Audax Malaysia’s inaugural 200km BRM #audaxrandonneursmalaysia

As a touring cyclist, I had never ever thought of cycling 220km a day and on top of that, the distance has to be completed within 13.5 hours. This goes directly against my “go slow and enjoy the sights” attitude when I cycle.

Before yesterday, the furthest I’ve done in a day was 140km; with my bike fully-loaded carrying my tent, sleeping bag, cooking utensils and roughly 25kg of stuffs in my panniers. There was no time limit and sometimes I would cycle from morning and continue throughout the night as I please. Then fun is in the journey and not the destination.

Well..that was before “randonneuring” entered into my dictionary and turning my usual cycling style haywire.

Randonneuring or Audax is another branch of cycling activities with origins in Europe and now spreading into this part of Asia. Audax Randonneurs Malaysia is the latest addition joining its affiliates in Thailand, Philippines, Singapore and Indonesia.

According to Wikipedia “Randonneuring (also known as Audax in the UK, Australia and Brazil) is a long-distance cycling sport with its origins in audax cycling. In randonneuring, riders attempt courses of 200 km or more, passing through predetermined “controls” (checkpoints) every few tens of kilometers. Riders aim to complete the course within specified time limits, and receive equal recognition regardless of their finishing order. Riders may travel in groups or alone as they wish, and are expected to be self-sufficient between controls. A randonneuring event is called a randonnée or brevet, and a rider who has completed a 200 km event is called a randonneur.[1] [2] The international governing body for randonneuring is Audax Club Parisien (ACP), which works with other randonneuring organisations worldwide through Les Randonneurs Mondiaux (RM). Randonneuring is popular in France, and has a following in the Netherlands, Belgium, United Kingdom, Australia, USA, Canada, Brazil and India.”

To kick off the new year on January 2, Audax Randonneurs Malaysia held Malaysia’s first audax for 200km ( the actual distance was 220km plus) to be completed within 13 hours and 30 minutes. The route was from Kapar towards the first checkpoint in Sungai Besar and passing through back roads towards the second checkpoint in Felda Kg Soeharto. The final checkpoint is again the starting point in Kapar.

Registration started as early as 4am and through Facebook the event attracted about 496 cyclists (paying a RM40 fee) but I’m not sure how many actually turned up that day and how many actually completed the course.

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Every cyclist is given a brevet card that will be stamped at each checkpoint indicating the arrival time. This is a free-pace ride so you can ride as fast or as relaxed as you like but you need to meet the qualifying time window of each checkpoint.

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This event is sanctioned by the Audax Club Parisien and governed by the same audax rules worldwide. The link to Audax rules are here (www.audax-club-parisien.com/EN/312.html ) Audax Rules

I entered the 220km ride riding my steel touring bike (the bike alone is about 16kg), definitely looking very out place, amid all the super light road bikes around. I also saw one tandem bike (really cool!) and 2 folding bikes whizzing past me in Jalan Kapar and I never managed to see them again after that.

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To be honest, my personal goal for this event was just to reach the 2nd checkpoint at Felda Kg Soeharto which is about 138km away from the starting point. In fact I already made arrangement with my wife to pick me up at 3pm (mentally, I was even prepared to be the last cyclist to reach each checkpoint).

My personal cycling preference is cycle touring (relaxed-paced cycling, taking in the sights and stopping whenever i like, as long as i want, with no time pressure what so ever) so for a distance of 220km given my usual pace and current fitness level it would normally take 2.5 days to complete :mrgreen:.

An audax is a self-support event, that is what attracted me to it. No support cars, no marshalls, no directional arrows and signages, and no sweeper truck to save you when you are stranded in the middle of nowhere. Out there it is just you, your bike and the road. So for cycling tourists this is familiar territory and the enjoyable part of the whole thing.

Completing a 220km audax to me is about endurance and determination. On top of that planning and preparation for the ride is key.

As a slow rider I can only manage an average speed of 20km per hour. So as a general strategy I have to maximize my cycling time within that 13.5 hours allocated. Planning before hand when and where to stop for food and water, rest, toilet breaks and finding the appropriate mosques or surau for prayers along the way, takes away a lot of the uncertainity in your riding plan.

