I lived in Port Dickson (PD) for a couple of years. For many years after my family moved away, PD was a regular day trip destination. The Si Rusa Inn, with its restaurant and bar open on all sides to the sea breeze, outdoor jukebox, and kampung ladies sitting under the casuarina trees, weaving and selling mengkuang hats, bags, and mats, was a favourite place to spend a Sunday.
That was forty years ago. The Si Rusa Inn is now derelict. PD has become crowded with resorts and hotels. The beaches are not what they used to be. I stopped going to PD for beach holidays.
The Avillion Coastal Ride (ACR) has been hosted by PD for a number of years. I made up for missing the previous ACRs by turning this year’s ACR into a three-day cycling event. Kota Kemuning to Morib with the R@SKLs, and then solo to PD on Saturday. The 160km Endurance ACR with friends on Sunday. And a solo ride home on Monday.
You can tell by the way the pre-ride formalities are managed that an event is run by a competent organiser. In this case Bikeaway and their event director, Encik Zulkarnain Shah, seen here keeping an eye on the goody bag distribution.
Information about the ride was clearly posted outside the room where participants were to collect their goody bags.
The distribution of ride packs / goody bags was efficiently managed. I was out of the room, three goody bags in hand, in a matter of minutes.
Those goody bags were heavier than I expected. That 500g pack of organic rice was an unusual goody bag item.
Registration for the ACR 2017 entitled participants to a discounted rate at the host hotels. Either the Avillion Admiral Cove, or the Avillion PD. I had opted for the latter. So I had a 4.5km / 2.8 ride from the goody bag pickup at Avillion Admiral Cove to the Avillion PD. With goody bags swinging from my handlebar.
I had been in my cycling kit for more than eight hours. The first thing I needed after checking in to my water chalet was a shower. I stood fully-clothed under the high-volume shower head, rinsing salt and grime off body and out of kit.
I hadn’t eaten anything since stopping at Morib with the R@SKLs. I had a late lunch in the Crow’s Nest restaurant, with a view of the Straits of Malacca.
Marco, Mark, and Martin drove from KL to PD early on Sunday morning. I met them at the Avillion PD car park, and we rode to the start line at the Avillion Admiral Cove.
Here we are, waiting for the ride to be flagged off.
There were lots of cycling clubs and teams, resplendent in their matching kits. Including this group of former students from my secondary school.
There were three distances to choose from. The 25km / 15.5mi Fun Ride, the 90km / 56mi Scenic Ride, and the 160km / 99.5mi Endurance Ride.
The Endurance Ride participants set off first. Led out by three riders on postman’s bikes. The national courier, Pos Laju, was the main sponsor of the ACR 2017.
1,606 participants streamed under the Start / Finish arch. Including two riders on unusual machines.
The Endurance Ride route took us south past the old Si Rusa Inn, and then eastward. Within ten minutes the four of us had latched on to the rear of a fairly large group. Which included this gentleman on a fat bike.
He, and the others ahead of us, provided a draft which we enjoyed all the way to the first water station at Linggi. Almost everyone in the group stopped there. We rode through that water station, so we became a peloton of four.
At about the 40km / 25mi mark we crossed the border between the state of Negri Sembilan and the state of Melaka, at Lubok China. We were enjoying the very pleasant roads between the small towns and villages.
There wasn’t much traffic on those roads. Not that traffic would have been a problem. We were accompanied by a capable set of marshalls on motorbikes, who shielded us from any vehicles.
There were also mechanics on motorbikes and scooters. More than a few participants were very grateful for the roadside assistance they received.
The mobile marshalls were complementd by marshalls positioned at intersections. They stopped traffic so that we could keep rolling. The ever-present marshalls are another hallmark of a well-organised event.
It takes considerable resources to efficiently and effectively manage a cycling event. In the case of the ACR 2017, this included 300 support crew, officials and volunteers, 3 ambulances, 3 broom lorries, 7 support vehicles, 6 police patrol cars and 60 police motorbikes and pilots.
Kudos to Bikeaway, Encik Zulkarnain Shah, the police personnel, and the support crew, officials and volunteers for making the ACR 2017 a safe and memorable event for all the participants.
