Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Riding the East Wind

This will be a quick and simple post. Nothing special. Just another ordinary weekend adding up miles to the legs. However, the weather was something extraordinary. Which brought a different perspective to our weekend group rides. Something that we cyclists would dreamt of.

We had super lovely weather for the last two weeks. It was over cast. Windy. Cold. Super chill in the morning and cosy cold late night. And not even a sudden burst of the solar wave reached the ground. 

I can still remember during our MFMC Tour when we experienced super windy days from all those three days on the coastal side. I presumed that it was the initial stage of the so called 'east wind' phenomena. A friend from Perlis told me that it is a yearly weather pattern up north during this time of year when the East Wind blew cold air from north east. Strong winds would blow through sugar cane fields creating a super scenic view. Even some cyclist friends would organised epic rides having a taste of these meteorological effects on two wheels. They call it the Kayuhan Angin Timur.

However, it felt strange here in Klang Valley when the east wind reached us. It didn't quite rain like it was in monsoon but the cold weather was different. Something that I have not experienced before in KL.

Base training continued for the following two weekends after the tour. A few of us have only started their season. They desperately needed to jump on the saddle and start spinning. We chose Bukit Jelutong to Kuala Selangor and back. The usual taxing route for super heat conditioning. With the current weather, it seemed promising for a great less tormenting ride.

Only four of us and that was ideal. We took the Guthrie Corridor and exited at Kuala Selangor. The trunk road that lead to Asam Jawa was superbly ridden. It was straight out and flat, perfect road condition and best of all was the welcoming temperature. The pace was also kept moderate for a more relaxing under the red zone.

Like any other typical weekend ride for a weekend warrior, we stick to the ride policy of "ride to eat and eat to ride". That's where almost all ride routes have a special place to eat or chill. Kuala Selangor pit stop would normally be at the Auntie Kopitiam. They served the standard kopitiam menu which works best for a cyclist that needs morning caffeine fix. The toast and half boiled eggs are traditional. I tried the curry mee, but I've tasted better.

So much about food, we rode back towards the busier road of Asam Jawa and Ijok for a brief hydration top up. Weather was still awesome. From Ijok it was a bit of rolling towards Sungai Buloh and back on Guthrie Corridor. Great ride with great pace and buddies.

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime. Teach a man to cycle and he will realize fishing is stupid and boring - Desmond Tutu

From the successful Kuala Selangor ride, we ventured for more cycling plans. A week after, we plan to brave the old Gombak Road. The famous cycling destination would be Bentong. Another group of friends were also attempting Bentong on the same day. There were almost 10 of us that morning from Gombak. 

Fellowship of the Bentong

Weather was still in the East-Wind mood. We expected that it would be colder than normal up at the peak of Genting Sempah. Most of our climbing pace was maintained at conversational pace. True it was, 18'C was read up at Genting Sempah. It was freezing. The mist was thicker. The wind was colder and wilder. It was not refreshing, but the crowd of cyclist grew bigger as we waited longer. 

We decided to continue down to Jalan Janda Baik, crossing the Selangor state boundary into Pahang. Some of us were a bit obnoxious about the Bentong idea after gauging from the initial Genting Sempah climb. A few turned back, bailing out due to health issues. Some detoured to Janda Baik. That left us with 7 to Bentong instead.

I found some difficulties descending those winding road from Janda Baik. It brought me the fright from previous crash. To make things worst, a motorbike overshot a corner and landed on the grass while the rider sat the pavement feeling confused. We helplessly cycled by, knowing that he should be alright while his fellow bikers rushed to the scene.

I was left to my own fright, making the brakes my best friend. Every turn was taken with too much cautious, causing me to lose ground. The group disappear into the foliage of the Gombak Road. Eventually I managed to catch up at the flatter stretch, much to a few friends' mercy.

Our simple breakfast at Najad was brief. The actual challenge was the climb back to Genting Sempah. For someone new to this route, the mental game would be the toughest game. For the rest, it  was just about finding the best cadence to last the climb. We played the second game, sticking close together saving some legs for the hardest push after Genting Sempah Rest Area. Maintaining the cadence flow and heart rate for that 30 kilometre long ascend.

It worked out well for the five of us. Ziff, Alwin, Fendi, Dicky and me triumphed together as if it was leisure. By the time we reached back Genting Sempah, we were still fresh.

Again, it didn't end quite well for me when the second hardest part was descending back to Gombak. I was holding every bit of my breath at every corner again, especially passing by the point of the dark history. I could not reach the slightest inch of confidence. It was disappointing. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

MFMC Tour - Day 3

It began to feel like waking up for work. Lazy. Beauty sleep was interrupted. But duty is duty. The mission have to move on. The Tour have made an appointment with Sekolah Kebangsaan Panglima Adnan, Port Dickson. The students have been waiting anxiously for us. 

