Long Distance Cycling

It has been a while since I cycled long distance, so I felt great when I had the opportunity to do so last Friday, a Hari Raya Haji holiday.

Myself and fellow rider Francis decided to make a long ride to Kuala Selangor. Another good friend Cynthia tagged along as well. Cynthia is one hardcore sportswoman, doing multiple marathons, ultra marathons and cycling was about to become one of her conquest too!  So, we had her for this ‘training’ ride.

On the day itself, we were joined by 3 other Team IR (Independent Racers) members who tagged along for part of the route.

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I was gonna enjoy myself on this ride cause I knew I felt good the weekend before riding 90++ km with a bunch of seasoned cyclists. 

 

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Latar Highway

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Pit stop at Petronas

The initial plan had been to ride all the way to Kuala Selangor but the day got hot real fast so we decided to make a fast pace to Ijok and then ride back via the Latar Highway and then through Guthrie before making our way back to Taman Tun where we started.2012-10-26 09.53.34

On the beautiful Latar Highway

I felt energised throughout the ride as I had come prepared this time around… yup, I downed 2x 2nd surge energy gels and the 100mg caffeine in each of those was a real booster!  It was noon by the time we got back and we manage to hit 110km distance. I was happy about that as the last time I rode that distance was a few months back at Ipoh Century Ride. 

I rode again on Sun and had a 5km run event on Saturday and details of these are for my next blog entries.

HAPPY RIDING!!!Open-mouthed smile

Sunday Wheels is Back!

Wow… this whole comeback thing is great.  A couple weeks ago, I did say I was gonna bring back a lot of my old routines (including blogging, thanks to the reminders of some very persuasive friends and their wonderfully knowing cynical smiles…)

Smile with tongue out

Well, anyway I ended up psyching myself up for a ride on Sunday!  It helped a bit that I was back on this exercise and diet routine that I started since the beginning of the month.

I was actually suppose to ride on Saturday with Team IR on a newbie ride, but unfortunately, woke up late.  (I know ‘no excuses’, but give me a bit of time while I strengthen my ‘will-power’!)… lol.  Nevertheless, the Sunday ride was on! 

I got out of bed promptly got my bike into the car and met up with Francis in Taman Tun… we started our ride at 6:15am… and made our way to the Curve where we were suppose to rendezvous with a few more friends… but lo and behold, I was surprised when it was actually the special appearance by team captain, Ewan… oops… I haven’t been riding for a while so I expected a good talking-to.  lol… But, there was none of that and it was actually just like old times. 

and I felt good!  great even!  We rode via Sg Buloh up to the Guthrie Highway and took a ride on the motorcycle lane (a famous starting route for weekend riders).  We knew other riders would be around, ie. BJCC as well as the PCC group along this route and 3 of us proceeded to ride to the Ijok exit and there we grouped up with several other riders.

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It was wonderful to meet familiar faces… perhaps the surprise was more on their end as they saw a person who has been missing for quite a while now. Midpoint through the ride, I felt really good.. all the fears about not being able to keep up was unfounded. 

We rode up to the petronas station of Ijok where about 20 over cyclist was gathered as well.  A brief 20 mins stop at the station allowed us to catch up and me to rekindle with old friends about what I how I was doing.

But you’d be surprised at how that small moment just gave me enough spark to light me up inside, getting my motivation back.  A lot of encouraging words was exchanged between fellow cyclists and even just for the fact that they still remembered me and asked about my activities, gave me some really serious motivation.

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The ride back to where we started was filled with lots of happy thoughts and excitement that I was coming back to something i really loved.  And at the end of the ride as I was packing my bike up, thoughts of many more exciting and fun rides to come, filled my head and I was already planning for future longer rides!  Won’t be missing a weekend if I can help it.

Sunday’s ride : Taman Tun – Ijok – Taman Tun
Distance : 92.5km

Bike R Us

Bike R Us… hahahaha…..

Ok, after that ridiculous title, I’d better explain a little.  You guys know how much I love my bicycles right, so a couple of months back I got crazy on the notion that I would like to try out some other cycling experience other than just riding around on my road bike, (which actually always makes me feel pressured to ride faster)… so I kind of considered my other options… mountain bike, folding bike?  Or even perhaps a hybrid?

Sure why not?  Just walk into a shop and get one of these.  but, then again, it was just too easy.  Thanks to Mr Brain up here, I got injected with the idea that if I wanted to ride it, I should build it… what a joke right?!Smile with tongue out

Well, but along with that idea, I suddenly received “instructions” in my head, again thanks to my silly brain, about how I could do it all… Go to a bike mechanic, have a custom bike frame welded together, look for the parts in the second hand collection, actually more like a junkyard with hidden gems, then put it together and make sure we end up with a bike that doesn’t fall apart…

So, thoughts were put into action and I got into it… Smile with tongue out

Yup, I’d title the whole idea a hobby rather than being about the final bike.  Cause that’s how it all became.  Suddenly I had all these ideas about customising, building bikes, having a bike cafe where you can sit while watching in humour, me putting your bike together while praying at the same time… lol.  Strike off that last thought, the whole idea is already weird enough.

Oh well, so it really did happen, to have a bike custom made and put together…from

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to this!!!

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Go read about it at my other blog at Spokes ‘n Brew. Smile

I’ll tell you all about my adventures on this bike when I put some mileage into it… if it doesn’t break apart on my first! Smile with tongue out

CYCLE SAFE!

