We were supposed to have started our ride at 7.30am. But it rained and so the Brompton Pastors Club had breakfast in my home. A leisurely breakfast. By the time we finally rode off it was 9am. The weather was superbly cool. We rode to the Chinese and Japanese Garden because Then Chee Min came all the way from the east. At the least he should ride through the gardens. Then we were on the PCN to the Little Guilin. The west is where I live, so I guided the group. At Little Guilin the rain fell and we adjourned to a Malay kopitiam for an early lunch and fellowship (and theological discussion abut generational curse) till the rain stopped. Then we headed to the former granite quarry at Bukit Batok Park and from there proceeded to the PCN that links the Bukit Batok to the Ulu Pandan PCN. Our original plan was to do the Ulu Pandan PCN to Ghim Moh for lunch but rain altered our plans and we called it quits after we did the lovely Teban Garden overhead steel bridge. We reached my home by 12.15pm. A wonderful splendid lovely morning with pastors! God’s way is always better – the rain forced us pastors to spend as much time time seated around the table of fellowship as on our Brompton foldies; and it cooled the day which otherwise would likely have been direct sun on us by mid-morning.
One person leaving the Japanese Garden was saying, They should not allow cyclists into the Chinese and Japanese Gardens. So unsafe. I went to the security guard to confirm if what I was hearing was true. Can cyclists enter the Gardens? I thought there was a rule that said we cannot? I have been stopped before. The security guard said, Yes you can now cycle in the Gardens. Later, my wife and I were walking out at the Chinese Garden’s exit at the Chinese Garden MRT side. I asked the security guard there, Can we cycle in the Gardens? Yes you can. What happened? I thought all along we cannot. The management made a decision this week to allow and we have been instructed to allow cyclists in, he replied.
Last week I was disappointed to see one thirds of the Jurong Lake Park Connector boarded up completely for upgrading works. Now there is some comfort in this piece of good news that we can cycle inside the gardens.
Here are some photos to prove this is for real but I do not know if this is temporary or permanent.
Pastor Richard Wong offered to bring me around the Ponggol Park and the Coney Island. He also requested that we search for a road in Jalan Kayu named Brompton Road. I am not fully initiated into the Brompton bicycle cult so I was thinking, What’s the big deal? He read my mind and went on to explain that he wanted to pose in front of that road sign and take some photos of himself with the Brompton bike. He had seen it in many Brompton Facebook groups and wanted to have some pictures too. It was near Ponggol, so I didn’t mind, though I was mildly amused by his enthusiasm.
So I picked him up at Potong Pasir and the two folded Bromptons fitted snugly into my Nissan Latio car boot. I keyed in the road and the Google navigation system brought us to Brompton Road. We could not find the road sign and had to circle a few times to finally land near the spot. We unfolded our bikes and took turns to pose and take pictures . I couldn’t believe I was doing this, posing in front of the Brompton Road sign with a Brompton bike beside me.
Later we rode around and stopped for coffee and pau at a rustic coffee shop opposite the Seletar Aerospace Park entrance. It felt like we were in the 1960s. We later rode around and I saw the Anglican Church of the Epiphany, that my friend Bishop Raphael Samuel and his wife Michelle served with in his early years of ministry several decades ago in the 1980s.
We parked the car at Waterpoint Mall which was along the Ponggol River. We pushed our bikes through the shopping mall ( you can only do this with a Brompton) and to the riverfront and began our burning hot ride under the overhead sun. It was nearly 11 am when we started off.
Pastor Richard knew the area inside out. We rode around the river all the way to the Ponggol Promenade and to Coney Island. On the way back we passed by Halus Bridge which links Pasir Ris to Ponggol. Richard knew which were the best spots for taking shots with beautiful background.
The HDB homes built about a stones’ throw from the river banks were beautiful and such real estate along a beautiful riverfront is rare at the prices that the residents bought them. Their value would probably double by the time they are able sell their properties.
After the ride we had a Subway sandwich and coffee for lunch. We conveniently parked our bikes near where we sat and chatted in the wonderfully chilled shopping mall. Later, we folded our bikes, put them in the car boot and we were off again. It was interesting and fun. Although the sun bore down on us, I was glad I finally rode the Ponggol Park. Pastor Lawrence Koo, another pastor, who rides a Brompton, often bragged about Ponggol Park in his Facebook. I must agree with him that it is a beautiful park. Give it another five years for the young trees to grow bigger and shadier and it will be perfect.
When my kids were little, I bought them bicycles. Now they bought me a Brompton foldable bike for my sixtieth birthday, several weeks in advance, before the clearance sale ended. They knew I wanted it because I had talked about it. They had also seen me searching for a pre-used Brompton at the togoparts website. The sale had gone on for several weeks but I was blessed to have a cobalt blue version which was available only in the H6R model, which was the model I had wanted. The H handle-bar enabled me to have a more comfortable upright posture when I ride. The handle bar looks like the M bar but is two inches taller.
