Saturday, July 21, 2012


With this tiny window left of Syaaban, I hope it is not too late to wish Ed-Mubarak to all Muslims. May we get the best of Barakah & Rahmat from Allah swt in this great month. And may we pray from this tiny window, it will open up to a wider perspective of beautiful Islam for all of us.

Allah swt may have given us another chance to meet Ramadhan again this year. Praise to Allah for the health and opportunity.

I was on a roller coaster ride for the past few weeks. The central nerve system crashed at the very last moment prior to Ipoh Century Ride. Though, mentally I was in a lower anticipation of the ride, a small residue of spirit rode away with friends completing the distance. Truth be told, I was not so disappointed from the absence. Only Allah swt knows what is best for me.

Recovery took ages for this old module. I was mentally weak with only enough memory to run the task of an employee. Not even a gigabyte. Being so tight with work schedule, I have only a handful of mind left for the remaining task and chores for the family. Not a single glimpse of thought was managed for my love of cycling. The evening was only spent following what remains from the stages of Tour de France. If I fell asleep with only 10 km to finish, the morning shall be spent watching the race highlights. However, the spirit of it was not as high as before. Adding to the calamity, I found more favorite riders abandoning the tour, be it due to injuries from crashes or from failing doping tests.

Allah almighty. He gave me strength to recover just in time for Ramadhan. From the burnt out spirit of cycling and the flu, I was re-fresh for Ramadhan. As a human, the building blocks of Rejab & Syaaban went pass me in a brief. I pray that I have the strength for the powerful Ramadhan challenge.

Allow me to shed some light from tonight’s message of tazkirah.

In this early chapter of the holy month, we were reminded to be prepared for it. We are being given this chance, this year. We should cherish the moment in full swing and take advantage of  the capital given by Allah swt for the investment.

1.    Aqidah. It is a strong word. We should embrace the definition. We should look back and recuperate our beliefs and faith. Make it stronger. Put it deep into our hearts that Allah swt is the only God & Muhammad s.a.w. is his messenger. Faith in the science of al-Quran. Faith in Malaikat. Faith in the afterlife. And even in Qada’ & Qadar. How far have we embrace the Rukun of Iman?

2.    Knowledge. Grab this chance to go deeper into the knowledge of Islam. Start from the simplest things of wudhu’ and solat. Or even our perspective of aurat. An even the meaning of salawat is a very strong insight. Or even we may need to define ourselves to the task of Tarawih. Knowledge brings us closer to being Taqwa, as we do not want our sacrifices goes down the drain without knowing the right knowledge.

3.  Physical. Stay healthy and strong. No it’s not for the races and challenges after Ramadhan that we so looked forward to. Not the KOM. Not Powerman. Not even for that 10K race a week after Aidilfitri. We need the stamina to embrace the 30 days with plans and workout schedule for Ramadhan. Tarawih, Tadarus, Tahajjud, Hajat, Dhuha, Tafsir, Tazkirah. This is one great building block.

4.    Focus. Ramadhan comes only once in a year. Chasing the glories of PBs and podiums or even logging dailymiles for the rest of the 11 months had to make way. This is the true and reality of the eternal life. We might want to consider cutting down time spent on day works and workouts. Go moderate. Forget about those hill repeats for a moment. Cut down on those training talks. The amount of amal is so small compared to the life that we chase on this surface of earth. How do we justify that? Are we prepared to answer for the judgment day? Allahu akbar. The almighty and nothing comes close to Him. Not even the 20k carbon frames, or the 15k Lightweight wheels.

It is still not too late. We are provided with the chance. Again. For this year. Some souls were not. They have returned to the Creator. Last year’s Ramadhan was their last. We? We don’t have the slightest idea of what awaits around the corner. We might not be able to see Aidilfitri after all. Or even that race we have signed for. Hence, this window is our chance.

These may sound so harsh for some but I’m just shedding some lights of the importance of the true fight that we should be thinking of. May Allah swt have mercy on us and give us strength to fight our place for the ‘podium’. Amin.  :]

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Two Sisters

Hold on. This post is going to be epic. It’s an epic since I covered almost the hold Sunday on it since the ride was on Saturday. And it took the whole day because most of it was running the duty of a principal monitoring younglings’ revision and eating. Hence, it would be advisable to spend time reading it while having a packet of kuaci or if you skip lunch or puasa sunat Senin-Khamis :]

Epic nya haiii…

This is the ride of 2012 (at the moment of entry). It was the one that I bit off more than I can chew. It is the one that I rarely can commit due to other priority commitments. And the one that I don’t easily commit for the risk that I barely can take.

