Sunday, February 27, 2011

Kiara#6 Feb2011

After two weeks of not riding, i am back at Kiara this morning. The gang (hereby known as T-Clan - for Titanium) met up somewhere and they will try out a new trail near Carnival.
Big group ride today and the usual guys were there. Additional to that, Ms. Adilah Junid, recovering from her bad fall, was back in action.
I arrived earlier and took on 2K loop before attempting Twin Peak. The rain a day before sort of made the ground soft and mushy. A week ago, i enquired about the best possible tyre that could be used in Kiara (in my attempt to find the "sweet spot" for tyre) and to my surprised, the Hutchinson Scorpion 2.0 performed above my expectation. In fact, it bite so well the only thing that actually stopped me from clearing all the switchbacks was my non-existence skills of reading the lines and finding the exact gear.
With that last sentence there, my Kiara ride this morning pretty much went that way. My severe lack of skill off road and prevented me to fully utilize the tyres. Next change would be the Kenda Nevegal - the favorite tyres that received rave feedback. I was also told to consider running 2.1 upfront and 2.0 at the rear, or less.
Now, before i start talking as if i am some tech expert but ride like shite, let me clarify that poor rider like me needs all the help i can get. My stamina allows me to push at high rate for an extended point of time, but there are only that much of long lasting brute force could last.
In fact, today i found my heartrate to be so under controlled. I did not exceed past 80% of my MaxHR and hovers comfortably around 75%. So, that is a good improvement and indication of my fitness level that is on it's way back.
I bumped into RoLance and Alex half way up TwinPeak as they exit from Snake&Ladder. They started early like 6am and armed with lights as bright (or brighter) as car headlamp, they literally turned night into day.
I've made my order for that magic light and i shall be riding in light-ness in two weeks' time. :)
There was a new trail that everyone managed to try out. It runs around the area between the park and the parking up Kiara Hill. Must say those bumps looked deceiving and i believe i found a longer warm up ride before moving to the cross junction of Kiara Hill.
Welcome back Adilah!
The route was set and decided. It was meant to be a ride to Kampung and then back via Plan C. With that everyone started riding and as usual, i was packing the back. I felt good on the ride today and it was my inability to read the lines and also predict the right gear that has failed me. MUST IMPROVE.
I stopped only ONCE going up TwinPeak, this was a great achievement as i usually stop at least twice. The once i stopped was because i was on the wrong gear. Hard luck. Following behind Supreme Lord Stanley (SLS) was certainly a joy as i took all his lines. Good tips along the way too thanks to SLS.
I must start to reduce the resting time of these guys above!
There was some minor trail maintainence done by SLS, Terence and RoLance. Myself and Shang just enjoyed the view. After all, these three guys has enough muscle mass to get the things done.
Down Clenched Sphincter to Kampung and myself and RoLance split up with the main group. As i was too slow and has been holding them back and at the speed i was riding, i potentially will cause them to spend more time than they should riding back.
SLS working his magic even with dogs.
My return journey saw me threading through the rich man horse park, up Mission, back to 2K, went through the route down to the pump house and back to the park.
Distance : 18.53km
HR Max : 172bpm
Time : 2:47

2011 Mileage so far:
Run: 20.6km

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Body Inking : Work In Progress

I had wanted to get a tattoo since i completed my first Ironman race in 2008. It was like coming of age kinda thing for me. A tattoo as taboo as it may sound - made worse by the thoughts (back then, it sounded damn right) of putting the famed M-Dot logo onto my body.
There were many camps of thoughts when it comes to this. Afterall Ironman is a registered trademark that belongs to World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) and putting the M-DOT would make it no better than putting the "swoosh" or "three lines".
I decided then maybe finishing just one Ironman race might not justify this tattoo. After all, i am not going to live on just ONE glory.
I was not genetically gifted to do sports. no one in the family has any record of excelling in sports. I am definitely do not have the genetic advantage to do any sports. I suck at football and uses my hand more than my legs. I suck at rugby; never scored a try in my whole entire life playing it. I can't sprint and my long distance endurance sucks. When i did my first triathlon (PD Tri 2005), i know this will be the thing i will do long term - for as long as my body will let me.
Many asked why i want the tattoo. I am not sure what i will write after this justify it, or just plain "excuse" to get one.
When i crossed the line in IM08. It was a delirious experience. I did not finish the race among the top 50% and i was not the bottom 20%. In a race such as Ironman where there is really no prize for finishing (instead, we pay top money to race!), it is about the human spirit.
It is about the "I Can".
It is about changing IMPOSSIBLE to I'M-POSSIBLE.
The next two years saw myself consistently racing and involved with more triathlon races. I finished every race and as the guns went off in each of them, it was me against myself. Swim. Bike. Run. Repeat.
I finished the next Ironman in 2009 with some drama.
It wasn't until Ironman 2010 that i really had learnt to appreciate my own health and body. By then, i was very sure that i will want to ink myself.
Decisive point was when i struggled during PD Tri 2010. It also marked my 5th year in Triathlon. I marked my journey this far. How despite at the very brink of passing out - i pushed on. I had found my calling. Swim. Bike. Run.

