17 June 2012

PCC Interestate 2012 : Kajang - Kuala Pilah - Muar - Pulai (Part 5)

30th April : IS12 Day 3

Finally its the morning of the final day of IS12. So fast 2 days and 250km have passed. The last 169km. I woke up in the really cozy bed of the hotel room, wishing i could sleep longer. But today is a day of history for me personally, wanting to complete 5 consecutive years of riding PCC Interstate, through the most pain, joy, wild circumstances, support, and importantly, a journey of self seeking. A journey of faith in itself if you will. From my first IS report I did say i hope to join many more Interstates and hope i be able to finish all that i have participated in.

Well that day can be today albeit all goes well.

I got up quarter past 6am. A little bit late since there is no breakfast provided by the hotel today. Ate buns in the room instead. The profile of todays route is flat. All the way airport runway flat. Having my usual morning chat with cousin about the road ahead. From leaving the hotel room right to taking our bikes. The last morning of the Interstate ride, everyone is out in full force displaying their own personal achievements, or wanting to achieve something personal for themselves. Pushing the human body to endure constant pain and effort.

Its the morning everyone looks forward to. There will be lots of photo taking and video recording. Its a monday morning in Muar. A working school day Monday. And all 400 of us are going to wake and shake this town up. And maybe irk a few motorists. But mostly we might be impacting and bringing a positive exposure of the sport that is cycling as a community and as one body.

I was mentally prepared as i was physically in good shape still. My cousin was doing alright as well. We both have done the hard part. Riding on flat roads should be one of the easier sufferings on the bike.

We rolled off at 7am in the usual big bunch. Navigating through the town center and getting out to the open main road that goes straight all the way down south towards Pulai and JB. We certainly made lots of heads turn on the way out of town. Looks like navigating out from Kota Bharu 2 years ago. The marshals car was equipped with the onboard mini cam that recorded the whole bunch riding. Alot of waves to the camera man. A lot of laughter and cheers.

Me basically I just wanted to finish the day like every other Interstate : In one piece.

Rolling in the usual 10km, everyone is having a good time being bunched up, dragged in a long line of 300meters at least. Me being near the head end this morning, looking back at the long winding snake of cyclist taking up almost a lane of traffic. The pace was relatively medium high at 30-34kmh.

I was busy trying to locate my cousin lost in a sea of color. And out of the corner of my eye i saw him stopped by the side of the road checking his meter. I couldnt stop or get to the side lane so I had to move on, stuck in the tide of cyclists. I dont know why, but i felt that it would be unfair to judge Willy's performance which was fantastic in the hills, if i did not give him a run on the flat roads as well. I am after all in a position now to give a really good frame some good tests of its characteristics and capabilities.

 Actually that was an excuse. I wanted to try going fast today. Being a flat road, its tempting not to go fast. :P

I dont know how. The pace steadily increase from 35kmh......then to 38kmh.......then to 40kmh. Once i saw this figure of 40kmh, I know now its going to get real tough on my lungs and my legs. I look towards the front of the group and theres like 50 ,60 or so riders in front of me. But when i turned back.............just a handful of riders were hooked to my rear tire. The rest of the peloton was gone. Its either i stick to this first and fast group or i drop to the next group. Well since im at the rear end of the group , i get lots of wind shield. Sticking to the group was not as tough as i thought it would be, with Willy being made of funny tube shapes and a light fast accelerating wheelset. It probably helped alot.

And then speed went up....42kmh......44kmh.....45kmh........47kmh....man these guys are crazy. Already i was in the big 54T ring with a 15/16 rear cog. I myself love to push a big gear at low cadence, it somehow feels less stressful than 100rpm. All the time my attention was only on 2 places, the riders ahead and the speed we are going. On the drop bars nearly the entire time squeezing whatever wind advantage and power saving advantage I can get.

Slowly few riders drop out from this fast blazing group. As we move like a long train on smooth tracks, the camera man decides to show up and take videos and snapshots. I wanted to wave, but i couldnt. Haha.

Then i saw another small bunch of riders breaking off............and in that bunch was Bahri "Legend" Aris. I overtook him and said "That was you in front?!!?! No wonder we hit 47kmh". He just laughed and continued to drop further, while i continued sticking to the first group. Dont know but this guy is capable of a come back plan.

The train goes steady for 45km. And im still in the big fast bullet train heading down towards Pulai Springs Resort, our final stop. Wait, 45km..........we only did 1hr 30mins of riding. That was really fast. That means the last hours avg speed must have been 39-40kmh. Nothing but just keep going forwards tucked behind the big group. Now for the record, I have not been in the front fast group this long before, neither have I enough training to be in a fast group at all! Mostly my thoughts while in this period is : Blank. Blank for another 25km or so. Soon we passed a small town with traffic lights, and then thats where i said goodbye to the 45kmh speed. The traffic lights broke alot of the riders rhythm. Now we were split into two. The first group was never to be seen again until Pulai Springs.

So now im stuck with a 5 member group of the Trek dudes and a few other riders. With their black/yellow outfit matching with their yellow/black themed Trek bikes, either they are worshiping the brand or the man who once rode this brand to 7 TdF wins. Beats me.

At first it was just the 9 of us. Small, but going steady at 35kmh. Still pushing my big gears. And after 5km with them...........we stopped for a drink. 75km! In 2.5 hours. Almost halfway done! Now that was really something i thought i could never do. But these riders are friendly and fantastic. They dont go all out to punish with speed, but keep speed consistent and predictable. And they say they were just taking it slow.........uh huh, right. Slow. A quick 10 minute breather is all we took to fill water and release water. Getting back on the bike straight away cruising along this long road.

I must say the road conditions were not really favorable to me. At times its rough everywhere. Pot holes here and there. Almost last 70km i was also busy avoiding road hazards asides concentrating riding in the group. And problem with going fast is sometimes we cannot react fast enough to a road hazard if the front man does not give signals/warnings.

So back again on the saddle, the group of us is now about 10-12. A little while later another couple of riders manage to catch our group and joined the train. And we also caught another group in front. So now we were happily in a sizable group again, and me will be just sticking near the rear end enjoying the pull. It was a nice 15-20km pull by the front riders. But they seem to be a little bit lacking of road hazard warnings.

One of the hazards i couldnt avoid was small pothole. Though small, but due to the speed we were going, my bikes front end slamed into the pothole so hard, my handlebar actually went down a good measure due to the force. So much that I was riding uncomfortably. I was alittle cheesed off, so I yelled to the front "SIGNAL PLEASE!".

Well, I think they didnt hear me..........because not too long after.........again............i slammed into another, but deeper, pothole. Very very hard. No signal was given. Everyone infront just suddenly parted left and right. You know, like Moses opening the Red Sea? The Israelites saw dry land to walk across. I saw this big @$$ hole (not big a**h**e, but big a** hole) suddenly right at the front of my tires and I was going "Oh mama..........". Soon as i whacked into this hole, I heard a sound not many riders want to hear. Air gushed out. From my rear tire. And it went flat in an instant.

I was quite frustrated that the riders in front did not give any signal whatsoever.

But then lo and behold, since this puncture took place on a small ditch crossing, when i got to the other side, i saw a group of riders all by the side of the road and at least 2-3 riders with their bikes upside down and wheels off the frame. Seems im not the only one being a victim of this bad stretch of road. So i joined in the (not so fun) fray being beside the road with a flat tire.

My cousin uses tubeless tires on these Shimano Dura Ace 7800 wheels, and already inside is the caffelatex. Its pretty much the green slime for car tires, but this is for bikes. And i saw this really deep 1.5cm cut in the tire with the caffelatex oozing out trying to dry and seal the hole. But not successful as the cut was way too long to be covered. So i decided to take off the wheel, take out the tire (and have caffelatex spill out) and put in a tube. Thank God a support van was there and borrowed a pump. In not time I had an inflated tire. I just hope the cut doesnt grow and lasts for the last 69km or so. At the same time i readjusted my handle bar and did a whole bike check since I went in 2 potholes already. Turns out there was some caffelatex that came out from the front tire but it sealed the rim wall. Guess the first pothole did that, but didnt manage to make a puncture or a pinch flat.

