect they, too, would start to ache if I sprinted rather than jogged. My knees would probably start to complain also.
This full lockdown runs until 14th June. It may be extended beyond that date. So it is walking and jogging for the foreseeable future. I hope my legs get used to the new stresses and strains. I don’t want to be “ouching” for much longer.
The photograph above, minus the tri-spoke carbon number, could be of my collection of mismatched wheels. It is not a collection I prefer to have. But I have three odd wheels, courtesy of lumps of stone on the roads and “wheel catcher” drain gratings.
By lumps of stone on the roads, I mean stones like this, dropped from lorries transporting crushed rock from quarries or concrete ready-mix trucks. An all too common occurrence in Malaysia, as car owners with windscreens chipped or broken by stones thrown by vehicles ahead, can attest.
You could argue that I should see stones like this and avoid them. Many times this has been true. All it takes though is just a glance at say your bike computer, and “bang.”
The first rim I cracked by riding over a stone was a Boyd Cycling Vitesse.
Boyd Cycling has a crash replacement policy, as do many other wheel manufacturers. Terms and conditions vary, and some are more onerous than others. I bought the Vitesses direct from Boyd Cycling, and so was able to replace the damaged wheel at a discount. The only problem was that Boyd Cycling had discontinued the Vitesse and replaced it with the Altamont. Now my very first road bike has a Vitesse rear wheel and an Altamont front wheel. Read on for the story why.
I don’t think anyone has noticed the mismatched wheels. I must admit the Boyd name does stand out more than the Vitesse and Altamont labels.
The next victim of a loose stone on the road was a one-month old Fulcrum Racing Zero Competizione. The Racing Zeros were an upgrade to the bike I bought in 2015.
Replacing the damaged Fulcrum wheel was tedious, to say the least. The local Fulcrum distributor initially said I would have to buy a full wheelset. It took some persuading by Jeff at The Bike Artisans to convince the distributor to sell just a rear wheel. Jeff did ask if it was possible to buy a replacement rim. No chance.
Lim, a mechanic at The Bike Artisans, said that he would try to source a replacement rim. It would be a shame for the barely used spokes and hub to go to waste.
That was in June 2018. A combination of the difficulty in buying just a replacement rear rim and Lim’s lack of time to rebuild the wheel using the spokes and hub from the damaged wheel meant that I picked up the repaired wheel yesterday.
Interestingly, the replacement rim does not have any decals. I like the stealth look.
Another hazard on our roads is gratings over drains like these.
These are on Jalan Tiara Kemensah 3. There are gratings on the edges of the road that are aligned in the non-wheel grabbing direction, but I didn’t notice those the first time I came down this road. I was able to bunny hop over the gratings. I’ve seen accidents where front wheels got caught in gratings like these, with damage to both bike and rider.
Gratings like these cover the drain in front of The Bike Artisans.
I have ridden diagonally over them countless times. But all it takes is one moment of distraction.
I was on the first road bike I owned. As I was riding off the pavement someone called out my name. I looked around and of course, I rode my front wheel into the gap in a grating. I was going slowly enough that I didn’t hurt myself when I tipped onto the ground, but the front rim was kinked beyond repair.
So now I have just the rear wheel from the set of eleven-year-old Easton EA90 SLX’s that came with that bike.
This wheel is hanging in my bike store. Like the Racing Zero is. Both ready in case of emergency.
This one collection which I hope doesn’t grow anymore.
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.