Last stop: Singapore

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From Tokyo I flew to Hong Kong.  If you have ever been in Central Hong Kong, or seen pictures of the streets there, you’ll know why I did not take a ride.  It is one of the least bike friendly cities there is.  It’s actually not very pedestrian friendly either!  So a day off of riding, which due to my continuing tiredness after another late arrival, turned into a two day break.  So, Thursday night in Singapore I left the office a bit early and got the Origami out of its case.

View from the hotel

Again I used Brouter to create a route and load it on my GPS, but as it turned out, the ride I took really did not require a GPS at all.  It was all car free, and for most of the ride, on bicycle only designated trails.  Leaving my hotel on the North side of Marina Bay, I head past the Sands hotel and casino, then past the Sky Gardens and over the Barrage Bridge.  The rest of the ride was on the ECP, right along the shore front, and very civilized. 

Dusk in Singapore

I was lucky it was cool in Singapore this week, with the temperature only 26c.  But with the relative humidity at near 100%, you sweat even if you’re standing still… 

East Coast Path

So, six cities in two weeks, riding in five of them.  Other than the chain issues I faced the Origami and the Pinion gearbox performed really well.  Azub are sending my a Rohloff chain tensioner, which should solve the issues, and I also will be swapping out the brakes for some NOS Shimano XTR brakes, and making some other modifications when I get back to the UK.  if anyone has questions about the bike, please get in touch through the comments box.

A gps trace of the ride in Singapore:

First stop in Asia – Tokyo

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A flight across the international date line had me loose the whole weekend flying from San Francisco to Tokyo.  I had thought of riding on Sunday afternoon in the city, but by the time I arrived at my hotel, I was too fatigued to even think of taking the bike out of its shipping case.  The next morning, Monday, I was unable to ride as I had to be in the office early.  Then Monday night, again too tired.  I thought if I got on the bike , I might just fall asleep.

View from the office

So, Tuesday morning I was up before the sun, and hit the Tokyo streets at 06:00.  I used Brouter to program a route that would take in Shibuya Crossing (made famous by the movie ‘Lost in Translation’), and the Imperial Palace.  It would have been more interesting to do this when the crossing would be crowded, but riding in a new city for the first time is easier when there are less people about.

The fun thing about the picture below is that this location is to Tokyo what Times Square is to New York, so the book-ending seemed like a good plan.

Shibuya crossing – 06:30

From Shibuya I crossed the city riding all on the road.  In Tokyo many people ride their bikes on the pavement (sidewalk), but most streets are actually pretty wide and safe.  Drivers were deferential, and I had no issues.  The ring around the palace is the only place where the traffic picked up, but other than following my gps onto a second time around when I really wanted to head back to the hotel, all went well.

Imperial palace gate house

It was a great ride, and a great way to start the day.  Below is a gps trace of the ride.


The San Francisco treat

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Late, and I mean LATE Thursday night I arrived in San Francisco.  It was 01:30 local time, and it seemed to take forever for the luggage to come off the plane.  Maybe the delay was due to security opening both my checked luggage, and the bike case.  My luggage had been riffled through, but no harm done.  The bike was also intact, and I was able to secure a taxi with a boot big enough to take the bike.  At every stop I’ve found people are very willing to help when you have an odd piece of luggage…

I woke early on Friday and took a ride from the hotel to the base of the Golden Gate Bridge.  The ride took me along the Embarcadero, and right through the famous Fisherman’s Wharf.  There is a terrific bike path almost all the way from the city to the bridge.  I made it to Fort Point which is at the base of the bridge, but I had to get back to the hotel to get ready for the day, so was unable to ride across the bridge.  (plus there is a huge hill from the fort up to the bridge itself, and I was still tired from arriving so late the night before.)

Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point

Since my flight to Tokyo was on Saturday morning, I decided to give the bridge crossing another go in the evening after the work day.  Riding in the dark can be unnerving, especially when you are in a new city.  I planned a route using Brouter, and then put the gpx file on my Garmin device so that I could follow the course.  The bike also has a Son hub dynamo, and front and rear lighting, so at least I could see where I was going.  The ride went well, and the hill up to the bridge was not as bad as I had feared.  When I got to the park buildings at the top of the hill I could not figure out where the bike path was that led to the bridge.  I very nice California Patrol Officer was able to direct me and gave some nice encouragement.  It was terrific to ride across the bridge which had to be entered through a security gate.  It was amazing to be on it after seeing it in pictures for so long.

