Wednesday, June 27, 2012

West side ride story

When the weather isn’t merciful, we cyclist had to chose the better of both worlds i.e. come prepared with an inch of sun block or stay indoors on the grueling trainer. The hazy weather lately adds in to the challenge. Again we had to repeat last year’s camaraderie of updating API reading now and then as we approach the weekend. Hence, the ride venue will be decided then and then only.

From last week’s Broga fruitful cozy attempt, we just had to forget about climbing anymore, be it a small ant hill. We had to have pancakes. API from Kuala Selangor sounds convincing enough, plus the pancake route just adds up to the sweetness of the syrup. It should give us circa 115km or so, just enough to taste the bitterness in the legs.

With thousands of people running in the city for SCKLM 2012 that same morning, I assumed we had less traffic over the other side of Klang Valley. The same route that was ridden before with BJCC, and I just had to make a comeback for it, this time with more attention to energy and hydration management. I have to put this in mind since the flat route can be the greatest mischief of all. You’ll be long gone whacking the crank as it easily gets the meter tops 40kph and by the time you play dead by the roadside at half the distance, the legs have already gone empty as well as body fluid. That is so un-cool especially when considering the flat roads here reaches as far as the eye can see.

The route, as laid out by fellow localities Ziff and Alwin, we exited Bukit Jelutong into GCE and moments later exited to Jalan Batu Arang. The rolling hills were such a pleasure for sudden surge to the heart rate and the cold wet tar opened up to refreshing kampong scenes along Jalan Paip towards Meru town. Oooo…ini lah dia pekan Meru rupanya. Ngeh ngeh ngeh.

The flat and straight road continued on from Meru to Kapar. Traffic started building up as we stopped and go at each traffic light. The coastal air started to fill our lungs as we wisely control our pace line chugging the peloton in rotation. With three new ride buddies joining the ride, we had no problem blending in as everybody knows the ride ethics. We were one strong train bonding against any feat thrown at. It was a good drill as we have the road aplenty and miles and miles of flats. Less the scattered utility manholes than can cause severe manhood damage, we had to save the sightseeing for hand signals waving all over the places and shouting out for…Holes!

Eventually we reached Kuala Selangor. Alhamdullillah. Just a bit further towards the kopitiam shop area where the 7-Eleven opposite served us Gatorades and some quick bites. Yes, it was planned as a no-frills-ride (means no makan besar ride). 15 minutes tops, we were on the road once again, taking the first left turn into Jalan Rawang from Kuala Selangor town. The best about small town like this, the hectic traffic dispersed right away as one left just a kilometer away. And there was not a single honking can be heard, replaced with yet another stretch of beautiful long flat road cutting across plantations after plantations of padi fields and palm oil. We were too focus on our pace line I presumed, and the strong headwinds of course, we just had to let go of the breathtaking sceneries. OK la, perhaps next time we come with touring bikes, we go slower and stop at every coconut stall.

We routed into Batang Berjuntai town (pardon them for the ‘obscure’ name…hehehe) and took the first right major turn cranking yet another stretch of straight course towards Ijok. And the wind started bringing in the heat. We started to notice some tired legs as the pace line started to yo-yo once in a while. The judgment from each of us maintaining the peloton form was a thumbs-up. Thanks to Syaful & Azman, the two young strong buddies, we pulled it off checking in at Petronas Ijok for the second pit stop. The welcoming air conditioned outlet simply irresistible. Chilled Coke was my remedy for calories and sugar replenishing. And a bit of chatting to chase the weakened legs away.

The roads ahead were anticipated to be tough as the heat gets stronger by the hour. Enrouted into Jalan Kuala Selangor we were in search of Guthrie Corridor Expressway for our final route back to Bukit Jelutong. Still maintaining pace line, we withstood at any obstacles thrown at us be it the rolling roads.

Eventually we found the entrance to GCE and the motorcycle lane provided the room for solitary riding. As we were less prone to traffic hazard on the dedicated motorcycle lane, we were strung out miles apart obeying to every mental games available. I just had to let go of the front group and played the role of supporting the weakening one. The heat and wind didn’t ease down, not a single second. It just played the music of damage on and on, but the soldiering carried on. A few regrouping were held for mental & psychological boost. We clocked in 115km in 4 hours grinning for the rest of the day. Thanks to Awe, Syaful and Syed Azman for chipping in. All 10 of us definitely did well. I ranked this ride as one the most smartest & most ‘tatasusila’ ride. Thumbs-up guys. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Such a wonderful world

The mind will let you know when it’s time to slow down and take detour for a different kind of pleasure. And I am thankful (all praise to Allah) that he knows what and when things are better served for us.

