A weekend trip to Penang for the annual round island ride has been a R@SKLs tradition since 2016. Over the past decade, this ride was known as the Campaign for a Lane Ride and was approximately 80km / 50mi long.
This year the ride had a new name. Toward Cycling City Penang. And the distance was extended to 100km / 62mi. The two out-and-back stretches at the lower left and middle left of the route accounted for the additional 20km.
The ride started right on time at 7:00 am. Kudos to the organisers.
The R@SKLs rode as a group for the entire ride. Speeds were kept to below 30kph so that everyone could stay together. Despite best intentions, a couple of riders did fall off the back of the group because of a mechanical problem.
In the past, we stopped near the Penang Bridge. This time we didn’t so photographs of the bridge were taken on the go.
Our first brief stop was after 18km.
Not long after that we turned right and rode along the southern end of the runway at Penang International Airport.
In another departure from past practice, we did not stop for a restroom break at the Caltex station near Kampung Binjai.
😳Bladder control On.
The first extension to the route came at Taman Cahaya after 29km. In past years we turned right to tackle the climb up Bukit Genting.
This time we continued straight along the southwestern tip of the island for about 5km before retracing our route back to Taman Cahaya.
I had reached the limit of my bladder control at the U-turn and had to stop.
As I neared Bukit Genting I got a telephone call from Simon. He had stopped to help Eugene with his mechanical. As did Marvin. I thought they were behind me but I was wrong.
I was speaking to Simon via my Aftershokz Aeropex headphones. I took my hands off the bar and cupped them over my ears to reduce the wind noise as I spoke.
Simon: Eugene, Marvin and I are at the top of the first climb. Where are you?
Me: I am at the bottom of the first climb. Everyone is at the bottom of the climb.
Simon: OK. Wait for us. We will ride down now.
Me: NO. Stay there. I am still at the bottom of the climb.
Simon: OK. You stay there. We are coming.
Me: NO NO NO. You stay where you are. We are all still climbing up to you.
Having my hands over my ears didn’t make me very intelligible to Simon. Fortunately, he understood enough to stay put while the rest of us rode up to the three of them.
How did Eugene, Marvin and Simon get ahead of us? They skipped the extra 10km loop.
The first water stop was at the top of Bukit Genting. Despite the threat from the organizers of no service for riders who weren’t wearing the official event jersey, we all got water. In a nice move to reduce the use of plastics the organizers did not provide individual bottles of water. Instead, they filled each cyclist’s bottles from a water dispenser.
It is a high-speed descent (unless you are stuck behind traffic) to Taman Simpang Jaya and the sharp turn to the left that leads to a flat 15km through several kampungs (villages).
After 10km of flat riding, some of us stopped at Mysara Café for a drink. The others continued to the sundry shops next to the Chinese temple at the foot of the second climb of the day.
Immediately before the Chinese temple, we discovered the second extension to the route. A 7km loop to Pantai Aceh and back.
The Mysara Café contingent finished the loop and rode past the rest of the R@SKLs just as they were remounting their bikes for the 5km and 200 metre / 656 foot climb.
After the climb and descent, most of us regrouped at the rest hut overlooking the lake beside the Teluk Bahang Dam. Some had to get back to their hotels early to check-out so they went ahead.
There were 30km left to ride through Teluk Bahang, Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah, Tanjung Tokoh and Gurney Drive to the finish.
We collected our Finisher’s medals and rode straight back to our hotels. It was too hot to linger and many had to shower and check-out of hotels.
Or indulge in a celebratory cold one!
The final act for five of the seven who rode to Penang was to load our bikes into Amy’s truck for the drive back to KL.
Until 2020 then.