journey to RIDE IV: indefinite hiatus

My final decision: extend the lifespan of my car. In Singapore, one will need a Certificate of Entitlement (CoE) in order to own a car and such a certificate spans only 10 years. Car owners are allowed one chance to replace their CoE of their old car and hence I did, burning a hole of close to 50 grand in the process. Owning a ride in Singapore is sure expensive!

Stick Shift of My Car!

On the bright side, I get to keep my manual car. A rare find in Singapore. Some major repair works on the way but I think it will survive. Swifts are simple cars to maintain after all.

With no further reason to ride, my journey has come to an indefinite hiatus, until I meet the CoE problem again years in the future.

It has been a stressful learning experience for me, learning riding and balancing the bike and all my commitments along with it. The ever piling demands of work made it more stressful for me to commit to my journey to ride.

As far back in mid-May, I was so stressed that I fell sick. I wasn’t well for the next four weeks to come.

I was so pressured that I stopped my running regime for 6 weeks.

I was so tired that I met my first accident in years of my driving.That was the last straw! My thoughts then, “Now I’m not even driving safely, how can I expect myself to ride safely?” I was quietly screaming for help inside, waiting to be relieved from the ever increasing expectations placed upon me.

I was so worn out after the accident, I rang up a friend, told him that I’m going to quit biking. He met me that very night to console me, and asked me to pushed on. He even asked a lady who had been unflagging at learning riding for the past 1.5 years to encourage me not to give up. And I took his advice, rest for a week or two.

I went back on the bike, promising myself this would be my last lesson if I’m going to fail again. Heavy rain fell making the roads wet that night, as I donned the bright yellow foul weather gear and throttling through the planks and the slaloms again. I passed. In fact, I did better then ever. So now what am I going to do? I booked for the next lesson in four days time. However, health takes another toll towards the week before my business trip to Finland, and for the first time, I had to forgo a paid lesson, in the interest of health and the trip.

I guess one hard lesson I learnt was that I’m really no superman. I thought I could be. But I guess endurance had to be built over time and I really need to come to terms that I’m not that young anymore?

That’s two really physically and emotionally tough months I went through. I’m just looking forward to July, hoping that it will be a better month than May and June. I think it will be. And I can’t wait for the school term to end towards August and take some leaves for a proper break. The one I have not had in close to 4 years.

Still, I hope to ride one day. It’s probably just not that high a priority now. Now, I need to rest.


journey to RIDE III: Fear, Motivation and Self-Doubt

IMG_4316-editIt was only the first lesson I had on the plank and through the slalom. I fell twice and knocked down the cones five or six times that night alone .

The instructors were very encouraging, despite all the mistakes that I’ve made, still found good things to say about my riding, “Unlike the rest, you can meet all the timing requirements…”.

They also shared success stories of those who did not do as well, like that aunty who passed on her first Traffic Police test attempt but took 132 lessons to complete the entire course.

My biker friends were all very kind to me, sending me messages of concern and videos for inspiration, despite my overly frequent rants on being upset that I couldn’t do well for my lessons.

Yet, my motivation continues to dwindle. Contributing to that was probably a realisation that I’m not going to feel confident to ride on the roads even with a license, even though I have wonderful dreams of riding on my very own bike when I sleep. I’m already in action on getting my car replaced, somehow. The cost of owning a car in Singapore is notorious but as to why I would still want a private transport, I guess that is a story for another day.

The other side of the coin is fear. Even though I manage to clock at least 12 laps through the plank and slalom that night, the more I go through it, the less confident I felt and the more tense I became.

I’m in half the mind to give up. But I’m also reluctant to accept the fact that I’m just not a natural and I probably one of those who needs a lot more training compare to many other people. Calling it quits also means that I accept that I can’t do it and probably can’t improve much.

As an educator who encourage students to persist, not walking the talk would be a terrible sin. Yet, if I continue like this, giving it up will become the only logical thing to do although when is also another question to answer.