Honestly, I was kind of in a rundown/burnt out from too much tar and grime up my legs.  Plus the boredom that crept in. And so was the melting passion. And also the surrounding world of cycling as well (berat dah kes ni). With running took a backseat, and attempting PD triathlon was not a priority, I was gamed for reliving what was left so many years ago.

After the first attempt at drilling PCP last week, the weekend retreat in Kuantan food joints during school break was relieving. Zero milage & more calories. Though Kuantan is known for expensive eateries (depends what you choose, kalau setakat sata & kepok leko apa ada hal?), I took the taxing eating fee as just another vacation expenditure (short review la konon). Puiii…

My weekdays were cacar merba ever since January & I have not the slightest idea of what input to have. Saddling up on the trainer pun was not in the picture. But that was not until last week, when the opportunity and camaraderie evolved into passion (does these theories ever exist?). I mean, really. With the loan bike and a bunch of enthusiastic buddies, plus huge amount of racun tikus, I wallop PCP again, twice! Both on my way back from work outstation, hence PCP would be a great pit stop for some evening hero stuff.

The first day took my breath away, as excitement overruled capability. I was huffing badly like a boar, and within minutes I was sitting under the shelter feeling light headed. That was scary. The rest of the ride was kept at 41 year old mountain goat pace. Hahaha.

The following day, wallop lagi! This time, I came ready. An old friend decided to join & he’s more of a weekend warrior as compared to the speed demons weekend racer. Speed demons vanished into the trails mere seconds as we hit the foliage. Rahilmy & me, we took the nostalgic way appreciating and studying the trail in details. Such a wonderful world!

And concluding the enthusiasm level, a buddy signed me up for my first race. Ceh!

Dreaded weekend came, and the earlier plan to ride Broga brought shivers up my spine. Two weeks absent & though Broga reverse loop, it was never easy and only once did I complete it with smiles than gruel. And, this time, it was gruel.

A bold move, attempting it from home, and the earlier estimated miles was circa 130km. It was 143km eventually. With four major climbs. Aiyak! By the end of the ride, it was expressionless to face anymore climbs. Despite some haze in Langat in the beginning and Semenyih town later during the ride, the rest of it was generous weather and rain at Bukit Tangga. We had no sun throughout. That was a pleasure indeed. I was engaging endurance pace, hence I was always the slow marker la. Hehe. But it was a great attempt.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Reliving the mountain biking days

I can’t wait to post this. Nothing fancy but more like syiok sendiri. Sori beb :]

Finally my dream came true. Alhamdullillah & thanks to a friend, I was brought back to the path I used to hantam 9 years ago…The Holy Grail.

The Holy Grail tu apa? It’s a term us mountain bikers use to describe the perfect bike trail where a long rolling and switchback singletrack beats your heart out until you want to scream with 200% satisfaction.

It’s been years. But, lately a few buddies tabor racun terlalu kerap until the lalang also cannot grow anymore. Hence, the dream burns slow like a slow cooker. When racun came, the flame grew & then dimmed, until the next racun. But last night, an offer I can’t resist. Ayob offered me his bike. Like play laying-layang, I was a bit hesitant. Malu konon. Puiii…

When the offer was repeatedly asked, I took it with great honor. Terus plan for a ride with Azmar. Where? The Putrajaya Challenge Park. They say, it’s the best man-made trail, designed by the best trail builder import dari obersi lagi. I never had the chance to ride here since I sold my bike a year before the trail was completed and opened. If it’s truly as juicy as Kiara, I must come prepared.

I trusted the steed I’m loaning is ready for the trail. My skills? I doubt it. It’s been too many years since I launched down those switchbacks and short burst climbs. Don’t forget the long granny ones as well.

After a hectic day at the office & being in a mobile office honoring the client & local authorities, I finally rendezvoused with Azmar & Shaiful at PCP. Didn’t have the slightest idea of what’s waiting me behind those canopied hills. It was almost 5.30 p.m. when we started clicking in and rolled out.

Too bad the first climb was already a majlis pecah peluh semangkuk. A 100 m long granny & I was excited keeping steady not to give up on it. If I make it to the top, my heart will beat rhythmically like a drum for the rest of the ride.