Well............great. Now my rhythm is screwed and I lost the group. So i guess I will be on my own for the last 69km. Pedaling off under pretty fair weather. Now i think i better ride solo so that i can see more road in front of me and avoid all the potholes than seeing peoples rear wheel and butts. Now getting back to 35kmh seems like a hard thing to do.

I rode along for about 3 or 4km........suddenly I heard a faint shout of my name..........coming from the opposite side of the road. Guess who guess who...............Bahri. :)

The invitational wave to come and stop together with him (and new friend Doctor Sani) was just too irresistible. And i saw drinks on the table they were sitting on. So okay, pit stop no 3 for today. Sat down, had a nice drink. He said he saw me stop by the side of the road attending my puncture. The 3 of us also had a nice chat with the local shop operator and family doing their daily business. They were surprised to see many cyclist going towards JB. We just explained the whole trip thing (like we have done always when people ask us). They are always left stunned when we tell them the distance we travel per day for 3 days.

And the other usual topic talked about are the bikes. I mean we get lots of questions regarding the bikes, but mostly on the price. And when this time the Malay uncle asked us "How much are your bikes?" , well, the 3 of us looked at each other...............and actually feeling really....................shy......................to tell just how much it costs for each of our bikes. Mine has already touched the 6k mark. Bahri's is in the 10k mark already. And doctor Sani's Pinarello Dogma 60.1 with Campagnolo Record 11spd and Lightweight wheels? 35k.

Well the uncle insisted we just say how much it is (in front of his wife and children, staring at us intently). So okay, he opened the price range "5,6k?" he asked candidly. Me and Bahri nodded our heads. Thats about it. But when it came to doc Sani's turn.......its like he's blushing. Then suddenly doc asks the uncle to go over and try to lift his bike. And the uncle was amazed at the lightness.

And further more doc explained "Its all about passion for the bike. You know, exercising is a healthy sport. And we all do it to keep fit and have a good time together. The cost doesnt really matter, but when I saw the bike, I like it so much so I bought it. By installment actually" . "My first bike was RM4k. Then used it for a while, and i sold it off. Got my second bike for RM11k.". "MY third bike which is this one is RM35k"

The uncle took a second look at the Dogma. And a third look......

"RM35k?" the uncled asked again

Doc Sani replied "Yes 35k, but because I like the bike so much I dont mind paying. By installment that is. I bought it piece by piece, part by part." "So now its assembled and I use it for my cycling rides." *chuckles*

Me and Bahri looked at each other again dont know how or where to hide our faces trying to contain abit of laughter. But in all honesty the whole conversation was hilarious. Im sure we made their jaws drop right to the floor.

Welll a good 15minutes spent with the locals sure was fun. And its 11am with 65km to go, I would say the journey is not long anymore. 3 of us bade farewell to the nice lovely uncle and his family for the hospitality. More serious business awaits. Bahri suggested we ride together no more than 31kmh taking turns pulling each other. Well i thought that be a splendid idea. So we rode.....taking turns pulling each other. Roads were still pretty rough and still had to avoid lots of holes cracks debris dead animals etc. At one point there was so much debris and holes, and I was at front, I had to give double hand signal (spreading my arms out and pointing down on both sides) to signal holes on my left and right. That was funny. I heard a big laugh from the two behind me.......

I was starting to feel the pain of the 31kmh pace after about 10km. I actually could barely hang on to the pace. Well thank God we went through a town with lots of traffic lights. And somehow we caught up with a big group infront. Yes, the 3 of us managed to catch a group. Aint that swell? In the beginning, we said to rest at every 30km. So 2 stops only. Next stop at 140km. So we followed this group since it was so much easier on our legs. Minus mine. Im the one sitting at the back with my tongue scraping the road.

140km came. And went. Erm, I shouted to Bahri in front "Are we still stopping for 140k pitstop?"

Bahri asked Doc Sani. No. They are not stopping.

But my legs are almost already flat and I need a rest. So i told Bahri that i will take a pit stop like it or not. They went ahead. While I fell back slowly at my own sweet pace. After all its just little under 29km to go. Its about 12 noon, so i dont need to rush to the finish line. I took a short stop at a petrol kiosk. And then after that its looking towards my 5th IS fininsh. So close i am now.

The last 29k wasnt exactly friendly either. There were some rolling hills, windy hot dry sunny weather. And alot of traffic as we are nearing Pulai town. I see signboards pointing now to JB town, Pasir Gudang, Skudai, Pontian. Oh guess what, lots of riders stopped over for ice kacang at a local stall/shop. Including the Trek boys. Now ive overtaken them, despite my puncture and my stops!

In the last 20km i took things really slow and relaxed. Few riders came and went. Then i manage to follow this solo dude also desperately and slowly trying to complete the days ride. We stuck together since we were both on the same boat. Grinding slowly up each hill like it was a mountain, riding on the flats like a 2 cylinder car. The final 6km was really tricky as it got us twisting and turning and making a U-Turn even (first time in IS history i think). The dude was cursing and swearing at the crazy route. I just had nothing to say but shut up and finish it, with a wee bit more to go. Nothing can really stop me now unless the earth suddenly collapsed beneath my wheels. And a few more turns, a traffic light, a left hand junction.....a nice guard house....and voila : Pulai Springs Resort.

Yeah. Finally 5 years of IS is done, toasted, in the bag. I finished at 2pm. A very fast time for me considering the distance. If i stuck with any group i would have come in much earlier. Bahri was already there sitting down with his feet up and drinking the welcome drink. And he came in nearly half hour earlier than me. But the point is : I have done it! So its my turn to sit relax and think of all the regrets fun crazy happenings for 5 years in a row. So now i wonder, what about the next 5 years? Heaven knows.

So all i have to do now is laze around, wait for my cousin and half of the rest of the riders to come back and wait for hotel rooms to be ready. My cousin came in at 3pm. Well done to him for IS no2 finish. I wonder will he do 5 in a row as well? Well he came all the way for this ride for the last 2 years and looks like he is pretty addicted to it also. 3.30pm only we got our room keys. The hotel room was really 5 star resort luxury. A suite with small living room, a kitchen, bedroom and bath. Sweet. Not so sweet was that we have to pay RM50 a day for the internet access. This must be for the Singaporeans. :P

After a nice bath, we walked around the resort compound for a while. Then looked at some bikes parked in the basement car park. A banks worth of money sitting there. The security guard better be doing his job properly.

The final nights dinner was nice, with the recap of vids photos, speeches, and a lucky draw (which none of us were lucky). My cousin went out with his friends after dinner while i just wanted to rest and relax in the hotel room. So for Day 3 of IS12, it is done. Tomorrow, 3 things awaits me : A very nice western buffet breakfast, the bike packing, and the bus ride back to KL.

TQ TQ TQ All for the 5 years of hell on wheels.

1st May : Day 4

So its the departure home day. Nothing much to write about. Bus leaves at 9. We woke up at 7.45. *am we were out the door packed. The breakfast was top class western style buffet. I wish i could whack all the food. I nearly did with 3 plates in front of me.

The bike packing and all was usual. After all the short mechanical work, up the bus and over back to KL. Ive traveled the NS Highway between KL and JB so many times I didnt even feel like looking out the window. Bus stopped twice en route back. By the time we landed in Kajang, it was roughly 3pm.

Back in city life and mundane routines again. Will wait till next August for the 2013 Interstate as Hari Raya falls after before August, so the normal Merdeka day IS ride is back again. Wonder whats next for IS13? Its anyone's guess. 

But for now, and the last 5 years...............

Thank You for being with me, and thank you for letting me be with you riders.

And to the blog readers, more to come i hope. But id like less drama so i can write shorter write ups. These long posts are killing me.........


21 May 2012

PCC Interestate 2012 : Kajang - Kuala Pilah - Muar - Pulai (Part 4)

29th April : IS12 Day 2

After a really blank dead log sleep.......i woke up. Feeling good. Feeling I can survive today. Before i can survive todays ride, go toilet and release excess baggage. You know what I mean. Well honestly I have not felt this good after a previous day's hard ride for a long time. I guess the muscles for cycling suddenly woke up again. Todays 130km ride starts at 7.30am so waking up at 6.15am was just right. Cousin woke up feeling rather OK-ish. Not down flat thankfully. By 6.30 we are all  up packed and filled for the day's adventure.

