Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Return to PCC

It's been a while since I've been on a PCC Sunday ride, and since I didn't go riding on the Saturday, I thought why not. This particular Sunday, they were heading to Malaysia's own Gold Coast, Bagan Lalang.

The ride started at approximately 7.40am because the two Dons (Chan and Haider) only rolled into the car park at MTDC Bangi at 7.30am. Before that, we were joined by Lim (Rain), Adzim and a whole bunch of riders who started from BikePro in Taman Megah.

The ride got underway Lim setting the pace up front. It was a nice comfortable pace at first but picked up as we were 10km into the ride. The pack stayed together as the speed picked up, no doubt taking advantage of the draft. One or two riders did drop off as we headed to the rollies between Salak and Sepang but the main bunch held it together. I barely managed to hang on as we rolled into the Shell station at Sepang, our first regrouping point. 32km completed in 1h02m for an average of 30.4km/h.

We hung around at the Shell for a lot longer than usual. One of the newbie riders, Weina, still hadn't rolled in yet and we started to worry. New rider, new route, was she lost? Senn was on the phone trying to call her but to no avail. Big Mac valiantly got on his bike in search of her and backtracked for about a kilometre with no sign of her.

After a while, she finally rolled into the Shell stations with Wong CC and Mac. Apparently, she dropped her chain at the beginning of the ride and had to play catch-up. Luckily Wong CC was there to show her the way.

Soon we were rolling again. This time the pace was definitely ramped up and we got to Bagan Lalang in just under half an hour. The surprising thing for me was that I managed to hang on to the front pack the whole time and only lost them as we entered Bagan Lalang. That was quite a feat for me.

After a quick meal of roti canai, we started the journey back. At this point I was in two minds: should I try to just stick to the pack and take advantage of their draft or should I hang back and take it easy, having subjected my legs to the fast and furious pace during the first half of the ride.

I wanted to take it easy but the lure of the peloton was too tempting. So I hung on for dear life.

However, when we got to the rollies after Sepang, riders were starting to drop off the back. One by one, the peloton was getting smaller. Then I dropped off which was a bummer because the winds were really strong at this time. I managed to get into a four-rider pack, each taking a turn braving the strong headwind. Then I took my pull, tucked down low in my aerobars. When I pulled out to let Rahim lead, it was just the two of us left.

And so we worked together to the end, each pullling for about 2-3km before recovering in the slipstream. About 15km from the end, Rahim spotted a coconut stall so we stopped. Unfortunately, the stall had no ice, so no air kelapa for us.
We had a quick refill of 7-Up and soya bean and we were off again.

We got back to MTDC Bangi at noon. By then, the group that started from BikePro had already buggered off. As we were packing up, we heard news that Annie had severely cramped up and had to take a cab back to MTDC. It was quite a sight when she got back, she couldn't move at all! And you can really see where the priorities lie for the different genders: the guys were busy with her bike while the gals, Senn, Perli, Joanne and Adeline, were helping Annie out of the cab!

Anyway, I enjoyed my return to the PCC Sunday ride. The company was good and the pace a lot faster than I remember. But it's all good.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


To the person who found my legs and brought it back to me (see post below), thank you. It really helped during the GE30k run.

My legs took me down to the Lake Gardens at 5.20am, with plenty of time to warm-up and mingle before the start, unlike last year when we arrived 5 minutes after the gun went off and ended up chasing the pack!

This year, the gun went off a little early (according to my watch). I was still chit-chatting away when it went off, forcing me to cut short the conversation and begin running. As we went up the hill, I could still feel the 140k PD ride from the day before in my legs. Well, i wanted to see what it was like to run on tired legs, so can't really complain.

It took a while for the legs to warm up, probably because it was still in shock of going missing the day before. But once hit Jalan Parlimen and took my first pitstop, they started cooperating.

I settled into a steady rhythm, reminding myself not to push so hard at the beginning. Finished the first 10k in about 1h10m, a little faster than I expected but it was all good.

While the legs were feeling good, the tummy wasn't too happy. It was churning something horrible. I thought maybe I should pop into Lake Club to ease the tummy but that was too far off course and would take too much time. So I held it, afraid to even fart in case something undesirable came out! So held it I did for the next 10k. I figured I can try to hold out till at least the Petronas station.

