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Rapha Festive 500

Festive 500

I have not covered many kilometers in 2014.  Thanks in no small part to my extended time off the bicycle.  Both self-inflicted and health-inflicted.

My total mileage on 12th October 2014 was the lowest it has ever been on that date in the five years I have been cycling.  That was the day of my first ride in almost four months.  I rode as much as I could, and then had another month of no rides from 23rd November.  Rain and weekend travel are to blame.

Total Distance

Graph courtesy of VeloViewer

So the Rapha Festive 500 came at the perfect time to motivate me to add to my total kilometers ridden in 2014.  The challenge is to ride 500 kms between the 24th and 31st of December.

Rapha has partnered with Strava to keep track of riders’ mileage.  No small undertaking, seeing as 46,360 cyclists are currently in the challenge.

Strava is doing a great job of displaying every participant’s current mileage, and rank overall, by country, by age and by weight.  Strava is also providing additional motivation by presenting riders with ‘achievements’ as they meet interim targets.

125250375

I got the final one today.

500

I have ridden every day since Christmas Eve.  I am putting my vacation time to good use.

Heatmap courtesy of Strava

Heatmap courtesy of Strava

514kms over six days.  Mostly over the usual routes:  Genting Sempah (2), KESAS (3) and (6), and the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (4).

There were a couple of forays into new territory, starting with the first Festive 500 ride on Christmas Eve (1).  Keat, Mark, Marco, Fahmi and I started with a ride to a favourite nasi lemak stop in Kampung Cempedak.  But instead of following breakfast with a ride through Kampung Melayu Seri Kundang, we followed a back road toward Rawang.  Here we are, happy to be at the summit of the climb along Jalan Ciku.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

The ride that took me over the 500kms target was an entirely new one.  I drove my biker chick to the airport, then parked and pulled my bike out of the car.  It was raining quite hard, but that didn’t stop me from riding alongside runway 2, and the new runway 3 serving KLIA 2, watching aircraft come and go in a cloud of spray.

AA

I didn’t want to continue onto the highway serving the airports, so I doubled back along runway 3 and went to Sepang.  I had fun, but would have enjoyed it more if it hadn’t been raining the entire time.

LCCT Map

Weather permitting, I might get to 600kms by New Year’s Eve.  A relatively large total by my current standards, but paltry in comparison with 1,644kms already ridden by the person leading the Festive 500.  He has cycled almost 14,500kms in 2014.  He must be very fit.  And not have a full-time job.

An Epic Ride – Though I Would Have Preferred it Wasn’t

Strava displays a “Suffer Score” along with other summary information about each ride that you upload.  The Suffer Score is a value calculated using your heart rate during a ride relative to your maximum heart rate, and the distance ridden.  The higher your Suffer Score, the harder you worked during that ride.

A descriptor is assigned to Suffer Scores.  100 to 150 is a Tough score.  151 to 250 is an Extreme score.  Anything greater than 250 is an Epic score.

I have only twice had a Suffer Score in the Epic category.  The first was during the Kuantan Century Ride last year.  My average speed was 28 kph.  My average heart rate during that ride was 144 bpm, over a distance of 161 km.  I felt trashed for the last 20 kms of that ride.

My second Epic effort was yesterday.  I rode with four other Flipsiders from Bandar Sunway to Morib and back.  This ride was  133km.  My average speed was 26.6 kph.  Despite the shorter distance and lower average speed, my heart rate averaged 140 bpm.  Not much less than it was during the Kuantan ride.  And again I felt trashed for the last 20 kms of the ride.

I have had rides that had a lot more climbing, and were therefore more difficult  – although this wasn’t easy either, given that the sun was beating down and that the temperature felt like 36 °Celsius.

I suffered, despite the flatness of the Morib ride, due to an alarming lack of fitness.  I knew that being inactive for more than three months would have a negative effect, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad.

The route took us west along the KESAS Highway.  It was my first time riding west of Sunway Lagoon, though my companions have done this ride before.

We exited the KESAS Highway at the Bandar Botanik interchange, where we turned left onto Jalan Langat.  I have been on that section of road before, during the ride to Port Dickson, and during the Klang Premiere Century ride.

Morib

We weren’t on Jalan Langat very long before we had to make a stop at a PETRONAS petrol station.  Justin had a flat tire.  I took the opportunity to take an opportunistic photograph.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had stopped at the PETRONAS Johan Setia.

