Friday, May 15, 2009

Port Dickson by Sham Wahab

Fendi has pretty well summed up our ride to PD. Couldn't have said any better.

I would now just put in some of my own reflections.... People say, the 2 most joyous moments that a boat/yacht owner will tell you is, the day he bought the boat and the other being the day he finally sells it.The experiences in between that, seems insignificant.I will now lay similar claims for the cyclists. The joy is 1) in the anticipation of the ride and 2) is when he finally completes the ride. Whatever happens in between......he'll be hard pressed to tell you.

How we were laughing and smiling when we realised how easy it was to get to PD and in no time. Much of the fear was with Bkt Pelandok. If by car, it would seem pretty menacing but the truth is our Puncak Alam is far more challenging. Just like it's name sake, the Pelandok was easy game...and we were all out hunting it! The elated feeling drove us to even pick and choose our seaside shots, one for the album. Most of us then went for KFC after that much missed opportunity on our last Banting trip. You would have found all of us then sprawled on the sidewalk in front of that KFC, some even lying down with contentment. That was the nice part when when we hunted the Pelandok. The part where we had to fight Dragons on their backs....Ah! that would be a different story altogether when the hunter turned dragonslayer.

This happened at LBJ, nice to map it out on the google when all you see are just green. We should have been more weary of what lies beneath all those shades. Bit of history, LBJ stands for Lyndon B Johnson, America's President after Kennedy. Probably the only one who would have ventured to any of our kampongs. So after 40 yearsI found the answer. He must have guessed at least cursing cyclists like us will remember this place. That must have prompted him to agree to put his name the middle of nowhere. So on and on we rolled, up and down, up and down! After about 5 or 6 of these, it gets the better of you and you just have to stop fighting. It came to a point where I just couldn't feel my legs anymore. Well, you see your peddles moving, you search for your legs and you still see it, but you just can't feel it.......the bike's now on auto!

So the teaser " bro, you may have the bike, but have you got the legs?" just then popped into your head. Azmi was my hero of a dragonslayer. From some distance behind I watch him slaying it one after another with no let up. Keeping up with him gave me the strength to see every hill through. Of course with my buddy in armour beside me, Fendi, we conquered the last of it till we come to the part when we got drenched with rain.Then everything started to weigh like a tonne of bricks which we dragged for the next 20km. Back at the Mamak...there was that far away look on everyone's eyes. Just like some pirate movie when they finally reach ashore after battling the storm and some sea monsters.

Will I do it again?....Just give me that Mother of a Dragon- Broga, and we'll have it for breakfast! With the back up car and some walkie talkies, we will be more than prepared for it. Till then

Port Dickson by Affendi Sunday 12 April 2009

You can bill today’s ride as a mini interstate as we transversed through 2 states, Shambo pointed this out. After a week of serious planning to map the route by Sham, Fuzzam, Nazli and our appointed again Captain Foad, we started off at Sepang, all 22 of us plus the support car. On we went through Bukit Pelandok which was supposed to pose a slight challenge as it involves a bit of climbing but all of us breezed through it and then on to Lukut and Port Dickson.

We average 27kph and reached PD in slightly over 2 hours covering just over 50km and most of us didn’t feel it, this 1st part of the ride. Our return journey took us back to Lukut, then through the old road to Seremban bypassing Bukit Pelandok and then we took the turn to LBJ which connected us back to Sepang, and this has got to be the longest 30km plus stretch of non-stop undulations, many many hills, one immediately after another. Just as we got through the 1st one, ahead there was another and then another and then another and then another, rolling on and on, what seemed to be an eternity of one climb after another….I guess you get the drift.

And it was supposed to be one flat ride, this home stretch so all of us got fooled as I believe this was the first time for everyone as well tackling it. The GPS map didn’t really show the terrain to be undulating and it showed up as being flat, so now we all know. My legs are still feeling fuzzy and warm as a result of this stretch as I would guessed everyone had to push a bit to get through it and Fuzz even snapped his chain, that’s how hard he was cranking uphill. And to top it off, it rained FI cars when we got to the Sepang stretch and all of us were soaked to the bone when we got to our cars. 106km in total we rode averaging 25kph, cadence of 90 based on my reading and capability. The front runners would be clocking higher speeds and cadence. Feedback was that this was a good route to come back to after our interstate as the rolling hills was fun to tackle, perhaps this time we’ll ride it in the morning when we are fresh and come back through Bukit Pelandok.

