Thursday, May 14, 2009

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

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