When I ordered it the haze was thick. When I took delivery of the bicycle, it was a Thursday, 8 October 2015. That day the sky was clear and I could ride the bike that day and the next few days. What a blessing it was, especially after almost a month of staying away from outdoor activities.
Compared to other foldable bikes the Brompton is not the clear winner. It is made of steel and quite heavy at over 10 kilograms. The parts are proprietary and modification is limited. The wheels are small at 16 inches. The basic body shape has remained the same and there are no other models or departures from this classic design. It is a good ride but a rather expensive one at $2,780 before discount.
What makes the Brompton a winner is the fold. The fold is the best ever for the kind of comfortable commuter or leisure ride that the average person would want. Its fold is compact with nothing sticking out. After folding it can stand stable and it can be placed in a luggage bag for travel. It is mobile and easily wheeled around. You can take it into your home or office without occupying much space. You can commute with it in the car boot, or take it into the MRT during off peak hours. You can push it around in the shopping mall too.
The marketing of Brompton is superb. It is made in Britain and nowhere else – the pride of British engineering with the bike joints skilfully welded by hand. In addition, the marketing helps the Brompton to exude the classy image of a British gentleman in his top hat.
Brompton bikes have a cult following in countries where they are sold. Brompton owners form clubs and participate regularly in cycling excursions and charity events. They have a kind of fellowship of the wheel. I have joined one such Facebook club, to trawl for pre-used accessories on their website. You don’t just buy a bike you buy an image, a fellowship and a good and highly portable ride.
The Brompton bicycle is like a good Pentecostal. He is modest the way the main body of the bike is low. However no matter how low a profile he keeps there is that bit of attention it cannot help but attract. The bike also has a kneeling position when it rests. I like this unique feature – it’s like the bike is praying on its knees, the way a good Pentecostal should. This is often a conversation starter with other cyclists and strangers. In addition, the Brompton is highly mobile and ready to go the way a good Pentecostal is ready to go with the the good news even to other cities and countries. The clearest evidence that the Brompton is pneumatically filled is the pleasant clickety-clack of the wheels in motion, a bicycle version of speaking in other tongues. I know quite a number of pastors that own a Brompton, and they are Pentecostals!
With the cost of buying and owning a car in Singapore inching upwards with every month more car owners have had to give up their independence and mobility and become users of public transport. I had to do so and have been taking public transport for the past two months. The jury is still out, but my tentative feel is that our public transport system is good. The MRT and the buses are clean and effective and they do get you from one place to another in comfort and safety if not on schedule. However the peak hours can be suffocatingly crowded. Of course this can be alleviated by timing your trips earlier or later. It has been 30 years since I have to depend on public transport so much. By the grace of God my transition has been mainly positive. There are several things that have happened to me and I have made several observations during this transition:
My daughter had to teach me the tactics of positioning to increase your chances of getting a seat on the MRT.
I have walked more and perspired more than when I had a car.
The huge fans at the MRT stations are my favourite things about the MRT stations.
I now prefer short-sleeved cotton shirts for comfort.
I carry a small black umbrella in my bag for sunshine as well as rain. I find it cuts off 60%
of the heat and I perspire less.
I deliberately walk slowly.
Planning to leave much earlier for trips is something I am getting used to.
Review of sermons before preaching on Sunday is now done in the MRT on the way to the service.
Getting a taxi on Sunday can be difficult unless you book them.
Taking a taxi when it’s necessary is something I need to get used to as I am not used to spending that kind of money.
I have recently decided to stop carrying my laptop to office unless it is absolutely necessary. Its too heavy. The Samsung tablet is my companion and I am going to try working from an external hard disk on an extra laptop in the office.
My backpack can be full and heavy at times, especially when I borrow or return books from Trinity library.
I feel loved and humbled with the numerous offers to give me a lift, some even going the second and third mile to do that.
The transition made me consider alternative modes of transport like the Brompton, a foldable portable bike allowed by MRT and buses.The LTA has ruled out electric stand scooters.
I cannot go nearest where I want, and when I want, and at the speed I want, like when I had a car to use. Public transport tells me, You can only go thus far and by this time.
Each time I hear the “TEENH” in the MRT turnstile it is my Money Rapidly Taken (MRT).
On the whole I am amazed at my rapid adjustment during my transition to public transport. God gives the grace. He has given me a grateful heart. Thank God also for the smart phone. And also for times to be quiet before Him as you stand in the train. This is a transition many in Singapore will have to make. Most retirees will have to give up their cars and adjust too. God gives us the grace.