Thanks to those who meticulously planned the ride and guys, looking forward to this coming Sunday’s ride…BROGA here we come. Yeeehaaa! (the scream of pain, that’s my anticipation)

IS 2009 Day 2 By Affendi

“100 years ago, they said that when a black man became president, pigs would fly, and on the 100th day of Obama's presidency.. .......Swine Flew...... (AH1N1)”.

Now on to Day 2 – Gemas to Gunung Ledang Resort 126.3km (photos uploaded as well): It felt like we had a brass section from the M’sian Philharmonic Orchestra in our room; Amir was on tenor sax and Razak was on bass, even with them snoring away, it was like music to my ears as sleep came easy for me and Sham (all 4 of us shared a room in Gemas). Guess it was the exertions of the previous day which got me into deep slumber without much trouble, not sure if I had snored in harmony too. I awoke feeling fresh and ready to tackle Day 2 of our ride which was from Gemas to Gunung Ledang Resort some 126km away. During the dinner briefing the night before, we were told that this leg would be tougher compared to Day 1 so I was bracing for the worst.

We started off at 7.15am after the morning’s briefing and after about 15 minutes of riding, I caught up with the gang who had the yoga instructor riding in their midst so you could say I sort of gate crashed their private party. Riding on I realized that they were behind and instead had caught up with PK (from PCC), Nahar, Azhar and their regular cycling kakis ahead. I rode together with my new found group for a good 40km and stopped what looked like Segamat’s famous kopitiam. The journey up to this point was one undulation after another even when in the town of Segamat and it struck me that it’ll probably be like that the rest of the way. The food was good as expected and we continued on after about 45 minutes break, a slightly longer stop than usual in anticipation of the effort required ahead. It didn’t disappoint, as we veered off the main road after riding another 10km of further undulations, we turned left into a rubber estate in Labis and into more rolling hills but it wasn’t that severe. There I hooked up again with Zaba, Shambo, Razak and Amir who was taking a break at the turn under the cool shade. The road through was really narrow so we rode slow in the shade, enjoying the roller coaster spins in the coolness of the surroundings.

On our bikes, we were a bit faster than Amir and basically he rode alone on his own while the 4 of us continued on until we got to Kg Durian Condong, some 90+km from when we started. There we stopped at Kedai Makan Asiah Ismail for lunch, an obscure place out of nowhere. Good thing that we found a nice place to stop as at this point my butt was hurting bad. Amir then caught up with us and we had a great lunch of ikan sungai segar (baung & patin) cooked in assam pedas, ikan selar, ikan masin, ulam, etc. I guess eating local and al frasco were the main highlights of our ride and with great company, you just don’t want the day to end. With our bellies full and well hydrated, we took off again for our final section of the ride through the outskirts of Tangkak and Muar with more undulations before hitting a 20km stretch of rolling hills that gained in elevation the nearer we got to Gunung Ledang Resort.

It has been undulations and rolling hills almost all the way so it was a major effort for us on the most part to get through this stretch, particularly Amir on his touring bike. Just before we had to turn right at the junction of the Resort, we caught sight of a rider in full yellow jersey with matching shorts, our very own Carlos Shambo aka Sham who overtook us at breakneck speed as he was drafting behind a lorry on his classic. It was a blurr when he passed me, somewhat like FLASH moving like a speeding bullet so we do have a sprinter and a speedster within our midst. At the junction, he had this wry grin when we caught up with him, you knew he had got that rush and had enjoyed that short sprint. We all got to the Resort at about 3.30pm, earlier then the day before and like the day before, we were the last in again and by this we had push up our visibility several notches as the BJ boys who knows how to take their time and enjoy a ride. Aaahhhh…what a ride.