Two hours into the ride my left arm and shoulder had started aching.  I spent a lot of time sitting up on my saddle to give my arm and shoulder a rest.  Marco is smiling in his selfie, but you can see that Mark and I are wilting in the heat.  At this point we had another fifteen kilometers to go before we got to Morib.  Those were some of the longest kilometers I have ever ridden.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

It was a relief to finally arrive at Taman Seri Bayou Morib.  Marked on the beach side by this pretty art installation.

Morib Sculpture

We had ridden 75 kilometers.  There were serious doubts in my mind that I would make it all the way back to Sunway.

I didn’t look it at the time, but I did feel somewhat rejuvenated after these.

Morib Dutch Lady

Four cartons of cold chocolate milk.

The others looked cheery while waiting for their nasi lemak.  I had some too.  It was very good.

Morib Makan

It was about 11.00am when we started the return leg.  This wasn’t the last sit-down I needed before we got back to Bandar Sunway.

Morib Sign

The return leg was 17 kms shorter than the outbound leg.  We had done a loop to the east of Bandar Sunway at the start.  Despite the shorter homeward distance, my average speed dropped from 27.6 kph to 25.5 kph.  Even with the slower pace, my average heart rate went up from 137 bpm to 145 bpm.  That must be when my Suffer Score ventured into Epic territory.

I really was struggling over the last 20 kms.  I kept looking at my Garmin, convinced that I had covered three or four kilometers since the last time I checked it.  Only to find that I was only fifteen hundred meters further forward.  Right about the time I was going to pack it in and collapse on the edge of the road, a rest area hove into view.  There was only about 6 kms to go, but I wouldn’t have made it without that final fifteen minute rest in the air-conditioned PETRONAS shop – and without an ice-cream.

I would have preferred an easier ride.  Especially after such a long time off the bike.  It does however make me believe that I will finish the Malacca Century Ride next Sunday.

Hopefully it won’t be another Epic!

Riding into the Year of the Horse

8 Horses

Friday 31st January marked the start of the Year of the Horse.  The horse is the seventh of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac.

Federal Territory Day was celebrated on Monday 3rd February.  So we had a four-day weekend.  My riding buddies planned to ride on each of those days.

Four of us started the Lunar New Year with a morning ride along the KESAS Highway.  We did one and a half of the Bandar Sunway to Bukit Jalil Sports Complex loop.

Now that I think about it, four was not the most auspicious number of riders.  In Chinese tradition, certain numbers are believed by some to be auspicious or inauspicious, based on the Chinese word that the number name sounds similar to.

4 is considered the unluckiest number of all, because it is nearly homophonous to the word “death.”  Despite being a quartet, we had a fun ride.

Photograph courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

Photograph courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

We did much better, numerologically speaking, the next morning.  Eight of us did the climb to Genting Sempah.

8 is an extremely auspicious number, because it sounds similar to the word “prosper” or “wealth.”

Photograph courtesy of Gary Wong

Photograph courtesy of Gary Wong

As always with our morning rides, this one ended with breakfast.

Photograph courtesy of Eric Siow

Photograph courtesy of Eric Siow

Sunday was a “Go Green Car-Free Morning.”  On the first Sunday of the month, some roads in the city center are closed to motor vehicles from 7.00 am until 9.00 am.  Giving walkers, joggers, skateboarders, rollerbladers and cyclists a chance to use these stretches.

About ten of us met here for a wake-up coffee or a teh tarik before cycling to the start.

IMG_2616

There was already quite a crowd in front of the City Hall building.

 Car Free Day 01

Including some on vintage bicycles and in period costume.  The infantrymen were a reference to the Japanese invasion of Malaya and the capture of Singapore.  One of the keys to the success of that invasion was the use of bicycles by the Japanese troops to move swiftly down the Malayan peninsula from Kota Bahru in the north to Singapore in the south.

Photograph courtesy of Tengku Nash

Photograph courtesy of Tengku Nash

Marco, Shahfiq and I did three loops of the 12 km route.

The highlight for me was cycling past my primary school.  Batu Road School.  In the 1960s a narrow access road ran in front of the school.  I remember walking out of the school gates into a group of ice cream vendors, standing next to bicycles with cold boxes mounted on rear racks.

That access road has become Jalan Raja Laut, a five-lane thoroughfare.  The school is still there.  Sadly the ice cream vendors are no more.

Batu Road Boys School Panoramio Kunawi Sokaguro

The route also took us past the PETRONAS Twin Towers.  They must be the most posed-before buildings in the country.

Car Free Day 04

Here Shahfiq and I are rolling away from the Twin Towers, along a deserted Jalan Ampang toward the junction with Jalan Sultan Ismail.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

I had a bonus ride in the afternoon.  Ronnie held a Chinese New Year open house.  Complete with chinese tea prepared with water collected from a natural spring that comes to the surface in Kuala Kubu Bahru.  Which is an hour’s drive from KL.

