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Thank You

This is what my Flipside friends and I do.

We inflict pain on ourselves, and each other.  We cover triple digit distances.  We push ourselves faster and for longer than is comfortable.  We climb for fun.  We bake under a blazing sun.

After we get our breath back and cool down a little, we say “Thank you for the great ride,” and make plans to do it all again together at the earliest possible convenience.

None of us has said it, but we surely subscribe to the following.

Cycling Suffering

Yesterday’s 140km / 87mi jaunt from Taman Megah to Ijok and the “Big Box” around Bestari Jaya was the latest in the long chain of rides that, I guess we believe, contributes to better living.

Big Box Route

We started at dawn.  The brightening sky foretold the hot, cloudless conditions to come.

Big Box Looking like a hot day Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

But not before an unusual treat.  It got very misty as we approached the Paya Jaras interchange on the Guthrie Corridor Highway.  Riders literally emerged out of the fog, feeling cool and sporting frosted eyewear.

Big Box out of the mist Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

I’ve never seen it so misty on the GCE.

Big Box in the mist Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

We exited at the Paya Jaras interchange and headed toward Kuala Selangor.  Our breakfast  stop was in Ijok.  Nasi lemak, noodles, chicken rice, toast with kaya, half-boiled eggs.  Restoran Ijok served it all.  Along with lots of coffee.

I only noticed the graphic on Leslie’s bandana when looking at the photographs of this ride.  It wa an appropriate image.  I was feeling one-eyed by the time we got back to Taman Megah, about 100km / 62mi after we ate in Ijok.

Big Box one eye Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

After breakfast the pace, unsurprisingly, picked up as we covered the right and top side of “the box.”  The roughly square outline around Bestari Jaya.

Kampung Kuantan sits at the top left corner of the box.  Home of the Fireflies Park.  Also home to this shaded bus stop, where we parked ourselves for a rest.

Big Box Shade Kampung Kuantan Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

We blasted along the third side of the box, thanks to a very fast pull from Liang.  The run along the bottom of the box wasn’t that much slower.

Big Box in the Box Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

After finishing the box we all needed the cold drinks and air conditioning at the PETRONAS station in Ijok.

Big Box Ijok Petronas Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

We still had 60km / 37mi to ride.  It was getting on to 11am by the time we left Ijok for the second time that morning.  The skies were clear, and the sun was hot and bright.

Big Box Sun

Photograph courtesy of Mark

The heat took its toll.  We made two more drink stops within 25km / 16mi of Ijok.  Once at the sugarcane juice stall in Batu Arang, and once at the PETRONAS station in Kuang.

After Kuang we began to split into smaller groups as some of us reduced the pace to cope with the noon time heat.

We made regular stops to allow the group to reform.  Everytime we stopped, it was in a patch of shade.  With 10km / 6mi to go my face matched the colour of the staircase behind me.

Big Box Shade Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

The perfect end to the ride was a few bowls of ice cold cendol.  And some rojak.

Big Box cendol Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

I had to be elsewhere, so I missed out.

There will be a next time very soon.

To my Flipside friends:

Thank you

P.S.

We have a videographer now.  Thank you Alvin.

Big Box Ride

 

Catching The Sun

 

Catching The Sun

Catching The Sun
Spyro Gyra

 

My goal has always been to catch the sun.  For warmth, and for color.

As a person prone to cold feet and hands when the weather is chilly, I regularly walk on the sunny, and therefore warmer, side of the street.

I was always tanned growing up in sunny Malaysia.  These days, hours on my bicycle have given me that look peculiar to roadies.  Razor-sharp tan lines mid-thigh and upper arm.

As far as I was concerned, the only downside to riding in tropical Malaysia is the need to manage my hydration and core temperature.  Applying sunscreen was secondary, although I usually put some on before and during century rides on sunny days.

Sunburn is a hazard of living in the tropics.  I have had my share of sunburns that started out red and sore, and ended with sheets of peeling skin.  Aloe vera lotion to the rescue.

Overall I agreed with this Beatles lyric.

Here Comes the Sun

Not anymore.

Two weeks ago I received a histopathology report that read, in part:

Diagnosis

Growth, right lower back:  Squamous carcinoma, well differentiated.

The deep resected margin is involved.

