Sunday, July 17, 2011
Ride for Rations 2011 - Malacca to Singapore
This 'Ride for Rations 2011' was organised by the Sunlove volunteer organisation in Marsiling which supports the needy families, a fund raising project. There were some 60 cyclists in this event, and among our kakis, we had Kevin, Chua, Corinna, Hooi Yen, Clarence and me. We were to cycle from Malacca via Batu Pahat to Singapore over 2 days covering some 230 km.
We were scheduled to leave by 26-seater express coach to Malacca on 8 July, Friday first. I took half day leave, went home at noon to take my bike and then cycled to Lavendar where the two coaches were on standby for us. Chua had to cycle from his home in Bukit Panjang and Kevin did likewise, from his home in Holland area.
The coaches were scheduled to leave at 3pm. We were there at about 2.30pm. We had to take out the front wheel of our bike, then loaded it to the back. Some wrapped their 'championship' bikes with wrappers to prevent being scratched but I didn't. Kevin's bike is the easiest, a folder which he just placed in the cargo compartment underneath. Kevin, Corrina and I were assigned coach A and Chua was assigned coach B, together with Clarence.
Our coach had 17 of us with our bikes loaded onboard, there were still some vacant seats left. It was a comfortable ride, I must say. On the coach, we met two gregarious brothers, Tomas and Pete and we had good conversation with them throughout the journey.
We arrived to Malacca in the evening, slight delay along the way due to roadblock setup by police, apparently looking out for 'Bersih' supporters heading to KL for the weekend rally. But it was breeze passing through the roadblock, no police was onsight to conduct any formal check though roadblock was set up that caused part of traffic to a snarl on the highway...funny lor.
Our accommodation was at Emperor Hotel and immediately after our arrival, we re-assembled our bikes and placed in a reserved function room. Kevin and I bunked together whereas Chua had to share with someone we don't know. Corinna and Hooi Yen shared a room and big Clarence shared with someone. On the same evening, we (Corinna, Hooi Yen, Kevin, Chua, Clarence and I) roamed the street for local food and ended up taking a good mix of each at different places. Fried oyster, KL hokkien mee and some local stuff in one back alley but the food was superb. We then walked to Jonker Street which has a pasar malam; ate Penang laksa and downed with gula-melaka favoured chendol. Feeling contented, we finally walked back to the hotel to prepare for a long day tomorrow.
After breakfast, everyone was all ready before 8.30am. Checked-out, placed our bags in one support car and we were ready to hit the road. A short briefing was made by Manjit Singh, the organiser and we were finally flagged off at about 8.30am.
We cycled through the town centre to the direction of Batu Pahat, our next destination. It was a nice morning and we moved in one single file. I was with my group but slowly lost sight of them. I was cycling at an average speed of 25km/hr and about an hour of cycling, I slowed down for my kakis to catch up. Still, couldn't see them but the two brothers, Tomas and Pete caught up with me. I then decided to draft them. Both of them are experienced riders. At our first water point, I finally caught up with Chua and Clarence. We were already in Muar, Chua's hometown and we decided to make a surprise call at his mother's place. We first visited his cousin's place, said a quick hello and left. Just a short distance ahead, we dropped by his mother's place but she was not in. His third brother and family were in. It was again, another quick 'hi and bye' as we needed to catch up with the rest who were ahead of us. At about 60km mark in midday, it was our lunch stop. We had by then covered some 60km, another 40km to Batu Pahat.
After lunch, I decided to draft the two brothers to gauge my cycling level. Chua who was in his mountain bike was expected to be slower but I must salute him for trying to catch up with the road bikes and he was not too far behind, though. There was no water supply after lunch and it was getting hotter and hotter. I was with Pete and Tomas and suddenly, we heard a loud burst. It was Pete's bike and his second consecutive time (such bad luck for him). We spent a close one hour trying to fix up his tyre. And finally, we were off again.