Also knowing your own physical ability will help you to pace yourself throughout the journey. Drink a lot of fluids along the way, being well hydrated is key to prevent muscle cramps during the last stretches when you need your legs the most. Learn to eat while on the saddle it will save your precious time. I find eating dates as the best fuel. Pack them up in your jersey back pockets and munch on them whenever you feel your energy reserves are depleting. Again drink a lot of water.

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I arrived at the second checkpoint at 12.42pm well ahead of my planned 3pm rendezvous with my wife. As my legs still felt like they could go further I called my wife to cancel her trip to the checkpoint. I realised I’ve just burnt my safety net. No chance of giving up now.

The next 80 km was pure suffering but it was a good kind of suffering. There were moments when clarity of thought hit you and you start to ask yourself why are you doing this? Just perservere and stay focused. As a quote from Marilyn Monroe “I do not stop when I’m tired, I will stop when I’m done” or something to that effect.

So, get out there and pedal the epic ride of your life my friends. Stay safe.

#audaxrandonneursmalaysia

Kayuhan Asam Pedas : Cahaya SPK Shah Alam ke Jeram Kuala Selangor

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Assalam. Pada cuti umum Deepavali baru baru ini, Abang Zol, Muzammil serta anaknya dan saya sempat mencuri sedikit masa untuk melakukan kayuhan santai dari Cahaya SPK ke Jeram, Kuala Selangor.

Kayuhan “tiba tiba” yang dipersetujui secara spontan melalui Facebook ini merupakan kayuhan “reunion” bersama Abang Zol dan Muzammil setelah hampir 2 tahun tidak mengayuh bersama. Kali terakhir kami bertouring ialah perjalanan Putrajaya-Melaka-Putrajaya.

Kadang2 semangat setiakawan yang dijalin sewaktu mengharungi suka duka, pahit getir perjalanan kayuhan mengukuhkan lagi tali persahabatan hingga membuatkan kita berasa selesa berkayuh lagi bersama. Jika anda mempunyai rakan rakan yang sebegini; jaga lah mereka; “they are a rare species” di zaman dimana kita punyai ramai kenalan tetapi kurangnya sahabat.

Secara kasar route perjalanan kami dari Cahaya SPK ke Jeram adalah melalui “dragon back” Bukit Cherakah, Bukit Kapar melalui Jalan Iskandar, Jalan Akob, Jalan Kg. Bukit Kerayong, Jalan Simpang Tiga Jeram.

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Kami menaiki 2 foldie dan 2 basikal touring dengan membawa keperluan minima kerana ini hanyalah “a single day touring”. Cuaca sepanjang perjalanan agak panas dan ramalan cuaca akan ada hujan ribut petir sekitar jam 2 petang. Perancangan perjalanan adalah penting supaya kita dapat menyesuaikan kayuhan kita dengan cuaca dan keadaan semasa.

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Kami mengikuti route dimana terdapat “natural covers” seperti pokok pokok dan tidak banyak kenderaan. Perjalanan kami juga melewati estet kelapa sawit Sime Darby seperti estet Jalan Akob, Bukit Kerayong. Permandangan rumah2 pekerja dan sekolah di kawasan estet seperti satu “throwback” ke suatu masa di mana kehidupan harian masih dikelilingi kehijauan dan juga rentak kehidupan yang lebih ringkas dan perlahan. Kicauan burung2 masih berkumandang mengiringi perjalanan kami.

Hampir kesemua gambar2 dalam artikel ini diambil oleh Muzammil menggunakan “Go Bro” nya jenis Xiomi.

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Diatas adalah salah satu contoh “pose wajib” waktu berkayuh. Haha.

