Sunday, February 15, 2009

my ZOOM folder

Few years ago, I was working in a remote Iranian island in Persian Gulf. There was a big project on that island at that time, and there were about hundreds foreign workers, working on rotational basis.
Kharg island, where we were in, is not too big, it has an airstrip, and tanker loading terminal. The Iranians using this terminal to load the oils to big ships for export.

As strategic island for Iranians, it has special rules for foreigners; we must stay in a special camp, away from the locals, and we are not allowed to drive any car.
After work, our life was rather boring, gym and recreational room inside our camp were too small, and we could not going out of the camp easily because the driver was not always available.
One of my colleagues there got an idea to buy a bicycle to explore the island, and once he showed me photos of his bike trip around the island, I was sold.
Casual cycling ride is always one of my interest, and it was also good to do some kind of outdoor activities after work.
So not too long after that, I brought a bicycle into the island, ZOOM folding bike, a typical low end folder, with 16 inch wheel and 5 speed.
This Zoom folders I bought in a shop close to Changi road, Singapore. In that time, on every trip to Iran, I made a few hours stop over in Singapore, and another stop overnight in Dubai.
Going from Spore was not a problem, bike was inside the box, tires being deflated, and SQ check in staff handling and labeling it quickly and efficiently as usual.
On terminal 2 arrival in Dubai, I have to wait almost 15 minutes since it was cleared through special bagage section. However, once it came out, Dubai custom officers did not even give any looks.
After staying overnight in Dubai, the next day I took another flight to Iran, this was a charter flight, chartered by a company that hiring us.
On transit in Busher airport in Iran, we have to check out all of our baggage and Iranian custom officers checking them in a long table. All of the passanger baggage must be opened and examined by the officers. Some items need special clearance, like western magazines, discs, and electronics. They checked my bike, exchanging few words with our translator there, laughing, and passed the bike on. Our translator did not even translate officers comments to me, he just gave me a big smile and continued his job. In short, I have no problem to bring the bike all the way from Spore to Iran.

As typical low end bike, it's frame was so flexible and filmsy, the brake was poor, and it's 5 speed freewheel was over geared. The seat post was also slipping, and I have to insert a piece of rubber to avoid it slips further.
I adapted my ridding style for this bike, pedaling gently, no push-pull on the handlebar, and braking lightly.
But for the price, the bike served me very well. At first I used it to run around our camp during lunch break. Once I was familiar with the bike, then I used it to visit working sites too. Instead of calling the driver and waiting for a car, I just biked and got to the site myself. It took more or less the same time, but the greatest thing was a feeling of being free and independent. And it is also released me from being bored passing the time in front of PC at work and television in my room after.
I did not install cyclometer on this folder, but by counting and timing my cadence, I estimate that I can maintain around 16-18 km/h with easy riding style.
My colleague who used MTB, at full pace, could cycling around the island for 2 full laps during lunch break. I did try with this folder, and I made one lap with enough spare time to take shower before going back to work. From my timing, I thought the distance that I took was just slightly more than 20km, mostly along the coast. Here we could see remainings of old tanker that was hit by Iraqi bombs during Iran-Iraq war long time ago.

Several weeks later, few of other colleagues started also to cycle around. Most of them bought low end MTB available at local bike shop in the island. So on few occasions we were having group riding around the island on the lunch break.
This Zoom bike served me for several months, and during the time it was almost trouble free except few flat tires. But then it ended so sudden in rather bizzare circumstances.
One colleague came from Dubai but he could not do his job right away and he must wait the others to finish. I saw him waiting for long days, and as courtesy I allowed him use my bike to go around.
He just used my bike for 2 days, but apparently he pushed it just hard enough to break the steering post, just below the post hinge.
Strangely, for me it was not a big loss neither, since it happened just when I was about to be transferred back to my home country. So finally, at the end of my 3 years assignment there, I have one less baggage to take home, my broken ZOOM bike.

Friday, February 13, 2009

inside cars, 2

Here is a picture of my 16" Hasa inside the other car, Isuzu Panther. This compact Hasa, with 90cm wheelbase, is taking small enogh space of the bagage compartment. Anyhow, due to the car design, the most rear row of the passenger seat must be folded up to make space. Otherwise the bike, or any other bagage with big size, just won't fit inside.
So the capacity of this Isuzu Panther is reduced from 8 to 5 people in this configuration.
Apart of this, my car does not have a proper holder for its spare tire, so the tire cannot be stored underneath the body, but it has to go inside the car, reducing the available baggage space further.
But I never have any problem to put small Hasa inside the Panther, thanks to its small wheel and short wheelbase.

inside cars, 1

Here are some pics of my old 20" UNITED folder, inside Suzuki Wagon R, locally known as Suzuki Karimun.
We can see that by just folding the frame in the main hinge, this United folder can fit inside the car. The seatpost and steering post can stay as it is, no need to retract them in. However, the handlebar of this United model is integrated with the post, in a form of a welded T bar. So to avoid the handlebar touching car's backdoor, the steering post need to be folded too.