Out the door, queuing up for the lift, going down to eat breakfast. A typical morning scene of Interstate is like this : Bikes all over the place. Some right side up, some upside down, some against a wall, some against a chair, flower pot, in a drain, some with a wheel still detached etc. Baggage everywhere, riders walking in their cleats on the hard floor (click clock clack), greetings of "Morning" , riders putting sunblock all over, and the normal rigmarole.

Todays breakfast was quiet appetizing. If i wasnt riding i would certainly eat more. But my bike has a BTM (Berat Tambahan Maksimum - Maximum Excess Load) so.........i had to cut down abit :- 2 bowls of cereal with milk and about 8 mini frankfurters. Fair enough right?

Taking out all the bikes from the bike storage can be a nightmare especially if your bike is way deep burried at the back of a whole row and line of other bikes........and you have to wait. Or risk wadding through thousands of dollars of precious equipment to fish your bike out. The storage room was rather small. BUT being one of the last to finish yesterday, me and my cousins bikes ended up further near the exit door (since all the inner space taken by 300+ riders before us)......so.........coming in at the rear end isnt such a bad thing after all. Haha. Quickly we whisked out bikes out, loaded full water bottles (now im using my spare after losing my original one yesterday - not even Lost and Found could find it back :'( ..... )

After loading bags into the truck, we wait for 7.30am flag off. I estimated to finish by about 2pm today since the route is much flatter and I might be taking my time as well to ride. 6++ hours for 130km isnt so bad. Just hoped the rolling hills wont be too hard to ride. I shall soon find out as the lead marshal car moved out of the hotel compound and the whole tide of riders followed behind it ever so orderly at 25kmh. Well i just exited the hotel compound and already i heard the sound of a bike fall. Dont know who it was that fell down, perhaps havent wake up yet?

Rolling out of the town of Kuala Pilah the roads are what i call modern village roads. Its nice roads with good amount of bike lane space but left and right are practically wooden houses or bushes and trees. Abit winding here and there. And not too long already a few small rolling hills begin to appear. And not even past the first 5km another rider falls down. Not 1, 3 of them fall. After seeing the whole field in front suddenly stop and seeing a gap in the middle of the whole bunch, it had to be a crash. The 3 riders looked okay. Just some tangled bikes and probably some heartache........

Riding up and down more small rolling hills until finally a pretty big one where suddenly everyone broke out from the big bunch and I cannot see the front main field anymore. Its bye bye for today. I will ride at my own pace. My cousin also was missing somewhere behind as i was climbing this big hill. Up and down up and down, until I got to one which went down quite long and fast until i caught one bunch of riders whose pace was about the same as mine. So i stuck with them........I should say, lets see how long I can stick with them until I finally fade off. The group loved to ride in the 30-34kmh range on the flats. A little too fast for my liking but I hung in there. When the rolling hills came.......guess what? Me and Willy looked like we were naturals on the hills. Haha. I still cant believe just how well Willy climbs. Whatever input I put into the pedals, Willy will output it to the wheels right away. I dont really feel any waste of effort. And i wasnt anywhere near panting for breath. And the legs felt like they were waltzing on the pedals. Amazing. Every rolling hill that came and went, me and Willy took it head on. Its really that good that sometimes I am climbing in a 39 x 21 , 39 x 19 or even still in 54 x 25. Its really that much of a difference using a well designed frame. I guess all those funny tube shapes helped.

The longer I rode with the group the smaller it got. I dont know if it was riders dropping off or riders going faster in front. I was suddenly stuck with 4 riders only and I kind of liked the way they were riding : 28kmh and freewheeling every now and then. So its quite relaxed following this pace. I get to rest abit in between pedaling and the whole group seems to just like to follow that way too. It was so good that I had not realized 50km had already passed by. This was like 10am roughly. All the twisty, up and down, open empty, green roads just went by like that. By KM69 a large number of riders stopped at a very timely intersection with shops to stop and eat, and sundry shops to buy drinks. It seemed so empty this place but I forgotten its a Sunday. But its only Day 2.

I decided to stop and rest for a while. Get a drink or two. While the huge group of riders just finished their morning breakfast. I was wondering as well should I eat. And I tried calling my cousin to find out where is he. He didnt pick up so I assumed he was busy riding (or busy sleeping in a support car?) So I continued resting for as long as i can wait for him (if he is still riding). Thats when the big group started leaving. And then i saw Bahri in that group as well. Shouted to him but didnt hear me. I thought of following him since I have done drinking and eating. Well I was slow to get on the road, and by the time I started riding, my phone rang. My cousin called. He said he was still riding and 5km behind me. So i thought I would wait for him but he told me to go on since he was with our other friends (Eddy Ruey and Alex) riding together. Since he has company I tried chasing down the big group. I soon realized one thing..........chasing down a big group is hard..........very hard. Maybe my legs not warmed up enough to do a hard long chase. The best I could manage was 35kmh and that was just for a while. Not more than 2km. The group was no where to be seen. So I rode alone slowly at 25 28kmh. Ive done halfway of today's journey so its not that important I stick with a group.

Riding along I followed this rider steadily at 31kmh after catching him. For some reason I felt hard keeping pace with him compared to keeping pace with riders this morning. Maybe my legs were starting to get tired. I was constantly falling behind, having to catch up, then falling behind again....and then catching up again. The road was rather quiet, a little windy in some places, hot, and still in rural area. We have entered Melaka at this point of time, Its more like the southern outskirts of Melaka before touching Muar border.

A few small groups of riders overtake me now and then (pretty usual sight in all my 5 years of Interstate riding). Havent seen a big group since the pitstop i made. At KM85 there was this medium sized climb....and after climbing it , the road went flat......and i saw 2 riders by the road side looking like changing tires. There were 2 support cars as well. I didnt realize who the rider was until he shouted out my name. Turned out it was Bahri.

I U-turned back and went to see how he was. Apparently he wasnt having a flat tire, but he had a fall. He crashed into a front rider who tried to avoid a deep dip in the road. Miss timed bunny hop and landed on the tarmac. Bahri went straight into him and over the bars flying. Fortunately he only lost 2 small patches of skin. But the kind support car lady driver knew her first aid well. Bandaging like Bahri had lost 2 acres of skin! Haha. Other than that Bahri was fine. Still alert and talking. Same cant be said about the bike though........

Bahri is using his new Trek Madone 5.2 with Shimano Ultegra Di2 (thats electronic shifting for you normal folks - no wire cables, all by electric servo motors, a battery and electronics). Now the problem was........his rear RD could not shift up or down with the gear lever. No matter how we tried only the front FD was shifting properly. The rear could not shift. Tried recalibrating the shifting via the calibration buttons. The RD would recalibrate shifting up and down nicely. But not responding to shifter input. The gear is now stuck in his big 28T rear cog. I dont think he would want to be spinning 150rpm all the way to Muar. Somehow we manage to recalibrate and lock the RD into 17T gear cog. Middle range gear. Will get a mechanic (either Lim BikePro or Colin GodzillaCycles) to look at it once in Muar.

Anyway now a matter of concern is how to get Bahri to the end with the gear being stuck in 17T and front between 39T and 53T. So I thought lets ride together since its already near 90km. Another 40km wont hurt much. We take it slow. Will reach well by 2pm. Its already 11am and the sun is shining hot. So we wasted no time and rode off, thanking the kind support car for the help.

Surprisingly........as soon as we got rolling, Bahri rolled like nothing happened to him despite being stuck in medium gear. He did high cadence and still went at 30+kmh. I respect this guy. Should give him a name for being so..............legendary............hmmm. Might just suit well. Bahri M Aris - The Legend.

