Winning entry for the inaugural Togoparts Write-Out Contest. David wins a LAS Kripton helmet (sponsored by Entro Cycles)

The title used can easily be translated into this statement ?Does the condition of your mind at that particular time when you are cycling matters?? I?d like to discuss on this issue with the dangers I perceive in my own worldview of cycling. I will later touch on how we can and why we must necessarily avoid the dangers resulted from cycling. Please bear in mind that all these that were brought forth to you haven?t been scrutinized in their entirety and are based on personal experiences and facts, to the best of my knowledge.

Let me start of with some of these personal experiences. One Friday night in mid 2003, I was cycling with a good friend down Orchard road towards Marina Bay. Understanding how the slow moving traffic is getting the better of the many motorists on that road, we decide to stay on the extreme side of the road, cycling within the confinement of the double-yellow line. We were cycling at an average 20+km/h, when a bus coming from behind move to our side and come leaning towards us. We could have cycled faster, refusing to let the rude and inconsiderate bus driver have his way. But we held ourselves to an immediate stop to avoid a possible accident.

One bright morning in early 2005, I took a taxi to work. As I was traveling along Thomson Road coming near to Novena Square, I spotted a group of 4 teenage cyclists on the side of the road. All of them were cycling steadily in a straight convoy except for one of them, who was cycling dangerously on roughly 1/4 of the car lane. As he seemed to be unaware of the danger he is bringing onto himself, the taxi driver (who was driving me) gave him a quick horn as a warning before trying to overtake him. Unexpectedly, it enraged the young man. He then purposely cycled onto the middle of the car lane for about 200m before moving back to the side and let the taxi pass. As we were passing him, he pointed ?the finger? to the taxi driver.

This quotation of the late writer Helen Keller, who was blind and deaf before 2 years old, was well stated. “Toleration is the greatest gift of the mind; it requires the same effort of the brain that it takes to balance oneself on a bicycle.

Now, let?s move on to off-road cycling. I am not empathetic with the road cyclists, and must confess that I am more bent to trail-cycling. I have been to a couple of trails as most of you have. Those trails around Bukit Timah reserve, Sentosa, Johore, Penang etc are nice. I have personally fallen and injured myself with deep, open wounds umpteen times. They are mainly due to misjudgments, impulsiveness and recklessness. And I have also seen and heard the same (or even worst) from other cyclists. It really takes plenty of trail riding and sharing of experiences from other cyclists to know the capabilities of our bikes, i.e.: like how high of a drop can you jump without breaking your beloved frame, or the bouncing impact causing you to jump over your handlebar. And also how you can or possibly should react when you are cycling under certain circumstances/terrains.

All the above examples are, I am sure, familiar to you in some ways. I understand that sometimes there are factors that are beyond our control (i.e.: hikers or cyclists who pop out of nowhere towards you or speeding cars with drunken drivers). These factors are legitimate and should be addressed too.

But one important point, which I think as cyclists, we should come to grips with; is “Think safe at all times, in all ways.” What do I mean by that? You may think of it very simplistically but I can assure you it is worth your while to think about them seriously.

  • Do take the motorists and their big pieces of metal seriously when you are on the road.
  • When you are cycling in the trails, do not take unnecessarily risks especially when you are unfamiliar with the trail settings. As most of the experienced cyclists would tell you: ?There?s nothing wrong or to be ashamed of, with pushing or carrying your bike through the obstacles?. Many cyclists may have also shared with you that sometimes when tackling obstacles on new ventured trails, they will get off their bikes, walk over to examine the steepness of the slope, or what lies ahead after the drop etc, before going back onto their bikes to ride it.
  • Plenty of fluid intake and rest before the rides should be observed individually. (You should even ask your mates to stop for a break when you are tired, or your exhausted state of mind may soon lead to misjudgments when you come across some technical obstacles in the trail)
  • Be observant to your surroundings and stay alert. Do not follow the others blindly as the person may just fall into a pothole and you will follow, forming a cluster of human tragedies together

I shall be brief about the ?WHYs? we have to avoid such dangers as many of you will have the same notions as I do. Life is doubtlessly precious, and many of us “Cycling Enthusiasts? understands clearly the freedom and joy we feel whenever we are on it. You have to admit this much that taking note of the points I stated to “Think safe at all times, in all ways” may not bring you longer life, but it certainly helps to prevent premature departures in life.

Doug Bradbury, the founder of “Manitou” said this once: “The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew – and live through it.” Look through his words and you?ll see that the focus of this statement is; the best rides that you have, are only good if you “LIVE” through them.

About the Togoparts Write-Out:
This writing contest is a new and exciting way for our community members to get their creative juices flowing, and to showcase their talent for the written word. We have a competitive element thrown in to encourage everyone to give it the best shot. To find out more, visit the Write-Out pages.