IS 2009 Day 1 by Nazli

At very last minutes, I managed to secure the necessary approval to participate in IS-2009. And managed to convince my sister last night that she have to go balik kampung ... tengok mak bapak, ayam itik, rumput dah panjang bla bla.. :) , and managed to get her to drop me off at Seremban Allson Klana. Met Fendi and Zaba and the rest of BJcyclist gang at the hotel. Wah.... fendi have a spanking brand new Bora Ultra 2. i didn't plan to join PCC all the way. I planned to ride till somewhere near Gemas, then turn left to go back to my kampung. As I write this email, I am resting and lepak at my parent home. No computer here, so I'm gonna write this email on my nokia phone. This is my first ride with PCC. Everything look quite organized. Plenty of support vehicles. Actually I have not register for IS-2009, called a PCC guy yesterday, and he said just come and join the ride. I did enjoy very much the first 35km. The weather was cooling (still early morning), tight peloton, legs still fresh, and no crazy climbing just yet. At about 40 km, then came the real challenge for this stage.
Climbing from 40m to 270m in a 2km stretch. Most of the guys get off their bike and push at about one-third of the way. Same goes with me. Further up in front i saw fendi. He also get off his bike. So i feel not too bad after all, cause even our King of the Mountain also pushing his bike. Must be one hell of a climb. There are few who climb all the way. They probably not human...Kryptonite maybe.. Once we done with the climbing, we were rewarded with a breathtaking 25 km slow descent under the shades of the jungle. At this stage, i join a group of mat salleh that called themselves Team Mayhem (from their jersey). Some dutch, and some english, and they all from Miri, working for some oil & gas company. At the end of the descent, stopped at a small town restaurant, did my refueling (drinks and gel). When i continue my ride, i found myself in a group that go relatively fast. I draft behind the group, and we never get below 30 km/h. The rider that did the pulling could be from LeTua, since he wear LeTua jersey.
At 69km, then disaster strucked for me. Our group probably have about 25-30 riders, and we occupied the whole lane. At one narrow stretch, a bus appeared from the front, sudah sikit makan jalan, and the peloton became tight. I ride on the left, and my space became tighter, and i have to move closer to the edge of the tarmac. It become too tight as we passed the bus, somehow my wheel slide of the tarmac, and bang.. My first peloton crash. The good thing is i didnn't bring anyone else down with me. As i lie on the tarmac, i turned left and there's a honda civic, and he managed to stop just in time. How relieved i am didn't get ran over by the honda. The whole group stopped, and checked myself, feel no broken bones, just minor bruises. Seems like no damage on my bike, just one or two things that came off, and my seat shifted a bit. I signalled to the group that I'm ok, re-adjust my seat, and continue riding. Then realized my back wheel is punctured. I been riding for few months now, but still haven't learn the skill of changing the tube. Fortunately i have this young gentleman name Chester, that i couldn't thanked enough. Now, learning to change tire/tube is in my to-do list.
The last 30 km is pretty tough for me. Maybe because of the scorching hot weather, and fatique got the better of me. My finger is getting tired typing on this tiny keypad on my nokia phone. To keep the story short, I reached at my parents home at 1255 hrs. All the other guys carry on their ride till gemas town. They must be relaxing at their hotel by now. But wait a minute, there's no hotel in gemas, i wonder where they stay.

Day 1 By Nazli Abdullah

I saw Zaba at the early stage, then I lose sight of him. He could be way up front, or at the back. But one would expect a super-fit cyclist like Zaba on a Pinarello Prince to be way up at the front. If he's at the back, then the prince must be slowing down checking out something at the back..Mr president, I think u should know people like myself, affendi, zaba, sham and rest of the guys do not just go for this hundred km of cycling marathon because 'cycling is fun'.. He he. There's a hook.. There's plenty of hook !. Yoga instructor, swimming instructor, aerobic teacher, cikgu tadika, catwalk model, fitness babes, happy lady, lonely lady, gadis kampung, anak mami, marketing exec, secretary, sexytary, ballet dancers, keroncong queen, beauty queen, actresses, singers, californian, ukranian, russian, thai, pinoy, jawa, blonde, brunnete, .... u name it. Semua ada.... But something must be wrong with me. in the early stage i ride behind a very fine young thing with a perfect tan .. And I still remember her name is.... Argon18. I subconciously paid more attention to the bike! Something is wrong.. Banyak sangat kayuh basikal ni.There are few 'very nice' Cervelo as well (I'm not referring to Afendi).

