My cycling adventures just got to a whole new level when I decided on an early Hari Raya morning to head out and climb Frasers Hill on my bicycle. The day didn’t start out promising, I must say. Woke up at 6am and the first thing that greeted me was the sound of heavy rain all around. So I lazed in bed and it continued to rain… by 9am I decided to just try my luck and got myself ready and geared-up, hooked up my bike and headed out the door. Yup, the drizzle did not stop as I began the 45min drive to Kuala Kubu Bahru, a place where cyclist generally start cycling up the hill.
Reached KKB by 10am and decided to have a quick breakfast. A reminder to myself: "Don’t eat anything that has santan (coconut milk) for breakfast if you are going cycling"… I ordered a bowl of curry noodle, and without fail, 15 mins later, my stomach was "teasing" me for a toilet break! I didn’t give in.
Anyway, I drove up the hill a little from KKB and found the beautiful scenery of the bridge and dam on the way up. As I have heard in some reviews on other blogs, the ride up to Frasers Hill promised to be one of the most beautiful in South East Asia… and this sight that greeted me was a good start. Right after the lake, I drove back down to KKB and found my way to the courthouse complex. I didn’t know where to park but decided that as there was a police station next to the courthouse, that may be the best place to park.
I got ready and started my ride at 10:30am and I should say how perfect the weather was at the time. It had just stopped raining and the sun was nowhere in sight. All soft, cool and easy on the eyes and skin. My GPS showed 40km to the top. Looked like a long ride, but all that was in my head was to enjoy the environment. The ride up to the dam with the gentle slope, proved to be a great warm up distance about 7 to 8km into the ride. I took a moment to take in the sights of the scenic dam, bridge and lake.
Having continued and passed the lake and bridges, I was about 12km into the ride with another 28km to go. After a smaller bridge, the route went into more of a hilly ride with denser trees and flora on both sides of the road. I was also pleased to note that the slope was as gentle as before with twists and turns breaking the monotony of a normal straight up climb.
Though I hadn’t expected it on this first day of Raya celebration, but I came across several cyclists on road bikes cycling back down from the hill. The smart looking set of cyclists in their racing jerseys, tights, and sunglasses exuded all form of machoness on their bicycles. As we exchanged salutes, I felt a sense of kinship among fellow cyclists, feeling proud as I put myself among this group. Perhaps prouder still as I was about to attempt an exciting, challenging ride.
At 15km in to the ride, I set my pace and gear settings and stuck to the setting. Looking as the gradient didn’t change much, I was pleased to be able to keep a steady, consistent pace to the climb. The ride through the next 15km on the hill proved uneventful with some openings looking out to the small valleys of the hills. I knew I would get to the Gap at the 31st kilometre (a checkpoint where the flow of cars are controlled for the last 9km up and down from the top).
As I reached the Gap, I was ecstatic! I was three-quarters of the way there! To have climbed 30km on a gradual slope was for me, a wonderful accomplishment. At 1:30pm (yup, took me about 2hr 30mins) it was our turn, the traffic from below to go up the Gap towards the top. I began my ride. What I realised, but not surprised was that the slope here got steeper. 9km along this route should be quite a feat.
Some more gear changes and while my legs were spinning the cranks, the bicycle made a slow climb. 3km up this slope, I had to stop and catch my breath… take a muesli bar and then another…. :-) I went further up, about a kilometre and then I stopped again, finished my water reserves. When the 5km marker to the top came in sight, I started counting the meters with the ride computer on my bicycle… :-P 100m, 200m, 300m, 400m… half a km! It was excruciatingly slow but having read other cyclist blogs, I remembered them saying that every pedal crank counts even if it’s to go a small distance and never get down to push your bike no matter how slow you may be climbing (great tip!). Marker 3km and 2km was just painful to get to but after that I just focused on counting and everything just went surreal.
At the last kilometre, I was just beaming from ear to ear! Soon, I approached the guardhouse at the top of the Gap and waved ecstatically and raised my hands to an audience made up of 2 guards and a couple of tourists taking photos by the roadside. To some seasoned cyclist, this could be an easy Sunday ride, but to me, I had accomplished another first… bringing my new fitness level in climbing my very first hill with my new found passion of cycling!
So… now, I was looking for only one thing, FOOD! I headed straight to the cafe and plonked myself down, ordering 2 cans of 100Plus, 1 mineral water and 1 ice tea, a bowl of rendang (it was Hari Raya after all) and soup with rice! That was the best relieve…
I was done by 3:15pm but unfortunately, due to the drive timing at the Gap, I had to wait till 4pm before I could ride down. I thought of riding around Frasers Hill for that 45mins but then again looking at the up and down of the roads, I decided, I had spent enough energy earlier part in the ride. So, a half-an-hour rest later, I was ready to ride down.
Waited for the long line of cars to get into the Gap before I followed behind the last car. Needless to say, I was waiting for this moment… to ride down at high-speed (at a safe and controllable speed, of course) down the slope! I paced myself with the car in front as I knew the first 9km down, traffic was all one way. I practised the text book cornering techniques and was totally engrossed in the euphoric experience!
The entire 40km down from Frasers Hill took just a little over an hour to finish with speeds of approx 40-50km/h. The best part of it all, the sun chose to appear at about 4:30pm in the afternoon, on my easy ride halfway down the hill.
:-) I’d do this ride again…! Frasers Hill conquered.