Got to Petronas at around 2h15m. Thought I'd sneak in there but was caught by Mejar K. "Oi!" he shouted. "Pi berak ke?!" Sheepishly, I nodded.

Got to the toilet, and there was someone in there. D'oh! Had to wait. And wait. And wait. A part of me was thinking, "Dude, you've held it this long. What's another hour or so?" Just as i was about to run off again, the door opened. Salvation!

All in all, i think I wasted about 10 minutes at Petronas. But at least I was comfortable now.

At this point, the internal battles started. Last year, I had managed to run for about 22k before starting the walk/run thing. I was determined to go further this year. So at the 23k mark, I started debating with myself about when to start walking. On one side, I said, "Well, we've passed last year's mark so we can start to walk now." But then, another voice said, "Nah... let's go another km and see how."

Another km went by and the same debate played out in my head. Again, we decided to wait another km. This went on until one of the voices said, 'Ok, Jalan Parlimen is uphill, we'll walk that than sprint to the finish line." To which the other voice retorted, "What?! Are you nuts?! The legs feel good. There is absolutely no need to walk this thing!" The first voice kept quiet.

And so it was I ran all the way to the finish line. Finished the run at a slow-ish 3h44m, four minutes off of last year's time, but I was happy. Happy because I didn't walk (except at drink stations) and happy because I felt like I could do another 10km.

I guess if i didn't have the toilet break at Petronas and if the course was the same as last year's (this year's was slightly longer) I could have gone under 3h30m. But as it was, I didn't, so there's no point trying to justify the slower time.

Nonetheless, I'm happy with the overall result. I was initially worried I didn't have the legs for it but they didn't let me down. So once, again, whoever it was that brought my legs back, thank you...

Saturday, January 19, 2008


My legs.

Last seen in Lukut, Negeri Sembilan.

If found, please return to me immediately. Need them for the GE30k run tomorrow.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Can't... feel... legs...

"How are your legs today?" asked Adzim over G-Talk.

"Legs? What are those?" I replied.

My legs are shot. Here's why:

4.30am on Sunday morning, I found myself outside my apartment with Adzim loading our bikes onto Laif's truck for the two-hour drive to Simpang Pulai. The menu: Simpang Pulai - Tapah - Ringlet - Tanah Rata - Brinchang - Kg Raja - Simpang Pulai.

Approximately 180km with 60+of those uphill, +/-3000m elevation gain.

Sounds yummy, no?

I thought so too.

7.30am, we rolled on what was to be a long long long day.

WARNING: because it was a long long long day, this post will be long long long too.

Simpang Pulai - Tapah

It all started friendly enough. We rolled out of Simpang Pulai and headed south towards Tapah. Terrain was flat with some small rollers. The pace, initially, was an easy 30-32km/h. Nice and friendly.

At about 15km in, I was thinking, "Wow! These Ipoh and Penang boys sure are friendly. Back in KL, the pace would have been murderous by now!" Ooops... thought too soon. That was when the pace really picked up. They started hammering away at 40-45km/h. I was losing ground fast. Then Vong Vong Vong picked me up and helped me bridge the gap. Behind was Laif, Andrea, and Adzim.

As we caught up to the front peloton, Adzim said, "You realise this is a recipe for disaster."

I nodded. With 60km of climbing still to come you don't want to blow your legs up trying to keep up with the leaders. So, we let them go and were cruising along at a more comfortable 30-32km/h. Until...

A motorcycle came up to us and offered us a pull to Tapah. We were about 15km away. I hadn't realised all this was happening, happily sucking wheel and sucking on my Powergel. I looked up and BAM! the speed was up again at 40km/h! I hung on for dear life, but with about 5km to go, I let go. Just couldn't hang. "Oh well," I thought. "I'll catch you in the mountains.

At Tapah, we stopped at a petrol station for a quick rest and refill. Ride stats so far:

Distance: 45km
Time: 1h27m
Avg Speed: 31.5km/h

Tapah - Ringlet

From here, we got only about 5km of flat roads to tease us before the big climb. So we happily pedaled along, enjoying the scenery, chit chatting away. But as soon as the road pointed upwards, I went backwards. There was no way I could hang with likes af Adzim and Andrea. They just dropped me like I was standing still.

