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I’ve Got the ‘Flu. Do I Ride my Bike, or Not?

Influenza Virus Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1)

Graphic courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

This is the H1N1 influenza virus.  One of the three or four ‘flu viruses which are most prevalent during this 2016 / 2017 influenza season.

Perhaps the ‘flu virus that caught me (I don’t think you catch the ‘flu.  The ‘flu catches you) was the B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.  Australia is in the midst of its worst ‘flu outbreak on record.

Whichever strain of the virus it was, I started feeling the effects of the infection ten days ago.  It started with a sore throat, which progressed to a fever, upper chest and nasal congestion, aching joints, and an annoying cough.

After a week of Hurix’s Fluaway capsules, and Strepsils lozenges, I felt better.  Not 100%, but well enough to ride to Kundang with birthday boy Mark, Marco, and Khoo.  I was following the old adage to “sweat out a cold”.

I’m was also sure the Kundang pan mee would have curative properties.

Kundang Noodles

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The same had to be true for the chendol from Hasan’s van on Jalan Bukit Mayang Emas.

I didn’t feel any better, but I didn’t feel any worse, the next morning.  The morning of the Man Ride Day.  Lay, Khoo and Mark were coming to my apartment to start the ride with me.  There was no backing out.

Man Ride

Graphic courtesy of The Bike Artisans

There were two distances to choose from.  100km and 200km.  We all chose the 100km route, from The Bike Artisans on Jalan Doraisamy to Genting Sempah and Janda Baik, and then back to The Bike Artisans.  Hardier souls than we rode twice as far, to Raub and back.

The agreement with Lay, Khoo and Mark was that if I started coughing, the pace was too high.  Which turned out to be an effective way of controlling our speed up the climbs to Genting Sempah.  Cough cough cough!

Man Ride Day 1

Photograph courtesy of Qoo Khoo

We started the ride with about one hundred other cyclists.  Perhaps half were ahead of us by the time we got near the Orang Asli Hospital.  Then everyone moved ahead of us, because we stopped for food and drink at our regular spot, Restoran Sidek Ria.

Man Ride Day 2

Photograph courtesy of Qoo Khoo

We spent 25 minutes over roti telur and iced Milo.  Back on my bike, I coughed, spluttered, and blew snot rockets every now and then all the way up to Genting Sempah.

Snot Rocket REI com

Graphic courtesy of REI.com

At the flyover I decided that I felt good enough to continue to Bukit Tinggi.  That cut out the Janda Baik loop, which removed some steep slopes and about 15km /  9mi from our route.

We stopped for more food and drink in Bukit Tinggi.  There are a number of coffee shops to choose from.

My riding buddies kindly kept the pace low as we climbed the 415 meters / 1,360 feet of elevation over the 9km / 5.5mi from Bukit Tinggi back to Genting Sempah.  I had brought some Strepsils to help with my cough, but had nothing to boost my compromised lung capacity.

Once the last slope at Hamburger Hill was dealt with, it was downhill for 25km / 15.5mi to Jalan Taman Ibu Kota.  Then onto flat ground past the Twin Towers and back to The Bike Artisans.

Man Ride Day 4

Photograph courtesy of Qoo Khoo

The Man Ride Day ended with a nasi kandar and satay lunch, a short talk on Mens’ Mental Health by Associate Professor Dr. Amer Siddiq Amer Nordin from University of Malaya, a short talk on reaching out for help by Kenny Lim of Befrienders Malaysia, and an auction of commemorative Black Sheep Chaos kit.

Man Ride Day 3

Chaos Kit (1)

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

It was a well-organised event, and good fun.  I’m glad I rode the event, albeit for only 90km / 56mi.

My cough and upper chest congestion didn’t get any better over the weekend.  It was slightly worse on Monday morning.

So today, belatedly, I did some research.  Was there any truth to the “sweat out a cold” adage?

The answer is “it depends.”

Doctors differentiate between ‘above the neck’ symptoms such as a runny or stuffy nose, watery eyes or a mild sore throat, and ‘below the neck’ ones, such as a cough, a congested or tight chest, an upset stomach, muscle aches and fever.

