Monday, February 21, 2011

Cameron Interstate Ride

Genting Sempah...not much riders today...
Stopped for a gel.
Bleerggh route towards Sg Koyan.
Felda Sg Koyan...
Approaching the ranges of Titiwangsa

The route's condition is pretty good.
Long long climb...
And the view is nice..
Oh, finally seeing Cameron...
A tribute to my bike...
Kea farm..
Going uphills towards Kea farm
At this point, it's all downhill from Cameron...enjoy an hour of bliss..
Pretty descriptive...
The valleys beside the road.
Kampar...still way far from home...

Now if there's one thing that intrigued me, it was how many routes one can take, to go up Cameron Highlands. I've done 2 well known ones, Simpang Pulai & from Tapah. There's another one from Gua Musang. And it was a surprise to find out that there's a new route from Sg Koyan. It doesn't exist in Google maps, hence the surprise.

From some googling, it seems the route was completed last year. And there's some info on the GPS elevation from Sg Koyan to Ringlet as well. Day 1 of Interstate will start from Raub to Brinchang and that's a good 145km distance. But I was wondering if I could start from KL.

So here goes. Started from KL at 7:36am. I had wanted to start early, but due to some issues, I woke up around 3am and hadn't slept much then. I had packed 3 tubes, 1 spare tyre, a pair of clothes, tools, and 2 Accelerade gels. Yes, that's my only nutrition if something goes wrong.

The bag wasn't heavy, which is close to 3kg. Sped off on the MRR2 to head towards gombak. Reached HOA with the distance of 27.4km only. I thought it was 30km, but oh well. Then it was a slow grind up Genting Sempah, and quick descent towards Bentong.

At Bentong, I stopped for nasi lemak & iced kacang. This would be the last time for a heavy meal for the day. Then it was reaching raub (distance 113km). It was getting kind of hot. And there's nothing better than downing 2 cups of cane water, then eating fruits. I was kinda bloated...but I think that would go off soon.

Then it was embarking on the unknown route towards Sg Koyan. The route can be described as rolling and not so well maintained. The tarmac looks like it could use some repair. You will passthrough a section of palm oil plantations until you reached Sg Koyan itself. Had a bit of a scare as a "musang" ran across the road. I had almost knocked into it, but missed it inches.

Reaching Sg Koyan marks 163km. Had to stopped for some tasteless chicken rice, because the route ahead will have no stalls or shops for one to refill. There's a Petronas section ahead from the turning into Pos Betau around 1km. I head there first to refill on soya & some can drinks, instead of only having water.

Started from the junction towards Ringlet at approx 3:15pm. From my guess, it's a good 10okm up to brinchang. And I was hoping to reach Ringlet in daylight, if possible.

The route is basically devoid of vehicles, pretty well maintained, and new as well. There's a few uphills & downhills up to Pos Betau. And from there the steepness of the climb slowly increased. But it's still rolling up and down as well. So it's kind of frustrating in that you hope that you wanted to keep the elevation gained, but then it's all gone on the downhill. Brinchang is at the height of 1500m, so it's not going to be easy.

At the 44km mark from Sg Koyan, the route became visibly harder as it snakes up the mountain range. I think this is when tough becomes tougher. It's a good 2-3km non stop climb, then some flats. And then some more climb. But there's some downhill section as well.

The first visible signs of nearing Ringlet is farms on the side of the road. At this point I was really bonking. I didn't know what the distance was to ringlet, and I could only speculate. Finally a signboard for some hotels in Brinchang came into view, stating it's another 28km up. Yes, that's the only distance marker for the entire climb up Ringlet. But 28km isn't on flats.

I had to stopped for awhile. My back were aching from the bag, and I was famished. Downed a gel, then went back into the climbing game. Finally to my joy, I reached a sundry shop, so I stopped by, grab a bread, some drinks and chilled out at the stool outside the shop. If there's a definition of bonking, I think I found it there and then. I was staring and marvelling at the farms set up high on the peaks of the hills. I wonder how on earth did they build those structures up there.

But it was getting dark, and it's time to get on the bike and pedal. There's still rolling hills, nothing pretty much hard until you reached the final long steep climb up Ringlet. It's a good 1-2km. I was hungry again, so I stopped to have tosai with egg, and to get some rest. It tasted so bad, that I didn't finish it.