He got so fast I could not keep up actually........i just told him to go on while I rode at my own pace. 22-25kmh is more like my mode to ride now. I was praying for a bit of rain to fall but the cloudless sky says its going to be like this for the rest of the day. Having passed the 100km mark, and still having some reserve left to carry me into Muar, I slowed my pace further to 20-22kmh. I have a long day tomoro so be wise to save the legs. The last 20km was quite tough due to the headwinds as we are near the seaside. I had to stop at a petrol station to take a good rest. A big group was there resting too, with Lim BikePro in it, they left sooner than me. I just grabbed a 100Plus, a bun and sat there by the sidewalk enjoying my pre-lunch. I have not eaten a whole meal the entire journey. Just bread n chocolate bars. Another fellow rider then came in riding his nice Ridley Noah bike (easily above RM15k ) and sat next to me. We chatted. He said his knee felt terrible and he is calling it a day. His wife driving support car would be over soon to pick him up.

I left shortly after the conversation trying to finish my last 20km. I went back out in the hot blazing sun with the headwind slowly pushing me back and preventing me from going faster than 25kmh. I reached a traffic lights intersection and there were police marshals manning the junction. Then a whole big convoy of superbikes and mid performance bikes roared ahead towards Muar town. I dont know what is the occasion or event, but having to wait for all these bikes to finish felt like eternity. Since im a small user of the road I just went on ahead.

After most of the day spent in rural and empty open roads, finally i see more shops and traffic lights, heavier traffic (it being Sunday), more people around. I caught up with 2 riders slowly cycling towards the finishing hotel and todays route through Muar town seemed a little bit confusing. Muar town has lots of one way roads and sticking to the correct lane was crucial. So why not go as a group which would be safer. Another small group behind caught up with us as well. Yay, bigger number of riders = slightly more command of traffic.

Crossing the Muar town bridge, finally i get a glimpse of nearly the entire town from the peak. I can see the finishing hotel which is just at the far end corner. Following the traffic in Muar can be a nightmare for cyclists. Weaving in and out of busy sunday traffic slowly but surely todays ride is done. A few more corners and I land in front of a big hotel with a shopping complex beneath. Quite an interesting concept. At 1.30pm i finished the 130km. A very decent performance today. And judging by the large number of uncollected baggage, theres still lots more riders on the road. Its been a long time since i finished somewhere in the middle. I quickly went to park my bike downstairs in the reserved car park bays.

Bahri was already sitting in the hotel lobby there enjoying and relaxing his feet. Its amazing he arrived 30minutes earlier than me stuck in that single rear gear position. I quickly told him , "Bahri M Aris, the M stands for legendary". It fits him well. Hahaha. He's still waiting for any available mechanic to help fix his "fixie by accident" bike.Speaking of accidents, i heard reports that alot of people crashed today. Including our very own cheif safety officer cum marshal cum sexy cyclist Don Chan. Apparently he rode into another rider that fell infront of him. Result is : The bike is OK. The jersey didnt survive. A clue : Think sexy hip-to-rear-end exposure. :P

With hotel rooms not ready yet, alot of riders were everywhere in and outside of the hotel, siting on the floor, by the sidewalk. Earlier riders changed shirts and went for a stroll around town. Wasnt until 2.30pm only the rooms were ready. And my cousin + co were just in time to arrive and collect room keys. I had the honor of collect for them. My cousin too finished todays ride not feeling too bad. As more riders start to come in we went up first to take a shower and relax the legs on the bed.

Funny that none of us had a proper meal for lunch, and our friend Eddy from SG with a small group of us decided to eat our lunch at 4pm at the nearby hawker stalls. Supposedly this is the place where the famous otak-otak char kuey teow is sold. But was a really long waiting period placing order to receiving food.....and minus the otak-otak which the chef forgotten. Business seems good even on a sunday afternoon. Then we walked around town a bit, and explored the shopping mall below our hotel. In the shopping mall i saw a watch shop and i was wondering if i can get a new watch strap. Mine was broken since 8 months ago and i hadnt had time to go to a watch shop to get it fixed. Now here I am, after cycling 250km in 2 days, buying a watch strap for RM19.90. When i could have done it in KL. Crazy me right? I guess only I do this sort of thing

The dinner was 6.30pm as usual. Nice hotel food. But we ate little, and after listening to briefings etc, me and my cousin + Eddy and Co went out for our 3rd round of food. We went to this fishing village where supposedly serves really good otak2 and seafood. Non stop eating since afternoon till now.  Secret carbo loading for tomorrows long flat ride to Pulai Springs Resort. 

We came back at about 9.30pm and bought some chocolate bars for tomorrows snack time food on the bike. This hotel was really comfortable and looks like a decent 4star hotel. Much better than yesterdays one. With one last long day of riding, 169km left to be exact, I hope to complete my 5th Interstate participation and a personal record of : Surviving all days ride, no crash during ride, no going up support car during ride, and no matter what, i try to finish the ride. The only record that I was unable to keep (sadly) is getting down the bike and pushing up a hill (which I have done on my 2nd and 4th Interstate). But anyway as a recreational rider, I am proud and thank God for what I have achieved.

So with night getting late, eyes need to shut and tomoro is one last push to the finish line.

Before I sleep...........my regular dose of this analgesic cream from Indonesia called "Balpirik". Its super hot and super effective. Gets the legs burning throughout the night. And yet I can still manage to sleep.

Another 6 sleep-like-a-log hours.

-End Day 2-

09 May 2012

PCC Interestate 2012 : Kajang - Kuala Pilah - Muar - Pulai (Part 3)

28th April 2012 : IS12 Day 1

I woke up from a really weird dream about cycling. Something about cycling somewhere and not able to finish. I guess the drama of the whole nite and morning got to me real good. Its 5.15am. I had just one and a half hours of sleep. My cousin still sleeping while i got up and washed my face, dressed up, packed up remaining items and do final checking for todays first day of Interstate 2012.

My aunt woke up early as well to help abit and see us off. I was just as about as ready to go..........5.25 my dear cousin only woke up after being called by my aunt. He still looks groggy. I dont know how both of us going to ride like this. Dragging out feet and bikes to IS12.

Mounting the bike on the rack even seemed like lifting bricks off the floor. Our bags heavier still with lots of water and essentials inside. Chucked two big backpacks in the back of my car. Strapped bikes on the back rack. Guess its another year of Interstate for me and my cousin bro.

Aunt saw us off. As we drove out 5.45am to the start point at Prescott Metro Inn, Kajang. This is the same hotel I started my very first Interstate back in 2008 to Kuantan. Few flash back memories of that time. 5 years on, 4 Interstates later, here I am doing my 5th consecutive. To me its a pretty neat achievement. And I dont know when I will stop and break the chain. Driving along the way my cousin fell in and out of sleep. He still looks tired. Still keep insisting he will suffer this year. I said we both suffer for sure. He reminded me to drive slow..........because theres a few thousand dollars hanging at the back of the car. Driving 100kmh only what. No big deal. I wanted to get there early and avoid any last minute jam by cyclists and other support drivers.

Reached the start point just after 6am. Ride starts at 7am. Unloaded the bikes and bags in one corner while i park the car in the designated open air car park just for cyclists vehicles. Final checks and then its lockup for 4 days. Our bags we loaded up into the transport lorry. And now for a small bun breakfast given by my aunt. Its little but i hope it helps. Now i start to see some of the familiar faces year in year out of Interstate rides. Organizing committee is basically the same people like James and Christine, Don and Ivan, Debby and Annie and so forth. Riders are of the same circle that i meet now and then. None of my Sitiawan cyclists came this year due to the overwhelmingly fast response and the super fast closing of the registration : 2 days after it was open 2 months ago and 400 places were snapped up just like that. Alot of them registered under groups like KOTRT, Bandung, Rolling Spiders, Magnum, 2 Wheels 1 Planet, Genting Grupetto, BJCC, PCC, and a lot more. Only about 30 odd riders (including me and my cousin) are under "Individuals" or riders who registered separately. Next year need to do a group registration to make things easy. Otherwise at this pace, registering individually would seem impossible next year.

Anyhow, Im here, my cousin is here. Oh yah......was looking out for Bahri and Zakuan. Bahri finally gets to do another year of Interstate after missing it last year. Zakuan doing for his first time. I bet Bahri cant wait to try his new Trek Madone 5.2 frame with Shimanos brand new Ultegra Di2 electronic shifting groupset. Well little did he know I have something new as well. Up to now no one else except 4 people knows i have a new weapon for this years Interstate. I just didnt have the time to announce it. :) Well i didnt see them at the start. Im sure I will see them along the way. Either i catch them or they catch me. The latter is more probable than the former.

