Thursday, September 26, 2013

Mission for Sri Gandos

Without any event commitments until year end, a few of us who are free to do anything have been planning to attempt the Kampung Sumpitan climb. What was so legend about this climb by local cyclists be it the pros or simply weekend warriors had us craving for the experience. They called it the 'Bukit Magnet'.

Right after our Hatyai cycling trip few months back, we have started planning for this. After so many adjustments to our calendar year, we pushed ahead with it though with less miles in the legs. Al-maklum the month of Syawal had us stalled from cycling. Alasan...

The usual suspects, the ones from Hatyai. Ordinary fathers & husbands on weekdays and the food-hunter-on-2-wheels on weekends.

We left KL on Friday evening after settling all routines. Escaping the city Friday traffic was something that we looked forward to. Nonetheless, we find the North-South Express-way was also busy up to Ipoh. How come eh?

We reached Selama, Perak somewhere after mid night and hit the sack hoping for a good rest from the drive and for the tasking day ahead.

Selama, a district in Perak still keep its heritage. The small town and kampung climate brought peaceful thoughts into me. The smell of traditional breakfast cuisine filled the air as we cruised through town on our bikes. The busy morning market by the road side definitely will do great in a shutter bug's lens.

We headed towards the first obstacle, so called Bukit PLKN. The three brothers altogether with increment gradient at each climb. Short but steep with the sun shine on our foreheads. Best of all, the sound of primates from nearby wilderness cheered our way up. Epic.

Killer Loop
The next civilization was Kampung Masjid. Such a peaceful place providing the beauty old kampung scene, quiet and serene. I wish one of this plot is mine. A quick pit stop for a quick taste of kuih Jawa and apam from the local stall tossed around before we left for the next bigger thing.

Just as we took the left turn, the gradient abruptly changed. As if like the board game Snake and Ladder awaits, only without the ladder. Maybe Snake and Bike. The combination of bends and inclines were spectacular. I don't why, but these crazy dudes simply seek for these kind of torment.

Even the pros and grand tours throw in mountain stages as part of the tour speciality menu. Hence, we are weird for talking nonsense about elevation and gradients in our everyday conversation.

The climb spread out for almost 13 km without recoveries. It was bad and ugly. But the shades from the forest canopies was cooling and beautiful. The ferns were gorgeous. I kept on being guided by the gradient readings from the cyclometer. An average of 7-8%. The steepest was 17% and we welcomed it with a roar and disbelieve. The most obvious thing about this climb is how heavy we felt attempting to churn and turn the crank. Abnormally heavy. Any paranormal or scientific explanation for it?

A celebration awaits at the peak. Just a few short post mortem for the completion of the task. The roll down towards Lenggong was a point of no return. Similar to the descending from Peres peak down to Titi. Likewise from Janda Baik to Bentong.

The descending was tricky at some part where steep and sharp bends held our breath for abrupt manoeuvrability. The way we descended through the gradient, we were also held up by the thought of climbing it on our way back.

As we reached the cross junction at Jalan Baling-Kuala Kangsar, Route 76, the open sky awaits. The sun shone bright while the road open up for the next 20 km rolling. That was where my old friend 'migraine' strike. I guess it was due to the super hot weather. The joy was kept aside, I only aimed for the next stop which was Restoran Tasik Raban.

Neglecting the pain, I dug in with the rest, indulging ourselves with the lucrative lunch menu of Tenggalan, Talapia and deep fried Keli. Fish dish is a must here. A revisit is another must.

Heavily discussed over lunch about our ride back, we decided to ditch the suffer party of having to climb back Sumpitan from Lenggong. Assuming it would be a disaster for most of us. We opted to circle around this so called Perak State backbone towards the south for a more flatter route. By calculation, that should take us another 100 km more, which will  sum up the total ride distance for this epic to 178 km. Migraine some more!

We had no choice and the majority have spoken. My head was too weak to digest deeper into the options, I just hooked on. The following 20 km towards Lubok Merbau junction was another killing field. Every time it started to incline upwards and when the legs started cranking, the blood started flooding the head and delivered excruciating pain. At times I almost shed tears holding it up. As we entered Lubok Merbau, that was where I threw in my towel, and decided to ditch my bike up on the support car and rest my head.

This small peloton took us through Padang Rengas - Changkat Jering - Taiping via Jalan Air Kuning - Kamunting and back to Selama. I was on and off the bike, but mostly off when the pain crept in again. The tour through these part of Perak was awesome. In fact, we also got chance to cycle along the famous and cooling Taiping Lake Garden. At that point, I felt like we were the urban fixies type pulak.

Enroute towards Selama, we stopped in the middle of nowhere (since I haven't been to this place before) for solat at Pondok Tanjung. Peaceful kampung enveloped us back again with lush greenery of palm oil alongside the new Keretapi Tanah Melayu double track.

Finally we managed to conclude our epic after almost 10 hours on the saddle (for most of us and exclude me) reaching back Kampung Guru, Selama at 6.30 p.m. feeling beaten up but the Sri Gandos awaits. All in all, it was this local delicacy that funded our motivation to attempt this epic ride.

Route A6 of the Bukit Sumpitan

Friday, September 13, 2013

Slowly my blog list runs out of interest when most of the blogs consist of running blogs. Honestly, I can't barely think of anything that relates to run...for the time being of course. Not that I have lost the passion, but sadly enough I have lost the time to even think about it. The best sneak chance that I have was when scrolling down the facebook status with an average speed of 4 meter/seconds. I only glance at event dates, long lost running friends who are still actively running and by the time I reach to the fee column, it broke my heart.

Not that I'm broke nor a cheapskate, but I am just being realistic and practical...and perhaps logic, in a way. Ever since I skipped the running habit, I find that spending a handful of a family dinner treat on a fee is ridiculous, especially when I only run for pleasure. Unless if I am on a mission, say training for a marathon or attempting to break my personal best. 

Of course I missed my running days. I miss my running legs. I miss the huffing and puffing jigging together with the melody of the earpiece playing Kelly Clarkson -  People Like Us. I even miss people around the neighbourhood who will honk or PIN! at the site of me. The worse of all, I miss my running friends. I can only see them on facebook, celebrating their glories every other weekend or their carboloading rituals to say the least.

In reality, I can only afford cycling. That is also after shoving aside other businesses and routines and being selfish for a bit. I only need a day and that would be a peaceful Sunday ride for a coffee fix and nasi lemak perhaps. Been doing that for the last 3 weeks and so far so good.

Not a single event was signed up so far except for a mountain bike jamboree or two. These doesn't require serious training approach, hence the Sunday ride is sufficient. A road trip was planned. Next weekend. The so called Sumpitan Ride with fellow Hatyai buddies. It should be an awesome trip and a great climb hopefully. Will be updating soon.

Btw, I did signed up the boys for a cycling race. Yes, a race. Really. Nominal fee only fun. Too bad dad didn't had the time to complete the bike setup, so Amir had to do with his 1 tonne BMX bike. The weight caused him the lost. Umar also. But we did had fun.