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Pulau Indah 180 2016

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Banner

180km / 112mi is further than most organised rides.  An extra 20km / 12mi didn’t sound like much, especially as a few of us had made it through the 220km / 137mi brevet a couple of weeks before.  As it turned out, this ride was much more challenging than even the brevet was.

The attrition rate in an event is one sign of how challenging a course is.  592 riders started the Pulau Indah ride.  398 finished within the cutoff time of 7 hours 30 minutes.  So 33% of participants either did not finish, or finished outside the cutoff time.

The three of us rode together.  I missed the memo about the choice of jersey!  I can assure you that we didn’t look so cheery eight hours later.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Justin, Liang, JM Justin

What contributed to the attrition rate?  I think it was a combination of the road conditions,  the winds, and the mid-day sun.

As the name of the event suggests, the ride started and ended on Pulau Indah.  The island is separated from the mainland of peninsular Malaysia by the Straits of Lumut.  Pulau Indah is home to Westports, the largest sea port in Malaysia.  Together with Northport nearby, Westports has become the 18th busiest seaport in the world.  Pulau Indah is also home to an industrial park.

The side streets and the Pulau Indah Expressway carry a large number of cargo trucks everyday.  Which inevitably leads to potholes and cracks in the road surface, and then patch upon patch as the damage is repaired.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Route

The organisers did warn us about the poor roads during the technical briefing before the race / ride was flagged off.  I don’t think all the participants fully appreciated the warning, and some started out riding too fast for the conditions.

By the time we got to the bridge over the Straits of Lumut, a number of cyclists had suffered pinch flats or damaged carbon wheels.  There were lots of bidons on the road.  I also heard that there were a few crashes.  Signs that the roads were damaged and very bumpy.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Bridge

So the first contributor to the attrition rate came early.  Puncture a tubular tire, or crack a carbon rim, and your day is over.

The poor road conditions continued after we turned right onto Jalan Banting Klang. through to Banting town.  Things improved a bit along the coast after Morib, but concentration on the road and riders ahead remained very important over the entire course.  Even Cat’s Eyes could catch you out.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Cat Eyes Jack Mah

Photograph courtesy of Jack Mah

I think the energy spent constantly concentrating on the road conditions was energy that was not available to turn pedals later on in the event.

I must credit Central Spectrum SB for doing a fine job organising the Pulau Indah 180.   This was one of the better run events I have participated in.

Central Spectrum couldn’t do much about the roads, but they did very well with other aspects of the ride.  Directional signage to the start point was good.  Goodie bag pickup went smoothly.  There was free coffee, tea, and some munchies on offer before the start.

We started on time – hooray.  Always a good indicator that the organiser is on top of things.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Start Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

The directional signs along the route were large and clear.  Especially helpful were the signs warning of humps in the road.

The marshalling along the route was excellent.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Moto Marshalls Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Some busy roads through Banting were closed off to traffic, which made life less stressful for the riders.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Closed Road Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

We did have to ride with traffic in some places.  Again concentration was important.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Traffic XviCliX

Photograph courtesy of XviCliX


There was free food and drink at the finish.

Kudos Central Spectrum SB.

The first water station was 50km / 31mi into the event, on the south side of Banting.  Bananas, water, and 100 Plus were available.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Water Station XviCliX

Photograph courtesy of XviCliX

17km / 11mi later the three of us stopped at Morib for breakfast.  I was surprised that not more riders stopped at those food stalls beside the sea for a rest and some eats.

It had been overcast for most of the distance to Morib, so the riding had been comfortable.  We averaged about 30kph / 19mph to that point.  A bit faster than I had anticipated, but my average heart rate was only 107bpm.  I must have been drafting the entire way!

Conditions changed after Morib.  We were riding along the coast, and the wind was making itself felt.  It was my turn to pull, and started riding in the drops.  I was crouched low against the wind for much of the remainder of the course.  Which explains why my glutes are so sore today.

We chased down a group ahead of us, which gave us the relief of a draft.  I noticed a red Specialized Roubaix in the group, and wondered if it was Simon.


Photograph courtesy of Joy Saidin

A salute to the guy on the fatbike.  It must have been an effort to push those tires aound the course.

