Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The cycle of HEAVEN and Hell - Pt 1

RW's fan club - friendly Malaysian
Nice flowers

Nice curves

Flying down the hill, Paul style!
The FUN begins!

The wise learn from experience, the wiser person learn from the experience of others. The fool disregards both.

In my research about this exciting ride, I had the privilege to dialogue with a very wise and helpful cyclist who have done this ride in Sept 2006. Fae Tang emailed me the GPS altitude map, gave me priceless advice about the very challenging terrain, warnings about mechanical failures, lack of mobile phone coverage and the inherent danger thus the need for a support vehicle.

This somehow challenged me to no end. Instead of a 26" or 700c bikes with 24/27 speeds with granny gear, we were going to attempt it on 16,18 & 20" wheels with humble 3 speeds and 8 speeds respectively. Instead of a support vehicle, we were going to carry our fully loaded panniers all by ourselves. Each "armed" just with the altitude map, 2 spare tubes, 2 water bottles, 1 can of 100 plus isotonic drink, chocolates, musli bars and 2 pieces of roti chanai kosong (Indian bread) laced with sugar, we went into battle with high spirits and high hopes. Afterall, I have just conquered Sumatra and perhaps had an overinflated sense of confidence.

The beginning of the ride to Blue Valley junction was easy enough, 7km of downhill followed by 7 km of climb. It was freezing flying down the hills and smoothening the tight corners but climbing proved tough. We had to push our bikes up at some stages. That was the first sign of trouble that our bikes were vertically challenged. Only Paul, who has iron lungs and iron legs on his simple 3 speed Curve could go up seated, for now.

An old British Landrover, the iconic farm vehicle of the Highlands, stopped to chat with RW and I. The chinese driver shared our passion and wished us the very best. Our little adventure attracted many toots of encouragement and smiles. Such were the friendliness of the sporty Malaysians.

If ever there is such a thing as "ride heaven", this stage of losing 1100m in 23km must be it. Paul hit 60+kmh on his little Dahon Curve D3 and RW on the Birdy did 50kmh for a good 35 mins. The wide, safe, deserted roads with breathtaking scenery made for a real paradise. I learnt the art of "air braking" using my body to slow down the bike instead of overheating the brakes. Words cannot describe the exhilaration. It was like riding a motorcycle with no engine. We were like gliders defying gravity, literally flying effortlessly and silently.

In my 3 decades of cycling, this takes the cake for best road downhill experience! A glimpse of bicycle heaven for any cyclist...

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