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Category Archives: Cycling in Malaysia

What do you see?

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.

1

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.

2

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.

3

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.

4

This mermaid is on the side wall of Woo Pin Fish Head Noodle House.

5

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.

6

“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?

7

This combined actual and painted waterfall is part of the KL Forest Eco Reserve. 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.

8

The coloured spotlights lit the KL Tower as dusk fell while I finished my loops of the neighbourhood.

9

Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman is a one-way street. This mural is visible only when facing the flow of traffic.

10

These five orbs are on the pavement in front of SOGO. They show Kuala Lumpur landmarks like the Sultan Abdul Samad building and Menara Maybank.

11

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.

12

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?

More Ouch

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.

More research was called for. The Knee Pain Diagnosis page on knee-pain-explained.com is particularly helpful.

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.

jj

Ouch

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Image courtesy of trainingcor.com

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.

Graph courtesy of Ministry of Health Malaysia

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.

Graphic courtesy of i.pinimg.com

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.

Growing an Unfortunate Collection

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Photograph courtesy of tuskstore.com

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.”

Photograph courtesy of penally.com

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.

Photograph courtesy of Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Live and Learn

Photograph courtesy of Skylar Kang at pexels.com

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.

Map courtesy of ridewithgps.com

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.

Map courtesy of google.com

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.

Photograph courtesy of google.com

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?

Motorcyclist: Yes.

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.

Photograph courtesy of AL

Well, the hill was further than it looked. The trail didn’t get any better as it turned upward.

Photograph courtesy of AL
Photograph courtesy of AL

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.

Map courtesy of ridewithgps.com

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.

Photograph courtesy of JS

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.

Medal Designs

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.

Wall Art courtesy of Elizabeth Knowles at bbc.com

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.

Photograph courtesy of audax.ph

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.

Photograph courtesy of wizbiker.com

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.

Weight vs Weight

Photograph courtesy of today.com

Tempo Cyclist recently wrote a post about the issue of body weight in professional cycling and eRacing. He asks the question, “So in amateur cycling, is there an image problem around weight?”

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.

Photographs courtesy of bikeradar.com and globalcyclingnetwork.com

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.

Table courtesy of Kevin Kolodziejski

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.

Photograph courtesy of mcdonalds.com

I have to admit that buying a lightweight frame or component is much more fun than losing weight.

Graphics courtesy of someecards.com and shutterstock.com

Everesting

Photograph courtesy of Martin Jernberg at unsplash.com

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.

Photograph courtesy of everesting.cc

The rules of Everesting are simple.

Graphic courtesy of everesting.cc

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.

Map courtesy of everesting.cc

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.

Women’s Everesting World Record Progression

This is Emma Pooley during her world record ride.

Photograph courtesy of cyclingtips.com

The women’s world record fell 1 hour 8 minutes in five months last year.

This is the men’s chart.

Men’s Everesting World Record Progression

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.

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Batchelor

This is Lachlan during his world record ride.

Photograph courtesy of cyclingtips.com

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.

Graphic courtesy of everesting.cc

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?

Cornering on a Bicycle

Bukit Hantu is probably the most challenging hill in Hulu Langat. Especially if you tackle it from west to east. The ascent is about 3.4 km with an average gradient of 7% and maximum gradients over 10%. The descent is shorter at 2.6 km. That descent comes with a tricky combination of turns in the final 500 metres, where the gradient approaches 10%.

Unsurprisingly, some cyclists come to grief on the final curve and end up off the road to the right. That has happened a few times, just in the past week or so.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Thinking about those crashes prompted me to research the forces acting on a bicycle while cornering. I found a very informative site: physicalcycling.com.

The site takes a deep dive into circular motion, centripetal and centrifugal forces, lean angles and the like. Interested in finding out more about F = mAc = mv2/R? This is the site for you.

The following simplified version is taken from the many pages of information about cornering on the physicalcycling.com website.

Graphic courtesy of adventurecycling.org

From Newton’s Laws, we know the inertial tendency of an object is to continue forward in a straight line (the blue arrow) unless acted upon by external forces. So a cyclist must apply a force to the bicycle to make it turn. The force making the bicycle deviate from its straight-line path to a curved path (the red arrow) is called the Centripetal Force (the green arrow).

Graphic courtesy of physicalcycling.com

The only part of the bicycle touching the ground are the tires. So when you turn your bar, the tires are not only rolling but also “biting” into the road.

This is what is causing you to turn. As your tires continue to roll through the turn, they resist the tendency to slide or skid. You can aggressively turn as much as you want as long as the force on the tires is not enough to cause them to slide out from under you.

The chart below shows the force on the tires, known as Cornering Centripetal Force, for various corner radii and speeds.

Table 1: Cornering Centripetal Force

Table courtesy of Reagan Zogby

The data above assumes an elite cyclist weighing 68 kg and riding a bicycle weighing 7.25 kg. Green implies the tire force is approximately the combined weight of the rider and bicycle or less. A corner with a radius of 7.5 metres can be safely taken up to 32 kph.

Yellow is in the double range. Taking a 7.5-metre radius turn at 40 kph will test the limits of what the tires can handle.

Red is in the No Go range. Taking a 7.5-metre radius turn at 48 kph or faster guarantees a skid and a crash.

When cyclists take a corner, they encounter a force that tries to return the bicycle to straight-line movement. This force is often referred to as the Centrifugal Force. To counter centrifugal force, cyclists lean into the inside of the curve. This creates a counterbalancing torque to that of the centrifugal force and the lean “balances” out the bicycle’s inertial tendency to want to continue in a straight line.

Graphic courtesy of physical cycling.com

The cyclist instinctively searches for the right amount lean, or lean angle, depending on their mass and speed, and the radius of the curve.

