Friday, January 01, 2010

Malakoff Interstate Fellowship Ride 2009/2010...

Event: Malakoff Interstate Fellowship Ride 2009/2010
Venue: Juru AutoCity, Seberang Perai, Penang
Date: 31 December 2009 / 1 January 2010
Time: 7.00am
Distance: 220KM over 2 days (149KM on 1st day and 71KM on 2nd day)
Bike: Merida Road Race 905-Com
By Frank

To end the year and to start a new one with a bike ride. Sounds interesting but things didn't turn out smoothly, at least for me. Pretty worried about this ride since I just did my MR25 Ultra Marathon 2009 a few days back and though I didn't go all out during the run, running 63KM on trail followed by a 220KM bike ride over 2 days is certainly going to be tough. Sorry legs.

Pre-ride days...
Returning from Singapore, I only had a day's rest before leaving for Penang on 29 December 2009. Left about 7.15am and in less than 4 hours time, I arrived at my destination and met up with Lynn at Juru Autocity where she guided me to her house at Seberang Perai. Then it's lunch and a tour around the island sight seeing and also enjoying some of the local delights. Chin Chin did join us although just for a brief moment. I finally checked into Tune Hotel at the island before Lynn made her way home back at the mainland in the late evening.

The next day, Chin Chin bought me around to some temples after breakfast with Alan and Kenneth. After doing so, I left for Lynn's house as Keat Seong and Jennifer just arrived. The 4 of us had lunch together before making our way back to meet up with Shih Ming, Saya and Pat who arrived shortly later. And soon, we made our way to our chalets at Safira Resort which was nearby. Rested and prepared our gears while waiting for the others like Steven, Eric, Lian Meng, Poh Seng, Raymond and Michelle to arrive which they did at about 5pm before making our way to the island for dinner and dessert. Then it's back to the chalet for an early rest as a long ride awaits the next day.

31 December 2009. Day 1 of the ride...
I did not have a good rest as I was disturbed by a SMS that came in at 1.30am. Besides, I wasn't too comfortable with the bed as I was scratching all over, probably due to bed bug. Yikes... By the time I woke up at 3.30am, Keat Seong was already munching on his breakfast. By 5.30am, Lynn was here and everyone was ready to drive to Juru Autocity.

Before the ride...

Arrived, registered, clear the bowels, gear up, some photos and we are ready to roll. But that's not what the organisers had in mind as the event was delayed for a good 15 minutes. Only at 7.30am that some 700 cyclists both on road bikes and mountain bikes were flagged off. I waited with Lynn, Chin Chin, Shih Ming, Saya and Pat and only started pedalling when most of the cyclist has left.

All ready to roll, I mean ride...

Traffic was really heavy but the marshalls did tried their best to control it. Besides, the road were really bumpy due to cracks and holes. Not cyclist friendly. And I can't explain much of the road or locations as I'm not really familiar with it. I try my best though.

We entered some industrial area before hitting the trunk roads heading towards Kedah I think. Soon, Shih Ming and Saya overtook me and I was left with Lynn, Chin Chin and Pat. We were almost at the rear of the pack but that doesn't matter as this isn't a race. Nothing much to enjoy I will say as most of the times, my eyes were down on the road trying to avoid incoming pot holes. My left knee were giving problems as early as 30KM and I had to stretch on the bike while still in motion. My right was hanging on but the sore from MR25 ultra marathon soon too took over my quadriceps.

As I did not have any energy gels with me, I had to rely on my 2 bottles of diluted Endurox R4 and also 2 small packs of raisins. And I have to take them a little early before my energy depletes as the nutrients from the raisins will take a little longer time to enter my bloodstream as it's a solid food. And the first pack went in at about 40KM before the first feeding station came into the picture which was in a petrol station. Refueled and did all the necessary check here before continuing on with the journey.

By about 60KM, my legs were in pain already and I was tired. My energy was somehow on a critical level and with another 100KM to go, I hesitated taking the last small pack of raisins as I might need it later. Besides, I was thinking that the next feeding station was another 20KM plus away which was true enough when I arrived at the Bukit Merah Resort looking half dead. Limped to grab 2 cups of isotonic drinks before taking in 2 bananas and off I went to rest and stretch my poor legs.

The rest was pretty long and I benefited from it as I restarted the race pretty fresh. However, when things got better, I suffered a puncture at about the 100KM mark. Lynn saw me pulled to the side and she stopped and helped me change the puncture while the marshalls too came to assist. Most of the job were done by Lynn and I really felt useless here. She did everything right from the first to the last step and it's my bike's tyre she' changing. And what is the owner doing? Passing her the equipments. Sigh...

Restarted the ride, but I guess the time spent on rectifying the puncture took it's toll on me as my legs kind of lock up. I tried to keep pace with Lynn which I barely did only till the third and last feeding station at about 117KM. I took my last pack of raisins here but I guess it was too late as I kind of "hit the wall" here. Lynn left with Chin Chin and Pat while I pedalled on my own. Barely any other cyclist around me but I still lost control at times as vision was little poor. I went off the road a few times and I kept my fingers cross that I won't suffer another puncture again.

