Saturday, January 28, 2012

Journey to Land's End - Part 3

A late lunch..
Senggarang was a big upset.
Basically, its a cowboy town with rows of wooden shops and I guess nothing has changed in this neck of the woods for some time...
We pushed as far as we could and reached the town on Rengit about 15km away from Senggarang.
Here, a bunch of bananas cost RM1 a piece. Now, that's cheaper than dirt!
Later, we found a chicken rice store and had our late lunch there.
I can see the sigh of relief on Michelle's face as she down's the food.
Two plates of rice costs RM9.50 with drinks.
We also ate satay and had a small chat with one of the boys who asked us about the folding bikes.
He told me that there is a shortcut from Parit Botak to Batu Pahat, bypassing the Bukit Kelichap area.
During the conversation, the guy also said that the coastal route is also a popular place for long-distance cyclists.
As a matter of fact, we came across a solo touring rider outside Batu Pahat.
With a decent lunch, some good advice, we moved on towards Benut in the horizon...

Bananas in pyjamas: a fruit stall in Rengit

A decent fare: The chicken rice 
Used up the entire day..
We left Rengit at about 4:00pm and there's still a long way to go before hitting Pontian town.
The plan is to ride as far as we could - suffer the first day of the tour and have an easy ride to Tg Piai, which is another 38km away.
So far, things had worked out fine.
There were no punctures, mechanical problems along the way. 
We were glad to have cycled more than 100km without any major issues.
My concern was Michelle. 
She hasn't been cycling over the last couple of months and I can see that she was lagging behind.
Its no joke when you have to lug your panniers and all the extra weight.
Her Dahon Speed TR was built for this purpose.
Its an all-rounder bike and we specifically got it for our long-distance rides.
Michelle and I had done two Century rides together and she's pretty comfortable with the bike..
We entered Pontian district by 5:30pm and had to cycle through at least three more counties before entering Pontian Kechil..

Entering Land's End territory.. 
A test of teamwork, will power and relationship...
The woman I married has an iron will.
But the stress on the road, fatigue and saddle sore had slowly taken its toll.
I can see from my rear view mirror that she was lagging behind.
By the time we crossed Benut, I was trying to look for a place to bunk-in.
Sadly, there are not hotels along this route.
The only way is the hard way.
Make it or break it, we had to cycle to Pontian.
This is another 35km from Benut.
As the day slowly fades in the horizon, we cycled through a small town called Sanglang and made a stop outside Ayer Baloi. 
With the failing light, the rear lights and head lights were deployed. 
Our vests were set on flashing mode.
We rode in the dark and in this final push, I can see the face of agony, especially on my wife.
The 135km journey was as tough as it gets, morale was low as we rode in near pitch-dark conditions.
At this point, the twin Sigma Powerleds were doing its job, illuminating the path.
Its even brighter that the motorcycle headlights that rode past us.

Pontian at last! 
We kept on pushing as far as we could.
And on the horizon, I can see the bright lights of an Esso petrol station, indicating that we are very near civilization.
I radioed Michelle to pull over and got ourselves a bottle of isotonic drink and refilled our near empty bottles.
After nearly an hour cycling in darkness, I can see her face glowing.
Having worked in this region, I think she knew that Pontian is just down the road.
I had a chat with the petrol station worker who told me that there were ample accommodation in  Pontian Kechil town.
For a soft bed and a hot shower, I didn't mind cycling for another 5km.
Slowly, but surely, we progressed towards the Pontian Business Centre and rode into an entirely new area.
My last visit to this town was in 1997 and much has changed.
Michelle went up to the check-in counter at Hotel Pontian and managed to secure a room.
I hauled the bikes into the room and felt relieved after completing the long ride from Muar.
We later had a late dinner across our hotel and were glad that everything went well.

The bikes, stowed in our room..

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