This is my longest ride of the year so far. It's the first time I've done two American century rides (100 miles or 160 km per century) in as many days. The first time I've been in another country during elections. The first time I use white soft paraffin for my butt and it seems to prevent follicularitis. The first time I eat two bowls of chendol in a row. And the first time I cycle long distance with Bike Aid-ers.
One has grey hair on top and sandals on his feet. His 10-year-old Canondale R800 has a plastic tray for a rack and plastic bags to hold stuff on it. In his singlet and platform pedals, he's one of the fastest in the group - and there are 11 of us. Also swift on their feet are R (who leads most of the ride on a Schwinn he borrowed a few months ago), IA on his Canondale road bike (with MTB cleats and red matching saddle bags) and MT (who carries all his stuff on his back).
This is a ride down memory lane for me, as it traces the first two night stops of my ride to Thailand. It feels a little strange; though that 1,000 km ride was a few months ago, it was another time, another place.
This ride is different. Then, it was cloudy and cool. Now, the sun is out. There's headwind. Lots of traffic (due to the elections). And doing 160 km per day over rolling hills (sometimes, four in a row) is no joke. There's time pressure; I need to get home in good time so I can rest before going back to my beehive on Monday.
It takes us almost 12 hours to reach Mersing from Singapore. On the return leg, I somehow manage to get home in about nine hours. Surprise, surprise, I don't get lost in Johore though I separate from the main group. I wait at the designated junction to Kota Tinggi but it starts to rain. There is no shelter, so I race the rain clouds which are heading south. I meet up with three others in the group. I tell them the rain is coming and continue south. Back in Singapore, the race continues. I get pelted with huge drops of rain before I get home. The cost of the race: cycling over 70 km virtually alone with them hills and with just one rest stop fuelled by a chocolate bar and two charcoal tablets (remember the two chendols?).
Photo courtesy of IA