This was the view outside the MesaMall in Nilai at 4:05am.
Why would anyone be awake, let alone ready to ride, at that ungodly hour?
This is why.
Twenty R@SKLs did the Pink Ride 2.0 in 2019. Four of us from that group signed up this year. Eight other R@SKLs, including six who had never done a 200km ride, joined us this time.
I collected brevet cards for most of the group the day before the ride.
Together with the brevet / cue card we got a Pink Ride 3.0 sticker and a cash voucher worth MYR150 / USD37 from the Cyclist Wardrobe.
Some of us spent the night in Nilai. Better to be asleep than driving from KL very early in the morning. That plan didn’t work for me. There was a night bazaar next to my hotel. And live bands that played until midnight.
Despite the interrupted sleep, I was at the Old Town White Coffee On The Go outlet at the MesaMall just after 4:00 am, waiting to hand out brevet cards to the rest of the R@SKLs. They were already arriving at the mall.
While riders were waiting for the start, they could take a selfie in front of the Cyclist Wardrobe banner. The selfie with the most likes on social media at the end of the event would win an MYR888 / USD218 cash voucher. Thank you, Max, from Cyclist Wardrobe for your generous support for this event.
We were ready to roll at 5:00 am. Except for Marvin, who set his alarm for 3:00 am and then went back to sleep until 4:30 am. We started without him.
Which is why none of us was wearing the reflective bands that Johan Sopiee bought for us. He rode from his home to Nilai 😳. Marvin had the package of reflective bands in his car.
The route took us clockwise from Nilai to Seremban 2 and Rantau on the way to the first checkpoint in Port Dickson. The second checkpoint was at Morib. From there the route passed through Banting and back to Nilai.
The public restrooms at MesaMall weren’t open that early in the morning. I, for one, was glad to see a Petron station 1.5km after we started.
Our first proper stop was 30km later at Mambau. Our group had split into two after a series of short climbs. Marvin caught up with us before we stopped. We didn’t have to wait long before the group had reassembled.
Our next stop was at the Shell station in Rantau. It was starting to get light as we left the petrol station. We had an unexpected stop 10km later when Ernestine had a puncture. That was the only puncture our group suffered.
It was overcast to Port Dickson. The home of the Army Museum. The temperature was between 22ºC / 72ºF and 24ºC / 75ºF for the 78km to the first checkpoint.
We got to the McDonalds at the PD Waterfront at 8:30 am. We were ahead of schedule, in spite of the flat tire.
We got stamps in our brevet cards and queued up with dozens of other cyclists to order breakfast.
Afiq latched onto our group as we cycled past the Army Museum. He introduced himself as we waited for a traffic light and asked if he could continue to ride with us.
“Of course you can Afiq.” He is in purple on the right.
The roads from Lukut to Sepang run through rolling terrain. Rain fell on that part of the route while we were eating our sausage and scrambled egg sandwiches.
Sam Tow founded the Audax Randonneurs Malaysia (ARM) club in 2015. Sam is now the country representative for ARM, which organizes audax events which adhere to the regulations set by the Audax Club Parisien.
As well as overseeing the logistics involved in running an event for nine hundred cyclists, Sam also drove the route in his personalized Land Rover Defender. He took almost two thousand photographs along the way.
Sepang marked the end of the rolling terrain. It was also where we stopped to regroup, catch our breath and refill bottles.
The sun broke through the clouds as we left Sepang to ride the remaining 95km. By the time we had covered the 27km to Tanjong Sepat, it was 31ºC / 88ºF. It was also almost noon. We were ready for a cold drink and some food.
Mark planned to meet us in Tanjong Sepat. He sent me his location via WhatsApp. It looked strange to me. I remember that point being in the middle of a group of houses. “Maybe he found a little-known restaurant,” I thought.
We rode to that location and found a group of houses. But no restaurant, and no Mark.
Then I saw this message from him.
We rode back to a restaurant where some of us had stopped in the past. There was some grumbling about having to ride extra kilometres, but everyone felt better after a cold drink and some calories.
We were on the road again at 12:45 pm.
We had managed to stick together as a train since that first stop in Mambau, and we continued to do so on the way to the second checkpoint at Morib.
We got to Morib at 1:20 pm. There were water and bananas for us at the checkpoint. Thank you ARM.
We claimed the shade under this tree for twenty five minutes.
1:50 pm. 35ºC / 95ºF. 50km to go.
The heat and fatigue were beginning to take a toll. So we made more frequent rest stops over the remainder of the ride. First at a Shell station in Banting, just before we crossed the Langat River. Then at the Petronas station in Olak Lempit.
We were 25km from the finish and still riding in a single group. Amy, Ernestine, Geetha, Huey Ling, Vanessa and Lokesh were well past their previous longest ride distance, and they were going strong. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼
We took a five-minute break on the shoulder of the Nilai-KLIA Highway. Our last stop was at the Petronas station in Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi. We were there for almost ten minutes, mentally preparing ourselves for the 180 metres of climbing over the last 8.5km to the MesaMall.
As we started riding, we noticed low black clouds and lightning in front of us. It would be a race to get to the finish before it started raining.
It started pouring on us when we were less than 2km from the finish. A final 2km which included grades of up to 6.3%.
Everyone finished safely. Wet but very happy with hard-won medals in hand.
The rain did not dampen spirits in the least. Johan does look a little tired, though 😂.
Congratulations to everyone in the group for completing the Pink Ride 3.0. I am so proud of you.
As it turned out, those extra kilometres in Tanjong Sepat were worth the effort. The official route was 198.8km long. It would have been a bummer to be short of 200km. Riding around in Tanjong Sepat got us all over the 200km mark.
We celebrated our achievement in R@SKL style, with a feast on Monday night. An evening filled with laughter as we relived the ride.
New bucket list entry anyone?