What should I do?


journey to RIDE II: Shame, Ego and Reaching Out

It has been a humbling experience being a student again, on a subject which I know I would suck but I never expected myself to suck that much.

IMG_4316-editNo puns intended but it was a fundamental left turn which I couldn’t get it right after 400 minutes of lessons.

I thought I would be fine. I did not clear the stage the first three times but I do see that ever small bit of improvement and I was perky and excited about it.

The fourth time, I lost it all. Everything I did seem terrible and of course, I did not manage to clear it. I walked out of the driving center feeling really discouraged and disappointed at myself.

That was the first time in a long while which I felt that I wanted to give up because I felt that I wasn’t able to go through this. Just thinking about the plank, the shalom, the figure 8 course and the crank course which will come in the next few lessons if I manage to pass this one scares me.

A large part of it was ego, an ego of a man who was afraid of losing and not able to learn as quickly as so many other people, and always having a fear mental block.

I also hate it when I said I wanted to start on something and I didn’t see through to it. During my teenage years, there were too many instances where I just give up on something too soon. In the end, it was a waste in my investment both time and money, amplified by the fact that my family wasn’t well to do; I felt I was wasting away my parents hard-earned money.

The biggest irony is that I’m a lecturer, and I always tell my students not to give up.

It was bitter. Very bitter. It took me lots of courage to being on my lessons and now I felt that I wanted to give up because of ego and fear. Unacceptable. Yurusenai.

I knew I had to reach out. I immediately popped a message to my friend, James, who was also learning riding to explained how I felt. He had been a great inspiration to get me started and keep me going in my journey to ride and he always seems to know exactly the words to say to make me feel better.

“Perhaps this is how your students felt during programming lessons.”

Well, if it is then this would be an important rite of passage for me then. To fail, fail, fail, and try again. Since I’m the almost-always-get-A student, always stump about how best to motivate my students, now I have a story to that I can relate with and share too.

There’s also Ray who openly shared his personal stories with me and expressing lots of empathy. It always help to know that I am not alone in the situation.

I also did a shout out on Twitter and Facebook. I must say I’m surprised at the number of people who responded and left me a reply of encouragement. Some also private message me to find out what’s going on. To everyone, I’m very very thankful that you did what you did. You made me feel safe to dare greatly again.

Let’s see how far I can go. It’s still too soon to call it quits. Yes, got to put that ego aside. Fear everyone has it, just got to manage it. But, there’s no place for ego in a learning environment.

On hindsight, now I know what I felt. It was the warm wash of shame that Brené Brown, my favourite author, often talked about. Empathy rules.



thoughts on my journey to RIDE

At last, I started my bike lessons after about 1.5 years of procrastination. After lots of thoughts, chastised by many around me and me, preconditioning my family members that it is ok to ride (by the way, didn’t realise that my Dad is still crazy about bikes all these years!). The cute thing is that after I announced to the whole world that I’m beginning riding lessons, many started congratulating me and sent me videos of accidents at the same time. I couldn’t help it but make up stories in my head that these guys are trying to persuade me to stop “all these biking nonsense” in me.IMG_4316-edit

Well… I really ought to be thankful that they care for my well being too. All I can think about what to do with the videos so far is to learn about how accidents can be avoided. With that being said, feel free to send me more!

At this point, I must admit that as far as I am excited to begin on the practical stages of my bike lessons, I also feel a tinge of fear; I wondered if I am able to learn as smoothly as I wanted to. For one thing, I don’t cycle well. My friend has to save me from a brush with death when I fell about 12-13 years ago.

It was totally different for this 60-year-old lady I met at the driving school! She was filled with pure excitement and passion. She wanted to see the world through different eyes, and felt strongly that riding would give her more freedom to do that. She was so excited that she signed herself up for all the four theory lessons in a single day so that she can start on her practical the soonest. I had to split the lessons up across two days as I weren’t sure if I can focus through the 400 minutes of lessons.

I really admired her spirit, her perseverance and her courage to learn riding at her age.

You are never too old to learn something eh?