We had the privilege meeting with the kids and teachers. Our rep did most of the talking and explaining about the mission and the importance of the awareness. It was almost 30 minutes. Looking at those faces in front of us, those innocent eyes, it started to make me feel blue. I missed my kids. The same kind of faces, an early morning fresh face with neat hair style, handsomely with a tie. Baru 3 hari der...

Bersama cikgu cikgi Sek. Keb. Panglima Adnan, Port Dickson
The students were excited when we started distributing flyers. More excitement when we gave out free car stickers to anyone with correct answers. Then followed by the compulsory photo session with students and teachers. The best welcoming gift for us was the delicious 'nasi lemak' at the school canteen. We had more talks with the teachers over breakfast, and like yesterday, we felt half heartedly leaving the nasi lemak... school behind.

Kelas 1 Biru
I missed my kids
It was almost 9.00 a.m., and the journey for today's mission is still long, unlike for Azmar and me. We shall depart from the tour on the first quarter of today's ride. We have other commitments. As a token of gratitude for their fellowship, Azmar and me paced them from Port Dickson to Sepang. 

The hills of Bukit Pelandok was the usual strength puller. Weather was slightly hot this morning and it was still windy. With fresh legs we soldiered on towards Sepang for our first regroup point.

We exchanged farewell and bid good luck for the rest of the team. The fellowship and camaraderie for two days had us blend together with the sweet and bitter moments logging miles from Johor Bahru. It was sad to depart but the mission had to move on. The awaiting miles for the the tourers are simply extraordinary with more challenging routes to tackle.

Azmar and me had our backpacks back on from the support vehicle and made our way back onto familiar territories. The Sepang, LBJ stretch and onto Jenderam Hilir. Weather had started taxing us and the backpacks is not a good idea for future cycling tour. We ended our ride in Putrajaya. The following two days were recovery for this old goat and I can't stop feeding myself for a few more days. Ada bela ke ni...?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MFMC Tour - Day 2

As if I was strapped to the bed trying to wake up on the second day of the tour. I overslept and had a narrow window for the loo and breakfast. Most of us had problem adjusting to the schedule after a taxing day before. We left Batu Pahat that morning a bit late. It was 9.00 a.m., but nothing bothered us since it will  be a long day on the saddle.

GDC riders rode back to JB that morning, which left the 12 of us to continue towards the north. Weather was elegantly splendid. Not a sip of sunlight. It was overcast and cooling. We prayed that it will stay that way throughout the day. 

It was many years ago when I last travelled through this part of Batu Pahat. That was before the launch of the North-South Expressway, I thing around the 1980's. Especially this particular stretch from Batu Pahat where our family would travel on Hari Raya and school breaks to my dad's home town in Muar. The only landmark or gauge that I could identify during my elementary days will be no other than the hundreds of PARITs. These are vegetated drainage channels, built ages ago. I think due to Muar's flat geographical location, these structures used to avoid floods and tides from the coast line. 

Day 2 - The Three States In A Go
Parit Yusof, Parti Bakar, Parit Jawa, Parit Keroma and Parit Sakai are among the ones that I can still remember. Also my favourites places to catch the fighting fish. But now, approaching Muar via Jalan Temenggong Ahmad, we can only find more 'Taman' instead of 'Parit'. By bicycle today, I can venture myself back down memory lane admiring what was left of the 'Parit's.

It is a 55 kilometre stretch off-the-beaten-track. What used to be a trunk road connecting these two major towns, now only serve the locals. The road was nice, shady and cooling and lack of traffic. Once in a while, cooling strong wind would blow us away awaken from our day dreams. We took turn pacing the 12 of us in a single file train. Kampung by kampung we passed. Parit by parit. 

By now, I started to get to know a few of the new friends besides Kicok, Kepet, Ipin, Panglima, Afiq, Awi and Toing. They were Awe the DIY guy, Raffi the GDC member and Yen with his legendary Proton T-Sprint Carbon. Then there were also Mattop, Achap and Ieow as our trusted logistics. And of course Didique the awesome cameraman.

We had an unscheduled stop at Sekolah Kebangsaan Parit Pechah when we saw the students were having their morning assembly. The teachers were kind enough to welcome our out-reached and wish us good luck.

Our first out-reach at Sek. Keb. Parit Pechah
It was a no-stop at Muar due to the busy streets and we picked the most historical spot for a group photo, no other than at the top of the Muar Bridge. Then it was a pit-stop at Tanjung Agas before we continued our way into the historical state of Malacca.