Simon and his girlfriend had found my blog, and had contacted me some weeks before the Pulai Indah 180.  Simon was making the trip from the UK to ride this event, and asked if he could rent a Roubaix in Kuala Lumpur.

The short answer is “no”.  The availability of rental bicycles in KL is extremely limited.  The only shop providing rentals that I know of is Cycleism in Taman Melawati.  They have Lapierre bicycles for rent, but only in size M.

Simon decided to bring his Roubaix with him to KL.  I didn’t manage to chat with Simon during the ride, but did see Farrah and him at the finish area.  It was very nice to chat with them.  I am pleased that we connected through this blog.

By the time we got to the second water station at 103km / 64mi, the sun was out, and the temperature was quickly rising to the predicted high for the day.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Weather

Graphic courtesy of Weather Underground

Some were better prepared than we were.  There was a contingent of rider friends from Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.  They had a support vehicle with, among other things, an ice chest full of drinks.  Certainly made our lukewarm mineral water look distinctly second-best.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Support Car William Cheang

Photograph courtesy of William Cheang

There was a time check at 110km / 68mi, right outside the Sepang International Circuit.  It would have been fun to ride a lap of the circuit as part of the route.

Hope for some relief flickered briefly at about the 120km / 75mi, when a light rain started to fall.  That lasted for all of a minute, after which normal sunshine resumed.

We were getting cooked, and wind hadn’t helped us.  We were hoping for a tail wind on the way back to Pulau Indah.  But the wind had turned, so we rode against it for most of the rest of the event.

A cold drink stop was in order.  We pulled into a PETRONAS station at 130km / 81mi.  A spot of air conditioning and three cold chocolate milks hit the spot for me.

We were starting to drag, as were many of the other riders around us.  This ride was becoming hard work.  I can’t imagine what it was like for the elite men and women, who were racing for cash prizes.  RM3,000 for the category winners.  Not to be sniffed at.

The third water station at 150km / 93mi couldn’t come fast enough.  Lukewarm water served to rinse salt off our faces.  Fortunately there was a row of shop houses behind the water station that provided a source of cold drinks, and some shade.

We lingered in the shade for longer than we probably should have, but the thought of another 30km / 19mi in the wind did not appeal.

It was hot.  It was windy.  The roads were bad.  It was hard work.  My average speed over the last 60km / 37mi dropped to 27.5kph / 17mph.  My heart rate went up to an average of 134.5bpm.

What a relief to see the 5km / 3km / 1km to go signs.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 3km Sign Catherine Wong

Photograph courtesy of Catherine Wong

The organizers were about to dismantle the timing gantry when I got to the finish.  I think I was the last finisher to get an official time.  Just a hair outside 7 hours and 30 minutes.

I could have used a spray down at the end of this ride, but the fire truck was long gone by the time I finished.  Not even a wet patch on the road remained to show that they had been there.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Bomba Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

For those of you into numerology, check out my ride number.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Medal

Unfortunately it was D007 that won a prize in the post-ride lucky draw!

Kedah Century Ride 2015

Kedah Century Ride 2015 Banner

Four Flipsiders made the trip to Alor Setar for the Kedah Century Ride.  Everyone’s bikes were loaded into Keat’s truck.  Mark’s Tommasini, Keat’s Scott, Marco’s Hasa, and my Ritchey.  Marco and Mark handled driving duties during the 450km trip from Kuala Lumpur to Alor Setar.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

My biker chick was a student at Universiti Utara Malaysia in Sintok, which is about 50 kms from Alor Setar.  When I told her I was riding in Alor Setar, she made plans to meet up with some of her university mates who now live and work in the area.  She and I decided to fly rather than drive.

Coincidentally we arrived at the hotel just as the guys were unloading the truck.  Once we were checked in and the bikes were safely stored in our rooms, we went looking for food.  The road-trippers hadn’t had lunch yet.

We didn’t have anything particular in mind, so we explored along Jalan Anak Bukit.  This roadside stall on the corner of Jalan Madrasah caught our attention.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

I ate lunch before I boarded the flight, but the food looked too good to pass up.  Everyone agreed that this was some of the best tandoori chicken, naan and chapati we had ever eaten.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

With blood sugar levels restored, we went to the TH Hotel and Convention Centre to collect our goodie bags.