Corny. I know.

So. I begin scouring the Internet for ideas. Skipping everything M-Dot though i found out i really like that just might make me compromise my decision.
I decided that this wasn't what i wanted after making the appointment on my birthday last year. I do not want to carry a "brand". Then, i saw a SBR logo on my tri-mate's bike.
But how would it looked like on my calf and with possible tribal-like interpretation?
It will be something i will live my life with. I do not want to mess it up by making the wrong decision.
It has to breath Swim - Bike - Run. It has to have "life".
But this will be too simple. Perhaps there might be magic in K.I.S.S (Keep It Simple, Stupid). This rendition promises little pain. Done in 30minutes. Max.
"But i raced a whole freaking 17hours, three times over!", i told myself.
I then saw this on someones arm. Another person that breathe Swim Bike and Run. Just like me. I hate this. I hated the rock. I hated the lifeless crank. I hated the wings on the shoes.
Armed with these images, i reported myself to Borneo Ink. Wifey has had her two previous tattoos done there by the sifu himself, Eddie.
My tattooist would be Simon, Eddie's brother. They have been in business long enough and are well established. What draws me there was that they are clean. Everything are sterilized, even the chair/bed you will lie down in. Lina is the younger sister to both Eddie and Simon. They are wonderfully fun people. Entertaining and (if you see LA Ink) makes you feel really comfy.
I showed Simon the photos above. He was not in favor of anything with logo. Good. That's a start.
That also left us with just the last image.
Dauntingly, I told him what i do not want and he then went to work.
about 30minutes later, he showed me the sketch.
He gave the whole rendition another life. My smile must had caught his attention and after a few fine-tuning and my last request to include "140.6" into the artwork which he replied "I see what i can do".
The artwork received thumbs up from myself and wifey. It WILL cover my whole calf. It WILL be in color.
"Two sessions lar bro", Simon said.
It was then it begin to sink in just how much work will go into this tattoo.
I was then prepped while Fin (the parlour assistant, similarly to Yoji from the LA Ink fame) prepared the stencil.
Stencil was then transferred to my skin. I was asked to take a look.
I was smiling.
This will be what i want. No regrets.
I then laid down on the bed. In full anticipation. I will be inked for the first time.
With the heavy buzzing typical of the tattoo machine and images of needles moving at lighting's too late to pull out as it sank into my calf.
Not really. The buzzing bothers me more than the slight feeling that felt like my hair are being pulled out one by one.
Simon worked on the outline to capture all stenciled image.
It was surreal as i see my skin raised from the outlining. Yeap. Definitely too late.
Simon then started to work on the chainring. And the pain/burn starts to set in as the skin was repeatedly punctured to insert the coloring.
You can already see the skin raised and inflamed. At this point of time, i recieved sms from Adeline which read:
"I also conceptualizing....your pain".
I believe Mac was laughing in the background too. Hahaha!
It was already almost the second hour i was there by the time Simon finished the chainring.
The tattooing continued with Simon shading the wave/water. The sensation turned into searing burn type as the skin was continuously punctured at about the same spot for shading. I thought the worse was over when he said he will be coloring them.
The wave/water received full force coloring. It was like i fell from the top of Carnival in Kiara to the bottom of the car park. Each time with the stones cutting and bruising the bruises. It was like falling from a roadbike at 30km/h. The roadburn.
"Too late to do black and white bro", Simon jested and obviously know i was in some sort of pain.
I kept my composure. This can't be worse than wifey giving birth. Can't be worse than the feeling i had running on 7mg/l of blood iron.
After 3hours 30mins, the tattoo was sort of 50% completed. Perhaps. Maybe less. The wave/water still has more coloring to do. There are still empty spaces between some of the lines. The shoe was not touched. I am to come back in two weeks' time.
Can you see the shading of the wave and water? Simon has also added more "white" onto the chainring to make them 3D-like or lend some depth.
I was very impressed and happy with what came out from this. The 140.6 miles was at the rear of the shoe in a way i did not expected it to be. Impressed!
I will have to return in 2 weeks' time to complete this in another 2 or 3 hours session. And of course, i will be eagerly posting the completed tattoo here again for all of you to see.
Now that the skin is raw and felt like a really bad sunburn (to the touch), i am just very excited about the next session. 
Those with tattoos are right. It's addictive. 
It is as addictive as my Swim Bike and Run!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Kiara#6 Feb2011

