Thursday, March 12, 2009

Kulim Hi-Tech MTB Exploration 2009...D- Day

My Rigs - The black stallion and The Green Ogre
Cold dark morning of March 8th, 2009 circa 0645hrs. The green Viva with 2 bikes dangling on its tail left Sg Karangan for Kulim High Tech Business Center. Drive was a swift 20 minutes. 0705 hrs we were comfortably parked in the parking compound outside the building next to KHTP Business Center. Flocks of MTBers arrving. Gradually filling the parking area. Missus won't be riding. But...why 2 bikes? The Element was lent to a friend, my senior from Kulimus. They were nowhere insight yet. I prepped my rig and my gears. From afar, indiscernible announcement made by the MC for the day. Enthusiastic riders were already congregating in front of KHTP Business Center, where the start/finish was supposed to be. I was still waiting for my friend to arrive. 0725hrs I called them up to check their whereabout. There were just reaching the hospital while start-up was juts minutes away. I looked around scanning for any familiar face while waiting. None.

I was still haunted by two consecutive PCC Prez ride. Both, I did not manage to complete. So deep down, I resolved to complete this KHT ride no matter what. Personal vendetta...breaking the jinx perhaps.


The Green Ogre...before make up by the trail
Soon after they arrived. Amidst the confusion, Pian, the one supposed to borrow the bike went looking for me, while I too, went looking for him. That hide and seek cost precious minutes lost. We finally met when the event started off. 0730hrs. The front runners rolled out of KHTP Business center. I just looked on as the process of handing over the bike took place. I bid farewell to missus and pedaled off trailing behind the rear group of the front runners. Many more riders were still preparing their ride.

And...they are off!!! Hey...wait for me, wait for me...!!!
Pian, on his third MTB outing, quickly geared up and sped off trailing not far behind me. I passed by a familiar face. Another senior of mine astride a black Santa Cruz, was by the roadside looking like he needed a helping hand. I stopped and asked. It appeared that he had a flat. Pian and Md Jaws, fellow Kulimus, also stopped. But since nothing much they could do, the continued on. I tried pumping the flat tire. Fortunately, it was not a puncture. I left him there to continue my quest. Yo Ogre...let's take on this adventure. 53km of grueling terrain awaited.

Tarmac phase along Jalan Serdang then turned right into another tarmac. I couldn't recall the name. I maintained casual pedaling mid cadence to ensure I was not left behind. All of the sudden, the corner of my eye caught a glimpse of a green Viva. Missus was on my side. Waving at me, giving encouragement. She didn't ride cause she wanted to give me the chance to ride my heart out. Thank you honey...

Sight of 800 odd bicycles passing through the neighborhood was not common. That got the attention of a nearby kindergarten. Teacher took out the pupils and lined them up along the road to witness the camaraderie. They even cheered and waved at passing riders. For a short while, I felt like Lance...

Humpty Dumpty has nothing better to do. Humpty Dumpty push the bike up the hill
Soon tarmac ended. Double track off road began. It leveled for a while then turned into a vicious climb. I pedaled for a short distance then happily joined the crowd in pushing the bike up. 45 degree climb which should be rideable but turned pushable because of the protesting knee and bursting lung. Deep ravine on the right awaited should anybody decided to take a plunge. A switchback made the climb merrier. I saw a familiar face, with mustache ala Dato K busy snapping photos from above. I yelled at Zieman to take photos of me. He happily obliged.

Passed the switchback, I decided to pedal. And pedal I did. It was not as difficult as perceived. Slowly but surely, inch by inch of the climb conquered. Fellow rider threw this remark "Pakai ilmu apa buleh kayuh lagi nih...?",. Without looking I gave a quick retort "Ilmu alam!". And I pedaled on.

Soon after, a relieving change of scene. DOWNHILL!!! Without much further ado, I hungrily swallowed the awaiting recline. Blasted through Zieman and his buddies who complained "Ganas nih...". Luckily, the trail was not slippery albeit a heavy downpour the day before. Front tire 2.3 gave good traction. Rear shock X-Fusion Glyde RL coil absorbed the bump giving a smooth glide downhill. Woo hoo...All the agony of pushing the heavy Ogre up the hill forgotten. Ride was a bit bumpy though. I suspected due to incorrect rebound setting. The rear was bouncing a bit too fast. That was taken care of by a push of the rebound lever to the left. Snappy! Felt much better after that.

