Monday, September 15, 2008

Thailand to Singapore, via East Coast of Malaysia, Ride: Prologue

The bicycle is a curious vehicle. Its passenger is its engine.

The plan for this ride underwent several transformations and a couple of setbacks. The original idea was for me to catch a ride to Kuala Terengganu and then ride back to Singapore. That fell through. It was then revised to a ride from Kota Bharu to Singapore. A week before the expected departure date, I was floored by a nasty throat infection, resulting in a loss of 3 kg of muscle from my body and a 3-week postponement.

Meanwhile, Michelle ("My belle!"), my 1991 Bridgestone MB-3 had been thoroughly serviced, primed, repainted with ugly, black touch up spray paint, and her components and accessories ruggedized, often with larger stainless steel hardware.

Michelle stripped down to treat frame interior with anti-rust coating.

At the same time, Joanne, my 1991 Bridgestone MB-0 Zip, got her frame internals treated too.

This was used to coat the internal surfaces of the frames. It is very difficult to wash off. Get it on your hands and expect 5 to 6 rounds of washing with dishwashing detergent.

Some corrosion observed around the internal and external lug joints of the bottom bracket shell.

Internal part of the seat tube area is fine.

Drive-side of the bottom bracket shell. The massive flaking of paint on the exterior of the bottom bracket shell is caused by chain drops over the years.

What I took to be internal corrosion on the drive side chainstay joint turned out to be brass from the brazing process

Significant work was performed degreasing, sanding, priming, and repainting the 17-year-old frame. All components were torqued to specifications using a torque wrench.

The exterior of the top tube to bottom bracket shell joint required attention too.

Many of the original components were retained. The bearings of the Shimano Deore DX were pitted, but the races remained sound. Ball bearings were discarded, the cage retained, and new ones pressed in place.

The wear mark on the non-drive side chain stay was caused by a Zefal HPX frame pump.

The Manitou 2 suspension fork was swapped out for the original Ritchey Logic rigid fork to allow the installation of a front rack.

This rack was installed, but it didn't work for me: the front panniers were mounted up too high. In addition, the medium profile Shimano cantilevers stuck out too much, causing the Karrimor panniers to be shifted too forward, risking interference with the front wheel spokes.

Sulaiman, of The Rebound Centre, installed a Minoura combo front rack and low rider front rack. Problem solved, and handling greatly improved.

The original Blackburn rear rack, circa 1992, was retained. The Shimano M737 pedals, re-lubricated, returned to service. Brake and shifter cables, back up cyclo-computer, threaded 1-inch threadless stem convertor, 130 mm 5-degree rise Kore stem, front fender, lights, review mirror, seat post binder bolt, Ritchey cantilever front brake cable hanger, Yaban VG90 7-speed chain, and 120 mm Minoura Spacegrip, gotten from Cycle Corner. Spare Shimano shifter and brake cables, Maxxis 1.25 inch Detonator tires, obtained from Cycle Craft. Original Shimano DX RD-M650 SGS has also been overhauled and rebuilt with new O-rings.

Pack list

Cycling gloves 2 pairs
Cycling socks 3 pairs
2 jerseys
4 cycling shorts
2 windbreakers
REI reflective ankle strap
3 T-shirts
Briefs 3 pairs
Bermudas 1 pair
Cotton socks 1 pair
Swimming goggles 1 pair
Swimming trunks 1 pair
Beanie for train ride and cold hotel rooms
1 set of long johns
Flip-flops 1 pair
Oakley M-frame
Bell X-ray helmet
Shimano SPD cycling shoes

MSR Ultralite Body Towel
MSR PackTowl Face Towel

Tooth paste
Tooth brush
Specialized wisdom tooth brush
Teeth crevice pick
Talcum powder
Face wash
Detol shower gel
Soap bars 2
Shaving foam

Insect repellent
Sunblock 2 mini spray bottles
Nail clippers
Sewing kit
Tissue 3 packs
Detol antiseptic wet wipes 1 pack
Toilet paper
Concentrated wash for laundry

Vitamin C + Zinc (1 tube)
Volteran Emugel (20 gram tube)
30 alcohol wipes
Cotton buds (Q-tips) 4 pieces
Medicine for torn ACLs (both knees - Thanks, SAF!)
Paracetamol (Tylenol / Panadol)
Aspirin (Enteric type)
5 tubes of Pochai pills (activated carbon for diarrhea)
Anti-cough lozenges
Strepsils antiseptic throat lozenges
Axe oil
Anti-chafe cream

Jetboil ultra-compact stove
Gas can adapter
2 Cooking gas canisters
3 Lighters
Stainless steel pot
Brunton MY-Ti Titanium folding spork

GU Energy Gel 7 packets
Cliff Shots Energy chews 1 packet
10 Quaker Oats Granola bars
Nestle 3-in-1 Intense coffee 4 sachets
Instant 3-in-1 cereal 2 packets

