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.
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.
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.