Archive for June, 2007

The feeling of being trapped. The house is stuffy and sweltering, and one doesn’t want to stay cooped up in one’s air-conditioned room all day, even if accompanied by one’s favourite books. But where is there to go? Where that isn’t sweltering or crowded? The cemetery, perhaps?

Damn BMX Chain

Today’s commute on Bikely. Part of it, that is. First commuted from home to Bike Haus at 6th Ave because the hub for which they’d replaced the bearings seemed to be emitting an annoying clicking sound. Turns out it was the chain, which was newly installed on Monday to accommodate my bigger cog. It is apparently normal for Izumi BMX chains to emit an annoying clicking noise. OK then. I can’t hear the chain anyway on the noisy roads, and I don’t ride enough on quiet roads to justify getting a new chain. Just glad it was not a hub problem. There was an expat in the shop at the same time with his fixie, and the mechanic had his fixie upstairs — three fixies in that shop at the same time was apparently a novelty, sparking the comment (from the mechanic) “is this San Francisco?”

Oh, and I forgot to bring the key for my U-lock. So was stuck having to keep my bike somewhere for an hour without a lock (or so I thought — turns out I could have parked it indoors at the workplace of the person I was meeting). Bought the cheapest lock available at Bike Haus for that purpose. So now I have an extra el cheapo cable lock which I will probably never use again. Would be quite happy to sell it for $10 or so.

Roads, or parts of roads, here that scare me:
1) Lornie Road
2) The filter on the Thomson Road flyover to Braddell road. Cars are really speeding here, and I’m afraid they’ll just do a “left hook” in front of me (I just want to go straight onto Thomson Road).
3) Newton Circus. Enough said. I find this scary even as a passenger in a car.
4) Going up/down the various flyovers/underpasses on Bukit Timah Rd. I’m never sure whether to follow the buses and wait at the traffic lights, or to take the “express” route. The lights are safer but involve lots of waiting behind bus exhausts.

Seletar Aerospace Hub

The peace in my home in Hougang is frequently interrupted by noisy jet planes in the morning and afternoon. So I am not happy that this noise will be added to by the new “aerospace hub” at Seletar. Today’s ST front page article claims that the tranquility of the area will not be affected, and cites efforts to maintain the green feel of the area. No mention whatsoever of the possible noise pollution. How, exactly, are you going to maintain a tranquil area with those noisy machines roaring around?

Once again, another pleasant area of Sg is turned into an industrial eyesore.

Slow Down

Upon further thought, the philosophy of road planning in Singapore clearly is to speed up traffic above all else. Hence the lack of curbside parking, which prima facie is good for cyclists, but not if it means speeded up traffic as well. I was reminded of this by someone on the CCM listhost who pointed out (at a meeting with his local police beat) that “most of us didn’t want traffic sped up, we wanted it slowed down, that we didn’t want Foster Avenue turned into the Albany Park Expressway! (I got applause on that line!)”

In Singapore, clearly we don’t care how a proliferation of expressways (or quasi-expressways like Lornie Road) affects living spaces. Who cares if people prefer quiet, green, cool, and safe spaces to the dangerous arteries of heat and noise that are major roads? When we build roads, all that matters is getting people from A to B as quickly as possible.

I would be curious to know how many Singaporeans would understand the appeal of having less expressways. As far as I can remember, the construction of a new expressway is always heralded as an improvement. The local rags cover it with much fanfare.

Trued

First try at truing front wheel, successful! I had to have brake pads dangerously far from the rim because of the misalignment, and was getting nervous especially going down hills here. So Googled for help to solve the problem, and managed to do it using the smooth back slot of a pair of pliers. I’d first stupidly tried doing it with the toothed jaws, so a few nipples now have tooth marks, but are thankfully still not rounded.

TR Bikes

I plotted today’s route to TR Bikes twice on Bikely and it has yet to be saved. So fuck it, I will update this post with the route later.

Decided to take a jaunt down there partly out of curiosity and partly because I was thinking of changing my rear cog to something larger so that hills would be less of a slog. Besides, I haven’t encountered enough flat, traffic-less roads to justify my original 46×15 gearing. Took Upper Paya Lebar Road most of the way, and it was quite unpleasant, since the lanes were diverted and narrowed for roadside construction for much of the way. Nevertheless, it was okay safety-wise — didn’t have too many close shaves except for the usual idiot taxis and buses passing me too closely on the way back.

TR Bikes did indeed have a 17-tooth fixed cog (Surly), but my chain was too short and wheel already too far front in the track dropouts to accommodate it, so they changed my chain as well. Came to about $40. When I got home and was mashing up a small hill I felt something slip. Either the wheel moving forward in the dropouts or (more likely) the cog slipping. Was rather bushed and dehydrated when I got home so will only check what’s wrong tomorrow.

Update: The route:

Second Try

Recced out more of my probable daily commute today. Got all the way to Whitley Road. It was impossible to filter right to the Whitley Road turn along busy Thomson Road, so I got onto there via the pedestrian crossings. I’d quite forgotten that

1) Whitley Road overlaps with a short portion of the PIE, on which it is illegal to cycle, and that

2) It is one-way.

So I ended up spending a nervous minute or so on the PIE, then a few minutes of dismay when, at the junction of Malcolm and Whitley, I decided it was time to head back home, but realised I couldn’t return the way I came. Luckily, the road map indicated that I could get back to Thomson Road via Malcolm and Chancery Lane. It was a little hilly but otherwise quite pleasant. Chancery Lane and Malcolm could be a decent alternative to taking Whitley Road all the way.

I’m quite set on using Thomson rather than Lornie, so it’s either the hilly Chancery option or going down Thomson all the way to Newton. Hmmph.

My knee doesn’t hurt while riding. Perhaps because I (unwisely) don’t use my hamstrings then.

I can explicitly recall seeing four other cyclists on the roads in the 90 minutes I was on the roads today. One that particularly surprised me was someone on a recumbent, who waved to me as I was going up the Thomson Road flyover to Marymount Road (he was coming down). Hello, yellow jersey-clad person. 46×15 fixed was quite punishing on me today. Knees don’t hurt but I’m rather out of shape. I can’t afford a new bike though. If I could, and if recumbents are available in Sg, I would absolutely go for one.

Indeed, lorries, buses and taxis pass more closely than do cars. Perhaps the mindset of a worker causes them to be less tolerant of obstructions.

My proposed commute as plotted on Bikely (WordPress.com refuses to display the map, but you can just click on the link):

Less than halfway recced, but the latter half looks more forgiving in terms of traffic.