Sunday, July 26, 2009

Genting Highlands: Riding into the clouds

The rain had cleared the skies. Peak is visible before descent.

Having lunch...

Stopped at 2km mark...and it doesn't get easier.

Finally all done...


This picture is a bit deceiving. It's steeper than it looks. Thinks my camera phone is distorting it.

There has been news that cyclist are barred from cycling up to the top of Genting. That had me worried, so I guess I'll try to ride up and see if it's true. Quoted by a pro cyclist doing the Tour of Langkawi as being as tough as two Alpe D'Huez, it's certainly a ride that any cyclist will think twice before going up.

I had also changed to a smaller handle bar, because the previous was a bit larger for my frame.

The morning rain was a great welcome for yesterday's hot wheather, but it also meant the ride had to start late, or not doable at all. But by 10, it seems the rain stopped, so I sped off to HOA.

Started the ride at 11:45am, and it was a pleasure ride up Genting Sempah. But due to the rain, humidity was super high. It had me sweating buckets. Just Before reaching the underpass at sempah, I turned into the opposite direction to proceed with the climb. At least, one don't have to go all the way down to McD and cycle up again.

At the first checkpoint, the guards don't seem to bother. So I proceeded. It was a tough time on the bike. With more experience on the belt, I thought it could be at least easy but that's not the way it was. A few km up, and I was already thinking of quiting. Yes, quiting. I was having a 25 casette at the back, and I was hoping it could grow to 27.

Just before the first roundabout, I stopped to get some breather. It was the first stop. And my heart rate is going through the roof.

Then I proceeded to reach a few more climbs before a welcoming descent. Then a some smaller climbs to Gohtong Jaya. It was lunch time. Rice would be too heavy so I had roti sardin. Bump into a few mountain bikers. I asked them if they were riding up, and they said they drove up, then cycled down. Wtf...How come I didn't think of that?

After lunch, I pedalled slowly up. Just before the 2nd checkpoint, there was a sign saying you can't jog here. So no more silly night run up folks.

The first 2km ascent is bearable. The next few are steeper. All I could do was slowly turning the crank. As long as the crank is moving, the bike move. No pushing all out. Just saving the legs for any dramatic incline.

The hardest part ironically is the last 4.4 km. First a hair pin that will go straight up after the bend. Then it was another steep incline after the Pagoda.

Just remember, that the route after this is pretty steep. You'll have to manage your heart rate well. It doesn't get easier.

I had a stop at the 2km marker for some rest. Then proceeded to pedalled up. Not easy, but the view was breath taking. As I inched up to the last 300 meters, I had to tell myself not to stop. And passing the brown arch took all the misery away.

Settled for some iced lemon at the Coffee shop, before heading down. Took 3 hours plus rest time. It was a blistering ride downhill...albeit a bit dangerous...

After the ride, I pondered if I was fit enough, and I couldn't say I was when coming to hill climbs. It was last year which I did genting but at that time, it was a heavier wheel set and I was using casette size 21. I'll never know how I could have managed that.

Check out the link on how tough genting is...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Shoe Review: Nike LunarGlide+

The first time I looked at it, it doesn't seem quite looks like a pair of running shoes. I thought it was for trail running.

From the design department, it certainly looks good. But the question is whether it could perform as good as it looks.

I took it for a 12km run, and surprisingly it was light. And the time I clocked was just a minute more from the usual Saucony pair I had. I could go faster and it will allow me to go, although the soles looks a bit thick. What I didn't expect was the bouncy feeling it gave. Somehow the bounce could translate to further distance per running step, which makes you go futher.

I also did a few walks in it. Now why would one try test walking? If you are comfortable walking in a pair of shoes, running would be the same. Ever walk in a pair of running shoes and you feel tired just by standing? And walking in it does feel naturally stable. You won't feel tired, even after you had walk miles in this.

I would say it's perfect for training up to 21km, but not for fast road racing. If you ever wanted a pair of running shoes that is light, stable and attractive, it's definitely worthwhile to consider.

Retail Price MYR 399.00

Monday, July 20, 2009

Ipoh Century Ride 2009

At the head of the peloton...Zain 3rd from the right

Great company made this trip a memorable one. This was my first time doing the 160km century ride. The first time I heard about it was last year, but didn't join because I was not into cycling at that time.

We reached the starting car park around 6:45am. But I wasn't sure where was the starting line when suddenly the marshalls were clearing the way. The race has started with cyclist pouring into the main road. Without wasting a moments time, I quickly mounted on and pedal furiously. Abu had advised to stick to the first peloton, so I just did that.

