NTU bike rally, 2015 edition!

Back again for the 2015 edition of NTU bike rally, I skipped the event for 2 years and am back again as I plan to improve my fitness again. It happened on 8th March 2015, and due to some school related matters, I am not able to sufficiently high mileage in to be considered in optimum form. Moreover, due to some unforeseen circumstances(Non Drive Side Retaining bolt dropped off), I was forced to train for 2 weeks in my spare bike, a 11kg road 8 speed road bike. Fortunately, I managed to get my Merida Reacto back 2 days before the event and well more about it below.

About NTU Bike Rally
The thing that separates Bike Rally apart from the other organized events is that it is a student-initiative operated by the NTU sports Club. This gives newbies(Mostly NTU students from what I observed) a chance to ride in an organized ride on the road escorted by either safety car or marshall. For the ordinary cyclists, it means two things 1. Cheap prices as it is from a not-for-profit organization 2. Long Distances. This year, route on offer are the 168km event as well as the less-daunting 88km. It makes the event a bargain compared to the other cycling events organized in Singapore. Then again, this event is a non-timed event with no price money for first,second,third so perhaps that’s the reason why prices are lowered.

Introduction
I signed up for the event under my brother’s name(who is a NTU student) thus, it costs merely 20SGD for the ride, and perhaps breaking a few clauses of the ride. I added the Jersey for an extra 45 sgd and it looks amazing for the price.

I had relatively little sleep before the event as I came home late.

Woke up at 5, had breakfast and slowly made my way to the F1 pit building. There wasn’t that many people when I arrived, checked in promptly and then went to chit chat till the event started at around 630

Flag off and Getting Lost
The flag off was not very fast, quickly made my way to the front to get draft from the safety car which wasn’t traveling very fast. It was still dangerous and had to do sudden braking as we went meandered around the CBD area till Bukit Merah area. It was all slow and happy till we reached the first “rest” point at West Coast park. Several in my group asked where the rest point was, but the marshal indicated for us to go forth, after seeing my distance (roughly 12km) and having read the ride map (which indicated next rest point was 17km away) a couple of us decided to press on.

The speed suddenly increased dramatically to the 40s kph without the safety car, and the group was left with around 15-20 riders, mostly people from the west coast riders. We didnt have an idea where the next rest point was but I figured that it was at raffles Marina (same as the year I last participated in) There wasn’t that many signalers to indicate where we are supposed to go, but I noticed little yellow A4 Signs on Lampposts indicating where we are supposed to go. (Good idea by them) Reached Raffles Marina early, almost missing it as there was ongoing construction work and stopped for some well needed isotonic drinks, water and some bananas.

On The Verge of Bonking
Safety car finally came, and off we go, this time headed for NTU, met with my friend B(a friend on the sometimes I will be there 6 am ride), and we stuck to the front while catching up with each other. Took some photos, and almost fell off due to a pothole along Pioneer road. The speed/cadence sensor decided its a convenient time to die, and it failed to revert back to the GPS signal. Saved the ride data, and started a new one. Data up till that time is here.

Soon came the NTU climb up and god it was tough, compared to the previous 50km of straight road. Managed to stick somewhat close to the car, and was rewarded with red bull, and water at the rest point. Soon, it was time to go again, and off we went, this time to woodlands promenade.

We went pass Mandai at a somewhat crazy speed, and off we go to Gambas Avenue, it was then I felt that I was going to bonk soon, the feeling that my body is not sweating and felt that I was going to give my last shot at riding. I bonked pretty badly around 2km away from Woodlands Promenade, felt like I was on fire, signs of nausea and headache. Decided to take a break, cool off and consume more food and drinks. Rested for awhile with a self-made Ice pack and chatted with the crew and other cyclists. I must say the stop was excellent with helpful student volunteers who gave food, ice and drinks to cyclists who really needed them.That day was exceptionally hot.  The heat was getting to me, and that wasnt the last time it got tome.

New Friends last together all the way!
After resting, I didn’t have any cars to draft, so I went off at the same time as other cyclists, hoping to draft them. I met 2 NTU students who was participating in the event as well A and T. Off we went together as a Trio, catching up with other cyclists. Passed through all the pit stops together (one at Punggol Waterfront and the other at Changi Beach) I bonked again shortly before reaching Changi Beach and we decided to take a short break there.  Sadly, I forgotten to charge my Bryton (though I left the house with 3/3 bars on the battery) and it died shortly before reaching Changi Beach.