I had skin cancer.  In my case, a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), which is the second most common form, behind basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

Both BCC and SCC are nonmelanoma skin cancers.  A lucky thing for me, as the third form of skin cancer, melanoma, is the most dangerous type.

It was still a serious situation.  The fact that the tumour extended to the deep resected margin of the excised tissue meant that the tumour had not been completely removed.  My dermatologist wasted no time in booking me in to see a plastic surgeon in order to have a deeper excision done.

I was in an operating theater within a week of receiving the initial pathologist’s report.

Hockey Puck

Imagine an ice hockey puck, like the one above.  A standard puck measures 2.5cm / 1in thick and 7.6cm / 3in in diameter.

The plastic surgeon excised an elliptical piece of tissue measuring 1.9cm / 0.75in thick, 4.3cm / 1.7in long and 2.6cm / 1.0in wide.  Roughly two-thirds the volume of an ice hockey puck.

A few days ago I received the pathology report for the second excision.

Microscopic Description

The tumour appears completely excised.

The report goes on to confirm that there was a margin of at least 1cm / 0.4in of ‘clean’ tissue on all sides of the tumour.

So  I dodged the proverbial bullet in that the SCC was caught early and completely removed.  In hindsight the odds of getting skin cancer have been stacked against me. There are a number of risk factors for skin cancer, and I have a tick beside a number of them:

  • A lighter natural skin color.
  • Family history of skin cancer. 
  • A personal history of skin cancer. 
  • Exposure to the sun through work and play. 
  • A history of sunburns, especially early in life. 
  • Age. 
  • A history of indoor tanning.
  • Skin that burns, freckles, reddens easily, or becomes painful in the sun. 
  • Blue or green eyes.
  • Blond or red hair.
  • Certain types and a large number of moles.

I don’t have red hair, but my late mother did.  I suspect I have inherited some of her sensitivity to ultraviolet (UV) light.  90% of skin cancers are caused by exposure to UV radiation from the sun.

Now that I have had one skin cancer, the chances of getting another one are heightened. It is time to get serious and consistent about protection from the sun.

I did some research on sunscreens.  Read more at:

Wikipedia
6 Great Sunscreens That Won’t Come Off While You Ride
Sunscreen FAQs

This will be on my skin every time I ride from now on.  This one is formulated to stay on wet and sweaty skin.

Neutrogena Beach

This will be on my skin whenever I am out in the sun.  Light and non-greasy.

Neutrogena Ultra Sheer

I used to be a bit dismissive of the need to regularly use sunscreen.  Having two-thirds of an ice hockey puck dug out of my back has cured me of that.

Wear Sunscreen

 

How Much To Drink on a Ride?

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Hydration Banner

One of the givens of cycling in Malaysia is the heat and the humidity.  I have written a number of posts about the challenges of riding in our tropical weather.

Hyperthermia – Avoid It

Does a Base Layer Really Work in Tropical Weather?

Sweaty Eyeballs

Your Country Very Hot

The really hot and humid weather during the BCG Tour ride from Kajang to Melaka and back over the past weekend got me thinking again about hydration.

Drink 2 liters / 68 fl oz (or eight glasses) of water every day.

Lose more than 2% of your body weight and your performance will decline by x%.

Words to this effect have been repeated over and over in sports, health and lifestyle magazines.  They have become burnt into the minds of cyclists the world over.

It turns out that there is no scientific method behind those numbers.  Exercise physiologist Stacy Sims, Ph.D., a hydration researcher at Stanford University, says that the recommendation to drink 2 liters per day don’t take into account gender, environment, altitude, and fitness level—factors that could affect fluid intake needs.
Read more at Are You Overhydrated?

Alan McCubbin, an Accredited Sports Dietitian, Accredited Practicing Dietitian and the President of Sports Dietitians Australia, points out that the recommendation that athletes drink enough fluid to prevent a loss of body weight from sweat of more than 2% during exercise is based on studies using performance tests that don’t resemble real world sporting events.
Read more at Hydration for Cyclists: How Much Do We Really Need to Drink?

