|Big wheels or small wheels, whichever club or team, we ride in harmony!!|
|Pantai Tg Buluh|
|Sungai Sedili Kecil|
The ladies arrived at Lotus Desaru as early as 6.30 am. As they were not hotel guests, they called Bob to check where they could park the car. Following his instructions, they entered the resort, coming up with an excuse that they were meeting up with some friends!!!
The resort is, but a huge complex. Driving in, it was amazing to see the number of cars especially pick up trucks, parked inside! As most of them were muddy, we could only assume they belong to workers handling projects at Pengerang, a nearby town spearheaded as an oil and gas hub.
It was not surprising that the ladies picked the wrong spot to park the car as it was their first time there. In fact, driving in the wee hours of the morning with a less than 3 hours sleep, Claudine had missed 2 turns earlier!! Thankfully, Bob and Suzanne spotted them and redirected them to the main reception where all the facilities were located.
As early as everyone were, we rolled out later than expected. Bob led us all the way to Tanjung Sedili, a 50 km distance without allowing any stops!!!
Drafting behind him on the first 20 km was a breeze for Claudine. Julie followed closely behind, not joining in the paceline but enjoying the passing sceneries at a safer distance.
All this while, there were no visible visions of Zoe, Stanley and sweeper Desmond. They were left behind even from the Tg Balau roundabout but with Suzanne and Iris in the support car, we were assured that everyone is safe!
We bumped into our Joho Foldies friends on the first quarter of the journey to Tg Sedili. They were set on a picnic trip to Sedili Kecil. Even though they cheered us on, we did not stop as this was supposed to be Bob's training program to hit 200 km today!!!
The rolling hills started after the first 20 km mark. Bob climbed with the same cadence and gears up the slope. As he moved further and further away with each climb, he soon disappeared from sight at the third slope. Julie overtook Claudine at this point, climbing while standing upright..."boing, boing, boing" went her body, up and down!
Left alone, there was no motivation to go any faster. There was nobody to chase!
Suzanne and Iris were seen overtaking the lead rider, stopping to take photos while waiting for the last rider to show up. They will repeat this same routine over and over again.
We passed a few rivers with fishing boats moored to the side of the river bank. Coming down the slope at Pantai Tg Buluh, the South China Sea was a glittering blue against a cloudless sky of the same colour.
Close to 12 km to our destination, Stanley caught up with Claudine. Drafting behind her for a couple of clicks, he finally caught his breath before overtaking her and pulling her all the way to end point.
Arriving at Tg Sedili post office, Bob and Julie were waiting in the sun. We decided to turn into the village for food as the rest of the riders were familiar with the food stop as well.
It was Malaysia Independence Day, eve of Hari Raya Haji and a long weekend. Our usual coffee shops were closed for the holidays. As a contingency plan, Bob and Suzanne had already prepared a picnic spread for us!!!
We received first class pampering from Suzanne! She raised the benchmark for bike hosting; dishing out yummy fried bee hoon, ginger chicken wine, acar buah, salad, cut watermelon and even banana and oranges!!!
Some of us craving for our morning coffee and tea went to a nearby warung for takeaways. Julie who paid for the drinks was fascinated with the idea of drinking from a plastic bag which is a norm on this side of the world!!!!
Done with breakfast which saw Julie relishing everything, up to the acar buah which contains dried plums and other pickled fruits, we started our journey back to Tg Balau. Stanley and Julie led the way while Claudine rode with Zoe as promised, until she called quits at Pantai Tg Buluh. By then, Bob who was giving everyone a good handicap had overtaken everyone and gone ahead!
Desmond though was looking after the ladies. While he wasn't actually sweeping them, he kept a watchful eye from a distance, stopping for them to catch up every once in a while. After Zoe had gone up the support car, his only ward was Claudine who found it extremely hard to ride against the wind.
The last 2 riders bumped into Irene and some Joho Foldies riders after Pantai Tg Buluh. Irene, another man, Susanna and her son were bushed fighting the strong winds. Mr Tan was heading back to get his car when Suzanne came along to rescue them instead!
Further down the road, Thomas Tai and Chin Po Lim were spotted rolling out, leaving yet another subgroup of Joho Foldies. Niki was riding out as well, determined to finish the ride. Meanwhile, Maggie was already spraying her legs with muscle relaxant!
It was a tough, tough day where the wind was consistently blowing throughout the 50 km distance, peaking to "gale" force every now and then. Looking at the Malaysia flag snapping upright consistently from flag poles send chills down the spine!
Catching up with Thomas and Chin Po later, Claudine enjoyed racing with them up and down the slopes. Together, they caught up with Mr Tan.
It was also a blow to her ego as she couldn't shake the boys off!!! The opportunity finally came on a long descend. Naturally, a bigger wheel will win!
On her own once more, Claudine caught up with Wong Kyuan, waiting under the shades of some trees. Passing him, Claudine reported on the approaching boys. He must have felt the "threat" for he was later spotted coming down a slope all by himself!
Watching him freewheeling down the hill and with another 15 km more to base, Claudine reluctantly pulled herself up from the roadside. By then, Desmond had given her his last gulps of 100 plus. Still thirsty she continued riding, only to see Suzanne pull over a little further down the road! It was such joy to quench a thirst!!!
Suzanne was on her second rescue mission. She reported Julie was missing from the Tg Balau roundabout, probably heading back to base on her own. Spurred on by safety concerns for her new friend, Claudine continued with her labour.
It was a beautiful mirage! A flickering of light far away.... Could it be the Tg Balau roundabout??? When the flickering returned, it confirms the cars circling the roundabout and the bodies reflecting the sunlight. It was such joy as it marks the final 5km to the finish line.
Approaching the roundabout, Bob and Stanley were starting their next leg. It should be easy with the tailwind on their back but Claudine wondered if the wind will taper down when they make the journey back up again?
Even with 5 km more to go, there were a few more slopes to climb. Young men on motorcycles, out on their Merdeka Ride cheered her on.
It was such a relief to see Julie waiting at the the hotel lobby. While she looked perfectly composed, playing with her phone, Claudine crashed on to the seats next to her!
Soon, the others streamed in. Giving up her seat to a fellow Joho Foldies rider, Zoe had to ride to Tg Balau before Suzanne drove her back. Desmond returned on his own after a pitstop to see that all was well with the Joho Foldies. He had to shelve his plans for 200 clicks having his hands full today! As for Bob and Stanley, there was never a doubt to their determination to achieve what they set out to do!!!