Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Sekinchan in Blaze

The Meteorological Department forecast rainy weekend over Selangor especially the coastal side. I kept my fingers crossed prior to Saturday since this particular cycling route is known for its unmerciful temperature.

Since it will be the final or shall I say, peak training ride in the training regime for the upcoming KCR, few of us decided to make full use of whatever opportunity we have to materialise the plan.

I have experience before, training for the longest distance can be difficult in getting buddies to join. Besides other chores and commitments, and perhaps time spent on it, the distance will definitely chase buddies afar.

Hence, a local ride group had planned for their Ride of The Month to Lumut, covering 210 km from Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam. We just require a bit of twitching to the plan to make it lesser and be right back home in a nudge. Complying to Domestic Visa approval after last super epic adventure to Tranum.

We opted to turn back at Sekinchan. That should cover 85 km one-way. Total up to 170 km for our last ride for KCR. A flat course and all we need is just keep the crank spinning for at least 5 hours.

For two consecutive weekends I left home in the wee morning driving out to RV points. Felt like yesteryears committing to LSD runs. It will only be for these two weekends and then, it will all be over. Trust me, the same feeling I had when preparing for a marathon. At the juncture of almost 12-18 weeks training, the mental game will start playing discouraging tones like fatigues, muscle sore, recovery time, family time, etc..

Listen! Listen! Listen! Briefing time ye
The BJCC Human Train to Lumut fled off at 7.00 a.m. from d'Bayu, the usual start point. We took the normal GCE and exited at Paya Jaras. When the peloton is too big and road condition is too bad, mishaps  happened. A buddy who was busy signalling to rear riders for potholes and bad roads suddenly lost control when he himself hit a bump. The handlebar folded and sent him flying across the road shoulder with a loud explosive sound. I thought his carbon frame got snapped, but actually it was only his tyre blew off. That was a relief. The peloton stopped for awhile, confused, but later proceeded to Ijok for regrouping. I left my bike and helped the buddy with a few others attending  his bike while he was still stunned by the fall. Then we carried on meeting up with the rest.

Tight bunch
The rest of the ride was pleasantly sitting and cruising in the peloton of almost 50 cyclists. Peloton was managed magnificently by the pros with great speed accommodating everyone's capability. Credits goes to them.

This particular west coast trunk road is probably awesome and convenient if we are travelling to Teluk Intan and Lumut. I travelled here during the 2011 Powerman. Free from tolls and nice sceneries. However, it can be hell for cyclist. Motorists are menacing the road, especially the threat from lorries. They came so close to you and simply won't give the tiniest respect. Road condition failed to provide a safe passage for us. We don't have the luxury of a smooth surface but were served with road debris, sunken utility manholes, poor road resurfacing condition. Full alertness and a good grip of the handlebar is the only way to survive it.

Don't play-play with that Saxo Bank ride next to me eh...
From Kuala Selangor town to Sekinchan was effortless in this Human Train. 35 km. A quick stop at Tanjung Karang for refuel before that. A portion of us bailed out here and turned back. Perhaps they planned for 160 km ride only. The nine of us departed from the Lumut Human Train at Sekinchan and headed back towards Kuala Selangor.

Now, it's the Mini Human Train and we took the beating from the rising heat and headwind. The challenge kicked off right away. The ride back to Kuala Selangor started to inflict pain. Though it was 35 km but effort was mostly labouring. We checked in at Kuala Selangor Shell station for a quick pain reliever.

Now that we have covered 110 km, we anticipated the remaining 60 km is nothing close to a walk-in-the-park kind of ride. We were now clearly sure that forecasted weather was as clear as the blue sky that explain it all.

We targeted Ijok Petronas as our next mini goal. Smaller portion goals are better for motivation to overcome  our melting brains. By this time, we were strung out hundred meters apart. Some have already felt the cramp sensation from calves and quads. We crawled our way to Ijok. The luxury of an airconditioned enclosure like the Petronas was 5 STAR rating. Some even indulge to sit on the cool floor tiles, while even a good hot Maggi In A Cup was a bright idea. Half an hour passed by in a sniffle and we drudge our heavy legs to move on.

I don't care. Maggi & Pringles is the way to do it
Next was entering Latar Highway and Guthrie Corridor Expressway. Both was painful which was mainly due to the heat. Most of us barely survive our ride back. Some had to give way to cramps and inch their way back under the blazing sun. Heat and wind was too generous today. I suffered more compared to Tranum last week.

Eventually we managed to complete the assignment mere minutes to 6 hours riding time for the whole 173 km of it. I barely  have enough juice to think any more creative ideas besides 'Home! Home! Home! Visa! Visa! Visa!' :P

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tranum Back Again

As posted before, ride plans were set towards KCR. Hence, yesterday a bold attempt at  building miles and strength was done (bold sangat la konon...). We attempted the Sleepy Hollow route from Sup Awe to Kg. Tras, Tranum and back. The distance was unimaginable. Last I rode this kind of distance was 2 years ago during the second day of PCC IS. Plus, this route gave the best out of everyone. The long endless climb in solitary was inevitable and epic. 

