Sunday, 25 September 2016

The Ultimate Climb : Sedenak to Simpang Renggam! (24 September 2016)

Huo Guo Shan temple in Sedenak
Rolling hills
Someone once said there are 15 hills from Sedenak to Layang-layang
Simpang Renggam
I am finally here!!!  Simpang Renggam

Lately, a human resource issue on the home front is causing a major setback to Claudine's riding plans. She can only be on standby most weekends. So, when a free day opens up on the eleventh hour, she jumped on it immediately.

However, with many riders on serious training for the upcoming Melaka Century Ride, finding suitable leisure groups to ride with is difficult. More so, if one decided to hit the road on the last possible moment. Thankfully, Bob was gracious enough to invite the Ad Hocs to join him on his usual training route, Sedenak to Renggam.

On the morning of the ride, 5 riders pushed off from Hua Guo Shan temple. They reached Layang-Layang in a little less than an hour.  After a short water break, they rolled out again towards Renggam.

At Renggam railway station and bus depot, the remaining 4 riders had a quick meal of yong tau foo with noodles. Meanwhile, VT who preferred a relaxing ride dined alone at Guang Fatt Wantan Mee in Layang-layang. It was pre-arranged for him to return to base on his own.

As Bob was adamant to complete his training ride to Simpang Renggam, the other three were eventually convinced to go as well. It was arranged for Zoe to give Claudine a lift home, hence relieving VT off his duty to wait . Everything was arranged in a matter of minutes and with that the ride continued to Simpang Renggam.

Simpang Renggam is a new destination for Zoe and Claudine. It was fascinating to note that beyond the railway station lies a major trunk road with wide road shoulders. Besides the usual palm oil estates, coming into town is a huge police station, just opposite the Simpang Renggam prison.

The route from Renggam to Simpang Renggam is a beautiful but noisy one, with cars and lorries plying the road. The gradient continues to be one of rolling hills but more gentle and gradual. Riding down a hill, one could slingshot oneself up the next hill with little effort.

The town came quickly but we did not ventured beyond Rohaizat Mall which stood at a busy T-junction. Still fresh and triumphant, we left quickly, heading back to Renggam.

At Renggam, Jolin was getting a bit worried for the ladies. He suggested refueling from some shops in the area but everyone's water bottle was still full. It was thus agreed that we will refuel at Layang-layang instead.

We pushed off again and the rolling hills continued. All this while, Zoe will draft behind Claudine for 5 km or so before falling back on her own. All this while, the men were 5 minutes ahead of the ladies.

At Layang-layang's 7 Eleven, the cashier cheerily welcomed the riders' return. Zoe had the good sense to get a large bottle of 100 plus for all to top up. This after thought will be very much appreciated on the final segment!

As the finishing run began, Zoe was first to lead! However, it did not take Jolin long to overtake her. Together, they rode ahead with Zoe drafting behind him. However, after quite a few climbs, she lost the advantage. This allows Claudine to overtake her!

Everytime, during a push off, Bob has a tendency to give everyone a good headstart. Nobody can see him for miles and miles behind when suddenly he will appear out of nowhere, overtakes and disappears!!!

The final segment was an agony for Claudine. The shoulders start to ache, the wrists start to feel numb, the back starts to scream! Every 500 meters or so, she had to change her position on the handlebar to find relief!

It was a mind over matter challenge. The 100 plus in the bottle cage kept rattling, asking her to take a swig while it is still cold. She finally grinded to a stop in the middle of a palm oil estate to take a drink and to stretch. Not willing for Zoe to catch up, she pushed herself onwards, inches by inches, slowly stretching them into yards and miles!!!

When the roadworks came as forewarned by VT, a flush of hope came! It signifies the railway crossing is close by and with that the end is near! As she struggled past the tracks, she was startled to see Bob and Jolin waiting by the warung! This time though, the men even had time for coffee!!!

Zoe arrived soon enough, screaming for mercy! The ladies have never done so much hills in a day and today's ride is both mentally and physically challenging! Even Bob's bottle cap popped out from all the pressure built by the constantly shaken 100 plus!!!

