Sunday, August 16, 2009

Genting Highlands: The Road to Amber Court

Stopping just before the goh tong roundabout. It's the first place where you can stop after 3-4km of climb.

Finally I got my Nokia photography skills correct. Remember to focus by pressing T.

Faisal climbing...

If you can pass this killer at 4km ... no problem to the top


Faisal thinks he'll beat Contador's time.

And the winner is...

Amber court. Smack in the middle of nowhere...and good site for ghost film shooting.

Another abandoned resort...

The climb to here is pretty tough as well..

The coolest scope I got...

You can see how steep the last 0.9km climb up.

Third time. I am beginning to have deja vu moments just thinking of it. Too much of a good thing is going to get stale any how. But this time the ride was great. Accompanied by Chee and Faisal, who had done it before, so it wasn't a problem for them (or so I hoped). Chee has done it so many times, he'd lost count. Faisal did it 2 years back.

We had a smooth and slow ride up to Sempah. Then, we embark on the 4 km nasty climb to Gohtong. Faisal was doing his best. I knew this is going to be mental. Been there, and done that. So I know how tough it is. Tried to keep things up by keeping everyone in sight. At least if you are suffering, you could always try to look up at the rider in front, and that keep things going.

We reached the Gohtong roundabout for a rest. Faisal said he'll stopped at Gohtong then back down. But I knew it's all in the mind. We'll continue up once we are fully rested and refueld at Gohtong mamak eatery.

After everyone had their chow, it's back to pedalling again. I had been able to go pass the guard alone, but would they let 3 guys up? Seems like, they never bothered. So we proceeded. First 2km is pretty manageable. Then it's all hard hard climb up.

Both of them showed they had the resolve and mettle to keep on going. I knew it's tough, physically and mentally. Reminded myself how hard it was the first time. But personally this time for me is pretty ok. It's tough, but once you got the right relaxing rythm, you can slowly inch up the mountain.

We stopped twice before the last 1km up. The ride towards the last 300 meters is hard as usual.

Then it was chilling at the coffee outlet. Chee suggested that we ride a nice route up Amber Court. It starts at the road in to mushroom restaurant. And the road itself was pretty hilly, and still yet some climbs to be done. But the view was breathtaking. Actually I didn't like the noisy fun fair and cars at Genting. I'd rather be at a solitary place overlooking majestic hills.

But amber court itself looks pretty haunting. I thought it was a personal residence until I googled up and it's really a hotel resort of some kind. My advice? Don't book it. Just looking at it gives you the creeps.

Had some fun with a sniperscope, which has 9x magnification.

Then it's all the way back to HOA. And just as I was turning into the car park, I almost fell because of something. That something turns out to be an exploded tyre.

Anyway, this is probably the last long ride before fasting month. And no more night runs up Genting :)

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Genting Highlands: Racing towards Sempah

A superbike crashed just right in front.

The climb before this temple was steep.

0.9km before the final ascent..

Only a handful cycled..including Raymond Tan and Leonard Lim

They ought to put a cyclist up there, just in case!

Was supposed to meet up with Raymond Tan at 7:30am at HOA. I reached at 7:45, but he was nowhere to be seen. Maybe he has went off? As I was preparing the bike, I forgotten my small back pack with all the bike tools in case of puncture. Damn...I could still ride, and I was hoping the tyres don't go bust.

I usually do HOA-sempah at my own speed. While not fast, it was fast enough to pass riders. Just like 2km after HOA, I passed a bunch of 15 riders. And guess what, 2 riders jumped into my back and we went ballistic.

I tried to cycled faster, yet the 2 hung on like leeches. It's definitely a race uphill, as we pant and cycled and attack each corner. Soon, the dude in the white shirt went ahead. I was tired, but not out. So I drafted behind the 2nd guy. The first guy is like 50 meters ahead. Never mind...we'll see how long he can last.

They are pretty young and strong, but maybe lesser experience when coming to hill climbs. The first guy stood up for most of the uphill when he could have pass on just by sitting. After sometime of chasing the leader, finally the gap is bridged. I went up ahead, but the race is not yet finished.

