That's the most common expression my friends from my pre-TA days would
say when they find out what I've been up to in my free time. Whenever we
get the chance to catch up and have a drink, inevitably people would
comment on the amount of weight I had lost which leads down the inevitable
path of cycling stories. And when they hear of those 100km+ "fun"
rides, their eyeballs pop out of their sockets and they look at me funny.
Maybe they have a point, to keep going around Singapore in circles
week-in and week-out is certainly unconventional. Most people don't go
around Singapore in years. But then again, most people don't realize the
zen feeling that comes with cycling. The molding of flesh with a
contraption of rubber and alloy into a seamless unit in motion - that's
just so transcendental in a very geeky way.
Let's face it: I am a geek. Now, I'm not a nerd. A nerd is forced to
work in his job and in so doing, becomes dehumanized. A geek jumps into
his area and enjoys all the minute details. I'm a guy who is enthused with
models of the physical world and how things work. Look at my degree:
physics when I could have comfortably entered any engineering department
and graduated to earn big bucks, I settled for something that pays less
but, to me, is infinitely more fun.
From building my own computers, to setting up my own servers, to
writing computer programs of electrons whizzing around nuclei, that's the
sort of stuff that I like. And when it comes to sport, what other sport is
so easily accessible and yet has such geeky appeal as cycling? Sure, car
racing is very technical, but cars are not affordable for a geek of my
status (read: poor geek). Neither is sailing nor flying.
Now cycling is infinitely geeky. There are countless topics to amuse
yourself with when you are out on a ride, and are tired of staring at HDB
flats at the roadside for hours on end. I've had hours of talk, both on
and off the bike, with my pals about things like PSIs, HRMs, gear ratios,
carbon matrix bonds, ha - there's enough stuff here for a PhD thesis!
I've never been good at most sports. I have flat feet and can't run
fast, I splash like a whale at the pool, I have poor eyesight and hand-eye
coordination. Oh, I've tried a variety of stuff from rock-climbing to
kayaking, but no sport could hold my interest for long ... until I started
cycling. And then I was hooked. The machine is a Great Equalizer. It
overcomes all morphological defects and replaces everyone's terrestrial
contact patch with the most perfect of all planar objects - the wheel.
Sure, talent counts big - but if you're just into the sport for fun, then
talent isn't such a big thing, willpower counts for more. And willpower is
something that everyone can have - its just up to you. Man and Machine.
The man-machine continuum. It has been said that people who work
intensively in technology start to use that technology for
self-reflection. "Machines are good to think with." Or in my
case, machines are good to think on! Through machines, geeks discover new
human possibilities and new levels about themselves that they have never
thought before possible, like discovering new levels of endurance and
determination when hanging on at the back of fast moving pack. Levels of
discipline hitherto reserved for the mind now applied to the body. What a
Alexander Ling, Geek and proud of it!