Oh well, let them find out for themselves. Wahahahaha! 

First day of Interstate is : Hilly. And I guessed as much when the route was announced back in February. Going to Kuala Pilah via Seremban just seemed to easy by PCC standards. I thought the most punishing way is through Kuala Kelawang (part of the Broga loop). Its just either we go up Bukit Tangga or Bukit Perez. And from the tulips that I studied..........we are going to do Bukit Tangga, harder of the two choices. There are 2 short peaks before the long grinding Bukit Tangga. And also theres another climb after the cow dung road in Spg Pertang.......just exactly like the route 5 years ago but that was to Bahau. This time we go to Kuala Pilah. So i more or less know what the terrain is going to be like. I just dont know how slow, how painful, how ugly things will get along the way.

Me and my cousin started thinking of riding strategies. I think the common goal is to just survive day 1 and finish in one piece. Day 1 being 120km is relatively short but the hills takes time. I can only judge how we will do once we finish the first 60km.

Willy parked by the side of the curb standing there ready for his maiden voyage. And its a long one. Ive only ridden the bike for 5 minutes. Ive got to get more acquainted with him along the way i guess. Nearing 7am, James gives last minute briefings and everyone is just excited to get going. Probably me and my cousin are the least excited. Grim was probably best to describe us.

7am. Time to get rolling. Traffic is stopped by the marshals. And slowly 350++ riders and about 20 support cars will head out through the town and out to the open road. Led by chief marshal's car for about 10+km from Kajang to Semenyih. I havent seen anyone else i know in the whole big bunch of riders. Im also busy trying to stay together with my cousin and getting acquainted with Willy.

So far I can only tell for the first 10km......Willy is pretty stiff, and he has a knife edge sort of handling. Crisp and sharp and lively feel. Willy likes to keep going if you push him to go. Well there are 410km to go to get more closer with Willy. Just wondering how he will perform both on the climbs and on the flat roads.

Everyone is pretty relaxed going slow behind the chief marshal. Right until the town of Semenyih, and then up to the Nottingham University campus where the roads will be much empty and more sub-urban. I was hanging out at the middle section of the whole bunch. Seeing how many heads are in front how many heads are behind me. Important for me to see which groups are front and back, because alot of them will overtake me along the way. At least i can tell if im way way behind the whole field. We got to the point where there is a short incline and ahead i saw this big inflatable banner to mark the official start of the riding for Interstate 2012. And off the chief marshal went and now serious riding (for most of them) begins. Im more serious about survival and keeping my legs healthy. My cousin bought 7 packs of sodium tablets from BikePro, each costing 5 bucks with 4 tablets inside. Its for preventing cramps. I might need them because I had cramps the last ride in Broga. Was expecting a hell of a day today.

I lost sight of my cousin. He must have got sucked in front with some of the faster riders. I just hung back and relaxed while taking the road slowly with Willy. Pretty winding roads, and some bits of rolling terrain. I was planning not to use much of the rear brake as its not really up to good optimum performance. Its still a tad squishy. And the rear wheel will shudder and squeal if I do hard braking on downhills. Im relying heavily on my front brakes now and controlling my speed. So much for perfection on a bike that costs me half of 10 grand. The C24 wheels i borrow have been used before by me during 2 years ago's Powerman. The wheels are fast and light. I hope it helps on the hills because extra weight its not what i need with weak legs. The weaker the rider the lighter the bike? Seems like a logical idea.

Just after about another 10km or so......i finally caught my cousin riding with some riders in front. So we stuck together and try to ride at our own pace. The only demoralizing factor to us is that every now and then there will big groups of riders passing us. I always have to keep looking back to see if any of these big long trains of riders are coming just so we can stay out of the way.............and roughly tell how much further back we are. At least 3 or 4 big groups of 10-20 riders have passed us. Thats roughly 60 odd riders. Not counting those already in front and shooting non stop to the finish point.

After rolling into Broga town we head towards Lenggeng where the twin peak climb is, my legs feels okay still in this first 30km or so. Just over the first hour and a half of riding. The road is familiar to me. And then suddenly another group of riders passed me and I see Shakir Ishak.........he did IS last year but is not doing this year. Obviously he is tagging along just for the first day ride I suppose. A bit more ahead is the double peak climb so probably I will chat with him there..........where things are much slower and easier to talk. The road goes into the village and I know the first climb of the day is just in front. Action time : Its either I suffer......or i suffer real bad. The last time I did this climb i cramped. Nearly ripped my knees apart. I was at the very most, prepared to get down and push to save the knees and legs. And in front as i saw lots of riders form the scattered ants crawl up the hill, and by then i can really see the road pointing up to the sky...........i gave a signal poiting upwards to riders behind........saying its time to go up up and away. I told my cousin "Now its do or die".

I can hear all the riders around me, front and back, switching to low gear. *Crak crakkk kachink tap tap tap tak tak tak kethak*. Familiar sounds when things are about to get ugly. Well fighters crack their knuckels. We erm..........click our shifters as fast as possible. Oooookay.........the road goes up. And soooo.......climbing up this short 500meter hill at about 10% grade all the way up. Steep yes. Sitting down and pedaling got abit tiring after the first few 10s of meters so I decided to stretch my legs and stand up pedaling. And for some strange reason.........the moment i stood up and pedal......................I didnt feel like sitting down ever again. Willy was telling me "Yeah thats it keep standing." and i think I head the C24 wheels say "Dont sit or I wont help you get up this freaking hill any faster".

I found myself enjoying the climb all of the sudden. For a long time I havent felt like "dancing on the pedals - Lance Armstrong", but this got really good to me. I could even shift down a gear to 25 from 27. And i was overtaking riders one by one.........standing all the way up. My knees didnt feel like breaking. I came along side Shakir finally and said hello. Just asked why is he here and etc. Says he is following till Kuala Pilah and then the wife will drive him back. Interesting I thought. And then he got a glance at the machine I was on. And now his whole facial expression changed because everyone knows I ride and old school bike. Anything different than that old school look and I will definitely get interrogated . "FUH! New bike ke Darren?" he said, looking like in disbelief of what he has just seen. I just stared back.....still standing on the pedals and exclaimed "Yeap, new frame only." Then i pedaled off further up the hill overtaking more riders.......seeing some pushing......seeing some huffing and puffing..............while I was feeling like taking a sunday walk through the park. Willy was doing really fantastic up this climb coupled well together with the lightweight C24's. I did not stop nor choked nor cramped nor fainted doing this the whole way up. For the first time in many many many many many months...............and a good year or more probably..............climbing up a hill like this felt well.................FUN.

I got to the top..........not really lost of breath but after putting that kind of effort up a steep hill.........i do need some air. I was thinking whether to wait for my cousin, but I thought I will wait at the end of the twin climbs which will be easier. Down i went on the first climb slowly taking my time...........I still am not so comfortable about the rear brake so I didnt hit high speeds down. Shakir overtook me. But its fine. Theres still one more short climb ahead. After about 1km, I see the second climb. The road now was slightly congested with cars and some lorries because alot of slow riders takes up space on the left while vehicles need to pass on the right. But the opposite lane has traffic as well...........so its abit messy but moving traffic. Up the second climb I thought "Well enough standing for one day, I'll sit this one" I pedaled up to a few slow riders and I needed to over take them..........so I stood up........accelerated...........overtook them........and........remained standing the rest of the way. AGAIN. Willy did alot of the work for me. Being a stiff frame, transferring the power to the rear wheels.......maintaining smoothness up the hills..........and keep going forwards with every pedal stroke. The old Look felt like it wanted to slide backwards. But Willy felt like he wanted to keep going forwards and kept asking me to pedal harder. Goodness me........Willy has stunned me. I guess the investment did payoff in this department. Even by the time i reached the top of this second hill...........I wasnt lung busted or having a heart rate through the roof. It just blew me away at how much a difference I am personally feeling for the first time of a really good frame that climbs well with a light set of wheels on. Now I was morally boosted to do the Bukit Tangga climb. After that climb the worst of the day is pretty much over and done with.