Day 3 By Affendi

Bro Sham, superb account of Day 3..allow me to add some bit parts..& photos uploaded
I like the part where we meandered through the back roads of Johor and got into the outskirts of Melaka. Lovely kampong side views and the aromatic smell of home cooking really stirred up the palate, pretty sure that an enjoyable meal of gastronomic delights await those families. And the distinctive aroma of daun pandan being used brought back vivid memories of mum’s nyonya dishes. She used to cook up a storm during weekends. Sigh, how I missed them good old days.
It was pleasing to note that Amir had over the 2 days, gathered his own band of ‘tourers’ and for this day 3, they were tightly bunch together and resembled a closely knitted group. When we passed them, I caught sight of a father and his young son in his child seat fasten at the front of his bike (not sure if this conforms to safety standards) and a couple on a tandem bike. The mee rebus of Gino located in Ujong Pasir where I used to live sadly wasn’t as good as it used to be. I guess commercialism has caught up with him, his son is now doing most of the work which makes this a 3rd generation business. Gino’s father started it about 6o/70 years ago and the same 3-wheeler is being used up to now, at least that hasn’t changed. Like Sham said, Baba House is a hip place, nice traditional setting and very cool inside. We didn’t stick around for the group dinner as it was crowded so we ate elsewhere, gorged ourselves with masak assam pedas kembong and ikan pari with sambal belacan.
Made the day as I would described it as poetic justice to be able to finally savor a home cook meal which was tasty and delicious. To top it off, we settled into lazy chair while we got ourselves a foot massage, that really top the day. Ode to Day 3! Overall, I had thoroughly enjoyed myself and though quite a number of us had stomach upsets when we got back which was the only downside, IS09 was a roaring success by my reckoning. It was well run and organised, the route was well charted and meeting other fellow cyclists sharing the same interests was the major highlight. Can’t wait for IS10!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Interstate Day 3

I guess the third installment of IS09 for day 3 is due and should conclude this annual event for us.

The night at Gunung Ledang Resort saw us in high spirits as we anticipate our last ride in the morning.

With nothing much within the vicinity to venture to except the jungle, most of us saw fit then to congregate in the hall where our bikes are stored.

It turned out to be a mini bike exhibition when everyone started to peek into those bikes which we each took to our fancy. You tend to admire those expensive ones, much to the delight of it's proud owners, who happily demonstrated the reason why they cost what they cost
If they have made an impact on you, you will find yourself going to bed pondering on the prospects of acquiring what is now the object of your desire, no matter the price. For me, I'll just stick to my old faithful for the time being.

This resort where we were is by no means temperature cool. Vegetation cool was more what it was. There's a waterfall here which seems to have drawn the whole of these Southerners there. Zaba recalled how as a teenager, he came here on a camping trip and witnessed an accident where a boy got swept during heavy downpour and smashed his head against some rocks. So no waterfall trip for us just now.

The promising morning came. Today we started out a little later than the previous day as we were told that this was to be a rather easy 100km ride. The third day IS moved out as one big clump of a group till as usual, after 20km started to disintegrate into many tiny groups. What began as a fairly flat route, transformed into rolling hills till km 80 where the Malacca coast begins. No, today was not to be as tough as yesterday.

Point to note is, not for lack of capacity that we fell back on completing the route in no time. To some it may be about competing to finish first. But to most of us, for the usual suspects at least( four of us minus Amir), it is an oppurtunity to venture and palate the peculiar taste that these countryside can offer. I doubt if we will ever again pass thru some of these places.
Apart from food and country air, day 3 somehow offered a slight twist to our ecotourism agenda. This was to be our lucky day as we managed to have literally snared Amanda (the yogi) to ride along with us....yes, the entire length of the remaining 80km. We baited her with food and drinks at a stall on km20.(pray she don't bump into this mailing group, for that wife too!)
As you would know by now, she has been the talk of PCC, all 200 of them, inclusive of women on women.(and PCC has plenty). Our ride turned to being mostly about accompanying the toast of the party. I'll leave the worthwhile imagination, if any, to the rest of the gang to fill in. ( Razak can furnish the intrigues that ensued during the ride)

To some of us,with this sweetener, the day should last as long as possible. It wasn't until we began to feel the sea breeze in our faces that we realised we had a route to complete.
We have then hit the coastal road to Malacca and the sun was already beaming on top of us. Coastal routes, by nature are always pleasant. This was the day when the Straits of Malacca was at it's bluest......but on the contrary, it is only so coz the sky is cloudless! So the intensity of the baking sun on your head along with the heat from the tarmac, dispells all sense of 'feel good' factors you might amount of Amanda can help keep a straight head.

