Join Me for Next Training

New Year Resolution for 2008: Swim faster, Run longer, maybe return to cycling.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Comment from Government Official Baffles All Laymen

I am the technical advisor for transport and traffic-related issues for the Safecycling taskforce and I recently attended a town council meeting at a local constituency. Present in the meeting were representatives from each residential precinct as well as the Member of Parliament for the constituency. Also present were representatives from government agencies like the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), the Traffic Police (TP), and the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Briefly, the agenda of the meeting was to discuss about the possible conversion of existing pedestrian sidewalks into shared pathways for pedestrians and cyclists. This could be done either by physical planning or policy change. It is worth noting that some existing sidewalks are reinforced concrete box culverts. Basically, beneath these sidewalks are drains.

In any case, when it came to the LTA 'expert' to comment, she said "I'm afraid that the (concrete) pavement cannot support the extra weight of cyclists on it."

Everyone was stunned by the comment.

Several things can be deduced from her seemingly 'kiasu' comment:

1. She is not trained as a civil engineer - no, wait! - she doesn't have common sense.
2. She has absolutely no idea of the incremental weight of a typical bicycle (clue: add at most 20kg to the weight of a human of 70kg).
4. LTA has conditioned her to think that everything beneath the surface is unstable ala Nicoll Highway incident. Therefore, any decisions that involve the downward gravitational force on surfaces requires higher echelon approval. Otherwise, make sure there's a scapegoat to blame.

So is it really true that pavements are unsafe for users to cycle on because they are not designed with the proper load (and safety) factors?

BTW, it is now a standing joke in the eastern side of Singapore.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Napa Valley Tri: Discovering My Suaku Roots

I'm the cycling turtle.

The Napa Valley Triathlon was simply breathtaking (no pun intended - and you'll know what I mean as you read along). Lake Berryessa was undoubtly quite chilly for my equatorial blood. Fortunately I managed to borrow an Ironman Hybrid wetsuit from The Runner's High at Los Altos. It kept me warm. Despite the cold, about 5% of the participants were not equipped with wetsuits. I don't know if they eventually DNF'ed or not but all I can say is that they either had natural ability to keep warm or they were just plain stupid. I must add that this was the first time I swam in absolutely refreshing freshwater! Although not as crystal clear as I thought it would be, the water was so fresh, I felt as if I was swimming in a gigantic bathtub full of soapless/sudless water. Shiok lah!

Swimming has always been my strongest aspect amongst the 3 disciplines. Uncle Sin Wing's home-made video showed me overtaking the bunched-up swimmers at the left. It was actually my strategy to overtake from the left flank. The idea worked.

Coming out of the lake, I had to run about 200m to T1. 200m gave me lots of time and distance to pull off my wetsuit. I had my tri top and tri shorts beneath my suit so it was easy peeling the Hybrid off. I didn't feel like a human condom this time. I had space to breathe and my chest cavity was not screaming for air (unlike my previous blog regarding Orca Predators).

Cycling shoes on, helmet on, gloves on, and I was on my way on the bike leg. Let me now take the opportunity to thank Mike from the San Francisco Tri Club who so graciously heeded to my SOS for a bike in the Bay Area. I didn't even know him and he just let me borrow his Trek for the race. Awesome dude! Thanks man! I hope you like the Triathlon Family polo. haha....

The bike race was tough with all the rolling hills of Napa Valley. I'm not used to rolling terrain. There were portions of the route that required non-stop cranking. You hear the gears screaming to stop the torture. It was much easier killing chickens with bare hands. Some hills were long inclines. You start to curse Newton for discovering something called 'gravity' and actually naming it 'gravity'. If no one penned this phenomenon as 'gravity', I wouldn't have cursed so much since I wouldn't know how to describe this darn phenomenon called 'gravity'. You get the idea. I did not get off the bike to push, unlike some other competitors. If I'd did that, then I would have started to curse the inventor of cycling shoes too because the cleats are the most unergonomically designed cleats in the world.

Crank crank crank creak creak....

I finally found a 'pro' looking cyclist ahead of me and decided to take advantage of him. I wanted to eat his draft. And so I did. My Sora parts were behind his Dura-aces for a good 4-5 miles. I was revelling in his draft. Woo hoo!!! I also focused on his gear changes and his cadence. I did not feel tired. Then some idiot squeezed in between him and my new-found vacuum of air. I could have screamed hokkien expletives, but then I remembered where I was and no one would understand. Oh well...

I came back from the bike leg in a l-o-n-g 59 minutes and immediately changed to my running shoes at T2. By then, my fans were already assembled at T2. There was uncle sin wing, wesley, nichole, tap and carol. My fans! Haha.. I don't even have THAT many fans when I'm racing in SIngapore! Thank you everyone!

I grabbed my visor, unloaded an e-gel and grabbed Kim the monkey for the run segment. No time to say shack. No energy to think of tiredness. I just wanted to go go go! Then the bonk feeling appeared. My cardio responses said go. My brain said keep going. My thighs went bonkers! It must have been the effects of the bike-run transition. I was too hard on myself during the bike. Now I was feeling the effects. I didn't stop. I kept on going and going like the Energizer Rabbit. Only the problem was that it was an erratic Energizer Rabbit. I was doing all possible permutations of running, walking and jogging. I even struck a conversation with a fellow triathlete called Gary. Apparently he just came back from a business trip from Singapore and he though I was kinda crazy to come all the way to Napa for the triathlon. He suggested the Alcatraz race. I told him thanks but no thanks but maybe next time. haha.

The 4 mile (6.4km) run took my 45 minutes. It's definitely slower than I had expected but hey, it was damn shack okay!

I finished the race in 2hrs 10minutes.

Yep, I completed it! YES!

The hills of Napa made me realise my suaku roots. Mountain turtle. I'm still a turtle. haha.. laugh...