Monday, September 12, 2011

CFAL3 part 02

Preparing our ride tags on the big day...
The guru was right. Bad weather forecasted over the next few days in Penang.
As early as 2am in the morning, the sky was pouring down. We can hear water droplets hitting the roofs.
I was up as early as 5am and prepared our breakfast.
The sandwich was good, bananas even better.
While pushing our bikes to the exit of the Inn, I saw Patrick and his wife.
There were black coffee and that was just perfect.
I made small talk with the couple who came from Singapore with their souped-up Flamingo bikes.
Rain or no rain, by 6.45am, we were out on the road.
Old and new friends: Michelle, CS Wee, Ronnie Soon and DC Ong

The crowd was pouring in to the Esplanade
At the entrance of the Esplanade, I met Le Run's Ruey Chan and Chanson Lau.
They were setting up for the show and Ruey had explained to me about the Jetstream P8's coil shock and the new fork.
He said it was a dispute between Dahon US and China and cost issues were raised.
We cycled to the foyer of the Esplanade and met up with CS Wee, DC Ong and Ronnie Soon.
Mr Wee is an old kaki who lives in Butterworth and Kota Kemuning. 
At his age, he is one of the fittest folding bike rider I've ever known.
DC and Ron, on the other hand, are fairly new in the scene.
It was pouring the morning and we were not so enthusiastic about the prospect of getting soaked in the rain.
While the MC was babbling away, one dude came up to ask for a spare helmet.
I think he had stones in his head as the policy was: No helmet, no ride.
As soon as Chief Minister Lim was done with the speech, the ride was flagged off.
We made our way to Lebuh Weld towards the Jelutong Expressway.
I must say that the first 15km of the ride was agonizing.
It just poured and poured.
Water got into my eyes and the crap flung by mountain bike tires didn't helped either.
Many cyclists had made a detour and took shelter in petrol stations.
Some roadies had the advantage of catching up with their speed and stamina.
For me, the strategy was to conserve as much energy as possible to tackle the 5km climb to Balik Pulau and another long climb in Teluk Bahang.
A soggy affair: Riding the Kampung Pulau Betong stretch
Well, believe it or not, cycling in the rain actually helped in fighting dehydration.
But if your electrolyte levels are depleted, you are in for big trouble.
In all that rush, I forgot to pack my Hammer Endurolytes and Recoverite supplements. Bad call.
My water bottle was untouched.
But when I reached the first water station near the climb towards Balik Pulau, my calves began to feel the strain.
I had a 'near cramp' experience.
The first water station was also a sight to behold. Cyclists simply litter around the place.
Riding in front of me, there was a fat woman who flung her water bottle.
The first climb was towards Balik Pulau.
After enduring sessions of climbs at Hulu Langat and Bentong, it was no big deal for Michelle and me.
She was ahead most of the time.
I kept my cadence at 66rpm and my moving speed was 12km/h.
Slowly but surely, I made my way to the top of the climb and rolled downhill towards a part of Penang which is totally alien to me.
Beginning a climb..
At one stage of the ride, my LED module fell off.
I went back to pick it up and fixed my Nite Ize vest.
Then, out of nowhere, came this dude who had no helmet. Earlier he went on stage to ask for one.
And there, right before my eyes, he lashed out: "Why you carry water? You kiasu ah? Kiasi ah? What a waste, you shouldn't carry water, there are water stations everywhere..."
I sensed that something was wrong as he took out a steel flask from his backpack and from his tone, this retard is not in the right frame of mind.
I excused myself and resumed the ride towards Titi Kerawang...

Taking a breather at the Titi Kerawang climb

The pack ascending towards the peak
We began a slow climb after hitting the 30km mark.
At this point, its all about endurance and stamina. My DD2 drivetrain was set at the lowest gear and with a steady cadence of 66rpm, I crancked my bike towards a series of gradual slopes.
I didn't feel tired or needed to stop to catch my breath. My heart rate was steady as I controlled my breathing during the ascent towards Titi Kerawang.
Michelle and her Jetstream P8 was far ahead. 
I kept a steady pace and overtook many larger bikes during the climb.
After 5km of cycling uphill, I finally caught up with my wife who was waiting for me.
I've got to say that I was not in the best of shape due to the lack of rest after a long journey back from Manchuria.
The Jetstreamer: Michelle, rolling downhill towards Teluk Bahang
After the climb, we began the downhill roll.
For this, I am thankful for my Schwalbe Marathon Supreme tires, German A Kilo Forks and the Suntour rear shock absorber.
The full suspension Jetstream yielded excellent road holding as my bike took on the corners without wobbling out of control.
When it comes to the hills, the Jetstreams are as good as it gets.
From Teluk Bahang, its another ride on undulating terrain towards Batu Ferringi, Tanjung Bunga and hitting home-run towards Gurney Drive.
With 15km left on the course, I was pretty upbeat on completing the ride.
It took us 4hours 35minutes to reach the finish line.
We meet DC, Ronnie and Mr Wee at the same place before flag off.
Michelle said she was glad to have completed the ride.
One of Storm Riders guru, when met later, was skeptical about her achievement.
He thought she couldn't have made it.
I would attribute this to our endurance ride where we had done a few century rides in a day.
Claiming the medal was a proud moment in our lives. We made it with our small wheels and would live to tell about it.
A photo-session with the famed Storm Riders at the Esplanade
We chilled out at the fair grounds and I had the opportunity to meet up with R-K Jeff, another Dahon folding bike rider.
I've been following Jeff's ride especially the trip up to Fraser's Hill.
Jeff greeted me along the course when he rode his Dahon Dash P-18.
I also made some small-talk with one of the Storm Riders - Alvin who ride his 3x8 Birdy to the CFAL03. This dude is one of the fittest of the lot.
Mission accomplished: Team Jetstream with their CFAL medals
Completing the CFAL3 ride had inspired me to do more tours of the North. The only question that remained, is finding time.
Michelle would be very busy in the months to come as she prepares for her working trips abroad.
At the CFAL ride, I also met a lot of new friends, mostly folding bike cyclists.
Next up: OCBC Cycle Malaysia and see you there!

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