Kepet led the way from Sungai Rambai to Merlimau and Umbai towards Malacca Town. We had a treat of awesome 'asam pedas' Melaka for lunch at Kedai Kopi Haji Husin, his brother's stall in Peringgit area. And the dilemma started creeping in after a belly load of 'asam pedas' and heavy eyes in the mid-afternoon weather.
Muor or also known as Bandar Maharani
Johore-Malacca Border. One more to go
Asam Pedas Peringgit, Malacca
We dragged ourselves away from the lunch table, crawling towards our bikes and half heartedly leaving Kedai Kopi Haji Husin. It was only 95 kilometres and we have yet another 70 to go. And half of the day have already gone.

The next stretch of feat will be the Pantai Klebang and Tanjung Kling. Kepet suggested a local favourite coconut shake at Klebang. Too bad, the queue was long. We had no time. I haven't the slightest joy of wanting to view the sea when we passed by Tanjung Kling. It was windy for sure.

Then, the road starts rolling as we approach Sungai Udang. This was where the strength game started playing again, just like yesterday. We got separated when I saw Kepet was struggling up some climbs. I decided to pace him. However, it didn't quite work out for me either. Due to the slow spin up inclines, my quads started to protest too. Painful cramp attacks occurred twice up two climbs. I am fortunate to have Kepet, Afiq and Ipin with me. We shared some nonsense jokes served with a packet of sweet jackfruit while the pain subsides. That was at the highest peak near the Sungai Udang Forest Reserve. Lucky la it was cooling from the forest.

Kepet decided to take a detour towards Tanjung Bidara road for a quick visit at his school. While we were at it, an interested lady caught our peloton and started interviewing. And another out-reach achieved. Alhamdulillah.

The route from Tanjung Bidara via Kuala Sungai Baru and Kuala Linggi took us back to the coastal side. The sun began to set. The whole picture of Pengkalan Balak turned orange. If only I had my touring bike, the pace would be slower allowing me to indulge into the beautiful creation.

Again the peloton split up. And yet again the 'splinters' not sprinters, were left with our own camaraderie. However, we noticed that Kuala Linggi, is the border between Malacca and Negeri Sembilan. And that is a good sign. Teluk Kemang, our destination for the day is 20 kilometres away. Until then, it was like riding on familiar ground. We passed by Eagle Ranch and Tiara Beach Resort and the cranking was more energetic. We picked up Achap along the way who seemed struggling and paced each other till the end. Mattop was the usual car pacer too. It was almost dark at 6.30 p.m. I was starving and I need replenishment ASAP. After solat, we dug in for an early dinner or should I call it late tea.

It rained during the night. How fortunate. Dined for the second time (pardon me for the appetite) below our hotel and pampered this fatigue body to bed. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

MFMC Tour - Day 1

First of all, the followings are mostly personal stuff and personal encounters that I've experience throughout my outing with these good souls on their good quest. So, most of my writings does not represent any of their organisations. It is just a plain sharing notes that Insyaa Allah we hope could also put across the message.

I volunteered to join this tour, in support for fellow friends that have created the Mission For Missing Children (MFMC) group. This is their big awareness campaign among others. And it's kind of doable to join considering some logistics issues which seems to me to be feasible. They started from Woodlands, which is only a haul away from my mom's place. And I planned only to ride with them until the third day, which is up to Kuala Lumpur Stage.

From our hectic Friday at work, we only managed to leave KL late evening. Traffic was bad from the long weekend break, hence adding more challenge and only to arrive in JB at 2.30 a.m. Hitting the sack that late, we prayed that the Day-1 ride will be OK.

MFMC Tour Day 1 - Woodlands to Batu Pahat

I skipped the plan to enter Singapore in the early morning and reverted to meet them in JB soil instead. The official flag-off venue was at a Nur Ikhsan Trading, a local bike shop in Taman Perling whom decided to chip in their support for the tour. Some local medias were also around to get coverage of the mission tour. 

Another local cycling group, Golden Dream Cycling was also there with up to about 20 members decided to join the first day ride all the way to Batu Pahat. It was great to meet up with some old friends from the South.

South Park Gang still can smirk small smiles
Do some work for the peloton...konon. Pic by Didique
Weather was pretty much sunny and we didn't expect that the route will put up a great challenge. The planned route was to take all west coast road up to the north. Hence, from JB we headed westerly towards the coastal town of Pontian.

Upon reaching the west coast line JKR Route 5, we were straight away greeted with great propulsion of wind gush. Headwinds mostly. And it was not easy. A cyclist's nightmare. Besides scorching sun, steep long climbs and daredevil descends. It may seemed like there's too many nightmares but you can't find an ideal hobby. It comes with a tax.

