Sunday, April 19, 2009

KL - City of Cars

Ever wonder why traffic is getting worse in KL? Cars. Lots of them. Every year, 500,000 new cars is pumped into the system. Only 50,000 are commercially based vehicles. The rest are passengers type.

Last week in The Edge, a spokesman from IBM was trying to sell the concept of charging cars going into the city center, something which I really agree. The system mimics singaporean style traffic of having tolls going into the city center. By discouraging cars going into the town, hopefully, we would see more alternatives. One that I would like to see is more cycling.

The other day, I opted to cycle to KL sentral from cheras to meetup with a friend. I could have drive. But one thing that stuck in my mind was the jam I might have to endure just getting into city center. Not to mention parking. Cycling makes it easy. Since there's no jam, the time taken to get to your destination is almost always the same.

My friend was pretty surprised when I told her I got there by pedal power.

Another thing is oil. While oil is now pretty cheap, we have to learn to be less dependant on this finite resource. Try to google up peak oil, and you'll understand that our economic growth, food, transportation is heavily depended on oil. There's millions of us on this planet, and each one of is a consumer of oil, even if we don't own a car.

Everytime I cycled, at least I knew I could cut back on how much oil I have to consume.

Now, if only KL is like Copenhagen..

Copenhagen - City of Cyclists from Colville Andersen on Vimeo.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tips for Pulau Kapas Swimathon

Stupe's photo for real location.

Compare this with the top photo.

I wrote this piece so that I could remember where to land next time. I was still left figuring out where to land during the swim.
Roughly I could guess, but it's better to be precise.

In hindsight, I think I did just alrite by targeting exactly a bit right from the landing point based on the mountains at the back.
Although I had veered too much right ( the marshall has to correct it), it's still better than fighting the current on the left).

But the strong current pushed a bit left from the landing, and I had to fight back moving rightwards again.

The current was also pushing outwards, so you'll need to use strength to battle the last hundred meters or so.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Kapas Marang Swimathon 2009: Rough Seas

Reaching pulau kapas...

From the usual marang jetty...

We were bunched up in Makcik Gemuk resort...guess what...I met the real owner and she's not really gemuk.


Decided to go kayaking...with Bujal...kind of impromptu. We were just hoping not to capsized..not because we don't have life jackets...but we have phones with us.

Destination Pulau Gemia..which is a privately owned island.

There's one resort here...

The front pool is a man made pool with seawater pumped in..

Finally reaching...the water beneath is teeming with soft corals...and also fishes. Extremely clear.

Some sea turtles eating a fish head...You could hold them...

The other side of pulau gemia

After finishing the tough swim...went observing the rest coming in.

The waves were really crashing in. I could only stand, when reaching the shore line, and not a few meters back as last year.

This dude is smilling. Must have been happy to just see the arch.

Stupe...after 4 hours...well done.

He was surprised to see most of us. Shazly finished the race as well.

Kam in the kayak. He had been out there, kayaking from Kapas and escorting swimmers all the way.


This years swimathon started with a bit surprise. I think the first two buoys were lost during the night. I wasn't worried about the navigation because, roughly I knew where to land. But I was concerned with the new guys doing this. Navigation is top priority, because once you are out there alone, you'll need to know exactly where to go.

After the usual Mr Chan's introduction of eminent swimmers, we were all let go for a long swim back Marang. Initially, as usual, bumping with other swimmers. We were supposed to use the marine boat as replacement for the first 1 or 2 km. I've set my sights on some mountain landmark, so I didn't bother much with following others or the marine patrol boat.

The seas wasn't rough for the first 3 or 4km. Nor was there lots of sea lice. No jellyfish encountered. All I saw was green water ahead. I was pedalling at a fast and strong rate, which I was surprised that I was able to sustained. I think it was the high heart rate zone I've been pushing myself into. It did help as I was not tired. Able to catch up with some swimmers at the front. And I did look back just to see if anyone's following. Some did.

But I soon realized I was heading too far north of the landing point when a boat came and one of the men asked me to head towards the canopies. What canopies? Then I scanned the horizon, and saw small white dots all aligned, and finally saw the red big balloon. Ok, so I've been swimming too far right.

So I set my direction a bit to the left, and powered on. I was hoping to make it before 2 hours.

With 2km to go, I think, I could really see the balloon hanging. But here is where it gets worse. I pedalled strongly, but it seems like I can't move forward, or moving slowly. And I was drifting way left of the landing. This seems weird...

I knew then, the current was pushing us south and maybe out towards the sea. It would be a battle to just cut through. So, I jammed in the hands for a higher gear, and soon some progress was seen. As I inch closer, the waves was 1.5 meters high, and was crashing down.

Finally I got my footing on the beach. Glad that was over. My time was 2 hour 35. Last year's was 2:21. With this kind of condition, I think it is pretty ok.


Later I was out scanning the sea with Shazly, Azmar, and Upiq looking out for the rest of the swimmers. The current was so strong, I think the furthest swimmers was pushed 3km south from the landing point! And we saw rescue boats dropping off those who can't make it. Even kayaks were overturned by the furious waves.

Finally Nurina made it back. She said she was like 1km from the landing but the current has pushed her out. Stupe made it back in 4 hours. But mostly for first timers, it was not a day to be.
Oh well, next year then :)

Video showing swimmers coming back after being rescued. The sea was the roughest I have seen so far in 3 years.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easy days...and cotton island swim

After pushing my heart rate through the roof for days, I took it easy yesterday. Imagine going to swim, and doing it for 1 hour non stop while pushing it (around 3k). Then going for a lung busting ride for 40 plus km.

These days, I am joining Abu's group for night ride every wednesday and fridays. And these guys really do push it for each interval. We are talking about speeds hovering around 40km/h here when going fast.

I opted to ride in the Argon TT bike. The reason is pretty simple. You can't train on a roadie, and expect to be doing the same performance on a TT, because the muscles used are different. I had rode it for a couple of rides only, which is not really enough to see the true potential of it. Nowadays, every time I ride, my thinking mode goes into hammering it. I just want to see how fast and how long I could push it.

Now, could someone tell me how to do average 45km/h?


Ah, kapas island swim, the getaway holiday, or that's how I think about it to escape from the busy lifestyle of KL. First timers, I am pretty sure you'll have some butterflies before the swim. It's normal. But once you conquered it, you'll resigned to the fact, that it's pretty doable.

There's a few tips.

First, try to spot the big red balloon on the landing spot. You'll notice a small triangle shape mountain. Memorize that background. It'll be handy when you are out in the ocean and the next buoy is not visible. In fact, once you've set your land target, water target are pretty non essential. For example, last year we had a marine patrol boat which is supposed to be the third target after 2 buoys. However, later I found out during the swim, the boat was a moving target. If you were to zoom in your direction towards the marine boat, you'll be pretty much frustrated.

Second, find out the direction of the current. You could ask the locals, or test it yourself by floating in deep water (without kicking or paddling) and see the direction which you are moving. Last year direction was southwards, so we had to compensate by swimming a few degrees north. Experience swimmers will always compensate for current because if not, you'll find yourself swimming more than 6.5km.

Third, don't panic and enjoy the swim...