I hate Kiara today. I hate hate hate. The simplest climb up from car park to Kiara hill was met with loads of challenges today. I did not struggled to climb, but i failed to find the line to climb.
It is true what every Kiara riders says "Kiara will not be the same every time you rides it. This is what makes it challenging".
I arrived earlier this morning at about 7am and sms-ed Rolance. He said the group will be meeting up at 8am at the cross junction. with 30mins to spare, i told myself there is enough time to do the Apollo-2k-Mission trail.
20m into the trail i saw Mike Phoon exiting the trail.
"got fallen tree", he said.
I went to investigate and yeap, the trail was blocked off at three places. So i turned back and went down reverse mission and back.
Pat B's handiwork. He and a bunch of TRAKS heroes and heroines maintained the trails so other can ride.
By 8am, everyone was at the cross junction. Most of them i have not met before and the usual guys are there. Roland, Alex, Jason Phua, Kee Yeow, Stanley Ng, Mike Phoon, Soon- those that i am familiar with. Met a few others such as Kheng Leong (hello! Finally!), Jason Tan and a few others which, again, i did not introduce myself. I seriously know i will be dropped like fly behind these riders.
So, first loop was the Apollo-2K-Mission; which met with a premature stop due to the trees. Pat and a few has already started to clear the trail. The rest of us joined in.
Pat came with a chain saw. YES. A chain saw. i just lend a few fast-twitch muscle and cleared some of the wood that was shredded by the saw. 
With that cleared, the immortals rode down the trails in breaknecks/breaklegs speed. Not far in front, another tree that need clearing.
With that tree cleared, the guys sped down the terrace. I stopped of course. No point having another tumble down the three-drops on the terrace. More so when i found out (yesterday) that i had the back of my right thighs (hamstring) bruised when i tumbled down on Kiara#5.
Rolance down the triple-drop terrace. Redeeming the fumble he did last Saturday.
Stanley stayed behind with me. He even passed me some samples of Endurolytes. By the way, Stan sells Hammer Nutrition stuff. It is one of the sports supplement that is actually natural and do not have synthetic ingredients. So, if you are interested, either email me at opstupe at gmail dot com (so i can link you up with him) or leave a comment or email him at stanleyn at gmail dot com.
Nothing speaks of the brand better than the current KLMBH HeadBasher!
I exited the ride to the crossroad and the group was then split to three. One decided to end the ride (had enough), one decided to do a shorter ride (Me and Rolance) and the third decided to go LOOONNNG.
So, up TwinPeaks - down DirtyDeeds - went along Sungai - reverse LungBuster - part of Karnival - Carpark for me and Rolance. The other groups decided that 220bpm is just theoretical maximum human heart rate and went for the longer route down Kampung.
Uncle Leong scored a 207bpm max. I will be laying down with a cardiac arrest if i followed.
For myself. Kiara#6 makes me hate Kiara. I pushed slightly more than i ride. I did not clear all the switchbacks. I pushed on most downhills. Score now is Kiara 4 - Stupe 2.
But i will be back for more. With tips from Stan and Roland, i am sure it is a matter of time before i will ace the simplest trail - TwinPeaks.
Distance : 12.25km
Max HR : 168bpm

