Tuesday, September 27, 2011

PIPR Series 11 - Part 2

When the going gets tough
By mid-day many cyclists have dropped out. 
I guess the heat or exhaustion must have got to them. From the horse ranch, it was a downhill roll towards the wetlands.
My Garmin EDGE800 GPS read 62km/h during the roll. This was quite fast as I overtook some larger bikes.
Right ahead of me were an elderly couple. 
They were riding a red Dahon Speed P8 and an Ori folding bike.
On the way to the wetlands, I caught up with Col Azudin. 
He is part of the Putrajaya Urban Riders who have added Brompton folding bikes to their collection.
These are very active cyclists who ride regularly at Putrajaya.
Azudin told me that he was planning for a ride in Malacca.

A fixie at the course
One good call on this ride is bringing along my Jetstream EX.
Just as we exited a tunnel towards the Wetlands, I saw a dude falling off his bike.
The German A suspension and Suntour rear shock took most of the punishment.
Along the way, I saw a lady being tended by a group of Paramedics.
Apparently, DC Ong told me that she collapsed while cycling uphill.
This added to the casualty list. 
One thing that the organizers must take note is the fact that there was a large number of newbies on the ride.
Many, who were uninitiated to the terrain and course would find themselves in a jam. 
After exiting the tunnel, came a stretch where the ride was super bumpy.
I saw many cyclists getting off their bikes to push while a few suffered cramps.
The ray of hope was the Prime Minister's office.
This marks the last stretch of the ride towards the fairground
Me, riding toward the last section
Reaching the finish line...
The last kilometer wasn't that bad.
I reached the main tent and by the time I got there, Billy and his kid was on his way home.
They've completed 20km which was quite a remarkable achievement.
While taking a break, I engaged in a conversation with another foldie dude on his Red Dahon Speed P8. He just got this bike recently for an exercise regime.
The elderly couple whom I met along the way were also there. 
They were admiring my Topeak phat stand and complemented the Jetstream.
I guess a full-suspension foldie was something out of the ordinary at the PIPR.

As an experienced cyclists, I must say that the course was unsuitable for newbies.
Their sheer numbers indicated that the PIPR is getting very popular.
Thanks to ample publicity and the word of mouth.
Most promising is the makan and I must say that I had thoroughly enjoyed myself.
My fitness level was not at its optimum, which means I have to train even more.
No issues with most of the steep and long climbs, only on two occasions that I got down to push cos the gradient was really nuts. I hope to continue cycling at the PIPR and look forward to the New Year's eve night ride if they are organizing it....

PIPR Series 11 Part 1

Zark and his kid
Another one for the road..
The 11th PIPR ride in Putrajaya was one tough ride -- for newbies that is.
The course designers must have been a bunch of sadistic guys who loves to crunch gears and climb.

At the starting grid
Anyways, I met my buddy Billy and his kid at the fair grounds. They arrived at 7:45am and
were cycling for the first time in such an event.
This was a 30km route that cried out: "Hills! Hills! Hills!"
Co-incidentally, there were a few events on the same day.
A more prominent ride was the Sime Darby Leukemia cycling event where participants had to pay RM50 to ride 100km around Putrajaya.
I opt for the PIPR ride because of the familiar faces.
From the Masjid Putra, I rode about 3km to the fairgrounds to register and collect my meal ticket.
This time round, free T-shirts were given. I didn't bother.
During the registration, I met up with DC Ong, Ronnie Soon and Mr Chan, a group of regular folding bike kakis.

Life is unfolding
Unlike previous PIPR events, the number of foldies are growing.
I met Wey Pang and Ming who told me that previously, they were the only foldies around.
The number had grown ten-folds as more and more foldies are actively participating in the event.
This also includes some newbies, the regulars, team Storm Riders, customers from Folding Bike Trading and the Putrajaya Urban Riders.

