LEKAS is the acronym for Lebuhraya Kajang Seremban, a 44.3 kilometre six lane highway connecting those two towns.
Since 2013, the highway concessionaires, Kajang–Seremban Highway Sdn. Bhd. and IJM Corporation Berhad, have worked with other sponsors to hold an annual cycling event on a closed section of LEKAS.
The first was in 2013, when it was known as the Shimano Highway Challenge.
In 2014, the event name remained the Shimano Highway Challenge.
There was no event in 2015.
In 2016 RHB came on board as a sponsor for the RHB Shimano Highway Ride.
I did not participate in the next three events. In 2020 I registered for the RHB LEKAS Highway Ride.
Then the lockdowns to contain the COVID-19 pandemic started. This event was initially postponed to 2021, but continuing COVID restrictions meant a further one-year delay to 2022.
I had forgotten about this ride until I got an e-mail from the event organiser, GoSportz, telling me that my 2020 race entry remains valid and will be automatically transferred to the new event date. At the time I wasn’t sure I would take part. I had not ridden at all between March and August 2022. And since August 2022, nothing close to a 120 kilometre ride, the distance I had registered for.
But as the event date drew closer I began to consider doing the 78km route. Not seriously enough to remember to collect my race pack on the designated dates a week before the event, though.
“Race pack” because there was prize money for the first five finishers in each of three categories for both the 78km and 120km distances.
Fortunately GoSportz accommodated late race pack pick ups from their office.
This event is always generously supported by sponsors, so your race number and timing chip come together with some goodies. This year the highlight was the two-colour LED rear blinker. There was also a head scarf, a large tube of skin lotion, and an energy gel.
I opted not to pay for the event jersey. I own more than enough cycling jerseys as it is.
There were thirteen in our group. Most of us got to the event venue early, so as to beat the traffic and to get a convenient parking space near Restoran Yip Sheng. Our usual dinner venue before the LEKAS Highway Ride. We weren’t the only early ones, and we weren’t the only ones wanting dinner at Yip Sheng at 5:00pm. We were wise to make a reservation.
It was a short ride from where we had all parked to get to the Kajang Selatan Toll Plaza complex.
And as usual, there were lots of amenities for participants: food trucks and a variety of services under the tents.
This event has evolved over the past ten years or so. A variety of supporting activities have been added to the programme, including a kid’s event this year.
We joined more than 5,600 other cyclists at the start line.
The 120km participants were flagged off at about 7:55pm. It was closer to 8:15pm by the time the 78km participants got underway.
Our route was out-and-back. The 120km participants did a U-turn at the 75km point and another U-turn at the Mantin toll plaza in order to cover an additional 42 kilometres.
There was intermittent rain, some of it quite heavy, from about 4:45pm. That helped to cool the air, but it did mean that it was very humid. Nevertheless, it is always a lot of fun to have the highway to ourselves.
We all made it safely to the finish. No flats. No falls. And we didn’t get hit by the rain that fell near the finish mid-ride.
Medals were handed out at the finish line. Nice ones too!
I for one was too tired to worry about getting some of the satay that was available at the finish area.
We also didn’t stay for the lucky draw, despite the very nice first three prizes:
- A Dura-Ace R9250 groupset, worth RM16,000 (USD3,400)
- An Ultegra R8150 groupset, worth RM12,000 (USD2,550)
- A set of Ultegra WH-R8150 C36 wheels, worth RM8,500 (USD1,800)
Once all of us had crossed the finish line and caught our breath, we rode the 2.5 kilometres back to Restoran Maulana, which is three shop lots down from Restoran Yip Sheng. We were hoping for a drink and some mamak food, but Restoran Maulana was closed. We were told that the restaurant cannot stay open on a 24-hour basis because of a staff shortage. Quite a common problem in the F&B industry now.
The restaurants in the vicinity that were open were, unsurprisingly, packed. So most of us drove to the closest McDonald’s for burgers and fries instead of teh tarik and roti telur. Which I would have preferred.
Blood sugar level restored, there was just the 40 kilometre drive home. The mamak restaurants near home were still hopping at 2:30am. By then, all I wanted was my bed 💤.