Was I seeing double...I WAS SEEING DOUBLE. Twins Shahid and Shafi.
A swooping downhill followed by level double track under the shades of palm trees. But good thing didn't last long. Another incline appeared. I willed up as much as I could before finally unclipping. The sight of more incline after taking a corner was always a fatal kill to the mental. I took a break to regularise my protesting heartbeat. Signs of oxygen deprivation emerging. I was seeing double. Shook my head to make it go off, but to no avail. I looked again only to realise that I was seeing double. There were twin riders riding along. Aisehhhhh...Zieman joined shortly thereafter. And one by one those that I had passed, overtook me. Sheeeshhhh... Mlake also decided to join my laze. Not knowing that the CP1 was about 20 meters away up the slope. Sheeeshhhh again.

But the wait was not futile. We (Zieman and I) helped a fellow rider to fix his broken chain before continuing. Up the slope and there...CP1. Welcomed by crews of CP1. One of them was savoring delicous cucoq and courteously invited to join him. I had to decline. Ah...the first sticker for the day. The letter K was pasted. 0900 hrs...17km done. 1 down, 4 more to go...


The cucoq offered by one of the crew was not as enticing as the delicious looking downhill in front of me. Zoom I went at supersonic speed breaking the sound barrier creating a deafening sonic boom before leveling off at altitude 200mm...( altimeter must be malfunctioning). Damp sandy trail gave unwanted extra traction. Bike felt heavy. I trodded on on low gear. Stomach started to feel discomfort. A sudden urge twisted my intestine requesting immediate release of the content within. Toilet was nowhere in sight. Alternative - flying toilet with running water and jacuzzi..(jacuzzi?). Came the tarmac crossing that brought us to the other side of the trail. Across a wooden bridge then turned into a flat winding singletrack decorated with Senduduk plant. I passed by one of the twins heading the opposite direction with chain in his grasp. Another victim of broken chain. Small muddy puddles here and there giving me the first real dirt for the day. Not baddd...dirt and filth only after more than 18km of riding. Tummy continued to rumble. The sphincter had to work hard in containing the protruding force from within.

Undulating trails followed. Alternating vegetation of palm and rubber. Eyes scanning for a suitable make shift poo spot. Trail eventually stopped at a river bank. Prayer answered. Running water aplenty. I made a quick dash across the river pedaling, instead of lugging the bike like most others, impressing the other riders on both banks. Little did they know what kinda motivation you would get when your tummy staged a protest. I opted not to disclose my ordeal thereafter in vivid detail. Suffice to say that I was very relieved. Oh...don't worry, it was done downstream, not upstream. :)

I felt light. Lighter after some serious weight was shed off. The awaiting climb should be easier. I decided to go beside the bike, not astride. Another round of push-a-bike. A couple with ride numbers 776 and 777 was pushing along. A young kid was seen painfully hauling his heavy steel bike. I struck a conversation "Adik mai dari mana? (where are you from kiddo?)". "Taman Selasih", he replied reluctantly. He would rather spend his energy on hauling the bike than talking to me. "Mai dengan sapa? (With whom do you come?) ", I continued. "Cikgu bawak...", he replied. Almost whispering. "Mai pakcik tulung tolak...(lemme help you push the bike)", I offered. He neither nod nor shake. I asked him to hold the bars and I grab his saddle with my left hand. My right hand held my Ogre. And up we go togetehr on the slope...Not all the way but enough to uplift his heavy burden. I left him to manage on his own once the slope began to level off.

Casual pedaling some moment later brought me to the foot of the Raja Bukit stretch. 800m of defying gravity stretch. The crew stationed there happily announced "Only 800m of climb. Then downhill all the way to CP2. 800 meter? my knees were already wobbling. Bright sunlight already showering the trail. Tough under shade, the heat and humidity penetrated through the foliage drenching me heat and sweat. I pedaled up for short while befoe deciding to take a break. Stopping was infectious. As soon as I stopped, few others follow. After enough rest (actually resting can never be enough when you are riding), I continued on. CP2 was still far-far away.