Photograph courtesy of Ronnie Khoo

Photograph courtesy of Ronnie Khoo

Three-quarters of the residents of KL appeared to have left the city for the long weekend.  So I took a chance that the roads to Ronnie’s place were relatively traffic-free.

Ronnie CNY Route

I stayed off the main roads as much as I could, although there were some stretches where I had no other choice.  Up the hill on Jalan Semantan for example, which was bit tricky because of the construction of the new MRT line and station.

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

It was worth the effort though.  The chinese tea and the company at Ronnie’s was great.

The plan for the Day Four ride had to be changed.  Some of us had to be back home by 11am.  That ruled out a long ride along the Guthrie Corridor Expressway and beyond.  Seven of us did the climb to Genting Sempah again instead.

It was probably good that we didn’t ride from Bukit Jelutong.  It was a public holiday in Kuala Lumpur but not in the state of Selangor.  The motorcycle lane along the Guthrie Corridor Expressway would have been crowded with people getting to work.

The road up to Genting Sempah was very quiet.  We had long stretches where we were the only ones on the road.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

There was only one other person at the summit when I got there.  Marco soon joined me at the sign marking the border between the states of Selangor and Pahang.

JGL Summit

Once the rest of the group got to the top of the climb we all turned around and shot back down the hill.  Breakfast was waiting.

Chinese New Year social obligations prevented us from doing any long rides.  Even so I rode about 160 km over the extended weekend.  Which was a good start to the Year of the Horse.

Though not as good as it would have been if I had been on one of these.

Photograph courtesy of cmybacon.com

Photograph courtesy of cmybacon.com

Kilo Months

I started keeping track of my rides in January 2010.  I had a new road bike, and an even newer Garmin Edge 705 cycle computer.  Uploading the details to the Garmin Connect web site after every ride became standard practice.   That year I rode 3,173 kilometers.

The heat map below shows where I rode for the first six months of 2010.  The most-ridden routes are depicted in red.  Click on the heat map to open the image in a new window.  You will see that most of my kilometers were accrued on the West End Tuesday and Thursday evening rides, and the Sunday Taco rides through Houston.

2010 Heat Map

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

I had some big rides outside metro Houston:  The Humble Lions Club Ride, The Space Race, and the BP MS150.  But I didn’t have a kilo month, which is my term for riding more than 1,000 kilometers in a month.

In mid-2010 I moved with my biker chick to The Netherlands.  The excellent cycling infrastructure there gave me more opportunity to ride, albeit on my own as I didn’t connect with a cycling group until the following year.

I started riding with the Not Possibles in March 2011.  The Saturday and occasional weekday rides with them boosted the distance I rode in 2011 to 6,985 kilometers.  In 2012 that number increased to 11,054 kilometers.  Almost of those kilometers were around Den Haag, with the 2011 and 2012 Ronde van Vlaanderen sportives, and the 2012 UCI World Championships sportive in Belgium thrown in for good measure.

Heat map courtesy of Strave

Heat Map courtesy of Strave

I racked up my first kilo month in August 2011.  The fine summer weather allowed me to ride eighteen times that month for a total of 1,085 kilometers.

Somewhat surprisingly I didn’t have another kilo month until January 2012, when I rode 1,091 kilometers.  I then had four more kilo months that year.  March, and three in a row from June to August.  My Not Possibles friends and I had a good summer that year.  My biggest ever kilo month was in July, when I rode 1,718 kilometers.  I had the luxury of being able to go on twenty five rides that month.

In October 2012 my biker chick and I moved home to Kuala Lumpur.   My ride frequency and average distance dropped dramatically for some months before slowly increasing again.  So it took more than a year before I had another kilo month, in September 2013.  Helped by five rides of at least 100 kilometers each.

My 2013 heat map looks a lot like my 2010 Houston heat map in that most of my rides are limited to a couple of routes.  Int his case KESAS and the Guthrie Corridor Expressway, with Putrajya and Genting Sempah thrown in for variety.  Scattered around the map are the one-off events that I rode in Johor Bahru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan and Penang,  My Racun buddies and I also rode to Fraser’s Hill, and I joined Dave Ern on a ride to Cameron Highlands.  You can also read about the Bike X and Broga 116 rides.

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

Heat Map courtesy of Strava

It looks like I will ride about 7,300 kilometers in 2013.  And perhaps have another kilo month this quarter.  Garmin Connect will reveal all.

