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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Shimano Highway Challenge – LEKAS 2014

SHIMANO_HighwayChallenge_2014 website logo

Thirteen Flipsiders lined up for the second Shimano Highway Challenge.  Eric is missing from the picture below.

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

The route was very similar to last year’s edition.  But instead of a rolling mass start, this year’s event had a self-seeding start sequence.  We had to estimate our finishing time; less than 2 hours, 2-3 hours, 3-4 hours, and greater than 4 hours.  If you thought you could finish the ride in under two hours, you set off first.

We all decided which start pen we wanted to be in.  But by the time we finished taking photographs and catching up with friends, the riders in the first pen had started.  So we scrambled to the start, and squeezed in where we could.  I ended up in pen three.

Route

Not that it made a difference.  Those pen 1 people averaged better than 40kph / 25mph.  A tad faster than I am capable of.  In spite of the excellent riding conditions.  A multi-lane toll road all to ourselves, under overcast skies.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

The event logistics and organisation were superb.  As they were last year.  From the guides with torches steering us to the parking lots in the pre-dawn darkness, to the smiling volunteers manning the massage booths and the food and drink service at the finish, the support for the riders was outstanding.

One of the things a few volunteers had to do was divert riders around some broken glass in the middle of the highway.  Unfortunately not before at least a dozen riders suffered flats.  Including Marco, who had a cut rear tire into the bargain.  Danny stopped to help, and Shahfiq and I stopped to provide moral support.

Once we got going again I was thankful for the cool weather, as I am sure the other 2,137 participants were.  Especially as we dropped into the small ring / largest cog combination on the KOM Challenge.  A 2.4km / 1.5mi climb that rose 165 meters / 540 feet.  It was a relief to see the arch marking the end of the timed climb.

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Farid Abu Bakar

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Farid Abu Bakar

Not that we were done with climbing.  There were a few more hills to conquer before we got to the opening in the ARMCO barrier that marked the turnaround point.

Around the halfway point I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while.  She was in a Flipside jersey to boot.  To top it all off, Sharon’s is the best action photograph of any of the Flipsiders I could find.

Photograph courtesy of Happycycling

Photograph courtesy of Happycycling

It was just starting to warm up when I got to the finish.  I needed a few cups of ice-cold Milo from the green truck in the lower left of the photograph below.

Photograph courtesy of Shimano Highway Challenge

Photograph courtesy of Shimano Highway Challenge

Then we hung out, discussing the ride, while we waited for the rest of the Flipsiders to finish.  Chon, Chris, Griffin and I stood out in the sun.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We should have done what Liang and Kai did.  Take advantage of the shade afforded by a pickup truck.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

I didn’t see Eric at all.  Late to the start, and then one of the first to finish.  He had already gone home by the time I rolled over the finish line.

Photograph courtesy or Eric Seow

Photograph courtesy or Eric Seow

While we were waiting, Keat ran into an old friend from Singapore, whom he hadn’t seen in years.  Cycling events are good places to bump into old friends.

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

I headed home after the last of the Flipsiders finished.  Medal in hand.

Medal

 

Most of the others went to a post-ride carbo-loading session at a favourite curry mee stall in Broga.

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

I must say that iced coffee and ais kacang looks good.

(You didn’t think I would write an entire post without at least one photograph of food, did you?)

Johor Masters Century Ride 2014

JMCR 2014 Banner

The Johor Masters Century Ride appealed to Keat and I.  For the first time we were in an age group that suited our ages.  55 years and above.  We managed to convince Marco and Mark to sign up for the ride as well.  They were in the 35 to 39 and 40 to 44 categories respectively.

It is a 400km trip to the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort, the official hotel for the event.  So Mark and I arranged to meet at the Seremban R&R, after which I followed Mark’s car down the highway, keeping an eye on the two bicycles on his roof rack.

Here we are with Mark’s mother-in-law and his daughter, having a teh tarik for the road.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Keat and his wife were already at the resort.  We piled into his pickup truck that evening for the 20km drive to Kampung Sungai Rengit.  We were on the hunt for dinner.  We found a good one at the Beautiful Village Seafood restaurant.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

You would have thought that all that food would have kept us going for a long time.  But we were among the first at breakfast at 5:00 am.  The resort laid on an impressive spread for all the cyclists staying there.

