I have heard about it. Seen pictures of the ride. The inside of me was raring to join the ride.
The 10th Putrajaya Critical Mass ride fell on Jan 30th, 2009. Fortunately, I managed to slot the ride into my diary. I even took a half day leave for that Friday to ensure that office workload did not bug and held me back. Hype built up the moment I mentioned about my intention in the bicyclebuysell chat box. Great support and encouragement from fellow riders and seasoned massers made it hard for me to not to go.
A twist of event made it more interesting. Missus decided to join the ride on D-Day minus 1. All for the better but require a bit change of movement plan. We would shoot from her office in Mid-Valley to Putrajaya after work instead me departing alone from my office.. To do that, all had to be prepped up beforehand. I busied myself with the chores of getting the rigs and the gears ready. On D-Day, bikes and gears loaded into my trusty Unser in the morning before setting off for work.
We arrived at the RV area around 7.00 p.m. Had dinner at one of the two "troubles". Being greeted by both competitors, then both tried hard, very very hard to make us go to their restaurant, which were side by side. Hmmm...that's why the masser dubbed those two "double trouble". We had a quick dinner, then went to my sister's house which was just nearby for freshing up solat.
2100hrs, the Unser rolled into the RV area. Parking was already filled to the brim. Bicycles could be seen everywhere. We had to park alongside the road opposite exit.
Next to us, was a family from Klang. Bro Aliff, if I'm not mistaken. His cruiser caught my attention. We geared up then made one round around the lot. Looking for familiar faces. Eyes also trained for faces that I knew from forums, chats etc but had never met in person. Many exchange of greetings and handshakes. Like long lost friend/relatives finally reunited.
Was I glad to finally meet the eyes of Daoh, the man who had taken all the trouble to organise the mass. Others were Heero, Flatfinger, Angah, Aini and many more. A huge congregation of cyclists of all sorts. Roadies, mountis, fixies. There was even a basikal tua. A classic Raleigh, still looking pristine, of Bro Ijass. Salute bro!.
Circa 21.45, Man Ciocc and Daoh started rounding all riders. Briefing began. Soon thereafter, we were off. Around estimated 80 odd riders altogether. From double trouble starting point on Jalan P9E, we hit right at the traffic light onto Jalan P9. Hordes of bicycles with assortments of blinkers and headlights swarmed the road. With no police escort, crossing the traffic light was tricky. Traffic light split the peloton into groups...
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A crossroads on the P9 later appeared. We took right onto Lebuh Perdana Barat. Road is still level. Casual pedaling as what a mass cycling should be. Some fast roadies already in their turbo charger leaving the slower riders behind. One special feature of Putrajaya is its vast network of cycling path. I took the opportunity to sample it. Paved passage seems to see very little users. such a pity that a facility that good was really under utilised. The authority should do more to promote cycling in Putrajaya. Letting a bicycle shop to operate in the township would be a good start. But, who am I to say anything?
The well lit dual carriageway continued. Disrupted a few times by presence of traffic lights. Few motorists were seen traversing. Leaving the wide highway all to the massers. Our first bridge of the so many bridges in Putrajaya loomed ahead. Nothing to see in the pitch black night.
Lebuh Perdana Barat then merged with Persiaran Sultan Sallahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah. A left at the merging, to a wider highway. I must remind that this section required to pass a slip road to and from Persiaran Persekutuan. Motorists can be fast and may not notice slow moving bicycle with tiny lights. Be cautious when you tread on.
Next came the left turn for Lebuh Perdana Timur. The same road that would take you to the famous Alamanda. But we were not there for a shop in Alamanda, so we continued on. Some other time Alamanda, some other time...
A bit of climb felt. A little change of pace when we go up the interchange to hit right for Persiaran Timur. Once into Persiaran Timur, bike felt heavier and heavier. Oh...a climbing stretch. No wonder. The gradually changing gradient didn't make you realize that you were going uphill. It was good when going slow because you could take a good look at other cyclists. I caught a glimpse of angah, with Arel in her tail, keeping a close eye on his kakak. In the distance, we could hear people cheering from the nearby flat.