A light to moderate – and brief – workout is fine if your symptoms are above the neck.

If your symptoms are below the neck?  Give workouts a miss.  Exercising with major cold symptoms will prolong your illness and can be dangerous.

Which probably explains why I still have a stuffy nose and a cough.

Sick

I have below the neck symptoms.  So no BCG Tuesday Night Fun Ride for me today.

Now where did I put those Strepsils?

Postscript

I saw a doctor.  He put his stethoscope on my chest as I took deep breaths.  Well, as deep as I could manage.

He heard lots of crackling.  Walking pneumonia was his diagnosis.  I left his clinic with an antibiotic, and something for my cough.

And with strict instructions to avoid any exercise until my lungs were clear.

Seven days later, I could ride again.

Independence Day Ride

BCG Bentong Merdeka

Malaysia was born on 31st August 1957.  That day Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, read the official declaration granting the Federation of Malaya independence from the British Empire.

Most years friends and I have marked Merdeka Day (Independence Day) with a bicycle ride.  This year it was the BCG Merdeka Ride to Bentong.

About fifteen of us met at the Orang Asli Hospital for a 7.15am start.  I got there early, hoping to have a hot drink at the small restaurant near the hospital.  The restaurant was closed.

I had forgotten that it was a five-day weekend.  Thursday was Merdeka Day.  Friday and Saturday were public holidays for Hari Raya Haji (Eid al-Adha)  And Monday had been declared a public holiday to commemorate Malaysia winning 145 gold medals out of the 225 gold medals competed for at the 2017 SEA Games, which had come to an end on 30th August.

Traditionally Malays celebrate both Hari Raya Puasa (Eid al-Fitr) and Hari Raya Haji with family in their home towns and villages.

Which means a mass exodus from Kuala Lumpur the day before those festivals.  The Karak Highway is the main road link between Kuala Lumpur and the cities and towns on the east coast of the peninsula.

We stopped near the summit of the Genting Sempah to look at the traffic on the Karak Highway.

BCG Bentong Bridge Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

This was the view of the eastbound lanes of the Karak Highway from Genting Sempah.

BCG Bentong Jam Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The volume of traffic on the Karak Highway prompted many to take the old road to Bentong.  Jalan Gombak is usually very quiet.  We cyclists typically share the road with the odd lorry, a few learner drivers, and some motorcycles.  On this day there was a steady stream of cars, vans and buses heading up the road with us.

We had a nice surprise at the Genting Sempah flyover.  The couple who, on weekends, set up a makeshift drinks and snacks stall out of the boot of their car, were there.  Hooray!

BCG Bentong Genting Sempah 2 Vince Chan

Photograph courtesy of Vincent Chan

If you are wondering, I couldn’t find a red hibiscus, which is the national flower of Malaysia.

BCG Bentong Genting Sempah 1 Vince Chan

Photograph courtesy of Vincent Chan

We continued to share the road with a stream of vehicles on the 35km / 22mi run from Genting Sempah to Bentong.  There is a section between Bukit Tinggi and Bentong where the road is badly potholed.  That caused traffic to be backed up for a few kilometers.

Once past the potholes, those vehicles that we had overtaken roared past us.  Only for us to overtake them again as they waited in a long queue for the traffic lights at the T-junction of Jalan Gombak and Jalan Lama Bentong – Karak.  It was definitely faster by bike over the last 25km / 15.5mi to Bentong.

We had planned to eat at Lemang To’ki, home of the best lemang in Bentong.  We weren’t surprised to find that Lemang To’ki was closed.  So we settled for the next-best option.  Roti canai, half-boiled eggs, and kaya toast.

And peanut ice cream at Kow Po Coffeeshop.

BCG Bentong Ice Cream Daniel Ng

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Ng

That was the easy part over and done with.  It was all uphill from Bentong back to Genting Sempah.  1,000 meters / 3,280 feet of elevation gain.

We were smiling as we rode through Bentong.

BCG Bentong Sign Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The climbing, and the 34° to 36° C / 93° to 97° F temperatures, wiped those smiles off our faces.  By the time we got back to Genting Sempah we were gagging for cold drinks.

