A Ride To Remember

I signed the kids up for OCBC Cycle Singapore a few months ago
My husband and I were prepared to be their audience and cheerleaders

Then, a couple of weeks before the event, my girl friend asked whether I would be interested to join her for the race

I thought since I probably wouldn’t be able to run a full marathon at 40, I might as well cycle one
And my husband thought he should come along, just in case I have a burst tire and he would get a chance to rescue a damsel in distress

I can cycle but only when the conditions are right

As in, my feet must be able to touch the ground when my butt is on the saddle
And I can’t pull off stunts or delicately squeeze between other cyclists
Getting overtaken by high speed cyclists terrifies me
I feel like I have to slow down and make way

I ride leisurely, at my own pace
The last time I did that was more than a decade ago

So to cycle 42 km in one ride meant that I would need some training
It would help if I could raise the saddle and cycle like the pros
and brake and dismount from the bike without panicking and collapsing into a heap of bicycle and me

I had about a month to sort that out
But first, I needed to get a bike

My beloved sister and her husband were kind enough to loan us theirs
and I finally did my maiden ride 2 weeks’ before race day

I did 15 km on Day 1 (ok, It was more tiring than I thought)
Cycling works on muscle I barely used when I jog, swim or rollerblade
Then I did another 15 km on Day 2
and then 25 km and finally 40 km

Within a week, I clocked 120 km on the bike
I thought my thighs had grown instantly
Eeeeks !
and I was hungry all the time

Throughout the week, I was fumbling with the gear
The bike had 3 gears on the left and 9 on the right, which gave a total of 27 gears
That’s a lot of combination to run through
And it takes time for a novice like me to figure out which combination works best for me

Then my husband had to travel for a week and I hardly had time to train
And because of his busy work schedule, he hadn’t been cycling either

I went on the internet and read more about bikes
I found out that no serious rider would race with a mountain bike, especially one with knobby tires
I could change the tires but that would cost money and it wasn’t my bike to start with

We decided to just race with what we had

Then I read about the most efficient gear settings
A combination that I had never tried before and race day was the next day

I was a nervous wreck that night
I barely slept
I laid in bed worrying about falling off my bike
And I wondered about the gear setting that I would be trying out

My mind just wouldn’t rest
Finally at 4 am, I gave up, my day began

The event was massive
I had never seen so many cyclists in my life (unless you count those on TV)
Many had spent thousands and even tens of thousands for the best equipment and trained for this day
It was heartening to witness such passion

There were also novices like us, who didn’t quite know what to expect

It took us a long while to finally get to the starting line
It was quite chaotic
Just less than 5 minutes into the race, I witnessed the first accident
A lady, probably a newbie like me, crashed into the side railings

I spent the first part of the ride worrying about crashing into another bike, imagining being flung off my own and being run down by others
An incessant fear fueled by a rampant imagination

I braked excessively while charging down Sheares Bridge
I realised my heart wasn’t quite built for that

The ride finally got smoother when we hit flat ground
Then it started to rain and I stopped to raise my saddle
It was about the same time that my husband’s rear wheel came loose and I lost him in the sea of cyclists
I slowed down and stopped to look for him
It was only after the U turn that I found him on the other side of the lane, trailing behind

All this while, my girl friend was nowhere in sight

This was us, before the race started
She was way ahead of us like many other cyclists
It was obvious that many were there for serious competition

How often do you get to cycle a bike on the highway
The answer is, NEVER
It is strange to be cycling on a bike instead of driving in the car on a highway that we commute almost everyday

A sort of tininess in a boundless vastness
A feeling rarely felt in our mostly man made and highly populated homeland

My husband insisted that we last did something like this, cycling without kids, more than 20 years ago
although I thought it was 10

It was like reliving the old days and I had the urgency to savour everything
And almost wishing that the lanes could stretch forever so that we could go on peddling and the race would not end

This is us, on top of Sheares Bridge (me wearing my son’s helmet)
We took 2 hour 18 min

It was a good ride
and an unexpectedly good date
and I learnt that cycling is not just about fitness and endurance
It is also about the equipment, the skill to handle it, and the guts or balls to go for it

 

 

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In The Stillness Of The Night

After having bade goodbye for more than 24 hours, my husband finally reached the other side of the globe
And it still amazes me how a day’s flight can transport one to a totally different world
With completely different climate, people, culture

It’s painful, just thinking about the journey
I really don’t enjoy long distance traveling
I hate how the recycled air in pressurized cabins dry my skin, making me age overnight

And I surprised myself having travelled back to the mountains for holidays not once but thrice over the last 2 years, each time swearing that it will be the last

Here’s his breakfast
His body clock must be screwed

It is night here
Quiet and still

It seldom gets this peaceful when he is around
He would be playing with the kids and they would read books till late

But today the little one crashed out as early as 7.30 pm
I must had worked him really hard

He scootered to and fro school which made him really happy
He is 3.5 years old
and he started swimming without a float

And I couldn’t believe how good he was
It just seemed so natural and effortless for him
He kicked and turned
He spinned and twisted
I was so impressed

Should I read, write, fold the mountain high clothes, chat long distance or just sleep ?

