Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bicycle Gears

It is not unusual to see 30 speed gear bicycles. I know various terrains need different gears to climb and if I want to go faster I change gear. What is needed is actually a way to keep constant speed regardless of terrain.

Today's bicycles are all gear centered. When you change gear, you alter the speed and hence the power to drive it. There is a concern about cadence also. Usually, people want to keep constant cadence but once the gear changes, the cadence also changes. It takes quite a bit of experience to keep cadence speed.

Usually I keep the front gear for terrain change and the back gears for speed. Most people just arbitrarily alters it to keep a constant cadence. But I do know novices who simply have no idea which is for what.

I was thinking whether there is a way to keep cadence and speed but alter the power when climbing hills. After all, you need to apply more power if you climb hills. By changing a setting, the pedal lever arrangement changes so that the power transfer will be different. Currently, the gear set at the  pedal does that but it changes the speed also. The gear set at the wheel does exactly the same making it somewhat redundant.

If it is possible to change the lever arrangement without changing the speed then the only thing that changes is the power applied to the gear. It is then easier for the cyclist to adjust to heights by just adjusting the lever arrangement or apply more leg power.

Obviously, there is a need to change speed. Well, the gear set at the back wheel is still available. It is now even easier, If I need speed, I just change the back gear without affecting the cadence.

Whether it is technically possible is another question. This idea is more suitable than current gear set based bicycles.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Scary Moments for a Cyclist

I have been cycling on the road for the past 50 over years. Most of the time it is uneventful. Occasionally there are moments where it bring chills to your mind. The following are some of it.

One car sped past me while I am about to cross a T junction. It turn right in front of me into the side road. I have no choice but turn abruptly and brake hard at the same time. I miss hitting the car just by inches. This is not the only time the exact same thing happens.

On car sped past me on a straight road and cut in front of me then brake hard. Luckily I usually slow down when a vehicle cuts in front of me. That habit save me from hitting it. A lorry did the same thing to me a week or two after a national cyclist was killed by a parking lorry.

I was speeding across a junction. A car driver moves his car forward even though the light has not even change orange yet. The worse thing is that he realizes the mistake and stopped his car right in my path. Again been observant save my skin.

A pickup was moving fast from opposite end and turns in to the left turn lane. I noticed that it is moving fast and thus slow down. That pickup just speed right across me. When I show "what are you doing sign" to it, the person on the passenger seat even mock me.

Countless moments when I cross a side lane of a junction, the vehicle never stops despite there is a zebra crossing. Once I was moving slowly towards the zebra crossing one car speed across it without even pausing. It is just when I was about to cross the side lane.

I am very particular about crossing a T junction. Once I was going straight. A car moves from the side lane towards the junction. He stops at the junction and when I am about to reach him, he zooms out from the junction. I would end up dead if he moves out one second later.

A pickup come out from a side road onto the second lane then turn right into another side road close by without even signalling. If I wasn't aware, I would have crashed right into it.

A bus was making a U turn and since I am already at the point of the turn going straight I did not pause for it to turn. The driver was probably agitated by my action he goes along side me and slowly inches towards me till I had to jump out on to the curb. He then sped away. A very evil person.

A vam is about to turn into a side road then suddenly brakes and stops right across my way. I am expecting it to move in early so I continue speeding and when it brakes, I almost lost control of my bike. It is not the fault of the van driver. A child actually runs across the side road. The van was on the same side of me and I can't see the child so never expects it to brake and stop right there.

Pedestrians never notice bicycles. When they jay walk even when the it is not supposed to (the traffic light already turn red for them), they just cross without looking. It is so often that I always slow down when I see pedestrians waiting to cross the road regardless whether there is a traffic light control.

Once I was on the right side of a car that stopped. A passenger just open the door without looking and I banged right into the door.

A few cars and a bus stopped at the junction. Naturally I go on the left and try to get near the junction. This bus has its door open but is not near the curb. One passenger suddenly jumped out from the bus right into my path. Even though I wasn't speeding, the impact send the guy down onto the floor with elbow bruises. I also lost balance and landed on the grass verge on my back with just minor scratches.