Duct tape 1 roll
Box cutter
Rope 3 meters
Twine 1 roll
Bailing wire 2 meters
Two 4 feet bungie cords
Five 3 feet bungie cords
Cargo net
Mini zip ties
Regular zip ties
Heavy duty 74 kg zip ties
Ultra-heavy duty 114 kg zip ties
Compression straps 2
Spare buckle
Electrical tape
Rubber bands
Spare Zip-lock plastic bags (assorted sizes)

Superlight / compact Onya bagpack
Canon Powershot 510
Back up Samsung camera
Mini Tripod
2 GB Sansdisk Ultra II SD cards 2 pieces
256 GB SD card
Energizer AA Lithium batteries 24 pieces
Dry bag for cameras.
Silica gel (2 mini canisters)

2 Presta to Schrader valve adapters
1 spare Maxxis Detonator 1.25" tire
5 spare 1.25" inner tubes
4 Minoura tire levers
Tire tube patch kit
Topeak Mini Pocket Rocket pump
Specialized back up pump
ABUS 24 stainless steel Diskus bike lock + cable
Spare keys for bike lock
Park Tools emergency tire boot
32 mm headset / 15 mm pedal wrench
Gerber 32 mm headset wrench head
Ultra-light / wide range, 6" adjustable crescent wrench
Rim tape 2 rolls
Spare deraileur cables 1 set
Spare brake cables 1 set
End caps
6 spare spokes (rear: 2 drive side, 2 non-drive side; 2 front)
3 spoke nipples
Spare brake pads 1 pair
Topeak Alien DX
Sunflag 4-way offset driver
Shimano chain breaker
Spare jocket pulleys (complete set)
Swiss Tech Basic Black Tool
Finishline Grease in small tube
Spare crank bolt
Combination 8 mm / 10 mm open-ended wrench
12" lengths of cut tire tubes
Stein "Hypercracker" Mini Lock Ring Tool
Long arm 4 mm allen key
Emergency Kevlar spoke kit
Spare seatstay clamps for rear / front rack
Spare front Quick Release
Spare rear Quick Release
Spare Shimano cleat bolts 2 pieces
Spare Shimano cleat plate
Spare Shimano SH-51 cleats 1 set
Spare chain links
Spare computer sensor magnet
Spare bolts for most of the bike, components, and accessories
CR2032 3V Lithium batteries 3 pieces
WD-40 mini spray bottle
Finishline Cross Country lube mini bottle

Cateye HL-EL300 light
Cateye HL-EL410 light 2 units

Garmin GPS 60
Instruction manual
Gerber emergency headlight (Discontinued. I plan to acquire the Triode sometime in future.)
Emergency blanket
2 Swiss army knives
Swiss Utilikey
2 lanyards
Groundsheet 2 (emergency tent)

Copies of passport
"White" visitor cards to Malaysia, filled out and signed (2 sets)
Prescription forms for medicines and physician's contact number
Diving C-card
Day use mini wallet

3 waterproof pens
Alarm clock


Left to right: ABUS Sportline handlebar bag (Cycle Corner); a clothing organizer (Campers' Corner) which I use for drying damp / wet clothes while cycling; circa 1991 Karrimor panniers (Campers Corner), used as front panniers; Dirtbag expandable panniers (The Rebound Centre), used as rear panniers.

Michelle loaded up.

Front panniers (L/R pair)  7 kg (15.4 lb)
Rear panniers (L/R pair)  12 kg (26.4 lb)
Front rack top bag (groundsheets)  3 kg (6.6 lb)
Handlebar bag  2 kg (4.4 lb)
Water bottles  3 kg (6.6 lb)
Bicycle  15 kg (33 lb)

Total bicycle weight  42 kg (92.4 lb)

Rider weight  64 kg (140.8 lb)

Instrumentation. (Not pictured: compass and map.)

Elmo's coming along for the ride  :-D


ChrisW said...


Love the pasar malam pic of your barang barang. You've got more stuff than Mustafa.

Did you pack a condom or 2? Very useful in 'certain' that from the SAS survival handook.


-ben said...

Dang it, Calvin didn't remind me of that :-P

Michael said...

Hi Ben
You might remember that we met on the road on the east coast of Malaysia about 6 weeks ago. If you provide an e mail adress I can send a photo that I took of you. Just to let you know I enjoyed a tail wind all the way to Rannong in Thailand, never got a puncture and only once got wet. I was so lucky.
Best regards

-ben said...

Hi Michael,

'Glad to hear that you had a great ride. It must be puncture-free season in Singapore / Malaysia / Thailand or something :-D

You can reach me at enchilada777 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Woah! Ranong is almost at the top-most tip of Southern Thailand. Sounds like an incredible journey! Do tell more about your adventures when you're free :-)