Time like this makes me nervous
Choices frustrate and stress me out
It doesn’t help when I am greedy and want it all
It is just so hard to choose

But tonight, we chatted
I folded the clothes
Made myself a cup of coffee
Read some news on the internet (though there are more books waiting to be read)
and finally composed this

It is good to feel accomplished
though I wish it happens more often
but things usually don’t work out so smoothly, with kids
I guess I just have learn to live better with my choice

It is past midnight now
and I ought to be turning in

It will be another long day tomorrow
A long week ahead
on our own
without him

 

 

 

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A Crafty Percy Jackson Birthday Party

Malcolm turns 9 today
We threw a Percy Jackson birthday party for him over the weekend
It was about the most elaborate party we had for him

Percy Jackson is a fictional character created by author Rick Riordan.
He is the son of Poseidon and the main character in the series Percy Jackson and the Olympians and his favourite colour is blue

It took us 2 weeks to prepare for the party, which includes testing out a blue cake recipe that didn’t work
And I was glad I went ahead and ordered the cake from Coffee Bean instead

It was stress free, fuss free and it tasted delicious
All I did was dressed it up with Poseidon’s trident and 2 beads carved with Malcolm’s favourite greek god’s symbol (the Trident and the Owl) using fondant

We wouldn’t have spent so much time preparing for the party if we could just go to a store and grab Percy Jackson party supplies
The fact is we couldn’t, so most of the party stuff were made using cardboard and recycled stuff
The kids had a lot of fun turning trash to craft

We made these invites for his friends in school a week before the party

The invites were printed out on normal A4 paper and coffee was brushed onto the paper to get the antique look
They were crushed,  crumpled and even torn to get the ‘aged’ look

How often do you get to trash something to get what you want
Even my 3 year old had fun making them

Then my husband and I spent the night before the party making a guest book tree
We drew out the tree on a white vanguard sheet and painted it

Each little guest who came printed their fingerprints with their favourite colour and we really love how it turned out

The party was held at Camp Half Blood aka BBQ pit at our place
In the book, it is a place where the demigods were trained to fight demons and monsters
We planned some games (ideas taken from the book) such as sword fighting, archery and shuttle runs

I wasn’t so sure about controlling a dozen of boys, having them do my bidding
So I prepared some craft just in case the games didn’t work out
I cut some head wreaths (just like those worn by Anceint Greek) for the girls using paper plates (they were supposed to glue and assemble themselves)
And shields for the boys using cardboard boxes and stapled rubberband handles to them

I would have spray paint the shields black if not for the fact that it is hell lot of work to do that for 30 shields
And I was glad I didn’t because my 9 year old was about the only one who like his shield black with gold paint

The girls who came along were siblings, because Malcolm’s guest list was ALL BOYS, and I was so thankful for the girls

They were the only ones who had the patience to sit under the shady tree on a hot afternoon designing shields
They made multi-coloured shields that were so pretty

The boys couldn’t be still for a minute and I couldn’t blame them because the weather wasn’t the kind that would make anyone want to just hang out outdoor
Thankfully, we were under a tree, beside a playground and right next to the pool
They were up the tree one moment and in the pool  the next
It was until much later that we finally managed to gather them for the games

We played shuttle runs where Zeus’s lightning bolt was passed but because it was too flimsily made (cardboard wrapped with aluminium foil), we ended up using pastic cups instead
Then we played Destroy The Cyclop where a bow and arrow (those suction cup type) was used to shoot the eye of a Cyclop (point allocation and drawing by Malcolm)

We didn’t have enough time for sword fighting but I think the kids had the most fun slaying Medusa

We made the pinata using 3 layers of newpaper mache (the hair was made using steel scrubber from Daiso) and I was so glad it could withstand the kids’ brutal trashing
In fact, most kids had at least 2 hits before the thing finally gave way

And finally apart from all the blue sweets and treats gathered from the pinata (remember to save some for the little ones who are too slow, I packed separate goodie bags for them)
Each little guest went home with a clay bead carved with a trident, just like the first bead Percy Jackson received from the camp
Well, almost

 

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