Kuantan Century Ride is back for the 3rd time. It's my 3rd attempt together. Just another cycling road trip as usual with small hopes of improving my previous record. Neither it is for me to boast results nor finisher medal on social media, nor asking people about their results and compare. I find that sickening.
Basically the ride was great, but however perfect our planning is, His planning is greater. We were stuck in the school break traffic for both days to Kuantan and back. Getting myself to the rendezvous point on Saturday afternoon took me 2 hours from Cheras to Ulu Klang. On our way back, the traffic jam started from Bentong Toll Plaza all the way to Gombak Toll Plaza.
My preparation for KCR160 2014 was pretty much a jigsaw puzzle. Joining up all the pieces with adhoc planning, Alhamdulillah it was a training program to survive the 100 miles challenge. Not to beat other people but to survive without murmuring regrets and pain.
With only a few long weekend rides including the Shah Alam Endurance Ride two weeks prior, a few of us hope that the training formula could bring us across the finishing line.
Looking at the route map, the loop is almost similar to the first KCR160. They gave us the rolling and climbs first and devastating killer flats for the remaining 100 kilometres. We only hope that the weather could be a bit kind on the second half of the ride.
Some of us from the group didn't quite make it to this year's starting line due to lack of training and work commitments. Only a handful were there hoping to make ends meet. We didn't quite have any plans to ride together since we don't the same strength and endurance. Hence, we latched ourselves to the best chosen peloton pace.
The controlled start pace and the initial rolling stage was pure self effort. I didn't quite get the legs to put in much strength as to finish the endless rolling through Feld Bukit Goh road. I assumed I was almost at the back of the 2000. Maybe 1500th-ish?
As soon the rolls end, the TUDM airport marked the beginning of the flattish hell. The key to survive this is to bite your way onto a huge peloton with a descend speed. You don't want to over-stress your legs by latching to ambitious group of cyclists whom would constantly attack the pace and ruin everybody in it.
By the time I reached the airport junction, there were only three of us and a huge peloton of more than 30 cyclists stood there constantly pedalling about 500 meters ahead. It was now or never. That was my target, to get into that group. But it was not easy, with only a few of us and the strong winds on the open road, the effort was so taxing.
There's a turning into the Pekan bound highway. That was the point break. If I don't placed myself inside that group, my days are done. Teeth gritting effort, I cast my longest line to get the hook secured before they make the turn. Alhamdulillah it was successful. The pace was averaging at 32 kph, but in a big group like this, it was cruising. The bigger the group, the bigger inertia energy we produce.
The peloton grew bigger as we passed by smaller groups along the way and surprisingly it managed to form no less than 50-60 people inside. It was huge. And I was smiling all the way skipping Water Station 2, feeling attached to the awesome peloton not wanting to miss the ride.
Hence, this is the beginning of a gruesome 100 kilometer ride. Flat routes zaps more if you don't regulate a good cadence and pace. You can't coast, you have to crank up to move forward. Your butt was in pain from hours on saddle without numb free stretching. The destination was Universiti Malaysia Pahang, located southward to Pekan, and it was a coastal scenery. The view was great, so was the weather. We rode the 60 over cyclist train charging the 40 km stretch to Pekan at 32 kph. It could be impossible to survive this distance alone or in a smaller group. Or maybe possible but it would be longer at slower pace. That would take too much effort. And you still have to concur the remaining 60 km back to Kuantan for that piece of metal.
The 3rd water station was inside UMP. I find the campus a bit barren and deserted. Perhaps it's newly built. It started to heat up and windy as well. The grim faces of cyclist across the road exiting the campus to continue cycling was not good. We had to stop for water and loosening the legs.
Medical tents were full with aching and cramped cyclists. Like battleground. The heat outside the tent was not welcoming either, but we had to move on. We had clocked 105 km and the remaining 55 km should be doable.
The earlier peloton had dispersed since we didn't had any plan to regroup. Besides we don't know each other, we just ride together. We had to form a new group. A few of us started slow, trying to create a group that hopefully could fuel our engine for the remaining of the distance. We were fortunate with smart cyclists around us, whom later able to form a big group again. The route back was tougher too, a wider and exposed road. Too bad it didn't last long. Halfway through, a handful of them decided to surge the pace. Perhaps they planned to chase the clock for a sub-5 hour timing. I did not bother to gauge my time, only to finish this. I let go and discreetly drifting in between solitary cyclists trying to latch to whatever group still exist.
My cadence was constant but not constant enough to maintain in the accelerating group. I chose to keep this cadence hoping not to trigger any muscle cramp which I felt tingling somewhere around the thighs and quads. The sign directed us back to Tanjung Lumpor which remains another 20 km. A fast calculation of the distance would take me another hour if I maintain the speed without any stop.
It was almost like a time trial mode, churning the crank at 30 kph, passing by cyclists and overtaken by others. It was an individual war for each of us. At one point, the pain was too unbearable. Both thighs were in so much pain, it seemed like the muscles were shrinking tightly. I had that discreet screaming face on for that. Even my toes were too numb and I don't have the slightest idea of my rescue plan. I slowed down the pace and let the pain subside before the last climb at the bridge before entering the town. The climb need to be attempted in deep coolness so as not to re-trigger the cramp.
Alhamdulillah the bridge attempt was the opposite from my first KCR which was too ugly while climbing it halfway, the quads decided to stiff. I rolled down the bridge, welcomed by the policeman manning that particular huge four cross and continued on with my constant speed across the finish line.