Tuesday, November 28, 2006

MTB Himachal 2006 - A true Cock-n-Bull story!

Above : Merciless Quik-Draw cartoons

Clearing obstacles is part and parcel of mountain biking. Logs, roots, rocks, mud, drop-offs, fallen tree trunks...are common encounters that with some level of skill, a seasoned mountain biker should be able to overcome. Just ride, walk, push, carry, crawl, endo, and you'll eventually get around, over, under to the other side.

In the Himalayans, things are a little less...predictable! The perils are far from run-of-the-mill.

For instance, I could be riding alone for hours with not a single soul in sight. And all of a sudden, I'm surrounded by a herd of goats being whipped by little sub-teenage shepherds with long sticks! Along comes its larger cousins, the cows, and I feel like I'm gonna be stampeded on! Somehow though, the cows instinctively know to keep their distance.

Unlike a dead log or a hump on the road, animals are moving targets which generally pose a danger if you cross their path! Early on in the race, an Indian biker rammed into a cow on a downhill tarmac! Holy cow (and indeed particularly so in India)! A big bandage over the head and a few chapatis later, he was up and back on the saddle! These Indians are as tough as nails!

Shubhra, a rare Indian female mountain biker, ran into a dog and couldn't recall how she ended up at the finish line...totally dazed! The side effects of a mild concussion I would imagine, poor lass!

We've had our fair share of canine encounters when a dog tried to attack us while we were riding into the night with minimal lights! A fellow Singaporean biker, Adrian heroically tried to fend him off in the dark, but ended up with a damaged rear derailer!

That same evening, news got around that a dog attempted to take a bite out of the Hungarian rider, Adam! It turned out to be a minor scratch, but a jab should ease all fears of his suffering from a Rabies attack.

There was talk of leopards and bears roaming the jungles at night, and warnings were given (and heeded) against wandering too far from camp upon sundown. Candra, an Indian biker who works in the security field, attests to several of his dogs falling prey to leopards!

One would have dismissed these encounters as the luck of the draw incidences, until I saw with my very own eyes a leopard resting by the side of the main mountaineous road leading to our campsite for the night! Only the jeep with the Singaporean girls bore witness to this encounter.

But it didn't take such a ferocious cat to scare the living daylights out of us so-called "tough" mountain bikers! :)

It was day 5 of the 9-day enduro race, and we were on our way from Baghipul to Bahu. I was making good time, riding mostly alone at my own sustainable pace...when I heard a loud "shhhhhh, slow down, slow down".

I looked up and there was the speedy gonzalez curly-haired Hungarian, Balin, motioning me to get off my bike and to be quiet. I could not see what was ahead as the road turned a blind corner, but I did as I was told. I slowly inched closer to have a look, and low and behold, it was a bull with part of his right horn broken off, and the left looked kinda chipped as well.

Above : The poor bull, who in video looked much smaller than I remembered him to be!
My first guess was that the poor bull must have been a victim of a hit-and-run, and rumours later confirmed that a biker hurled his bike at the bull. The bull's blood-shot eyes screamed rage, its horns coated with thick red blood, snout dripping with mucus, and its right front limb indicated that it was preparing to charge, toro style.

Being an animal lover, my first instincts told me not to be afraid and try to calm the animal down. When I looked at Balin and Foo cowering against the side walls of the highly elevated cliff, in a rock-climbing position, something told me that that seemed to be a safer option. So a rock I became, camouflaging myself like the other 2 before me. A chance to test the theory of a bull being colour blind?

Balin and Foo told me they have been stuck there for almost half an hour! Jeez! How on earth are we to get out of this predicament? This ain't something you read about in mountain bike magazines!

Chiku arrives, and without a thought, raises his bike over his shoulder (and head) in an attempt to appear larger than the bull! Nice try, professiore! Is this what they taught you in animal behaviour school? hee hee!

Slowly but surely, the bikers start to pile up on our side of the fence. Rina and Steve join the gang.

