Tag Archives: cycling

Metasprint Triathlon 2016

This was a bit of a mess, coming after 1.5 days of a major event launch at work plus the onset of flu. Thankfully, I woke up on Sunday morning feeling relatively ok. Thing about racing after/during illness is you’re not exactly sure how hard to push, especially with the big race just around the corner – Danang is less than a month away.

Credit to Jaime K for the pic!

 Swim: I decided to take things relatively easy, and not push too hard. Unfortunately the swim was a nasty one. There was some contact in the swim, some gulps of salt water during unfortunately-timed breaths, water in the goggles and I started hyperventilating. Wasn’t sure if the flu had anything to do with it, but severe self-doubt crept in. Was really tempted to call it a day, and had to stop to tread water for a bit before restarting. I also underestimated the strength of the tide, and how important positioning was. Could have just started way to the right of the course for the current to push you back on target. Ended up on the ropes at one point and having to push through bodies to get free of the tangle, then having to swim an arc for being pushed too far out on the last leg. Lesson: Visualise the path you’re going to swim, and where you want to be in the pack. Even if it’s just a easy race. Sight more, don’t count on following the guys ahead. They might be lost too.

T1: Something new I tried was having the shoes already on the bike, which made it really feel like I hardly spent any time in transition at all. No flying mount, but some time saved already. Lesson: Have the velcro on the shoe partially done. Having the shoe completely unstrapped makes it difficult to locate the end of the strap.

Bike: Fairly uneventful, and didn’t have that many people overtake me. Might be psychological, but my legs are feeling less used to the road bike position now. I could however, pretty much stay on the drops the entire way. Maybe time to move on to a more aggressive fit for the road bike?  Unfortunately I had no idea how fast or slow I was going thanks to a Garmin cock-up that I didn’t want to spend time meddling with lest I crash. Ended up with a 31+kmh average, which still sucks. Lesson: Get used to the handling on the TT bike and stick with it. Learn to screw with the garmin while moving(??)

T2: Silly thing is I somehow came off my bike and had the rear tyre rub my shin, taking off some skin with it. Didn’t realise it until I started running that I felt bit of a sting. Re-racking issue with my bike falling off the bar twice. Like WTF? Lesson: Practise the dismount. a lot.

Run: Coach Mike asked my how I felt was I was heading out. Didn’t know what to say, but I wasn’t comfortable so I just shrugged. Relatively slow 1st loop at 5:20 – 6:00min/km pace, but gradually built till I was on 4:10min/km for a 4:53min/km average. Lesson: Apparently my racing shoes suck, says the podiatrist form myFootDr. Hmmm.

So am I happy with the result? Hmm… Can’t really say? Feeling a cough coming on though. That, I’m not happy with.

Bicycle chain cleaning and lubing: It’s a dirty job

One of the filthiest parts of the bike has got to be the chain. No, it’s got to be the filthiest part for sure. Just ask the inside of your right calf after each ride.

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Dirrrrrrrty!

I’ve tried using simple (read: cheap) tools to get the job done. Rags and toothbrushes combined with degreasing solution works… to some extent.

After some praying and scrubbing, the chain looks kinda nice, kinda shiny. Then you turn the pedals and you hear a grinding sound, like sand is stuck in there somewhere, and no amount of brushing or scrubbing does anything to fix that horrible sound.

Enter chain cleaning tools. More specifically, the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine.

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There are a bunch of chain cleaning tools out there, and frankly the X-3 is the first I’ve used. As a chain-cleaning-tool-virgin, the X-3 was idiot-proof enough for me. Basically, you detach the top of the cleaner, reattach it over the chain, and drag the greasy chain through by turning the pedals.

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One hand on the cleaner, the other hand to turn the pedals. (I took this photo with my mouth)

All this while dripping chain cleaning liquid onto the chain. It’s way less messy and less grief than anything else I’ve tried. All the nasty stuff is contained within the cleaner.

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All that grease and grime…

Once the chain is clean, you’ll also need to lube it to keep it running smoothly. I was lucky enough to be given a bottle of Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube to try. Apparently it’s the same stuff that Team Sky uses.

team-sky-hydrodynamic-lube

What’s nice about this tiny bottle of lube is that you really don’t need to slather it on liberally, but be clinical in applying a drop or two on each joint in the chain.

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The narrow nozzle makes it easy to drip the good stuff onto the chain with precision

Just as well because this lubricant is a little on the pricey side -It retails for close to S$40 if I recall correctly. To help you make sure you know which bits you’ve done and which you haven’t, every drop of the lube is smurf-coloured. Yes, it’s blue!

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Feeling smurfy!

In case you happen to be colour blind as well, they’ve included a UV light that will make the lube glow! (Don’t forget to lube up if you’re bringing your bike along for a rave.)

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I vote this best lube to use in a club.

And the smell. I’ve read a review of this lube where they’ve described this as “slightly perfumed”. I agree that there’s a smell – akin to rust – that comes after the application. Maybe it’s a chemical reaction between my chain cleaning solution, rust and the lube, or maybe it’s just my cranky sinuses.

Performance wise, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my mind playing tricks on me but the pedal strokes just felt that much easier and smoother. (Muc-Off claims it’s 27% more efficient than an unnamed competitor brand!) Almost like I’d rubbed a block of melting butter on my bike chain. Think I’d prefer it if it smelt like butter too. I’ll leave out the technical mumbo jumbo for you to dissect on your own because frankly, I wouldn’t be any wiser if they told me they were using smurf blood instead of whatever miracle recipe they’ve got in there.

