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"You're nuts!"

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. Power Extreme.

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 rush!

Alexander Ling, Geek and proud of it!

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