We are now passing thru Serkam, Umbai then Alai and into scenic Padang Temu, a kampong sprawled with swaying coconut trees. One should get a heightened poetic sense whenever the sea breeze brushes thru your face. I make no pretenses here. It wasn't just the face, it was more of the whole bike and body that the wind was trying to blow off the road!
It was big time drag all the way till we reached our reserved lunch in the Portugese Quarters. Fendi, ever the resourceful guy, had apparently called in earlier to book us at his favorite Mee Rebus stall. With Fendi, you can book any roadside cendol mamak. We are now in Malacca and exhausted.

Next time check with Fendi if you plan to visit M'ka, he knows his M'ka like the back of his palm. Not sure if Amanda was impressed with the mee rebus but later on she did mentioned how much she enjoyed being with, as she puts it........ hanging with the 'Chill Out Bkt Jelutong' boys!
We had one last snapshot together in front of the giant Ferries Wheel before heading on to our hotel destination. The Baba Hotel turned out to be a really hip and cool hotel right smack in the middle of Jonkers. Again with the ever illustrious Fendi chaperoning us around, we had one heck of a memorable time here. I will no doubt come again to the very places that I've been shown to. ( but Zaba beat me to it by being back there just last weekend, secret training and all!)
There couldn't be any better place than Malacca to bring the tour to a closure. I will end this posting with the anxiety of expecting what IS10 would then be compared to the one we've just concluded. One thing I bet, we can double the fun if we can double the group.... and with our jerseys too...Cheerio!

Sham A Wahab

Interstate 2009 Day 1

For us, this was how IS2009 started on day1As planned,we made our way to BJ Pankin for the 4am bus.Most arrived by 3 and had their cars parked at Razak's house while some got their father in-law or wives to drive them there, for want of proof more than anything that we are really going that crazy hour.

Nahar got himself a nasty knife cut while unpacking his stuff. It was so deep that the local clinic told him to get to a hospital for some stitches. He didn't want to have any of that as he might miss out on the ride. So the story goes that he rode those 3 days with an open wound.The bus only started to move out at around 5am,still we had to go pick the Towkay bus up. Zaba only manage to be up at 4, so we took the bus right up to his front door.

We arrived at Allson Klana S'ban a little past 6am and the place was already swelling with bikes in all kinds of shapes and colors. With techno music blaring away, you can imagine an atmosphere charged with excitement there that morning. This PCCInterstate is such an organized event that you see many tour cameraman and bike journals covering the event. BJ was even approached by one bike journalist who has heard so much about our cycling community. She will do a write up on us and asked us to mail her some material. ( more on this later)This is the 13th Interstate. Every Interstate route is thoroughly scrutinized and they recce 3/4 times before firming them up. They also recce again the day before each ride route in the event there was to be any roadworks or last minute closure. Signs are placed at critical junctions and in previous years there were police manning traffic in town areas too. There are always ride Marshalls everywhere in support vehicles even in the most remote and lonely corners of the route. Not to mention together with other private support vehicles, you feel reassured of help if ever you need it.I believe there is a formula that PCC applies when orchestrating these Interstate routes. Most obvious is the mixture of one 14% degree climb( 3km of it) on day1,endless rolling hills on day2 and a pleasant relatively flat but heavy on headwind on day3.

