Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Le Tour De Penang

Hello guys I am back! Now, i am going to talk about my first ever long distance cycling experience. I always had this impression that cycling was damn easy. Before SPM, I tried so hard to convince my parents to allow me to do something crazy- cycle down to KL to raise funds for Food Bank Penang. Well what the heck , it's just cycling and I rarely get tired from cycling. No that was stupid, that was immature of course. After participating in this Le Tour De Penang organized by the so-called Knights of the Round Table, I have had a change of mind. Le Tour De Penang is some sort of fellowship ride, not a race. It was supposed to be a 60km cycling event. We were to start from Padang Kota, head out to Teluk Bahang and back. That was already 60km. However, on that day, we were told that there was yet another route, a further route and a definitely much more challenging route where participants had to cycle to Checkpoint 1 at Teluk Bahang and then head up the hills and down again to Balik Pulau(yes from Padang Kota). Of course, 80% of the 1000 or so participants took the Teluk Bahang route.

Only a few cycling enthusiasts and veterans took the Balik Pulau Checkpoint 2 challenge. From checkpoint1 one can already see how steep the road up the Teluk Bahang dam is and that probably deterred many from trying out the Balik Pulau trip. Initially, I, together with my younger sister decided not to take up that challenge since it was our first time at a cycling event. 5minutes through and I turned back and headed for Checkpoint2. I am still not too sure why I did that but it was probably the feeling of "tak syok" if I did not take up the challenge. If I want to do something, I'll go for it all the way. That's me , even though sometimes I am acting pandai-pandai;.

So, I buat pandai-pandailah go for the "veterans only" checkpoint2. Boy, the first part was already terribly steep and took much effort to go uphill on a bike. Then, having passed the Teluk Bahang Dam ordeal, a more challenging path was laid before my eyes. The steep yet winding roads to Balik Pulau. Initially, surprisingly I did pass a few guys who were not first timers and the roads were still bearable for me. And then, it became harder and harder for me. I never did regret for taking the path though. AT one point, I was totally alone with no cars passing, no cyclists in front nor behind me and worst of all I was along one of the quiet winding roads at one of the highest points of the hill. I was totally alone. The forest were right beside me on my left and thank god I had my MP3 with me. Then, the sound of sudden movement in the dense jungle beside me cut through the silence surrounding me and it was so loud I could hear it even with the MP3 plugged in my ears. A chill ran through my spine. I cycled faster fearing it could've been a wild animal stalking me or worst, a supernatural being!!! Then, luckily, a tour bus came passed by and soon my bicycle accelerated as the roads began going downhill. Of course, the downhill portion of my ride was simply splendid. Then, I was cycling on flat ground. It's amazing to see vast and endless paddy fields as you cycle past these villages. And suddenly, you realize this is Penang. How can this be? I have never actually seen the other side of Penang until now. Even when I go to Balik Pulau, it's just the city centre that I'll get to see.

So I paddled and paddled, and all the cyclists who were already on the opposite side of the road going back while I was going to checkpoint 2 all greeted me with a smile(i dono if it was laughing at me for being pandai-pandai eventhough i was so slow or amazed at me, being a daring amateur who's also buat pandai-pandai ) and 2 of them even saluted me. Nevertheless, that section seemed never ending. Villages and villages swept by and I was beginning to feel the real pain and there it was just around the corner, a van with few orange knights of the round table- checkpoint 2. Then I resumed my journey, stopped at a grocery store for ice-cream(it was a hot day ok. even though I had paddle pop but it was real refreshing). After cycling more another 20 minutes, a MPPP truck to sweep up all the cyclists and fetch us back to Padang Kota for we were already out of time. Surprisingly, I was not the first, in fact there were 9 other adults who dressed very professionally unlike me behind me! (YAY! small applause for myself) As more and more cyclists were swept up, it became real crowded for us standing amidst the bicycles on the open truck. People were laughing at us whenever we passed by. Cyclist wannabes who could not finish the journey yet took the challenging path. Of course a few of them blamed the roti canai during breakfast for not being able to complete the journey and some said their seats were to hard it hurt their butts(it happened to me too). Then, when the truck reached Island Plaza, we agreed to cycle from there to Padang Kota, giving the false impression to the others at Pdang Kota that we have in fact finished the journey, saving us some face.

Of course, we were tired like we've been to hell when we were greeted with goodies bags and nasi kandar at padang kota when we arrived. There was a lucky draw as usual and the event ended with two lucky winners going home with a brand new Proton mountain bike. the no for the grandprize was 246 and my sister's was 245. Well what the heck! whats not urs isnt!

p/s :The photos will be uploaded tomorrow

signing off as its getting late(dont want to be late for work)


Amir Faezal said...

Ah Boy, well done. I came from KL for that ride. I had not been to the other side of Penang either although I have joined the KOTRT jamboree a few times. I really enjoyed it. I loved the stretch from Teluk Bahang to Sg Pinang, through the kampungs, to Checkpoint 2 and back up the hill. I rode alone for most parts on that hill but heck it was breezy, the sky was overcast and the view was fantastic. Cycling heaven. The part I enjoyed least was from Bt Ferringi back to the city centre. Traffic was already pretty heavy then and I thought this is why more people should take up cycling and leave their cars at home. Penang is a beautiful city to ride in and such events will hopefully encourage more people to get on their bikes. Will be there again next year.

tskhoo said...

thx! :) Hey cool! Yeah I totally agree with you, Penang is a cycling heaven and people should start getting up on their bikes and start peddling away. Then, hopefully someday there'll be more bikes than cars and motorbikes in Penang. Less petrol and also less pollution. Though it was real hard, I have to say I enjoyed the route from Teluk Bahang to Balik Pulau the most especially when I reached the top and started gliding downhill with the cool breeze coming onto me. DO hope to meet u in person next year then! p/s were u the one with the trike?

Terry said...

Ah Boy, I was in the ride too and among the first few to reach the Checkpoint1 but i turned back from there not fearing i cannot complete the route but fearing for rain as it was pretty cloudy at that time...a bit lazy to wash my bike... :-P

tskhoo said...

hey terry! hi there! r u from Penang too? n amir and terry, do hope that you guys veterans will be able to inform me if there are other cycling events and races. Thx! can i have ur email if u dont mind. mine is tskhooo@gmail.com