I shouted in disbelief upon concurring it. Yeehaa! Give me some more! The following twist and turn really reminds me of the old Bukit Kiara Trail. And I am thankful to be reliving it. It was a 5km loop but enough for a good strength workout. Tagging along with these guys was really pushing my demeanor limits. They swerved at the tightest switchbacks. They attacked climbs and short bursts. They even assaulted the roller coaster ride like there’s no tomorrow! And I, obediently chucked in behind pressing my quads and calves and tapping the brakes as silky as I can. The bike swerved, screeched & banged like never before.

Now this trail is a thumbs up. Pretty much like Kiara but nothing close. I believed the old Kiara trails still the most technical trail I've ever ridden. Well, at least this trail is closer to my place :]

The trail was so juicy, with just a pinch of sugar over it, it really made my day. I smiled for the rest of the evening. But, my hands were still shaking while holding the bottle. Well what do you know?! I survived any face plant possible. I am still a mountain biker after all! Hahaha! :]

Monday, June 4, 2012 - Putrajaya International Junior Triathlon

Nasib baik la cuti sekolah. Or else I’ll be dragging myself to the ironing room & dok gosok baju sekolah in zombie mode. And I thought supervising my kids for an event was a chill thing, but somehow it almost bonked me until today.

From Saturday’s ride into Langat, I was still exhausted. Lama dah tak masuk Langat, and I was excited to repeat the intervals up Genting Peres like before. Ended up me cranking my remaining legs back to BTHO like a piece of melting jelly. Sempat for a VERY short nap before dragging myself to the race briefing for Putrajaya International Junior Triathlon. Yes, eventually BTHO managed to send representatives after KakLong long break from tri event for the last 2 years. Amir & Umar willingly decided to give it a shot. Actually Umar was the type while Amir who is a bit on the follower side did most of the thinking. Sign!

Race briefing. Uncle Chan doing the chicken dance
Despite their not so good swimming skills, aku hentam aje register & I knew Uncle Chan won’t be bothered swimming with floating devices…selagi diorang ni tak naik podium. Hahaha. Yang paling penting, diorang ni confident & nak masuk. So, the first week of school break was not actually a break for us. With Kaklong busy attending extra classes during the day & Amir attending summer camp, our evenings were spent mostly doing mini bricks, cycling & running around the neighborhood & swimming at night. As expected, cycling was second to nature for both these guys but running require a bit more umph! Tapi aku tak nak paksa, kalau nak jalan pun takpe. Don’t need to dampen their spirit.

A very last minute preparation with the equipments. I meant last minute, 12 hours before race! Hahaha. Apa punya manager la kan? Macam biasa, multi discipline sports require many equipments. Dah lama tak buat checklist, so ayah pakai ikut sempat aje.
  1. Tayar belakang basikal KakLong yang dah lama pecah, baru nak replace. Reason, tak boleh replace awal sebab nanti cepat worn out kids lanyak tiap-tiap petang. Tyre price sama macam tayar Kancil!
  2.  Amir’s swimsuit, about time to replace. Signing up for an event is a very good excuse pun. Hahaha. If not pakai sampai kecut.
  3. Alamak helmet ada satu je! Dah tentu Umar dah booking sebab itu lah helmet dia pakai every evening. Gali punya gali, nasib baik helmet ayah yang lama ada. So, Amir got the privilege to wear a Giro Atmos. Fuiyo! 
  4.  Apa barang pin number kat baju? Ni triathlon la. Gali punya gali…lagi sekali. Amir pakai race belt while Umar pakai Spi Belt, ibu tolong pin kasik kecikkan pinggang sikit. Kelas gitu.

Phew! Nasib baik equipment preparation tidak menelan belanja yang banyak And malam tu sebelum tido sempat simulation for transition atas carpet living room. Hehe.

Another thing I like about Uncle Chan’s organizing, on top of the top notch safety, he still casuals on timing. Since Amir & Umar’s Cat will only start at 10.45am, we don’t need to come early to grab the window for the bike parking. Hence, that morning we took our time having breakfast & drive to Putrajaya. Kelam kabut, especially with the whole family tagging along is normal & we don’t need extra pressure for the race.

Langsung takde gaya nervous
The venue was festive. We met friends all around & the kids made new friends as well. We cheered at all the kids on their races. Free flow Milo was a thumbs-up and some more, we don’t need to queue! Weather was perfect on top of the picturesque Pusat Akuatik Presint 6, Putrajaya. The kids were racing competitively especially the bigger ones (16-19 yo). I can only dream of having their stamina & strength. They completed the course in just 37 minutes!

