My Solo Century Ride on a Touring Bike

Definition of Century Ride

A century ride is a bicycle ride of 100 miles (160.9 km) or more within 12 hours, usually as a cycling club-sponsored event. Many cycling clubs sponsor an annual century ride as both a social event for cyclists and as a fund-raiser for the club’s other activities. Club-sponsored century rides typically offer several options for cyclists of varying abilities, such as…

  • Quarter century, 25 miles (40 km) in 3 hours
  • Half century, 50 miles (80 km) in 6 hours
  • Metric century, 100 km (62 mi)
  • Double metric century, 200 km (120 mi)
  • Double century, 200 miles (320 km) in 24 hours.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

On 26th January 2013, one day before Thaipusam, one of the key Hindu festival celebrated in Malaysia by the Indian community, without any prior training, I decided to embark on my own solo century ride based on the above criteria. Using Google Maps, I had charted a route from Alam Budiman in Shah Alam to Pasir Panjang, Sekinchan and back to meet the distance of 100 miles (160.9km). I started my personal “epic ride” at 7.00 am and targeted to arrive home before 6.30pm to keep within the time limit qualification of a century ride. For this journey I rode my 700c XDS touring bike and carried some repair kit, food and water in a rear rack bag.

Part of the route was familiar to me as I had cycled from home to Pantai Remis in Jeram and back (about 60km journey) on two previous occasions before. From Jeram to Sekinchan however, will be a new experience to me. I started down the Jalan Batu Arang road and took a left into Jalan Paip (this is near the local “Dragon back” stretch). As it was still very early the traffic was clear and since the road is considered a “kampung” road there was not that many heavy lorries plying the road. The morning air was refreshing and slightly cooling as I cycled in a relaxed manner keeping an average speed of about 20km per hour to get warmed up. Soon I arrived at the Meru town intersection and took a right turn heading to the Kapar town. 

On the way to Kapar town, the traffic started to build up steadily and there was also a lot of lorries. Some parts on the Jalan Kapar road had enough space to maintain a good distance away from the vehicles but at some stretches the road condition was so poor there was no more road shoulder to ride on. You also have to be on the look out for potholes. On all my bikes I always installed a rear view mirror which I find to be very helpful to see what is coming from behind so that I can prepare myself for oncoming cars or lorries.  Often times, the speed of the big lorries here was very fast and once they passed you, the wind gush can literally force you off the road. 

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My first stop to rest was in front of the Jeram police station.  At that point I had done more than 30km for just slightly over an hour which I thought was a very good time achieved considering I was riding a touring bike. My strategy was to cover as much mileage as possible going in, as my legs were still fresh, so that on the way back I will have more time to cycle more leisurely and to set aside enough time for lunch and prayers at the local mosques along the route. After a 10-minute rest to eat a banana and to fix a squeelling sound coming from my rear brakes I started pedaling again and my next milestone was Kuala Selangor. The stretch from Jeram to Kuala Selangor was good and uneventful as the road condition was better with good space to cycle uninterrupted. 

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I then stopped in front of the Kuala Selangor mosque to rest and take pictures. The mosque has a traditional design with golden domes which reminded of the mosques I encountered during “balik kampung” for Hari Raya to Sungai Petani, Kedah using the old coastal road before the PLUS highway was built. 

Once I reached the town of Kuala Selangor I took a right turn and there was a small climb (perhaps the only climb as the whole route was relatively flat) up to the bridge to cross Sungai Selangor. Thereafter I soon passed Pasir Penambang and encountered several other places with intriguing names such as Bagan Tengkorak (Skull Quay). It conjured images of pirates of the Sungai Selangor(if there was ever such a thing)in my mind .

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My planned next stop was Tanjung Karang but along the way traffic was abruptly stopped for about 30 minutes to allow for a procession of Hindu devotees heading towards a temple. It was a colourful sight where most female devotees were wearing yellow/orange costume (sarees) carrying pots of milk on top of their heads complete with accompanying music blaring. 

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As I was cycling, I also saw several Indian men walking barefooted  as far as back from Meru (which I thought was odd at that time) and only later I discovered from an Indian friend that it is common for people who wants to show their devotion to their gods (“bayar nazar”) by walking barefooted to their temples of choice before the Thaipusam festival actually begins the next day. Some would walk as far as 100km or more and take them days to reach their destination.(So don’t fret Haris, at least you have a bicycle to do your 100 miles). As the procession entered the compound of the temple, the traffic was allowed to move again. 

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I continued my way to Tanjung Karang and  once I reached Tanjung Karang, I could see that rice cultivation has taken over the other types of economic activities and crowded landscape turned into vast paddy fields as far as the eye could see.