It's another 15km from Ringlet. And by this time, it's truly dark. I restarted cycling at 8:15pm. There's some downhill from Ringlet, then some flats, and then 7-8km of climbs up Tanah Rata. I had my front LED light on, and since it's climbing, it's pretty safe as long as vehicles can see you. At this point, it's just trying to complete this whole thing in one piece. Slowly but surely, I am gaining distance, so that's all that I needed to know.

After Tanah Rata, it was pretty flat, but once I reached Brinchang at 9:30pm, it's a final 15% gradient up again. Pretty crazy way to finish this whole route. I was just glad to finish off this ride safely.

Dinner was pretty tasteless. After such an effort, the food doesn't taste good at all. I checked into Kowloon hotel, and promptly slept.

Day 1: 263km


In the morning I went sight seeing around the area. I hadn't explored it from the last visit. I visited the nearby Strawberry Park Farm, and that was an enjoyable experience looking at so many types of flowers which I hadn't seen before. Had strawberries, honey & yogurt with tea, and it was just splendid in the cool morning air.

Today's ride was just basically a relaxing one. I was taking my time to enjoy every bit of Cameron, so the ride was pretty slow. Then descending from Cameron was pretty exhilarating, as you don't need to do much work to keep the wheels going. But there's some hiccups on the way down. Somehow the front rim had a screeching sound as though the brakes were applied. But after some checks, the brake calipers were opened at its widest, so how was that possible? It only happens randomly.

Then as I reached Sg Pulai, my back tyre burst. After some checks, the cause was the old rim tape being in a state of damage at certain parts. It's made of plastic. And some parts weren't even, so that putting back the tube meant that the whole tyre isn't even. I was worried that puncture might recur. I slowly cycled to Ipoh to checkin into the hotel . Question was should I fixed it?

Day 2: 89km

After getting some info on the bike shops near town, I think it's best to get it fixed. It didn't took long, but cost me having to start at 10am. I was just hoping to reach KL within day light.

So, this time it's TT mode, heads down and pedal like mad. I was kind of happy to see an average of 30kmh after 100km. But it's been hot the whole day, and late noon was hot as well. I stopped a few times to get drinks, lunch or a wash.

After reaching KKB, I decided to try the Rawang route for a change, back to KL. It's a bit further, and totally unfit for cycling. Firstly the traffic is bad at the route up Templar's park. Lorries were moving 100kmh beside me, which made me wonder what in the world are they rushing for. I had thought that the climbs here would be minimal compared to Ulu yam, but roughly you still do the same work.

Then it was KL back again. Got stucked in a bit of traffic as usual. After cycling through Jln Kuching, Loke Yew, finally I reached home at 7:15pm

Day 3: 217km
Total: 576km for 3 days.

For those doing PCC Interstate this year, be prepared for lots of climbs. Try broga reverse until you feel comfortable as you'll have climbs of similar steepness and distance. The route from Sg Koyan to Brinchang will test your climbing skills to the max, and I am not kidding.

Fraser Loop Revisited

Raub...pretty small town.
Hotel seri raub...and I believe it's fully booked for Interstate 2011
Tras village... usual
Faris & Anas...
Dam at KKB...
This is the start of a long continuous climb up Gohtong. It's probably 5-6km with no flats in between. So be well prepared...

I had wanted to do a route which exceeds 200km, and frasers provide an easy answer. This time the difference was adding Raub into the equation, and climbing up Gohtong Jaya.

I've just signed up for interstate 2011, hence popping into Raub. Starting from HOA gombak to Raub is 84km. It's a pretty small town. But bigger than Klawang imho. I was eyeing which hotel would be suitable for booking. There's Hotel Seri Raub smacked right in the middle of the town. But there's numerous other smaller hotels which isn't far from the center. The most you would be out, is around2-3km.

After Raub, it was heading to Tranum via a 10km long road which passes Tras, a small village just 2-3km before Tranum. Then it was a boring 20km climb up to the Gap. I've never liked this route, with it's monotonous view and turns, there's not much difference even if you've cycled a few miles. At Gap, had nasi lemak & burger for lunch. Then my friend Anas, who was at the top of Frasers messaged, that he's coming down. I've seen him in a few years, so I waited for them to descend. They had started from KKB, and it was a leisure ride for them back.