Going down the second hill I somehow hit 72kmh.........another record on my meter as I have never gone down that fast before with all my previous bikes. Maybe Willy has some aero edge as well? And Willy was stable going down. The light C24's felt abit too light as there was some side movement but it was manageable. If I used the Look, the rear end was my biggest scare as it flexes alot expecially under heavy braking and cornering when going down hill. But Willy was rock solid. Fantastic ride.

Riding down after the hills and some distance away is a T junction where we turn left. Once left turn, and after 1km........it will be the start of the Bukit Tangga climb of about 4km. I stopped right at the junction where i saw Shakir stop as well. So i stopped and chatted with him. Him still looking at my new ride. "Finally change eh?". Then the general Q&A session about where how much when I got it. When I told him the story, he sort of like went *facepalm* but now I find it funny telling my story of how i got things done.

Not too long Adeline Lee came along and stopped too with her small group. I was still waiting for my cousin to arrive. Waited like 15 minutes. Must have taken really slow ride up the hill. Once I finally saw him he stopped and looked like he had just finished round 10 of a boxing match. Well I would have liked to rest early but guess who rolled in then? Bahri and Zakuan. I yelled at them to stop. They stopped for like 2 minutes then everyone decided to get rolling again. Then Bahri and Zak spotted something different about my bike. Both of them went like "Shit Darren! New frame ke?! Fulamak....." And all I could do was smile and laugh.

We rode off all together but soon will be split by that other long steep hill in front. I cycled up to catch Bahri while Zak and Shakir were together up in front. I got along side Bahri and said hello as well. Then he looked at me like I went through and came out of rehab. Again he gave me that disbelieving look and uttered "Wah new frame huh? When you got it?"

"Yesterday. And i just finish setup, installing etc everything done this morning 3am"

"Oh my God, you gila ke?"  *shakes head*

I could only just laugh and continued riding with him. It was a priceless moment.

Now normally..........for the past 1 or 2 years.....i usually am behind Bahri on climbs. He is the new mountain goat on the hills. And normally on a climb like this.........my legs would be telling me "Hey slow down man. Any faster or harder and we will give you more lactic acid and probably a cramp or two." But Willy and C24 spoke to my legs and said "See if you can give out enough lactic acid faster than we get you two up this climb!" My legs pumped the pedals hard, and this time i was sitting, wisely choose to sit when necessary and stand when necessary. I was taking in alot of air...........but my chest wasnt bursting yet. I followed Bahri side by side almost all the way...........

Then he uttered "Go la Darren, what you waiting for?"

I replied "Cannot.......I can never overtake Bahri M Aris on a climb like this! Can follow side by side is considered good for me". Haha. I actually wanted to save my legs.

Then I told Bahri , "You know what? I have never climbed like this, pushed so hard for so long in a really really long time" Then he just had the facial expression he was about to punch me and ask me to just keep quiet and cycle up.

A little while later I came back to him again and told him, "You know what? This new frame really makes a hell lot of difference than my old frame." Again he gave me that stern look. So this time I just quiet down and focused riding up the hill. I look back and see a broken string of riders grinding up. We overtook rider after rider. My cousin must be somewhere down slowly creeping up. But Im still having so much of a good time climbing up this forsaken hill with Willy.......and I dont feel really that beaten up. Of course the long climb seemed long and I forgotten how long more is there to go. I shouted at Bahri from behind "Are we there yet?" He just yelled "Nope, just halfway". I thought great.......halfway. But it really is different climbing this hill with Willy........because the last time I came with Look, it was really hell going 7 8 9kmh up this climb. Today? I was doing 13 14 15kmh up the hill. And that is a hell lot of a difference in bicycle terms. We were soon catching up to Zak and Shakir. Almost tailing them and following all the way to the top of the hill. I yelled "There yet?!" again......"Little bit more" Bahri replied........i just kept my mouth open and sucked in air and my legs pushing down on the pedals. My toes feel almost numb from the hard work. Well it was well worth it because I have finally reached the top of the climb!

At the top i saw another surprise : Good old Azahari@Axy whom I have not ride and seen in many months on the bike. Suddenly see him here was something unexpected. He also is following everyone to Kuala Pilah and then driving home. And everyone who stopped at the top together (all 6 of us) straight away noticed i was on a new machine. Lol. Everyone was that much surprised to see me riding something new. They all rested like 5 minutes and then down the hill they go. I decided to wait for my cousin and take a really long rest. Like 35minutes I waited at the top. Seeing rider after rider go by.......support car after support car go by..........a bee was attracted to me. Cant stop landing on my hand and leg. And ants were crawling all over the road. The sun was out..........a little windy. I think at this point I was at KM52 or so. By the time we ride into Kuala Kelawang it be half distance done. And its about 10am. So not rushing things and I think we can complete the whole ride safely by 2 or 3pm the most.

My long break waiting for my cousin ended when I saw in the distance a guy huffing and puffing up the hill with some other riders who suspiciously looks like my cousin. Oh.....turns out it was him after all. Upon reaching the top...he stopped and cursed "Damn tough la this hill!" Then i asked what took him so long. Seems he and Adeline's group had stopped for coconut water somewhere halfway up the hill. I didnt realize there was even a coconut stall! RM4 per coconut for "outsiders". Okay.......Malaysians also kira as outsiders. Singaporeans maybe okay la...............

Anyway we went down the hill after a short while. Going down Bkt Tangga has always been scary in a sense that the road is so wide and its open air with hills around. This makes the place susceptible to crosswinds. And i have to observe the trees for any signs of strong winds while going down. Willy descends fast and relatively stable. Much stable under braking going down as well. But i can still feel tiny sideways movements from the wind. Its not hard to go past 50 or 60kmh down this hill but I have to control my speed and avoid a disastrous crash. The downhill was over in 5 minutes and then its about 8km to the small sleepy town of Kuala Kelawang and Jelebu.

Riding into K.Klawang......we stopped at the Petronas station for some water. Unfortunately nothing much was left. Just as my cousin came in after me, he asked if I had tape or something like zip ties. I said why. His brand new meter bracket came off........seems that the screw flew out while riding just now. I was shocked at how that kind of screw can come off. Luckily i have a few zip ties in my pouch. He managed to get some selofan tape from the counter. And we re-engineered the mounting to make it stay firm. He complained "Good must return to vendor. Lousy product."

The town was so quite and I thought I would see lots of riders stopping for lunch. But no. Hardly anyone in sight. Did everyone not stop and just shoot straight on? I was already hungry so I suggested to my cousin we stop and eat a good meal. We found a chinese shop selling fried rice and noodles. And a table with lots of uncles sitting and chatting and having their late morning tea and coffee. And they all stared at both of us like we were aliens from another planet on weird space bicycles. Hahaha. Never or hardly see cyclists like us around here much I guess. Not too soon later the chinese uncle on the recumbent came along. He has been to every Interstate I have participated so far riding his trusty recumbent bicycle (you know the type where you lie down and pedal forwards). That caught the attention of the chinese uncles even more. They must be scratching their heads looking at us weird people. We didnt care. We are just passing this place to get to the end of a long day of riding.

After eating a full plate of fried rice, the 3 of us went off. For the next 20km or so we did not see any riders in front or at the back. Which my cousin then voiced out his concerns "Are we last?" I sort of assured that the 3 hills behind might keep some riders a little bit busy. Rolling winding empty hot roads is the way to describe the 20km that went by.......plus a small little hill. I felt fine.........not same for my cousin. Its like we switched position this year from last year. Rolling down all the way into the Y-fork road of Spg Pertang......we stopped at a small restaurant about to close to refill water and take a break. Mac's support crew and Adelines group was there taking a break as well.
My cousin quipped "Cyclist enjoy a lot of public amenities - sitting in a partially closed coffee shop, in bus stop, petrol station, under flyover etc etc". Kinda true. But basically we stop anywhere we want when we are tired. :P Okay so after a 5 minute break we continued onto so shitty roads. When i say shitty, i mean, really literally shitty. Its the same road I cycled here in my first Interstate 5 years ago - littered with cow dung all over the road. Its like threading through a landmine field. And the smell gets to your nose at the same time. Going through a village road was quite peaceful enough at slow speed. Things got slower as we cycled deeper into the estate......houses start disappearing and trees appearing. Thank God the cow dung gets lesser too.