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Walaupun tak dirancang, majoriti memakai baju berwarna hijau cerah sewaktu kayuhan. Warna ini memang kegemaran saya untuk mengayuh kerana ia dapat membantu kenderaan lain melihat anda dari jarak yang jauh. Saya perhatikan trend pengayuh sekarang tidak lagi menggunakan helmet keselamatan malah lebih senang memakai cap atau buff. Saya cadangkan pakailah helmet kerana kemalangan boleh terjadi di mana mana di waktu yang kita tidak sangka sangka. Ketepikan keselesaan jangka pendek untuk keselamatan jangka panjang (Ini adalah satu pesanan khidmat masyarakat yang tidak ditaja oleh mana mana syarikat pembuat helmet).

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Sampai saja di pantai Jeram kami mencari kedai minum untuk lari dari kepanasan yang terik dan berteduh seketika. Minuman diatas ialah air nira kelapa yang telah dibekukan. Botol botol ini direndam didalam bekas yang mengandungi air panas untuk mencairkannya terlebih dahulu. Jadi walau dahaga macam mana pun bersabarlah. Memang betullah penantian itu satu seksa.

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Bila dah duduk mulalah masing sibuk dengan gajet masing2 untuk update position dan status. Manalah tahu.. zaman sekarang ini kan zaman orang boleh hilang tanpa kesan. Bagus juga kalau boleh melapurkan ke “base camp” progress perjalanan anda.

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Setelah hilang penat, kami pun mula berkayuh menyelusuri laluan pesisir pantai hingga ke Pantai Remis. Ramai juga keluarga yang datang berkelah  dan ramai juga yang sanggup berpanas terik mencari kepah yang memang merupakan aktiviti yang popular di pantai ini.

Kemudian kami menghala ke Kg Sungai Sembilang dan destinasi kami ialah warung Asam Pedas Sg Sembilang Klasik. Belum pernah lagi makan disini tapi teruja selepas melihat gambar2 yang diwar-warkan oleh geng kayuhan yang lain. Tercari cari jugak heli Wak dan Ija tapi tak kelihatan. Kami tiba dalam jam 12.15 tapi dimaklumkan pesanan asam pedas cuma dibuka jam 1 petang. “Takpe lah dah datang jauh jauh kami sanggup tunggu” ujar kami. Sambil menunggu minum air kelapa dulu. Memang nikmat kena air kelapa dan makan isinya diwaktu panas “lit lit” begini. Ramai jugak orang yang datang untuk makan asam pedas termasuklah satu gerombolan road bikers dalam 30 orang. Sayang road bike mereka mahal2 tapi tiada “stand” jadi kena lah bersandar dimana mana tiang atau pokok yang ada.

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Akhirnya dapatlah juga makan asam pedas. Ikan yang ada hari itu cuma pari, cencaru dan kembong. Ikan sembilang tak ada. Frust terpaksa order asam pedas ikan pari. Bila order asam pedas set individu datang seperti gambar di atas. Memang berselera saya makan sampai tak berkata kata (bukan apa takut tersedak sebab kuahnya kaw kaw).

Selepas makan seperti biasa ulasan panel hakim pulak. Bagi saya asam pedas nya boleh tahan sodap tapi Masterchef Zol dan Masterchef Muzammil bagi 3 bintang dari 5 bintang. Perbandingan Muzammil ialah asam pedas masakan arwah ibunya. Memang lah masakan ibu ada “secret ingredient” iaitu di masak dengan kasih sayang. Mana boleh banding.

Perutpun dah kenyang manakala langit pun dah mula gelap dengan awan mendung bergerak sarat. Waktu untuk mengayuh pulang. Kali ini kami memilih route berbeza melalui jalan besar hingga ke pekan Kapar, Meru, melalui Jalan Paip hingga kembali ke Cahaya SPK. Kami berhenti solat dahulu dimasjid di Kapar untuk membiarkan hujan mula turun.

Perjalanan seterusnya kami mengayuh dalam cuaca yang redup dan sedikit renyai renyai. Trafik agak sibuk dengan lori dan kenderaan berat yang lain laju melepasi kami. Tiba di jalan Kapar -Meru kami berkayuh mengikuti laluan sikal memandangkan memang tiada bahu jalan yang selamat untuk berkayuh.

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Kami kemudian membelok ke Jalan Paip dimana sepanjang jalan tersebut ada jaluran paip air terbina.

