Thursday, March 13, 2008

Black Wednesday

Yesterday, Sean and I set out for Singapore to collect the Echo Pure trial bikes we purchased from Armstrong. The order was placed in January and arrived on Tuesday. We were both very excited and could not wait to get our bikes.

The day started off well and we left my house in Bukit Mahkota for Singapore. After we passed Malacca, we stopped at one of the rest area to go for a much needed toilet break at about noon. When we entered the public toilet, two policemen in plain clothes stopped us and ask to test our urine for drugs. We were both very surprised. I found it rather amusing that a urine test would be conducted in one of the rest area on the North-South highway. The cops gave us a specialised plastic container that can be made to immediately produce the test result by turning a plastic key.

Give us your Pee

They told us to fill up the container with urine when we pee. The thing was that they were standing behind us and expected us to pee into the container while they watch. Their reasoning were not because it turn them on... but rather to make sure that we actually filled it with our urine and not some other liquid... LOL.

Let me tell you. Sean and I were in desperately need of visiting the toilet when we exited the highway. But when we were told to pee into the plastic container while the police were watching, it just made the desperate primal human need vanished.

Finally, I told the cop that I needed a drink and will try to pee again later. After the drink and a very clear mental picture of a gushing waterfall set in my mind, I managed a trickle which eventually turned into a much needed release that almost overfill the plastic container.

I was told to close the container and hand it over. One of the cop used a plastic key to activate the test. Through some sort of PH-like chart, they concluded that indeed I was not on drugs (which I told them so for which I received a lecture about disco and drug abuse).

During that time, I noticed that Sean requested to go drink water as well. I dunno how he managed it, but Sean managed to produced a container full of urine as well and his test came back negative as well.

As we were leaving, I noticed that in and around the toilets and parking lots, there were numerous plain clothes cops. Btw, there was a Malay man sitting hand-cuffed in the toilet, so it goes to prove that drug abusers do use the North-South highway and that the cops were justified to conduct these tests... :-)

Oh Shit! Oh Shit! Oh Shit!

We left the rest area and headed for Johor Baru. It was raining on and off throughout and along the highway. Suddenly, when we were about to pass Machap, my Toyota Hilux skidded and aquaplaned. I was doing about 100km/h when I lost total control of the vehicle. It swerve to the left heading into the drain but I managed to wrestle some control back and turned the pickup to the right which further make it spun clockwise and the left front rammed into the metal divider thereby pivoting the vehicle banging the left tail section hard into the divider before turning further clockwise to a stop blocking the entire two lane of the highway! All this while, I was cursing, "Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!", for the longest time.

I remembered looking back and saw a truck and maybe a Volvo coming towards us. Quickly, I started the car engine and luckily for us it came to life on the first try. I drove the Hilux to the side of the road and parked it as far away from the main road as possible.

It started raining very heavily as Sean and I sat inside the car and looked at each other stunned. I knew from the handling of the car that I had a puncture on the front right wheel. Sean looked out his side of the window and gave me an assessment of the damages. Basically, we sat inside the car until the rain stopped, which luckily for us was in less than 10 minutes (if my sense of time can be trusted at that time).

It took us about 30 minutes to change the tire. We continued our journey and arrived in Johor Baru at about 2:45pm. I went to a tire shop to see if I could get the puncture fixed. The proprietor took the tire and did a number of leak tests after he inflated it. He said that there was nothing wrong with the tire and that there was no puncture.

I asked him how come and he could not come up with an explanation. From the look of the rim, it looked like the tire deflated which resulted in one side of the rim being flattened due to the friction caused by the grinding on the the road when brake was applied.


Strangely, the tire that "punctured", which was the right front side, did not come in contact with anything and was not the side that rammed the divider. So how come the flat tire? Secondly, the abrasion on the rim clearly showed that the tire had to deflate first before the rim can come in contact with the road surface!

In the end, I concluded it as x-file and decided to change the two front tires completely. Better safe than sorry, I thought. All in all, I was VERY glad that nobody was hurt and that Sean and I got away injury free. We were really blessed!

After a quick lunch, we left for Singapore at about 4pm. We were both new to driving into Singapore. After I checked with Joe, I was told that I needed an Autopass for my car to get into Singapore. We went through immigration and custom, and almost drove out before we realised that we missed the point to buy the Autopass. Sean had to walk back and purchase the pass before we could leave.

By about 5pm, we managed to find our way to Toa Payoh Lorong 10 to met up with Hor Fun. Hor Fun was helping Armstrong (whom went to Taipei for a show) to get the bikes to us. We went up to Hor Fun's apartment to collect the long awaited bikes of ours.

The bikes were the only reason we drive down to Singapore and went through a shit day of urine testing and life threatening accident. After what had happened, the bikes almost makes it worthwhile.

Disappointing Trials

But unfortunately, the bike was less than par. Some of the parts (the Echo hub with a built-in tensioner), according to Armstrong, was discontinued by the manufacturer. Without the tensioner, the chain could not be installed. On top of it, the stems were on loan to us (from gracious Peng :-) until the the ones meant for the bike arrive.

It was indeed an unfortunate day. The bikes was disappointing! After what we have gone through, we could not even ride the bikes. (Today, I discovered that the front gear cog where the pedals are attached was wobbling side to side as I turned the pedals... sigh!)

However, all is not lost. We met up with Hor Fun and Peng, whom are trial riders themselves. They shared with us their experience on how to maintain a trial bike. We really appreciated their help. We wished we could have spent more time with them but it was getting late and we had to leave for KL asap.

Complete Waste of Time

So we left Toa Payoh at about 7pm and headed towards the causeway. Almost reaching the traffic lights leading to the causeway we were caught in a jam which took 3 hours and 15 minutes to get through. The reason for the jam was because the police were looking for a terrorist fugitive which escaped from their prison.

There must have been a few thousand motorbikes caught in the jam.

We managed to get into Johor Baru at about 10:35pm. Our first stop was the loo and a place for food. We ate the best in the world "Kueh Tiau Kia" and left for KL at about 11:30pm.

Thankfully, without incident, we arrived in my house around 3:30am. I believe Sean reached home about 4:30am.

Blessed on Black Wednesday

I must state that yesterday was a horrendous day. A black Wednesday. I have no intention of going through something like that again. Sean and I are blessed to have survive that terrible accident and for that I am eternally grateful that no one was hurt.

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