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Johor Masters Century Ride 2014

JMCR 2014 Banner

The Johor Masters Century Ride appealed to Keat and I.  For the first time we were in an age group that suited our ages.  55 years and above.  We managed to convince Marco and Mark to sign up for the ride as well.  They were in the 35 to 39 and 40 to 44 categories respectively.

It is a 400km trip to the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort, the official hotel for the event.  So Mark and I arranged to meet at the Seremban R&R, after which I followed Mark’s car down the highway, keeping an eye on the two bicycles on his roof rack.

Here we are with Mark’s mother-in-law and his daughter, having a teh tarik for the road.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Keat and his wife were already at the resort.  We piled into his pickup truck that evening for the 20km drive to Kampung Sungai Rengit.  We were on the hunt for dinner.  We found a good one at the Beautiful Village Seafood restaurant.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

You would have thought that all that food would have kept us going for a long time.  But we were among the first at breakfast at 5:00 am.  The resort laid on an impressive spread for all the cyclists staying there.

Nasi lemak, roti canai, fried noodles, fried rice, boiled, fried and scrambled eggs, baked beans, sausages, congee, oatmeal, a variety of breakfast cereals , bread and pastries, fresh fruit, juices, coffee and tea.  One of the best buffet breakfast I have ever seen at a cycling event.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

By 7:15am were were ready to start the ride.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

In a change from recent experience, we got going only ten minutes past the scheduled start time of 7:30am.

The route was an anti-clockwise elongated loop from the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort at Bandar Penawar north along the coast to Tanjung Sedili, then west to Kampung Mawai Baharu before turning southward to Kampung Sungai Rengit.  Finally the route followed the coast back up to the Lotus Desaru.

JMCR 2014 Route

We Flipsiders received a topography lesson at the Melaka Century Ride.  I certainly thought of the state of Melaka as being relatively flat.  None of us anticipated just how hilly it is between Masjid Tanah and Jasin.

We got another topography lesson at this event.  The ride started with a climb.  Followed by another, and then another.  Seven or eight in the first ten kilometers.  Then it was flat for about ten kilometers, before more rolling terrain for the next twenty kilometers.

We were at the start of a relatively flat 20 kilometer section when we saw the photographer from Attaque.

Photograph courtesy of Attaque

Photograph courtesy of Attaque

Keat was not far behind.

Photograph courtesy of Attaque

Photograph courtesy of Attaque

The 100 hilly kilometers that came next took their toll.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

Mark, Marco and I took advantage of a roadside air tebu, or sugar cane juice, stall for a drink and a rest.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The next time we took a break, it went a bit wrong.  At the 115 km mark we pulled into the first petrol station we came across on the route.  Everything started out well.  That Petronas station had a freezer cabinet full of Magnums.  And air-conditioning.  And chairs.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

After we had cooled off we got back on our bikes, turned left and followed a few other cyclists onto the road.

JMCR 2014 Petronas

We were very surprised to cross the finish line a few minutes later.

Photographs courtesy of Attaque

Photographs courtesy of Attaque

The sub five hour finishing times were the giveaway.  We had only ridden 120 kms.  We should have left the Petronas station forecourt via the entrance and continued straight down the road, and not taken the exit onto the wrong road.

Having ridden across the finish line, we were given medals.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia

Despite the medals, we decided to go back the way we came, rejoin the route, and ride the full distance.  A decision we questioned 40 kms later.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

By the 160 km point we had caught up with Keat, who had not made the navigational error that we had.  Taking into account the extra 11 km we had ridden, we should have been less than 10 kms from the finish.

The seemingly incessant climbing had taken its toll on us.  As had the rough asphalt and poorly patched roads.  And the headwind.  Our water bottles were empty, and we were fading badly.

So our joy at spotting the “1 KM To Go” sign in the distance turned into despair when we got close enough to see that the sign actually read “10 KM to Go.”

We had 10 kms of this terrain to cover before we got to the finish line.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

Photograph courtesy of Cyclomotion

I am frankly surprised that I didn’t throw in the towel and jump into the broom wagon.  I think the same thought must have crossed the minds of my Flipsider friends.  The sight of Mark ahead of me provided just enough motivation to keep going.  Keat said that the sight of me up ahead did the same for him.