Umar being guided to his No. 43 starting pontoon
The highlight of the event was the last category (9 yo & below). And that’s where Amir & Umar will be in, for their first tri experience. Swim for 150m + bike 2km + run 800m. Their first open water in the Putrajaya Lake was convincingly prepared & secured with kayakers, jet ski, swimmers and even standby divers. Thumbs up la Uncle Chan. And they were helpful as well especially with these young triathletes.

It was a water start. Hence Umar had to jump into the water & swim to his dedicated pontoon. Thanks to abang kayak’s help to haul & guide him to the starting pontoon no. 43. Amir at no. 9. It took almost 15 minutes for them to wait in the water while the rest of took place. Alhamdullillah Amir & Umar didn’t show any sign of panic. Siap boleh lambai ayah, ibu & kaklong lagi from afar. Steady lah!

Amir with kickboard dah macam bot pukat tunda daaa...
The horn went off & on top of the hectic water, the lake shores was also chaotic with parents running and cheering. Hahaha. Memang huru hara lah & I was also one of them la. Thanks to Uncel Det & Naufal who was part of the cheering team. Amir finished the swim ahead of Umar, sebab…Umar dok sibuk sukarela teman kawan baru dia yang a bit slow. Aiyak! Ada pulak sifat belas kasihan masa race?! He was swimming along this other bigger boy who was struggling with his front crawl. Umar rilek je paddling with his float around the waist escorting him.

Done swimming! Huu Huu!
While I was running along Amir towards T1, I had to leave ibu to attend Umar. Amir was fast at T1. Alhamdullillah. Tak sempat nak amik gambar when he mounted the bike. Awhile later Umar came out of T1 and cranking away towards his first open road cycling. Itu lah sebenarnya matlamat dia join race ni. Sebab nak kayuh kat open road. Hahaha. Terkejut aku bila tengok dia stand pedaling right after he left T1, macam pro-cyclist launch for TT tu beb! Hahaha. Det told me moments later Umar was having dilemma throwing his cup of drink after the swim sebab tak jumpa tong sampah! Bagus anak aku ni. Environment conscious betul. Det took away the cup from his hand & get him to run towards T1.

They arrived minutes later still looking strong. Amir dismounted towards T2 like a pro. Mana dia belajar ni? I presumed he watched the bigger kids did it in the previous categories. Memang cekap & smooth aje. T2 was fast. Maybe sebab tak payah fikir pasal makan gel, pakai shades, pakai topi…macam ayah dia. Lol.

Junior TT launching
However Amir was almost drained when started running. He almost reverted to walk but I ran beside him for motivation. And of course the crowd along the way cheered him. It was fun! And then, I remembered Umar who was supposed to finish his bike leg anytime. Amir will do fine I hope. So I dashed over to T2. By this time, I had no idea where was ibu & KakLong. The waiting at T2 was filled with suspense, hence I walked along the towards the pool junction when I saw ibu running in, which means arriving! Huhu. He was still strong noticing from his high cadence (looks like lepas ni kena ada bike with gears lah).

Just like Amir, his T2 was smooth as well. As he exited T2 towards the the water station, he can’t say no to the cup of drink handed to him. The same thing happened, he repeated running with the cup half drank in his hand. Aiyak! The official told him to just throw it, but he was confused. I had to give him a chase & get him to throw the cup. Umar ran steadily. Thanks to Naufal, who paced him all the way. Surprisingly, Umar ran all the way without walking. Halfway through, Amir came back and headed towards the finishing line. Alhamdullillah I was so proud of him, despite him being speechless & breathless upon finishing. Hugs & kisses buddy!

We waited for Umar. I can’t wait for the moment. Again I ran towards him & escorted him all the way to the finishing line with more crowds cheering & Mr. Emcee shouted out his name upon crossing the line. Ada pulak two photographers asked him to post biting his medal. Dahsyat! Entah majalah apa la tu? Hahaha.

Bonk defined
Amir was still exhausted from the race while Umar still looks cool. We chilled around for more Milo (later during the day we frequent the restroom as after effect. Lol) & lunched over free KFC by the lake. Moments later, while I was chit chatting, these boys were back to their normal energetic tempo. Kids!

We are the Champions
Alhamdullillah things went well for Amir & Umar & also with the event. It was a great experience for all the kids & parents. If only we have more tri events like this kan?