Some accessories installed on steering post, like handlebar bag and bottle cage, need to be oriented properly to avoid interference while folding.

The other way to do this is to rotate the steering post, so the handlebar will be more or less paralel to the frontwheel axis. But I prefer to fold the steering post since aligning the handlebar wil take longer time once the bike is unfolded.
It is not too dificult to fit a 20" folder inside Karimun, in overall it takes about 1 minute, and the car will be ready to go.
Good thing about this old Karimun, 2002 model, is that it has enough height to accomodate the bicycle.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

a bike that moving around

This is our Bridgestone bicycle, heavy steel frame, belt driven with unique transmission, 4 speed internal gear on its crankset, and equiped with child carrier.

This is the first bike I amused with on my adult life. At that time we were back from an assignment in France, and we stayed in my sister in law house in Jakarta for while. My sister in law, Rina, wanted to clean her garage out, and the bike, that she bought in Japan, was included on her list.
Rina was using the bike daily when she lived in Japan, going to groceries, bringing her kids to school, running errands, etc.
Once she came back to Jakarta, soon she realized that around her neighborhood in Fatmawati area was almost impossible to bike safely. So the bike was abandonned for a while in her garage.
My wife asked her if we could use the bike, and to our blessing, Rina didn't mind. So we transported the bike to Malang with the rest of our personnal belonging, and I found a bike shop in Malang to recondition the bike.
It required a new tire set, truing, greasing and cleaning,....and it was ready to go. Few months in Malang and we moved again to Jogyakarta, and again we transported the bike to Jogya.
The bike showed its greatest utility when we were in Jogya. At first we lived in a small house with a small access alley, so the bike was much more practical than our car.
Our daugther Carla, she was 3 years at that time, was our regular passenger on this bike.
After moving into bigger house, I bought another bike, a UNITED 20" folder, for myself, and then just like an addict, I bought more bicycles. A low end MTB - Polygon Premier, then road bike, also a low end - Polygon Wonder, and then a nice build folder, 16" Hasa F2.
With so much bikes, this Bridgestone still had a lot of usage, mainly for my wife. It served us very well at that time in Jogya.
End of July 2006, new chapter started, we moved again, this time from Jogya to Balikpapan. I packed all my newer bikes, and I planned to left United folder and this Bridgestone behind. Sure enough my wife complaining, saying that she was never enjoy any bike I bought more recently and the best one for her was the Bridgestone.
So the bike went to Balikpapan with the rest of our belonging.
Few months passed by in our new home in Balikpapan, I gained milages on my other bikes, except this Bridgestone. It was too heavy for hilly area of Balikpapan where we lived, and its 4 speed was just in-adequate.
Soon it was left on one corner, and finally I asked a good friend to send the bike back to Malang.
So here it is now, the bike hanging in our stairs in my parents home in Malang, waiting for us to come.
It still looks strong and sturdy and heavy, is buit for last, and it will,...
It has been in Nagoya, Jakarta, Malang, Jogya, Balikpapan, and back to Malang,..and maybe more cities next time.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

pertamina housing balikpapan

One of my favorite ride in Balikpapan is around Pertamina housing complex. It is located on hills, close to Semayang, principal port of Balikpapan, with nice view to the sea and the city below.
So on one Saturday in Feb 09, we have a nice day after one rainy week. I rolled my Polygon Stratos out, gave the tires few pumps, and rolling out from housing complex near the airport.
I passed downtown Balikpapan with a breeze on relatively flat road. Further down I reach Lapangan Merdeka, the city squarre.
It was almost 10am when I got there, so people who usualy jogging around the squarre were retired already.
From this Merdeka squarre, I took the road uphill, passing thru the guard house, and climbing into the Pertamina Housing Complex.
The houses there were nice, big and spacious, it has green grass, trees, and gardens, also quiet and pleasant, really not a common thing in Indonesia nowadays.
The road was quiet and smooth, but I have to use the lowest gear available on my Stratos to climb.
On one spot I stopped to take a breath, and enjoy the view around, looking to the calm sea, and also to the growing city below. Really nice view, especially in a clear weather.
Balikpapan, like all other cities in Indonesia, is growing, and it grows far too fast for itself. I can see some construction activities from upthere, and dense houses on the kampung below.
So this Pertamina Housing Complex, part of old Balikpapan, with its green trees, nice hills, quiet surroundings, and beautiful view to the sea below, is becoming one oasis in town. And it always be one of the best corner of Balikpapan.