Rina : "What are we to do?.......Can you ask the local guy, they would know what to do."

Just then, one of the local guys nonchalantly strides by the side of the bull. The bull rams into his bike! (later, we learnt his wheel was totalled from the impact!)

Rina : "Oh shit!"

Chi continues holding the bike above his head, edging closer...and closer.

Rina : "I'm not going to....eh, Chi don't!"

Ling : thinking quietly to herself "oh dearier me! we're gonna have to bring Chi back in a body bag if he doesn't stop this nonsense at once!" "Chi, don't be stupid!"

Foo : "Your shirt is a red colour...." and continues to mumble something about how red isn't such a smart colour to wear at the moment!

Rina : "Why is he injured? Yeah, we wait for the jeep..."

At this point, Chi smartly places his bike back on solid ground. Good boy! Maybe he was just tired?

Rina : " I'm....I'm....late"....or did she say she was going to wait?

Balin (still clinging to the side of the wall) : "Karen just passed by...the bull...before me...she might have been attacked...when I reached her...the bull, it was like...hooo hoo (imitating bull by making toro motion with arm)...so I stopped everyone..."

Above : Time stood still as we crack our brains on ways to get across the narrow road! To our right is a rock wall, to the left, the edge of a cliff!

Ling : "You can try but be careful"....can't remember what that was in response to....probably a suggestion to dash across once again..."because if he runs...", I shall spare you the gory details!

Above : The bull contemplating the meaning of....humans!

Rina : "Poor cow!..." (cow starts to wag his tail, maybe he's calmed down?)

Just then, Pravat appears and asks what's going on.

Ling : "The bull is injured and he's about to attack"...

Pravat again tries to find a loophole.

Rina : "You can run from the inside...oh please be careful Pravat! Please???"

A few minutes later...

Rina : "I think we go fast...the other side, can go past..."

Above : The hunky Hungarian, Balin, taking the safer (and probably smarter) option...

Balin : "This is a very strong animal...I think it doesn't really worth playing....you already know your choice...maybe I'm very shy but...."

Someone suggests that we throw it some food.

Indian biker : "I ate all my bananas this morning! Does anyone have any....power bar?"

Someone (I forget who) : "Not a good idea. The bull might become stronger!"

Rina pulls out a bag of jelly chewy worms and throws one at the bull! It falls neatly on the ground beside the bull. Of course the bull didn't even flinch!

Some smart alec : "An angry bull.....is not a hungry bull"....hahaha...

Above : The scoreboard : Bikers, 10, bull, 1. It seemed that the bull was either being a real bully, or we're just a bunch of chickens! Boy, do we have a cock and bull story to tell the others!

A few moments later, a jeep arrives...as it was sooner or later bound to! Hurray! Now we can get on with the race! But...errr....what are those guys doing? Oh no! It's the Nat Geo folks, and they're coming out of their jeep in full force with their big guns....except that the only shooting they're doing is pressing the record button! Yikes! *ok, I would have done the same - the opportunistic cameraman*

Above : 2 jeeps arrive to save the day!

After milking the situation for all its worth, they got into the jeep, and we strategically did a run-around-the-jeep Indian tango, which brought most of us from harm's way, except for Rina and Steve, who ran a couple more rounds than most because they were not being attentive! :P

By the time Winnie met the bull, it looked udderly calm and pitiful that she almost gave it a pat on the head! Wouldn't have surprised us if she'd nursed its wounds too!

Should one risk life and limb in such a situation? Why isn't there a chapter in Mountain Biking 101 on what to do when you come face to face with an angry bull? Should we just have grabbed the bull by its horns? Or offered it some of our powerbars as a peace offering?
Believe it or not, I find good answers on a website about.....mushroom picking!

What can I do if a bull charges me?

In your outings through cow fields you may stumble upon a bull, or it may stumble upon you. In dire situations like these it is important to keep your head. Your body is producing fight or flight endorphins and neither is acceptable. Remember, a bull will usually leave you alone unless it becomes agitated.