Old friends: Wey and Ming climbing
The hillibillies
I knew that the very moment that Taman Rimba was mentioned, it spelt a certain doom for the unitiated.
This was the same place where we were led to in one of the rides covering some exotic jungle plants.
The course was hilly with plenty of steep climbs.
We rolled out from the starting grid near the MOF and veered right. 
There was a gradual climb and I was keeping an eye on Billy's kid. This meant a slow ride and while I was climbing behind a big-sized dude on his MTB, the guy made a sudden stop.
I banged into his rear wheel and got off my Dahon Jetstream.
With no momentum to climb, I was dead on the water.
So, its push and ride.
Lucky for me, I didn't fall or injure myself.
Since Billy and his kid were newbies, we were right behind the flock.
I kept my speed at 11km/h so that I can keep an eye on his kid who had just taken up cycling about a week.
Progress was slow as we were the last batch of cyclist to arrive at Precinct 14.
There, we re-grouped with the rest and proceeded to another hilly course.

Compared to previous PIPR rides, this one had the most casualties.
There was a steep roll and many cyclists were so scared, they got down to push their bikes.
While I was assessing the roll, a couple of mounties said: "Eh, rugi la.. rugi!!!"
What these guys meant was getting down to push.
Obviously, they were adrenaline junkies who went "swoosh!" without stopping.
Anne, my collegue Andrew Sia's friend who was right behind me asked: "Are you going to zip down the slope?"
Well, that was my cue.
I had a full-suspension bike with the best disk brakes money can buy.
A voice in my head said: "Fuck it! Lets rock and roll!"
And there I was, zipping downhill at 60km/h without blinking an eye.
The front and rear shocks did their job by reducing the bumps and vibration.
My Ashima disk brakes were solid.

Whatever that goes down must come up
After a steep roll, it was time to climb again. At this point, many cyclists had either dropped out or continued with the ride.
I made my way to a horse ranch where most of the cyclist were waiting to get their dose of bananas, bread and refreshment. By this time of the day, the sun was up. It was also getting really hot. I re-grouped with Guan, a musical composer who rides to work, Scuba Sim, some diver dude who rode a strange-looking recumbent, Alvin - from team Stormrider, my colleague Andrew - who rode work on World Car Free Day, with his partner Anne, Will, the bank employee I met at the OCBC training ride and Mr Chan, owner of a Dahon Speed P8 with all the bells and whistles for touring....

Thursday, September 22, 2011

World Car Free Day ride

Cycling on the Federal Highway Bike Lane 
Prior arrangements were made yesterday on the World Car Free Day ride.
My route was planned as a loop from USJ26 to Section 16 in Petaling Jaya.
This was for an article written by my colleague Andrew Sia who wanted to highlight about people who cycle to work.
Well, I don't do that at all, but felt obliged to take my Dahon Jetstream out for a spin as well as get back in shape for future rides.

The route
Michelle and I had cycled to KL City Centre before on the Federal Highway motorbike lane.
From our home, we took the LDP and crossed over to USJ 19.
Today, I took the back roads by riding up the flyover on the LDP and making a sharp left towards USJ 20.
From there, I cycled towards USJ 1 near the Summit and made a turn towards USJ 3.
This route has less slopes as its pretty flat. 
Saves time instead of climbing the long slopes in USJ 12 and 13 towards USJ 4.
From the edge of Persiaran Tujuan (This is a busy road with a reputation for some nasty accidents) I made my way to SS 19 and rolled down towards the Federal Highway motorcycle lane.
The night before, I received a call from my buddy Low Boon Tat, who is also a staff photographer to arrange the photoshoot.
Since it rained a bit, I was about 15-minutes late.
Boon Tat was waiting at the motorcycle exit lane near the Samsung Service Centre.
He climbed over the pedestrian bridge to get a clean shot of me cycling on the bike lane.
After the photoshoot was concluded, we made our way to an Indian restaurant in Jalan 223 for breakfast.
The food at Krishna Curry house was horrendous. I had a burnt roti telur for breakfast, which I finished only a portion.
We talked about the Star cycling team and the OCBC Cycling Malaysia ride next month and how to make the most out of the sponsorship.

