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Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas BikeTrials and Trouble with a Pair of Reebok

Earlier this week I received a text message from Syarul to go riding trials on Christmas day. I had to turn him down as I was not mobile due to a bad car accident a few weeks ago that put my pick-up in the workshop.

My last biketrial outing was to the Shah Alam Xtreme park and since then, I had only been riding in and around my house. I missed a happening MTB hash in Putrajaya and a BikeTrial demonstration event opposite the Tesco in Shah Alam last weekend. I am looking forward to getting my truck back next week.

Learning the rear wheel stand on a stack of wooden pallets.

Anyway, whenever I could ride, I have been focusing my training my balancing on the rear wheel stand in a confined and limited space; and on a stack of wooden pallet.

I rationalised that without a good balance control on the rear wheel stand, it would be very difficult for me to progress properly and consistently to the other related skills. And to make it more challenging, I must not only be able to rear wheel stand in a confined space but also a space that is elevated at least a foot or more off the ground (to let me get use to the height... LOL).

I had been training the rear wheel stand on the wooden pallets for 2 weeks now and I could see progress and improvement in the control of the bike.

And so today, on this perfect weather Christmas day, I got up at about 10:00am and started riding. I decided to try out the new pair of Reebok shoes I bought from Jakarta specifically for biketrial.

Bought this pair of Reebok from Jakarta for only RM95.

After my usual stretching, I warmed up with some hopping and pivoting. Then I started on the rear wheel stand and the first thing I noticed about the new shoes were that the soles were made of a harder compound and I could not get a good grip on the pedals.

The grips on my Echo's pedals were pretty sharp and had been on target to destroy all three pairs of my favourite riding shoes.

I did not know it at first but the Reebok's lack of grip on the pedal had affected my riding. I could not balance well on the rear wheel stand as I could not grip the pedals properly to hop to adjust my balance.

My many attempts at balancing on the rear wheel stand with the new pair of Reebok. (The background Power Puff theme song was hummed by my daughter... adding to the tension... LOL.)

After numerous attempts of struggling with the bike and getting really frustrated, I decided to switch back to my old Bata Power runners... LOL.

The old reliable Bata Power runners.

The sole of the Reebok and the Bata Power shoes compared.

With the old Bata shoe, the difference is obvious... LOL.

After switching to the old Bata shoe, I could immediately rear wheel stand properly. Maybe the Reebok needed to be seasoned. I hope I can worked it into a nice pair of riding shoes. And...

My pair 661 gloves.

... I need to get a new pair of gloves that reinforced the padding around the index finger. I guess biketrials is more demanding on the braking and thus more wear and tear around the index finger. This pair of 661 did not even last a year!

All in all, riding biketrial is an excellent way to spend Christmas day! Here is wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Fun Day at Shah Alam Xtreme Bike Park

Today, I had a great day at the Shah Alam Xtreme Bike Park.

Actually, my plan for the day was to ride the Elmina-Saujana trails at Sg. Buloh in the morning and later head on to the Shah Alam Lake Garden to ride biketrials. I brought my cross country bike as well as my trial bike... :-)

On the way to our meeting point at Restoran Salma in Saujana, I received a call from Jovey and Joe telling me that we should change venue as it had been raining the whole of last night and early this morning. In all likelihood, the trails would be muddy and unridable.

I told Jovey that Sean et al, will be riding at the Shah Alam Xtreme Bike Park and that maybe we all should join them. Everyone agreed... :-)

This was my third time at the Shah Alam Xtreme Bike Park. The first time was when Syarul brought me and a couple of Singaporean biketrial riders there to ride.

A New Personal Milestone

I had a great time riding my 20" Monty at the Shah Alam Xtreme Bike Park. And of course, I reached another new personal milestone in trials, which was the reason why I was so happy today... LOL. For the first time, I was able to climb up a flight of stairs using my trial bike! HAhaha... what a great feeling. I climbed the stairs a number of times for good measure just to make sure I get the technique down... in other word, kiasu... LOL.

Normally, I would have taken photos or videos when riding, but today, it completely slipped my mind. I was having too much fun... LOL.

An Australian in Shah Alam

We called it a day at about 1pm. The guys decided to have lunch at the Burger King next to the park. At Burger King, Yang asked me to helped an Australian by giving directions on how to get to BikePro (a bicycle shop in Taman Megah). After drawing a map and explaining the directions, I found out that Breton, the Australian, had wanted to go to BikePro just so he could get some cardboard boxes to pack some stuff and the only two bike outlets that he knew was BikePro in Taman Megah and the KSH in TTDI.