We gave the McDonald’s there a miss, assuming, no doubt correctly, that it would be packed with travelers taking a break from the traffic jams.  The roadside stall we stopped at had run out of canned drinks, but fortunately they still had lots of ice and Sunquick.

Then it was just Hamburger Hill between us and the 16km / 10mi descent to the Orang Asli Hospital.  We had to be careful.  The traffic was still streaming up the hill, with some drivers cutting corners.  The bus drivers were the worst culprits.

We all got down the hill safely.  Tired, but glad to have done the ride in great company.  I wonder where we will be riding to when Malaysia turns 61.

BP_31%_Facebk_2017

One Thing Rain is Good For

Posted on

It has been raining a lot lately.  Quite a few night rides have been cancelled because it was too wet.  A ride planned for this morning didn’t happen because it was raining when my alarm went off.

One upside is any waterfalls we pass are worth stopping at for a longer look.  There are a couple on the route from Janda Baik to Chamang.

Waterfalls

The first, Bentong waterfall, is on the left as you descend from Bukit Tinggi.  It feeds the Sungai Tanglir, which is on the right side of the road.

Bentong Waterfall

Bentong Waterfall

The second, Chamang waterfall,feeds into the Sungai Perting.  It is a bit of a climb to get to the falls, but the effort is worth it.

Chamang Waterfall

Chamang Waterfall

 The recent rains have added to the volume of water in these falls.  A good thing for sightseers.  But I do hope it isn’t raining tomorrow morning.

Feeling the Pinch

It was the Islamic New Year on 5th November.  Like its Gregorian calendar equivalent, the advent of the Islamic new year is marked by a holiday.  A holiday to be celebrated with a long bicycle ride.

The original plan was to ride from Bukit Tinggi to Bentong, eat beef ball noodles for breakfast, and ride back.  Bukit Tinggi is about 300 meters / 980 feet above sea level.  Bentong is 95 meters / 312 feet above sea level.  The hard work would come on the way back.  Nine of us, including birthday boy Raj,  pointed our bikes downhill and rolled through the light rain.

The wet weather soon moved on toward Kuala Lumpur, leaving us on damp roads but under overcast skies.  There would be no need for arm coolers and suntan lotion.

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

We swung into Bentong after about an hour.  Only to find that the famed beef ball noodles shop was closed.  So we embarked on a spin around the town looking for an alternative.

We ended up at the wonton noodles shop where we had stopped during the Durian Fiesta ride.  Which suited the birthday boy.

IMG_2291

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Everyone was so refreshed after breakfast that we decided to continue on to the Chamang waterfall.

Chamang Waterfall Route

The waterfall is very easy to get to.  Follow the sign just outside Bentong, and start climbing.  Six kilometers into the climb we got our first glimpse of the Perling River.  Accompanied by the thwack thwack thwack of cloth against rock.  Someone was doing their laundry.

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The waterfall was worth the 110 meter / 360 feet climb.  We all enjoyed spending twenty minutes watching the water cascading down the rock face.

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Raj is a relatively new roadie.  So all credit to him for coming along with us on these longer rides.  And being thrilled at the prospect of the climb to come that Griffin and I are pointing out!

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

On the way back we made a pitstop in Bentong for drinks and photos.

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

“Is this where I catch the bus to Kuala Lumpur?”

The ride back to Bukit Tinggi was interrupted by two pinch flats.  I was a bit surprised to be stopped by a pinch flat on this smooth section of road.  Here I am demonstrating my tube-changing skills to a very interested audience.

Photo courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

Photo courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

Photo courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

Photo courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

“Stop thief!!”

Twenty kilometers later I had another pinch flat.  That one was no surprise.  I was on a bridge with a lorry right beside me.  I had no choice but to ride over a gaping expansion joint.  My prayers to the guardian angel of inner tubes were not answered.

That didn’t detract from a great morning out with my riding buddies.  Great company, good food, cool weather, impressive views, lots of laughter, and when I was in a pinch, Marco had an inner tube to spare.

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