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Akhirnya setelah 72 kilometer mengayuh kami tiba kembali ketempat permulaan kayuhan kami. Alhamdulillah cuaca amat baik sekali dan tidak ada sebarang insiden yang tidak diingini.

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Tamatlah sudah kayuhan santai kami seperti kata Abang Zol “tiada medal dihujung kayuhan” tapi hanya tali persahabatan yang semakin kukuh terbina. Insyaallah jumpa lagi di kayuhan akan datang. Wassalam.

My Old Peugeot Explorer Rides Again

I love this old Peugeot Explorer 050 bike. Made circa 1985 in France. Its frame is made from HLE Mangalloy. Small, thin tubes, light but made to last. 7 speed Shimano Acera X group set.

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Took it out for a spin this morning tackling some hilly stretch and it was as dependable as usual; no fuss no complaint; just kept going slow and steady.

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Old is gold. Like a pair of old jeans it feels good when you put it on. You developed an instant connection and understanding between your body and your bike. That’s a rare feeling.

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Thank you old buddy…

Getting owned by my clipless pedal

I have not taken my road bike out for more than 8 months. It sits at the corner, forlornly, with flat tires waiting for its turn to hit the road (or get back at me).

These days I much prefer my  mountain bike for a quick spin around the neighbourhood. The truth is maybe I’m getting lazy and enjoying the gear system of an MTB too much (especially the bail out “granny gear”) that makes climbing tough gradients easy while self-denying that my fitness level and muscle strengths had deteriorated after such a long period of riding hiatus.

On my MTB i have flat pedals which gives me much more control and flexibility during riding. On my road bike I have clipless pedals (yes the term “clipless” is a misnomer and confusing since you are actually “clipped” in) and it does takes some practice and a bit of time for your muscles to remember the required movement to click out smoothly, and more importantly, IN TIME, from the clipless pedals.

I’m sure everyone that is using or have tried and gave up (you are not alone) using clipless pedals already know what I’m talking about and the dangers I’m about to share.

This morning I finally took my road bike out for a spin at my regular route which consists of some steep climbs in very short intervals; sort of like a mini “dragon back”.

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I like this route since it quickly gets your heart pumping and your forehead sweating due to the short hard climbs and fast descents ; so fast that you are not able to catch your breath to recover fully.

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From the picture above you can see the multiple climbs behind me. To cut a long story short, after one of the descents i found myself losing speed fast on the way up on another climb; i tried to change gear but I made a mistake and caused it even tougher to pedal (at this point I’m really missing the “granny gear” badly).

10, 8, 6km/hr… arghhh..

I knew then that a fall was imminent; I managed to click out my left shoe but unfortunately lost balance and fell ungracefully sideways to the right side where I have not managed to click out yet. As I fell, I kept both my hands tight on my handlebar and braced myself tight in a riding position i.e. my thighs and knees tucked in.

Since it was like a slow motion fall, I didn’t get hurt, just some graze on my right elbow and ankle from the asphalt. I think my pride was bruised the most. Thank God I ride alone; if not my buddies will have a good laugh and will keep reminding me of this stupid mistake over and over and over again….

You may think you owned the bike but once in a while you gets owned by the bike 😂.

Ride safe everyone!

The Dragon Back Revisited

I returned to the Dragonback today with a camera to take some pictures of cyclists going through the last hurdle before the long descent. For those who have experienced the Dragonback it is mostly a mental game. The last hurdle is the toughest as your muscles have become tight and the temptation to rest in the shade is great. It is good to have a buddy to motivate you along. This group did very well today. Well done!

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A big THANK YOU for all readers for the 15,000 views milestone today

Hi everyone! When I started this little blog last year I just wanted to share cycling stories with friends having similar interests. Although we speak Malay most of the time, I thought of writing in English so that more people can learn about Malaysia and cut through the language barriers. After all, cycling is a universal interest that binds people together irrespective of our differences. Many of the readers here are my Malaysian friends but I’m happy to see the support from all my new friends from around the world. My heartfelt THANKS to all of you!!! Let’s keep pedalling.

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