Bumped into my cycling buddy Zain, along the way. The pack was really not going that fast at the start. But things starting to pickup soon after. There were a bunch of blue jerseys UCI and orange jersey cyclist which seems like a team. There was the occasional attack when one guy would charge afront. Then the rest would follow.

Now the funny thing is, Zain and I was at the front, sort of creating a lead pack, but of course we know this won't last long. At times, I find myself pulling the peloton, and sometimes chasing the attacker, who was trying to create a breakaway. Zain and bernard was gracious to advise to save energy.

After like 50km plus, I decided to keep at the middle pack, hanging there for the draft. But it was still fast and furious as usual, up hills and down hills.

I didn't go aero because it would be darn dangerous if I fell.

But when we proceeded after 80km to do some serious climbing, I missed the first peloton. It was not much fun at that point. Just hanging with 4 to 5 guys working the group. Some parts of the hills looks a bit steep but not for long.

Almost fell into a hole by the road just below the rails as it was a 90 degrees turn. But luckily managed to remain calm and averted it.

I did a quick check at my time for the last 10k back and it was sufficient to guarantee a sub 5. Finished the ride in hot sun with 4:47:23. Not a pretty good time, but just happy to make it back safely.

I used the arogon 18 TT bike. Not a good choice for this route with lots of climbs. Easily gets dropped if the rest attack hills.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Port Dickson Triathlon 2009

Marina bay. We have to swim here..

After the swim..

At the end of the bike section

(pic from Faisal..)

Firstly, thanks to all THG members who had made this trip fun and exciting. Tri races is actually more of a gathering of friends and athletes, and maybe, the race itself secondary, unless you have your own target to win.

I went into the race with an elbow still injured, and still having fatigue from last sunday's long ride. So I don't expect much.

Now for the swim, I think everyone did badly. It was high incoming tide, and boy, swimming in it can get you sea sick from all the waves pounding. I opted to start from the rightmost side because of the wound on the right arm. If someone were to hit it at the right spot, my swim is surely a goner. And not being able to swim for a week made the effort a weak one. The time of 35 minutes says it all.

And for the bike transition, I spent a whole minute more, putting on socks, helmets, sunnies. Must've been the whirpool swim.

Biking section wasn't a blast as well. I couldn't find the strong rythm which I could usually pound. I was not there. When Simon Cross went blazing by in his black beauty, I tried to hitched a ride, but am only able to maintain 1-2k before I figured out I could get a heart attack. We were going 45 above and 50km/h.

The route itself is dotted with rolling hills. Nothing much too hard to overcome. Soon, I settled at a slower pace while trying to draft some guys. I did some lead as well, until I reached the u-turn clocking 37 minutes. Then it was heading back, where I stuck with a Look 496 biker lady for most of the time.

Now, I don't know if this is cheating but I noticed one guy drafting a motor bike. I thought, this ain't right. But then you have like 10 bikers following it. The motor bike would slow down if it gets too fast so the biker behind could catch up. Go figure...

As we head towards the highway, only then my legs came back. They were lost for most of the biking section. We stuck in a peloton, which I lead a bit, then it was off to running. If only this was how it was back.

Since, I haven't pushed much during biking, the legs were so fresh, I thought I just started doing the race. Was with Sam Matsunaga for awhile, then I left him at 2km point. I was hoping to do a 5 min pace. Then caught up with Zabil who said he was cramping, so I went pass. Caroline was happily splashing the runners with a hose.

Met Andy as well (did a 2:24) running the opposite direction. Then reached the u-turn in 23 minutes. Great!...So I quickly turned a faster pace back so I could hit 46 by the time back. Finally nailed the run in 45 minutes, which turned out to be just a nice negative split.

The girls did well with Siok bee, Mich, Jenn, and Lydia Tan winning top 10 position. Wondering when will the guys win something?

Time: 2:34:58

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Ultra cycling: KL-Klawang-Karak-Tranum-Fraser Gap-KKB-Ulu Yam-KL 344km

Bukit hantu...

Morning was beautiful with mist...

Up genting peres...

Notice the fellow at the back?...he's chasing

Refuelling with durians...better than powerbar.


Somewhere to tranum...on the verge of bonking...

Fraser hill at the's going to be a tough climb...

Road to Tranum....

Finally reaching Fraser Gap...

Suprisingly, I could still cycle to work today. Although a bit stoked from all the cycling done the previous day. I couldn't sleep well either. I kept on having dreams on and off with a brain full of activity.

I knew right before hand, this won't be easy. Lights will be needed to go beyond 12 hours into the night.

I started exactly at 7:27am, zooming off to climb the Ampang hill, then Bukit Hantu (which always is the hardest), and then Genting Peres. Met some cyclist on the way as well. Sofian and Chan's group, which made me wonder if they were doing broga.

