I always have this fascination with climbers. Nope, not in the mountaineering sense, but in the cycling sense. KOM. Alpe de Huez. Angliru. Col d'Izard. Our own Genting. So when Abg Man SMSed us that the next ride will include the 8.8km ride up Perez, it was not to be missed.
I can't sleep actually. Saturday was resting day, other than the visit to KFine. Wash my bike and try to sleep as early as possible. Like a small boy who are anticipating the visit to the Lego shop :) I actually woke up at 5am, and force myself to sleep a bit more.
Woke up at 6am, call Lei but he's not answering. Cook breakfast and somehow only manage to go out of the house quite late. That is definitely for not putting my bike in the car the night before. Ha! Sikit punya kelam kabut, baru ko tahu. In my haste (it was already 650am), I left Garmin at home, and the thought of being left behind by the 730 roll out time, decided against turning back and get it. Kena buat manual training note la lepas ni for this particular ride...
On the way, Wari called. He's already at IKBN, and I told him I'll be there before the ride. Racing there (both my heart rate and the car) is stressful. Takut kena tinggal, dah la tak tahu jalan. Finally I reached the designated RV point a few minutes after 730. Cyclist in cars and bikes were lining the street. CH just arrived. I saw familiar faces, even some who their adventures were the staple of my bloghopping.
After everyone is ready (its almost 8am), we rode together to the first checkpoint. We have CH and Wari, the usual Sunday crew, bola2api, Kash and Rais, Nurina and a few other nice people that I have the pleasure of making acquaintance along the ride. It was a rolling route, thru a few kampungs, and the cool weather makes me thankful I was wearing the long sleeved tee. In all we have almost 20 cyclists in our group.
At the T junction, we made a pit stop. Kash had some problems with her RD. Apai swings into action, and the problem was solved in no time. After a breather and everyone is accounted for, the climb begins. The first few hundred meters are steep, but with the right gearing and companion it was made bearable. I rode with Abg Man and Cikgu Hisyam for a while until I became too slow for them :(
I reminded myself not to overexert myself. The secret they say is to set and follow your own pace. You know yourself better and I was thankful for the Polar loaned to me by Wari that allows me to keep a tab on my heart rate over the ride (and especially the climb). My strategy is to spin along and keep my soaring heart rate in check.
It was a refreshing ride, early in the morning and the sound of the chain gliding over the drivetrain hums a sense of purpose, the sight along the way is just awesome and the smell over dew on leaves is pure and invigorating. Then, reality sets in. My breathing is labored, my throat are dry, my lungs are screaming for air, my quads are bursting with lactic acid and with every spin, 'Bila la nak sampai nih!'
After struggling for 33 minutes up Perez, after a bend I saw, 'SELAMAT DATANG KE NEGERI SEMBILAN" and sure enough, I saw a few of the crew is already there. The climbers (light in weight, of course) are cheering everyone who are making it over the top. At that moment, it makes it all worthwhile. The pain disappeared and the endorphin rush envelops you.
After the customary UMNO Jelebu pics, we turn to cheer everyone who made it over Perez. Abg Man and a few other even rode down to make sure Zul ride safely to the top, cajoling, cheering, supporting even telling a few white lies, 'lepas ni ada satu selekoh je lagi, hehehe'. A big round of applause for all in the group. See, CH and Wari pun boleh survive. So Mr Big, bila nak join kami?
The descent was furious, especially the first few kilometers as the switchbacks are to my liking. I guess I averaged around 40+kmh only. Daoh suffered the first of our puncture on the descent. We waited for him at the junction and later makes our way to the RV point to regroup. Once we are there, we received news that CH suffers a puncture. Kash and Rais swings to the rescue while we waits for them.
Once the punctured party arrive (tayar saja yg pancit, orangnya OK lagi), the next leg of the journey was to Pangsoon, but as fate would have it, CH punctures again on the same front wheel. CH, agaknya wheels ko tu jinxed tak? We changed the tubes and the group decided to cut short the trip and go to Sg Congkak instead.
We had our breakfast there (basically taking everything in sight, these ravenous cyclist) and enjoyed the
company of fellow cyclist over food and drinks. Even Md Noor Ba
lung Merah and Zharin was there a while later. After the usual photo ops, with a filled tummy
(not yet full), we bid goodbye and make our way to the RV point.
Its great to be riding with friends (old and new) who makes it all the way to the top. For some of them, this is their first time, mine included. And the next time I am here, I will do my best to conquer it in a much shorter time. This climb up Perez makes a good weekend. Period.