It is clear that dehydration does have an effect on cyclists and other athletes.  The physiological responses include:

  • Reduction in blood volume
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Decreased skin blood flow
  • Decreased sweat rate
  • Decreased heat dissipation
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Increased core temperature
  • Increased rate of muscle glycogen use
  • Rapid and deep breathing, faster than normal
  • Decreased digestive function

All of which contributes to fatigue and an impaired capacity to turn the pedals.  Read more at Dehydration. Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

I have lost count of how many times I have had an elevated pulse rate, an increased core temperature, and shortness of breath while on long, hot rides.  I sweat more profusely than most, and so am probably losing at least 1 liter / 34 fl oz of fluid per hour of particularly hot and humid days.  Perhaps more.  So it is no surprise to me that I need to constantly watch my hydration levels.

Which brings me back to the question of how much I should drink while on my bicycle?  I hadn’t previously considered quantifying the amount I drink in the course of a long bike ride.  But a comment from a fellow participant in the BCG Tour to Melaka got me thinking. He said that one bidon (that is fancy French cyclist speak for “bottle”) lasts him between 60km and 80km / 37mi to 50mi.

I don’t know if the fluid replacement rate for a cyclist is constant over time, but let us assume that it is.  Let us also assume that one bidon has a capacity of 620ml / 21fl oz.  Using these assumptions, this gentleman would have drunk between 0.87 and 1.16 liters / 29 and 39 fl oz over the 112km / 70mi from Melaka to Kajang.

I drank about 5.5 liters / 186 fl oz over 112km / 70mi last Sunday.  A combination of the following:

With a Nuun tablet dissolved in the water in each of my bidons when I started, to replace lost electrolytes.

Drink 6

What I do not know of course is whether this gentleman only drank from his bidon while riding, or also had other drinks during rest stops.

Whatever the case, the answer to the question is clear – or not, depending on how you look at it.  The amount a cyclist needs to drink to stay adequately hydrated is a very personal thing.  As pointed out by Stacy Sims, our body type – our height, weight, and a gendered predisposition to muscle or fat – will have an impact on the amount of fluid we require.

The environment at ride time is also a major determinant of how much you need to drink.  I have ridden 60 to 80km on just one bidon.  But that was in the cool of a Netherlands spring day.  There is no way I could have survived on just two bidons in the heat of last Sunday.

So while there are guidelines, they may not apply to you as a unique individual, and to the conditions at the time you are riding.

Your starting level of hydration is likely to be important. If you start a race already partially dehydrated, then the amount you need to drink to satisfy thirst and prevent performance declines will likely be greater.

Which prompts the question of when to drink?

The Google consensus is to sip on 500 to 750 ml / 17 to 25 fl oz of isotonic (see below) carbohydrate sports fuel in the two hours before a long ride to ensure optimal hydration and fully stocked up energy reserves.

Then, during the ride, the key point to remember is not to wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking.  Drink little and often right from the start, even if you don’t feel thirsty yet.  If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Aim to take two or three good sized gulps from your bidon every ten to fifteen minutes right from the moment you roll off. Read more at Hydration on the Bike

Finally, don’t forget to continue drinking after the ride is over.  Even if you drink regularly during the ride, you will still likely be dehydrated at the end.  You will need to replace that lost fluid and electrolytes.  I drank another 1.5 liters / 51 fl oz within an hour of finishing the BCG Tour ride back to Kajang.  And more until I went to bed that night.

A final point to make is that it is possible to over-hydrate.  Drinking too much can lead to hyponatremia, which is a dangerously low level of sodium in the blood.  It is some consolation to know that you really have to work at it to drink too much.  Most people can process about a liter or so per hour.  That is 1.6 bidons per hour.

The 5.5 liters / 186 fl oz I drank last Sunday sounds like a lot.  But the total ride duration was just over six hours.  So I drank about a liter an hour, including a 900ml / 30 fl oz bottle of chocolate milk that I finished in one sitting.

Still not drinking at the level of professional cyclists, who can go through 9 liters / 304 fl oz in the course of a six hour stage race.  Read more at Cycling in the Heat and Avoiding Dehydration

The takeaway for me is that when I am on my bicycle, particularly in the middle of the day, I should be drinking more than I do now.  I don’t think I have to worry about hyponatremia.

Hydration Banner 2

BCG Tour Kajang – Melaka – Kajang Day 2

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BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Banner 2

We were up, dressed and packed in time for a nasi lemak breakfast at 6:45am and the Day 2 briefing at 7:00am.