Hot and windy. The almost straight and flat Route 5 led us for almost 65 kilometres along the southern west coast of the Peninsular. There were mostly patches of kampung houses, small scale industry yards and palm oil plantations. Not quite a picturesque route but it was interesting for a different kind of perspective besides the normal weekend cycling roads.

The angels are the stalls and sundry shops along the way. The fruit stalls selling pulasan. We skipped that. Sundry shop with dried salty fish on a bench. We checked in for a bottle of sugar replenishment and a durian flavoured ice cream. The last one was the crowd puller. I think it was the most ideal location for a sugar-cane juice stall in the district of Batu Pahat at the correct time. That was before we break for lunch at Restoran Nasi Ayam Ali in Rengit, Batu Pahat. The all time favourite was Nasi Ayam Sambal, but we can't afford to indulge due to bloat and over thirst.

One of the Raptors
Soul savior. Rengit Most Wanted
Right after lunch, it was the hottest part of the day. And the wind went away, leaving everything static like the old town of O.K. Corral (these should come together with the OST and the sound of an eagle in the background).

As we leave the discreet place, we were straight away welcomed with a rolling path. Ups and downs, plunging the ever fatigue quads and calves. With the afternoon heat thrown in and the fume from busier streets, we were like zombies on wheels. The end is nearing but the cramps and fatigues crept in at most of the members creating killing fields along the road. The taste of plain or mineral drinks can no more quench our thirsts. Coke and 100 Plus will just adds up to the bloating belly.

It was 115 kilometres in total but the torment was like a century. Reaching the hotel in Batu Pahat at almost 6.00 p.m. and we were just in time to clean ourselves for dinner before the body starts showing signs of shutting down.

I have to be honest, the men of the day and the biggest applause have to be given to the 4X4 Raptor Team. They are the JB's 4X4 Club whom have taken the oath of escorting, supporting and marshalling our first day tour. They have handsomely done their job miraculously with a FIVE thumbs up from me. You guys are awesome.

Thumbs Up to The Raptors
I barely move a muscle right after dinner once it was time for hibernation. The body were craving for a good rest and the day to come will be another test. Some new friends were made today, hopefully a fellowship will be created soon.

Day 1 via JKR Route 5

Friday, January 3, 2014

Something For A Reason

Hey! Let's start the year with something cycling to your favourite FOOD joint. Nasi lemak ikan semilang Lenggeng Most Wanted was on the menu for our first ride of 2014. Sihat nya la haiii...well at least there's something to look forward to. I don't celebrate new year with parties & such, but being thankful & praise to Him is just another way for being given the chance to live another day or another year. So, don't stop praising & stay out of bad stuff.

Check out their links
In the next short while into January, I have some cycling plans already. In a week time, I'll be participating in an awareness campaign ride. The Mission For Missing Children tour ride this weekend, 11-17 January 2014. The tour will take campaigners from Singapore to Hatyai, Thailand via the west coast road of Peninsular Malaysia.

These enthusiast cyclists are among our friends, athletes, triathletes, weekend warriors whom have the feeling that kids/children are gems that are given to us. Gems that should not be neglected. Gems that should not be taken for granted by our selfishness nor carelessness. These fellow people are attempting this campaign to make the world & especially our own country a safe place for kids.

Details of each route for each day as follows:

Day 1 - 11th January 2014 (Sat)
Woodlands to Batu Pahat (via Pontian)

Day 2 - 12th January 2014 (Sun)
Batu Pahat to Teluk Kemang (via Kuala Sungai Baru)

Day 3 - 13th January 2014 (Mon)
Teluk Kemang to Kuala Selangor (via Morib)
School visit: Sekolah Kebangsaan Teluk Kemang (tentative)

Day 4 - 14th January 2014 (Tue)
Kuala Selangor to Sitiawan (via Hutan Melintang)

Day 5 - 15th January 2014 (Wed)
Sitiawan to Semanggol (via Changkat Jering)
School visit: Sekolah Kebangsaan Simpang Empat, Sitiawan (tentative)

Day 6 - 16th January 2014 (Thur)
Semanggol to Bukit Kayu Hitam (via Guar Cempedak)

Day 7 - 17th January 2014 (Fri)
Bukit Kayu Hitam to Hatyai
School visit: Sekolah Kebangsaan Bukit Kayu Hitam (tentative)

Total distance ard 979km or 1100km.

They will be distributing flyers, car stickers and other campaign stuffs throughout this journey. Targeting public places, schools, food stalls or whatever places that can be reached. This is a self funded tour, hence we'll be keeping our budget low at the moment.

Oh! I will only joining them for the first three days, that's all I can afford to support these angels. Insyaa Allah with good purpose, may all with smooth sailing (cycling).

If you're around the area, drop by to say Hi!