After the end of the Raja Bukit line, trail was less hostile. From shaded canopy, to open barren trail. Few were resting at the last shade available before hitting the exposed Bukit Botak. Barren terraced hills after land being cleared for re-planting. There, sprawled on the ground tending to his cramps was Pian. My black Stallion was beside him. Pian surprised me cause he made it that far way ahead of me. Excellent performance for one who had ridden less than 3 times. I could not keep him company as out there somewhere, there was a damsel in distress, held captive by a firebreathing dragon. The Ogre's mission is to rescue the damsel...So I bid farewell and head into the blinding brightness of Bukit Botak. Winding double track started level then gradually decline. Mild at first then steeper...steeper. Small bumps and humps added more flavor to the rolling down. ain't no downhiller nor downgiller. Me kept me wheels in close contact with mother earth. Tidak sekali-kali mahu "meninggalkan dunia"...But at the same times cooperating with gravity instead of defying it was so exhilirating. Only two syllabels kept coming from my mouth... "woooo" and "hoooooo" exclaimed in succession as I glided down taking the corners and at the same time minding the dark ravine on my left. False move and I'd be eating dirt twenty feet below. The faint sound of rushing water from the distance became the background music. So calming and soothing. The X Fusion Glyde RL gave shining performance. Fun was spoilt by sudden appearance of people clad in yellow. the DiGi fellas...the crew manning CP2. A treat of a bottle of water and a banana welcomed my descent.

Very nice spot selected as CP2. Before a bridge with rapids flowing under. Shady spot under cover of palm fronds. If not for the need to complete the route within time, i would have lazed there and enjoy God's beautiful creation. The ride intensity increased as the distance increased. I was too engrossed with riding till I forego taking pictures...Hence, just words from me hereon. No pics...


It ain't over till the fat lady sings. The fat lady was nowhere in sight. Well, there were few ladies. One that caught lotsa attention was the one riding a pink Elsworth. Jane Lim was her name and boy, she really could ride. 8kms to CP3. Hmmmm...I must confess, up to here my memory became a bit fuzzy. I could not remember the trail. Can you believe it? I COULDNOT REMEMBER THE TRAILS! So I'm just gonna pour out whatever I still have in my grey matter. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Undulating trails followed. Up and down. Up and down in a palm estate. Suddenly a rider in front of me halted. It appeared that there was a steeper descent by that day's standard. Skid marks all over courtesy of hundreds of riders in front of us. Hours of training down the steep terraces of Ladang Tuan Mee showed its fruit. I glided down without hesitation, without having to lower the saddle. I was too darn lazy to do so...

More swooping DH followed drowning me in sea of exhilaration. Part of the reasons why I lost my sense of surrounding and time. Tight switchback added spices to the fun. Then I ground to a complete halt upon seeing another climb. Body began burning up in the noon heat. A small stream flowing across the trail prompted me to douse myself with the cool water. Ahhhhh.... so refreshing.

Pedaling continued along slow ascent which then brought me to an open area. From afar more steep climb can be seen on the right. A sight that would kill your spirit. However, I managed to remain sane and slowly continued to pedal. Such a relief when I was at the junction, the arrows pointed left instead of right. The trail went down instead of up. A sight that required no second thought. I rolled down the winding and twisting trail that brought to a damp muddy stream after being ploughed by merciless MTBers. Careful look found a suitable riding line that I followed. From searing heat trail back into the cool shade of palm and another encounter with the YCF...Yellow Crew Fellas who awarded me with the letter L. CP3 accomplished.


River crossing
7km to CP4. 7km of unknown trails. 7km that got me fooled in the middle. Palm trail continued. Mild up and downs, and across a river. I was infuriated by some senseless riders stopping right smack in the middle of the trail when crossing the river. It was alright to wash the bike in the river but please...please move to the side and clear the path. Wash all you want. Just don't block people's way.

The lady on the pink Ellsie
Passed the river, I decided to take a break. Sips of water. Bitsa snack and nicotine refill. I sat on an embankment watching riders crossing the river and climbing the bank to get back on the track. After CP2, I had ridden intensely. No time to even think about snapping pictures [I'm regretting it now]. Just so happen that at that very moment, the lady on the pink Ellsie rode by, the got to see some action.