And Miles to Go Before I Sleep

Apparantly, Breton had been a teacher in Japan. I do not know how long it took him, but since he left Japan, he had cycled through India, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand , etc. to get to this point in Burger King, Shah Alam. All in all, he covered some 5,800 km on his bike!!!! And now he wanted to find BikePro just so he could get some boxes to pack his bike for his flight to Perth and then cycle the rest of the way back to Adelaide.

Hahaha... sorry, I cannot help laughing... but knowing the owner of BikePro's reputation, he would probably charge a bomb just for the cardboard boxes... LOL...

Sin Mee Trading Company, a Lerun franchise that carries notable bikes like Cannondale and Giant bikes.

The ever so helpful Rizal and Faizal.

Anyway, I offered to take Breton and his bikes on my pick-up to a bicycle shop in Subang Jaya. After consulting Sean and Frank, I took Breton to the Sin Mee Lerun bike shop in SS14, Subang Jaya. The guys there were so generous. They actually unpack a brand new bike to get the box for Breton. Thanks guys!

High and Mighty!

After that, I dropped Breton off at the High and Mighty Hostel in SS15, Subang Jaya, and said goodbye as I had to rush off to pick up my kids. The following are some photos I took of Breton assembling his bike after I dropped him off at the High and Mighty Hostel.

I really take my hat off to Breton and all other riders, whom have made this kind of commitment to travel great distances on their bicycles. Perhaps, in another time I may go on such an odyssey as well, perhaps.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

YEAH! There is progress in my BikeTrial!

What a great day this turned out to be! I think I have made tremendous progress with my biketrial skills. Three days ago, I tried to pedal-kick down a stack of 4 wooden pallets and landed disastrously! It was my first try at this height and I remembered it was quite scary and rightfully so!

Basically, when I landed, the rear wheel right brake pad slipped out. That caused the rear wheel to shoot forward from under me. I fell over backward and landed on my ass as I hit the rear of my head on the top wooden pallet. If not for my helmet, I think I would have suffered a major concussion.

Thankfully, all I received was a ringing head with a very sore neck and a bruised ass... LOL.

But today was a different day. And I was stoked to try pedal-kick down the wooden pallets again. This time, I made sure that the chain, wheels and brakes were in prime working condition... LOL. I started with a stack of one wooden pallet and gradually added more as I gained confidence. In the end, I conquered my fear and managed to pedal-kick down the stack of four wooden pallets. YEAH!

Again, thanks to Joel for capturing the videos of my progress today.

But that's not all that I managed to achieve today. Today, including the pedal-kick down, I managed to reach a total of 4 major personal milestones.

The others are:
  • From a rear wheel stand, I managed to pedal kick up a wooden pallet.
  • I managed to side-hop up a wooden pallet.
  • I managed to pedal-hop up to a wooden pallet and land on only the rear wheel.
I know, I know... from the video, you can see that they are nothing impressive... LOL. But all the same, I am VERY VERY pleased with my progress... LOL.

The next step for me will be to increase the heights and to refine the skills. Hahahaha... cool or not?

Monday, September 22, 2008

A Painful Milestone in Biketrial!

I have been trying very hard to learn the elusive "pedal kick" for a while now. My balancing on the rear wheel hop is not exactly very consistent, which makes learning the "pedal kick" doubly hard.

My arm and back muscles are constantly being pushed to their limits, with hardly enough time for them to recuperate.

Today, those muscles felt well enough for me to start practicing and I went at it with a vengeance.

Again, Joel was pretty excited to help me record my milestone.

Have you ever been practicing so hard and then when you finally managed to do it, you just get so excited and have to just keep going no matter what? Well, today was like that for me. Even after a nasty fall, I still went at it until I practically ran out of strength.

I have to learn when to stop... now that the adrenalin high is gone, my arms and back are killing me... LOL. I can't wait to start practicing again... but gotta recuperate first!

Monday, September 15, 2008

BikeTrial in Malaysia has future?

The past weeks while I was teaching my kids how to ride the bicycle, I was also riding my 20" trial bike with them. A boy about 10 or 11 years old was cycling past and saw me riding the Monty. He could not help it but noticed that the trial bike was without a seat.

So he stopped and asked me what bike the Monty was and how one would ride a seat-less bike. I tried explaining in my best Malay that it was called a trial bike and that we could ride it in many ways.

I did not know whether if he understood me or not, so I decided to show him the track-stand, hopping, pivoting and the rear wheel hop. As pathetic as my skills were, I managed to impress him before I embarrassed myself... LOL.

If I may be so bold, I believe I have opened up the boy's mind to the many possibilities of going beyond conventional cycling and bike control. I could almost see the flame lit up in his eyes!