Arrival at Section 16
After leaving Jalan 223, I made my way to Section 14, then towards Jalan Abu Bakar in Section 16. The ride was smooth as I begin my gradual climb towards the traffic light leading to Section 17. 
The ride wasn't so bad as I had imagined. It was a lot worse if you cycle from Section 16 towards Jalan Universiti.
As I was approaching Phileo Damansara, I spotted Andrew who was riding his month-old Dahon Mu P8.
He told me he had plenty of issues with the bike. A loose telescopic handlebar was one of the main problems.
Andrew was having his picture taken by photographer Shamsul and another intern.
I rode off towards Menara Star and parked my bike at the driveway. 
While waiting for my colleague and fellow foldie, a few staff from the office walked past.
One of them asked: "Eh bradder, ini basikal free ke?" (Is this a free bike?). 
I don't know what compelled him to say that. Maybe its his freeloading spree that initiated the question.
I told the guy: "Dalam dunia, mana ada barang free bang!" (The is no such thing as 'free').
Moments later, my friend arrived. He parked his bike and asked for a photo session. 
I was reluctant to oblige because so many shots were taken.
From experience, only one would make it to the main page. Or none.
I guess Andrew has plans for a feature article on cycling to work.
On that topic I suggested Ng Sek San, Ng Chor Guan and a dude in Phileo 2 who cycles to work.

A cheap plug for Chevrolet
The general reaction
Most people did not believe that I have cycled for 28km from my house in Subang Jaya to Menara Star.
"Hah? You cycled to the office? How come?," asked a co-worker.
"Today is Car Free Day mah.....," I responded.
At the office, I caught up with my colleagues, downloaded some shots of the ride from Boon Tat.
Then, I rode off to Damansara Kim for lunch with Andrew. We continued to talk about cycling at a fish head noodles shop.
Among the topics were the Jungle Railway ride organised by Pauline Lee.
I can't make it for this one as I've exhausted my leave for this month.
But I did told Andrew about working with bikepacking guru TT Siang about cycling in Northern Thailand.

A new trick
Since the Garmin EDGE800 GPS on my handlebar was meant for touring, I learned that if you switched off the unit, you paused it. All the information is recorded. A hard reset means you wipe out all the data.
But when you switch it on again, you get the stored information. I lost at least 5 - 8km of distance by leaving the set on without 're-starting' the trip timer.
This is a useful lesson learned. Which means that I can track my long-distance ride in a continuous loop.

The journey home
After a hearty meal, it was time to part ways. 
Andrew was headed home in Bandar Utama. He would continue to carry on with his work.
From Damansara Kim, I rode towards the LDP.
I cycled towards SS3 and Sungai Way where I made my way across the Motorola bridge and joined back the Federal Highway motorcycle lane.
This is a shorter and safer route towards SS13 in Subang Jaya.
At SS13, its a long ride towards Summit USJ. Home run is in sight.
I made my way towards Persiaran Kewajipan and continued towards the LDP.
By 2.30pm, I was home. Mission accomplished. That's no car for a whole day! 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Mirrorless-camera war

Hot from the oven: the Nikon V1
Nikon camera had entered the 'mirrorless' camera race with two models: The J-1 and V-1.
This is hot off the Press as the Japanese photography giant became the latest manufacturer to introduce their latest range of products to cater to the 'lifestyle and expressive' crowd.
Leading the pack is Olympus with their EP or Pen-series cameras followed by Panasonic, Sony, Samsung and Pentax.
The J-1: appealing to a younger crowd