A taxi sped past me and let a passenger alight in front. By the time I reached it, the passenger has already got out of the taxi and it is about to move. Since I am already along side it, I signalled that I am cutting back left. He probably not happy that I blocked him from moving so he sped past me and then slow down near a side road. I noticed that he slow down and assume that he is about to turn into the side road so I just follow behind. Instead of turning he accelerates pass the T junction. I also pick up speed. At the next junction he slow down again. I noticed that he did not even look side ways. So I keep even a longer distance away from him. He did not turn and then drive quickly forward.

I speculate that he is not happy with me and thus want me to go near then make a sudden turn to make me fall over. If he is not sure whether he should turn, at least you can see his head turn towards the side road. It is highly unusual that he only looks in front. He probably look at the rear view mirror to see if I am coming on the left.

One car drive besides me along a road. There is no traffic in front so he should not be at the same speed and just beside me. When going near a T junction,  I purposely slow down in case he make a sudden turn. The car accelerates away.  If I am a girl, it is probably sexual harassment. I would consider this as a malicious act again.

When I cycle from Yishun via Lentor Ave towards AMK. The lane actually leads toward express way entrance. Since there are two lanes that goes into the express, I cycled on the third land.  The next moment a few cars zoom pass me on the left and on the right. The right hand car even cut across my path to go into the express entrance. I also hear a few cars horning at me. I is a truly scary moment. Since then I avoid Lentor Ave and choose Upper Thomson Rd when I am going towards AMK. If I need to go further north to Punggol, I choose Yishun Ave 6 and 7 then Seletar North Link instead.

When going from AMK to Yishun, Lentor Ave have an express way exit with car going at high speed down the slope. At the turn near Mandai road it is difficult to go straight. You have to cut across two lanes. Even after you managed to pass the turning point you end up on a second lane with buses and cars going out on the first lane. End up I always do a stop-look-go way just to cut across the lane. Too much hassle to do it three times on a same road moreover Lentor Ave is always full of speeding cars during rush hours. I avoid Lentor Ave like a plague.

Was cycling on Telok Blangah Rd towards Jurong. Nearing the entrance to Sentosa, There are huge number of cars trying to turn in to it. It is really scary when so many cars trying to cut in front of you to turn left.

I was going uphills and there is a turn right on top of it. I made a turn then realized that there is a oil spill on the road but is too late to avoid it. Sustained a large bruised skin on the back and elbow.

Of course not all cars behave the same way. There are plenty of courteous cars,buses and lorries who give way to me even though they have the right of way. Some even encourages me on.

A more scary experience is actually pedestrians and cyclists on PCN. You see inconsiderate cyclist speeding and shouting for you to give way. You see pedestrians blocking the way, making turns without looking, suddenly step into the PCN, children on bicycles makes sudden turns, novice cyclists lost their balance, illegal ebike user zooming in and out etc. I have lost count of how many times such incident occurs. It is even more stressful to cycle on PCN than on the road.

Once I was on Mandai PCN during the raining season. It was not raining on the day I rode on the PCN. I saw a tree branch so I turn my handle a bit and the result is I see myself sliding on the floor. Luckily there is no serious injury. A few weeks later my cycling group also go on to Mandai PCN. 8 of them fell along the way some had bad cuts. It is all because the PCN is covered with algae.

Despite all these scary moments, it does not deter me from cycling. Accidents does occur. Due to my extra vigilant caution, I have avoided major injuries. These incidents tells me not to be complacent when I go on my bike.

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Bali Flora and Fauna

Went with In-laws to Bali for holiday. The trip is mostly touring but I managed to squeeze in quite a number of flora fauna pictures.

At Benoa Bay, Kuta, I saw a large deposit of marine algae. These were Sea Lettuce.

While on a jetty, saw this Sally Lightfoot Crab, a rock crab. Hard to get the frame right because it is always on the move.

At Uluwatu, before seeing the Fire Dance we have to pass through a path that is famous for mugging - by monkeys. These were crab eating monkeys. This one is probably the alpha male. Large and fierce looking. Not time to snap more picture because the guide urges me on.

