Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives
Fri 19 Mar 2004
Drama on Vigilante
Category : cycling
Thursday morning, on a regular bicycle ride, my kakis and I seemed comfortably fast and cleared Marina South by 6.45am. We stopped by at Labrador and I nursed a teh alia while ignoring the mee siam and putu mayam two of our riders, Airani and Joelle, were wolfing down. Instead I talked to Siang Lin whom I was meeeting for the first time and keept their food out of my line of sight.
As we were about to reach Pasir Panjang Village, I suggested we climb up Vigilante Drive to Kent Ridge Park (pt. 225) before heading to NUS. It is a steep climb but the psychological barrier was steeper. It was Athena's ride description a long time ago that spurred me up on the Champion Du Monde and broke the reign of terror for me.
So I decided Joelle and Airani were definitely ready for Vigilante Drive. All they needed was a push, and with plenty of time, and Siang Lin to take the lead, it would be good day to try.
Joelle vigorously shook her head at the suggestion as her mee siam was still sloshing in her stomach. Airani was tired from a very late night. But in the end they gamely agreed, okay, why not? Just before we turned to Vigilante, someone did ask, "Are we really?"
I led on my lowest gear, prepared for the climb ahead. The girls zoomed past me and I yelled encouragingly before I lost my breath. They don't know the route and must have discovered to their shock how steep it was! And it doesn't end at the first bend!
Siang Lin, veteran of Mt Faber, was crunching away and his bright yellow jersey provided a focus for me to chase after.
The difference between mountain bike and racer gears were clearly demonstrated - Airani was spinning straight up the slope but Joelle was pushing heavily despite being on the lowest gears of her racer. Soon she had to weave from side to side of both lanes to battle the slope. I wanted to yell "good technique" but was out of breath myself. Unfortunately a car drove down and Joelle had to give up one lane. It was not enough for her manouevers so she made 'two pivots' and stumbled off her bike.
Airani had climbed straight up until she could no more. I gasped to her to get the bike onto the pavement ffor safety and acknowledged her good sense at knowing when to stop. Then I gasped to Joelle to find refuge on the pavement as she was struggling almost sideways on the very steep slope and just after a bend. She eventually dragged her bike off the road, making apologetic gestures to the surely sympathetic driver, and then yelled "go on" in case I might stop. They said they'd wait for me there and looked wasted...
Oblivious to this drama, Siang Lin was ahead and seemingly unsure of the way. When he turned to look I managed to wave feebly to indicate "carry on" and finally summoned up enough breath to yell out ot him, "YOU - WILL - SEE - A - TANK". He nodded and at the carpark, we took a quick look at Pasir Panjang below and rode off.
Surprise! Surprise! Airani and Joelle appeared around the corner! Airani had decided to resume the climb and Joelle, who had pushed to the first carpark, joined her as he rode up. Airani looked quite spent but I indicated to them to follow the the route of honour that circles the carpark just below pt.225.
Both Joelle and Airani have now conquered their psychological barrier! There are a few more kakis to make it and after we all clear pt. 225, there is Pepys Road leading to pt.226, Telok Blangah Hill and Mt Faber. Then we try Mt Serapong in Sentosa. One day.
Climbing the Gap was an anticlimax.
South Buona Vista Road, c. 1925
If you want to join us some morning, see the Marina South Predawn Road Ride