Cateye Econom HL-EL540

Cateye's latest headlight - the HL-EL540
I've been a big fan of Cateye cycling products and so far, their goods have never failed to impress me. 
Well, with the exception of Michelle's bad luck on one of their products, everything seems fine.
We've done some night riding with the Cateye headlights and have plenty of confidence in them.
Right now, I am using the HL-EL530 and EL520 on my Dahon Curve SL and Speed P8.
They've provided good coverage so far.
The Econom HL-EL540 comes in three versions. I am very keen on the battery-powered light (4-AAs) that yields 2-hours of run time on high setting. 
It could be set to 'blinking' mode as well, warning incoming vehicles on the road.
I think Gin Huat (the official distributor of Cateye) may have these at their Specialized Concept Store in Kota Damansara soon.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

World Car Free Day, Sept 22, 2011

September 22 is 'World Car Free Day'.
I never heard of this until Ronnie, a folding bike kaki of mine had mentioned it.
My co-worker Andrew Sia confirmed this with a phone call today.
He wanted to write a piece about commuting to work on a bicycle.
I was rather hesitant because the road leading from USJ26 to the Federal Highway motorcycle lane is laden with danger.
Its like a videogame trying to get from Persiaran Tujuan to the SS19 interchange.
Subang Jaya itself, for starters, isn't bicycle friendly at all even though the town council had organised cycling programmes for residents living in the area.
I've attended two events so far, and found that the roads are literally dotted with potholes and uneven surface.
To make it worse, some sections have missing drain covers.
And to incorporate a bicycle lane around this part of the Klang Valley sounds insane.
Economically-speaking, the only people who cycle to work are foreign workers.
Everyday, I can see a handful of Bangledeshi and Nepali men cycling along Persiaran Tujuan and Kewajipan.

Known hazards
On the road, many motorists are disrespectful to cyclists. They tend to force bicyclists off the road even when they cycle along the white traffic lines. I've witnessed a few 'close calls'. 
But not all is lost. On the Federal Highway motorcycle lane, the motorcyclists tend to avoid bicyclists by giving way. 
They indicate their presence by applying their bike horns.
Missing drain cover gratings is the number one hazard for road bikes. Since they have very diameter on their tires, the gratings are a death-trap. 
Many have injured themselves.
Another apparent danger are potholes. These can damage your rims and bust your spokes.
Road debris would pose a problem if you have tires that don't provide puncture protection.
Glass, metal shrapnel, nails, even animal bones can cause downtime during your commute.

The brave ones
I know a few guys who cycles to work. 
One is a music composer who does an average of 20km daily and is also proud to declare that he is not a car owner.
He has a Facebook group called: "Cycle to work Malaysia" and organizes events. The last biggie he had was a Malaysia Day ride on Sept 16.
Another dude is actually a Rockstar. 
He's a landscape architect who lives in Bangsar and owns a sackload of bicycles.
I met him in Shanghai recently and was told by him that he had completed a ride in Beijing and Shanghai.
He cycles a Dahon Mu Uno around the Bangsar neighbourhood.
I know for a fact that some of the guys in Putrajaya are campaigning for lockers, bicycle parking space and showers at work. Good luck to them..

Will I do it? 

Mr Stay Hungry

I was riding an escalator at a shopping mall yesterday and right below me, I saw an Indian man, perhaps in his middle-age, balding and looking very sickly.
Then, I pointed out to my buddy: "Hey, that is Mr Stay Hungry!"
I was referring to a sloganista who placed banners all over the fourth floor on my old work place. 
Communist propaganda tunes like: "Beat the competition", "Stay hungry" were hung all over the editorial floor.
It could have worked if Josef Stalin was the boss.
Mr Hungry was brought in by Datuk 20sen and was said to the best journalist ever to grace the pages of a daily across the causeway.
As far as he is concerned, I never heard of this guy who has the personality the size of a pea.
Well, of course, with every change of a regime, there's ample time to loot, plunder and sack.
Both Mr Hungry and Datuk 20sen made the villains from the former regime looked good.
And for four years, they led the oldest English Daily in the country to its grave.
I thought I would never live the day to see Mr Hungry in his present state.
After leaving the newspaper scene after four years of 'national service', Mr Hungry led a Public Relations agency.
This was said to be one of the best in the country with millions of ringgit worth of contracts.
Sadly, the company liquidated. And Mr Hungry, along with his cronies, had sank into the oblivion. Until yesterday that is.. 
Way its put, nobody would remember him for the good things he had done. Well, none to begin with anyway!
And as I saw it with my own eyes, this bugger is still hungry.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2012 Dahon Jifo

