Monday, April 27, 2015

Lata Kekabu - Part 3

Rolling out..

My bike, parked at the motel lobby, ready to go!
A few hours of solid sleep was what I needed to recover from the previous day's ride from Ipoh to Sg Siput Utara. 
After a morning shower and making sure that everything was packed into my panniers, I began to roll the bike out to the motel lobby.
Khairul was tending to his own stuff while I took a walk at the main road.
The sky was dark and even in the early hours of the day, cars were seen speeding down the main road.
It was a Saturday morning and we were about to link up with a group of other cyclists who drove all the way from Kuala Lumpur.
Some got out as early as 2am and re-grouped at the Sungai Perak R&R halt after Ipoh.

Khairul spent nearly an hour setting up his bike
Barely minutes into our ride, the sky opened up on us.
We pulled over at a shoplot and waited for the rain to stop. As far as timing was concerned, we were way ahead of schedule.
The first order of the day was to locate the rendezvous point and we did just that.
En Suzali, the expedition leader had told us to meet up at a housing estate near the Kuala Kangsar resthouse.
We arrived there early and none of the group members were there.
So, the next thing in mind, was to fill up our stomachs.
There's a row of shops just a few hundred meters away and we settled at a Malay restaurant that serves nasi lemak.
While chowing down my meal, an elderly man asked if he could sit with us.
He struck a conversation with Khairul, who is quite a chatterbox and an inquisitive guy.
Later, I learned that he used to teach at my old primary school in Kuala Lumpur. When I entered standard one in 1976, he got transferred to another school. 
The man has retired ever since and is living the remnants of his day in Perak's Royal town.
He shared with us some of his experiences as a teacher before Malaya achieved its independence.
To sum it up, the man is a living treasure. 

A beautifully restored Malay house in Kuala Kangsar

We rode towards the RV point and came across the rest of the cyclists.
Everyone found a place to park their vehicles and began to assemble their bikes.
I noticed a few people in the group who became acquaintances on the social media. Some, I met for the first time.

The Road Warrior

The guys, posing for a shot
The bikes were ready, panniers mounted and prior to rolling out, En Suzali gave a short briefing and Abang Din, one of the older guys around recited Muslim prayers for a safe journey.
We rolled out towards some scenic places in Kuala Kangsar.
If it hadn't been for the bike, I wouldn't have seen so many places that I thought had never existed.
Suzali had the town on his palm because Kuala Kangsar is his hometown.

Cruising along Kuala Kangsar
A scenic view of the Perak river
He was quite thorough with the briefing and had three other guys sweeping the group.
We were shown around the area and later, led out of Kuala Kangsar to enter Karai, a small village at the outskirts of town.
From there, we were shown the Victoria bridge, a heritage site and rolled out towards Chegar Galah, one of the checkpoints along the route..

The Victoria bridge
By the time we've cleared the touristy area, the Sun was out in it's full glory.
Temperature rose to as high as 40C in mid day and we were still far from reaching the Sauk junction.
The heat and fatigue took a toll on one of the newcomers.
He was struggling with his bike and the guys who swept him from behind were very patient.
On a ride as such, with more than 18 people in the group, breaking up is bound to happen. The stronger riders are ahead and by the time they found a place to rest, the middle bunch catches up..

Resting while waiting for the rest to catch up
Late lunch
A welcoming meal
To the inexperienced rider, the first thing that would slow him down is the weight he is carrying.
It's never easy cycling along undulating terrain with gradients ranging from 3 - 10%.
This will be very challenging if you have only eight speed on your bike.
The more experienced tourer and bikecamper would have at least twice the gear ratio.
If the weight don't wear you out, it'll be the long and steep climbs.
So, it's never embarrassing to get down from your bike and push -- knowing that there are more hills ahead.
The worse ones are on the horizon, especially along the Chegar Galah - Sauk junction.
After clearing the hills, we found a place to cool off from the hot Sun and waited for the rest to regroup.
We had the comfort of knowing that the weakest link is being cared for.
So, after leaving Sauk, we rode along the Kuala Kangsar - Gerik expressway.
This leads to the Raja Muda Nazrin bridge that crosses the Tasik Raban water catchment area.
It's another 8km of undulating terrain before we could take a late lunch break and head to the campsite.
We were also informed that the sweeper and the last person was at least one and a half hours behind.
I didn't really felt like eating because my stomach was full of fluid. Re-hydration and cooling off the body was essential to prevent heat stroke,
Suzali had the decency to pack some food for the tail-enders while we made our way to the campsite which is another 3km from the place where we had lunch..

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