2011 Mileage so far:
Run: 20.6km

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ajmal Luxury Perfume : Winners of The Valentine's Day Mini-Competition

This is the results of the Ajmal Valentine's Day Mini-Competition Winner Names:

Ce-Yan Ho
Nazrul Hisham
Fitri Norain

The decision are based on accurate/correct answers to the questions asked and completion of the Slogan that essentially captured the memories of the scent (and character) they want to create.
May i request that Ce-Yan, Nazrul and Fitri to send me another email with their address and contact details so i could post the RM150 (each) vouchers from Ajmal Perfume.


For the record, the answers to the questions as posted here are:
Q1. Crafting Memories
Q2. My Inspiration
Q3. Lot 3.49.00, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur

Many did not give the lot number correctly (or omits them). I took trouble to get the map of Pavilion KL to show exactly where Ajmal is. This was used as pre-screening for the mini-contest! Decisions are final! 
Thank you to all that has taken part! Watch out for more competition in my blog!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Male Bonding

Me and Ryan having a haircut at the same time today. I hope he won't forget all these little things.

Kiara#3-#5 Feb2011

I rode Kiara on Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday this week. I am kind of addicted to this place. In fact, i am riding this place more this week than i ever done in combination over 5 years!
Perhaps it is a good thing. After all, Kiara is 3km ride away.
I rode Thursday and Friday myself alone. Was kind of worried and I do not know the trails well. Only familiar name that i can think of is Twin Peak, 2K, Kampong and Carnival.
The two rides i did with RoLance has made me re-think my HRMax, or maximum heart rate. The typical formula is 220-Age. This will give me a theoretical HRMax of 185bpm. A more accurate representation would be for someone to push themselves to the (thin fine line of cardiac arrest or to the) point of fainting. This is how VO2Max is measured as well.
As one gets fitter and stronger, the can push themselves to maximal effort with very controlled HR (or effort). Many factors will change/influence this, which includes temperature, humidity and even altitude. In a controlled environment (usually in a sports lab where a person's VO2Max or HRMax are measured), one can safely obtain this vital information.
So, what do one do when they do not have the privilege of a sports lab or know people that could actually do this for a small token fee?
They do Kiara.
After riding at Kiara twice with Roland, i thought it's time for me to attempt it on my own. Kiara#3 mark the ride i did on my own. Not knowing much where to go, i try to recollect the route that Roland took me.
Apart from a few dead-ends and climbing back to the last known junctions, i did not get lost too far.
Distance :11.61km
HRMax : 170bpm
Really struggled up TwinPeaks. Took 4 attempt to get a clear photo as the other 3 blurred as my hand shakes. HRMax170bpm right here!
Finished the ride by doing the 2K loop and back to carpark a happy man with no fall!
The next day, i decided to ride Kiara again. Kiara #4 was a more confident ride (both routes and technical riding) as the previous Kiara#3 gave me some guts again.
Cleaned the drops and hairpin corners
Elated and perhaps it was without Roland pressuring from the front (as in i have to chase him) helped a bit. I posted a good improvement in timing too over the same route.
Singletracks mostly. This is an easier portion with no roots on ground to topple you over. But if not careful, your butt will end up down the cliff on the left.
My heart rate went up the roof in yesterday's ride. 172bpm was a nice feeling. It makes you feel alive. Yeah right. 
"hypeventilated at 172bpm. Heart wanted to jump out. Diaphragm contracting to assist lung. Lung gasping for air. Sphincter muscle threathen to give way...but no fainting feeling. There got to be an EASIER way to determine your Max Heartrate!!!
Distance : 9.28km
Today, i did Kiara#5. Thinking this will start to be a walk in the park for me after two successful "fast" ride. With me planning to push my HRMax beyond 172bpm. I got to find my absolute maximal heart rate. It has become sort of obsession.
With me for the ride was Roland, Terence Law, Jason Phua, Kee Yeow, Dex and two other person that i did not introduce myself with. Perhaps it was anxiety on my side.
Once the route has been decided (2K-Apollo-Mission), Jason and Dex lead the way. Naturally, i followed through. And within 20seconds, i regret doing so. Those two were going down 2K at breakneck (and break legs) speed! I lost sight of them slightly under 30seconds and my meter read 25km/h; DOWNHILL. My average ROAD SPEED is 25km/h!
With 4 others right behind my back, i have to keep up the speed. Adrenalin does funny things to your mind and balls.
I missed one switchback (or hairpin) and decided to let everyone else overtake me. Down goes Roland into what these Kiara freaks call Terrace (at 2K). Roland cleaned the first drop and then fumbled as he fell. I was right behind him, cleaned the first drop...and in my attempt to avoid him (and fighting gravity), i went over the bar again. I swore i saw the whole thing in slow motion.
Body over bar. Legs in midair. Eyes saw a tree i can grab to stop falling.Missed it. Darn. Ugghh. Umphhh. Rolled over. Hey maybe can stand up. Nope. Went rolling second time. Saw legs again. Oppffh. Shit, whats that cracking sound?. Stopped.
I landed about 5meters away from my bike, at the bottom of the terrace. Terence had a good sight of me falling and Roland too had first class view.
Bike ok. Ride on.
The previous bruises and healing wounds from Kiara#2 was bruised/wounded again. The layer of dried skin peeled and in addition, a deeper cut on right side of knee cap. The embarrassment of the fall was not painful. The pain from the painful healing wound was painful. I scraped by elbow too.
Discussing how to fall prettily.
Perhaps it was a good fall or instinct told me to roll around to break the fall. Better than face first definitely.
The rest of the ride was pretty much very cautiously done. As the adrenalin wears off from the fall, pain started to come in. we finished off Mission and back at the crossroad.
It was then up TwinPeak - down Dirty Deeds - Traverse Snake&Ladder - Up TwinPeak again - went Around The Mountain - Carnival.