Things got nasty at about 125KM when I was crossing a busy junction. Came this blue Toyota Innova bearing plate number PHK 8525 which did not want to give way and rush through the junction like the road was his. And so, my natural reaction was to brake which I did and just tumbled to my left side as I was still on my clipless pedals. Immediately when I landed, it was my left knee that hit the ground first before I sat on the road. Instantly, my pain receptor sent the signal to my brain teling it, it was downright painful. And what did the driver of the vehicle did? He just drove off looking amused. The marshall who witness my mishap came over to ask if I was all right and radioed the sweeper car. Told him I was little stun but still all right. Took a rest by the side and walk a little to shake off the pain before resuming.

Shortly after I resumed my ride, the sweeper car came and ask me to hop on. He told me to hop on as he learnt of my fall earlier and also seeing how slow I was pedalling. I pleaded to him to allow me to finish the ride as it was just another 20KM to go. I assure him that I will finish it and he gave me the green light to carry on. I tried to go on my aerobar when I have the chance as this gave me the speed though my trapezius was already sore that time. With 10KM to go, again the sweeper car came. Without giving him a chance to ask me to hop in, I told him just another 10KM to go before the marshall gave me a thumbs up and drove off.

The last 5KM was pretty long maybe because I was really tired. And to make it worst, there was a few climbs and the last turning was a tough one at a busy junction. I was really in pain at the last section heading back to Juru Autocity and was really hoping that someone will be be able to pull me. Then came Lynn, Chin Chin and Pat from behind me when I thought they should be way ahead already. I wonder when did I overtake them but it doesn't matter anymore as they zoomed past me heading towards the finish. However, Jennifer who also came from behind shortly later slowed down and pulled me along which I was really grateful of. I was really suprised that she was the one who help pull me and I really appreciated it a lot. She kept feeding me with motivational words as I was already in tears from the pain of my left knee.

Into Juru Autocity Jennifer guided me and soon we arrived at the finish. Keat Seong was there to welcome Jennifer back and too help me while I hobbled to report myself before just settling down with my other friends. While icing the area of pain, my friends saw my painful look and I'm sure some of you will want to ask me if I actually had tears in my eyes. I admit there was as the pain was downright unbearable and I was worried about the extend of the inury as there are big races coming real soon. And though I had no appetite to eat, I forced a plate of fried rice down with plenty of fluid as I do not want to faint later.

After getting some energy back, I left with the others back to the chalet for a well deserve shower and rest while I look into my injuries. My left knee just below the patella was swollen with a lump in it and movement was really limited.

Everyone took a nap before waking up for dinner at about 6pm. Lynn, Chin Chin, Shih Ming, Saya, Pat and Lie Wei decided to head over to the island for dinner thus leaving the rest of us to ourselves. We headed to the nearby Sunway Carnival Mall and had a simple but huge portion of dinner. As for me, I bought some pain relievers and a bandage to help with my left knee before returning to the chalet alone as we waited till about 11pm before wishing everyone a HAPPY 2010 and then turning in. We all basically slept through the year although I wish for something more spending my time with my friends. But I guess everyone was tired.

1 January 2010. Day 2 of the ride...
HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! Only had about 3 hours of sleep and my left knee was still painful. But being stubborn and setting a bad example here, I decided to ride for I know I will regret it if I don't.

Breakfast was plain simple as appetite was poor. But I just had to eat for I know today's ride will be tough and I will need the energy now for I won't get any during the ride except from the 2 packs of raisins I have. And I even took 2 pain relievers to help with the pain and I hope it will last throughout the race which I doubt so.

Checked out from the chalet and left for Juru Autocity at 6.30am. Again, the start was delayed till 7.30am. But at least we did not have to spend too much time this time as by the time we got ready, it was already time. I started with Shih Ming and Saya as we made our way to the 13.8KM Penang Bridge. Though I have a difficult start as my left knee refuse to cooperate with me in flexing, it was really nice to ride across the bridge enjoying dawn breaking there. Legs got into the groove just before the climb up the bridge and that's where I took off. However, just when things go better, Pat passed me to inform me that my saddle bag is coming off. I did not want to stop on the bridge as it was dangerous for myself and others so I carried on till Queesbay Mall when I stop to restrap it. By the time I restarted, I was already almost the last cyclist.

At 25KM, comes the first climb. I only manage to conquer the first 2 before I stopped halfway at the third as it was just too steep and my left knee was hurting. Had no choice but to walk up and many others did the same too. It was a mountain bikers game here and I swear that my cheap brandless mountain bike of my past racing days can climb even better than my road bike here.