In front I can see the hills we have to cross over. Climbing that is. I decided to take a wee by the bushes aka watering the plants. Then as I came back to my bike to have a drink...............my bottle is missing. My Camelbak bottle is not in the cage. And now i remembered... I was refilling at the restaurant and left it on the table. That was 5km back. And I AM NOT........i repeat.......NOT going to do 10km just for a water bottle. They can keep that bottle. I got a hill to climb. For some strange reason i brought 2 extra bottles this time to IS12, which is something not normally I do. I've always had these intuitions for every Interstate that I must bring something extra (which is different) because I felt they would come in handy. The zip tie earlier was also another example. Previous Interstates I've brought things like duct tape, spare cleats, trash bags, etc. All came in handy for that particular year.

Well, one less bottle, the other with about half full of 100Plus. And roughly 40km to go........well........I thought that I would be fine with that amount. Looking ahead, the road was already starting to go up. Just that i cant see how winding it is due to the tall bushes and trees. I mistakenly told my cousin this would be a short steep hill. Due to memory loss, I was wrong. It was actually quite a long moderate steep hill with rough pavement all the way up. Again...going up this hill.....Willy and the C24 did a fantastic job bringing me up. This is the 4th climb of the day and normally I would have been flat by now usually. I wondered am I pushing too hard also on the first day? But Willy gave me the assurance that I didnt. Sitting down, holding the bars, pushing the pedals, Willy just seemed like he enjoyed climbing these sort of hills and the power transfer is really good. I felt like my pedal strokes were not wasted efforts. Even at points I had to zig zag up the steeper parts, Willy carried me like I was on eagles wings. I wonder now how would it feel like to be on a Pinarello or BMC or any other frame if Willy alone was this good.

My cousin? Somewhere down and cant be seen.

I managed to catch 2 riders in front slowly riding up the slope. I just followed them and their support car presence was very very............comforting (incase something happens to me). But I went up the whole hill till the top in like 10minutes or so. Reaching to the top I found a nice shady spot and waited for my cousin 10 minutes behind. After regrouping we went down the bad tarmac road littered with potholes, humps and bumps, twigs and twists. Most uncomfortable indeed. Its like the worst 15minutes of downhill roads of my life. My arms actually hurt from all the vibrations.

Once down it was all flat (as so we thought) right through more village roads and houses and plantations. Went out right to the main road junction, turned left and onto an empty main road again under hot humid scorching conditions. Windy and dusty didnt help. Its like roughly the last 20km and about 2pm, so there wasnt particularly a big rush to finish. Going the next 10 lonely km before turning off into more village roads......and guess what? Another small hill! Willy was licking his lips seeing the hill. My cousins tongue fell to the top tube going up I think.........

The organizers really have chosen some quite roads for us to ride on because I have not seen a road this empty for so long before. If I wanted to sleep in the middle of the road I think I could do that anytime I like. After all the sub-urban stuff was behind us, we get to the main Kuala Pilah road.........which.........we wont be following straight into Kuala Pilah..........we would detour. And this was one of the craziest detours I have ever taken.

The road was just wide enough for a Proton Saga to pass through. And there will be 2 way traffic. The terrain goes up and down up and down......crossroads that looked like which ever way you choose to go you might end up in the Sahara Desert. And there are hazards like........tortoises trying to cross the road! And the houses that are build here........I dont know how they can live in such part of the town. The only word missing from describing this road is a 360DegreeLoop.

And we thought once we were in the final 1km, theres nothing else. Yeah, nothing else but a left turn shooting UPwards again. Where the organizers get to find this kinds of roads, I think the GPS must have been made by village people so that they can get back home if they are lost. New maps might not be able to contain these tiny roads.

Well after that small but tough incline, a few more hundred meters in front was our first stop for the day : The Melang Inn hotel , Kuala Pilah. Was more than happy to see the finish hotel. The only thing that I wasnt too encouraged with was the amount of luggage uncollected. 10 or so.............. we were among the last of the rear end riders for today. And we finished at 3.00pm. Lots of fast people on the hills today? Or lots of people decided to take a car ride instead? I dont know. Already finished the ride the true blue way : Not going up a support car and kill both our two legs. We had to wait like 1 hour for our room to be ready. Its a relatively new hotel with a few floors and rooms still undergoing renovation. Even our room was just newly renovated. Floor still dusty abit. Some of the furnishing and well, everything still smells new, even the air conditioning.

And they just had to include a glass wall for the toilet. A curtain doesnt really help much either. Its more like a room for........erm.............more private activities other than sleeping.

A not too bad day of riding. Despite the lack of sleep. Both of us finished together in one piece, and my bike didnt have any major problems despite being a super last minute setup. The only major problem is that we are both dead tired. We bathed and slept on the bed.........missing the photo shoot. For the first time my face wont be in the Interstate group photo. I think they should make the photo shoot on the final day at the nicest hotel of the whole trip. Doing it in front of the cheap hotel entrance made it look........out of sorts.

Woke up just in time for dinner. And the usual socializing with riders around once we enter the ballroom. Seeing some old friends. Making a few new ones. Hearing stories of the days ride. Stuffing our stomach like its a black hole.

The next days ride is 130km of rolling terrain into Muar town. My legs feel okay, not beat up. Should be an OK ride. My cousin wasnt feeling too well that nite. Said felt like a fever coming on, so he popped in panadol and crossed fingers that he will be fine tomorrow. A good nights sleep is all everyone needs now.

-End Day 1-

06 May 2012

PCC Interestate 2012 : Kajang - Kuala Pilah - Muar - Pulai (Part 2)

27th April 2012 : Day 0 IS2012

Oookay...........so i have finished work at 6pm. Out of office and on the way home.........with that new shiny Wilier GranTurismo frame at the back seat of my car. Waiting to go for operation later tonite. Luckily I have bought a new Deuter Futura Pro42 hiking bag to carry all my stuff i need for IS. Reason being a 42 Liter + 5Liter extra space backpack is much easier to lug around compared to hand luggage. And i can put more stuff in more spaces. I did all my main packing and sorting of stuff already. My check list is all in order. I just need to bring myself my bag and my bike (yet to be ready) to the starting point.

Got home around 7pm. Had dinner with my brother. Showed him the new frame. I asked him to guess the price. He started from 1500. Shook my head. 1800. Shook my head. 2000. Shook my head. 2500. Shook my head. 3000. Shook my head. 3500. Shook my head. "How much la????" he started to get worried. "4000???"
Yeah just about there. A little bit higher. He called me crazy. I am. Have been. Most likely will always be.

I dont mind him taking the whole frame turning it upside down inside out and seeing why did i get such a space aged frame? Well its not the top of the line frame anyway. But still yes it is a frame that costs quite a sum of money.

In the end i decided I will take all my tools and essential bike building stuffs over to my cousins house, setup the bike there and bunk in his place before going to IS12. Anyway he still needs a lift to the start point and I have a bike rack to carry the bikes. I went after dinner, and so leaving the house for a good 4 days of fun and torture. Stuffing 1 new frame and 1 bike minus the wheels and my 42 liter fully packed backpack and my toolset in my car was a bit of a chore. Luckily my cousins house is just 15 minute away.

Upon reaching my cousins house, seeing my aunt and cousin sister there, i took everything down from the car, and started to get to work. Its roughly 9.30. Im not sure how long i will need to fully transfer all my old parts to the new frame, but I will work as best and as fast as I can. My cousin was busy installing the new wireless meter he got. The old Cateye Wireless meter malfunctioned. Sadly it wasnt the transmitters fault. It was the main computer module unable to read the signal. Too bad. Hope the new one can work. Even so.......it looks way ugly compared to any other meter i have seen. :P

So task no 1 i need to do : Strip off existing parts from my Look first. This is the first time everything will come off since i assembled this frame myself back in 2007/2008. Time flies no? I loved riding this bike and had lots of memories with it. But it needs a good rest now. Body pretty much have lots of battle scars and wounds.