On the bridge

The ride back to the hotel was mostly uneventful, other than my getting lost a bit.  Next stop, Tokyo.  Below is a gps trace of the ride.

2nd City (Literally and Figuratively)

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From NYC I flew to Chicago.  My first ‘issue’ (aside from the chain issues) occurred when checking into my flight at Newark Airport.  Since I’m traveling for work and traveling business class I had read on the United website that I would be able to travel with one ‘special’ piece of luggage.  Well, that’s not actually the case, and I was charged an extra fee for the bike case.  Not the end of the world, but if I were traveling on a budget, I’d have had an issue…

I was only in Chicago for one day, so I woke up early and, since my hotel was right on the East Chicago River, next to the Riverwalk, I was able to ride on bicycle or bicycle /pedestrian paths for the whole of the ride.  From the Riverwalk I headed south along the bike path that runs along the lake.  It was a terrific way to start the day, though it was very cold (+/- 0c).

Chicago Riverwalk

From the Riverwalk the ‘Lakefront Trail‘ runs north and south along the lake.  It is a fantastic resource for people in Chicago and was terrific to ride.  I head south and the path sweeps along the river around the various museums and park land.  The surface varies from very smooth to less than ideal, but for the most part it is very nice.  As I head south there were a few bicyclists heading the other way, and they all seemed to be working very hard.  It was not until I decided I had ridden far enough and turned around that I realised why…  The wind out out of the north was pretty nasty.  I was glad I was on a recumbent! 

Lakefront Trail along Lake Michigan

As I head back north toward the city the view of the cityscape were great.  I was stopped by someone who saw the bike and was interested in recumbents.  We chatted for a little while (I recommended a trike based on his requirements), and then I stopped to take a shot of the city.

Chicago skyline – Willis (Sears) Tower is on the far left

All in all it was a great way to ‘see’ Chicago, and to start the day.  Next stop, San Francisco.  A gps trace of the ride below.

An update to my recumbent world tour

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I’ve been in San Francisco since late Thursday night, having traveled here via NYC, and Chicago.  The Origami folding recumbent bike is still with me, and I’ve been able to ride it every day, wherever I am. 

I started this trip in New Jersey visiting family, and took two nice rides in rural NJ.  I was having issues with the chain coming off from time to time, which was frustrating, but I rode as much as I could anyway.  (I’ve since figured out the chain issue, or at least enough to deal with it.)  The bike itself has been a joy to ride, it has 20″ wheels and no suspension, but I had really fat tyres installed (Schwalbe Big Apple) which soak up most bumps.  The Pinion gearbox has worked well, though there is one gear change that is sticky.  I assume it will smooth out over time.

Riding in rural New Jersey

The bike fold is not as straightforward as with a Brompton, but I did not expect it to be.  It takes some getting used to, but it does create a really compact package, and the ‘carry’ bag that is fitted to the bike is great for bringing the bike into hotels without causing any fuss.

I already posted a picture of the bike in Times Square in a previous post.  I went down there early in the morning pretty much just to take that shot, and the other two days in NYC I rode around Central Park.  The lane that runs around the park is terrific for cycling.  The first day my chain issues continued, but after adjusting the chain tensioner, and shortening the chain, the second day the chain stayed in place and I had the best ride yet.

Origami in Central Park

The lane around Central Park early in the morning

From NYC I went on to Chicago, which I’ll cover in a further post.  Two gps traces below, the first from my rural NJ ride, the second from NYC.

Another new bike?

I travel.  A lot.  So, with the training for a long ride this summer in full swing, I decided that I’d like to ride while on business trips.  I’ve had Brompton bikes in the past, but now that I’m riding recumbents generally I wanted to get a ‘brompton like’ recumbent. 

While, as it happens, Azub make just such a bike.  And I’ve had them build one for me that is a little special.  Here is a link to their blog showing the bike before it left their factory:

Azub Origami Pinion

I’ve installed Speedplay Frog pedals, which I use on my other recumbents as well.  I had the bike built with pretty basic v brakes, but I sourced some NOS Shimano XTR M960 brakes and levers which I’ll install when I get back to London.  At some point I’ll take some more pictures of the bike.