After some chat, I had to speed off cause of the batang kali-gohtong climb. Had to stopped at batang kali to refill bottles with water & icy cold coconut drink, before embarking on one of the hardest climb. Yes, it's hard no matter how experienced you are. In my books, if you can sit patiently for more than one hour climbing a steepness as of bukit hantu for more than 10km, you are considered a true road cyclist. It was pretty hot as well, which made the climb a suffer fest.

Reached Gohtong, had some food, and then it was all the way back to HOA. Total distance is 210.5 km

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Putrajaya Twilight Ultramarathon

At the start of the run...
Before the start...
Mich & Ray Ng, this part is across the bridge before the u-turn at the PICC
Jamie, Frank, Karen & Kelvin Ng

Pacing with Ray...
Karen setup a nice refueling station, meant as charity for Orang Asli

Well, I didn't ran a marathon. And actually I didn't sign up. In fact it's only 2 loops (22km). Main reason was I am not into ultras this year, so it's more like supporting the other runners.

A few crazy guys are there as well. Jeff Ooi had been running earlier, and was planning to cover 100km. He managed to do 70plus. Frank and the rest were planning to do 50km. Karen Loh also did a 50km distance.

Ray & mich was there as well. We just ran at our own pace, which was pretty fast to cover 2 loops. I think I was doing it fast just to finish the whole thing fast, so I don't need to run longer.

Then it was just hanging around looking at the other runners, and chit chatting.

I think it's pretty good that more & more runners are doing ultras. That said, ultras is not easy. Know yourself, and know how much your body can take before injury becomes permanent. That's the most important rule to know, cause everyone is different. The more you know how much you are willing to hurt, and knowing that you can come back, the safer you are in the long term.

There's another twilight event in Singapore. All the best to those who are going for that as well.

FTAAA Cross Country Run

Now if you're wondering how on earth do you find 'cross country' terrain in the heart of KL, you're not the only one. The course was changed last minute to start from padang merbok, and I couldn't be bothered to look at the map. Will go with the flow and we'll see then if it's the real deal.

By the way, I was disappointed with the only Malaysians regulations stated in the form. When I went for the registration at FTAAA office, I saw a well known fellow runner from Morocco, Ahmed, sitting with his friend pondering on the form to find out where it stated so. It was in malay, and not english. After scrutinizing the fine print, the rule does say so. So I told him, yeah, it's only Malaysians. Then he went on saying he's been working here for some time, and I could feel that he's not happy with the rules.

Now, to understand where this is coming from, I recalled there's a few discussions in the running scene, between top local runners who could have bagged the win, if not for the foreigners, last year. So, somehow, it's becoming to come to this. Our local races are now becoming more inwards rather than welcoming some foreign competitors. And that is a bad thing in the long run. Shunning foreign runners reflects how bad our sportsmanship is, and how some of us, just want to join races and win. But they forgot that not all foreign runners are joining for the sake of winning. They might come here, miles away, just to join a few local races for fun. If you look at the economic aspect, that's good for our tourism.

Well, as for the race, at the start, I managed to edge into 4th placing. I remember Jasni was in front with 2 other indian runners. Then we approached the trails, which was a bit of downhill action, and I had to slow down considerably, to avoid tripping or slipping. I was wearing the racers, and practically there's no traction on the soil. Then I lost my way abit, and another 2 runners passed by. As I came out from the trails, a few hundred meters and it was up a slope. Another runner passed me by.

I was already running at almost full capacity, so I tried to slow down things a little. When we were running at the tarmac, finally I put some speed, but that didn't matter as the front guys, and back guys were not letting up. As we went into the lake gardens, I remember seeing one guy running straight out into the highway. I thought that's odd, and after some direction searching, the correct route was leftwards and up towards the planetarium.

More hills, and more hills at the planetarium before speeding downhill. The chinese dude who was in UM race yesterday was still hot on my heels behind. But I just kept on maintaining the pace and I think he soon dropped off.

Then as went twist and turn around the garden's walkpath, another chinese guy came close and we're running side by side. The route is pretty confusing, and the only markers I could see was plastic ribbons tied on trees. So much for direction. As we ran out into the traffic at the main road, it was then all out. He couldn't catch up, so I knew I was pretty safe.