We all got started at 7:43am.  Pre-warned to pace ourselves because although the return route was 45km / 28mi shorter, it had more climbs, including a big one at KM78 / MI48.

Sure enough the terrain started rolling 3km / 2mi from the hotel, and it stayed lumpy all the way to Kajang.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 2 Elevation

The three of us had planned to break the ride into thirds, with a refreshment stop after 40km / 25mi and 80km / 50mi.  We knew early on that it was the right strategy for us.  The morning was extremely humid.  Despite the overcast skies, I was sweating profusely, and we had been riding for only thirty minutes.

 

We started looking for a likely place to stop when we had covered 35km / 22mi.

 

A few kilometers later we entered the small town of Kota, where we found a shop selling roti canai.  I drank two iced Milos in quick succession while waiting for my roti canai telur.  The roti wasn’t very good, so I had a third iced Milo.

Despite the so-so roti, the shop was crowded.  We had a long wait for our food.  We spent almost forty five minutes in Kota.  Fortunately we had shared a table with a gentleman who was waiting for his order of one dozen roti.  Which explains why we had to wait so long for our food.  He was an interesting person to chat with, so we didn’t mind the wait.

The downside of the long stop at Kota was that the sun got higher and higher in the sky as we sat in the shop.  It was going to be another scorching day.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 2 Sun

About an hour later, as we were on yet another climb north of Pedas, Leslie dropped his chain.  Which was an opportune reason to stop under the shade of the trees for a short rest.  I am glad that we did, because a short while later we were riding through the built-up areas of Senawang and Seremban.

Johan and Danial did a great job of making sure we all stayed on the correct route as we rode through the exit to Bandar Seremban Selatan, Rantau and Linggi.

Video courtesy of HW Wee

Roads seem extra-hot when surrounded by concrete.

Video courtesy of HW Wee

Not long past the Sungai Gadut KTM Komuter station Danial drove past us in his sweeper truck.  Just fast enough to make it worth accelerating into his slipstream for a pull up the next hill.

Video courtesy of HW Wee

I was starting to get tunnel vision from the heat.  Our next planned stop at about 80km / 50mi couldn’t come fast enough.  In the center of Seremban we caught up with a group who were just getting going again after taking a break.  We tailed them for a few kilometers through town.  One kilometer from the start of the big climb of the day we stopped at a coffee shop and drank as much as we could.  In my case, a liter of chocolate milk.

We added ice to our bidons before heading back out into the sun.  And 180m / 590ft of climbing over 6km / 4mi.

By the time Mark and I had finished the climb and zoomed down the other side into Mantin, we had emptied one bidon each.  We started looking for a cendol or coconut water stall as we rode through Mantin.  It didn’t look promising at first, but as we were leaving town the Mantin Original Coconut Shake shop appeared on our left.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 2 Coconut Stall Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

Leslie and Mark opted for plain coconut water.  Two for Mark.  Leslie had one coconut water and one apple and sour plum juice.  I had two apple and sour plums.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 2 Apple Sour Plum Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

My face was starting to match my base layer.

Never mind.  Just 10km / 6mi to go.  I had expected a flat run in to Kajang.  But it was far from flat.  Dammit!  There was 213m / 700ft of climbing yet to do.

I should have paid more attention to the elevation profile.  When did Beranang and Semenyih get so hilly?

It was again feeling like 40°C / 104F° as we rode those last kilometers.  We were all relieved to see the Bandar Teknologi Kajang Police Station, and the mamak shop next to it.

“Can I have three iced lime juices please?”

The important thing was that everyone arrived safely.  There were only minor incidents over the two days – some flat tires and a couple of shoe failures.

It was another very successful weekend of riding orchestrated by Danial AM and Johan S.  Made even better of course by a fun and friendly group of fellow riders.

Thanks guys and gals.  I’m looking forward to riding with you again at the next BCG Tour.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Danial

BCG Tour Kajang – Melaka – Kajang Day 1

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BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Banner

Johan S and Danial AM of BCG Tour held their second event on June 4th and 5th.  This time from Kajang to Melaka, and back again the next day.

Unlike the inaugural tour from Ijok to Teluk Intan, this time the outbound and inbound routes were different.  It was about 149km / 93mi to Melaka, and 112km / 70mi back to Kajang.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Melaka Route

Or in my case, the outbound ride would have been 149km if I had followed the excellent cue card that was given out at the start.