The Origami was delivered to Bikefix in London two days before I was leaving on a six city trip.  I’ve picked up a Biknd Helium bicycle travel case, figured out how to pack it, and made it to NYC.  Since I’ve been here I’ve had three rides.  This morning I rode the bike down to Times Square, and then up to Central Park where I did the circuit.  This is a really nice ride, especially early in the morning.

Origami in Time Square

Tomorrow I leave for Chicago, then San Francisco, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and finnally Singapore before heading back to London.  Logistics in each location should be interesting!  But my plan is to ride in each city at least once.  There will be more posts over the next two weeks regarding this slightly nutty plan.


A scouting trip…

For our 25th wedding anniversary my wife and I took the Hurtigruten post ship from Bergen to Kirkenes Norway last week.  It was an amazing experience, and as it happened allowed me to do some scouting of the start point for my next long ride, Nordkapp. 

The ferry stops in the town of Honningsvåg which is about 35 km from Nordkapp.  We took the excursion bus which took the same roads I’ll be riding at the start of my trip.  It was super helpful to see what I’d be riding this next June!

The starting point…the globe at the North Cape.

The road I’ll be traveling at the start…

The current plan is to start the ride at 24:00 on the 21st of June.  To make this possible, I’ll be flying into Honningsvåg airport (after a 4 stop flight from London) and then get a taxi to the Cape. At 24:00 I’ll ride from the Cape to a camping cottage not far from the ferry terminal, get some sleep, then wake up the next day to take the ferry from Honningsvåg to Kjøllefjord.  There’s only one ferry eastbound each day, and it leaves at 14:45.  I’m taking this route to avoid traveling through the unlit and very steep tunnels that connect the island of Magerøya to the mainland.

The ferry arrives in Kjøllefjord at 17:00.  (My wife and I just traveled the same route so I now have a pretty good understanding of the ins and outs of Norwegian ferry travel.)  I’ll then ride roughly 100 km to my first stop on the mainland.

The new ‘ride’: an Azub Ti-Fly

Following on from my end to end ride in 2015, I’ve been planning to do another long ride.  The current plan is to ride from Nordkapp, Norway to Gibraltar two weeks at a time over the next three years.  It’s 6000 km overall, so 2000 km over two weeks seems an achievable goal.

One thing I learned from the end to end ride is that riding a fully loaded recumbent up a steep hill is not exactly fun.  I fell over several times, and was lucky that each time the only thing hurt was my pride.  Also, turning at ‘t’ junctions can be un-nerving.

So, for the next ride I’ve decided on a recumbent trike.  Three wheels, no balancing concerns.  The trike has two wheels in the front, and one in the back.  I went back to Azub, since their recumbent I used for the end to end was so good, and have purchased their new Ti-Fly trike.

The frame is sandblasted with a lacquer coating over the aluminium.  The trike has a couple of interesting features; it has a Pinion 18 speed gearing system at the crank set, Son dynamo hubs on both front wheels, one for the lighting, the other to power devices, and Azub’s very efficient front suspension which uses titanium plates as ‘springs’.

The trike folds after removing the seat, and once folded, is a very compact package.  I chose a 20″ rear wheel so that it would fold smaller for when I need to get it on a plane.

Like the recumbent, the trike includes Azub’s super adjustable seating system.  The seat and handlebars can be adjusted to suit a wide range of riding positions.  All of the adjustments are locked with red anodised quick release locks.  The rear wheel is suspended using a Fox air shock absorber.

The trike has racks that can carry four panniers and a rack top bag, like the Azub 6. 

I’ve taken a few rides and it’s a real blast to ride.  Cars and lorries give you plenty of space as they pass and try to figure out what you are riding…  The trike handles well, even at speed.  It’s a bit heavy, but so am I.  I’m adding a device charging system with a cache battery, and am working on how best to mount my smart phone/gps, and my Garmin bike computer.

The eagle has landed.

Well, maybe not as big a deal for mankind, but still…

Thanks to anyone who has taken time to follow me or comment on the blog, it’s really appreciated.

Now to get back to London. My train was cancelled due to strike action, so I’ve rented a car and will be driving home.