By 3pm, we arrived at Batu Pahat town. We gathered at a bike shop, for Pete to change a new tyre and to wait for the rest to marry up with us. One by one, they arrived. Hooi Yen, Corinna, Clarence, Chua and finally Kevin. We then cycled a short distance to our hotel, Crystal Inn. The road condition from Malacca to Batu Pahat is excellent and most of the journey, we cycled on the motorcycle lane. It is mostly flat except for crossing of some bridges.
A dinner was arranged by the organisers for all of us but we still wanted very badly to take the local food first. After a short rest, we gathered at 5.30pm. The six of us then walked a good 20 mins to a hawker centre led by Chua, despite already covered more 100km of cycling. Another good feast for us, again we ordered a good mix of each. Wan tan mee, pork leg fried mee hoon, otak-otak and few more local delicacies, we just gobbled down the food. We walked back another 20 mins to the hotel and still had the dinner hosted by the organisers. It was carbo-loading, no doubt.
The following morning was to start very early for all of us, at 7.30am to be exact as we had to cover some 130 km all the way to Marsiling, our final destination. We had breakfast at 5.45am and by 7.30am we were already hitting the road. We were forewarned that the road condition will not be as good as Malacca to Batu Pahat. Indeed, it was undulating and was really testing our leg muscle. I had to vigorously engage my gear. I stayed close to Tomas and Pete, drafting them throughout. Clarence did join briefly and at some stage, he was leading us but eventually, he just faded away. Corinna and Hooi Yen were drafting with a group of female cyclists and they surged ahead of us when we stopped for tea tarik. The ladies decided not to stop for tea tarek, haiz. Chua was left mostly on own but not too far behind. Only Kevin was way way behind the rest of us. The terrain was tougher than first day, because the distance covered was longer and it was undulating. At 90km, we stopped for lunch. We were already in Kulai. We were among the fastest ones to have arrived and the organisers then decided to group us together. We were planning 2 or 3 groups to move in group, for safety measures as there was no police esort assigned for us. We had to move on own and in a single file. Chua, despite his slower mountain bike decided to join the first group. All 17 of us had to move out first led by iron-man Mano and the sweeper role was given to another seasoned cyclist, Andrew.
It was heavy traffic from Kulai all the way to Johor Bahru. We had to stop many times for the those at the back to catch up. A single file was maintained but it was not easy, we had to stay alert due to the heavy traffic along the way. I was just behind Corinna and twice, I almost bumped into her when she suddenly jammed brake. It was a domino effect when a person in front braked abruptly, it just followed through. We just had to be careful, can't afford a fall on the busy road.
By my reckoning, it took us more than an hour moving from Kulai to the immigration. So far, so good for all of us. We made a finally check before pushing all the way to the immigration. It was smooth and traffic heading to Singapore was not heavy, surprising and it was around 3 pm. The Berish rally in KL did turn away many Singaporeans visiting JB, fortunately for us.
After we cleared the Johor immigration and all of us made sure everyone had cleared before moving. We were going up the slope in one single line on the motorcylce lane. Corrina who was just in front of me suddenly fell from her bike. It was a hard landing for her. Clarence who was in front of her cycled back while I move ahead. She sat on the ground for a good few seconds, the impact was too painful for her. She could stand up on own but complained some pain in her neck. We had to cycle a short distance to the Singapore immigration and then another 1km or so to Blk 3 in Marsiling Road. She told us that she was distracted by Clarence's bum, that bum of his became the butt of joke later when we gathered.
At about 2.10pm, we finally arrived at Blk 3 in Marsiling Road but Sunlove home is still not opened yet. We were well ahead of our schedule. Finally, we had the time to attend to Corinna's wound. The wounds on her shoulder, arm and leg were superficial but it was the neck that hurt most, she couldn't turn her neck. Other than that, she looked alright. Her friend, Vivian drove over to pick her up while we waited for the rest of the cyclists to arrive. To my surprise, she was given 5 days MC, can you imagine that?
I had arranged for my brother to bring his lorry to bring us back at 5.30pm and we didn't stay back for dinner organised by the organisers, simply too tired for us. We just wanted to head home. It was a good outing, challenging and for a good charitable cause. I went home feeling truly satisfied that I have achieved another feat, a ride from Malacca to Singapore over 130km. Hip, hip, hip, hooray (3x)!