Category Archives: On two wheels

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them.”
– Ernest Hemingway

It’s the season!

The weather is hot hot hot. I’m not kidding when I say it’s hot. It’s hot even when it rained buckets this afternoon, displacing all the hot air onto me (after all, this is a blog about me), engulfing me in a stream of sauna hotness. My English teacher (who taught me a lot) would have shuddered with the repeated use of the word ‘hot’. And the whining.

But the heat and sudden rain has prompted a wonderful blooming season. These are days for cyclinng outdoors, to get sun-burned, be invigorated by fresh air, be surprised by nature, be enticed by its beasts and floras…

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Love these yellow saraca! I saw some budding ones a week ago near my home. Today we cycled along Ulu Pandan park connector and all these beauties were blooming! Yay! Plenty of egrets and kingfishers along the waterways too. Alas, birds don’t pose for phone cameras.

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Later in the afternoon, in an art class, the lady next to me was painting these yellow saraca! Talk about coincidence. We both marvelled at our find.

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Sundays are made of these meandering explorations. Yes it’s swelteringly – there comes the word a again – hot. But since you are already out and about, almost sun-burnt, you might as well just continue and keep on exploring.

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Till next weekend!

Mass ride

Crawled out of bed at 5am, ate and set off to the F1 pit stop for the annual mass bike ride in Singapore sponsored by a local bank.  I have wanted to do this since the event started some years ago but had always been taken away by travels. So finally I decided to sign up last year which is waaaaaay in advance so that way I’m committed to do it (which means my holiday plans have been postponed till tomorrow).

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It’s a massive planning exercise for the organisers since the route takes us from the F1 Pit Stop, Marina Bay Sands, Sheare Bridge, Tanjung Rhu Flyover to ECP and back. This year more than 10,000 cyclists took part. The truth is one can cycle 40km or more at any time. But at no other time can you cycle on closed roads leading up to the magnificent Sheares bridge with a 360 degree view of the Singapore city skyline and rolling down at great speed onto the expressway.

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Bike Sunday

Gone are the cool months of rain. Since the lunar new year, it’s been sweltering hot. But the upside is unadulterated sunshine and plenty of reasons to go for a ride!

Because blue skies, fluffy white clouds and the love for the wind on two wheels open up the heart just a bit more.

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Near Sungai Serangoon

25km into the ride I had a flat with no spare tube on hand. Though this isn’t a bad place to end the ride. Don’t these coconut trees look like lanky ladies with crazy winds sweeping through their hair?

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Pasir Ris Park. The sea separates Singapore and Malaysia.

Sunday, lily pond, happiness

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Sunday morning broke with beautiful blue skies, even though forecast says  it is cloudy. Despite improvements in technology, weather forecast notifications are often no more accurate than poking your head out of the window for a look at the sky. Take a deep breath, see if there is a whiff of that unique smell before the rain. Listen out for chirping birds – the noisier our feathered friends are, the more you know it’s going to be a fine weather day.

Went for a ride a little later than usual in the morning. On my way home, I decided to drop by the water lily pond I discovered some time back. As it was rather late in the morning I was not expecting to see any blooming flowers. But here they are, proud and pink. It is little unexpected moments like this that happiness springs from within.

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I am glad to have spare time, to cycle to places, and some scenic ones, to put things into perspective. 

Later in the day someone asked me about the “4Cs of Singapore” – it’s a rather old joke referring to the items that symbolise the attainment of material wealth and social status (if you want you can read about it here). There is probably an equivalent of a “4Cs” or “5Cs” in every society. In a fairly wealthy society like Singapore, materialism is all the more prevalent. Even those who condemn it can’t escape not talking nor thinking about it. That is why It is so important to have some quiet time alone to sort out the wheat from the chaff in one’s head. 

A rhu by any other name

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The bright sun filtered through the clouds that drifted in from the horizon. A splendid hue of turquoise; the sea framed by tall rhu trees. I can look at this for a while. But not for too long, as droplets of rain blew with the wind towards the seashore. Suddenly the drizzle became a downpour. Again not for too long, for the weather is moodily mercurial. The rain stopped. Cycled back towards Tanjong Rhu which literally means “Casuarina Cape”. What’s that saying again? “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” It’s not the name that matters, but what the thing is.

Roll’em wheels

Went for a ride last Saturday. The sun was out. Glorious weekend mornings like these are precious.

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Two loonies, the resident water komodo, and a fish fighting for its life at Upper Seletar Reservoir

Fresh from my Hokkaido trip, I recounted to sw about cycling with the blue sapphire coasts on one side, the cone-shaped mountain on the other, and windswept flower fields in between (that was on Rishiri island). Sw, who has been to Japan numerous times separately, also talked (more like, shrieked in delight) about the joys of cycling by the sea. It’s one of those tremendous yet indescribable moments (although “damn happy” were sw’s words).

One doesn’t even have to travel abroad to enjoy this. Look around your neighbourhood and see if there isn’t a path that you haven’t explored – and there are quite a number of bike paths in Singapore. Or any paths which you have looked at longingly, from the window of your flat, or from the bus while on your way to work.

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I am proof that you don’t need to be the sporty or technical type to enjoy what is a very egalitarian way of

  1. casual exploring,
  2. exercising,
  3. taking a break, &
  4. letting the wind rush through your hair (or helmet – I’m still of two minds about the helmet).

The humble bike is likely to be the first vehicle most people learn to use in their life. Could it be that cycling somehow subconsciously triggers the simple joys experienced in childhood?

Not to paint too rosy a picture though, because accidents can and do happen. Just a month ago, it happened to a friend right in front of my very eyes – no it did not involve another vehicle.

Nobody wants to crash and get hurt. There are lessons to be learned.

But would that deter us from ever cycling again?

No.