I laboured on with this dude on a Specialized Tarmac for company. It was complete heads-down-just-pedal-your-way type of riding. No conversations, no nods of the head. Just pedaling and huffing and puffing. Found the rest of the gang waiting for me at the waterfall at Lata Iskandar. Kinda felt bad for holding them up. As soon as they got on the bike, they disappeared. Man... how do they do that?

This time, I had Laif for company. I suspect the hard efforts earlier had taken a toll on his legs. We struggled up to the Perak/Pahang border. At this point, I still refused to shift to my 25t cog, insisting on going on my 23t. But with about 3km to go, I relented.

These kilometres just seem to go on and on and on. There was no letting up. It wasn't particularly steep, it was just long and relentless. With about 1km to the border, Laif disappeared up the road, I just couldn't hang on. I was standing up, sitting down, standing up. Just couldn't make up my mind. Finally, I saw the sign that separated Perak from Pahang, and boy, what a relief! It was now just a downhill cruise to Ringlet.

Ride stats:
Distance: 46km
Time: 2h35m
Avg Speed: 17.8km/h

Ringlet - Kg Raja

We had a quick stop at Ringlet, refilled the water bottles, emptied our internal water bottles and we were off. This is where the climb gets really steep, especially the last 4km before Tanah Rata.

As usual, as soon as the road pointed upwards, Andrea and Adzim were gone. And Laif had dropped back to fix a puncture. The climb was painful but scenic. Some of the scenery included those riders who had blasted off the pack at the beginning, now, they were struggling to make it up the hill. Seriously though, it was some gorgeous scenery riding high and above the tea plantations. No pix though, didn't bring my camera. Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to snap any anyway, since I was a bit too busy climbing.

It was a good thing I didn't bring my camera because as soon as I arrived at Tanah Rata, it was raining. I had contemplated waiting for Laif but it was too cold just standing still so i continued to Brinchang. I've done the climb from both ends so I know what it was about but this short 4km stretch between Tanah Rata and Brinchang was an unknown quantity for me. Fortunately, It wasn't too bad. Just cold, cold, cold. I can't believe some were riding in this weather in trisuits. They must have been freezing!

I got to Brinchang, then climbed up to the Equitorial Hotel. There were riders turning back at this point, saying it was too wet to descend to Kg Raja and they were going to wait the rain out. I just wanted to get to a lower altitude so it won't be so cold.

So I continued on to Kg Raja on what must have been the slowest descent in the history of cycling! I was constantly on the brakes. At times, I was going 12km/h! Downhill! That 23km from Equitorial to Kg Raja took me close to an hour and it was mostly downhill. I was shivering, my nose was running and I had absolutely no feeling in my right hand. I had to look at it to make sure it was still there.

I got to Kg Raja and I was like a block of ice on wheels, at least I felt like it.

Ride stats:
Distance: 30km
Time: 2h01m
Avg Speed: 14.9km/h

Kg Raja - Simpang Pulai

After some hot tea, and some nasi goreng, I was ready for the home stretch. Laif had caught up with me after fixing his puncture, so we started the long 64km trek home.

But first, more climbing! It's a 3km climb just getting out of Kg Raja! And once we hit the T-junction at the top of that hill, we still had to climb some more! But as soon as the roads pointed downwards, we had some fun. Luckily the roads were dry too, otherwise it would have been a very slow descent. As it was, we coasted down and picked up some good speed even without pedaling. At one point, on a long, steep, straight section, I hit 70.2km/h! Fastest I've ever been.

We got into Simpang Pulai a whisker after 5pm. I was tired and dirty. Angel looked like we had been through Paris-Robaix, so dirty was she.

Ride stats:
Distance: 64km
Time: 1h55m
Avg Speed: 33.4km/h

When we got to the carpark, Adzim and Andrea were in the back of Laif's pick-up, waiting for us. Andrea looked fresh, like she hadn't been on the bike all day. Superwoman.

Overall ride stats:
Distance: 184km
Time: 7h58m
Avg Speed: 23.1km/h
Total elevation gain: +/- 2900m
Knackeredness: 10/10

It was a long slog. This was supposed to be my one over-distance ride before Ironman, to see what 180km feels like. This was also the longest ride I've ever been on. I dunno how I'm supposed to do a full marathon right after a ride like this. I'm so going to suffer at Ironman.

But then, isn't there fun in suffering?

Would I do this ride again? Ask me again next week.