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 :)

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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Food for thought

15-18 Aug, Johor, Malaysia, 390 km

Clear blue skies, feel the heat blown away by breeze
Day 1: 15 Aug, Tanjong Sedili, 129 km. I was thrilled to ride in Pengarang a decade ago, with its quiet, winding rural roads sprinkled with gentle villages and villagers. Now, the place is ruined by development, with long straight roads and hurtling lorries (at least, the drivers give us a wide berth).

I don't recall going to Sedili was so no fun, with rolling hills, headwinds and searing sun. The ride is like eating a baguette: I start at one end and end up at the other. When W rumbles past me on his fat bike (29 niner with 3" tyres), I know I'm in a bad way: dead tired, dead last. Until G ends up at the end, worse off than I am. I wait for him in the shade, then pull him along.

Night stop: Jason Bay Beach Resort

Paleo diet
Day 2, 16 Aug, Mersing, 84 km. At breakfast, I listen to WK talk about his paleo/ketosis diet and marvel how he powers himself to ride his possibly 30 kg, fully loaded fat bike which includes a 1.5l bottle.

At lunch, there's no room at the inn. Inn Keepers, the riverside  coffee shop where we used to lunch and luxuriate after a day's hard ride, has moved. With ferry services gone, business dried up. All good things come to an end. And what goes up, must come down. That's true when it comes to cycling hills and mountains. How true is that for life?

Is going up good in life? But an "uphill climb" sounds like a bad thing. And "going downhill" also sounds like a bad thing too. In cycling, "up" is usually bad and "down" usually good - well, to some cyclists anyway.The famous wanton noodle store at Jemaluang is closed for business today. It's the first time I've seen it closed. Some customers direct us to another shop nearby, not visible from where we are. It is a nice place with good food. When one door closes, another opens. There, I take WK's fat bike for a joy ride. It has indexed, friction shifters!

Back on the road, I've an "extended discussion" with Matt Black, which is on its maiden expedition. Several times I stop to adjust the saddle.

At the end of the day, I sing a song to the tune of "We are the world":
"There was a time, when my butt didn't hurt so much, and the hills they weren't really so tough.
I was on my Tank, it blasted everything.
But now I'm on Merida."

I'm ambivalent about whether to go on with the rest of the 1,000 km ride. My room mate, M, says I could go on if I want to. True. But if I go on, it'll be because I push myself to. If it's for fun, I wouldn't. In the end, it's the reason that makes the difference. Why would I want to cycle 1,000 km? Is it to show (to whom anyway?) I can ride 1,000 km? Been there, done that, and then some. I ask J for help, she answers with a question: "What have you got to prove?

Night stop: Hotel Embassy

Long, quiet roads
Coffee and coconut
Day 3, 17 Aug, Kota Tinggi, 102 km. Regrets, I've had a few. For example, I could've joined an airborne
course but didn't, because I wanted to prepare for my exams. Years later, I still regret not jumping. But who knows what would've happened if I'd jumped? And what would've happened to my exam results?

It's been said that people "regret not having done things much more than they regret things they did". Reason: "we can’t console ourselves by thinking of all the things we learned from the experience because… well, there wasn’t one". Yeah, right. Tell that to those who made seriously wrong choices and lived to regret them.

So, do I go the full 1,000 km or not? I decide by looking at what I'd regret less. Perhaps there's no right or wrong decision here. If there's no right or wrong, what's there to regret?

More clear cut is today's bitter, powdery coffee. Some people might like it. I certainly didn't. As for the MYR2 coconut (with ice), it was wonderful.

Night stop: Mayres Hotel

Birthday cake
Day 4, 18 Aug, home, 65 km. I feel relief and regret. Relief, because the five of us survived Johor Bahru rush hour. Near the border, we stop to rehydrate at a coffee shop. Two of them excused themselves then reappeared with rich chocolate cake to celebrate A's birthday. We gave a big slice to the coffee shop lady who let us use her crockery.

Thanks for the company and the ride
Regret, because we part company today. We've cycled together for a decade, through thick and thin, be it thick noodles in Taiwan or thin thosai in Malaysia. I also regret not cycling the full 1,000 km unlike the other seven who headed north from Mersing.

When I signed up for the ride, I didn't commit to doing the full distance; 400 km was an option too. I was going to wait and see and I decided to take the short cut. I've taken a risk with my ankle, which still hurts when I put my foot down. Yesterday, the pain short up when I banged mud off my cleats against the pedal.

There's a saying: "Quit while you're ahead." There's another saying: "Pain is temporary, surrender is forever."

So, did I do the right thing to quit?

I found the answer about whether it was the right thing to do on 23 Aug.