We bumped into cycling friends, as always happens when collecting ride packs.  This time it was a group of Tyrell small wheel bike riders from Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.  Cindy and William joined Mark and I to check out what swag came along with our ride numbers.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

This goodie bag was better than some we have received in the past.  The jersey design for this ride was also one of the nicer ones.  Perhaps influenced by Garmin as one of the sponsors.

Kedah Century Ride 2015 Jersey

We noticed this place on the way to collect our goodie bags.  There were a number of road bikes leaning against trees and posts.

Kedah Century Ride 2015 Ameer Nasi Kandar

So no surprise that we were back there a few hours later for dinner.  There were a number of stalls under one roof, but Ameer Nasi Briyani was the only stall with a queue of at least a dozen people waiting to chose their food.  That queue got longer and longer while we were there.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

And no wonder.  The food was very good.  And cheap.  My plate of briyani rice, fried chicken, chicken livers and half a salted egg cost me RM8 / USD2.20.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

The next morning we rode the 10 km or so to the start of the ride at the Paddy Museum.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

The Tyrell riders were there too, resplendent in their Knog jerseys.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

As is often the case, we started late.  I do wish that event organisers and the dignitaries invited to officially flag-off these events would be on time.  Participants waste time waiting in the dark, and both riders and volunteers spend more time than necessary in the midday heat.

We got away about 25 minutes late.  Cindy and Dicky were just in front of the Flipsiders, who were in their customary position at the very rear of the group.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

The route was a clockwise loop.

Kedah Century Ride 2015 Route

As advertised, much of it was as flat as a pancake, despite the hills in the background.

Kedah Century Ride 2015 View

We headed south through Pendang and to the first water stop after 50 kms at Bukit Jenun.  Much of that distance was spent riding in a group with these guys on their vintage Panasonics and Pinarellos.  Complete with drilled brake levers and downtube shifters.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

The Nord Vintage Cyclismos pulled over at the water stop.  Mark was already there, and he rejoined Keat, Marco and I as we rode through the water stop.

By the 80 kms mark we need to eat.  Mark spotted a food stall in Bedong, which conveniently was near a 7-11.  Marco, Mark and Keat ate at the stall while I drank chocolate milk and ate a candy bar from the 7-11.

Bedong was where the route turned right toward the coast.  5 kms later we rode up to the second water stop.  Team Tyrell Knog’s support van was there, so we stopped and chatted and took advantage of their supply of ice-cold water.

There were some short climbs in the middle third of the ride.  The steepest came within sight of the sea as the route swung north along the coast.  The last of the three climbs at Tanjung Jaga.

After that it was flat riding through the paddy fields.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

By the last third of the ride people were starting to wilt.  It was 36° C / 97° F with a heat index of 45° C / 113° F.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

The constant wind didn’t help.  Mark and I were trading pulls, but my efforts were becoming shorter and shorter as I overheated.

There is very little along the road from Tanjung Jaga apart from rice fields.  After 10 kms we came across a Caltex station.  We were looking for cold drinks, but the chiller in the small shop wasn’t working.  So we made do with dousing ourselves with water to help with evaporative cooling.

At 120 kms we came across two rows of shophouses.  All the shops were closed except for a couple of car workshop, and thank goodness, the Mahsuri Mini Market.

My key purchase was a bag of ice cubes.  I wrapped some cubes in my bandanna and put the bundle on the back of my neck.  Some cubes went under my skull cap.  Some went into the middle pocket on the back of my jersey.  And some went into my bidons.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

I should have bought ice at the 7-11 in Bedong.  I was amazed at how much better I felt.  More importantly I was able to take reasonable pulls into the the wind again.

We grabbed a bottle of water as we rode through the last water station at 125 kms.  One of the impressive things about this event was that all the water stations were still well-stocked when we rode through.  The last station still had bananas on offer.