Kajang Melaka 04jun16

 

I downloaded the .gpx files for the routes to my Garmin 705.  I should have just stuck with the cue sheet for the ride to Melaka.  Rather than just following the downloaded route, my Garmin directed me down an alternate route.  The Garmin did guide me to the New Century Hotel in Melaka.  But from the 117km / 72mi point it took me along a path very different from the one so carefully planned by the organisers.  More on that later.

Twenty of us met at the start point near the Bandar Teknologi Kajang Police Station.

Mark, Leslie and I grabbed a quick drink before we went to the pre-ride briefing.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Start Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

The pre-ride briefing by Danial was thorough, and with our safety on the road in mind. Johan chipped in as well, in between taking the photographs.  Unless otherwise indicated, the photographs featured in this post are courtesy of Johan S.

In a delightfully retro gesture, Danial had a bulb horn rather than a whistle or a gun to start us off with.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Start Danial

We followed Johan’s car for the first 20km / 12mi as he guided us along the busy roads out of Kajang and through Semenyih and Bangi.  A départ fictif.  Just like in the major bike races!

Once Johan released us, the pace quickened.  All the riders who were in front of Mark and I, which was most of the group, missed the left turn off Jalan Kajang – Dengkil onto the much quieter Selangor State Route B48.  So the two of us were riding alone for about thirty five minutes.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Duo

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Duo 2

The rest of the group steadily made up ground on us.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Chasing Pack BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Chasing Pack 2

Mark and I were caught 5km / 3mi from Sepang.  The faster riders pulled ahead.  By then the bunch had broken up into smaller groups as riders settled into the pace that best suited them.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sepang

 

Leslie had caught us too.  The three of us, and Max, made our first stop at the Shell petrol station in Sepang.  We caught our breath and shared a litre of 100Plus as the rest of the group sailed past and onto Federal Route Route 5 toward Port Dickson.

We got going again at about 9.30am.  All hopes of a cool morning were evaporating in the sun that had broken through the cloud cover.  It was going to be a hot one.

At about 10:30am, as we approached Port Dickson, Leslie, Mark and I diverted off the published route onto Jalan Seremban.  That took us to the Port Dickson Waterfront.  More specifically to the McDonald’s there.  Mark and I, along with some other Flipsiders, had stopped at that McDonald’s three years ago, during our ride to Tanjung Tuan for the Raptor Watch 2013.

Why McDonald’s?  The Brekki Wrap with Sausage is the bomb after 70km / 43mi on a bike.

Mc Donalds weekday breakfast special brekkie wrap with sausage rm4 Possible To Earn RM30,000 A Month For Malaysian Blogger From the World of Advertisement Starting From McDonald's Ads

Photograph courtesy of Golden Arches Restaurants Sdn Bhd

And there is air-conditioning.  And a sea view.  What’s not to like?

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 PD Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

By the time we  got back on our bikes at 11:15am the sun was out in full force and almost directly overhead.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sun

The shadows were getting shorter and shorter as we made our way through Port Dickson and past the Wan Loong Temple.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 PD Wan Loong Temple Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

Staying hydrated and cool become all important as the “feels like” temperature edged towards 40°C / 104F°.  An hour after coming out of the air-conditioned McDonald’s we were looking for some shade and another drink.  Others were looking for the same thing.

We found it at Kampung Sungai Raya, at the junction of Selangor State Route 5 and Federal Route 138.  There was a row of roadside stalls selling various drinks.  Leslie, Mark and I  downed two glasses of iced coconut water each in quick succession.

Someone else was thirsty too!

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Coconut 2

An hour further down the road we were again getting desperate for shade and something cold to drink.  We started looking for a petrol station or a shop after making the left turn onto Melaka State Route 142.  It seemed like a long time before we came upon a minimarket in Kampung Jeram.  In reality it was less than 4km / 2.5mi, but in the midday heat it certainly felt further.

It had been a long time since I had done this, but it was so hot that I resorted to the ice tricks that have helped me in the past.  Ice wrapped in a bandana and placed on the back of my neck.  Ice under my skull cap.  Even ice under my arm sleeves at each inner wrist.