Is This a Cycling Blog or a Food Blog??

I haven’t eaten any satay since I came home to Kuala Lumpur almost six months ago.  I mentioned satay in Another Place to Eat three days ago.  We stopped for satay last night.

Karma?  Coincidence?  You decide.

Tuesday and Thursday nights have become KESAS ride nights.  I wrote about this route, along the Shah Alam Expressway to give the road its proper name, in Another Uncle Wiggily.

WhatsApp is our current messaging medium.  My mobile phone starts pinging with weather updates from 5pm or so.  Confirmation that the ride is on comes at about 7.30pm.  Between then and the 9pm start time the messages are usually of the “I’m on the way” and “Stuck in traffic” variety.  It was no surprise to get a message from Chris at 8.50pm, telling us that Chon and he were close by.  What was unusual was his second sentence.  “Satay ride.  Chon is hungry.”

It turns out that there are two choices for a satay stop.  Both are Sate Kajang Haji Samuri outlets.  The first is about 10km into the ride, at the Taman Kinrara Rest & Service area.  The other is on the opposite side of the expressway at the Awan Besar Rest & Service area.  About 19km from the start.

Chon chose the nearer one.

Sate RR-Kinrarakinrara1

Kajang has been traditionally known as the “Satay Town.”  There was a time when you had to make the 20km drive south from Kuala Lumpur to Kajang to get authentic Kajang satay.  These days there are numerous stalls and shops selling Kajang satay.

Sate Kajang Haji Samuri is a Malaysian equivalent of a fast-food chain.  They have twenty outlets.  Three in Kajang and the rest scattered around the Klang valley, Seremban and Port Dickson.  If the quality of their satay is consistent across all their outlets, they are doing something right.

We had chicken satay.  It came piping hot from the grill.  Tender and juicy, with the right hint of lemongrass in the marinade.  A key part of a good meal is the kuah satay or peanut sauce.  This one was good enough to eat by itself.  And in a nice touch the kuah satay and the sambal, or chilli paste, for the sauce came separately.  So each of us could add as much or as little sambal to our individual bowls as we wanted.  I skip the sambal completely.

We also got a generous serving of cucumber and nasi impit, or compressed rice cakes.  These are the traditional accompaniments to satay.  There was a time when ketupat instead of nasi impit was served with satay.  The difference being ketupat is cooked in a woven palm-leaf pouch, while nasi impit is cooked in a far less labor-intensive plastic pouch.

Satay During Kesas Ride 03

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Happy days for Gary, Chon, Chris and myself!

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

As an aside, the short zip on my Not Possibles jersey may have been adequate for Dutch weather, but it didn’t work so well last night in the heat and humidity of Malaysia.  Especially as we averaged about 32kph getting to the satay, and the same afterward to burn it off.

That satay was worth the effort!

Another Uncle Wiggily

Many moons ago I lived with a host family in Painesville, Ohio.  I have very fond memories of my year as an American Field Service (AFS) exchange student.  One memory in particular is of Uncle Wiggily Longears.  Uncle Wiggily is the main character in more than seventy children’s books by Howard Garis.  Those books must have been a childhood favourite in my host family.  “An Uncle Wiggily” came to mean a new adventure or experience.

I just had my latest “Uncle Wiggily”.  I have driven along the Shah Alam Expressway on countless occasions.  Also known as KESAS, it is a major roadway linking Kuala Lumpur, Cheras, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Klang.  I never dreamt that one day I would cycle a part of it.  That day, or night to be precise, came yesterday.

Six of us started off near the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park.  I managed to have a rear tire puncture as we rode past the Monash University Malaysia campus on the way to the highway.  All of two kilometers from where we had parked our cars.  I suppose better there than alongside the highway.  The university carpark came in useful as a safe place to replace the inner tube.  My companions were ahead of me when I stopped.  It is a good thing they came back for me.  I didn’t know the route.  It would have been a short ride back to my car.

KESAS Night

Photo courtesy of maslogo

We rode on the motorcycle lane beside the highway.  The riding surface is very good and all the tunnels are well-lit.  Best of all we didn’t get buzzed by many motorcycles and scooters

Photo courtesy of Sam Cheong at The Samosaurus Chronicles

Photo courtesy of Sam Cheong at The Samosaurus Chronicles

We covered about 30 kilometers from the Kewajipan interchange to the Sukom interchange and back to the Sunway interchange.  Negotiating the Sunway interchange toll booths in a car is often a fraught-filled experience because of all the traffic.  Cycling unhindered around those toll booths was a most pleasant “Uncle Wiggily”.

KESAS Toll