Upon reaching the top of the climb, I saw many riders stopping by and huddling over a rider sitting on the curb. What happened? What happened? No crash, just a rider relieving his cramps. Many other riders took advantage of the incident to stop for a breather. Quite a climb that was.
What goes up, must come down. Missus blasted her way down leaving me behind. I chose the bicycle lane instead. Wrong choice resulting in shaky descent. I jumped off back onto to the highway thereafter. Riders were already separated far apart. I managed to catch up with missus and we pedaled together like a young loving couple, short of holding hands together.
Persiaran Timur then merged with Persiaran Selatan. Passing by Pinggiran Putra. I recognized the place immediately though it was dimly lit. I used to ride there with my school mates last year. I mentioned that to missus and she nodded in agreement. A mat rempit whizzed by offering us teh tarik bungkus as they passed. Tempting. They should have been more serious and sincere in their offer because I could really use a sip or two at that time.
A glance at the watch showed it was almost 11.00. No riders in sight in front. We heard some racket in the back. They were getting closer and closer. "Wah...pasangan romantik", we heard from the back. I recoginzed that voice. It was Shaque and they were gaining on us. Soon, PICC loomed in front. It's outline higlighted by the blue lights decorating it. We weren't sure where to go. The nearest rider in front of us was too far away. Fortunately, the patrol car was there to guide us. Like the lighthouse guiding vessels in the sea, the crew cum cameraman waved for us to hit right towards PICC. Coupla minutes later, we ground to a stop at the traffic opposing PICC. Many more were already there. Taking a break, filling their bladder with fluid, filling their lungs with nick o teen. Me included. Heh...heh.
Time was close to 2300hrs. Phone rang. Udang on the line. He was on his way from KLIA to meet us. We pedaled in our small group crossing the jambatan Seri Gemilang, made half a circle around the Datarana Gemilang then passed by Dataran Rakyat all the way to Dataran Putra, in front of Masjid Putra. We stopped there for a while because after another phone call from Udang, we change plan to meet there instead while he made his way to there from PICC. We waited till 2345hrs but no sign of him. It appeared that he was already at the double trouble. Whaaaaat? So, we hurriedly rushed to go back to double trouble. A fellow rider, who was a mass regular, rode together. Acknowledging his prior experience, we let him led the way.
So out from Dataran Putra via Laman Perdana then merged back with Persiaran Sultan Sallahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah. Approaching Lebuh Perdana Barat, I anticipated that we would turn left the head back to double trouble. But our buddy rode on. I asked him, "Bukan masuk kiri ka?". "Tak..kita terus, masuk ikut Alamanda." He replied.
I thought that he would know better because he had ridden the mass before. An d I thought I was disoriented. So we made another round on that huge roundabout, passed Alamanda another time. Then he started to slow down. He turned back to look at me and in his guilty look..."Sori la bang, saya ingat kita salah jalan...". Halamak! Finally he admitted. I was also unsure of the way myself. So, reluctantly, we decided to follow the sign. A safer bet, but maybe farther. That decision took us to Persiaran Timur, then up and left at the interchange to Persiaran Utara, not knowing that we were floating furhter. As if that was ot enuff, my rear tire went flat. Cobaannnn. That made the buddy felt more guilty. A quick tube change, though improber because the tire alignment was bit out. A small wobble felt. But that should wait. Main objective then was to return to base soonest possible. Time passed midnight.
From Persiaran Utara, we took Lebuh Sentosa. Relief slowly seeped in when I started to recognize the landmarks along Lebuh Sentosa. And a big sigh of relief was let off once we reached the Lebuh Sentosa - Lebuh Perdana Barat intersection. Double trouble was just minutes away. I wasn't sure how much we had diverted, but it felt pretty far. Hmmm...I could use the extra mileage. Missus also took it positively...I think Allah purposedly made me do the longer route so that my first PCM, the 10th PCM, would be memorable...It is indeed.