The nice part with going up Genting Peres was a mini race. There was a group which had just started the same time, to start the climb. The leader stubbornly stick to my back 10,20 meters or so. And each time he neared, I pushed up the pedal and went off. This happened for a few kms, and he dropped off somewhere. Then there was a guy in a cervelo road bike.

I passed him, and he seems not so impressed. So he worked hard to chase. Managed to pass me once, but when Genting Peres was near, I pushed again, and he was left in the dust. Oh well, that was fun.

Then it was off to Klawang which I reached around 10:15. Had some lunch, and it was off to Simpang Pertang. It had started to rain slightly, and it turn out to be a downpour. That had me soaked from top to bottom, and some how, I sensed my speed was not going that fast either.

Passed Simpang Pertang, and then had a stop at Simpang Durian, where I had some drinks and removed the wet socks with Nike dry fit. Then it was a stop at Manchis to have some fruits and drink before finishing the 30km to Karak. Managed to reach karak around 3 something.

I had been thinking of refuelling, and I thought why not durians? So at karak, I had 2 of them, which I told the boss, it was for climbing up Fraser.

Then it was a stop at the mosque in bentong. I give the kow pow ice kacang a pass, because I don't want to be climbing up Fraser in the dark. From bentong at 4:52pm, it was a race up to tranum. Now, the road to tranum is a bit tricky. What looks like flat are not. You could sense it when you're wondering why your speedometer keep on hovering around 15km/h. And at this point, I was on the merge of bonking, having delusional thoughts if I could even make it up to Fraser gap. I was stoked and dreaming of Gap, and the slow speed is certainly a heart breaker. I wanted to go fast and the legs and butt pain is becoming a hindrance.

Anyway, managed to reach Tranum. And then it was a long long climb up. The elevation is similar to going up Genting sempah from bentong. But the distance of 21km is a real mental challenge as I was left wondering when all this would end. Every twist and turn looks monotously the same. It was sitting and pedalling for a few hundred of meters, and then standing up to loosen up the legs and back.

After 1.5 hours, I did reach Fraser gap at around 6:30pm. Sitting down on the bench never felt so good. I reflected the journey from Klawang and calculated the distance. It's 170km approx. It was just shy of 10km for IM distance.

There's no time to lose. So it's all downhill to KKB for 30km. This is perhaps the best part of the trip and I felt I deserved it after suffering. As I passed the lake at the dam, I never thought I'll see Lake Semenyih and this one at KKB on the same day. There was a lot of people doing fishing, and it seems the water level had gone down a few meters.

I reached KKB at 7:30 and had one gel. But I was craving for solid food. I did have a powerbar but that doesn't seem like edible. It was getting dark, so I proped up the bright LED light.

It was bright enough to see the what's ahead. So, it was pretty safe, I guess, to ride in the dark. Managed to reach Batang Kali, and I settled down for a burger and some drinks. Then it was off to Ulu yam.

And now here's the hardest part. The first climb is similar to bukit hantu for a few k. Atrociously hard. The dark night made it more dangerous. And then there's speeding cars cutting corners like mad because of the downhill. After that was done, it was pure bliss downhill.

Now what is most dangerous of this route is not the climb, cars or the night. It's muggers. My friend Zin had warned me of this place. I acknowledged it with some sense of understanding of what I was getting into.

I noticed a motor bike trailing for a few k, just like 100meters at the back as I was zooming down 30kmh over. But it soon pass ahead. I didn't give it much thought because of the mammoth final climb up the hill near the dam.

That final climb was overcome with every muscle fiber in the leg mashing the pedals. Luckily it was short, and the time showed 9:27pm. Time to get back home, or I thought.

Just after the junction into the main road, a motor bike with 2 guys appear from behind. One tried to grab my pouch bag. I yelled ooi...but the yank made me fell. They didn't made off with it though. And this was right at the middle of the road. Luckily no cars was behind. I quickly made a reassessment of damage. No bones broke but a minor abrasion on the right elbow. The bike was ok and ridable.

I stood there cursing those fellows. Later at a petrol station washing the wound, a man told me that place was notorious with gangsters, gum sniffing and mat rempits. Snatch thievery is common.

Because of the wound, I could manage to cycle slowly back to KL, going through Jln Tun Razak, and then back to Cheras.

Looking back, this ride is probably the only one I would not do again. It could have been a blast if not the mishap with snatch thieves. But in the end, finishing is all that matters.

Distance: 344km
Ave: 24.3km/h
Out on the road: 7:27am to 11:30pm (16 hours)
On the saddle: 15 hours
Total Elevation: unknown....