Before a bull charges he will perform a broadside threat; standing or walking sideways to you is its way of showing you how big and powerful it is. At this point you should be directly facing the bull returning it's threat as this sometimes gets the bull to back off. Start backing away slowly but do not run or turn your back to it. Find an exit immediately.

Have you considered your options if the bull does charge? A bull has a longer stride than you and has twice as many legs. If you think you can outrun a 2,200 pound piece of meat coming at you at 33 mph please reconsider. Unless the bull is several multiples away from you of the distance you are from the fence, you may have to face it. Take off an article of clothing such as a hat or a jacket or get a bag of mushrooms or a backpack ready. As the bull nears throw the object as hard as you can to the right or the left in a horizontal fashion. The bull should follow the target away from you. Jump out of the way if you have to.

Don't lie down. While this may work with a horse, you will likely be trampled by a bull.
Don't start running first unless safety is within reach as it is much faster than you are.
Don't run towards the bull. It is unlikely that you will be able to jump over it or clear its horns.

Your best bet at avoiding such a scenario is to just ask the farmer if there are any bulls in the field. A bull raised solitary in a pen and not socialized with the herd from an early age may try to exert it's dominance over humans as it would in the herd. Even an adult bull may have tendencies to challenge humans if is isolated.

by TheShroomHermit

So, remember to heed the advice above, and hope you live to tell the tale! For documentary evidence of this event, click here!

Photos above and video taken by Rina and Steve!

There's a Princess Leia in the house!!!

Dana is now known as "Dana Leia" Lee-Yong! Thats Dylan on her left and Emily on her right!

A little princess by any Star Wars name would grow up sweet...and tough! :)

Monday, November 27, 2006

An unexpected thanksgiving present!

The head profile...

...the left arm...

...the right foot....

No, these are not the latest collection to my alien series, but one of my own kin taken about 2 - 3 months before entry into this world.

My sister, Ying who lives in Hawaii, just delivered her third kid, Dana! Hurray! Both mommy and daughter are doing just fine!

I got wind of the latest news about the new family member from my brother-in-law, Gene, who was just celebrating Thanksgiving with my sister, Ying, their son, Dylan and daughter, Emily!

Email from Gene

"In the midst of preparation for Thanksgiving dinner yesterday afternoon, Ying felt Dana give her a big kick and decided she needed to poop.

Famous last words.

At least this time, she noticed something felt different and we all decided we'd better leave to go check it out even though she had not had any contractions.

Ying checked into the hospital around 4:30pm and the nurse informed us we would not be returning home. She was still only 2cm dilated and felt no contractions, so I took Dylan & Emily downstairs to the hospital cafeteria for Thanksgiving dinner as they really wanted to stay for all the fireworks. A friend of Ying's also came by to stay with her.

Contractions started about 7:00pm, with Ying feeling no signficant discomfort till about 9:00am. Dana popped out around 10:30pm, Thanksgiving evening, with Emily and Dylan besides themselves with glee and cheer. They were both cuddling in my arms the whole time until the nurse passed a swaddled Dana to me. They then both took turns talking to her, singing to her, and of course, being siblings, teasing her and imitating her.

They were there the whole time except for about 5 minutes when the doctors all came in and Dana came out (I took them just outside). We went back in and they were great while they watched the doctors take care of the afterbirth and the stitching. Both Emily and Dylan were talking to Ying and the doctors while they were stitching, with Dylan and Emily both telling the doctor that they didn't think they would want to be doctors when they grow up because, as Emily's put it "it's yucky".

Dana came out at just over 5 lbs. and is in great shape, as is Mom."