We literally forced ourselves kilometer by slow kilometer up those  ☹ ☁︎ ☢  last hills to the “3 KM to Go” sign, and then the “1 KM to Go” sign.  The ride had started with a climb.  So thankfully the final 500 meters to the finish was downhill.

Hot and tired, and happy to be done.

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The JMCR 2014 was one of the tougher rides we have done.  We have another cycling adventure to talk and laugh about.  We added another medal to our collections.

JMCR 2014 Medal

We learned about our capacity to persevere.  And we now know from first-hand experience that Johor is not flat!

Whatever the Weather

My Not Possibles friends in Den Haag rode the Joop Zoetemelk Classic yesterday.  By all accounts it was cold and windy, with a high of 8°C / 46°F.  My West End friends in Houston are just about to start the Tour de Houston.  It is a balmy 17°C / 62°F in downtown Houston now.  It was 34°C / 93°F by the time Chon, Mark, Marvin and I finished our ride in Hulu Langat today.  Houston wins the best biking weather award for this weekend.

We rode from Kampung Batu 18 along Jalan Sungai Lui to the T-junction with the B32 and the B19.  Logically enough Jalan Sungai Lui follows the Lui River along the valley floor.  At the junction the only option is to turn left onto the B32 road.  The B19 is still closed 5km from the T-junction because of the landslide that dropped a section of tarmac into the reservoir.

Genting Peres Route

The B32 takes you to the border between the states of Selangor and Negeri Sembilan.  The border is at the top of a 10km climb that rises from 170 meters / 560 feet above sea level to 500 meters / 1,640 feet above sea level.  It was very misty at the start, which meant great views once we got about a third of the way up the climb.

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Genting Peres isn’t the steepest climb in the area.  Nevertheless we appreciated the stop to take photographs.

Genting Peres Photo Stop

Photo courtesy of They Wei Chon

It was still hard work, especially after we broke through the mist into bright sunshine.  I am sure I leaked the equivalent of a Camelbak Podium Chill bottle by the time I got to the summit.  Mark and Chon are waiting for Marvin, who got extra credit for doing the ride on a 29er mountain bike with knobbly tires.

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I explored a bit, and found these decorative blocks at the base of the “Terima Kasih.  Sila Datang Lagi / Thank You.  Please Come Again” sign behind the guys.  Not bad for a sign that most people whizz past in cars.

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The plan was to go back the way we came to Kampung Batu 18, and then ride on to Sungai Chongkak Recreational Forest for a nasi lemak and teh tarik breakfast.   It was a hot and humid second half of the ride.  The thought of packets of tasty nasi lemak sustained us through the 6km climb to the restaurant.

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“What?”

Our disappointment was palpable.  Our mood was not improved by the very mediocre roti canai we ended up with at Kampung Batu 18.

There was one saving grace for all of us.  The thick undergrowth between where we always park and the river has recently been cleared.  So we could get to some cool water to wash the sweat off our faces and arms.

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There was another plus for me.  ISKY 2 has stopped ticking.

Thirsty Work

Nineteen of us set off from outside the 7-11 at Bukit Jelutong on the Van’s Urban Bicycle Co. group ride this morning.  We were a roughly 50-50 mix of folding bikes and road bikes.  Our route to Kampung Sri Kundang was a bit different this time.  Instead of heading north on the Guthrie Corridor Expressway we took the hillier option along Jalan Batu Arang to the west.  Hillier to the tune of  200 meters / 650 feet of elevation in the first seventeen kilometers.

Kundang Route

We made regular stops to regroup and to ensure that no one got lost.  This was our first break at the bus stop outside the UITM Puncak Perdana campus.

Reverse Dragon's Back to Kundang 05

Photo courtesy of Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.

From here it was five more climbs before the right-hand turn toward Sungai Buloh and Kuala Selangor.  Everyone was relieved that the rest of the way to Kampung Sri Kundang was flat.  Hence the smiles at the traffic light at the junction with Jalan Kuala Selangor.

