Monday, January 28, 2008

Gunung Soga, Gunung Banang Ride

'Needed to do some climbs, and, as — true — mountains are about as common as independent thinkers on this sunny, tropical-island-paradise-with-the-death-penalty, I headed across the Causeway:

Gunung Soga. With an elevation of 820 feet (250 m), technically, it is not a mountain but a hill (hence its alternate name, Soga Hill).

For more than an hour, I rode around on country roads, following confusing signs, written in a language I'm hardly proficient in (Bahasa Melayu), but never quite getting to the "mountain."

After about an hour, I ran into this sign.

After climbing up the hilly estate of Taman Perdana, I discovered, to my chagrin, that the lower half of of Gunung Soga's west face has been razed and terraced for a new housing estate. What remains of the road to the summit has been replaced by a series of steps  :-(

If Mountain 1 won't do, switch to Mountain 2. A view from Jalan Minyak Beku. The transmission tower left of the center of picture denotes the summit of Gunung Banang.

Immediately after Restoran Steam Boat Garden lies the access road to Gunung Banang.

View of the 1402 ft (427 m) summit. Temperature is a not too pleasant 91° F (32.7° C).

Current elevation: 40 ft (12 m). When I last climbed this in 1995 (yes, I'm one old fogey) with UmmaGumma, no one resided at the base of this road. Though dwellings exist today, they only extend to the first 100 meters of the road. Someone measured the road's length to the summit, beginning from the white line.

View Larger Map
Map of the local area.

After 12 minutes of climbing: the first rest spot. It is also the first flat section. Elevation: 675 ft (205.8 m). Distance (from the base of mountain): 0.72 mile (1.15 km).

The hammocks look inviting. It is also cooler at 87° F (30.6° C).

At the 1 mile (1.6 km) mark, the elevation is 785 ft (239 m).

'Brought my iPod Nano along, but didn't need it — I already had a song in my head. As I climbed, it went on repeat:

I hear you're driving
someone else's car now...
She said you came and
took your stuff away.
All the poetry and the trunk
you kept your life in —
I knew that it would
come to that someday...

Like a sad hallucination,
when I opened up my eyes,
the train had passed the station,
and you were trapped inside...
And I never wonder where you went
I only wonder why...

Oh Caroline
Oh, oh, Caroline
Oh, Caroline
Oh, oh, oh, oh, Caroline

Second rest spot. The benches were not here 13 years ago. Distance from the base of mountain: 1.1 mile (1.75 km). Elevation: 865 ft (263.7 m).

Unlike the other rest spots, this one is not on a flat section (they are rare on this road anyway). Temperature: 82° F (27.8° C).


Third rest spot. Elevation 1040 ft (317 m).

A short dip provides brief respite.

Well, I hear you're using someone else's number;
She said she saw you in the store today.
It don't matter whose address
you're listed under,
I only know they'll never make you stay

Like a memory in motion,
you were only passing through...
That is all you've ever known of life,
That's all you'll ever do.
There's a dream I have where I sail away;
Looking back, I wave at you,
and I wave goodbye...

Oh Caroline
Oh, oh, Caroline
Oh, Caroline
Oh, oh, oh, oh, Caroline

I just had to take this (distance measured from the base of the mountain, of course)  :-D  Elevation: 1115 ft (400 m).

Fourth and final rest spot. A weather system is moving in, compromising the accuracy of the barometer-based altimeter. Distance from the base of mountain: 1.5 miles (2.45 km). Temperature: 80° F (26.7° C).

The rest of the pictures were taken going downhill as dismounting would render it difficult to get on the bike again.

The gradient gets significantly steeper after this sign.

The last 50 meters can best be described as a religious experience  :-P

Elevation 1402 ft (427 m). Distance from the base of mountain: 1.72 miles (2.75 km). Transmission tower. This is the only picture I managed to take of the summit (and I had to do it on the sly, pretending to take a shot of the downhill). A fenced military outpost lies here. The Malaysian Amateur Radio Transmitters' Society also maintains a repeater here.

Great, big raindrops fall as I began my descent.

In another life I see you
As an angel flying high,
And the hands of time will free you —
You will cast your chains aside —
And the dawn will come and kiss away
Every tear thats ever fallen
From your eyes...
Behind those eyes,
I wonder

Oh, Caroline... oh, oh, oh...
Oh, oh... Caroline...
Sometimes I wonder...
Oh... Caroline
Sometimes I,
Sometimes I wonder...