We rested for a short while before riding all the way back to the Starting/Ending point at the F1 Pit building. Journey back was a bliss with a tailwind along Changi Coast road, and light traffic along Nicoll Highway. Noticed some people from the running hour group with their tandems. A great initiative to let the blind ride alongside the able for the ride! Finally done with the event at 2pm and after resting, headed home for some well needed rest.

Conclusion
The day was exceptionally hot coupled with lack of training made this event a painfully one for me. However, I was rewarded with some new friends, and the enthusiasm of the NTU crew gave me the strength to carry on riding. In conclusion, the bike rally, is a fun long distance ride that reminds me that cycling isn’t all about racing and training, anyone can do it as long as they try!

Finally some pictures.

My friend/Nemesis for most of the journey. Despite the bike rack over it, the car is still aerodynamic and I didnt feel much draft from it.

so
S


Somewhere along Jalan Buroh, going very fast

Hanging on to the back along Lim Chu Kang Road.

End point, just after lunch time.

Data for the last 100km is here. unfortunately, I forgotten to charge and the last 30-40km of the journey is not recorded.

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Bont A-Two Cycling Shoes Review

I was in love with my old Louis Garneau Futura XR shoes because it was cheap, comfortable and just simply great to wear. Unfortunately, It couldn’t last long as the non-replaceable rubber stops on the heel and the toes couldn’t be replaced and wore out slowly and eventually, what remained was the sole of the shoes which was scratched by the floor. I delayed finding a new shoe as shoes on clearance sale was either too expensive or didn’t interest me (though I was really tempted to snap Brand RXXX brand shoes. but after contemplating I did not get it) All that changed when I went over to Stockholm (Bianchi Cafe) and chanced upon Bont cycling shoes on clearance (with my size! ) and purchased it.

INTRODUCTION
Bont is an Australian company that does cycling shoes and skates. Their shoes are worn by some by the pro peleton (De-badged or resprayed with sponsor logos) The Bont A series (A two and A three) are considered entry level in Bont’s range of shoes. They are already discontinued according to Bont website but are still available at online shops worldwide.  In my opinion, there is nothing in this  entry level shoes that is entry level at all. Look at the features it offers, does any of this says entry level to you ?

  • Replaceable Sole guards and buckles
  • TPU toe protector
  • Heat Moulding

Yes, you read that right, this shoes are completely heat-mouldable and what this means is that by warming up the shoes and “cooking” it, it is able to mould onto the shape of your feet! (more on that later) Where else do you find such a feature on an entry level shoe though the price of this shoes are not entry level at all.



First impressions
The first thing that struck me was how thin the sole was. and yet how stiff the shoes were. I couldn’t get it to flex using my hands. The shoes in general, felt very roomy particularly the front of the shoe where my toes could rest comfortably without being felt like it was being squeezed. The buckle was also something unique that I saw, it utilises separate left/right ratchets to hold the strap down, this gives the shoes easy fine-tuning while riding as you can simply pull up the buckle to tighten the shoe then press on the ratchet to release the strap one click at a time. Shoe’s weight is 294gram with black look keo cleats.

Fitting-Pre moulding
The shoes which I bought were size EU 42.5, which was half a size bigger than my usual shoe size. My first ride on the shoes was super uncomfortable, mainly due to the thin inner soles, the stock setup. I am flat footed plus a navicular bone on my left foot which juts out. Hard carbon and hard bone with soft skin in between is not a good match and after a short and furious one hour training ride, my skin around the bone had turned red and my bone was hurting to the extend that it was affecting my walking. Luckily the pain subsided the next day. Stock custom shoes plus flat feet, not really a good choice for me.

Moulding and Fitting Post Moulding
Finding a oven big enough to fit the shoes and one that goes to 70 degrees Celsius was a PITA, the ovens at home were either too small or had too high temperatures. Eventually I had to purchase a new oven and even so there were complications, I didn’t trust the temperature gauge on the oven, and was afraid of melting the shoes. I had to rely on an infra-red temperature scanner and visual/ audio cues . Should have bought a thermometer for the oven but didn’t manage to find it.

