Keat and I joined 1,000 other cyclists from all over Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand for the 2nd Terengganu Century Ride. The ride started and ended in Kuala Terengganu (KT), the capital city of the east coast state of Terengganu.
KT is a six hour drive from Kuala Lumpur (KL). We left KL at 6am and so had time for lunch at the Permai Hotel, the official event hotel, before we collected our numbers.
The expectation in Malaysia is that any organized ride that has a registration or entry fee provides each cyclist with a jersey and a finisher’s medal. The TCR was no exception. I though the jersey was a particularly nice design.
It was clear from the moment we stepped into the hotel that this was going to be a very well-run event. There was a nice display of bicycles in the lobby. There were separate goodie bag collection areas for each of the five participant categories. We had our timing chips checked to ensure that the right name was associated with each rider number. Teams with a support vehicle (must be nice!) were given large identifying windscreen stickers, and explicit instructions for where to park before the start of the event. There was a little bike expo where you could buy gels, bars, bottles, sun glasses, helmets and so on.
There were also three rider technical briefings spread across the afternoon. Keat and I were good boys and went to one of them. We did sit at the back of the room though. Just like we used to do in school. But we paid attention. Just like we sometimes used to do in school!
We had hoped to ride along the beach that evening, but we weren’t able to.
Instead we went for a wet walk to check out the start area for the ride. This photograph was taken earlier in the day. It was still pretty quiet when we got there at about 6.30pm.
The elves must have been hard at work overnight. By morning there was a Start/Finish gantry, complete with overhead timing transponders, along with barriers, banners and escort vehicles in place.
It rained again in the night, but it was dry and overcast by the 8.15am start time. Keat and I hung out at the back of the pack behind the start line. We didn’t want to get run over by the three hundred or so riders who would finish this 160km event in under five hours.
The ride started with a loop through the city. Including a stretch through Chinatown along Jalan Kampung Cina, which is one of the oldest streets in KT.
The route then took us inland and north for 85km before a right turn at Guntong pointed us toward the coast.
One of the highlights of this ride (I’ll get to the lowlight) was the cheers we got from the throngs of primary school children waving at us from behind their school fences as we rode by. We did ride past quite a few schools. All of which seemed to be on a break as we came by.
We had a few other spectators along the way.
It was relatively cool at the start, but it did warm up steadily as the kilometers ticked by. So the water stops were very welcome. Another highlight of this ride was the volunteers at the stops. They did did a great job handing out bananas, water and ice. Both to riders who were happy for a bit of a rest, and to riders who were pushing for fast times. At least one such rider needs to practice his drink grab though.
The course was relatively flat. Much like the Netherlands is. And much like the Netherlands, it was windy. Nice at the start of the ride, despite being a headwind, when it was still cool. Not so nice as a headwind after the temperature had risen.
The wind direction and wind speed changed throughout the day. I had a headwind for 35km, then a crosswind that became a tailwind that reverted to a crosswind until the turn at Guntong. The tailwind from that point was short-lived. By the time I made a sharp right turn at the 90km mark the wind was changing direction yet again. It became more and more of a crosswind for the 10km to the coast. Along the coast it was a steadily stiffening headwind for the remaining 60km.
The annotations on the route map below show wind direction and wind speed at the start, and what they were at the point I had reached after riding for one hour, two hours, three hours and so on.
I have never spent so much time in the drops.
The views along the beach were nice, but they were hard to appreciate with my head down as I tried to find respite from the wind.
The gusting headwind made the last 30km or so feel interminable. Thankfully I didn’t feel as bad as I did during the last 30km of the Kuantan Century Ride. I did a better job of managing my core temperature during the TCR. But I started to cramp a little, and bonk as well. I didn’t drink enough, and I should have eaten more during the ride too.
The wind was the lowlight of this ride. The only negative though, and not enough of one to detract from a very enjoyable event.
The TCR 2013 Event Director, Mr. Zulkarnain Shah, the members of his organizing committee, the army of volunteers, the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Red Crescent all helped make this event enjoyable and as safe as possible for all the participants.
The route was well-marked with large arrows at eye-level. Busy intersections were manned by police personnel who made sure that riders did not have to stop for traffic. There were dozens of mobile marshals on the course to provide assistance where needed. Including acting as outriders for cyclists making their way along vehicle-crowded roads as the route came back through the city on its way toward the finish on Jalan Pantai Batu Buruk.
As we came to a stop after 161km we got our finisher’s medals.
And after hours of heads down in the wind it was heads up for the post-ride entertainment.