After a few nights, the boy came back with a friend. While I was teaching Joel how to pedal on his bike, the boy asked me to show the rear wheel hop or "willie" as he calls it. I obliged and both of them were suitably impressed... LOL.

Then last Saturday, while I was teaching Jordan how to ride, the boys came back and this time, there were 6 of them! LOL... And they made the same request, to see the "willie". I was under a lot of pressure not to fail... LOL... stressed!

I let each and everyone of them try the Monty and taught them how to track-stand and so on. All their bikes were old and not well maintained. I took one of their bikes and show them how to track-stand and hop, just to show them that even with their own bikes, they can still practice the things I showed them.

And then tonight, just 2 days later, while I was teaching Jodene how to glide on her bike, the boys were back. This time around, they wanted to show me what they have been practicing... so I brought out my bike and sure enough, some of them could track-stand pretty well. I was suitably impressed!

The future of biketrials in Malaysia rested on these boys... :-)

Not bad.

This boy was by far the best!

Still wobbly.

I believed that given the right size bike and some coaching, they will learn trials in just a couple of months!!! Like all beginners, they found track-stand boring (LOL... I would have to agree) and they were already attempting pivoting.

Btw, I should also mentioned that almost all of them could willie cycle on their own bikes. If you can see them, I will bet that you will be suitably impressed as well... LOL

Friday, September 12, 2008

2008 Singapore BikeTrial Competition - Round 3

Last Sunday on 7th September, I went down to Singapore with a friend to watch the 2008 Singapore BikeTrial Competition - Round 3. I met my friend in Melaka around 1:00am and we left for Singapore at around 2:00 am in morning and arrived at about 6:00 am.

We parked in a parking lot in Bishun Park, around Ang Mo Kio Ave 1. Both of us took a nap in the car until 8:30am.

When we arrived at the competition area, all the competitors were prep and walking through the 8 sections to find their riding lines. They had already done the compulsory bike checks, safety checks and competition briefing.

This time around, there was an Open Category specially tailored for any cyclist other than trials. The organisers explained to me that the Open Category was to give other non-trial cyclists an opportunity to try out biketrials using just any ordinary bikes and hopefully, allowing them to build up their interest in biketrials from there.

This time around, I noticed that the Elite class' sections were longer than round 2's in Pasir Ris City Park and a lot of the Elite riders ran out of time. The sections for J. Senior and Elite looked very challenging and hazardous, well to me at least... LOL.

The competition ended at about 2:00pm and by 3:00pm everything were packed up. After the prize giving, I was on my way back to Malaysia at around 4:30 pm... :-)

I am really glad I made it to this competition. By attending a biketrial competition like this, I get to learn something new about the sports. In the not too distant future, I hope to be able to organise a BikeTrial exhibition competition for the fun of it... LOL. Help! Who wants to sponsor???

More Photos & Videos:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

My New Old Bike and A New Milestone

Yup... went down to Singapore over the weekend and got me a second hand 20" trial bike! This time around, I bought a Monty 221. The bike is way less than perfect, with welds on previous cracks, one next to the bottom bracket and the other on the rear brake bracket... LOL. Well, the important thing is that I can ride it!

I have been practising on an Echo 26" these past months and have been improving. But progress is slow... LOL. Even my track-stand is less than satisfactory. So I figured that if I get a smaller bike, I will have a much better chance of learning new moves quicker... LOL.

The Monty 221.

My son, Jordan, standing next to the bike for comparison... :-)

The bike relative to the wooden pallets set up for training.

So far, these past two days, I have been having a lot of fun with the bike. Track-stand is so much easier. Pivoting and hopping are less tiring. Also, I have finally managed to achieve another milestone by performing my first pedal kick, and up to two kicks in succession. Still need a lot of work, but my damn right arm is killing me!! Have to force myself to rest and heal up for the next couple of days. What a drag!

I guess, now is the time to catch up on the latest season of Battlestar Galactica. The Cylons await!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Mind is Never Far From BikeTrial!

Last Saturday, while on the way back from the KLIA airport after dropping off David and his family, I spotted some discarded wooden pallets in front of a row of shops opposite the Nilai bus station.

I stopped and checked out the wooden pallets, which was covered in sacks of rotten onions. There were quite a number of them, but only two were suitable and still intact. I felt a bit foolish, while my daughter was in the car waiting for me, to be digging through the piles of rotten onions... LOL. Lets just say that it was quite fragrant.

Additional 2 wooden pallets added to increase height.

Unfortunately, after setting up the pallets at home, I could not even try them out... :-( Earlier on, I had strained my right forearm practicing trials. So much so that I could not even lift or grip anything... sigh! First the left arm... now the right arm!