3km / 1.8mi after crossing the state border, we became a group of three. Martin did the Scenic Ride. His route split from ours at the junction of Federal Route 5 and State Route M140.
We waved goodbye as Martin turned right. By then, Marco and Mark had been ready for breakfast for some time. I had had the benefit of a room service breakfast, albeit at the ungodly hour of 4.40am. (My breakfast was delivered twenty minutes early).
My companions were on the road while I was eating my pancakes, so they were hungry. We stopped at a food stall in Kampung Jeram, about 50km / 31mi into the ride.
Nasi lemak and iced Milo sorted out the hunger pangs.
Having only recently fed and watered ourselves, we rolled through the next water station at 72km / 45mi. We missed out on the dabbing action there!
Halfway through the ride we were on the AMJ Highway. The clouds had burned off, and the temperature was rising. Our thoughts turned to the ice cold coconut shakes at Klebang Original Coconut Shake. 5km / 3mi away.
All the turns along the route were very clearly marked with red arrows. Even at junctions without a marshall, it was obvious which way to turn. We got to Jalan Klebang Besar / Klebang Kecil and turned right, as indicated by the red arrow.
We started looking for Klebang Original Coconut Shake. 2km / 1.2mi later we were riding out of Klebang Besar, without having seen the coconut shake shop. One look at our route on Strava revealed why. Klebang Original Coconut Shake is 200 meters / 660 feet to the left of the junction where we had turned right. So close!
A couple of kilometers later we turned left onto Jalan Pekan Tanjung 2. And found a sundry shop with cold drinks and a tap where we could wash our faces. We spent fifteen minutes there, sitting inside the shop, under a fan, cold drinks in hand.
We had met up with Johan S. a number of times along the route. He would pass us on the downhills, and we would pass him on the uphills and flats.
We spotted him as he rode past the sundry shop. A quick yell, and he was soon resting in the shop with us.
Our next destination was Kuala Seafood at Kuala Sungai Baru, 25km / 15.5mi away. This is the restaurant which was closed, to our great disappointment, when we rode to Melaka about a month ago. I was certain that the restaurant was along our route, so we wouldn’t miss it the way we had missed Klebang Original Coconut Shake..
Kuala Seafood was open! A waitress told us that the restaurant had closed for a month so that the staff could have a long holiday. It had been re-opened for two days. I told her that the next time they plan to close for a month, they need to put an announcement about it in the newspapers.
It was 12.30pm when we got to Kuala Seafood. It was at least 35° C / 95° F. We were shoes-off hot.
The food looked delicious, as we expected. But we were too hot to eat any of it. All we wanted were ice-cold drinks.
At that point we had about 35km / 22mi left to ride. We were back on familiar roads between PD and Melaka. We had cycled before on these roads at about the same time of day, so we knew it was going to get hotter over the next hour or two. The number of people we saw taking a break in whatever shade they could find bore this out.
The last 12km / 7.5mi of the ride included a 10.5km / 6.5mi stretch of Jalan Pintasan Teluk Kemang. That road is a dual carriageway that serves as an inland shortcut to the Seremban – Port Dickson Highway. It bypasses the narrow, winding two-way road which runs along the coast.
It was probably 37° C / 99° F, if not hotter, on that bypass. There is no shade. And it rolls up and down over its entire length, to the tune of 162 meters / 530 feet of climbing.
It was too hot to linger. So we upped the pace, helped by a tailwind, to the finish at the Avillion Admiral Cove.
Because we had lingered over food and drinks along the way, we were amongst the last finishers. Well behind all the Fun and Scenic Ride participants, and most of the Endurance riders.
So we didn’t get any of watermelon or iced Milo on offer at the end of the ride. It had all been polished off by the cyclists ahead of us. I’m looking at you Martin!
There were plenty of packs of biryani rice, chicken, and cabbage left. It was pretty good too. Some of the better post-ride food I’ve tasted. There was lots of water, and chocolate muffins as well. We didn’t really have to eat our medals..
After we ate and cooled down, we rode back to the Avillion Hotel PD for a shower and a change of clothes. We had one more place to visit.
A bowl of Azmi chendol was an excellent end to the ACR 2017.
I’m looking forward to the ACR 2018.