As I continue walking, I was really surprised that I bumped in to Shih Ming and Saya. They just completed rectifying a puncture on Shih Ming's bike and soon they continue on. However, I soon bump into them again together with Jennifer as the climb was just too steep. Kept going and going till we saw the feeding station marker near the 28KM mark. Decided to pedal lightly there but as the moment Shih Ming hop onto her bike, her gears lock up and she took a tumble to the side. Went to assist her and glad she was fine before we decided to walk to the top, all 4 of us together.

We met up with Lynn, Chin Chin and Pat there and we all exchange some advice before heading off again, this time down the hill. As the climb was steep, the downhill was scary too. I tap on my brakes as I went topping a top speed of 55KM/H at one point and nearly skidded. If I had really skidded, down the hill I will roll into the ocean I guess. Hahaha... But I managed to get back into control as I released my brakes and drift through the corner like any mountain bikers will do in a cross country race. I guess the "mountain bike" is still in me after all. Hehe...

Arriving safely down in one piece, I waited for the rest. Lynn came in first and rode with Chin Chin and Pat. I couldn't keep up with them hence I decided to go with Jennifer. Navigating through the busy roads here was difficult but was glad at certain points, marshalls in their support vehicles was there to block the other cars.

Soon enough, the next climb at about 45KM. Even before trying, together with Jenn, we just decided to walk. Soon Shih Ming and Saya joined us and shortly in front, we spotted the sweeper truck and with no hesitation, we hop on it except for Saya who decided to pedal up. The truck was full and everyone had their fair share of fun on it. At the top of the hill at about 48KM, we decided to pedal again as it was a descend, and a much safer one with minimal vehicles around and not too steep. Plus, the scenery was really nice pass some dam or reservoir at Telok Bahang I think.

Having fun with Shih Ming on board the sweeper truck...

Next will be another descend down to the coastal roads heading towards Batu Feringgi and Tanjung Bungah. As Jennifer has took off earlier, I was with Shih Ming all the time and was escorted by the TV3 support vehicles which we both were really grateful as there were helping us blocking the roads from other vehicles which made it super safe for us to ride. As we pedalled safely with them, we soon find ourselves at the turning near Tanjung Bungah. Another hill to climb but not long nor steep. I recognised this route from the Malakoff 26KM, Penang 2009 and told Shih Ming just about another 5KM to go.

I attack each climb as I did not want to suffer with a slow speed up and soon, we enter some shady place in a forest and that's where we were reunited with Jennifer. Told her to carry on as it's already very near and she gladly obliged later. Shih Ming was still going strong with me. Then came the view of the mountain behind Youth Park and I looked back to inform my 2 friends that we only had one more turn to go in less than 1KM. Smiles were all over our faces as we made the turning and into the park which then soon saw the finish line as we completed the ride together safely. What a day! The route was tough today but I didn't feel too wasted probably because I had 2 great friends around me while I pedalled. And I'm sure this kept the pain away too.

We all made it back safely...

We were reunited with all our friends here and had a light lunch to refuel before making our way back on board the provided shuttle bus. We all soon parted ways with each others as the majority of them are leaving back for home on the same day except for myself, Shih Ming, Saya and Pat with Lynn and Chin Chin being our great host around.

Post ride...
I check into Tune Hotel again after the ride. After cleaning myself up, I went for a walk around town indulging in some of the local snacks around before making way to Lynn's house again with Kenneth picking me up. With the rest, we all went to a place call Bukit Tambun for seafood dinner before making our way to Chin Chin's friend house where we all spent some time at chatting away till about midnight.

With Lynn's parents before leaving. THANK YOU...

The next day, we left Penang at 10.45am after bidding farewell to Lynn's parents, Chin Chin and Lie Wei. We made our way to Ipoh for food and even got "lost" for a moment there searching for a famous biscuit shop. And from there onwards, we left for home as the next thing on the agenda was to have dinner with the rest at Kual Lumpur like Raymond Hee and Siok Bee.

All smiles despite getting "lost" in Ipoh...

Overall, it was a good holiday and riding trip. I had my fair share of fun though I don't deny there were all happy, sad and painful moments for me thoughout the ride. As for my left knee, I'm not really sure on it's situation on the current time of writing this. I thought I have busted it but it got a little better throughout the days though mobility is still pretty limited. Just hope it wouldn't be a bad one as I only have 2 weeks of rest before hitting the roads again. Till then, HAPPY 2010!

- Lynn, for the being a great host and guide arranging the accommodation and planning out the itinerary for this trip. Not forgetting to her parents too for the great hospitality. And also the assistance in helping me changing my flat tyre.
- Chin Chin, for registering the ride and also being a great host.
- Jennifer, for pulling me at the end of the first day's ride and also for the company during the second day.
- Shih Ming, for the company during the second day of the ride and for the fun we all had together.
- Keat Seong, Steven, Eric, Poh Seng, Lian Meng, Raymond, Michelle and Saya, for the great time and fun together in welcoming the new year. Thanks everyone for your concern too.
- the organisers and marshalls for the event, thank you for the care and assistance given during the ride.
- to everyone else whose name isn't mention, THANK YOU.

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