………………

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This is a way overdue product review was partially made possible by my friend Kenji Lim who runs Hodaka Motoworld that stocks lots of stuff for motorbikes and bicycles. You can check out the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine and the Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube at their showroom at 10 Kaki Bukit Road 1, #01-08 KB Industrial, Singapore 416175  Tel: +65 6844 0078

Full disclosure: I was given a bottle for Muc-off Hydrodynamic Chain Lube and bought the X-3 Dirty Chain Machine at a discount. 

DNG #30: Bike basics

One of the benefits of being part of the TriEdge team is the privilege to attend an unlimited number of training sessions and workshops. Some take place less often than others, like the Bike Handling session last sunday.

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It’s nice to see folks who genuinely want to learn how to improve their skills with the bike, as opposed to just buying their way to becoming faster. E.g. Paying hundreds to thousands for a few grams of weight saved.

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Duncan is our team's version of Vin Diesel

The group had some familiar faces (Priyankar, Mark, Duncan…) from the team, and new faces from the Trifactor bike race who had signed up for the session.

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Mark demonstrating how you can safely transport safety cones with no hands

Funny how I was doing this for the first time just over 6 months ago, and a second time slightly more recently. And I still kind of suck.

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Carpark H is a nice scenic spot for cycling workshops

Daredevil of the day award goes to Kenn, whose left hand is apparently stronger than his right. This is dangerous when cycling, because the left hand controls the front brake. End result?

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Best caption wins... a blog post. :p

Good for the man he recovered and didn’t somersault over the top!

DNG #18: Mandai Madness

My biggest enemy in training is… The snooze button.

Woke up at 5 am today. Closed my eyes for a bit. Opened them again and it was 6.08am. That meant the squad had set off 8 minutes earlier from a starting point that was about 10km away.

Since time travel hasn’t quite come along yet, I would have to try to catch the squad somewhere along the way. I picked Thomson Road, where they’d be passing at about 6.40am. I got there in time and saw them pass me as I was getting the bike out of the car. (you weren’t expecting me to catch them on my bike, right??). Closed the gap just as they turned toward Old Upper Thomson Road. Phew.

Things were pretty much back on track until we hit Mandai, just outside the crematorium where traffic was heavier than normal.

Qing Ming.

This meant that our other favourite straight at Lim Chu Kang would be clogged, because of the cemetaries flanking the road. True enough, it looked like a wall of cars.

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Thanks Nicolas (most photographed man in TriEdge), for making sure us back markers didn't get lost!

Still the uncongested stretch of Lim Chu Kang was long and hilly enough to make this enough of a workout. Along with the lorries blowing up mini sandstorms in their wake and potholes to keep you on your toes, it was enough for me.

Heading back, I headed back same way I came with Roro and Marcella. (Vargin and Jeremy were still blasting up and down the hills…) We parted ways at Mandai, where I saw this.

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And this.

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Saw a funeral cortege rushing to the crematorium –  guess they were trying to get there by their allocated time – driving on the wrong side of the road.

More close calls along Thomson road where cars and mini buses came close enough to shave my hairy legs.

Moral of the story? Don’t do Mandai and Lim Chu Kang during Qing Ming. And don’t snooze.

THE END.

DNG #16: Mount Faber morning

Miraculously woke up this yesterday morning at 5.45am and took that as a sign that I should get my ass onto Mount Faber. So off I went.

Up, up and away...
Usually panting by the time I get to this section

It’s been awhile since I managed to get up there before work. But knowing how much work I need to do on the bike, it’s something that I need. Like coach Scott says, “Just get it done.”

what goes up, must come down
Just round the bend is the highest point on the road before the descent begins.

Saw only Vargin and Kath though. Suspect everyone is doing their secret training some place else. I hear Athlete Lab is getting quite popular with their indoor cycling classes. I figure Faber is jolly good enough for me already… 5 laps and it was time to scoot off to work, and I was panting. Note to self: Wear gloves so sweaty hands don’t find it so slippery on the brakes, especially on the descent!

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The skyline as seen from Mount Faber

If there’s a redeeming quality about this mountain, it’s the view. Not much time to stop and stare though. Till next week, Faber.

DNG #4: Training with the wind

Tuesdays are wind trainer days. What’s a wind trainer, you ask? It’s basically a device that converts your regular bicycle into a stationary bike.

Tonight's workout. Sorry for the pic quality!
Tonight’s session

Why do this? Because this allows you to keep working at whatever rate you need to be doing without needing to worry about traffic conditions, with everybody in the same place regardless of how their usual pace, plus it’s easier to focus on getting the technique right.

Mana Mana!
Not a bad view, but we don’t usually do our Wind Trainer session in the day!

Down side is things can get hot and monotonous because you’re not moving. The air can be quite still, and it feels hot and muggy. Good thing is we’re located at Mana Mana, which is right on the waterfront. Also, Coach Mike doubles up as DJ Mike, which usually means a rock-skewed soundtrack for our workout. We can send song requests via spotify, and I wonder if I should try sneaking in some techno.

Typically, we go through a range of exercises at different intensities for about 1hr 15 min, which drains you quicker than long rides on the road because you can sprint as hard and as long as you want and never run out of road. Once we’re done cycling, we swop shoes to go for a “brick” run, which is all about getting into running mode straight after getting off the bike.  And that’s Tuesday for you.