Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fraser / Genting Ride Report 13-15Apr20​12

Baptism by fire – that was how a friend described my Genting experience. Of all JoyRiders’ trips to Malaysia, I had picked the toughest (some say) to join.

You may be surprised to learn that after all these years with JR, I was on my virgin overseas trip with the group. I never had the time or the commitment to say yes to them - until now.

Why now? Why Genting? “Why not Cameron?” they asked. I shrugged. Perhaps I really believed that only when you have experienced the worst can you emerge the strongest. Maybe I just like torturing myself. Haha…

And I was grossly underprepared. (See epilogue below)

DAY 1 On Friday the 13th (can you hear Jason sharpening his knives?), 19 of us loaded our bikes and set off for the Causeway at 5:30am from TripleOne Somerset.

After crossing into JB, we stopped for breakfast at 6:30am. Did I mention that I joined the trip for the eating? ;-) Joyce gave out gels, sports drink sachets and electro tabs to everyone, courtesy of Maxifuel.

I was 1 of just 3 women on the trip, so you can imagine what conversation on a bus awash with testosterone was like. I think I’ll leave it to the guys to fill you in on Johnson Duck’s prized cocks and $7,000 pedigree poultry.

By 10:30am, we reached Petaling Jaya and had some really tasty nasi lemak. I would love to give you a long discourse on how succulent the chicken was and how the crispy bits were fiercely fought over by everyone, but this isn’t a food review! All you need to know is cyclists are like babies. Instruction : Feed every 4 hours.

At 12:30pm, we offloaded the bikes from the bus by the road at Gombak, near Hospital Orang Asli, for the start of our adventure. We fixed our bikes, pumped up the wheels and we were off!

From the start, I had cyclometer problems, probably because of the way the bikes were stacked on board. I had to stop to fix that. I ended up being left behind, with my trip hero, Calvin Kampong Boy.

There were already pretty steep slopes at this point and I huffed and puffed uphill. At some point, we actually overtook Thomas Heeb, but once he got his rhythm, he chugged up the mountain like a steam engine!

At the security post before Goh Tong, we spotted JoyRider jerseys (what a welcoming sight for me!). Those who had gone ahead were talking to the policeman.

Meanwhile, Joyce simply sailed past everyone towards Goh Tong. The rest of us watched in amazement; even the policeman was stunned. He didn’t even try to stop her!

Back at the guard post, after a long negotiation, we were left looking a little lost. What do we do now? The cop had gone back to to his post. Someone said we probably gave him a bigger headache than he already had and he just wanted to ignore us. We couldn’t turn back, so when it started to drizzle, we went on.

The rain got heavier; the slopes got steeper.

Suddenly the road dipped. It was downhill!

You’d think that it was a good thing, right? But not in that god-forsaken weather! My glasses fogged over with rain and mist. Buses and cars passed us, splashing rainwater as we zig-zagged downhill.

My hands were losing their grip on the brakes and my heart screamed, “STOP!!” A slight ease of gradient allowed me to get to the drop bars, where I had better grip of the brakes and could apply stronger pressure.

If you are a driver, you’d know how useless brakes are going downhill in the rain. It is scarier on the bike because you’re exposed and at the mercy of the elements.

My trip hero and I finally found the bus at Goh Tong and boarded it. My first day was thwarted by the rain; some may say I was “saved” by the rain.

We waited for Fatgoose Norman. We later learnt that his chain had snapped and he was stranded in Goh Tong town.

The bus made its final ascent to Genting Highlands and I took pictures of the JR heroes struggling up in the rain, deep in my heart wondering if I should have joined them.

At the top, riders came in one by one looking jubilant. We took a nice group shot.

Then came the downer.

Joyce found out that Raub Guest House had rented out our ‘reserved’ rooms to other guests! We were really pissed but could not do anything but find alternatives. The guest house recommended Nice Stay Hotel, also in Raub. Hmmm… dubious-sounding name…

Thus began our long journey to dinner and to bed.

Instead of the highway, our intrepid bus driver decided to take the scenic route to Raub. Translation: A LONG and WINDING road up and down the mountain! We set off at 5:20pm from Genting, reached the restaurant at 8:30pm and then to the hotel at 10pm.

Nice Stay (Love) Hotel : We all noticed the sign on the counter touting special rates of RM30 for 3 hrs and RM58 for 6 hrs.

Here’s Beer Belly Yih Gia wondering if he can last 3 hours.

DAY 2 We cycled from the hotel at 7:30am. It was cool all the way up to The Gap, just at the entrance to Fraser's hill. After coffee and snacks at a small eatery, it was a fun downhill ride all the way.

Mossie Moses zoomed by me at top speed. Ah, the fearlessness of youth! Alas, he paid for it at a sharp left. He was lucky get off with just some scratches on the knees and arms. Oh and his bike survived.

The next food stop - Restaurant 333 at Kuala Kubu Bharu – was our last stop before we took off for the daunting slopes of Genting again. Johnson Duck said he would be behind me all the way and I was heartened.

At certains points en route, the bus stopped. Some who climbed the day before hopped on. I decided to push on because I felt good after the previous day’s “training”.