Reverse Dragon's Back to Kundang 02

Photo courtesy of Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.

Reverse Dragon's Back to Kundang 04

Photo courtesy of Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.

It was a warm morning, but there were lots of clouds in the sky.  So we weren’t in direct sun.

Reverse Dragon's Back to Kundang 03

Photo courtesy of Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.

Even so the humidity was high so the ride was sweaty work.  We were all glad to get to Kampung Sri Kundang.  As always the roti canai and teh tarik was worth the ride.  By the time we saddled up again the sun had come out in full force.  It was at least 35°C / 95°F during the 33km back down the Guthrie Corridor Expressway.  And a tough 33km for those who weren’t used to riding as far or climbing as much as we did today.

We were all hot and thirsty by the time we got back to Bukit Jelutong.  I had emptied both my bottles in addition to the two teh tarik I had with my roti canai.  I went straight into the 7-11.  Firstly because it is air-conditioned, and secondly to buy a 1.5 liter bottle of 100 Plus.  I had never drunk a liter and a half of anything in one go before.  There is a first time for everything.

OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2013

My alarm went off this morning at 4.15am.  It was time to get ready for the OCBC Cycle Malaysia ride.  Malaysia’s only mass participation cycling event on closed, public roads in Kuala Lumpur.

OCBC Route

Our start time was 6.15am.  That would give us time to complete four loops before the city streets were once again opened to motorcycles, cars, lorries and buses at 8.30am.

By 5.00am my Racun Cycling Gang buddies were arriving at the entrance to my apartment building.  The ride started in front of the Petronas Twin Towers.  The building I live in is 500 meters from the Twin Towers.  So I had access to some of the most coveted parking space in the KLCC area.

At 5.30am we were gathered in front of Restoran Pelita, about two-thirds of the way to the start.  That was where we met those of our group who had parked further away and had ridden to the KLCC.

Time for some last-minute adjustments before we rolled to the start.

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This ride was billed as one of the largest of its kind in Malaysia.  It certainly seemed that way as we waited amongst about 5,000 other riders at the start.

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There were riders from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and from further afield.  Being amongst so many riders was a bike-spotter’s dream.  The “splash the cash” award went to the rider on the bike right beside us at the start.  I had never seen a Specialized S-Works McLaren Venge in the wild before.

The only difference between the bike in the photo above and the one we saw this morning was that the Zipp 404s had been swapped out for a Mad Fiber carbon wheelset.

Photo courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photo courtesy of Procycling at procyclingwarehouse.com

So it was with the heady sight of a RM 54,000 / US 18,000 bicycle disappearing into the darkness ahead of me that I started the ride.

Photo courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photo courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

I soon forgot all about the Venge as what was supposed to be a fun ride exploded around me.

For some reason the organisers had given each of us a timing chip.  Perhaps that was the reason for so many people blasting along the fairly narrow start chute at maximum speed.  Sadly a number of riders came to grief a few minutes later along Jalan Raja Chulan when they hit a pot hole at speed in the pre-dawn darkness.  From the pieces scattered along the edge of the road I think at least two riders are in the market for new carbon front wheels.  A few others required medical attention after going down hard.

Mark L picked up a double puncture along the same stretch of road.  Fortunately we had a spare inner tube each so he was able to fix both flats.  The upside, if you could call it that, of having a double puncture is that by the time we got rolling again the sun was up, and the high-speed riders were all ahead of us.

The rest of the ride was a lot of fun.  A few meandering cyclists notwithstanding.  After the drama of the flat tires there was a short climb into the Lake Gardens followed by a u-turn back down the hill.  We rode past the Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Banks of Malaysia) building and through a wooded and quieter part of the city.  The second half of the loop took us back past the office blocks, shop houses, hotels and apartments of the city center.  It was a treat to ride on streets that are usually clogged with traffic.

Photo courtesy of Yuri Wong.

Photo courtesy of Yuri Wong.

When I was sixteen I cycled to school along some of these same streets.  So I really appreciated the opportunity to ride through a city center that has changed dramatically since then.

