(At Adzim's request, I've finally got round to writing the ride report from the Genting ride)
Saturday, 29 September, 2007, 10pm.
Having run up Genting the week before, this week it was biking up. It was a very small group this time, only Zabil, Azmar, Puzi and me. Most notably, the Chief nutter himself, Steve, was absent. Among the four, I was the only one with a road bike. Whatever advantage I had in weight, I lost in lack of gearing Believe me, to climb Genting comfortably, you need mountain bike gearing.
Anyway, off we went. McDonald's hill was first. Normally after a long ride, this hill would be a killer, but with fresh legs, it wasn't that hard. I watch the others spin up the hill, envious of their lower gearing. They were doing at least 90 RPM while I was already grinding my lowest gear at about 70 RPM.
After McDonald's hill, the gradient didn't let up. Imagine doing Mccdonald's hill 5 times over. That's what it was like. Fortunately, at about 5.7km, the road started going downhill. And it continued like that, with a couple of short inclines, all the way to Gohtong. Arrived in Gohtong in 47 minutes. That was the easy part. The haard part was yet to come.
After a quick refill of the bottles, we were soon off again. The first two kilometres were not too bad, it's after you get past Awana that the road gets steeper. So you slog it out at around 9km/h, turning the pedals at 45 RPM. 45 RPM! And I was on my lowest gear. The last time I did this climb I swore I would switch out to a 27t low gear when I attempted it again. But alas I didn't, and now I have to pay for it.
As I approached the dreaded 4.4km to go mark (how appropriate "die.die") my legs were already burning. The switchback here is killer. Take the inside line and you may end up on your back. That's how steep it is. Coming up to the switchback, I took a quick look behind me, saw Puzi trying to slow any approaching cars, then I took a wide line into the corner. With a primal scream, I stood up and just hammered throught the switchback. My legs screaming to stop, my heart saying "Shut the f**k up! Harden the f**k up!" After I got through the switchback, the gradient didn't let up. It just kept going up and up and up. My legs so desperately wanted to stop, but I coaxed it to go on, just a bit more, just a bit more, I urged.
I continued, watching Puzi fly by me and disappearing into the distance. By now, i was doing 100m per minute. I wasn't riding the bike anymore, I was just balancing it, while inching it forward slowly.
Just when you think it couldn't get worse, it does. The last kilometre was even steeper than before. But that could have been my imagination. I got out of the saddle, I sat down, stood up, sat down, counting the kilometre markers as i went along. 0.5km, 0.4km, 0.3km, 0.2km, 0.1km, 0.0km. Finally I was there. I felt like throwing my arms in the air, like a ProTour rider celebrating a mountain stage win in le Tour de France. But I was just so beat, and was going way too slowly to even think of taking my hands of the bar. Instead I just slumped over the bars and rolled the bike to a halt near the taxi stand. Puzi was alredy there, drying his jersey off and putting on a sweater. Total time from Gortong for that 9 kilometres was 1 hour 5 minutes. Total ride time so far, 1 hour 52 minutes.
After a short rest, it suddenly got cold. I put on the windbreaker Senn lent me but it didn't help much. I was shivering. The ride down is going to be miserable.
If the ride up was tough on the legs, the ride down was tough on the hands, having to constantly feather the brakes to scrub off speed down the steep descent and sharp switchbacks. It was scary. Zabil and Puzi, with their mountain bikes and wider tyres, just flew down the road while I was going down as slowly as possible. You know it's a steep descent when the smell of brake dust from the cars lingers in the air.
Just before coming in to Gohtong, I came across an accident. A head-on collision between two cars. It looked like the guy going up was trying to do a fast and furious tokyo drift when he drifted too wide and smashed into the oncoming car coming down. Both cars were damaged beyond repair. I saw one of the drivers sitting at the side of the road, moaning. Not sure whether he was moaning from his injuries or moaning from looking at the damage on his car.
Anyway, the rest of the ride went on without incident. We finally got back to Genting Sempah at 2am. Total ride time was 2h35m. After close to two hours ascending, we only spent about 45 minutes descending! Total ascent was 1210 metres in 19.6 kilometres.
That looks like the last of the nutters' adventures this Ramadhan. The chief nutter will be in Singapore this weekend, doing a 5k swim race and the rest of us will probably be riding Putrajaya or something. Although, the possibility of doing Genting again, whether on bike or on foot, is still possible. Stay tuned.