It turns out the amount of weight pushing down on the tires decreases as the lean angle increases. As the weight on the tires decreases, the less traction the tires have. This limits the possible turning scenarios.

The table below shows the lean angle limits for various corner radii and speeds.

Table 2: Lean Angle

Chart courtesy of Reagan Zogby

Green denotes safe lean angles. Yellow lean angles test the limits of tire traction. Unsafe lean angles are red.

In summary, the limiting factor in taking a corner successfully on a bicycle is how well your tires grip the road. Go into a corner too fast, or lean too much, and your tires will lose their traction, and you will skid. Paradoxically, both too much weight on the tires and too little weight on the tires will cause a skid.

Another factor that may contribute to crashes on corners is the cornering line. The cornering line is the path taken around a particular curve. For any given corner, there is an infinite number of possible cornering lines. There is also an infinite number of possible cornering lines which do not make the curve. The apex refers to the “peak” of the cornering line located at the centre of the corner.

Graphic courtesy of drivingfast.net

Three cornering lines are shown in the diagram below. The red cornering line shows what happens when you turn in to a corner too early. The cornering line hits the inside of the turn before the apex. The radius of the cornering line is larger than the radius of the corner. The result is the rider ends up off the road at the outside of the curve. This is not good.

The yellow cornering line hits the apex. But the radius of the cornering line exceeds the radius of the turn. The ride stays on the road while making the turn but ends up on the wrong side of the road. Also not good.

The green cornering line hits the inside of the turn beyond the apex. Note that this cornering line starts in the middle of the road. This cornering line allows an exit from the turn on the correct side of the road. The cornering line also has a radius slightly larger than the radius of the road.

Getting cornering centripetal force, lean angle and cornering line right do not guarantee a successful turn. Road condition is important. The grippiest road type is paved, smooth and clear of sand, gravel and other debris. Debris on the road reduces tire traction.

Braking during a turn also reduces tire traction by adding additional Cornering Centripetal Force to the tires. If your speed and the turn radius put your Cornering Centripetal Force in the yellow zone shown in Table 1 above, braking will move you into the red zone.

Braking during a turn will cause your bicycle to be more upright. As we saw in the discussion about lean angle, this will reduce the counterbalancing torque against Centrifugal Force. The bike will straighten out rather than continue to follow the cornering line.

The road surface on the final section of the Bukit Hantu descent is good. The combination of too much speed, the wrong cornering line, and perhaps altering the lean angle either consciously or by braking has to be the reason for the crashes.

Cyclists cannot exceed the limits of cornering physics. Not if they want to

Graphic courtesy of i2.wp.com

Hitting the Wall

Photograph courtesy of active.com

Some years ago I wrote a blog post about the importance of pacing during long rides. How cycling too hard at the start of an endurance event leads to a feeling of fatigue, light-headedness, tunnel vision, and confusion. In other words, a bonk.

I hear “bonk” being used to describe muscular tiredness. A bonk is more than that. Runners refer to “hitting the wall.” In German, this is known as “Der mann mit dem hammer.” Likening the sudden drop in performance to being hit with a hammer.

Graphic courtesy of clipart-library.com

A hallmark of bonking is a sudden and overwhelming feeling of running out of energy. This happens when you have exhausted your body’s glycogen stores, leaving you with abnormally low blood glucose levels. Your muscles have run out of glycogen, and your brain has told your body to stop exerting itself.

Your liver converts glucose into glycogen in a process called glycogenesis. Glycogen is stored in the liver and the muscles and is the primary fuel source for endurance athletes,

How can you tell if you are about to bonk? Sadly humans do not come with the equivalent of a “Low battery” warning. You don’t know that Der Mann mit dem hammer is behind you until he hits you. By then, it is too late to do anything about it.

Graphic courtesy of us123rf.com

How can you prevent bonking? Carbo-loading before an endurance event is a common practice. This ensures that your initial glycogen levels are maximized. That means consuming complex carbohydrates. Pasta often comes to mind as a complex carbohydrate. peas, beans, whole grains, and vegetables are also sources of complex carbohydrates.

Carbo-loading can ensure that your glycogen tank is full before you start riding. You need to make sure that your glycogen tank is kept topped-up during the event. This means eating regularly during the event. Some people like energy bars for convenience but foods like fruits, nuts, and potato crisps all work just fine.

Photograph courtesy of diabetes.co.uk

What to do if you have let your glycogen tank empty completely, and you are bonking? You need to quickly eat some simple carbohydrates that your body can quickly absorb in order to raise your blood glucose levels again. Simple carbohydrates include energy gels (make sure you drink water with these), kaya sandwiches, sugar cubes, or sweets such as jelly beans. Sugary drinks like Coke, Gatorade, and fruit juice are also good sources of simple carbohydrates.

Photograph courtesy of image.freepic.com

You need to also rest until you, hopefully, recover enough to continue cycling.

It is possible to train your body to convert glucose to glycogen more efficiently. In other words, to improve aerobic performance or the production of energy from chemical reactions that use oxygen. The aerobic energy system is the primary power source for endurance athletes.

Producing energy anaerobically, in other words, without using oxygen, is impossible to sustain for more than one to two minutes.

You may also hear about producing glucose from fat via a process called gluconeogenesis. This appeals to endurance athletes because the human body stores orders of magnitude more fat than glycogen. Being able to convert stored fat into glucose would mean the end of bonking.

The debate between proponents and detractors of Keto diets and being keto-adapted to take advantage of gluconeogenesis is fierce. I won’t enter that debate. You’ll have to research that topic yourself.

For the kind of riding I do, complex and simple carbohydrates in nasi lemak and cendol should stop this from happening to me.

Cyclist graphic courtesy of istockphoto.com
Wall Photo courtesy of Jason Dent at unsplash.com