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Three Men, Three Folding Bicycles, One Singapore

The toasters at the Rucksack Inn were curiously difficult. The time to toast a piece of bread seemed to be dependent on much more than just the setting on the brownness dial. Some theorizing about the latent heat in the coils, and inspection of the crumb tray uncovered more questions than answers and the white bread which the Rucksack Inn so graciously provided exhibited an oxidation curve from stark white, to brown, to flashpoint which was startlingly end loaded.  The performance can be approximated graphically as follows:
Toast Graph

Toast Making at the Rucksack Inn

With stomachs full of rapidly digesting toast, we struck out toward Clementi station on the MRT, Singapore’s devilishly efficient metro-rail system. Scott and I made like locals and folded our Speed TRs, rolling them on one wheel through the crowded metro terminal.

On board we did our best to adhere to the posted signs and placards, demanding silence, respect, no transport of durians, no spitting, no eating and drinking, no panhandling, and stern reminders as to the proper way to escalate depending on one’s preference for standing or walking.

At Clementi station, we were instantly met with the problem of finding My Bike Shop. Strangely enough, the locals that we asked seemed somewhat baffled about the correct direction, though we thought we were using reasonably well known and large roads, such as the West Coast Highway.  Still baffled after a number of queries, we took a break to drown our sorrows in a kind of Shwarma that was being sold in the vicinity of the train station. The Shwarma ended up consisting mostly of iceberg lettuce and thousand island dressing, but hit the spot nonetheless.

With renewed energy we made our way, albeit somewhat circuitously, to My Bike Shop. Tan was once again thrilled to see us, and greeted David by name, having already familiarized himself with the AsiaWheeling advisory team using our website.

We were all set with a zippy little cycle for David and were invited to relax and cool off in the shop. We allowed ourselves to indulge in another delicious cup of coffee from the My Bike Shop Nespresso machine, and allowed the folding bicycle enthusiasm to wash over us.

Now positively bursting with energy, we laid into the day’s wheel. First order of business was teaching the esteemed Mr. David McKenna Miller the rules of wheeling and the field commands.

“The first rule of wheeling,” I explained as we meandered our way through sleepy Singaporean residential neighborhoods, “is to always signal your intent.” We practiced our Rausches and Lichts until David became reasonably comfortable following the bishop, and even taking the lead himself from time to time before striking out onto the streets.

Our first waypoint was a local park, where we meandered our way past the docks and over to a section called the “bicycle obstacle course.” This seemed a good place to cover some of the more advanced wheeling maneuvers.

Below, Scott demonstrates the “Rough Rider” position on a demanding section of bumps.  Such position requires the midsection of the rider to be placed behind and below the bicycle seat, as if to sit on the back bumper of the bike.

David follows, executing the command with a champion’s fervor.

The obstacle course certainly did not hold back. Most of the obstacles seemed to be variations on the theme of slaloms, huge bumps, and downhill segments that dumped the rider out into a sandy gravel pit where balance and steering were almost impossible.

Well, David, we’ve seen better and we’ve seen worse, but you’re not bad for a rookie .

We also had to call an extended waypoint and dismount when we discovered an interesting playground, filled with fantastic geometric structures, and Singaporean school children who appeared to be using the playground to learn some rudimentary physical principals. David, who is among other things a school teacher by trade, remarked quite positively on the use of experiential education in this strange and gleaming city.

In a rare occurrence, AsiaWheeling stopped at a McDonalds adjacent to the park for a much needed refueling.   The fare consisted of 20 McNuggets, two Milo McFlurries, and two glasses of ice water with ice.

Back on the cycles, we struck west, ducking in and out of residential neighborhoods, retirement centers, shopping malls, and the like. The more we rode, the more we became amazed at the sheer number of retirement communities that we passed. Each one was a large compound with towering housing complexes and sloping manicured lawns.

Next stop was a Chinese grocery store nestled into the side of one of these cookie-cutter concrete communities.

The grocery was chock-full of goodies that would have no doubt been thrown in our basket if the hunger demons had been rumbling.

We purchased copious amounts of water and cloudy apple juice, purported to be one of the great undiscovered natural wonders.

We continued on exploring the Clementi area, which brought us to overpasses and underpasses of the West Coast Highway.

Soon we found ourselves on a newly paved exercise path, which followed one of Singapore’s canals.  It was a surprise to find, and a joy to wheel.

The canal snaked onward as we passed the many healthy joggers of the city.

It was nice to be out of the traffic, and we followed this until the sun began to set, and the imminent closing of My Bike Shop called us to return.  We made our way back, through the many urban obstacles of Western Singapore.


After an unsuccessful attempt to cut through the United World College Singapore (the guard here was cold at first, but soon David was able to warm him up enough to chat with us, but not to let us onto the campus), we rolled back into My Bike Shop tired and sweaty, but happy as clams.

Allen, from SpeedMatrix, was waiting for us, and in an unexpected and humbling gesture, offered to fund the repairs to our cycles. He also provided Scott, David, and me with a set of fine biking jerseys sporting his company’s logo.  Looking at the forthcoming selection of folding kayaks really got the gears in AsiaWheeling’s heads turning.

We warmly bid Tan and Allen goodbye, and sadly parted with the Speed TRs, which would be repaired while we were diving in Borneo, and piled into a cab.

We were already quite late for a dinner engagement with some Indian colleagues of Scott’s from when he was living in Pondicherry. Rajesh and Pappu were in good spirits, and not put off by our tardy arrival.

We made our way toward a local fish head curry restaurant. It served a kind of Singaporean Indian food, which was delightful.

We feasted on fish head curry (of course), along with some fried chicken, a buttery curry, and some knock-your- socks-off biryani. By the time the jet lag began to hit David, we were all quite full and completely smitten by our wheel in Singapore.


Comments

  1. Chris Shannon | February 18th, 2010 | 4:49 pm

    go scotty go scotty go!

    Please to Dried Provisions, also to

  2. Mark/Dad | February 19th, 2010 | 12:33 am

    I was watching the Scott rough rider video clip, and found myself chuckling in stereo. Upon playing it again, it was Woody chuckling in a genetically identical chuckle!

    And by the way, Woody, Folbots have been around for years–Grandma Jane owned one, and I know mom will have memories of it.

  3. UK Speed TR Owner | October 22nd, 2010 | 4:54 am

    I’m sure all that off-road riding would invalidate the warranty on those bikes! In any case, the Speed TR’s you have been describing with all their apparent ruggedness appear to make me wonder if we both own the same bike! They can barely cope with London roads, let alone what you did.

  4. Woody Schneider | October 22nd, 2010 | 9:51 am

    @ UK Speed TR Owner

    That’s interesting. I don’t know about the warranty… I am sure that we’ve violated it countless times, though. I think Dahon recommended the Speed TR for “on-road” use only ;)

    But I am interested to hear that your Speed TR is having trouble in London. What part of the bike is getting hit the hardest? Not the tires, I’d imagine…

    Thanks for reading,
    Woody

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