PENANG WHERE2GO ULTIMATE CHALLENGE
(SUNDAY JUNE 23rd, 2013)
from the Cyclelog of MusangKing Cycling Team
The idea of cycling around Penang Island was stored in my mind but without any serious thoughts being explored. When there's an advert on this event in the cycling space, we waste no time enquiring about it. The call had attracted 35 of us into the registration roll. Some mathematics was done for the trip. Since the number is quite big, going by private cars will not be economical. The group then decided to look around for a one go type of logistics - transportation for members, for the bikes and as well as a group accomodation. After some initial unfavorable responses, eventually I managed to make an arrangement with the local authorities in answering the transportation woes. Kenny, on the other hand managed to block book an apartment accomodation which is just a stone throw away from the starting point.
The preparation for the event started two months before the event. The anxiety was euphoric. All members were talking about it. A communication means was set up in watsapp named Penang Mana Mau Pegi. The responses were frenzy. Everyone were excited. Trainings were organized so that the members are physically and mentally fit. The regular training ground is the motorcycle lane along Guthrie Corridor Expressway. This stretch from Bukit Jelutong till LATAR intersection is about 30km one way. Eventhough it looks tame, but it promises hell and befits a robust training ground.
As the day draws nearer, so does the excitement. As early as Thursday 20/6, members were already leaving their prized bikes and left them at Wheelsman outlet in Shah Alam Section 13. This is for the bikes to be wrapped to avoid against scratching each others bikes while in transportation. Friday 21/6, final wrappings and loading into MBSA truck. With about 30 bikes in the truck, and at an average of 5k for each bike, the contents costs more than the truck's price. So, it was parked in the MBSA secured yard. Saturday 22/6 8:00am, everyone assembled at Dataran Kemerdekaan to board the coach to Penang. Donning yellow T's as event attire, we grouped ourselves for momentos of the album. It brightened the morning. It was about 2:00pm when we reached the Island. Our destination was Nasi Kandar Kapitan somewhere near Masjid Kapitan Keling. Adi Yus acted as the road guide since he is a local. Our nasi kandar lunch was excellent, spicy, tasteful and whatnot for a mamak food. We added a few kilos for that matter. The damaged...? Ehmmm..slightly above average. Nevertheless, we are satisfied. Only then we moved on to our place of accomodation - The Aurora Service Apartment located in Jalan Perak.
After sorting out the rooms and members accordingly, we unloaded our bikes and inflated the tires pressure. Not long after, escorted by the marshall in Zamarul with his cute Swift and gadgetted alarm and strobe light, we were hitting the road. Our destination is Taman Botanic which is about 7km away. It was aimed as a warming up session. From there, we pedalled our way to Gurney Drive where members took the opportunity to snap the moments and watssapp to those friends who cant make it. Those members who were left behind and cant make it to the trip felt very jealous. Its unfortunate for them that they cant make it with us and missed the exciting and wonderful moments. We then headed for the apartment after our dinner. We were by then ready for the next day - The Event Day.
As early as 5am, members were already awake and preparing themselves. Some of us had buns for breakfast and some just took power bars. By 6:30am, everyone were assembled and roaring to go to the starting point. We cycled there and in a matter of few minutes, we were joining the bigger crowd for the event. The 3 categories were Elite group who were supposed to come back within 3.5hrs from flag off time, the Amateur group who were supposed to come back within 4hrs from flag off time and finally, the Funride group who were supposed to come back within 2hrs from flag off time. Distance for amateur and Elite are the same; 85km whereas for Funride distance is about 30km. Sequence of flag off was Elite to go first, followed by amateur group half an hour after that and finally the Funride group. Starting from Padang Kota Lama, it was a clock wise turn around the island. The first one third of the route was just a flat surface. When we started to enter Balik Pulau area which is a very hilly and winding terrain, we know here comes the first test. It demanded our strength; both physical and mental. Some riders had no choice but to get down from their bikes and started pushing. This is a common sight when it involved a very big group. Nothing to be ashamed of. However, none of our MusangKing members were reported to yield off. Except for Halimey who had to stop because of his chain that had came out from the stopper when engaging lower gear, the rest had pedalled no matter what the speed indicated - 10km/h or so. It was breezing downhill, with speed touching 60km/h when we descended. The second hill test approached us after a stretch of about 10km flat road, after the gruelling Balik Pulau. In front of us now is Teluk Bahang, where a scenic dam use to have dragon boat race were held is located. Equally challenging, the turns here are even sharper and the counts are more than the first one. It runs to about 7-8km of winding up before we were blessed with the downhill. The only bonus for all the riders is the canopy of trees that protected us from the otherwise burning sunlight. It was cooling. Eventhough there were few spots of durian selling by the roadside, none of us were in the mood to stop by because we were cycling against time.
After descending Telok Bahang, we passed by the popular Batu Feringhi and Tg Bungah. A turn to Gurney Drive and cycled along the coast, we are about 5km to the ending point. This final leg of flat road has no degree of difficulty except that we need to be on endurance mode so that our legs will not cramp. And finally after on the bike for about 3hrs and 10mins, I crossed the finishing line. The rest of the group members had arrived within minutes earlier and some of them were also still struggling to complete it.
We collected our finisher's medal, organized the group photo session and waited to be the lucky ones for the lucky dip. And we arent lucky enough eventhough the Lady Luck in Zuraidah is next to us.
Its now back to our apartment for packing - both our bicycles and our personal belongings. Done with that, we arranged our bicycles in the truck nicely, boarded the coach and off we shot to the durian place - minus the trees. After some misses of the junctions and misturns, finally we were there at the right place. With 11 fruits left to fill 30+ or so tummies, it was just to make do. Nevertheless, we supplemented the shortcomings by adding some trays of mangosteens. It was awesome. And the damaged tells it all - RM 475. (Hah! Tu dia...!!!) Leaving the durian spot, we headed for Chowrasta Market for the jeruk buah pala. Its time to say goodbye to Penang. Admittedly, it was a first visit to the island by some of our members. But it wouldnt be the last. Except for the disorganizing by the event master, it was a memorable outing and we look forward to cycle again around the island.
A word of thanks to all Team MusangKing members who had made this event a wonderful, exciting and a memorable one. Everyone in a way or another had contributed to its success. Special thanks to Kenny who acted as the Sifu and shipping preparations as well as accomodation, Majlis Bandaraya Shah Alam for transport logistics, Khaidir for lending a hand in organizing the group, Zamarul who had contributed time and energy in becoming the pro like marshal and to all who had participated in the event. I am sure all of you have had a sideline experience. We are more than happy to hear that if you are willing to share.
Terengganu Century Ride is coming. Lets support the desire of each and every MusangKing member who wished to participate by either joining or act as a technical supporter. We hope to do better than what we had done in Penang. If not in terms of riders' achievement, its in the organizing. Or even both.
I love my team.