A new breed: the 16" Dahon Jifo
While three 16" Dahons have been taken out from its 2012 line-up, a new bike is set to enter the scene.
It debuted at the 2011 Eurobike show in Germany, featuring a completely new folding system.
Called 'Jifo', the new Dahon folding bike is aimed at commuters cycling the last mile in their daily commute.
Introduction of the Jifo sparked plenty of discussion in bicycling-related forums. 
I don't know if the bikes would be able to make it to Malaysia with a price tag of RM2.7K (estimated), nor it would make an impact with the local crowd here.
So, its a matter of 'wait and see' as Dahon re-packages their global marketing campaign for 2012.

Group dynamics

The best number in group tour, in my humble opinion, is six.
If the group becomes too big, it won't be easy to handle things.
Like any other set-up, the group needs a leader and a sweeper. The rest would have to play their role in order for the group to move forward.
I guess that in a society where we deal with people from all levels of tolerance and abilities, its not easy to engage in a give-and-take situation.
For the leader, its important to place the rest of the group ahead of anything else.
A good leader plans and executes his or her orders in accordance to the safety and welfare of the rest of the group.
When you get selfish leaders, the group is bound to fail.
Based on my experience, there aren't many good leaders out there who can tolerate ego, self-preservation and all those bad qualities.
A tour works if everyone puts their heads together and work as a team.
In short, no one gets left behind. 
There are times where we need to push ourselves and motivate others. 
With the unknown always ahead on the road, the true challenge for a leader is to keep his or her group united.
Otherwise, with the clash of personalities, there are bound to be a fallout..

Canon Powershot S100

The new S100, now GPS-powered
Canon had just announced its Powershot S100, the successor to the S95.
Basically, its a different camera with a much-improved design, especially a grip on the front of the camera.
It's also GPS-enabled so you can geo-tag your photos.
I found this feature to be very useful especially when it comes to taking food photos at coffeeshops.
But like its predecessors, the S-series are not really known for their close-up features.
Other than that, the battery life also sucked.
All good things said and done, I don't have many bad things to say about this new camera until I can have a hands-on session with it...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Happy Birthday Dahon FBC

A year ago, I met a bunch of folding bike cyclists at the Rodalink branch in Bangsar.
It was the inaugral meet for the Dahon Folding Bike Club to distribute its official Jersey and plan the "Ride away Polio" event at Sunway Lagoon Resort.
I didn't join the ride, but was introduced to Mr CS Wee and TT Siang.
Both are Dahon users and became my friends.
I toured with Siang to Southern Thailand earlier this year and rode with Mr Wee at the Penang CFAL3 recently.
In the months that ensued, I became more involved in rides and started to train as I was totally unfit.
The benchmark was the Ministry of Health's Kayuhan Kesakitan.
It was a 50km ride paved with pain and embarassment. I was told that it was a fun ride, but it turned out to be a roadie's race.
From that point onwards, I made a pact with Michelle, that is to train harder for strength and stamina.
As for the Dahon FBC, a second meeting was called in January this year to introduce several new models.
But that was it, the club remained dormant.
New memberships are now directed to 'Malaysian Foldies' on Google Groups.
As folding bikes are gaining popularity, its now up to the experienced folding bike owners to lead the way and blaze a path.
The only official ride we had was the train trip to Ipoh last year.

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!