Ice

I was dripping all over as the ice melted, but I felt cooler and much more comfortable.  So much so that I pulled ahead of Leslie and Mark, admittedly helped in that regard because they had to stop and wait at a couple of red traffic lights that were green for me.

I should have waited for them.  12km / 7mi outside Kampung Jeram my Garmin directed me to turn left onto Lebuh Spa.  I should have stayed on Federal Route 5 to Jalan Malim Jaya.  Instead I had an unplanned mystery ride through some villages and residential neighbourhoods.

The ice on my head lasted just long enough before I rode into this.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Melaka Weather

A most welcome rain shower that kept me cool, and rinsed some of the sweat and salt out of my cycling gear.

The rain was quite heavy, but it didn’t last very long.  It had stopped by the time I popped onto Federal Route 19 with just 5km / 3mi to go.

Everyone got a bit wet before arriving at the New Century Hotel.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent reliving the day’s ride, eating, napping, and eating some more.

It had been an early start for Mark and I.  We had driven to Leslie’s home before 6:00am so that we could car-pool to Kajang in Leslie’s bike / people mover.  So we called it a night after dinner.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sleep

 

Perak Century Ride 2016

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Perak Century Ride 2016 Logo

2:45am

That is when I had to get out of bed for the Perak Century Ride 2016.  Six of us had decided to drive to Ipoh on the morning of the ride, rather than spend Saturday night in a hotel there.

The ride started at 7:00am, and the start line was 210km / 130mi away.

3:45am

Liang, Alvin and I were on the road in Liang’s MPV.  There was plenty of room for three bicycles and us.

4:15am

We rendezvoused with Marco and Mark at the Sungai Buloh R&R before hitting the North-South Expressway to Bandar Meru Raya, which is a new township in Ipoh, Perak.  Marvin made it a three vehicle convoy when he caught up with us on the road.

5:15am

We drove into rain, heavy at times.  Not a good sign.

6:30am

It was still raining.  The other two cars stopped on Jalan Bandar Timah in the old town section of Ipoh.  That street is the location of Sin Yoon Loong Restaurant, across the road from Nam Heong Restaurant.  There is an ongoing debate as to which is the originator of the Ipoh White Coffee brand.   Marco, Mark and Marvin wanted breakfast.

I didn’t have time to stop for breakfast.  Leslie had collected my ride number, jersey and so on for me they day before.  I had to get those from him before the 7:00am event start.  And he was already parked and waiting at the official hotel for the event, the Casuarina @ Meru.   Alvin and Liang were keen to start riding on time too.

7:18am

Alvin, Leslie, Liang and I got onto the road after the event had started. We must have been among the last riders to get out onto the route.  As none of us know the way to the start line, I was looking out for the timing gantry that would have been over the start line.

I didn’t see one.  I found out later that there was no timing gantry at the start.  So it made no difference that my timing chip fell off my helmet after thirty minutes of riding in the rain.

Not  having found the start line, we were lucky to spot a group of riders and a motorbike race marshal ahead of us.  They were our guides until we started passing direction signs for the ride.  The signs were planted all along the route.  There were also marshals directing riders.  One of the things that the organisers got right on the day.

Perak Century Ride 2016 Marshals Cycling Plus Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Malaysia Magazine

We rode anti-clockwise to Kuala Kangsar, and then south to Parit and Siputeh, before heading north back to Ipoh.

Perak Century Ride 2016 Route

7:20am

It wasn’t long before the feature that epitomises this event made itself felt.  The rolling terrain.

Perak Century 2016 Rolling Monica T

Photograph courtesy of Nancy Y

Nothing too severe, apart from a couple of steep, but thankfully short, pitches south of Kuala Kangsar.  Which might have been where the Rapha KOM section was.  There were prizes on offer for the first in each category across the KOM line.

I have no idea where this was.  We were so far behind that all traces of the KOM timing gantry had been cleared by the time we got up whichever hill this was.

Perak Century 2016 Rapha KOM PCR

Photograph courtesy of Perak Century Ride 2016

The seemingless endless series of climbs, as shown on the route profile below, took their toll on many participants as the event progressed.  I am sure that was one of the contributing factors to the high attrition rate at this event.

Perak Century Ride 2016 Profile

The rain took its toll too.  Not only on my socks, which started the day pristinely white and ended the day a dingy grey.   But on tires and inner tubes as well.