My First Official Group Cycling Event – LeTua 100

Since I started my fitness regime last May, I have sought after little mini achievements just to see where I am in my quest to be totally fit and healthy.  Having run my first 10k Marathon in June 2010, I was elated and just this weekend, was another first. 🙂

I participated in the LE TUA 100 – Over The Hills and Far Away Ride (I should have read more into the tagline, cause it only really dawned on me during the ride… yes, through much huffing, puffing and sweat pouring)

IMG00062-20110115-1431This was my very first official group ride event.  Since cycling in August 2010 when I started cycling a lot, most of my rides were solos and lately with a couple of cycling enthusiast groups namely PCC (Pedalholics Cycling Club) the crazy bunch of speedsters and climbers on weekend through Taman Tun & Bukit Damansara; and Team IR (Independent Racers) on some of their long training rides on weekends. :)  So, despite that, entering into an official cycling event was new to me!

Thanks to a new cycling friend, Poh Seng from Team IR I got my registration in place a month before the event.  After that, I kept the thoughts about the event at the back of my head, away while I busied myself with work and family.  It only became a bit surreal for me as we got closer to the date and the fact that I was actually going to be doing it!  Thanks to much discussion and sharing with Fazli, we just went as prepared as we could ever be for a couple of group riding novices and decided to just enjoy the whole experience.

IMG00066-20110116-0802I was worried that I was not going to be able to sleep the night before, but thanks to a couple shots of tequila with, coincidently a couple of cycling mates as well, I dozed off as soon as my head hit the pillow.  The next day, fresh and raring to go, I was out the doors to join the carpool towards the event in Shah Alam.

We were told to expect 700 riders at the event and the numbers did not dissappoint.  For me, it was my first experience and definately the biggest event of "men-in-tights-with-padding-on crotch" that I have ever attended.  I myself was with my new cycling jersey covering my none too ideal physique (soon… soon I will get to were I want to be).

IMG00067-20110116-0803Oh ya, they wanted to keep reminding us that this was "NOT A RACE", to ensure the heroes and gung-hos among us do not go speed-crazy. Not like that message was gonna faze me in anyway whatsoever (I’d just feel great finishing without the help of the support car).  Well, I was also kind of glad that this was so, as my first ride should be.

Anyway, meeting a couple more friends there was very pleasant and comforting.  It didn’t feel so foreign and having everyone at such ease, I myself found my own comfort zone… Ride for FUN.

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IMG00071-20110116-0805The ride (not race), started at 8:15am and everyone went nice and calm, jokes, laughter and all.  We had a pace vehicle keeping us company at the start of the route for almost about 20km (I guess, cause I was never fast enough to have ridden in front).

The route took us from Shah Alam towards the direction of Kuala Selangor and the Sime Darby plantations.  The start of the route was very much big roads and highways, which gradually became smaller routes through kampungs on the Bukit Jelutong route.

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My favourite section of the ride was a gradual accent up the first KOM (King of Mountain) stretch with a scenic view of the palm oil plantations as we climbed. As we twisted and turned uphill, we could just see riders ahead of us riding up the incline and as I got to that point, I in turn, saw riders below.  Those were great moments where you catch a brief experience of what seasoned riders go through.  Absolutely breathtaking.

162599_501600997056_697637056_6524258_138473_nThe start of the ride through the kampungs didn’t require a lot of effort, so I did most of my overtaking manoeuvres here, err… perhaps they were more like practices (but was overtaken later at the climbs… I admit, I not on par yet… :P…) Also, applied some drafting, which was interesting to try out as well.

Did I mention that I was not really aware of the extent of the number of climbs we had to endure at the start of the race?  Well, some of the climbs were very, very steep, but fortunately they were as short as they were steep, so I held it there and climbed without getting off the bike.

I especially enjoyed one point where we were riding up and over Bukit Jelutong’s rolling hills and we could see the wavy roads from a distance!  Intimidating to the sight, I guess this is what they meant by breaking the "phsychological barrier".  Interestingly enough, as soon as we hit the incline, it wasn’t that bad.  With momentum, I realised I could hit the middle of the climb before I had to really depend on pure leg power!

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Anyway, about 30km away from the end, I starting feeling low on fuel.  Popped my first Power Gel at that point and did another 15km before I realised I needed another one cause all the climbs had me spent!  Though the hunger pangs didn’t go away, I had the energy for the rest of the route.

Towards the end of the ride, I was just cruising to the end, not even thinking if I had a good time or I didn’t.  All I knew is that I pushed as much as I had and I rode proud till the finishing line.  Elated and happy to have done my first official group riding event.

I was given a medal which showed I was in 375 placing, not too shabby considering there were about 700++ riders that day! :)  Well, I shall be looking forward to more events like this, and at least now I have an event to benchmark with (if I ever have to ask how hard the ride would be)… 😀

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IMG00075-20110116-1301My trusty bike… Delilah :D 

Named my Bikes… Samson and Delilah

The official names of my beloved pair of bicycles are of course the first names that came to my mind. 

Samson, the chunky, tough, no funny business, black, serious, MTB and Delilah white, petite, smallish, fast, (currently temperamental) roadbike.

Samson & Delilah

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Ok… you can all stop giving me that "cheesy" look and move on to other blog postings I have here… 🙂

Cycling up Frasers Hill

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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…

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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.