I bumped into a colleague of mine. He is doing his last Kiara Farewell ride. He has requested to be transferred to Australia.
I believe he rode all the trails there are in Kiara Hill - and only not managing to clear two trails due to the ride gradient.
At Carnival, i pretty much pushed my bike down. Can't risk more fall. I might get turned off. Perhaps.
Distance : 11.12km
HRMax : 170bpm.
Cleaned the bike and headed home. More pain awaits at home as i clean the healing wound and fresh wound with Dettol, Alcohol wipes and dress it with OpSite spray. I can already feel the burn and cringing my eyebrow as i near home.
I am now hooked on Kiara.

2011 Mileage so far:
Run: 20.6km

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ajmal Perfume : Creating Your Signature Parfum

I was at Ajmal Perfume outlet at Pavilion KL yesterday morning for a very unique experience in the world of scent.
Soo Kui Jien, or Jien as he is known in the television/hosting personality was in the store to create a signature perfume for his wife, Sarah Tan.
"They say the best gift anyone can get as gifts comes from the heart. I chose to create a special fragrance, which perfectly captures the essence of my beautiful wife, Sarah.She is a loving wife and a wonderful mother and she is my inspiration. I could not have thought of a better gift than the "My Inspiration" that i created at Ajmal", Jien shared of his reason why he has chose Ajmal as a Valentine's Day gift for Sarah.
Mr. Abdulla Ajmal, the third generation of the perfume company (his late grandfather, Ajmal Ali, was the founder of the company. Read more of it here) was in town to help Jien create the signature perfume for Sarah. Abdulla is a perfumist that understand and are able to recommend/concoct/perfect a blend of scent unique to your liking. Think of it as getting a cook to make your favorite meal, the way you like it to be.
Abdulla showed those that was present on how he helped Jien to concoct that unique fragrance. Like a intricate dance, Abdulla swirled and mixed the selected ingredients (i counted four) to create the final blend.
Each ingredient was measured using lab-precision tools down to the milliliter (ml)
The process uses pure essential oil from natural ingredients. Some takes a minimum of 2 weeks to draw just 1ml through distillation process. To make the perfect perfume, three ingredient is needed to provide the top, mid and base scent. After the three main oil was mixed, it is then filled to about 75% full with a dilution oil.
The remaining 25% is for "fine tuning" to ensure the end product is to the liking and expectation of the client. On the average, it takes up to 45minutes to personalise a "My Inspiration" perfume. Once done, the ingredient will be recorded and the proportions that were used and present the client with a unique ID for their "My Inspiration" perfume. You can also name it if you want! 
Jien called his floral scent he created for Sarah...MySarah!
This also meant that when MySarah runs out, all Jien needed to do is to call/order/come to the store and have one exact same scent prepared! In fact, if Sarah wants to fine-tune the scent further, her feedback on what she wants could be done and it can be called MySarah No.2. No extra charges other than paying for the new bottle of personalised perfume.
I know some of you might think this will most probably empty your wallet faster than anything else. I was surprised to know that the price starts from RM125/100ml Eu De parfum (EDP), customized! There is also the smaller bottle of 50ml at RM65 (confirmation needed). 
