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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!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Grinding my Trial Bike Rear Rim

Yesterday, I realised that there were three things I was doing wrong when I rear wheel hopped. Firstly, I realised that both my wheels were not straight before I take off to the rear wheel.

Secondly, once I got on to the rear wheel, my body needed to be further back over the rear wheel to maintain good posture and balance.

And lastly, my rear wheel brake needed to be super duper sticky to enable me to rear hop for a long duration. I have long since broke my own personal best of 14 hops, and have lost count... but I was never consistent. One time, it would be perfect, and the next, I would be struggling.

But yesterday, upon the above realisation, I was able to rear wheel hop with some consistency. My goal now is to achieve hop-less rear wheel stand and then to pedal kick. Damn bloody scary if you ask me.

I misjudged my braking one time and I fell backward and whack my head on the floor. Luckily, I was wearing my helmet... :-P

So today, I was really looking forward to getting home so that I can start practicing. After changing and getting ready, I realised that my bike had a rear wheel puncture. Then I thought that since I have to remove the rear wheel, why not I grind the rim to try to achieve super duper sticky braking?

And so, I took my wheel apart from the rim. Then I remove the inner tube lining I used to cover the holes in the rim.

I remember Hor Fun showing and explaining to me in Singapore how to grind the rim using a saw. I managed to find two saws from my hardware box.

The grinding was a lot of hard work. At first, I tried the small saw, being ever so gentle. Within moments, the tediousness got to me and I took the bigger saw and went at it with a vengeance! The sawing was really tiring work... LOL.

In the end, after more than 3 hours, I managed to finish grinding. I was dying to try out the grinded rim and see how good the braking would be.

When I finally fixed everything back, I realised that it was just after 10:45pm. Man... the braking would seriously annoy my neighbors. Reluctantly, I decided to postpone testing out the braking to tomorrow.

So now my plan is to get home early tomorrow! LOL..

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ok I am interested in BikeTrial. So how do I start?

First off, I am a newbie in BikeTrial. Secondly, I welcome all who want to venture out into this brave new world of BikeTrials.

It is not easy. It is a lot of hard work. Once you have mastered the basics, I swear to you on all things good and great in this world that you will not regret one bit of it... LOL. To top it off, I am more than 45 years old and I only started BikeTrial August last year. I only managed to get a trial bike in March this year.

I am living proof that you can teach an old dog new tricks.... LOL.

So how does one start?

There are 3 basic skills that a BikeTrial rider must learn and master. They are:

1. Track stand
2. Pivoting/rocking
3. Hopping

The underlying key skill for the above is BALANCING. All the above 3 basic skills rely on you controlling your bike and adjusting your body in a balancing act. This constant struggle for balance will get easier as you practice.

I have struggled with all these 3 skills. I am struggling LESS now... LOL. Hopefully, it will be effortless for me one day.. :-)

1. Track Stand

Track stand simply means, your two feet on the pedals and the bike is in a stationary position. You have to master this most fundamental skill! This is the technique that will lead you to the other two. I will not go into the technique here. There are plenty of information on the Internet and YouTube on how to learn the track stand.

2. Pivoting or Rocking

Pivoting/rocking is the act of shifting your weight on the bike to the front to the extend that you can easily lift up your rear wheel and vice versa as you lift up the front wheel. Your bike is stationary. Both front and back brakes are applied in full.
3. Hopping

Hopping is the act of lifting both wheels up in the air. It is easy to do while your bike is rolling along, but difficult when your bike is stationary.
When you have mastered the above skills, you can choose to venture into the world of riding biketrial sections or urban trials, both achieving different sets of objectives and requires different combination of skills.

I hope this article is enough to start you off in learning BikeTrials. Btw, you can use any bike to practice the above skills.

If you wanna practice together (it is more fun that way), just drop me an email.

(Originally published on BikeTrial Malaysia.)

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Singapore BikeTrial National Championship

On June 21st 2008, Syarul and I decided that we were going to go down to Singapore to watch the BikeTrial National Championship - Round 2, to be held on 22nd June (Sunday). The event was to take place in the Pasir Ris Town Park on the eastern part of the island.

We left my house in Bandar Bukit Mahkota at about 8:00pm and arrived in Johor Baru at around 11:30pm on Saturday night. We spent the next 2 and a half hours getting through the causeway... *sigh* and finally managed to reach Walton's shop, Attitute Bikes, at around 2:15am on Sunday morning.

