I was one of about 3,000 people who paid to participate in the Melaka International Century Ride 2016. It would have been the third consecutive time I had ridden the Melaka Century Ride.
You can read about the 2015 edition here.
You can read about the 2014 edition here.
This year’s Melaka Century Ride was scheduled for 30th October. On the evening of 25th October, the event organiser, Myskill Media Sdn. Bhd., issued a statement announcing that the event had been cancelled due to “financial problems.”
This announcement was met with disbelief, and not a small amount of anger, by everyone who had coughed up RM130 each to participate. Many felt that the approximately RM400,000 in participation fees collected by Myskill Media, plus support from sponsors, was sufficient to run this event.
Myskill Media’s offer to hand out event jerseys and finisher’s medals on the day before the ride was scheduled added fuel to the fire, prompting comments that can be summarized as “You can keep your ****ing jersey and medal. I want a full refund.”
The plot thickened when the cycling kit supplier announced that he had not released the jerseys and medals because Myskill Media had not yet made full payment for them. Myskill Media subsequently cancelled the distribution of jerseys and medals, instead saying that they would post the items to participants. None of us believe this will happen.
I suspect the effect of this cancellation will be felt for some time. Not just by Myskill Media, which has had numerous police reports made against it, some at the behest of the Chief Minister of Melaka, who stated that the state government would support police investigations by standing as witnesses.
But also by other cycling event organisers. Many in the cycling fraternity feel that they have been conned by Myskill Media. That financial fraud has been committed. Riders will think twice about trusting the organisers of future events. It may be that the number of road cycling events in future will shrink to just the few which have established a positive reputation. Events like the Janamanjung Fellowship Ride, which has been a standout example of excellent event organisation for some years now, and the LEKAS Highway Ride, which has benefitted from having heavyweight sponsors like Shimano, RHB, and IJM Land.
The money that we participants had sunk into this year’s Melaka Century Ride was not limited to the registration fee. Many had paid for advance hotel reservations, bus charters, flights and so on.
Bayou Lagoon Park Resort, the official hotel for this event, deserves credit, kudos, and appreciation. The hotel management offered participants the option of a full refund, or room vouchers valid for six months.
I was among a group of eleven who were booked into the Novotel Melaka, so we were out of luck as far as refunds for accommodation were concerned. To make the best of a bad deal, we decided to travel to Melaka as planned, and to ride our own route. Most of the group made a weekend of it, with a round of golf on Saturday, enroute to Melaka.
I don’t play golf, so I drove to Melaka on Saturday evening. I do eat though, and joined everyone at Kocik Kitchen, in the Jonker Street area, for a bowl of cendol. Made at that stand outside the entrance.
The next morning we were all present and accounted for, ready for our ride.
We rode to Muar first. It was my job to guide the group along the route used for the Audax BRM400. I am pleased to report that I didn’t get lost this time. Rather than ride straight back to Melaka, we took a longer return route through Tangkak and Jasin.
The first order of business upon arriving in Muar was a group photograph in front of the monument built to commemorate the coronation of the current Sultan of Johor.
Attention then turned to more important matters. Muar is home to a noted oyster misua restaurant. We had to find it though.
After 30 minutes of fruitless searching we came across Otak Otak Cheng Boi on Jalan Bentayan. No chairs and tables here. Just a couple of men at a long grill turning out dozens and dozens of grilled fish cakes. You place your order, pay, and leave with your piping hot otak otak.
We left with 100 of these feather palm wrapped grilled fish cakes. 50 to a box. We finished one box while standing in the covered porch in front of the shop. The other box went into a backpack, to be taken wherever we ended up for lunch.
That turned out to be Kedai Makanan Yong Kee on Jalan Haji Abu, better known as Glutton Street.
We got there at about 11am, and the place was packed. Every table was taken. So we spread out and stood behind people who looked like they were almost finished eating. Waiting to claim their stools and their tables as soon as they stood up.
Within ten minutes we had commandeered a couple of tables. Food orders had been made while we were still waiting for tables, so it wasn’t long before we were tucking into bowls of wan tan mee. And more otak otak.
Midway through our meal, we all had to get up and move our bicycles. We had stacked them around an unoccupied street stall outside Yong Kee.
The vendor had arrived, and wanted to open for business.
Fed and watered, we headed back over the Muar River and north to Tangkak. Well-known as the main entryway to Gunung Ledang (Mount Ophir). We gave the mountain a miss, opting for the cool of a PETRONAS station instead.
It had been a largely overcast day, but by the time we left Tangkak for Jasin, the sun had started making itself felt. We ducked into the forecourt of a Petron station in Jasin for a rest and a toilet break. We agreed to stop again at whichever petrol station we came across after the next 2okm / 12mi or so.
We needed that next stop for two reasons. One reason was that after 70km / 43mi of almost pan-flat terrain, we had ventured into hillier country. We were all working harder to get ourselves over the rolling countryside. Hence a short rest along the way.
The second reason was that the weather went from dry to raining very hard in a matter of minutes. As good fortune would have it, a PETRONAS station appeared exactly 20km after we left Jasin.
It was literally a cloudburst. Lots of water fell in a short time. Then the rain stopped and the sun came back out. As we rode away from that petrol station in Ayer Molek I noted how quickly the roads had dried.
We all rolled into the Novotel car park 15km / 9mi later. It was time for something cold to drink, and later that evening, something to eat.
Well worth a visit, despite the hour-long wait for a table. Nyonya food at its best.
Despite the frustration over the cancelled century ride, we all had a good time.
Good company, nice roads, and delicious food.