Total distance:  cyclo-computer 45.8 miles (73.3 km)
Total elevation climbed:  Altimeter 3280 ft (1000 m)
Temperature range:  77° F to 94° F (25° C to 34.4° C)

Ride conducted solo.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Devil in red

Char Siew Pao Mei dropped her bike, a Scott CR1 (affectionately dubbed, CF Slut), off for some servicing. For a few days, I had fun tormenting her with wild tales of how I collected enough sand from her bike to build a small sandcastle  :-D

After a thorough drivetrain clean up (chain, rear cogs, chain rings, jockey pulleys), wash and teflon-polish, new fi'zi:k microtex bar tape and K:ium Arione Wing Flex saddle.


The 49 cm Scott CR1's new weight.

Placed beside Cloe, CF Slut risks being mistaken for a BMX bike  :-P


Saddle Height (fi'zi:k K:ium Arione Wing Flex) measured from top of saddle (along center of seatpost) to center of crank, non-drive side: 63.5 cm

Tip of saddle to center of handlebar (end of handlebar clamp, stem side): 43.2 cm

Ride safe!


Friday, January 18, 2008

Beyond 29er & panniers not for the bike

Brad rides The Big One™, an unicycle by Corker Cycles. It uses a 36" tire, quite possibly the largest diameter pneumatic cycle tire in the world.

Salty, lugging a pair of Wolf Pack Banzai™ pannier dog packs, accompanies him.

Another view of these curious dog panniers, this time on a trail I occasionally ride back in the San Francisco Bay Area: King Overlooking Coastline.

More on backpacking with your dog.

Hat tip: ling the merciless & maximuz.

Further reading
One Wheel — Many Spokes: USA by Unicycle
Coast To Coast 2K6: 3556 miles across USA on Unicycle

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Moonshining Energy Supplements I

As you all know, I swear by GU Energy Gel. It works very well on my body. So well, in fact, I sometimes abuse it to undertake rides I'm not fit enough for  :-P

The spirit of inquiry Curiosity Boredom and a masochistic streak spurred me to undertake an experiment with a homemade energy supplement.

Ride 1 (non-stop)
12:30 AM, 10 January, 2008
Elevation climbed:  1310 ft (399 m)
4 hours 13 minutes 0 seconds
Average speed:  15.6 mph (24.96 km/h)
Maximum speed:  28 mph (44.8 km/h)
Distance:  65.6 miles (104.96 km)
Supplement:  None. 40 fl. oz. (1.18 liter) of plain water.

Ride 2 (non-stop)
1:00 AM, 14 January, 2008
Elevation climbed:  1260 ft (384 m)
3 hours 59 minutes 10 seconds
Average speed:  16.3 mph (26.08 km/h))
Maximum speed:  28 mph (44.8 km/h)
Distance:  65.1 miles (104.16 km)
Supplement:  176 grams of Dextrose Monohydrate + 1/10 teaspoon of Sodium Chloride dissolved in 40 fl. oz. (1.18 liter) of water.

Cost of Dextrose Monohydrate:  SG$1.80 (USD$1.26)
Cost of table salt:  negligible
Energy value:  660 calories

Compared to Ride 1, I didn't feel as tired in Ride 2 after the 2.5 hour mark. I was also consistently faster at my various checkpoints.

Checkpoint A (Upper Serangoon Road & Tampines Road)
Ride 1:  1 hour 1 minute
Ride 2:  1 hour

Checkpoint B (Loyang Avenue & Changi Village Road)
Ride 1:  2 hours
Ride 2:  1 hour 57 minutes 34 seconds

Of course, this homemade concoction lacks potassium, amino acids, and glutamine. I suspect the muscle aches (which were significant) after climbing South Buena Vista Road, Holland Road, and Clementi Road, were due to that. Of course, caffeine can't hurt  :-P

Effort-wise, apart from the climbs, the pace of both rides was at 60-70% of maximum heart rate as I wanted to burn fat. Tip:  a rough but useful gauge is, if you feel too out of breath to carry on a conversation, you are probably pushing too hard.

There were no other rides between the 2 rides. The faster timing of Ride 2 cannot be attributed to training (there was none) or weather (weather conditions were largely identical).

While the time difference (between Ride 1 and Ride 2) is very significant in a race, or even a group ride, it is of too small a value to bother when touring. I sometimes take 45 minutes to compose a picture (e.g. waiting for a car, motorbike, or hiker to disappear over a ridge), so saving 13 to 14 minutes mean very little to me. The main point for supplements here would be comfort.

'Missed the target I set with Char Siew Pao Mei (i.e. average speed of 27 km/h), but, all in all, still a rather fun experiment.