Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Ma'a As-Salaama 2013

Tu dia...it means goodbye in Arabic.

By this time, everyone will endure the year-end-fever of recapping what they went through for 365 days. Facebook will be flooded with them. Blogs? Not quite as popular as Facebook. Perhaps lesser crowd & publicity, hence less glamorous. I would just stay in this sleepy hollow talking to myself & whoever remains idolising the blog world. 

Praise to Allah s.w.t., the year passed by in a jiff. Not Ziff. Where is he anyway? I missed his Snail Pace writings. Time has taken the acceleration lane year by year. We grow older faster. Our kids also. By the time we have a sip of coffee on that fine evening, only we realised that we have yet to do a lot of things.

2013 was earlier planned as a year for casual. No major exams for the kids, so it was supposed to be a less stress year. It was indeed, in the house I meant. Alhamdulillah. But the world out there is not. Politics and war and killings are just getting dirtier and inhumanly. Na'uzubillah. May we have His forgiveness & love & protection.

That was global.

My path as a so-called weekend warrior didn't escape the chance of doing the weekend-warrior-stunts. No, I didn't climb any super elevation mountain, nor did I run an ultra distance event. I did not even cycle to the end of the world clocking super human miles. 

I just did the normal routine of cycling on weekends and signing up for some. I pursued the routine of yester-years as part of my istiqomah program. At this age, I don't see any extreme new-things-to-do is feasible. I don't see it can groom my resume, nor can it help me gain...weight? I don't know what to continue...

What I did was gathering some cycling friends with the same broad perspective about "Cycle & Food" and we planned for some cycle trips. That was when we had the chance to cycle to neighbouring Hatyai, the Sumpitan climb and a few other epics while indulging into local food. Most were done on weekends without jeopardising other family commitments. 

My second half of 2013 was a bit dirty. I welcomed the monsoon with my cream-pie Niner by signing up for the PCC Presidential Ride & a few other mountain bike jamborees.

My running went haywire. I took a few steps earlier of the year but it didn't catch any momentum. Now the image of running haunts me, though the itch still remains. Perhaps next year lah.

Aah! Was that a waste of 365 days? Not achieving any personal goals? Boring stuff. Every year doing same thing only.  


Next year? I do have some new ideas besides repeating what is on schedule. One of it is taking up bike touring. The activity is picking up with the growing numbers of bike lovers in the country. Also my growing age tends to see into a more quiet kind of cycling that would perhaps suits my slower pace & peaceful mind. I might write a book for that. Chewah.

Best of both worlds. Touring bike, but too expensive

I should start from the 'beginning'

That should include my attire

And plan my tour...simpang Kodiang ada 3 marhalah lagi der

That's a wrap. Have a blessed 2014!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Wetlands Jamboree

Only after a week of epic, I had minimum time to prepare for the next mountain jamboree. I think I was still recovering from the 7 hour feat and the rest of the bike stuff were still over the house. The attires were still in tumbles. Helmet & gloves last minute washing. The Camelbak? I'll bring the smaller one, so the big one still smells with Semenyih organics. Yucks! Lucky thing I had the bike washed the same day after the Prezy Ride. 

Paya Indah Wetlands were always in my place-to-visit list. I know there are something different to the place, every place is. However, the not-so-adventure of me nowadays, the plan was always shelved. Perhaps due to lack of publicity, and only when some years ago the place took centre stage when some NGOs lodge complains about the abandoning of some wildlife there.

The attraction here is the Crocodile Pond and Hippo Pond. Two large ponds with these special species. Ms. Gloria was a gift from Botswana. Now perhaps with some babies. The crocs were massive and lots of them. Some pelicans and other wetland creatures come and go throughout the 3100 hectares of land. This jamboree took me through some rough trails into the wetland, a new geographical scene on knobbies.

We were early on event day. Surprise! Weather was great though it rained late last night. We RVed at a few designated points and marched our way to PIW without hassle. A drive through Dengkil town on Sunday morning suddenly went busy especially with tens of vehicles transporting bikes.

The crowd was huge. All 1400 of us, that will squeeze out of PIW through narrow winding road on to the main Dengkil-Banting road for 6 km. I started off slow for some warm-ups, while laughing away at people overtaking all over the place trying to create a race climate. What's wrong with these guys? A podium lucky-draw prizes awaits everybody, not the fastest.

I made my way up the to the front (assuming) when we were already onto bigger & wider road while making good of the steady cadence and bigger wheel size. All effort went down the drain when the first off-road obstacle was a very huge climb in the palm oil plantation where everybody that I overtook came together again at the massive traffic haul. Argh! The rest of the ride to finish the plantation section was basically overtaking and been overtook again. It was kind of de-motivational but a jamboree is to have fun. Right? ....silence.