The shoes definitely felt better after moulding, more comfortable and the pain on my navicular bone is gone. The shoes are surprisingly comfortable despite the thin insoles and the super thin sole.

Riding Impressions
The shoes were super stiff, i think it is the stiffest shoe that I have ever ridden. The front part of the shoe had lots of room for my toes but it felt fine on my rides which are relatively short. Since I have not yet done any long rides yet, I cant say if its comfortable or too stiff over many hours.

Conclusion
While the Bont has become my permanent shoes, it still loses out in comfort to my 3 year old LG shoes. New products take time to get used to and with time, I hope the shoes will become better. Coming over from a plush, cushy shoe to a minimalist shoe that is designed for racing takes some time getting used to. Still, I am still impressed with the technology that Bont has implanted into this simple accessory to make it into a modern, stiff and relatively comfortable shoe.

Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored or paid by Bont or Bianchi Cafe. The shoes were paid for by the author.

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Signed up for my first event in almost 2 years.

I have signed up for my first cycling event in almost 2 years and it is the NTU bike rally to be held on 8th March!

Cheap fees, Long distance and not a race/century ride what could go wrong ???

Will be documenting my training here.

Its now Wednesday (rest day for me) and after roughly 100km (split into commutes and group ride) in two days. Not a bad start considering that I have a 2 week break. Also did some static exercises after group ride.

Week 1, Day 3
Distance done : 104km
Time Taken:3:20:15
Average speed 31kph average

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KED Wayron Race Review


This Helmet first caught my eye on bike24 when I was looking for a cheap helmet to replace my old, smelly aging OGK mostros helmet.Criteria included being cheap (less than 150sgd) and light (in the region of sub 200 grams). Saw it at a great price and it looked cool! Added it to the cart and it came 2 weeks later. Been using it for a month in cool weather and short rides so here are my thoughts about it.

Introduction
The helmet is a slightly modified version of KED Wayron helmet which by itself is a mid-tier road helmet. By covering all the vents in the middle, it has become an affordable, aero helmet. It has only 8 (4 on each side) vents to let the air cool your head. Have not tried it in 35 degrees bike rides yet, but the lack of vents seems fine and my body did not overheat in any way.

KED?? Whos are they ?
I started to google about the company since I have never heard of it and found out that the helemets are made in Freiburg,Germany (company name is KED Helmsysteme) which the company claims. Unlike other helmets, where the country of maunfactuers are sketchy at best (most likely in taiwan or china) the helmet subtly remind consumers that it is made in Germany with a tiny sticker right at the front of the helmet.

One has come to associate Germany(a sterotype,really) with safety and reliability (Think BMWs) and I highly appreciate the fact that they could afford to keep the helmet at this price considering the cost of manufacturing in Germany. For those who kind of hate Taiwan and China stuff, here is a good alternative brand that doesnt attempt to hide where it is made in.

Weight and Comparsions
I am going to do this comparsion with the other two helmets that I am regularly using, OGK Regas and OGK Mostros.

From left OGK Regas, KED Wayron Race, OGK Mostros

The OGK have way more vents than the KED and also uses a kind of hair net inside the helmet to give riders some comfort and prevent abrasion to the scalp of the head. While the hair net thing is cool, I have yet to find any replacement netting in Singapore yet and this is shocking given that OGK is marketed by Shimano and I don’t see any of their spare parts out in the market here. On the other hand, the KED uses replaceable straps, so if any straps becomes too smelly, or starts falling apart, you can use those helmet netting replacement by MET to replace them

The biggest disappointment to me however, is the weight of the helmet, granted that while the OGKs are not aero helmet (at 240grams for the Regas and sub 180grams for the Mostros) this helmet weights in at a hefty 330grams,(claimed weight of270grams for size M) which could be due to the plastic covering over its vents


The helmet is heavy,but while I couldn’t get any empirical evidence that it is more aerodynamic, my feeling is that it will cut your timing down in a time trial.