Back at the villa, the first plant that caught my eye is a Breadfruit tree.

An early morning stroll alone on the alley (the so called road), I found a Sky flower. It is similar to Laura Leafed Thunbergea which is very common in Singapore. The difference is the leaf shape.

While going to see Mt Batur (volcano), the van break down. Took the opportunity to take pictures of the plants around. Caught sight of this Angel's Trumpet.

While having buffet lunch at a resturant that have a good view of the volcano, an unidentified bug flew right on to me begging to be included.

On the way back, went to a coffee plantation for coffee tasting. It has a showcase garden that have quite a number of plants. The first one of course is Arabic Coffee.

The next one is a yet to be identified Ginger.

Passion fruit in this area is called Makasa.

The famous Luwat Coffee comes from the droppings of this Civet Cat (Asian Palm Civet). It looked sad because it is in solitary confinement.

Here they offer free samples of beverages.

While waiting for the "sunset dinner", caught sight of this Spotted Dove up on the roof. Good thing I brought the 48X Cannon camera. No problem zooming in to this bird with decent clarity and no camera stand (just an attached selfile stick on the table).

Went for a long stroll on the next day. The beach is just one Kilometers away from the villa. Saw this Pandan tree with nice fruit (Spiny Seashore Pine).

Passion flowers are common here.

Out of nowhere came a small padi field.

As usual, Munia birds are found with it. This one is a White Rumped Munia.

Back to the villa and decided to take a picture of a tree with white trunk. Can't identify it.

While going up Bedugul, we stopped at a road side to rest. One guy with a few animals and a "Donation" sign was at the road side. I don't donate as I do not encourage people to take captive of the animals.

There is a Green Iguana (not local) in the cage.

There is also a stringed Buffy Fish Owl.

One Red Parrot is also there. Not very clear picture. Auto focus end up in the back ground.

Another Civet cat was in a pet box.

Finally an upside down Fruit Bat.

At Bedugul, the first sighting is a Flame Vine in the car park.

Then there is this large Red Passion Flower.

Near the entrance are two Orchids (Epidendrum Ibaguense).

Right after the entrance is an unidentified Juniper tree. Very nice looking.

Two variety of lilies were captured by my camera.

Two other unidentified flower is also in my collection.

Further down there is a fully yellow Lily flower.

Around the corner there is another Angel's Trumpet. This one is white.

This flower looks familiar but just can't remember the name.

This Shrimp Plant is unmistakable.

This Fireball Chenille Plant, looks like normal Red Cat's Tail but is much more fluffy.

It looks like a normal Glorybush. This one is actually a Emperor Glorybush.

Not sure what is this plant's name.

This one looks a bit like Snowrose. Probably a variant or another specie. It really looks nice.

Fairy Pettycoat can be found in Singapore. This one has a full bloom.

Some deers are kept in this park. The fist one looks like a Barking Deer.

The other one is a Rusa Deer.

There are a number of diseased Mediterranean Cyperss,

A bed of Daisy is a very nice scene.

Blue Lilies are also seen in Singapore. Unfortunately due to poor eyesight, most of the flowers are facing the wrong way.

Specifically took a picture of the fruits of this plant. It looks very different.

Now, this is the identifiable Snowrose with flower.

Anthurium are common in singapore. I find this Flamingo Flower a bit different. It has pretty large leaves.

Another common Anthurium (Bird Nest Anthurium) is at the corner also.

Next stop is Tanah Lot. This place is more scenery than plants. Saw a captive Fruit bat again.

There is nothing to capture except the very hot sun on the next day before returning back to Singapore.

You would have noticed that I did not include the tour side of the pictures. Those are mostly for the in-laws. Below are some of the nature pictures. These pictures are collected in another album (limited access).

At Kuta
 At Uluwatu

 At Mt Batur
 At Jimbalan Bay

 At Legian Beach
 Along the way to Bedugul
 Tanah Lot

No maps as it is not a walking trip. The complete picasa album (just flora fauna) is here.