Connecting us back to the wetlands was via a 5 km stretch of slippery fire road along the ELITE Highway. I was going fast avoiding mud holes and stubborn-trail-hogging cyclists who would not give way for me to overtake on the right. They think they can go fast when they heard my "ehem!" notification while not giving me way, but they were scared when mud holes appear and went to abrupt slowdown. There goes my momentum.

The next stretch through THE wetland trail was a new adventure. The first thing that welcome us was a 2 km straight stretch of pit trail. It was pain-in-the-ass. And when I said PITA, I mean the real thing. The trail may look plush with the soft & soggy appearance, but it was MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE. Lies underneath the thin layer of dark brown soil are thousands or maybe millions of rotten roots and woods and stumps. It gave us the thuds! The knockings! The scraping off tyres! The side slips! The boredom! The every-mountain-bikers-most-irritating-things on a ride. It was also a single track trail, and there goes my overtaking opportunity...again.

Please don't get me wrong about people taking it as a race against my ability to overtake and complain about
One of the best
trail-hogger. Cycling off-road is about the ability to choose the right line. And some of these people don't have it. They either bulldoze themselves through everything, or wait till the last moment to think & chose their line. And that would be all too late and probably not a good style if we are riding with 1399 other people. The 2 km stretch will perhaps create a bee line of 20 km. And when fatigues crept in after humping oneself unnecessarily earlier on, my "ehem!" noting will again appear to be soundless.

I stood patiently behind some fellow cyclist and took a deep breath thundering through them when chances appear. That almost took half a gallon of my remaining strength attempting two to three stunts like that.

Geographically, I find the trail awesome and interesting. I noticed vast flat land on both sides, with thick bushes and lots of fallen dead trees. These creates the soggy pit soil when drainage was poor due to the flat topography. Among others, it also creates new species of moss and other green life taking refuge on the dead woods. Too bad I was not in the mood of taking pictures, it sure would turn out to be a nice one.

We arrived back to the PIW approaching from the North noticeably from the scenery of huge lakes and water lilies. The trail brought me back to Batu Dam trails. Nostalgic kejap bleh? I went straight on, fast while they have wider path and hammering the pedal when I knew that the end would be near. Didn't take the chance to slow down and enjoy the geography but perhaps a revisit would be nice.

Without any alert, I was caught by surprise when suddenly fellow front cyclist slowed down in abrupt when the trail disappear. There was only a huge water body with grass and red tapes as our path. What the heaven?! Do you mean we have to ride through or in that? Like an amphibian? I tailed the front riders cautiously, pedalling and splish-sploshing ourselves through for a few hundred meters at waist high water depth. It was fun and at the same time scary. Kot-kot la suddenly the Jaws of Death appear from beneath ka! Naya weiii...

It was a big relief when finally the submarine adventure was over. Phew! It also took away all the muds clogging the dérailleurs and drive trains. That was also cool. I push the pedal harder maintaining the momentum, drafting some guys and went pass them when they went out of gas. Jahat.

Alhamdulillah the ride ended after almost 2 hours covering 36 km of the Wetlands. Awesomeness.

Interesting jamboree

Flat out

Monday, December 9, 2013

Prezzy...superb suffer

This particular event is held every 2 years. Organiser need loads of time and planning in creating these super trails ensuring super torture and mega suffer for the participants. Whether us mountain bikers are becoming super suffer freaks or we are just plain boredom of the only weekend stuff to juggle around.

Like all other super hyped events in Malaysia, mountain bike events have become popular and signing up will require urgent assignment. However, the fee are still minimal unlike the hiking fee of all other sport events.

PCC Presidential Ride take turn between Kayuh Lasak. Just nice. Or else we'll be burning more calories and more muscles on year end.

This year's Prezy was held at a new venue, a fish farm at Jalan Sungai Lalang, Semenyih. Nice ambient.

With some teasers and trailers from Facebook about the trails, the sceneries, the holy cow climbs and inclines and super sweet downhills and single tracks, I already anticipate the gutsy feeling of sufferings like previous Prezies. After my crash, I had only a week to saddle up at which I was hoping that I could survive the challenge, suffer and regrets thrown in as well. Hence, no suspense required approaching the weekend.

That particular morning, we were at our usual pace to the venue...slow & late. Parking was ample and the ride to the starting line was casual. My only strategy was to push a bit harder at the first leg to avoid bottleneck congestion upon reaching the trail head. And of course to complete all the 4 stages. We have more than a thousand participants to squeeze into a single track. Talking about Sunday morning traffic.

