Some of us were awake very early in the morning, and listening to the rain falling outside. It had rained all night.
The weather forecast gave us little comfort.
Another reason for being awake so early was so that I could have breakfast. When I was checking in, I asked the receptionist what time breakfast would be served.
“6.30am” was the answer.
I told her that we wouldn’t be eating breakfast because the SICR was starting at 6.30am.
“What time would you like breakfast?” she asked.
I said “5.30am.”
“We’ll have it ready at 5.00am” she replied.
I love the Thai service ethic.
I expected to get a Continental breakfast at best. Pastries and coffee. What we got was more than a Continental breakfast.
A most excellent start to the day.
We were all dressed and sorting out our bicycles at just after 6.00am. Chain lube was in high demand. The very wet conditions the day before had flushed all traces of lubricant from everyone’s drive trains.
Ralf won the prize for the best jersey design with his lederhosen look.
There was more food and drink available at the SICR start. And, of course, the opportunity for more photographs.
I was asked to share the English version of Khun Metharin’s request for us to ride safely in the wet conditions.
As forecast, the rain was still falling when we started riding, and, if anything, it got heavier over the next few hours.
While we were out in the rain, Danial and Jeff enjoyed a relaxed, and dry, morning. We would see them both back on their bikes on Monday.
By the 40km / 25mi point we were all keen for a rest stop that was dry. We were on a rural road, with not much around us but rubber trees. We came upon a petrol station after 50km / 31mi, and grabbed the chance to visit a bathroom, and buy some fresh pineapple and other munchies.
We waited at the petrol station for those behind us to catch up. We stopped waiting when one of us was sent this photograph of Luanne enjoying a bowl of hot noodles.
Some others had been held up before they had left the Satun city limits. Something about retrieving a bottle which had been left on the roadside the evening before.
The wet and cool weather was actually a help, rather than a hindrance. Riding in overcast and 20°C / 68°F conditions is definitely preferable to riding in sunny and 35°C / 95°F heat. Lay and I were commenting about how much easier it was to ride in this year’s SICR as compared to last year’s, when it was sunny and 35°C / 95°F.
We needed another stop as we approached 80km / 50mi. We were still out in the countryside. A small petrol station again came to our rescue.
4km / 2.5mi later we saw Tomoe. She had been the fastest of the R@SKLs, but had just suffered her second flat tire of the day. There was already someone helping her change her tire, so we rode on.
By this time we had lost Marvin and Ridzuwan from our group. They had lingered a bit longer at the 80km / 50mi stop. We didn’t see them again until the finish. I wish we had stuck with them. They found a Cafe Amazon for their next food stop. Those brownies look good!
At 115km / 71.4mi we stopped at yet another petrol station. By this time we were on a multi-lane highway. Which is not as bad as it sounds. Roads in Thailand are for the most part very-well maintained. The road surfaces are smooth, and the road shoulders are wide and free of debris.
Because we were on a highway, the petrol station was bigger, and it had a 5 Time convenient store and an outdoor food stall. Fortunately the food stall was under large umbrellas, so we stayed dry while we ate.
Tomoe caught up with us while we were eating. That second puncture put paid to her hope of finishing by noon. Both she and Tommy had to be back in KL that nght. Their train from Padang Besar to KL was leaving at 4.55pm. Given the one hour time difference between Thailand and Malaysia, they needed to be on their way to Padang Besar from Satun at 1.00pm Thai time.
I telephoned three R@SKLs whom I knew were behind us. I assumed that our support van would be near them.
None of them answered their mobiles.
Then I dialled Tommy’s number. I should have called him first. He was already in our support van, which had just driven past the food stall where we were. Tommy had seen all our bikes parked there. He got the van to turn around and go back to pick up Tomoe.
They got back to Satun in time to clean up, and leave for Padang Besar as planned.
Our stop lasted 40 minutes. The food was good, and it was nice to be out of the rain for a while.
We had a further 11km / 7mi on the 416 highway before we turned right onto the quieter 3001. Most of us shot past that turn, because it was at the bottom of a short but straight descent. By the time we noticed the marshall signalling for us to turn right, we were going too fast for our wet brakes to slow us down in time.
The group I was in was now down to 6. The last 26km / 16mi were through more rubber plantations. It was nice to see so many rubber trees. That is a sight from my childhood. Almost all the rubber in Malaysia has since been replanted with oil palm.
There were a lot of big earthworms on the road. As thick as my little finger, and up to 30cm / 12in long. The wet conditions make it safe for earthworms to move to new places, as their skins can stay moist so that oxygen can pass through.
We made one last stop to regroup where we turned off the 3001 onto the 4051. From there we had 10km / 6mi to cover to get back to the Satun Boutique Resort. The marshall at that junction said that we were the leaders of the second group on the road. That sounded odd to us. 6 hours and 15 minutes had elapsed since we left the start. Only 68 riders were participating, but it seemed very unlikely that we were amongst the leaders.
Imagine our surprise when we were told at the finish that I, Voon Kiat, Ralf and Lay had finished 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th in our age group, and that AiLin had finished 4th in her age group.
As I have come to expect from events organized by Khun Metharin, there was a tasty buffet lunch at the finish. We ate while waiting for the rest of the R@SKLs to finish.
Once everyone had finished, there was a little prize-giving ceremony. I made sure to savour the moment. Lightning isn’t going to strike twice. I can’t see any more podium finishes in my future.
Then it was time for the lucky draw. There weren’t many riders still at the finish, so our chances of winning a prize were good. And win prizes we did. Three of us won back packs, and a case of milk went to Heng Keng.
We had podium finishers, lucky draw winners, and 1st time century ride finishers in Alfred and Voon Kiat. A very successful day out for the R@SKLs.
I was pleased to hear later that Tomoe and Tommy made it to Padang Besar in time for Tomoe to pack up her bike to be loaded into the bike transport van, and to catch their train to KL.
Our fun didn’t end at the conclusion of the SICR festivities. It had been Voon Kiat’s birthday a few days earlier. To celebrate, he bought us dinner at an excellent beef and chicken noodle shop.
We had made a new friend in Satun the evening before. Gini had arrived at the Satun Boutique Resort at about the same time we did, after our ride from Padang Besar. She is from Penang, and had taken ferries from Penang to Langkawi, and from Langkawi to Satun.
Gini joined us for dinner.
The birthday boy got a cake.
Everybody had a great time. Thank you Voon Kiat for dinner and drinks. Very best wishes for many more birthdays to come.
Given the flow of gin and whiskey before and during dinner, we agreed on a 9.00am start for our ride to Hat Yai.
“Yes” it was still raining as we walked back to our hotel.