In wet conditions small stones, pieces of wire, shards of glass etc. have a greater tendency to stick to tires.  Water on tires acts as a lubricant, making it easier for sharp objects to penetrate and puncture a tire.

This was a common sight.

Perak Century 2016 Flat Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

The guys from Meng Thai Bicycle Centre were running a mobile repair service from the back of a car.  They were in great demand.

Perak Century 2016 Roadside Service Lee WH

Photograph courtesy of Lee WH

As were the services of the lorries picking up riders and their bicycles along the route.

Perak Century Ride 2016 Lorry Cycling Plus Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Malaysia Magazine

7:36am

The four of us skipped the first rest stop at 35km / 22mi.  It was still overcast and cool.  I wasn’t sweating very much, so I still had a lot of fluid in my bidons.  It was a good time to be out on a bike.

9:34am

We did take a break at the second rest stop.  We hadn’t had breakfast, and we were getting hungry after 65km / 40mi in the saddle.

Perak Century 2016 Group Water Stop Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

We were out of luck.  No bananas.   Bananas are standard fare at the rest stops in Malaysian century rides.  One of the knocks against the organisers was that the rest stops were poorly provisioned.  Not enough cold water and food for all the participants.

Team AGRR did it right.  They had their own support car, dispensing, amongst other things, dim sum.  Talk about style.

Perak Century 2016 Team Support Monica T

Photograph courtesy of Nancy Y

10:52am

It was the same at the third rest stop.  No bananas.  By that point we were 90km / 56mi or so into the ride, and starting to get the shakes from hunger.  Perhaps the three who stopped for breakfast at 6:30am had the right idea.

Fortunately meters away from the rest stop was a roadside stall selling food.  After a packet of nasi lemak and a fried egg, and some cans of 100 Plus courtesy of WH Lee and Meng Thai, we were feeling much better.

By this time the WhatsApp chatter confirmed what had happened to the breakfast gang of three.  They had eventually gone to Bandar Meru Raya and gotten on their bicycles.  But had started riding in the wrong direction.  So after a short ride they gave up and went home.

The sun made its presence felt over the final 60km / 37mi.  As you can tell by the shadows.

11:16am

We had ridden 100km / 62mi.  How things change once the temperature rises.  The humidity rocketed, thanks to all the rain that had fallen.  The sweat was streaming off me, my core temperature was rising, and I was drinking much more.  We took advantage of the two remaining rest stops at 118km / 73mi and 141km / 88mi to get some water, both into and onto us.

1:02pm

The water at the last rest stop was warm, so it didn’t do much to cool us down.  By then Liang and I were ahead of Alvin and Leslie.  We decided to hit a petrol station between the last rest stop and the finish line.  A Shell station conveniently appeared 5km / 3mi later. Air conditioning and cold chocolate milk are a winning combination!

We saw Alvin ride past as we were sitting inside the petrol station convenience store.  But no sign of Leslie.  We later found out that he had suffered a flat.  His spare inner tube had a faulty valve, so he couldn’t inflate it properly.  Fortunately he was rescued by a group of good samaritans bearing a floor pump.

2.01pm

Alvin, Liang and I finished safely and had regrouped at the MPV.  My phone had buzzed a few times during the run in to the finish.  I had a few missed calls from Leslie.  I called him back, and found out that he had suffered a flat.  His spare inner tube had a faulty valve, so he couldn’t inflate it properly.

He needed a floor pump, which we didn’t have.  Fortunately he was rescued by a group of good samaritans bearing the required floor pump.

Perak Century 2016 Rescue Squad Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

2:45pm

We had cleaned up as best we could, changed out of our cycling gear, and were getting hungry.  Leslie had yet to finish, having been delayed by the problems with his inner tube. He was staying another night in Ipoh, so we left him to his own devices.  Alvin, Liang and I went on a hunt for a late lunch.

3:45pm

We had an inadvertent scenic diversion to Kuala Kangsar on our way to the old town section of Ipoh.  So our hunt for lunch started even later than originally anticipated.  We found it anyway, at Restoran M Salim.

Perak Century Ride 2016 Lunch 2 Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

Not satisfied with just rice and chicken, we added this.

Perak Century Ride 2016 Fish Head Curry Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

The signature dish at this restaurant.  Fish head curry.

