Cycling is like life. Cycling with no goal is meaningless. What meaning is there cycling in circles? Or living aimlessly? Meaning comes from direction and destination. Join me in my life's journey on a mountain bike :)

Blogging since 2003. Thank you for reading :))

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Gambling with my life at Genting

Fri 16 - Sun 18 Jun:
To Genting Highlands, Pahang, Malaysia, 231 km.

Scary climb, scarier descent
Day 1: Sat 17 Jul, Kuala Lumpur (Selangor) - Genting Highlands (Pahang), 162 km. We ride 40 km/h for 40 km, with "tour director" J and "I have a sore throat, it hurts to drink" RP leading the pack of nine to Genting Highlands.

The road winds 26 km uphill towards the 1,800 m peak. It is hot. My sweat drips onto my top tube. As cars pass, some passengers clap for us. My ears pop as we ride into the clouds. The higher we go, the steeper - and cooler - it gets. Some cyclists stop to put on their windbreakers. I stop to walk twice; my back hurts as I haven't fully adjusted my saddle. I stop to fiddle with it several times.

At the top, I'm relieved and don't bother to cycle up any hotel driveway, though that'd have gained me a more altitude. Going up is tough; going down is downright scary. The wind blows a cloud onto us and visibility drops. The road is wet and so are my rims. My hands hurt from braking. At some corners, I'm going too fast for comfort but daren't brake harder, lest I skid. Talk about gambling with my life ... At some corners, long vehicles jut into my lane as they corner. The scares aren't over yet, not thanks to cycling into Kuala Lumpur in peak hour traffic over one flyover after another.

Metal mother
Day 2: Sun 18 Jul, Kuala Lumpur - Semenyih (Selangor) - Singapore, 64 km. It's Sunday. I want to sleep in. They have their Cervelo and Pinarello, I want my pillow. But I drag myself out of bed as I want to get to know my saddle better. J and RP take turns to lead the pack. J, reputedly a former Malaysian national cyclist, gives a whole new meaning to "hands free" mobile phone usage, as he rides at 44 km/h, talking on the phone with both hands off the handlebar. And I wonder why RP's hair, which extends to her shoulder blades, doesn't flap in the wind.

Cycling with support vehicle drivers who're cyclists is safer. Being cyclists, they wield their cars like a metal mother hen, protecting us from marauding traffic that filters too close into our lane. Cyclist-drivers know how to let you draft them and swerve to avoid potholes so you can do the same. Which doesn't stop me from peering from behind through the vehicle to see the road ahead anyway.

My rear tyre, which has broken rim tape, holds up after SL and N help me patch it up. I'm embarrassed at having to change the inner tube just before the ride starts. After riding down the heights of Semenyih, I clamber up the support vehicle like the others. I don't like being cooped up in metal mother, or foregoing more intimacy with my new saddle, but the thought of getting home earlier and avoiding heavy traffic is more persuasive.

When the car journey ends, I'm glad to get out of the car. Sitting in a car requires stretching, just like when I'm riding hard. And after hearing the same cassette tape for hundreds of km to and from Kuala Lumpur, that's enough. I hop on my bike and ride the 5 km home.

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