In higher spirits, we finished the final 5 km to find VT waiting with victory drinks for all. We recorded a 100 km distance over a 1044 m in elevation gain. While everyone loaded their bikes, Claudine was grateful her husband had faithfully waited for her. Forget the wine and dine, forget the whispers of sweet nothings....sometimes, we ourselves forget that all these small little gestures mean a lot more!!!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Night Ride with Joho Foldies to Kg Sg Melayu (22 September 2016)

Riders at Pan Kobo Cafe
Riders at Marlborough College
Bikes galore
At Kg Sg Melayu
The jetty in the dark

We met at Pan Kobo Cafe, Horizon Hills on a moonless night. Cloud cover was thick hence no constellation can be seen let alone a single star! Our only illumination comes from the few lamp posts on the streets so spotting a friend can be a struggle. At one point, Irene mistaken Leo for Khan!

Riders were still streaming in as late as 8.25 pm but we graciously waited. As for Joseph, he was shouting over the phone pleading for everyone to wait. When he did arrive, we realized being on the road with cars screaming past, it was best to talk loudly in order to be heard!!! Our dear friend had rode all the way from Mutiara Rini on his 7 speed Raleigh foldie.

Mar came with Rostam. She had yet to upgrade her Tern to a double chain ring and related how she suffered the climbs on her recent trip to Japan!

We tried to delay rolling out as long as possible. But after a lengthy photo session and a group of 27 riders started staring restlessly at the photographer we knew it was time to wave the white flag. With that, we started to roll out. We could only hope, Andy's strong legs could carry him fast enough to catch up with us.

We rolled out via the Southgate and started looping on the butterfly interchange. Nicholas' friend on a 2 speed Brompton with seat post too low was already starting to struggle. When he fell back to sweep her, Claudine dropped her sweeper duty. With VT behind, 2 sweepers will suffice.

Everyone started to pump the pedals on the turnoff to Lebuh Kota Iskandar! It was a spectacular show of thunder thighs! The strong climbed the slope effortlessly. Even VT was caught in the heyday, abandoning his duty and even his wife!

At Marlborough College, everyone slowed down for regrouping. Some though, were caught off guard. They cruised further to the entrance of the kampung instead. It was also at this point that Andy caught up with us.

We entered the realms of the kampung in a group but soon separated according to different speed. Thomas, Leo, Joseph and Andy were first to enter. Eva was the lead lady on RB, riding with Anna and Maggie while constantly in check with Jack. VT led Claudine as her 300 lumens front lights was not bright enough.

Every now and then a car will pass us illuminating our path. Midway in the palm oil estate, another bright light came from behind. Thinking it was a car coming from a distance, Claudine was surprised to see Desmond overtaking her, followed by Jangbu and Debbie.

In the dark, it was hard to figure the riders but Debbie came by with her hand phone belting out an unidentifiable rhythm. When she burst out laughing, her identity was immediately revealed!

It was a bit unsettling riding in the dark. More so, when the bike lights are not bright enough. The eyes start to focus on the lights ahead. After awhile, it felt like being in a dark, dark tunnel...

Every now and then, a rustle is heard in the bushes which can be freaky. In the pitch darkness, trees and bushes are illuminated differently and the imagination starts to stir....a man standing by the roadside....

It was so reassuring to see Thomas standing in wait at the junction entrance to Kg Sg Melayu. Keeping him company, VT and Claudine were awed by how dark the place could be. It was almost like having a blindfold over one's eyes.

Finally, the last riders arrived. They were swept by Lucas. Together, we rode up to see Andy and Desmond slightly ahead, warning riders of a road hump. 
The village was alive at 9.30pm with many teenagers enjoying a game of football. The older folks were hanging out at various warongs. The jetty point though was filled with Joho Foldies riders. 
Again in the dark, it was hard to identify people. Carl mistaken Claudine for Irene!

Everyone had a very long rest before heading out. Some even had time to "La Kopi" a termed used to describe the art of drinking a hot cup of coffee. You stir and sip your cuppa while chatting up your friends.

Outside, at Marlborough College, Anna was getting anxious for Jangbu. His night shift commences at 11 pm. Some others are early morning risers, having to get to work before the sun is up. They too had to leave quickly. 
Sending apologies to Irene and other riders, the first team left in a hurry. They were led by Joseph, followed closely by Leo and Andy. It was an amazing showmanship with the men recording between 31.5 kph to 32.1 kph on the "2nd climb" segment on Strava. All this, leaves the foldies on a higher pedestal!

Photo credit : Ma Mar Rahman

Monday, 12 September 2016

Heritage Trail Ride that never was! (12 September 2016)

Crown Arch, Istana Bukit Serene
Waiting for YL and Janet
Romeo wasn't giving the peace sign but rather he had to wait for 2nd seating!
Eva and her wards
Irene, Lim, Wong and their beloved joined us at Kinwah Kopitiam
Some of the guys that cannot allow their bikes to get wet!!!