Kedah Century Ride 2015 Water Stop Cycling Malaysia

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

My bottle of water went straight onto my arm screens and down the front of my jersey.  Which only delayed the inevitable.  25 kms further on all the ice had melted and I was heating up again.  Mark needed a break as well so we pulled into the Petronas station at Teluk Kechai and sat in the shade of the forecourt canopy for 10 minutes.

15 kms to go.  The headwind kept on blowing, so we put our heads down and pushed on.

There was one last surprise.  The Tok Pasai bridge over the Kedah river.  It was one climb too many for a rider in front of us, who literally ground to a halt and fell over.  Fortunately not into the roadway.

Kedah Century Ride 2015 Jambatan Tok Pasai

The view looking out to sea from the middle of the bridge is worth the effort to get there.

Kedah Century Ride 2015 River View

The speedy descent off the bridge would have been more fun without the sharp right turn at the bottom.  The marshalling at that turn was excellent.  A particular highlight of this event was how well all road junctions, corners and turn offs were manned with volunteers to ensure that riders stayed on course.

I could have used this additional service from the volunteers over the last 10 kilometres.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Team Tyrell Knog riders finished safely.  Anyone who completes a century ride on a small wheel bike deserves a medal.

Photograph courtesy of Dicky

Photograph courtesy of Dicky

Marco celebrated his ride.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Keat finished with a smile.

Photograph courtesy of Keat

Photograph courtesy of Keat

Cindy and I were just glad to be in the shade.  I was especially glad to take my shoes off and to work on drinking as much as I could of the 1 litre bottle of ice-cold 100 Plus the organisers handed out at the finish.  There was food as well, but all I want at the end of a hot ride is cold fluid.

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

My Flipside companions and I eventually got back on our bikes for the 13 kms ride back to our hotel.  180 kms and change in total for all of us.

Medals well-earned.

Kedah Century Ride 2015 Medal

R R Go Away, Come Again Another Day

The weather had looked threatening all afternoon.  The heavens finally opened in spectacular fashion at 6.30pm.  Thunder, lightning, and lots of water.  This was the view from our hotel room at 7.00pm.  Droplets still running down the window, but the main show was over.

Emails about the weather were a common feature of ride days in Houston.  A number of online weather sites were consulted.  Screen shots of radar images went out.  Six Thirty riders looked out of their office windows and reported about the state of the roads along the ride route.  If the roads were going to be wet at 6.30pm the ride would be canceled.  The Six Thirty group never rode in the wet if it could be avoided.  I remember just one occasion where we got caught in a deluge about halfway through the ride.  Somewhere in the vicinity of the old Masonic Lodge on the corner of Brompton Road and North Braeswood Boulevard.  Whatever the weather there was one constant.  The words “rain” and “wind” were never used.  It was always just R and W.  One of those cyclists’ superstitions.  Which I will disregard for the rest of this post.

The weather featured large in Den Haag too.  Saturday morning Not Possibles rides and all other rides were preceded by a look at various weather forecasts.  The concern was less about the rain though.  It rains much less in Den Haag – 25 cm / 10 in annually than in Houston at 122 cm / 48 in per year.  Plus everyone in the Netherlands seems to be very comfortable with riding in the wet.  We often rode on wet bike paths and in the rain.  A waterproof jacket and SKS Raceblade Long fenders were essential items.

For The Not Possibles it was more about the direction of the wind.  The average windspeed in Den Haag is 28.6 kph / 17.8 mph compared to 13.3 kph / 8.3 mph in Houston.  The decision to be made prior to the start of every ride was which way to head out so that there would be a tail wind on the return leg.  The wind in Den Haag is a fickle beast though.  We had many rides where the wind seemed to be in our faces no matter which heading we were on.  On some particularly windy days we chose to sail along with the wind, spinning at an effortless 50 kph for an hour or more.  Then we would ride the train back home.

The amount of rain in Kuala Lumpur is double that in Houston.  We get 240 cm / 94.5 in a year here.  This evening’s downpour dumped a significant amount of water onto the streets.  Enough water for Albert K to call at 7.15pm to say that the Racun Cycling Gang evening ride had been called off.  The fall during last week’s ride is still fresh in the memory.  That no doubt contributed to the decision to cancel this evening.  I shall have to get used to the R getting in the way of riding here.