Anyway, it was really worth it. Those wooden pallets were hard to come by. It would be a matter of time before I built a complete biketrial section in my house... LOL

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Hurray!!! Fixed My Bike's Headset

I first had problems with my bike's star nut in end July and I had been trying to get it fix for a while without any success.

I had also gone to the BikePro bike shop in Taman Megah and they could not help me out either. After talking to fellow biketrial enthusiast about my problem, Sean suggested that I try this old bike shop in Sri Damansara.

The very next day, I headed to the Sri Damansara light industrial area. The name of the bicycle shop is ABC. Can't remember what the initials stand for.

There is this really old guy there that Sean referred to as "uncle". When I asked him if he had the small size star nut that fit my fork, he replied, "Anything can be fitted and customised." I had to wait for 45 minutes for my turn, as he was fitting someone elses bike.

After that, true to his words, he managed to custom fit the "oversize" size star nut into my fork in less than 10 minutes.

The custom fitted star nut. From the photo you can see that only the bottom star was inserted into the fork.

From the photo, you can see that he fitted the bottom "star" into the fork and left the top "star" exposed. He said that it was enough to hold the fork up. I tried explaining that the riding style for biketrial was heavy on the stem, headset and fork. The "uncle" was adamant that it would be able to stand whatever abuse I can dish out.

I decided not to argue and left it at that. Sigh. We will see... LOL.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Not Oversize? Standard size! Or not!

So much trouble just to replace a star nut... I am learning... I am learning... LOL.

The head lock for downhill bikes.

Yesterday, I took the above head lock back to Yong's bike shop and exchanged for a cheap chain tool and a proper star nut.

The star nut and the chain tool, which I immediately used to turn some extra chain links into a key chain decoration thingy... LOL...

Unfortunately, when I went back and try to fix the headset, the star nut did not fit either. Turns out the star nut was "oversize".

The RM5.00 star nut from Yong.

Today, I took the nut back to Yong. He asked me to get the normal size star nut, but he did not have any in stock. So I went to the Taman Megah/SS2 KSH bike shop and asked if they had any. The vendor managed to find a normal size star nut but without any screw or cap, still he charged RM5.00. Hmmm... I knew things were always more expensive at KSH but I was desperate, so I bought it.

When I reached home, I tried to fit the new "normal" size star nut to my bike. The bloody nut was still a tad bigger than the hole in the fork! I decided to try force it in anyway. So, I used a hammer and a screwdriver and tried forcing it in. Next thing I knew, the "star" broke into pieces. Goodbye RM5.00.

On the left is the broken "normal" size star nut that I bought from KSH today. The original star nut is on the right.

So I am back to square one! Guess I have to shop around again. Sigh!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Broke a Star Nut. Got a Head Lock. Back to square one?

Yesterday, while practicing, I broke the star nut in the Echo Pure headset. After that, the ball bearings at the fork became slightly loose and a tad wobbly. I panicked for a moment as I did not know what had happened... LOL. I removed the star nut and tightened the stem to the fork so that I could continue practicing.

The broken star nut. After that, I just tightened the stem to the fork so I could continue riding.

Kiasu Head Lock!

Today, I bought a head lock (meant for downhill bikes) to replace the star nut based on the recommendation of Yong of Sungai Way bike shop. Of course, being real kiasu I bought it... LOL. Turns out the head lock could not fit the bottom hole on my bike's fork.

Photo of the head lock meant for downhill bikes.

I guess I have to return the head lock to Yong tomorrow and get the RM5 star nut. In any case, I was practicing without the star nut holding the fork. I figured that the stem's screws should be able to hold it for a while, at least until I get install the new star nut tomorrow.

Rising to the Challenge

Ever since I started practicing on the wooden pallets, I have been challenging myself by making the sections more and more difficult. I tried arranging the wooden pallets in different configurations and setups. Each time, the setup is meant for me to repetitively learn certain techniques (or at least I think so... as there is no one to confer techniques with... LOL).

The different configurations and setups of the wooden pallets.

Shoot and Analyze

As there were no one to see and tell me what I was doing right or wrong, I resorted to taking some videos to see how I rode. I took the following two videos to analyze how I was getting on the platform.

Brake released, front wheel straight, body weight shifted to the front. Achieve perfect balance, then slight pedal kick to get up the platform.

In this video, there are a few false attempts to get up the platform, as I could not get the perfect balance prior to the pedal kick.

In the video, you could see that I used bricks to further increase the height. I need to get more of the wooden pallets. Anyone know where I can grab some?

So much more to learn!!!