Even from the wee hours of the morning, our ride already suffered 2 setbacks. Malcolm was about to leave his home when he discovered he's got a flat. He had to get down and dirty, in the most literal sense, thus slightly delayed.

Meanwhile, YL and Janet with all their good intentions, rode all the way from the city to join us. They fell short of 5 km to flag off point when YL's tyre felt like a cartwheel. A call was made for us to push off without them but to meet at another pick up point. YL too had to get down and dirty....on his bike!!!

We arrived at Petronas Taman Perling, the agreed pick up point for Ollie and Matt, with many having broken the school area speed limit of 30kph. Obviously, Jolin, Monica, Malcolm and Hea held a guilty look for instilling others to ride.......a lot faster than the stipulated average speed! Anna though arrived much later desperately seeking for a sweeper. She did not realize VT was patiently riding behind her!

Before long, YL and Janet arrived at our meeting point. We rolled out again after YL blew his whistle. No, he did not expose any of our illegal racing activity but merely giving the go ahead!!!

Passing by Khass Bicycles, 3 young boys joined our group. Some of their friends were already in our peloton, starting from Horizon Hills.

Soon, our climb began. First a flyover, then another flyover and then another flyover!!! Where there is a choice, the smarter ones rode on the parallel road below. Where the flyover spans a bridge, everyone had to climb over the mound, like it or not!

A quick regrouping was allowed at Grand Straits View Restaurant. Perhaps, while everyone were doing short sprints, nobody really wanted to be the first to arrive at our morning brekkie as it means having to foot the bill.

We made another brief stop at the Crown Arch at Istana Bukit Serene. This was our agreed pick up point for Eva, Wen Han and his sister, plus another man with them. We took a quick group photo before rushing off to meet Lim, Wong and their respective spouses at Kinwah Kopitiam.

Arriving at the entrance to Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, Claudine saw CK and Malcom whooshing down from Bukit Timbalan. Meeting Claudine's surprised look, Malcolm realized he was wrongly led up the steep hill only to make a U-turn down again. He jokingly calls CK and the few others, "guys with a sadistic nature"!

In actual fact, there are a few lanes leading to Kinwah Kopitiam. Malcolm was slowing down at a crossroad unsure which way to take, when Claudine cautioned him to turn right. He hesitate for awhile. But just as he was about to make the turn, a Perodua Kelisa following behind at an equally slow speed decided to accelerate and overtake him!!! Fortunately both braked on time with a good 1 foot leeway. However, it was still a close shave for Malcolm.....time to sport a clean cut look!!! Anna and Claudine though, almost lost their voice screaming!

Today is after all Hari Raya Haji, a public holiday in Malaysia, celebrated by Muslims in remembrance of the "almost sacrifice," according to Islamic Scriptures, of Ishmael by Ibrahim on Mount Moriah. While we saw many Muslims construction workers crossing the wide highway along the Iskandar Coastal Highway, around the area of Grand Straits View and along Jalan Bertingkat Skudai around the area of Country Garden, all on their way for their morning prayers at the mosque; we now see a huge non Muslim crowd at Kinwah Kopitiam!!!

It was almost impossible to sit everyone. There wasn't anything much to eat besides the staples of toast, eggs and economy noodles that can add up to a very pricey meal!!! Trying to get our drinks, we were at the mercy of the already stressed out waiters!!!

When the dark clouds that was hovering above us at Petronas Taman Perling caught up with us downtown, the likes of Ollie, Malcolm, Jolin, Monica and Hea scooted off with an apology. No serious RB riders likes to get their bikes wet! Ronan and his young friends that tagged along, left too ..... without notifying us!!!

After a hurried meal, the few remaining riders rode back. Romeo, Wen Han and Matt led the way. Eva rode with her daughter, friend and Joshua. Meanwhile, Anna was sandwiched between Claudine and VT.

Coming to Tune Hotel, Eva who frequently rides this route took us through the inside lanes only to join the Iskandar Coastal Highway at the side of Tune Hotel. Dear Romeo and Matt were patiently waiting for us at the junction.

Spaced out again, we had a final regrouping at the bottom of the interchange at Taman Perling. Eva and her 3 wards turned off for Jalan Belibis while Romeo and Matt rode towards Bukit Indah. The final four of Joshua, Anna, VT and Claudine rode all the way back to base only to see Hea, Jolin and Monica still having drinks and sharing decent chatter at Pan Kobo Cafe!