Nasi lemak, roti canai, fried noodles, fried rice, boiled, fried and scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages, congee, oatmeal, a variety of breakfast cereals , bread and pastries, fresh fruit, juices, coffee and tea.  One of the best buffet breakfast I have ever seen at a cycling event.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

By 7:15am were were ready to start the ride.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

In a change from recent experience, we got going only ten minutes past the scheduled start time of 7:30am.

The route was an anti-clockwise elongated loop from the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort at Bandar Penawar north along the coast to Tanjung Sedili, then west to Kampung Mawai Baharu before turning southward to Kampung Sungai Rengit.  Finally the route followed the coast back up to the Lotus Desaru.

JMCR 2014 Route

We Flipsiders received a topography lesson at the Melaka Century Ride.  I certainly thought of the state of Melaka as being relatively flat.  None of us anticipated just how hilly it is between Masjid Tanah and Jasin.

We got another topography lesson at this event.  The ride started with a climb.  Followed by another, and then another.  Seven or eight in the first ten kilometers.  Then it was flat for about ten kilometers, before more rolling terrain for the next twenty kilometers.

We were at the start of a relatively flat 20 kilometer section when we saw the photographer from Attaque.

Photograph courtesy of Attaque

Photograph courtesy of Attaque

Keat was not far behind.

Photograph courtesy of Attaque

Photograph courtesy of Attaque

The 100 hilly kilometers that came next took their toll.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

Mark, Marco and I took advantage of a roadside air tebu, or sugar cane juice, stall for a drink and a rest.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The next time we took a break, it went a bit wrong.  At the 115 km mark we pulled into the first petrol station we came across on the route.  Everything started out well.  That Petronas station had a freezer cabinet full of Magnums.  And air-conditioning.  And chairs.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

After we had cooled off we got back on our bikes, turned left and followed a few other cyclists onto the road.

JMCR 2014 Petronas

We were very surprised to cross the finish line a few minutes later.

Photographs courtesy of Attaque

Photographs courtesy of Attaque

The sub five hour finishing times were the giveaway.  We had only ridden 120 kms.  We should have left the Petronas station forecourt via the entrance and continued straight down the road, and not taken the exit onto the wrong road.

Having ridden across the finish line, we were given medals.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia

Despite the medals, we decided to go back the way we came, rejoin the route, and ride the full distance.  A decision we questioned 40 kms later.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

By the 160 km point we had caught up with Keat, who had not made the navigational error that we had.  Taking into account the extra 11 km we had ridden, we should have been less than 10 kms from the finish.

The seemingly incessant climbing had taken its toll on us.  As had the rough asphalt and poorly patched roads.  And the headwind.  Our water bottles were empty, and we were fading badly.

So our joy at spotting the “1 KM To Go” sign in the distance turned into despair when we got close enough to see that the sign actually read “10 KM to Go.”

We had 10 kms of this terrain to cover before we got to the finish line.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

I am frankly surprised that I didn’t throw in the towel and jump into the broom wagon.  I think the same thought must have crossed the minds of my Flipsider friends.  The sight of Mark ahead of me provided just enough motivation to keep going.  Keat said that the sight of me up ahead did the same for him.

We literally forced ourselves kilometer by slow kilometer up those  ☹ ☁︎ ☢  last hills to the “3 KM to Go” sign, and then the “1 KM to Go” sign.  The ride had started with a climb.  So thankfully the final 500 meters to the finish was downhill.

Hot and tired, and happy to be done.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The JMCR 2014 was one of the tougher rides we have done.  We have another cycling adventure to talk and laugh about.  We added another medal to our collections.

JMCR 2014 Medal

We learned about our capacity to persevere.  And we now know from first-hand experience that Johor is not flat!

Melaka Century Ride 2014

MCR 14 Banner

Thirteen Flipsiders made the 140km trip to Malacca.  We all drove down on Saturday, mostly two to a car.  Eleven of us squeezed ourselves into a three bedroom apartment at the Bayou Lagoon Park Resort.  Keat and Shahfiq, perhaps wisely, stayed elsewhere.

Lots of other cyclists were already there.  There was a long queue to check in.  Stephen, Marco, Stephen and I hung out in front of the resort while we waited.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had a nice view from our apartment.  The water park was inviting.  I thought about having a dip.

MCR 14 Bayou Lagoon

But the need for food won out.  We all jumped into Stephen’s Volvo and Justin’s pickup and drove to the closest open air hawker center, in Bukit Beruang.

Hawker centers are great places to eat.  You make your choices from a row of stalls, each selling either just one dish, or a small selection of related dishes.  Duck noodles, vegetarian mixed rice, fried koay teow, fishball noodle soup, wan tan noodles, fried rice, chicken wings, cendol, nyonya cakes.  The list goes on.