As such, I picked up the laid trails from Baikbike as follows, together with my nonsense talk (senang nak citer):

It was all over Semenyih and it was green & scenic. I was so busted to take photos

Stage 1 – Black Mamba
A pure cross-country route with hardly any technical sections winding its way like a cobra up and down and left and right across mostly rubber and palm plantations.  Starts with 4km of tar and dirt roads to spread out the crowd but expect the usual jam when we hit the narrow trailhead. There will be the unavoidable hills so pace yourself and take it as a ‘warm up’ to prepare for the big one in the next stage. Approximately 11km. 70% canopied and all rideable. Expect to wet your shoes at the end of the loop but before that, enjoy an exhilarating downhill.
Legs were still fresh and spirit was up. I can't recall the actual trail condition since I was too busy enjoying the sweetness.

Stage 2 – The Bitch
This is where you’ll put your ‘warmed up’ muscles to good use. Highlight here is that climb that we call the Bitch but you will be rewarded with a fantastic downhill leading all the way down to a V dip with a stream at the bottom. Depending on weather conditions, the Bitch can very quickly burn you out on a hot sunny day as you will be riding to the highest peak of the entire ride. Caution on the long descent though, the initial part of which is peppered with deep water gullies that can trap and send you over the bars.  It narrows into a singletrack with a deep descent down to the stream. An unavoidable hike-a-bike here and riders are advised to exercise extreme caution here and after crossing the stream. You will be riding along a narrow ledge with a DEEP ravine on one side!  Approximately 12km and 40% canopied.
...this part of the trail also was in my state of blur but it was obvious that that so called the Bitch climb was not so bitchy due to the promising weather and awesome durian orchard trail. Still fun & enjoyable. Legs still holding on.

Roller coaster ride busting quads & calves. Sakit pinggang...!

Stage 3 – Enchanted Forest
Longest stage of the ride where you will find a bit of everything. Lots of fun singletracks and rolling hills cutting across rubber and palm plantations, orchards and secondary forest but highlight here would be the Enchanted Forest that closes this stage! You have to be there to appreciate the beauty of this part of Semenyih. And it’s here too where you will have a fantastic time blasting down and out of the Enchanted Forest. Approximately 17km and 60% canopied.

...the taxing have started creeping in with built-up miles and lactic acid & time accumulation in the legs and body. It was basically a chicken & egg situation. Should I have saved some legs for this later stages, I would have caught myself in the massive traffic jam earlier on. Or if I pushed myself, the risk of cramps and fatigue will sooner or later get me. I risk the later option. Ended up with a painful right quad at one of those steep climb. I can't barely stand and threw myself aside on the vegetation and let the pain subsides.

Hydration went out two-third into this stage. All 1.5 litres in the bladder. An hour without water. My mistake to skip rehydration at CP2. Again, I was thankful that the weather was great that made thirst at bay.
Stage 4 – Braveheart
The finale loop designed to test the toughest. It’s called Braveheart for a reason. This is where riders will have to deal with the ‘Kill Hill’, after 40km of slogging up and down the hills of Semenyih. We take our hats off to all who complete this last challenge. But you will be rewarded with one quick ‘best-in-the-world’ descent to the finish line. This is the stage where the boys/girls will be separated from the men/women! And remember to top up your water before entering the loop. Approximately 11km of enjoyable suffering!
...arrived at CP3 barely 15 minutes before the cut-off time. It was 12.15 p.m. and the weather was still great. Had the luxury of pushing High 5 Sambal Ikan Bilis down the throat and an explicit cold canned 100 plus treat from a friend. Thankful! 20 minutes later I was off to venture into Stage 4 unknowingly it would test my manhood.

The so called Kill Hill caught us by surprise when we thought that the first climb into Stage 4 was it. It was nothing suicidal back then, where the downhill section almost like bringing us back to the finish line. Just as we thought it was conquest & concurred, that view of bare slope with tiny people parading their bikes almost blew it off. The morals, spirit, legs, strength...all gone down to zero.

I can't afford another cramp attack in an attempt to cycle up these hill. Besides, it was obviously impossible to my standard plus all those weak muscles thrown in. These guys are assassins!

Turn after turn, the climb never end. I started hearing curses and bad jokes in the air. My gestimate that the distance was circa 1.5 km only but the vertical distance felt the same. Most of us can't accept the super steep gradient. It was hike bike & break for an hour. The so called 'best-in-the-world' descent to the finish line was nothing other than lame extras waiting for the remaining time for the body to shut down.

My creampie

It's been a while since I had this pain. It was all over. Almost similar to finishing a 26 miler. Almost like a Powerman. But the pure dirt treatment was unearthed and it was still awesome.