The ride from Sup Awe to Genting Sempah was about controlling pace. And the chill morning from the surrounding was great to neutralize the warm weather from the last few days. We needed it. We RVed at GS waiting for the last man before descended all way towards Bentong.

However, plans are made but we never know things can go wrong. Midway down, Zakuan skidded and crashed due to slippery sand while taking a corner. He was in front of me but the distance between us was enough for me to witness his fall and strayed away avoiding more tumble. Fortunately the fall was not so bad, with just a few scratches. Don't worry, the bike was scratch-less.

The slippery corner
Zakuan was OK to move on and continue the mission though perhaps he was a bit shocked and tampered from the fall. We stopped at Bentong Shell for refill and refuel while collecting thoughts again from the mishaps.

Parading into the busy Bentong town and on the side line of Bentong-Raub road was managed successfully. Traffic was not too bad since it was still early.

I call the Bentong to Kg Tras route a Sleepy Hollow route due to its solitude. There was not a buzz of passing vehicle, at least for an hour throughout into the ride, except for the local bus serving Raub-Bentong. And I've noticed quite a few new getaway resorts blooming along the road. Some carry familiar names, which are big names in a sense of price. Tanah Aina for instance. Google it. I guess these are just overspills from Janda Baik. But still, it is a perfect getaway into the lush greenery of orchards and rubber trees....well, what is left of it I guess.

The end is nearing but yet still far. When we were divided by our own pace, we latched up to form smaller groups to keep the camaraderie alive. The roller coaster route almost took us to the limit of boredom but that was until we smell the processed rubber. That tells the sign that The Junction is so close.

Ahli kumpulan Cross Junction
Anuar and Dicky was already there, perhaps a few minutes before us. Alwin, Zakuan and me joined them under the shade of a large raintree. As time passed by while waiting for the rest to check in, we were led back in time when the cool rural breeze blew dry leaves on the road and falling petals from above.

We refilled and refueled at a nearby Kampung Tras small town enjoying the climate where time almost stood still. Plus the local sundry shop owner was also friendly to entertain us with our palaver. It was already mid day and we knew the journey back won't be generous to wait us.

Kampung Tras 7-Eleven
Back to Sleepy Hollow and solitary confinement enveloped each and every one of us. It was a mental game but that was just the tip of the iceberg. We reached back Raub-Bentong road and gusts of headwind smacked right into our path adding the challenge to the miles. The sight of Tanjung Sepat traumatic experience came back and I decided to bail out from fighting against the power of nature. Wind was too strong, hence the pace was kept to easy as we checked in at Kow Po ABC for a small dosage of sugar rush.

Last refuel station was at the Bentong Shell and the battle moves on for the final 30km back up to Genting Sempah. We tried to stick together most of the time but miles and legs sore was inevitable. The group of nine got strung out reforming back into isolation as the inclines get steeper. I was glad with the 26 tooth cassette which greatly perform compared to the previous 25. Imagine how 1 tooth makes a lot of different? Trust me, you'll be blessed with the technology at this juncture.

I made my way spinning lightly to avoid going 'over board' since the climb is long. Patience and virtue played a major role in bringing myself inch by inch through elevation and miles. I caught up with Alwin and Zakuan somewhere near Janda Baik junction.

The last point of RV was at a stall at Genting Sempah. It was almost 4.00 p.m. and every one checked  minutes in between for a serving of 'keropok lekor' and hot Nescafe. Priceless. Smiles and jokes started flying around back again across tables when each of us shared their moment of exile. As if we were back alive from the dead and smiles and laughter started smirking back. A few of us experienced severe cramps but most of us was mentally assessed.

Back alive and laughing
The final push back to Genting Sempah and down back to Gombak with what was left in the tank. Alhamdullillah things did not get worse than Zakuan's mishaps and we managed to complete the milage safely. However, time was a bit off. We expect that. For this kind of super long ride, time can never be the essence since pushing too hard too early is never a good formula.

But! Once you arrived back at the car and you get 10 missed calls from home, that is where you need to engage TT mode and CABUUUUUTS!