Up and up we went. So did the temperature.

Scorching heat burnt the skin on my hands and legs but my music kept me company. (Don’t worry, I only had it plugged into my left ear.)

Thomas Heeb passed by me. I trudged on. My legs screamed for me to stop.

At Goh Tong, I refilled my water bottles. It was also the last chance to get on the bus. The bus won’t stop on the steep slopes. I fought my inner demons to reject the strong temptation.

Thus began the point of no return.

Little white distance markers showed the distance to the top. I pedalled slowly but surely until the first of many killer hairpin turns at the 4.4km marker.

I tried desperately to push my pedals down, but my speed dropped until I just had to get off. At that point, it also started raining cats ’n’ dogs. I didn’t have a choice but to walk up!!

I kept looking out for those little white markers and did mental calculations as to how long it would take for me to walk up 4km - much too long!! So I alternated walking and riding the rest of the way.

I was touched by the Malaysian drivers who went by. When I was walking in the rain, I must have looked pretty pathetic pushing my bike. Two cars stopped to offer me a ride up. I refused, of course, but I appreciated kindness.

When I finally made it to the top, our driver, Yeo, and Fat Goose Norman came to meet me. “Take my bike away!!” I told them. I was totally exhausted.

But it was worth it to hear the congratulations from everyone. Even though I did walk up most of the last stretch, it made me feel like I had achieved something incredible.

Spaz Sebastian, Lady of Vices Wendy, Sherman, Struggling Sean, Sea Biscuit Gerard, Leechy Richard, Joyce and Wombat Tay rode up 2 days in a row. They are true heroes.

Total distance that day was 106km.

Time for some cold cendol and ice cream at Bentong!

DAY 3 The final day of riding. I’m not sure how I managed to drag my ass onto my bike for the 76.68km to Genting Sempah. It must be the promise of food on the way.

Joyce met a Malaysian cyclist Nizar, “another ex-boyfriend” she had not seen for 7 years.

At lunch, Sea Biscuit Gerard gave out our Genting “trophies” - water bottles sponsored by a bike shop in PJ. We also learnt from him that good Samaritan Spaz Sebastian actually dismounted a downhill ride to REMOVE branches from the middle of the road!! Joyce and I also had the benefit of his TURBO-powered push, which sky-rocketed us forward.

There were 3 heavyweight cyclists of more 90kg each who made it up to Genting. If you think you can’t do it, think again!

It was also the first time we did Genting 2 days running. And the first time in a love hotel.

This trip, which started on Friday the 13th, was peppered with little mishaps and misadventures. Besides losing our pre-arranged rooms, Norman’s broken chain, Moses’ spill and a scenic route the first night which taxed our bladders, Sea Biscuit Gerard and Mike had 2 flats each and Junix had a broken cleat. Thankfully, they were LITTLE mishaps and we can look back on them and laugh.

We were just steps away from home, but at the Singapore Customs we had to stop. Immigration officers grilled our driver about the number of bicycles in the bus. They even scanned the bus with a special X-Ray truck. We weren’t on the bus when they did that! :-)

Epilogue (for Genting virgins who want to sacrifice themselves to the mountain)

As the day of departure loomed, I made frantic loops up and down Mt Faber over the Easter weekend. Believe me, that was just a walk in the park.

It was Good Friday so I was lucky to have 3 continuous days of training before sufferfest.

Would you believe I had never gone up Mt Faber before? “Why am I doing Genting? *Shrug*” On my first time up, I was making up excuses in my head to tell Joyce why I could not go to Genting!!

It was a TERRIBLE climb, made even worse as I had stupidly used the highest gearing on my cassette! Lack of oxygen at high altitude (yeah, right!) made me stupid!

I did 3 days of Mount Faber and felt like a school kid doing last-minute revision for the final exams, or what us Chinese would say 临时抱佛脚 (it literally means to hug Buddha’s leg, hoping for a miracle).

In hindsight, I should have done all my climbs up Faber on the highest gear because that is exactly how Genting felt like many times over! At Genting, there is no rest and no downhill. It is up, up and up!

To prepare for this trip, I invested in a compact crank, a 11-28 cassette, a 2nd-hand trainer and a new saddle.

About 3 weeks before the trip, my brother, the famous Rock & Roll Joshua of single-speed fame, advised me to get on my trainer every day for 1 hour using the highest gearing, and ride everywhere using the highest gear. Uh-huh…

If I was as rockin’ crazy-ass as him, I would actually do it. I tried but I could not make myself do this EVERY DAY! I was either too lazy, too hungry or too tired after a long day at work.

He said, “If you train hard now, you will enjoy more later”, “If you don’t train hard, you are going to suffer later”, “If you train hard now, you will still suffer later” – true true. The last I just added for good measure.. haha...

In any case, it is true that daily training is required. I didn’t do it and I suffered.

If you are thinking about going to Genting, what are you waiting for?

It is another ‘achievement badge’ of sorts for cyclists in this part of the world. Train hard and most importantly, have the right attitude & mindset to fight your negativity and to be strong in the conviction that YOU CAN MAKE IT!

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