Monday, August 27, 2012

Full-throttle!

Last set before the big event..
Two more weeks to go for the Penang round-island ride.
Michelle and I had been training for this on our weekends. We ride out at the Hulu Langat course to build our strength and stamina for the 82-km ride and we are pretty confident of completing the ride within the five-hour time limit.
So far, things are looking up. 
I am happy with my performance at the three courses set at distances covering 40km each loop.
The ride on last Sunday was different.
I had the day off and had set out on a non-stop ride to cover a distance of 53km.
The plan was to ride from Pekan Bt 18 > Genting Peras > Hulu Langat Dam > Pekan Bt 18.

Overtaken by the team
 Riding with the team
Our Starmetro cycling team captain Kevin Tan had sent out a message the night before.
He suggested for the team to meet up at Pekan Bt 18 at 7:30am and ride off towards the Kuala Kelawang/Semenyih junction.
Similarly, another group of cyclists were riding there too.
Most of them were folding bike cyclists led by an old-timer.
After setting up the bike, I wasted no time in riding out towards Sg Lui.
But I had forgotten to push the start button my Garmin EDGE800 GPS and lost about 25-minutes of ride data.
There were six other people in the training ride. Three from The Star and three other cyclists who were friends of our Assistant Chief photographer Glenn Guan.
Making a comeback after a month's break was our team rider Ehfan Shah.
Glenn and Ehfan were cycling the Polygon Helios 500 bikes, our official ride for team Starmetro.
Most of the riders overtook me at km7 on the route leading to 'Dead Man's Climb'. My buddy Billy Baharuddin named this long climb (7.5% gradient) after an elderly cyclist was found dead there a couple of months ago.

Dead Man's climb
No stopping
The last 800metres was a slow and long climb with 8% gradient.
This is where it gets really technical and if you are not experienced, chances are, you might tire yourself out on the last 100 metres.
For me, I was just getting warmed-up.
The plan was to make a hard left and start climbing for a further 10km to Genting Peras.
While climbing, I spotted the team near the signboard. I managed to capture a few shots before turning towards the climb.
My plan was simple: ride towards Genting Peras, set the lap on the course and turn back towards the Hulu Langat Dam.
I told the team Captain about this. But he must have forgotten about it.

Reaching the junction
The team and their friends
Ten kilometres of pain
Using the lowest gear, I slowly crunched my way up to Genting Peras.
Its a constant climb with gradients ranging from 2.5 - 8% and while working my way on the long slope, I saw an old friend rolling down.
Then, one by one came in plain sight. They were from a folding bike group.
Its funny how people change when they choose to ride with their preferred group.
I waved at one of the lead riders on China-made Dahon whom I knew and met a year ago. This guy just rode on and went about his business. Well, fuck him! 
My priority lies with the team, not making friends and rekindling old contacts on the course.
Slowly, as I reached the Genting Peras signboard and border marker in Negeri Sembilan, I made a quick turn to roll back towards the Hulu Langat Dam.
I was feeling good about this and had burned off my simple breakfast.

Turning back from the Dam
 I rode solo towards the Dam and before reaching the signboard at Bukit Hantu, I saw the same guys from the folding bike group. 
As courtesty, I waved at them and greeted their leader.
An old buddy who rode with me from Rawang to Sekinchan was among the group. Seems kind of strange that the same people he ran down is now his riding partners. Must had 'jumped ship' or he needed to widen his social circle..
I knew I had to get back to Pekan Bt18 before noon to re-group with the team. They rode back instead of taking the full course.

The ride map
 Completing the ride
The Dam is what most people would dread.
Long slope with a constant steep gradient.
But this is really good in building up the upper and lower leg muscles.
I didn't feel any strain and as a matter of fact, the good night's sleep did help.
Just a week earlier in Bentong, I was completely bonked.
With another 4km to go, Ehfan and Kevin and set out on their car to locate me.
I encountered them and reminded Kevin that I had told him earlier about riding the full 53km loop.
I did this non-stop with a timing of 3hours 11minutes and was amazed that I could still stand up straight despite a strain on my butt.
Penang is just around the corner and we couldn't afford to get picked up by the lorries for failing to complete the ride. 
At least the ride in Hulu Langat gave me some assurance that I could do it.
This was the last training ride before the event on Sept 9. 
We will resume training in October for OCBC Cycle Malaysia in January.

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