Finished the race 6th in 0:44:55. I think the leaders were doing 40min.

They were giving out prizes to top 10, so managed to get a prettier medal than the rest. :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

UM Larian Gemilang Run

Mad dash at the start...
Sprinting all out at the finishing...

Heard this run weeks ago, but only registered after it closed. However, after further enquiries, I managed to get in. My sis, who is currently studying, joined too.

It was advertised as 10km run. And it didn't start on schedule, which kind off pissed the runners waiting for at least an hour or so. There was even a senamrobik warm up, and a speech by the VIP. Considering that it wasn't professionally organised, I was pretty ok with it. But I don't think it's a good idea to start late based on advertised. Or else we won't be here so early.

Managed to met Paul Liong, who was running barefoot. And his sifu is no other than Tan Wah Seng, probably Msia's most recognised barefoot runner.

The UPNM guys, notably Chan Jun Sen were there. And Barry Lee, a fellow Ironman, was there as well.

The ladies were let off first, followed by the guys. Since it was a short distance, the start was a mad dash out. I tried following a group of indian runners who wasn't accelerating, but were setting up the pace.

We ran out UM, on onto the ramp downwards along Federal Highway. Now the shocking part is, there's no cones on the left for us. Crossing the road from the side up the bridge requires risking your life. However, I kept going as hard as my breathing is possible. A chinese guy in blue shirt ran past me at this point.

Then we reentered UM, and we had to run up this long steep hill, which by then I managed to catch up with the chinese guy. I didn't want to kill myself up the hill. And as I ran downwards, I saw another runner in front (Ran speed? based on FB). Caught up with him, but then he quicken his pace and dropped me.

Now I guess he thought I was left behind. He slowed down. So I quickly ran silently behind, matching his pace, as to obscure the fact I was just 1 meter back. When we reached the final 200m, I went all out. Lungs are at max capacity. Legs are at longest possible strides. And all that just for a 7th placing. He later said he didn't know I was at the back.

The nice thing about the run is that prizes were given up to 30th placing! My sis managed to get 14th placing for a hamper. Mich and Oh Yann Kai (2nd) got prizes as well.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

PACM Track Meet 2011

At the start of the 3200m...
Our 4x400 mens team
Home sprint for the last 150m
Our team for the mixed relay in the format of 200m,400m,600m, and 800m

It's been a very very long time since I ran on a track. In fact if I can recall correctly, since I left university in 2001. And that wasn't a race, but just for usual training for a few rounds. The last time I actually raced in one dates back to high school in 1996.

I used to aced 800m and 1500m during school days. I wasn't a sprinter, so long distance was where my forte lies. The best achievement was winning the cross country 6km sth, in form 5. The previous years I managed to secure the top 10 placing overall. Somehow, I just prefer to run these distances and I find it appealing to race longer.

Now, the only event that I signed up for was the 3000m. The rest where too short, and needed sprinting capabilities, which is something I don't have.

During race day, the 3k became a 3.2km for 8 loops round the track. It was the first event of the day. Jasni was there, so I knew competition would be tough. When the horn blew, as usual, pace was set and the fast runners soon move forward to secure the pace. Jasni, and Ong Chin was fast, followed by a light blue runner pushing forward. Then another westerner surged ahead as well, and Goh too.

I was left behind, and I thought my pace was too fast, so I just hoped I could catch up with them. This proves to be true as I finally caught up with the westerner, Goh, and the light blue runner at the last 2 laps.

But Jasni and Ong Chin was too far ahead. Jasni crossed the line when I was about 150m back. Placing was 3rd overall and 2nd in my age category.

The other 2 events were impromptu. 4x100 men and mixed relay. Now running these 2 was totally something new. Running 400m was hard as I find it hard to sustain the momentum during the last 100m.

And running 800m was awesome as well. Our team was leading the pack, and once Lian Bee Hoon passed the baton, I quickly went all out, as Ong Chin was at the back chasing. I think he managed to edged closer throughout the run. When the last 150m came about, it was all guns ablazing, as I used maximum effort to push for the finishing to win it for the team.

The surprising thing was, I only started sweating after the 800m leg of the mixed relay.

Overall, it was a good event organised by the Pacesetters group as people from all ages, and races mixed together to race something they love.