CFAL3 part 01

Highway star: A cyclist transporting his ride to Penang on the N-S highway on Saturday
Michelle and I had signed-up for the 'Campaign For A Lane' ride in Penang since May.
We were pretty stoked about the prospect of cycling round island with 3,500 people from all over the country.
As it is, the CFAL series has been a runaway success.
Its aim was to equip Penang with bicycle lanes and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had stated this at the flag-off on Sunday.
Since returning from China on Friday, I had very little time to sort out the logistics.
We were to ride as 'Team Jetstream' at the third series of the CFAL.
And like any other rushed trip, I tend to forget things. This took a heavy toll on my post-ride recovery.
So, that said, there we were, packing up, loading our bikes into the car.
Our kids were throwing tantrums again.
Queenie had shown signs of seperation anxiety by protesting with her whine.
Sir Naughty, well, he's fine.
We hit the road at about 10.30am after filling up with breakfast.
The road conditions were bad as it rained heavily.
On the highway, we saw plenty of cars with bicycles mounted on their roof racks.
By 1.30pm, we reached Nibong Tebal.
We checked out Cheang Kee restaurant which is said to be one of the best makan places around by the food gurus....
A disappointment: Cheang Kee
All the years I've experienced as a reporter is not to take hyped matters at face value.
I've read blogs and even food critic's articles on the newspaper about 'Restoran NT Cheang Kee' and how good their food were.
So, with plenty of enthusiasm, I tried their boiled baby octopus and deep-fried snapper.
The octopus was okay, but the fish, very disappointing.
And at RM40 a pop, its a lesson paid in full.
Cheang Kee left a bitter taste in my mouth and the food guru who raved about this place, well, I think he's a bogus! Hahahah...
Anyways, when we were done, we drove all the way to the Penang bridge and made our way to G Hotel to pick up our CFAL3 Jerseys, meal and medal ticket including some crappy door gifts.
Cyclists registering themselves at the counter in G Hotel
While making a beeline at the Powerbar counter, I heard a conversation between the salesman and a cyclist.
When he turned around, it appears that I was standing next to my old friend PC Lim.
Lim took my wedding photo and I've known him for more than two decades.
He rented a mountain bike to ride the 82-km course.
Later, we checked-in at the Red Inn and met one of the folding bike gurus. 
He gave us the low-down and said that the KL group including a large entourage from Singapore had arrived a day earlier.
Since the fallout over mailing lists and who's in and who's out, its now down to a level of professional courtesy and strict observation of diplomacy.
Its like closing an embassy and leaving behind a small trade mission in a hostile country.
That said, Public Relations must be observed...
Team Jetstream at Red Inn in Love Lane, Penang
Prior to arrival in Penang, Michelle had made some arrangements with the Goh family to pick up a child seat for her God Daughter who will be visiting Malaysia in December.
As for me, I was supposed to meet my buddy Echo Charlie who is in Penang at the same time.
We made our way to Ayer Hitam and spent some time with the Gohs before heading back to the hotel to freshen up and prepare for dinner.
Michelle and I had walked to Georgetown from the hotel to pick up some supplies.
The plan was to get some bananas and a loaf of bread to make tuna sandwiches.
We found a corner coffee shop at Carnavon street and savoured their Lor Mee, stewed chicken feed and Horr Chien. 
The food was excellent and a well-deserved treat after a long day on the road.
The corner coffee shop and its excellent hawker fare
Chicken feet for the soul
Back at Red Inn, we bumped into Wey and Ming, our old foldie friends and were introduced to Alvin, Patrick and his wife.
They survived the Ko Lanta tour and are now among the few and the proud 'Storm Riders'.
I saw Master TT Siang's photos of the tour where the cyclists had to endure gail force winds and heavy rain. Well, that was simply amazing....
After catching up with them, we were back at our rooms, checking emails and doing the internet stuff before meeting up with Echo Charlie for some beers.
When we walked out from our room, the foldies were lounging at the Inn's hall.
We told them we needed our daily dosage of Vitamin B.
Wey shooked her head as we sauntered away from the crowd.
We had three jugs of beer before calling it a night in anticipation of the big day that looms ahead...
Getting our dosage of Vitamin B