With Ipoh Century Ride weeks away, a few of us are nearing the end of our training program. Which means, it’s taper time! Balik kampong. Makan. Rest the mind. Rest the body. It’s time for it to rebuild the system for the finale. I was so looking forward to it. No, not the finale but the taper instead. Hahaha. Al-maklum, full time weekend warrior & yes, I meant full time sebab no weekdays training agendas. Give me hill repeats, speed drills, night rides, saddling up on trainers. No thanks. I have to take a rain cheque.

When the miles are high for the ultimate week in the training regime, I don’t have many route options around. Unlike running, we can always run alone hitting the gritting plateau (secret training la kira). But, we can’t afford to cycle alone for 5 to 6 hours. Especially when love ones waiting for us at home. Especially when hitting cyclists with cars are like virtual games in Playstation (maybe this is one of the theory?!).

I had only 2 options. Saturday ride with BJCC doing the fabled Genting Sempah – Gap – Genting Sempah, covering 170km with 2 major climbs that can make you lose your minds and legs at the same time. Or, I can join another group to Morib and back. Getting another tan line after last week’s Kuala Selangor ride is just like killing the spirit. The sun ain’t getting any cooler nowadays. And dehydrating big time at this age isn’t wise. Hence, the grannies were signed.

Gorgeous terrain
I haven’t been around this part of cycling routes for this year. Travelling from Cheras takes 30km while burning fossil fuel just for a ride isn’t a good practice if I want to safe earth and at the same time stay healthy. But, today it’s optional. We met up with the rest of the close buddies at Petronas Taman Melati (nostalgic la pulak bila teringat Genting Trailblazer 2010). Eventually rendezvoused with BJCC at R&R Genting Sempah. The cool breeze from Genting Highland was just awesome. But, we haven’t much time to enjoy it.

A short brief by ride leader, Capt. Roy and headcount found 16 gave a shot at the crazy thing while 5-6 others will bail off at Bentong only. We rolled off from GS onto the old Gombak  Road all strung out tapping brakes now and then less any room for chit chats due to poor road condition (I thought election road supposed to be here as well?). All the way down to Bentong covering 30km in an hour which with my rusty mathematical mind, the attempt back up will double the time. Argh!

First regroup at Shell Bentong had almost everybody rushing for the loo. Chilling and shaky ride I guess. After farewell and exchanging lucks with the shorter route buddies, we headed on through the busy Bentong town in a pack until Jalan Teras, the juncture into the rurals. It was the start of engaging into climbing legs and where the road took a rolling and scenic way.

Out of town and into the wild
I guess the damped air and the foul odor of processed rubber from local plantations took the best out of us. As we attempted the demanding route, the demand for O2 increases, hence I find it unpleasant to be breathing the odor. But, we had no choice. We tried to stay together most of the time but the rolling hills kept on splitting us. As charted, the peak should be at Sang Lee (sounds more to me like Sara Lee the cake….yummy at one time, ages ago).  With fresh legs, reaching the first summit was almost unnoticed. We were rewarded with 40kph into TT mode to Tranum. Syiok oooo…

We didn’t stop long to regroup, since everyone was excited to go for the ‘kill’. And which also reminds me that this kill is only half of the ultimate one. The scenic fresh route was always a therapy for scenic lovers like me. Plus, the gradual 2-3% and at times 4% climb slowly combine into a massive 20km long strength/endurance chillax (depends on how you define your attack).

Of course all of us were lost into our own fantasies. The front group was probably fantasizing on Col du Tourmalet of Mont Ventoux famous climb. The second group (a mix of BJCC & us) was definitely fantasizing the meal up at the Gap for lunch! The last group, I’ve no idea but looking from the spinning ratio, dying was probably best defined.

We have done 64km in our legs and the 20km upwards was slowly feasting on the remaining juice. Halfway through, the body started to resist comfort. Legs getting heavier and even my shoulders getting stiffer and pain were definitely defining the whole situation. It seemed endless and a few others started counting the remaining miles (it may sound like the female voice from the mobile GPS at times). It was the greatest relief upon seeing the famous Fraser Hill (ala Hollywood) sign atop the hill. We really can’t take another bit of the climb if they decided to move the rest area 100 meters further.

