Monday, September 8, 2008

Tough Work Being a Route Marshall - Interstate Day 2

Day two of Interstate 2008. My injured wrist took quite a beating the day before, especially going down that last, rough, bumpy descent.

I decided to rest the wrist today and ride on the final day.

So the day started with me looking for a car to ride in. I had a few offers but chose to go with Jenny in one of the Route Marshall's car since she was driving alone. But that meant I had to do some work.

Man, it's tough being a Route Marshall. Sitting in the air-conditioned car, waving your arms to show the riders wear to turn, waiting for the last rider to arrive at the critical junctions. Tough work. Made me wish I was out there riding on the relentless heat instead.

Watching the faces of the riders during the ride was interesting. At the 51km critical junction, I managed to observe all the riders as they came through.

The first pack had intensity written all over their faces. Same as the second and the third. But the later riders were all starting to show fatigue. And they still had 130 km to go!

A couple of riders were so intense that, despite a big flashing red arrow pointing let, about 10 marshalls waving and shouting "turn left!" they still went straight!

Got to the hotel in Kuala Rompin at about 12.30pm, 15 minutes after the first pack had arrived. Imagine that, I was in a car and I still arrived after the first pack. They took only five hours something to finish 178km. Apparently, they didn't make any stops at all, not even to refuel. Nutters.

With my wrist fully rested, I am now prepared for Day 3's ride.

To be continued...

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Interstate Ride Report

So many things to report, I don't even know where to begin.

Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

Day One

We were supposed to leave at 5am so we can get into Kajang safely by 6. We woke up at 5:15am.


Quickly got up got ready, made alternative arrangements with Mac and Joanne in case we missed the luggage truck and headed down to Kajang. In our rush, I left my wallet and Senn hurried through putting on her contacts, which would lead to some dire consequences later.

Got to Kajang with plenty of time to spare, fortunately. The ride started and soon the rain started too.

All the way to Semenyih, we were drenched. Don took out his raincoat and it was the noisiest thing around, flapping about in wind.

By the time we got to Tekala, the rain had subsided. I managed to hang on to the front pack till we got to the dam. At the first hill, I got dropped.

The climb up Peres was quite pleasant There was a light mist hanging just above the road. A few corners from the top, I saw the front pack stopped at the side of the road. Abby, driving her dad's truck, had swerved into the drain, and the riders had just finished pulling the truck out. The only way I was going to catch up with the leaders is if they stopped.

The descent was prety scary stuff. The roads were wet and it was cold. A bunch of us decided to take it easy. Good thing we did too, because just a few corners down the road, a rider had gone into a bend too hot and went straight into a retaining wall.

By the time I got there, he was lying on the ground beside the drain, face covered in blood. Not a pretty sight.

I hung around for bit to see if any help was required. When things looked like they were under control, I made my way down, even more cautious than before.

On the flats towards Titi, I had a mountain biker in sneakers sucking my wheel. I was pedaling furiously at 40-45km/h and here he was, just tagging along. Pretty damn strong. When I opened up to let him work, he just looked at me and smiled. OK. Looks like I'm gonna have to do this on my own. Found the front group refilling at the 77km mark and stopped to join them.

By now I had found out that Senn had stopped just after her Tekala. Her contact lenses were infecting her eyes and she couldn't stop tearing. She would take the contacts out and continue, but would end up in a support car at the 66km junction.

Continued to Spg Pertang, the 91km mark. Only 40km to go. Stopped there to eat and wait for the others. Slowly, they started rolling in: Patrick, Maria, Ishsal, Clarence, Mac, Adeline, etc. Decided to join them for the rest of the journey to Bahau.

We got going again and we were faced with this bitch of a climb. It just seemed to go on forever. Just when you think you've reached the peak, you turn the corner and the road goes upwards again. And when you have a tough climb like that, you're normally rewarded with a nice descent. Not this time. The roads were rough and bumpy and all that rattling couldn't have been good for my recovering wrist. And soon we were climbing again! With already 100km in your legs, this had to be one of the toughest climbs around.

And when we finally got to some flat land, we then had a strong headwind to contend with. By now, even maintaining 25km/h was a real chore. I had nothing left and got dropped by Ishsal, Maria and Clarence. 20km to go and I was left all by my lonesome.

I caught up with Clarence with about 15km to go and we started working together. Till he had a flat. He had no spares (i used mine fixing a flat on that rough descent), so he abandoned and waited for a support car. I pushed on ahead, fighting the wind by myself. It was the longest 10km of my life.

When I got to the hotel in Bahau, I just parked my bike and lay down for a while. The wrist was hurting, the legs were stiff. I made a decision right there and then to give the next day's 178km ride a miss.

To be continued...