If you are not the adventurous type or do not want to create your own unique scent, Ajmal has a large line ups of pre-concocted perfumes with prices that start from as low as RM65!. We were told that they have both alcohol and non-alcohol based perfume. So, the choices could be endless and only limited by your olfactory senses to distinguish smell!
My experience at the store the other day has actually opened up and debunked my thoughts that middle eastern perfume are overladen with musky smell that could nauseate anyone that smell it. That was so a myth! Ajmal line of products has both western and eastern influence and you can expect floral, fruity, woody and even (yes) musky tone to the perfume.
Ajmal's perfume are perfume and not Eu De Toilette (EDT). Most fragrances in the market are EDT. Ajmal's fragrances are EDP. EDT is watered down perfume. EDP contains anything from 7% to 15% perfume concentration and EDT only has 1% to 6% of perfume. Essentially, you could be paying for "lesser" products in EDT without knowing it! 
If you ever wondered why some fragrances do not last as long as others, that is because of the concentration of perfume in the products. EDT are meant for short-lasting scent and EDP could last you the whole day and even lingers on clothes for days! Perfume comes in small vials and are extremely expensive. Woody type of perfume at Ajmal could cost thousands of Ringgit as it appreciate with aging. The most expensive variant is RM30,000 for a vial of 20 years old Oudh!
This is NOT the RM30K vial...but close.
Not to be missed out and because Wifey was with me, we decided to shop for some fragrances. their choices of EDP is huge. Wifey likes light scent that is floral and easy and fresh for the day. We were introduced to one of their best seller called ENTICE. Entice for women is light and floral. For men, it was heavier and woody.
At RM125/75ml EDP, this is a steal. Some EDT could cost up to RM300 if it is some "branded" stuff!
Not enough with just one, we settled for a second bottle at RM65/50ml. SACRED LOVE is very vanilla like with sweet smelling base. It makes nice night time fragrances. Thanks to Hanie for recommending it!

I hope my showcasing of Ajmal will piqued some of your interest, especially for some of you that collects and love fragrances. And if you are those that collects and love to tingle your olfactory senses and at times found them overwhelmingly numbing your senses, here is a tip from Ajmal.
Smell some coffee. It will neutralise your senses again and prepare your nose for more scent-sational experience!
"My Inspiration" is a concept that Ajmal introduced as part of their commitment and their brand philosophy of "Creating Memories". In conjunction with Valentine's Day celebration, Abdulla also announced the Valentine's Wishing Fountain Competition. Customers who purchase more than RM100 in Ajmal products until Valentine's Day will stand a chance to win exciting daily prizes whilst one lucky couple will have the chance to win themselves a 3Day-2Night trip to Langkawi, courtesy of Ajmal!
To reserve your spots to create that perfect perfume, or to find out more about Ajmal Perfumes' Competition, call 03-2144 1533 or 03-2144 3633.
And if you have not heard, i am currently running a mini-competition in my blog. Three readers of my blog that could successfully answer the questions correctly and complete a slogan WILL win a RM150 cash voucher each. That is more than enough for you to "Creating Memories" of your own "My Inspiration" perfume! Details in the previous posting!

*Ajmal Pefumes will be establishing Ajmal Perfumes counter and kiosks in major retail department stores nationwide. The first one is located in Parkson Store in One Utama new wing. With over 120 types of western and oriental fragrances, you will only run out of nose to smell them all!
A big thank you to Ajmal, Mr. Abdulla and Advertlets for this opportunity!