Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In memory of Ngae

When Frank sent me the message of Ngae's passing, I was really in shock. It was just very hard to believe. He had been battling brain tumor for a year, and after an initial comeback in Putrajaya half IM, things doesn't seemed so well after that. He was having memory loss with even his best friend. But the reality of his condition didn't sinked in, after knowing more details from his wife's story during the memorial. If I had known that it was that bad, I would have paid a visit.

We know him as someone who is full of life, joyfull, and friendly. And he was one tough guy. He ran Marathon Des Sables, ran ultras, did 3 IM, and countless other races. His uniqueness stands out, and he's always a well known guy. He's sort of a rock to most of us. And of course, I think he's a bit crazy sometimes, running barefoot, and wearing a sarong. But he doesn't seemed the less minded of it. He just does things his own way.

Before I started doing ultras, I had gained some inspiration from him, especially on the 100km he did from Subang to PD. If this guy could do it, then somehow, I had hope, that I could do that as well.

I believe his passing would have us ponder our mortality. Death is something will come. But the bigger question is, did we live fulfilling lives? Did we try to savor each passing day? Did we fulfill our dreams? I think, Ngae has shown us that he had lived his dreams. He trains and puts a lot of effort into them, and that has inspired the rest of us greatly.

He'll always be in our memories, as long as we live.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Interstate 2010: Extended version

The climb to ulu yam...
Now downhill towards ulu yam
I hope it doesn't bite...
It rained near slim river....
Can't remember where this was...but it's 50km to ipoh.
Perak has nice mountains...
Finally reaching Kangsar...
At the start of the first day....

Now that is a cool bike...
It had rained hard early in the morning...
Stopping at Gerik...
Banding..it's as nice as people say it is...

But...I got to rush off to Kota Bharu...
This is almost reaching the top...it had been a tough climb from Banding...
Titiwangsa rest area...
Another view from Titiwangsa...
Kota bharu....it's now cycling southwards towards Kuantan....
Padi fields...
Reaching Pasir Puteh...
Reaching Kuala Terengganu...
Resting at Zaharah Mosque...
Having breakfast at Dungun before heading for Kuantan...

I think this is kerteh...

Paka looks out of place with it's refinery...

It was so hot I downed 3 glass of coconut water...
At batu hitam...finally reaching Kuantan...
Now it's back to KL

It's another 249km...
Near sri jaya....

I spend alot of time with this view...
Cycling up towards Genting Sempah...on the highway!
Most brutal climb to Sempah...
It's getting dark...so it's all the way to Gombak.

I've heard of the interstate held annually, but till now, haven't participated in any. When Jezamine pestered the rest of us to ride 3 days among the hills of perak to the flats of east coast kelantan, I thought if it was possible to ride more than that. The question was how much time it would take.

What I had in mind:
Day 1: KL to Kangsar
Day 2: Kangsar to Kota Bharu
Day 3: K.Bharu to Kuantan
Day 4: rest
Day 5: Kuantan to KL

Roughly estimated distance is more than 1000km. I kept thinking it over, and over again. There's questions of supplies, what to bring, what to wear. I only told a handful of people cause I don't know if I could pull it off. The worst case is to hitch a bus home if conditions becomes too unbearable. I was thinking of asking my bro to follow, but decided otherwise. The maximum distance will exceed 300km, and you just have to had done that, to know how it feels, and still be willing to continue the next day.

Day 1:
I knew this route after driving from KL to penang on trunk roads. Around 7:20am, I rode northwards on MRR2 until the Ulu Yam dam. The climb up the dam was hard, and slowly the elevation went up until the peak. Then it was high speed to ulu yam for a rest and drink, before moving up towards Tanjung Malim. I didn't really know if it's in Selangor or Perak until some signs showed it was Perak.

Rain clouds was gathering as I approached Slim River. The roads were straight and rolling, so cars were really going fast. I witnessed a tragedy just before slim river. A motorcyclist was lying underneath a mangled car. I believe he's a goner.

Then it started to rain, so I tucked in at a bus stop to wait it out. Afterwards, it was again cycling passing tapah, bidor, and I believe I hit 180km in Kampar. As usual, it was hot. I was feeling pretty ok but tired by the time I hit Ipoh at 215km. Had something to eat before speeding off to Sg Siput, and in the last few kms to Kangsar, I was really bonking.

I hadn't refueled enough. So when I reached Kangsar at 7:30pm, I just have to eat something at the mamak. Jezamine, Kenny, Gerard, Debbie were already there, and they were kind enough to let me stay one night.

By now, I was wondering if I could even cycle to KB.

Distance: 270km

Day 2:
There was lots of cyclist at the starting line, all eager to ride. As we speed towards Lenggong and Gerik, the scenery was spectacular. Hills and mist greeted us from every view.

My strategy was just to draft. This is needed to conserve for the next 180km after Banding.

Already at the start the strong ones were moving at the head of the peloton breaking away from us. I toead in line with Faizal and Adzim, Poh Seng and Iwan, while they pulled us towards Gerik.

Another problem I was having is the bag. It's 3.6kg, and this is probably a heavy burdern to shoulder, literally. Climbing hills is tough. Climbing with weights stuck on your back, up in the noon sun, with windless air, is hell.

But I was really thankful of the granny gear I was having. Poh seng then mentioned I could put the bag in their support car.