The morning ended in the best way possible.  I made it safely to the finish in front of the Twin Towers, where I got my participant medal.

Photo courtesy of Irene Cho

Photo courtesy of Irene Cho

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Then it was back to Restoran Pelita with the Racun gang, where we traded ride stories between mouthfuls of roti canai, nasi lemak and teh tarik.

Shall We Climb?

Wind comes with the territory, so to speak, in the Netherlands.  So often the key decision for the Not Possibles is whether to start a ride with the wind or against it.  Hills come with the territory in Kuala Lumpur.  The choice to be made here is to ride a route with some climbing, or to ride a route with a lot of climbing.  The choice on recent weekends has been to climb a lot.  1,319 meters / 4,300 feet the Sunday before Christmas.  1,069 meters / 3,500 feet the Saturday before New Year’s.

So it was nice to climb ‘only’ 684 meters / 2,240 feet last weekend.  The Racun Cycling Gang met at Pekan Batu 18 at the usual unearthly hour of 6.45am.  Well, some of us were there at 6.45am.  This is Malaysia after all.  Our peleton of folding bikes, mountain bikes and road bikes started into the mist along Jalan Sungai Lui at about 7.15am.

11km later we got to the T-junction with Jalan Sungai Lalang and Jalan Hulu Langat – Kuala Klawang.  Every other time we have turned right toward Tasik Semenyih.  There is some climbing along the way to the Sungai Tekala Recreation Park, but nothing like the climbing awaiting those who turn left.

On this day our only option was to turn left.  The road to Tasik Semenyih was still closed following a landslide that took a section of the road into the reservoir.  Here we are at the T-junction, waiting for the folding bikes to catch up to us.  Mark is helpfully pointing out the “Road Closed” sign.

Hulu Langat Comfort Break

Photo courtesy, I think, of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

We regrouped, girded our loins, and started the 9km climb to the summit of Genting Peres.  I had struggled to the summit from the opposite direction during the Broga 116 ride in November 2012.  This time the climb was almost pleasant.  It was much cooler, and I didn’t have cramping quadriceps.

A third of the way up the climb we turned a corner to a spectacular view of the mist-shrouded valley below.  That view alone made the climb worthwhile.

Hulu Langat Mist 01

The summit of Genting Peres is on the border between the states of Selangor and Negri Sembilan.  We waited at the border marker for the rest of the foldies to arrive.

Hulu Langat Genting Peres Summit 02

As always the payoff for all the climbing, the view notwithstanding, is the “look ma, no brakes” descent.  Well, perhaps not quite “no brakes.”  It is a twisty road, the surface is a bit sketchy in one or two spots and there are cars and motorbikes to watch out for.  Nevertheless I surprised one driver by overtaking at 60kph.

The mist had burned off by the time we got back to the T-juntion.  We had blue skies and a crescent moon overhead (I promise the moon is visible in the photo) as we rode back to Pekan Batu 18.

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

From Pekan Batu 18 some of us rode on to the Sungai Congkak Recreational Forest.  The others drove there.  We all went there for this . . .

Hulu Langat Nasi Lemak 01

Photo courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

Nasi lemak, curry puffs and teh tarik of course.  At the stall beside the river.  Note that the unopened packets of nasi lemak were not for me!

All that was left to do after a beautiful ride and yummy food was to roll back down the hill and gently pedal the short distance back to Pekan Batu 18.

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

And of course to take a nap once I got home.

Roll on 2013

My plan for a morning ride on New Year’s day suffered a serious blow as I sat in a traffic jam at 2am.  The injury proved fatal to my plan.  The official time of death was 5.45am.  Which was the time when I turned off my alarm, rolled over and went back to sleep.

So my first ride of 2013 was on 2nd January.  There were about twenty of us who set off from Van’s Urban Bicycle Co for an evening ride around Kelana Jaya.  Most people were riding what Van’s specialises in – folding bicycles.  I had not ridden this route before I so was very happy to stay at the back of the group and take in the sights.