Till the last drop of sugar

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Century is coming

Nampak gaya nya la ni aku memang kena praktik kan amalan berhemah untuk sign up event. Itu salah satu dari amalan perbelanjaan berhemah. Semuanya selari dengan teori Newton:

Tindakan X = Tindakbalas X

Tapi zaman la ni, teori Newton kena modi sikit jadi:

Tindakan X = Tindakbalas 2X

Itu teori fizik, tapi boleh apply kat teori ekonomi terus macam gini,

Harga minyak naik = Harga barang naik + Harga perkhidmatan naik + 
Harga event fee pun naik + Heart rate naik

Jadi, aku kena lah selective sikit. Nak bulldoze semua tanpa being selective boleh mengakibatkan pelbagai kesan yang maybe mudarat seperti membazir wang dan masa. Ingat! Aku bukan kaya raya. In fact menyeksa diri & menyesal bukan satu pilihan 'bujal'. Dan ingat! Aku juga bukan kurang bijak.

First time sign-up dulu boleh lah matlamat sekadar untuk perabih. Suffer big time pun takpe. Al-maklum ler zero pengalaman. 

Tapi kalau dah sign-up banyak kali or every year, takkan ler nak maintain objektif? Itu pembaziran namanya. Pembaziran masa dan wang. Tak digalakkan.

Disebabkan aku ni semakin hari semakin banyak komitmen lain yang ada priority, maka target 2-3 major events kira OK la. Ini ahli sukan amatur, bukan pro.

Maka, first big event tahun ni tinggal tak sampai sebulan lagi. Setahun yang lepas, dengar Kuantan Century Ride aje dah boleh naik bulu tengkuk. Perit & menusuk kalbu boh!

Tapi kali ni aku cuba untuk tidak ulang kesilapan. Dan juga tak nak letak high hopes.

Strategi yang diatur setakat ni boleh kata chun. Alhamdullillah. Fasa base training dah settled. Konon. Dapat selit 2-3 long rides untuk lemau kan kaki terbaik dah tu.

La ni rancangan tergendala sekali sekala sebab urusan-urusan lain seperti balik kampung dan pilihanraya. Dab! Dub! Dab! tinggal tak sampai sebulan. Tolak Senin hingga Sabtu, tinggal lagi 2 weekend untuk kayuh super long ride sebelum taper sambil makan tempe.

So far, plan super long ride dah ada. Mudah-mudahan diberi nikmat kesihatan, kekuatan dan peluang untuk execute kan plan tu.

And this is how my wife thinks about me :P

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cycling Evolution

During the recent school break, I took the chance to settle a few tiny projects. Bike projects that have not underwent upgrades for a while. To be on a dramatic side, I have been using the Shimano drive-train group set for almost 7 years!!! The second longest vehicle tenure after my Honda EX-5; this guy hits the 10 years mark for the Decade Award.

It was not until a buddy open a tempting offer to sell off his shining SRAM Red, I would have not be upgrading mine. I could have been using the 105 forever or until it kaputs. When I meant ‘tempting’, me as a cheapskate guy, that’s me in a sense of upgrading hobbies, was drooling day and night thinking seriously about the offer. This is really something that comes across once in a blue moon. Phenomenal?

'SRAM Red is the third & highest level road groupset that the American company has released. It's lighter than Shimano Dura-Ace and Campagnolo Record, but also a lot more expensive...'

It was almost like a dream come true. Almost. Unimaginable. My dream was to get it for free! Like sponsorship or the whole stuff fell from the sky kind of thing :P

After nights of restless tossing and turning (special effect sikit), I’ve concluded to give it a go. The school break was a great time to spend without needing to think about kids + school. All I need was a few hours. Story cut short, I managed to close a deal for the 105 with a buyer and top up the rest for the Red.

Now the S1 is on Red :]

The Red Katak 

The next big thing that evolved almost the same time was the mountain bike. The Scott 29er was OK but I felt that something amiss. I guess the UMMPH! thing. But, it was not urgent. However, rezeki comes in many forms. While I was browsing the bike market joint on bicyclebuysell.com, I came across a gorgeous Niner frame. Something that was beyond my scale of indulgent. It’s true, this almost boutique like brand is pricey. However, the offer price was magical. I think I can squeeze something out from my wallet, as long as the theory of sell and buy comes into place at the correct timing.

Again, the bike market is the place to be. I need to sell off the 6 month’s old Scott frame and swap with this gorgeous Niner. Messages came pouring in day and night. Like any other typical buyer, me included, likes to throw in silly discounts. Test water la konon. Some of them were asking for ridiculous prices. I almost replied sarcastically but that wouldn't be my style. I replied in honesty that I need the cash for my future frame. Some also embarked on a disturbing mental stage, willing to travel all the way from Ipoh to grab hold of the Scott before anyone else get it. I was surprised with the situation until I noticed that a Scott frame with this kind of offer is rare and reputable.

Eventually a buyer from Klang desperately arranged a meeting at our RV point that particular evening to have a look and decided to commit. With the help of Azmar, we took out everything and closed the deal there and then. A few days later, a follow up message with the Niner seller for an appointment was sent. I slept soundly that night smiling.

Now the Niner E.M.D.9 is ready to hit the trail.

Drooling images by the pros...