After Gerik it was climbing for 20km.
I thought we have another 10km to climb, when it was actually downhill all the way to the resort. But...the road up the resort is a steep 20%, albeit for short few meters.

Distance was 139km. After refuelling with water, I took my bag, bid some friends farewell, before heading towards Kota Bharu.

Now, it's all a lonely ride from here. Little did know that the path from Banding goes up for another 30km! It was so tough, I was bonking. Reason was I had only raisins since Gerik. After 15km, thank god for the rest area, I stopped for lunch and prayers. Chatting with a lorry driver revealed it's all climb from here.

When I finally reached the rest area at Titiwangsa, it had took me 3 hours. I stopped and eat for at least 30 minutes before speeding downhill towards Jeli.

From Jeli, as I looked back at the mountain range, I thought as if I've escaped a prison of hills.

From here, it's another 50km to Tanah Merah, then 50km to Kota bharu. I was tired, and was wondering if I should just bunk in Tanah Merah. You see, if I stay in Tanah Merah, then the distance to Kuala terengganu will be much shorter.

But I thought about the goal of KB, and all I need now, is just to pedal, regardless if I was bonking, tired, sleepy and on the verge of quitting.

Another challenge was the darkness. There's no street lights up to Tanah Merah, and all I had was the front lamp, giving luminance for at least 2 meters. After riding so long, I had butt pain and each bump on the road, is enough to make you cringe.

I saw the sign towards tanah merah, and turned in. The darkness just turned surreal. It was so dark, and the stars were so beautifully hung up in the sky. I almost veered off the road when I took a look. Finally I did reach Tanah Merah.

It's just another 40km plus...So I rode on, and on. I noticed the flat terrain were padi fields, but nothing much you can see. After the roudabout at pasir mas, it was going over a bridge for the final 20km. I was so tired, that every KM reached means so much.

By 4km, it was already near the town area, where I had to stop for some drinks. And finally I've reach KB at 11pm.

I quickly check into a hotel, went for Nasi Kerabu, then slept.


Day 3:
Because of the weight of the bag, and the underwear outer line causing deep pain, I thought it's best to not wear one. My palms were pretty much in pain from holding the handlebar.

At 8am, I speed of, in hope of reaching kuantan, or maybe if not, as close as possible.

The roads were very very flat. So I could go aero at long period of time, pushing 30kmh. But the sun was hot, and I had to constantly remind myself to drink every 5km.

By the time I reached the border of Terengganu, the roads were once more rolling hills. Nothing much to say but it was tough and hot, when reaching Kuala terrenganu at 163km. I stopped by Zaharah Mosque to rest, and eat some snacks. By this time, the only real food I had was 15km after KB, nasi kerabu.

I wasn't really hungry, so I thought of skipping lunch until night time. Not that you can really eat under this heat anyway. It was soon a decision I would come to regret.

I was bonking very very hard on the way towards dungun. But it was also other reasons. Riding high mileage for the past 2 days, takes a toll on your body. You know you are bonking, when the highest speed you could pedal is 25kmh. And my right knee was having pain as well. Standing up to pedal is almost impossible. But you had to, just to relieve your butt.

The coconut trees, and sandy beaches on my left were so enticing, I wished I could stop, and just sit down under them. But I can't. I got to pedal. The purpose of this ride was to seek my limits. And now I am looking at it...head on. Eyes glazed, sleepy, and hungry, slowly I pedaled towards dungun. A few k before that, I decided to stop and have some fried rice.

I knew by another 130km from dungun to kuantan is doable, but dangerous. After having dinner, I think I could continue, but decided to stay a night. I can't risk another night of cycling in unknown roads.

Distance: 238.8km

Day 4:
After having breakfast, it was back to cycling. This time, the morning was fresh, and the view scenic. Hot, but it was something I just got used to it. The skin on the back of my neck is already sunburned, so I don't really feel much pain there.

I always loved the coastal roads at this part of Terengganu. The beaches are lovely, it's as though a paiting was drawn right on it. But I didn't stop until I reach Batu Hitam, and celebrated the reaching of Kuantan with ABC.

4 days of cycling and finally I've reached home.

Distance: 131km

Day 5:
The final leg. I couldn't wait. I've ridden this route twice before, and it was going to be a long day cycling.

By the time I reached Karak it was 4plus. After having KFC, it was 5:15pm.
I knew if I took the old route bentong, it'll be climbing bkt tinggi in the dark. Time was just not on my side.

So I risked it by using the highway all the way up to Sempah. The 3km climb up to sempah was probably the most brutal climb since I had. Passed by Sempah, but didn't stop. I can't stop now. It's already 7:05pm, and darkness will come soon. So I sped off into the tunnel, and all the way towards Gombak toll.

Then it was MRR2, and stopping by McD. It was the first stop after Karak. I'd also noticed the distance using the highway was 20km shorter.

For the next few KM, I pedaled hard and fast back home. Surprisingly I was feeling ok, and all I need now is rest.

Distance: 259km

Total distance: 1222.5km


Riding such long periods of time caused pain on the palms. Quads are also in pain, but not much on the feet. Usually it's the extremities with contact on the bike will experience soreness...and that including the butt.

But...it had been a blast. I did this ride without even knowing if I can finish it within a timeframe of 5 days, and to have done so, I am content enough.

A big thanks to all my friends who had helped, and shown concern during the ride.