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One thing good cycling in Tanjung Karang, there is a motorcycle lane so cycling there was very relaxing and I felt secured as I was safely separated from the heavier and larger vehicles. How I wish there were cycling lanes all the way along our the coastal road as I believe having a good network of good cycling paths (and if one can bring down the temperature by 10 degrees 🙂 ) would really boost the cyclo-tourism potential of our country.

As I cycled towards my key milestone, Sekinchan, the heat of the day had started to build up. The lack of shades along the road really made me sweating like I was in a sauna. (please see my earlier posting on tips on Cycling in the Malaysian Heat). Finally I reached the signboard that said “Sekinchan” and I was elated that half of my mission has been accomplished. Yeay! But now I have to go back the same way I came…

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One thing I find unique about Sekinchan is the way the roadside fruit sellers arranged their produce and fruits. Depending on what fruits were in season, they will arranged them in a very beautiful alternating pattern ie mango is in one line and then sweet corns in another while dragon fruits in another, etc forming an interesting geometric pattern with their display board being held almost vertical (which is brilliant since one can see from afar what each stall is selling) instead of keeping all the fruits flat on the table.

Picture Credit: Malaysiavacationguide.com
Picture Credit: Malaysiavacationguide.com

Every seller will try to out-do each other to make their display the most attractive. That is the kind of competitive spirit that in the end beautify the view and made it unique. From Tanjung Karang to Sekinchan also you will find a lot of stalls selling “mentarang”, a kind of soft shellfish that looks a bit like oysters in the inside.

MENTARANG
Mentarang, an oyster-like shellfish

Many stalls would just put them on an open fire for grilling and you can eat them right away.

In Sekinchan, there are generally two traditional trades for the locals, the paddy farmers on the right side of the road while the fishermen are on the left side of the road. I decided to go the right side and cycled into the vast paddy fields area. While I was expecting to see fields of green I was left disappointed, the fields were in between season i.e. already completed harvesting and waiting for the new planting to start. I promised myself that I will be back when the fields are green and golden with harvest.(please see my earlier posting on Cycling Among Paddy Fields in Sekinchan)

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I spent some time in Sekinchan taking pictures and had my lunch and rested for a while. Once I started my journey back my odometer reads 81 km and I was thinking to myself could I last another 81km under this hot sweltering sun? I decided to take it easy and paced myself as I did not want to risk getting cramps or getting too dehydrated. I cycled at an average of 18 to 20 km per hour and I stopped more times than when I came in. At one occasion I stopped because I saw this signpost that said “Blended Coconut Shake” and I was thinking “wow, that would be great under this kind of heat”. I ordered one and perhaps drank it too fast that I had brain freeze :-). It was good but not as good as the Klebang Blended Coconut Shake that I had during the last touring to Malacca. Just for the shake alone, I would not mind touring to Malacca again!

When you cycle long distances, your mind becomes free and sometimes it wanders to places you’ve been before, forgotten childhood memories, old friends you have not seen for a long time, etc. For me, cycling always make me happy, it transports me back to the times when life was simpler, with a bicycle you can go anywhere, it symbolizes the freedom of mobility. But today, I needed to focus on getting home. Another observation when you cycle, you tend to see more things in your environment for example, you tend to see the many roadkills that when you drive you hardly noticed. For this trip I’ve seen dead snakes, monitor lizards and a dog carcass in the monsoon drain that was so bloated that I had to cycle faster to escape the stench. The strangest roadkill while touring must be the dead owl by the roadside on my way to Endau Rompin. Don’t know what hit it but it was a strange sight.

I stopped to rest for 30 minutes and performed my Zohor prayers at the new mosque in Jeram. By that time I could already feel my legs feeling heavier perhaps due to exhaustion from the heat. I now only have slightly more than 30 km to go and I did not want to fail in my quest. The rest of the journey was really tough and I wished that it would rain to keep the temperature down.

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Perseverance pays and finally I arrived safely at my starting point at 5.41pm. There was no cheering crowds, no garland around my neck but the personal satisfaction I felt was immense. I was the small engine that powered my bike to go the distance today. The total distance that I cycled for my personal “epic ride” was 162.89km. If I minus the hours that I stopped to eat and rest, I had been cycling for 8 hours at an average speed of 20km per hour. Not fast by a racer’s standard but good enough for a slow cyclist like me. Now that my solo century ride was completed, I look forward to the next challenge, bring it on.

 

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11 thoughts on “My Solo Century Ride on a Touring Bike

  1. Hi, Haris. This is Vin from Tanjong Karang, may use your photo for our Tanjong Karang Official Facebook profile picture?

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