Though we don't really celebrate it here in Singapore, Thanksgiving Day is an annual one-day holiday to give thanks, traditionally to God, for the things one has at the close of the harvest season. I'd like to give thanks for the family members that have been harvested from my siblings! Yikes! I'm an auntie all over again! :)

Congrats to Gene, Ying, Dylan and Emily on the arrival of Dana!!! :)

Friday, November 24, 2006

MTB Himchal 2006 - "A Load of Bull****" series

And now, the moment we've all been waiting for.....*drumroll*......the infamous video taken by Rina and Steve on that fateful morning when we came upon an unexpected obstacle in day 5 of the 9-day MTB Himachal 2006.

Will definitely get down to the dirty details when I next update the bull series!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

PCC Presidential Ride 2006 - the silly video

Below, GPS markings taken by Chwee, whose suffering met an early death due to failure to meet the cut-off point - reason? well, he started at the back of the 600+ MTBker pack! That sux! 49.6 km is still a feat!

And more juicy photos from Angela's album

I live for fun epic rides like these! Hee hee!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

PCC Presidential Ride 2006

Yes, we're still in one piece after this xiongalingam ride! Actually, the Himachal training really helped coz I didn't think it was that bad in comparison to a 6-day MTB race in the Himalayas...but then I guess you can't really compare chapati with prata. Plus we were taking our own sweet time waiting for those who suffered from the cramp attack....even managed to get some photos and videos too!

For evidence of pleasurable pain, click on Merciless's Album and Janice's Album....

Above, GPS markings (from Wayne's toy) of the 1oo+Pringles route taken by JanicMaxiWayne (Angela took the "normal" route like everyone else).

According to Pat from the Pedalphiles, the ride autopsy came up with:....
1 guy with a broken finger.
1 singaporean with a broken saddle.
1st rider check in at 12.15
Last 20 riders needed a ride back from checkpoint 3.

Funniest story I heard so far was of some biker with long track pants and GT bike dissing Maximuxx and telling him to lose weight! haha....couldn't stop laughing! All his Hamburger Hill stories...hilarious! There was also a kind Ipoh man who supplied Max with a wonder anti-cramp spray, which worked wonders...until the effects wore off! Then it was back to square one! Poor thing!

Anywayz, kudos to the PCC organisers for putting up such a fantastic show for 650 bikers, especially when we got to be on stage while they were watching! Hee hee! We need to return the favour one day by organising our very own Singapore epic ride! :)

Next stop - Penang Jamboree 2006! We never learn, do we?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

A series of roller coaster rides!

The poster, designed by yours truly!

The map marked out by Mingloid.

The elevation chart prepared by Max and Mingloid.

A "before" photo. For more photos, click here. For a short video of what it looked like from the top of one of the knolls, click here.

And now, our very own rolling hills....covered with the best carpet grass in Singapore! :)
For more photos, click here.

And here's a link to a funny video by Broken Arm Productions about the makings of this trail!

And a big thank you to the folks who put their blood, stinky sweat and tears to making this trail happen, most notably : Papa Smurf Nik, HM Eaglet, some of the other boys who helped to design the trail and of course, Maximuzzi!! :)

Just one question : when can we have cows and sheep?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Sabah Adventure Challenge 2005

This year has been ultrabusy for me in terms of work! No free time in office to talkcock, singsong, and write about my adventures! Hmmm....so many adventures, so little time, even less time to pen them down!

Well, here's an article written by fellow adventure racer, Wilson Low, photos by Kang Wei and Kimmy!

Sabah was the longest race I've ever undertaken, well....til the MTB Himachal 2006! SAC 2005 was epic race for 2005, and MTB Himachal for 2006! Wonder what's in store for 2007? Hmmmm....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Doggone it! It was Halloween!

Halloween was a non-event for me. Can't remember what I did, really! Wanted to go explore Istana Woodneuk from across the road, but I had an unwilling spouse. Will write more about that as soon as I've gone in to take some pix!

Anywayz, I'd just like to wish those born on 31 Oct a belated birthday! BTW, Halloween Babies = Mingloid + Winnie + Tar Baby!