We then stopped at another small place for dessert.  There could be only one choice for something cold and sweet.  Cendol.

All that was left was to get home safely.

8:20pm

Which we did, after being delayed by the traffic on the North-South Expressway.

Perak Century Ride 2016 Medal

 

 

Fun and Food (Not Necessarily in that Order)

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Morib was the destination this morning.  It is a route I have ridden a few times already.  An Epic Ride describes one of those prior jaunts to the seaside at Morib.

Alvin, Liang, Mark and I got rolling at about 6.45am.  Avoiding the midday heat on the way back was our primary objective.  All looked good as we made our way down the motorcycle path beside the KESAS Highway, through Kota Kemuning and on to Bandar Botanik.  It was an overcast morning, and we had cool conditions as we rode through Telok Panglima Garang and onward to the coast and Morib.

Morib Route

The road along the Langat River to Tanjung Tongkah Lighthouse, previously a section of road in disrepair, has been resurfaced.  Cool weather and smooth tarmac makes for fun riding.

The first order of business once we got to Morib was breakfast.  We stopped at the aptly named Delicious Bread Coffee Shop.

Morib Delicious Bread

The bread was as advertised.  We had ours toasted, with butter and kaya.  Along with nasi lemak, soft-boiled eggs, and iced Milo or coffee.

Morib Breakfast Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

Yummy yummy!

Morib Breakfast Group Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

Then it was time for a bit of fun.  Photographs further down the road at the Morib Gold Coast Resort, for no other reason than it has a sign that reads “Morib.”

Morib Gold Coast Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

More photographs on the sea wall at the beach at the end of Persiaran Mestika.

Morib Bicycles Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

And another picture just to prove that we had really ridden to Morib beach.

Morib Group

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

The overcast skies cleared just as we started on the 70km / 44mi ride back to Bandar Sunway.

It was less and less fun as the temperature and humidity ramped up.  By the time we were 15km / 9mi from home, it was properly hot.  So much for an early start to avoid getting toasted on the way back.

Morib Weather

We were only 12km / 7.5mi away from Morib when we made a hydration stop.  The first of a few such stops.  We pulled up to a small sundry shop near Kampong Kathong and bought litres of water, some iced tea and other flavoured waters.

About 20km / 12mi from Morib we had made what in hindsight was an ill-advised detour toward Pulau Carey.  The realisation after 4km / 2.5mi of the detour that it was still a long way to Pulau Carey, coupled with the rising temperature, prompted the smart decision to turn around.

Our next hydration stop was at Cendol Santan Sawit Mak Lang.  A mere 20km / 12mi from the sundry shop.

We didn’t know that there was such a thing as santan sawit.  Santan is the Malay word for coconut milk.  Made, as the name makes clear, with the flesh from the nut of the coconut palm tree. Kelapa sawit is the Malay term for oil palm.  At the time it didn’t make sense to us that santan could be made from the nut of the oil palm tree.  We figured the term “santan sawit” referred to santan made from coconuts that grew amongst the oil palm trees.

I now know that palm oil is used to make a coconut milk substitute.  The aforementioned santan sawit.

Which, despite the complete lack of coconut milk in it, makes a delicious cendol.  Made even better, in this case, by lots and lots of shaved ice.  We even got an extra bowl of shaved ice.

Morib Chendol Mark

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

We made two more hydration stops in the 37km / 23mi between the cendol stall and Bandar Sunway.  Both times at petrol stations.

At the Petronas station 10km / 6mi from Bandar Sunway we met up with some friends who had ridden to Morib as well.  They rode a slightly different route, including a climb to this lookout spot at Jugra.

Morib Dicky Cindy Benjamin Cindy

Photograph courtesy of Cindy

By the time they pulled up at the Petronas station they were looking just as hot and sweaty as we were.

It was 1.45pm by the time we got to our cars.  More drinks, and lunch, were on our minds once we had cleaned up and stuck our bicycles into our vehicles.  Mark led us to Lim Fried Chicken in SS15, Subang Jaya.

Fried chicken, a fried egg, green beans and curry rice, with extra curry gravy and sambal on the side.

Morib Lunch Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

Chased with ice-cold homemade soya milk.

The ride to Morib and back was suddenly fun again.

 

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