Conclusion
The version which I bought (a 2013) is essentially unchanged for the 2014 and 2015. According to the KED website, the only difference is the addition of a “quicksafe” which is a rear red light. While I will still ride it for the short 1 hour training rides that I have, I will still stick to the other lighter helmet that I have for longer rides.Would also use it for that short once in a while criterium that appears as the helmet seems really sturdy. The only fault that I have for this helmet is its weight.

Still, I cant wait to try out the KED Paganini race, the flagship bike helmet. Will just have to wait for it to be on discount.
TLDR version
Pros
Made In Germany
Looks cool
Replaceable straps

Cons
Weight

Buy it now at here

Disclaimer: I am in no way affliated(or paid/sponsored by) to Bike24 nor KED Helmetsysteme and their subsidaries or parent company. This helmet is fully paid for and delievered to me by ordering directly from the site without any special requests by me

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Dear Garmin, Singapore is not in Pengerang nor Johore Bharu; Garmin Connect Response!

Dear Garmin,

Recently, I plugged my old and battered Garmin 200 into my computer with the intention to charge and upload my rides onto strava and see if i had any KOM (just kidding, don’t really bother with this). Curiously, I looked at my rides name, and they went from untitled, to this

While I appreciate the auto naming of the file, it should be noted that Singapore is somehow missing from garmin connect and I note with amusement that the population of Johore Baru is smaller than the population of Singapore.

Just hope that you will fix this problem soon or people might associate Singapore with Johore, or are we too small to be included in your database ?

Cheers,
An amused customer

Edited
Posted this post to Garmin connect Facebook page and got this response

While they might not be able to solve the issue for now and suggest users changing manually. Given I do Bulk uploads all the time, will probably just let it stick for now

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Cycle Singapore 2015

Just received an email from the organizers! Apparently the event is going to be held on the 10-12th April 2015.  More info here. With Ocbc Singapore being held on the 28-3oth august and tri factor bike to be held somewhere in June, there are now 3 (legal) races held every year! Though not as lucky as our malaysia counterparts where they have century rides almost every month,

The focus seems to have changed this time round by scrapping the competitive feel to the race by scrapping the criterium (for the pro and the amateur )on Friday. And having experienced cyclists to guide each wave. No idea how this is going to impact the event though, is it going to be an all out timed event thus turning it to a race or just a non timed event ?

Still they have made changes to the route for 2015, (hope its safer this time round) no more temporary metal gratings on the floor and cone dividers i hope!

Will just have to wait and see if it can tempt me from taking part. Will have to see the price and the event focus.

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Quick Review: Vittoria Juniores Tire

Chanced upon these tires at Bike24.com and was rather surprised at the price. At 18.5 euro per piece (roughly 30 sgd) they are very cheap for tubular tires and even better still, comes in the ultra rare hard to find 650c(26″) size! Bought a pair of these as my rear wheel Vittoria corsa evo CX started leaking (probably due to the latex tube) and wanted to be able to ride for more than 4 hours without the tire being flat.

We all need some cheap training tires to train on and not some 80sgd that flats every 2000km, and here is where the juniores tire come in. Cheap. I mounted it onto my recently repaired 10 year HED disc wheel and let it sit for a few days at 130 psi, before mounting it onto the wheel with the help of double sided tape and a tire lever.

Looks so old school with those tan sidewalls!

I was hoping it didn’t puncture at the first instance of debris (which was what happen to my continental giro many years ago. But it held up fine along the stretch of Marina South where some construction works are still on going due to development of the area. Tire traction was also good despite a slight drizzle and the tire definitely didn’t roll out of the wheel when I cornered.

The tire has a noticeable lump around the valve area though im not too sure if its due to my installation process or due to the cheap price. Also the tires felt very brick-like when bouncing on the floor and just feels very hard. The inner tube valve head also broke, but I am still able to pump my tire. But who cares its 30sgd.

Comparsion between the Corsa CX and the Juniores
Weight: 230 grams for the Corsa CX vs 294 grams Juniores

PriceVittoria Corsa Open CX 26 pounds on CRC (approximately 53 sgd)
Vittoria Juniores 18.4 euros (approximately 30 sgd)

Conclusion
While I do not think its cheaper, better, faster, but the price makes it good to use. Will be back with a long term review to see if it lasts longer than its more expensive counterpart.

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