So you can almost see 3 different character days and remember each one differently.Almost 200cyclists participated from all over the country. Some came in organized groups with one particular MatSalleh group that stands out. That made us from BJ feel that we were missing our jerseys now that we have the bus.DAY1Our BJ boys were: Affendi, Zaba, Razak, Azmi, Zainuddin, Nahar, Razali, Azhar, Amir Faezal( most experienced rider after ARZ), Jeff Lew and myself-Sham. Nazli came on his own and rode along on day1 on his way back to his kampong.The Interstate was flagged off at S'ban by 7 am. You can hear the 'rain sound' of the 200 gyrating pedals as we began to move out of town. This was when my own misadventure began as soon as it all started. Within 5 minutes of cycling my shoelaces got entangled in the pedal. It jammed my legs and I had to stop to undo it. No big deal as Azhar was waiting on me. As soon as I was on my bike again the knee accidentally jerked the bike bag off the top tube, there goes my gas canisters and stuff sprawled in the middle of the road. By now no one was in sight and I was the last man!Without glasses I can't read properly so I followed an arrow that showed a right turn to K.Pilah when the rest have actually gone straight on to Rembau. Another of the same arrow urged me on to keep following this road. It wasn't till after reaching Bukit Putus and having rushed thru 20km that I started wondering about the rest.It would be impossible I thought, that I would be the slowest bugger of the lot. Hoping to at least catch the back of the slower MTB boys, I took on the B.Putus climb which wasn't any tougher than the Gap at Fraser's. Still no one's backside was in sight. It wasn't till Zaba called that I realised that I have detoured and those arrows must have been for some Kenduri Kahwin! I should have paid attention to PCC's yellow arrows. The gang waited on me near Rembau while I was already in K.Pilah all by myself.

After some nasi lemak we decided to catch up a little further up as I knew I will be able to cross back into the route if I head towards Tampin.True enough we regrouped again at the junction to Gemenceh. By then they told me that I have missed the greatest torture of all which was a Cat1 15% climb near Johol where almost all had to crawl up on foot. Those few who made it thru on bikes are just not human!After some refreshments(like the Cokeman says Coke works wonders) and topping up, the five of us, Zaba, Fendi, Razak, Amir and myself once again moved on. By now the sun was already truly out but the scenery along these Kampong routes are just as you expected them to be...pleasant. After several rolling hills at km 85, my front tyre gave a nasty pop before it deflated.The gang was way ahead of me to have noticed this except for Amir, cruising at 25km/h, he eventually caught up to give a hand. It was already 2pm and the sun was ontop of us when this happened.After 2hrs having gone thru 3 tubes, 2 gas canisters and several hand pumps later, I still couldn't get the tyre roadworthy. Problem was with the miday heat, these lightweight tubes just kept bursting away the moment I set it to roll again. The nearby kampong folk even obliged us with a pail of water when we needed to test some patch up tubes. Still all those patching was futile to say the least. However, frustrations aside, somehow this was one way of getting connected to rural folks and accept some hospitality from total strangers.

After weighing in the options, it was agreed that Amir should leave me as it was almost 4pm. I think it was Amir who felt more defeated instead of me since in all his experiences, he never has to give in. I was then to wait out for a rescue car who only got hold of me by about 6pm. This gave me a chance to chat with the Felda folks who by now had gathered around this coffeeshop I found and was hanging around in.They were so taken by what this PCC event was all about and that we were going thru some gruelling distance.It won't surprise me if I were to pass thru here again to find a new Felda Bukit Rokan cycling exchange, I've learned something about the prices of Rubber and Palm oil or how to manage acres of them.That Felda if anything, would be my share in spreading the cycling gospel. Thus my cycling came to a closure for day1 at km 85.

Meanwhile our 3 upfront warriors were soldiering on with another 40km till the end while Amir was busy checking out for spare tubes for me at Gemenceh town. Accordingly he called to say he found the one and only cycle shop there with the only Polygon road bike which this chinaman has been trying to sell for donkeys of years. There was only 2 spare 70cm tubes which I told Amir to snatch but it was all too late for me then.So the story goes that Razak, Zaba, Fendi, probably due to blurred vision missed a turning to Gemas and headed instead back to Tampin. They added an extra 30km by the time they reached home.We found each other again back at the hotel and set out for some food and drinks in town. We didn't hang around long to chat as exhuastion was beginning to set in and we had to set up again for another morning. Who would have guessed that you would ever spend a night in Gemas.....well this time it's not about the place but more of the designated target, which we've reached!Day2 was a lot more exciting...let's here it from the others.

Posted by Sham Wahab