Trails maintained the undulating pace but turned a bit vicious before throwing me onto a flattened cleared red earth area. Flat wide and barren under the heat. From far I could see few riders pushing their bike. Uh...oh. What's going on? Bike pushing on level ground? I puzzle answered as I approached the spot. No wonder. The path was muddy and soggy. I beamed with pride as I painstakingly cleared that section witnessed by the crews taking shelter under a steamroller. I waved as I passed. A new housing are emerged. And dirt trail turned to black fresh tarmac. Perception inside thought that tarmac and housing estate was surefire signs of approaching the finish line and the end of off road sections. Several riders were in front of me maintaining casual pedaling. I decided to make use of my big rarely used chainring. Immediate protests by the weary legs when high gear was employed. But soon subsided as pace began to pick up. About halfway, another guy in yellow popped up directing riders to the right. Passed rows of houses to its end then the truth dawned on me that my perception was way off because the tarmac ended and we were headed back into the wilderness on climbing pace.

Several riders were resting at the trailhead. I pedaled on while I still felt like it. Not long after, the lung and heart protested. Legs also join the concerto. And the tummy belted out a tune commonly heard at noon when it was not filled. Arrghhhh...the back also ached like the spine was gonna snap any moment. I had to stop. Not only that I stopped, but I unstrap my bag, removed my glove and helmet. Bag laid on ground. Patted it as if that patting could turn it into fluffy pillow. You can very well guess what happened next. Ahhh...a moment of lying down could do miraculous wonder to a tiring body. Ahhh....

Momentary lying down can do wonder to tiring body. Just 10 minutes, i felt refreshed. A fellow elderly rider who joined me departed first then I followed. Making steady pedaling on a mild climb in what looked like bushy orchard then back into palm estate doubletrack. The sight of hanging bun where came a burst of power making me pedaled faster. Soon CP4 was insight at a T junction. Flocks of rider were already there taking a break and exchanging conversation.


I didn't stop for long. The letter I rested on my plate. I must thank the alert lady minding the riders who took the trouble of to wade through other riders to pass me a bottle of water once she saw my needy face. I can't thank you enough.

Track gave another DH stretch which I savored in full. Saw a group of motocrosser as I whizzed by and attacked a hump carved across the track sending me airborne. A rider turning left into the correct trail made me clutched my brake to make for the turn.

Another stretch of tarmac in a village passing a river and some kampung houses. I rejoined a group of riders traversing the tarmac. Again I was fooled by my wrong perception thinking that it was gonna be over soon looking at the tarmac stretch. People never learn, huh?

Serves me right when tarmac ended and another stretch of off road. Kampung dirt road passing by a smallholding veggie farm. I recognize one plot planting lady finger - kacang bendi.

Track continued till I caught a glimpse of another stretch of tarmac. After twice being fooled, I decided not to react hastily. But the sight of YCF made me reconsider. Once exited fully from the track onto the tarmac could I see that we were at the border of Kulim Hi-Tech. Infineon building, then hidden by the bushes, can be clearly seen and the vast area of KHT was now in view. The final letter M posted onto my ride plate. K U L I M completed...CP5 accomplished.

I made it! I made it!
I called my wife to inform her of my whereabout and told her to meet me at the finish line. It took me about 15 minutes to reach the KHTP Business Center. At 1.26 p.m. I crossed the finish line. Wife and kids were there witnessing my accomplishment. Azmi, a fellow rider from BTP, came over and gave me a hug. Yeayyyyyyyyy... I made it...I made it.


53km of cycling completed. 53km of superb trails. Good mixture and composition. Demanding section in the beginning - CP1, CP2 and CP3 to less strenuous towards the end. It was a no surprise since though KHT MTB is new, the members are not. Some are seasoned, veteran rich with experience cyclists.

A huge thank you to KHT Bikers for a superb event. I really enjoyed it. If anything to be added to the trail is some technical singletrack section. Thank you KHT Bikerz...

1 comment:

sumi said...

hello. Excellent event cover. u should not ride.but write. choice of words are excellent. keep it bro

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