Attitute Bikes. Check out the cool "Scooby Doo" VW parked in front of the shop front.

An earlier model of a Monty Trial Bike that I found in the shop.

Thankfully, Walton, his wife and Nelwin were still waiting for us at the shop. They brought us to Hotel88, where they rent out rooms by the hours. That place was still busy with people when we arrived at the lobby at around 3:00am. We booked a room for 5 hours which costed as about S$50. Our objective was to shower and get a power nap before heading off to the tournament grounds in Pasir Ris.

A Brand New Day... of Drizzling Rain
We did not realised it until we checkout of the hotel that it was raining pretty heavily. We managed to get to our car and after that went on to meet Walton and gang at his shop. From there, we left for Pasir Ris Town Park and arrived about 8:30am.

Syarul unloading his gears at the park.

Some of the other riders on the way to bring their bikes and gears to the registration area.

Syarul was going to participate in the Open Category of the tournament. I found out that as part of the BIU rules, a rider must be wearing long pants, shoes that cover the ankle, proper shin and knee guards. And I was to be the photographer and videographer.

The Venue, Pasir Ris Town Park

The tournament venue is a very nice community park in the metropolitan. The lake, I believe was contracted out to a company, whom stocked and maintained the man-made lake for fishing.

The anglers all setup to land "the big one".

The fish stocks in the middle of the lake?

You can buy fishing gears and live baits from the shops around the lake.

The Registration Area

A park rest shed was selected to be the the registration area for the tournament. All riders are to register at the registration counter and after that bike checks to be conducted by tournament officials.

The registration counter.

The riders gathering around the registration area.

Trial bikes everywhere.

More Trial bikes.

Syarul getting his bike check after registration.

Syarul all ready to get rocking! LOL...

Peng getting his bike check by Han.

Peng and Yang Ming making adjustment to Peng's bike to get it competition ready for another round of bike check.

Riders warming up in the rain.

More riders warming up in the drizzling rain.

The Tournament Sections

Due to the rain, all the rocks in the sections are slippery and dangerous. Luckily, no one were seriously injured.

Han putting up the markers for Section 2.

The terrifying Section 5 and 6.

Ben walking through Section 6.

The Competition Begins

It was a cold and shaky start. But after the first section, riders were properly warmed-up and rode better. When the rain stopped in round two, the terrains were in better condition and thus the skills of the riders started to shine.

Syarul getting his score from Walton after completing Section 5.

One of the riders in a final push to complete the section at the last final seconds. It was a beautiful finish.

Yang Ming tackling "Mount Everest" in Section 4.

Sam Armstrong tackling Section 4.

Matthew climbing up Section 6 in the Senior category.

The trial bikes waiting to take on Section 4.

Syarul starting out on Section 3.

Too bad Walton was not participating as he had to carry out the Observer role at Section 5 as there were not enough Observers. Here in the photo, he is chilling out... :-)

Syarul finishing up and handing over of the scorecard at the registration counter.

The Prize Giving

The prizes.

The riders in anticipation of the result announcement of the tournament.

From Left: Gavin, Syarul and Zhao Hui.

Open Category:
1st Place Soon Zhao Hui (Monty) - 44
2nd Place Syarul (Adamant) - 44 + 18 minutes
3rd Place Gavin Ong (Monty) - 50

From Left: Nigel, Daryl and Matthew.

Junior/Senior Category:
1st Place Matthew Tan (Koxx) - 31
2nd Place Daryl Chan (Monty) - 32
3rd Place Nigel Chan (Monty) - 36

From Left: Yang Ming, Peng and Benjamin.

Elite Category:
1st Place Chua Zhen Peng (Koxx) - 20
2nd Place Benjamin Loh (Monty) - 25
3rd Place Low Yang Ming (Koxx) - 29

For more photos and videos visit BikeTrial Malaysia.
After the tournament, Syarul and I headed back to Kuala Lumpur at about 5:00pm.

Checkout this cool looking bike... :-)

During this trip, I have learned quite a bit about BikeTrial competitions and maybe a little about setting up the sections. I am sure that there are still a lot I do not know, but right now, what I do know is enough to make myself some test section for training... LOL.

That will be our goal now, to setup trial sections and hopefully getting enough Malaysian interested to want to challenge themselves in overcoming trial obstacles. And to take serious interest in this magnificent sport.