Snaking into the highland
No more delicious chicken rice like last time, perhaps due to the lack of travelers stopping by since the one way up to Fraser’s Hill & the other way down have re-commissioned. Hence, we only had nasi lemak or burger. I had both!. The chill moments made me starve, and the remaining 84km back to GS with an empty stomach would call disaster. We chill for half an hour until the whole group arrived.

Like climbing Everest (chewah! Macam gempak aje bunyi), the ride back was the ultimate challenge. The monstrosity of the 30km climb back from Bentong to GS was too vague to imagine. It can come in many ways. It can be a ‘downhill’ ride, literally, or a crawl of life.

I took the safer way descending down to Tranum by coasting as much as possible. Safe the legs la konon. Hehe. Descending can be horrific for some, but as long as we pick the safest line, it should be the best way to enjoy the refreshing breeze smacking your face.

Alhamdullillah we regrouped safely down at Tranum and resume in a pack all the way towards Jalan Teras (the main road Bentong-Raub) once again. It was another wise attempt to stay together nailing the rolling Sang Lee stretch when the climate started to adds to the punishing miles. We took turn doing the pulling, and that 20km went by with a brief. Phew! That went well for a start, I meant back.

The ride into Bentong divided us into three groups due to traffic and road junctions. I was caught doing the pulling for almost 7km into town and opening up for a rest was not an option when vehicles buzzing by like bullets. Argh! The bee line strung out with almost about 10 riders behind. I knew I had to keep it going to avoid distracting the traffic and going slower will open up risks. I guess that attempt zapped up 20% of my remaining juice which was supposed to be utilized for the remaining climb.

Upon checking in at Shell Bentong, I can hardly stand. The mart’s floor was the most comfortable place to enjoy a can of Coke, plus the airconditioned room. The front group decided to cool down with the famous Kow Po ice kacang. The last group was nowhere to be seen. The five of us was what’s left to attempt the final push. Iqbal from BJCC was a new buddy in the group.

Exiting Bentong and back into old Gombak Road was mostly lead by Azmar. I was silently latching on to Jaja’s wheel at the back of five of us. The solidarity feeling was starting to go void, where it kept playing in my mind to just let go. This iron-butt can no longer stand another hour. Climbing all the way back provides no room for coasting, it’s either I stand climb or took a break by the road side.

My short goal was to get myself up to the Hot Spring. 10km mark. The longest I felt, ever. I soaked my head and dehydrate as much as possible. I knew the end will come soon, but in cycling, it’s all about hanging out a little bit longer.

The first group caught up with us. Then the third group, which seemed like a good chance to latch on and form a bigger climbing bunch. We managed to stay in a group of ten, but still I was playing roulette struggling to keep up.

The bitterest sight in a ride group was the sight of the last butt fading away into a corner. That happened at KM15 into the climb. I can’t hold on much longer and slowly resorted to obey my screaming heart rate. Azmar decided to let lose as well, from the trust in us, he volunteered to accompany me. I latched on to his wheel for another 5km until we arrived to a few of us whom decided to take a break at a school lay-by. It was a big relief.

Refreshing from the pain was the only accord that I can afford. Just like stopping at water stations in a marathon. It gave me a boost for the next round. I had to leave the group since it was now an individual/solo struggle. A few of them seemed so exhausted, which reminds me not to stay long to wait. Azmar was caught on a phone, but I just had to leave and trust that he will definitely catch up. It was me and me alone for the next endless 5km to Janda Baik junction. The bad road condition just adds up banging this tired mortal.

Azmar was complaining of starving. We opted for another quick stop to share my dates. I squeezed my last drop of water from the bottle and knew that the last push will be inenvitable. I just had to keep on spinning and avoiding the red zone. It was not because that I don’t want to go bonk in the middle of the remaining 6km climb, but the post ride condition was my priority. Injury and excessive fatigue was not in the menu. Slowly does it, Azmar was screaming as we approached the rest area, and I was holding my relieveness…big time! Alhamdullillah.

It was an epic journey, an epic distance. 168km in 6 hours plus of riding time. That should cover the two weeks rest/taper-balik kampong- part. Cheers to all ride buddies. You guys were awesome suffer freaks.

One for the classroom photo