The final hairpin came into view. I was side by side with the white shirt guy. I knew it was time to attack. Dropped one gear and mashed the pedals. Another gear, and I was far ahead. Time to Sempah was done in 42 minutes ( I think my fastest ever). Later I asked where they were going and they said bukit tinggi. I was really thinking of joining them because I was totally spent racing. Btw, they were brothers. The white guy shirt's name is Edison.

Met Sam Matsunaga was said he was going to Bentong. Nice chap.

Oh well. Better to suffer going genting. I guess lets see if I could make it to Gohtong. I bid the two goodbye, as I said I was going up Gohtong. I could see disbelieve in their eyes.

Now the first 4 km from Sempah is pure torture. It's climb, climb and more climb. If you could preserver at this route, then you got a chance up Genting final ascents.

Reached gohtong mamak for refeulling, then proceeded to attack the peak. It's tough as usual, but this time I stopped more often because of the race to sempah. But I felt the climb was more manageable after knowing what to expect at each turn.

Reached the glorious arch, and then rested for some honey lemon, before a downhill joyride back to HOA.

This is my third time up. And there's another one next week, which I have a confirmed rider as well. And Raymond Tan and his friend Leonard Lim did made it to the peak and back for a first timer.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Desaru Triathlon 2009: A better timing

Outta the swim leg...

Back from the cycling leg...

Running the last few km.

Kevin Siah, Ben Swee, Roger, Keat Seong, me...

This was a race that was not really on my books. I had booked Putrajaya Half IM, but with it bumping to Oct, I guess I would be bored to death without doing another tri.

Desaru is really really far. Travelling on road is at least 6 hours drive covering 400km of road. Raymond and I joked on how far we thought it would take to drive, but have no qualms riding the same distance.

Race day came. I wasn't nervous. I was just thinking of doing this the best I could. And this year the race started earlier at 9am. Thank goodness for that, as last year 10am had us cycling in very very hot wheather. As usual swim is pretty choppy, as we crested, and crashed up and down on the waves. Accidentally, I had gulped a few sips of sea water. My swim wasn't that strong. I just tried to maintain a good cadence of strokes and keeping the heart rate low.

When I reached the beach to go for the 2nd loop, I disbelievingly looked at my time of 15 minutes! Usually it's 20. The 2nd loop was far better with less swimmers. And I had the swim in 31 minutes. Note that everyone did better on a shorter distance swim. How short is anybody's guess.

As for the bike, I had a better transition than PD. Quickly got off to speed off for the 3 loops of ride. Now, the only flat part is the road just before the main one. The main road is not exactly flat. It's rolling hills all the way, and looking back, a Tri bike is not exactly advantageous.

The first loop was done below 1 hour. There's some parts of the ride which I can't help but stayed or draft behind the rider. It's not that I wanted to draft but I wanted to stay in front. After some time, I guess I'll just ride alone not to draft. But I do noticed pelotons going up and down. Yeap..drafting.

The 2nd loop, I was then going slower. I think Emma caught on me while going a long uphill. She was definitely using higher gears. Then Keat Seong went blazing up with his cervelo.

I didn't really push on the bike, but was just happy to make it below sub 3 (2:50) on the bike.

Then it was off to run the dreaded 21km. Last year I was mentally exhausted on the run. This year I could run more. Managed to bumped into Keat Seong and Kevin Siah who was at the lead. But somehow Kevin was walking?? He later mentioned he had cramps. Then managed to pass Keat Seong after 5km or so.

Now what's hard running after 90km of bike is not really the distance. It's the head, humidity and sometimes lack of wind. This year it was a bit cloudy, so it was pretty ok. You'll really need to be strong mentally just to complete the run. I find myself walking some parts of it, partly because I was getting bored pushing. I would rather enjoy the race.

Running was more fun when bumping into friends along the way.

On the 2nd loop, I was really low on nutrition. I had just half a gel on the bike and forgotten to take one on the run. Luckily Yee Hua came with some milo. Then I had 2 bananas. Well, that had me going..The last turn back, I turned on a faster pace. In fact it was the fastest part of the run. The faster the better to end this suffering.

Back in 5:21. The run was 1:55.

Thanks to all Lydia and Bernard for the photos and support. Without you guys, the race will be boring. And congrats to all the first timers in the long distance. It's certainly a battle well fought to the finish.