My first choice was popiah.  This was the stall.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

And this was the popiah.  Vegetarian, and yummy.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

I bought three servings, which didn’t last long.  Then it was on to a variety of other fuel for the upcoming ride.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photographs courtesy of Marco Lai

Despite the evidence to the contrary, I assure you we were in Malacca to ride.  Bicycles were scattered all around the sitting room in the apartment.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photographs courtesy of Marco Lai

Some of us were up for breakfast at 5.00am.  All of us were ready to roll by 7.00am.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

I had a new helmet.  Chon, Kai Yang, Marco and I made up a Kabuto helmet foursome.

MCR 14 Kabuto

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

While 2,672 riders were ready to start at 7.00am, the invited dignitary was not.  As happens all too frequently, the official bigwig who had agreed to flag off the event was late.  We eventually got away at about 7.30am.

We rode to the coast and then headed clockwise to Kuala Sungai Baru.  From there it was due east almost to the border with the state of Johor before we cut back through Jasin (where my biker chick went to secondary school) to the finish.

MCR 14 Route

We expected the day to warm up.  And it did get very hot.  We didn’t expect the 1,000 meters of climbing over the second half of the ride.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

The heat and the rolling terrain took its toll.  The stronger Flipsiders like Eric, Mark, Kai Yang, Chon and Marco soon left the rest of us behind.

This is Keat and I toiling away, with matching shoes on our feet and grimaces on our faces.

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Tew

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Tew

The ride was relatively well organised.  The marshalling at intersections and junctions was good.  The directional signage was good.

Unfortunately the organisers underestimated the volume of water needed at the stops.  A major post-ride complaint from participants was that there was no water left at the second and following stops.

I rode through the first rest area at 50km, and made a stop at a petrol station after 65km, at Masjid Tanah.  That proved to be the strategy to follow.  Depend upon petrol stations for cold fluids rather than depend upon the water stops along the route.  The petrol stations had the additional attractions of ice cream and air-conditioning.

My next stop was unplanned.  I heard my name called as I rode through Macap Baru.  The speedsters were chugging down fresh coconut water at a roadside stall.  Only in Malaysia.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The unexpected twist was that the seller stored the young green coconuts in a chiller.  A few whacks with a cleaver exposed sweet and very cold liquid.  There are twelve coconuts on our table in the photograph above.  Testament to how good they were.  I drank one on the spot and poured the contents of a second into a bidon.

I put my full repertoire of “stay cool” tricks to use on this ride.  Those tricks can be summarized as pouring lots of fluid down my throat to stay hydrated, and pouring lots of fluid over my head and upper body to increase heat loss via evaporation.  I also wore a cap and had a bandanna around my neck to help with staying cool.

I met Catheryn at this stop.  She was doing her first century ride.  She reads this blog, and said that my suggestions for keeping cool were helping her.  Catheryn, I do hope that you finished the ride, and that you will be able to join the Flipsiders on our regular weekend rides.

We set off again as a group, and I managed to stay with everyone else over the 10km to the final water stop at the 110km mark.  Not that there was any water to be had there.  We stayed just long enough to catch our breath.

I rode the next 20km with Chon.  We were still in hill country.  It was also well into the hottest part of the day.  We both needed a petrol station.  The Shell station in Jasin was a welcome relief.  All hail ice cold chocolate milk.  And air-conditioning.

From Jasin it was 20km to the finish.  Chon and I caught up with Danny as we left Jasin.  We rode together for a while.  I felt good enough to take a pull on a climb, and when I looked back after a kilometer or so I found that I was alone.

The strategy of managing my effort, especially as I was climbing, to keep my heart rate as low as possible had paid off.  I finished the ride with an average heart rate of 128bpm.  More importantly I didn’t cramp at all, and I finished the ride feeling strong, rather than feeling absolutely shattered, as I have done in the past.

Nevertheless, my body temperature was pretty high.  The shower at the finish, courtesy of the local fire department, was greatly appreciated.  I stood in that spray for a long time.

MCR 14 Spray

Danny, Marvin and Justin (in the official ride jersey), finished soon after me.

MCR 14 Finish

As did Keat, and the two Stephens.  The only non-finisher was Shahfiq, who suffered a flat tire with 20km to go.  And discovered that he had a faulty spare tube.

Like the rest of us however, Shahfiq ended the day with a sun tan, and one of these.

MCR 14 Medal

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Bravo indeed!