Kelana Jaya

As you can see from the route this was an urban ride in every respect.  Van’s occupies shop space in 3 Two  Square, which sits in a group of commercial buildings on the edge of a large residential area.  We alternated between busy main thoroughfares and quieter neighbourhood streets.  We rode past restaurants, schools, banks, mosques, sports facilities, a park and of course lots of homes.

3 Two Square

Naturally we had to stop for refreshments at a mamak restaurant a kilometer or so before we got back to Van’s.  We parked our bikes in front of the closed pharmacy next to Al-Ehsan restaurant.

Parked

As is often the case in the evenings folding tables are set up on the sidewalks, and where possible, on the edge of streets as well.  We joined some tables together and plonked ourselves down on plastic stools.  We tucked into what else but roti canai, nasi lemak and teh tarik.

We didn’t cover many kilometers, but that isn’t the point of the Racun Cycling Gang rides. There will be time enough for kilometers and climbs this weekend.  This was a good start to the year.

Mark’s Nasi Lemak Ride

The West End Bicycles Six Thirty group in Houston has Ted’s Taco Ride.  Mark’s Nasi Lemak Ride could become the equivalent for the Racun Cycling Gang in Kuala Lumpur.  Roti canai and teh tarik have made frequent appearances in my posts.  This is the first time I have mentioned nasi lemak.  Nasi lemak is another quintessential Malaysian dish.  Best described by a good friend of mine, Azlan Zahari Zahid, who writes a blog titled The Nasi Lemak Journal.  Click on the link to his blog to read his description of this very popular dish.

Mark Lim suggested that we add a ride to the Sungai Congkak Recreational Forest to the end of our round trip from Kampung Batu 18 to the Sungai Tekala Recreational Park.  More specifically, to the nasi lemak at Sungai Congkak.  Mark, Chon and I set off at 7.15am for Sungai Tekala.  Two hours later we were back at Kampung Batu 18 and ready for the main event of the day.  After a final 75 meters / 250 feet  of climbing we pulled up to an unassuming stall on the bank of a small river.

This is what we came for.

Individual packets of nasi lemak wrapped in banana leaf.  The traditional way of serving this dish.  Here’s what was inside each packet.

A little mound of coconut and pandan flavored rice topped with a sambal made from chillies, onion and dried anchovies, a slice of cucumber and a bit of omelette.  Simple and delicious.  We demolished two packets each in next to no time.  Which turned out to be the last of that batch of nasi lemak.  When Marvin and his friend, whom we had met up with toward the end of our ride, arrived a short while later they had a thirty minute wait for the next batch to finish cooking.

The stall was relatively cool, nestled as it was at the edge of the jungle and next to a small river.  The water made a pleasant roar as it tumbled over the rocks.

We sat with our teh tariks and enjoyed each other’s company and the calm surroundings.  My sense of well-being due no doubt to the two helpings of nasi lemak that I had just devoured.  As I gazed around the stall I noticed a framed newspaper article on the wall titled “Me and My BMI.  Nasi Lemak and the Art of Bicycle Maintenance.”

It turns out that this particular nasi lemak stall is well-known.  The proprietor Haji Ramli Maon and his wife Rosnah Zakaria have been serving one of Malaysia’s favorite breakfast meals to cyclists and non-cyclists alike for more than fifteen years.  A stream of whom had turned up on bikes and in cars as we sat there.

Marvin and his friend got their nasi lemak, piping hot and fragrant, fresh out of the pot.  They agreed it was worth the wait.  Mark, Chon and I had a third packet each.  We couldn’t resist.  Especially when a packet costs only RM 1 / USD 0.33.  My somewwhat excessive breakfast of three packets of nasi lemak and two teh tariks cost the princely sum of RM 6 / USD 2.  I paid the equivalent of fifty nasi lemaks to the guy who came by selling bottles of jungle honey.  If he is to be believed that honey is a miracle cure for most any ailment.  Mark has already tried some of his.  He confirms his thumbs up rating for the honey.

Chon (left) and Mark, jungle honey and teh tariks.

I give the whole morning a thumbs up.  I don’t think this will be the last Mark’s Nasi Lemak Ride.