Stripping the parts off my bike took me like 10 minutes. Its pretty easy once you have the tools. Everything else can be taken apart with a set of allen keys except the bottom bracket (BB) and the cassette which need its own special tool. With that done, I put everything aside, put the old Look aside, and bring in the Wilier. I shall call it Willy for fondness sake. The first thing i put on Willy is the front deraileur (FD). Then the rear one (RD). The FD mount had some tolerance issues. Seems the FD will contact the frame in the low position. Need to put some sort of padding there. Some tape i thought off. Later i used extra length of my bar tape which is more softer and more cushy.. The RD had no problems at all.

While installing I keep admiring the complex shapes of the Wilier GT. Its not a normal frame shape like round tubes and square junctions. There are places the tubes are a mix of triangular with round curves and some places its a 5 sided polygon but its not a pentagon either. The rear seat stays start as square at the top but morphs into a flat rectangle towards the bottom, flat on the top and the name "Wilier Triestina" fits on the stays. The chainstays are asymmetrical. Larger on the non drive side. But they are huge at the same time. Nearly 2'' thick. This means its a stiff frame. And the downtube is a fantastic flat edge triangle (effectively a 4 sided polygon but not square in shape. And it morphs to a huge half round-half rectangular BB junction where its complicatedly joined with the seat tube and the seatstays. The top tube is flat at the top, rounded off on the sides, and more like flat nosed triangle again at the bottom. And it has an extra line running from the headtube towards the back and flows into the seatstays. Very very very complicated lines. The seat tube is a 31.6mm diameter size for standard seatpost size at the top. It goes through the big toptube/seat stay junction and goes down expanding into a bigger diameter tube to meet the BB junction. The fork has a 2 layer profile where the rear part overlaps the front part diagonally down to the wheel mount.

So...........can you imagine how it looks like? If not please visit here to have a look. Haha

There are tons of technology that went into this frame.......like internal cabling, asymmetrical seatstays, semi integrated seatpost design, etc...... basically its a frame which sounds like its fit for a race more than a saturday ride.

Anyway done with frame details...........back to work!

Next i installed the BB bearings and mounted on my crank. I will still be using my Dura Ace 54T and 39T chainrings this year. The seatpost is in. Btw its a carbon seatpost weighing at 204gms from ITM. Nice seatpost. Then I mounted the cassette on my..........ooppps.........i forgot to mention........... I am borrowing my cousins Shimano C24 Tubeless wheels this time. 1400gms wheels + 380gms tires. No tubes. Makes things much lighter. So the cassette is on the rear wheel. Both wheels go in so that the bike can stand up and I can install the rest of the stuff easily. Next was the stem and handlebar.

I paused a moment here.....................................very very long pause.......................................

I overlooked one thing.......................................

I do not have 1 1/8'' spacers for this fork. All i have are 1'' spacers for the old bike. Now I am in trouble. Bike shops dont open at 10.30 at night. Shit moment right here................Then my cousin said whats wrong. Told him i didnt have spacers. Last resort is I will have to install the stem right to the level of the frame. But that be agonizingly low for me. I didnt want the handlebars to be so low. I estimated I will need at least 2 spacers.

I thought and thought and though. I cant take my cousins spacers. I thought who else i know would have spare spacers at this hour. Let alone willing to lend to me.

And then suddenly out of nowhere...............a brilliant idea hit me................my cousin sister has a Polygon bike in the store room!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Its new!!! And I am sure that one has spacers on the fork! I went in and looked...........and behold! 3 beautiful 1 1/8'' spacers. I didnt care..........I was going to hijack these 3 fellas. For the sake of Interstate. Anyway I can always get spacers from any bike shop when i get back. And I get her new ones some more. Good cousin I am right?

So without haste I removed the stem and bars, took out the spacer and put it on my steerer tube. Fits like a charm. Now i can put my stem and start sawing off the extra length steerer tube. After a good 15minutes of sawing......sawing.......sawing..........the front cockpit of the bike looks like its made to looke like a professional. Not to mention i have a 100gms stem at the front. 100gms is like air. Ooookayyy.............with that done time to put on the top cap..........tighten it and adjust steering......................

Oh..............wait a minute.............top cap..............1 1/8". I was using a 1" system......................how to tighten my new fork with a top cap and a 1" expansion plug? Now again I am in deep trouble...........without this I cannot mount my stem safely onto the fork. Go without a top cap and my steering fork will be loose.

Now im in thinking mode again............................................................................okay. Lets see what my cousin sister's bike have.

And what i saw is...........a starnut. Though i know i should use a expansion plug, but now its just too late to get one. No choice now, i have to use the starnut for this time. So what my cousin and I did was we hammered the starnut out of the fork through the other end. The hammering attracted my cousin sister's attention...........and she wasnt too happy about what we were doing to her precious bike when she saw one guy holding a hammer and another guy holding a long screwdriver. Once again, she isnt riding 3 days straight like I need to.

Once the starnut was out.........I was somewhat relieved. I can have (at least now) a working steering system. Me and my cousin then slowly and what gentle way we can...........installed the starnut into the carbon steer tube. We didnt dare to put it in too deep to make removal next time easier. And this has no open end at the bottom like the other bike, mind you. I hope this works. Fingers crossed that the tube doesnt crack or break. And I can get some top cap pressure to lock my stem in place.

In the end...........it all was a good fit. Oh and I have to cut the steerer tube since it came stock long. Lucky to have brought my small saw along.Saw saw saw.........and its down to the length i want.

So now i have a working steering, driver train installed. Wheels in. Final part is cabling. Lucky that I have requested new cables from the shop just incase the old ones cant be reused. And i forgotten i have lots of spare cables from previous installations. Just that i forgotten to bring them along. Willy uses internal cabling and this is my first time doing internal cabling from scratch. There are white tubes coming out from the 3 places for internal cable routing :

1 - Top tube to BB for the RD cable
2 - Top tube to BB for the FD cable
3 - BB to rear of chain stay for RD cable.

These white tubes are for the cables to pass through the frame and out to the other end. They do this because the whole frame is hollow and there is no direct routing end to end. The rear brake cable also runs internally but it has its own tubing internally. Weird that they do for one and not for all. Would have make things easier.......

So I did the rear brake cable while my cousin helped with the front brake cable. I had problems with the rear brake cable because the outlet for the cable comes at an odd angle to go into the rear brake. Its too near. And my cable needs to be short. But too short and it cannot bend properly. And when this happened my rear brake felt mushy.......not the forceful grip. I struggled a good 30minutes trying to figure out how to get this problem solved.

Another problem i have is I do not have the special cable housing and cable cutter. Normal cutters will not work with these thick stainless steel wires and housing. The egdes will go blunt immediately. What I had to do is individually cut the strands of steel braids of the housing. Agonizingly........one by one.......for one end. Trust me its not a pretty sight with jagged cable housing ends........its tiring on the hands.........and it takes a hell lot of time. And 12am we are still not really done. Cable wise at least. 

I could not get that rear brake issue done so i shall leave it first. We will tackle the shifting cables for now. Looking at these white small tubes.........I had to think first before i do anything as to how should the procedure be. Stupidly none of us thought of using the internet to check. I guess we were too engrossed in dealing the bare stuff with our own hands. The ends of these tube were taped up. Seems like it is not supposed to be out until the cable is in. OK. So trial run no.1.... RD cable. I opened up the tape. And see how this cable is going to to in the tube and out the other end. So slowly i threaded the cable inside the tube and out it came the other end.........looks cool. Smooth procedure. Then me and my cousin were thinking............are we supposed to pull out the white tube as well or leave it in? Like two smart engineers, we analyzed.........and thought lets pull out abit like half way. Pulled out half the tube from the BB side. And then we tried to see if we can pull it back up through the top hole. It could not come out. And so my cousing pulled the RD cable to try bring it out together............but still no.

Now............half the RD cable is in the tube inside the frame. And half the tube is out of the frame. One end cannot come out. So we thought lets thread the RD cable through the end and pull the whole tube out. But..........we cant get the RD cable through anymore. So I thought.......pull the tube with the cable inside out the back. So when I pulled the tube out......................................................

The RD cable did not come out. Its still in the frame.

The whole tube is out.

The cable is in the frame.

OK nevermind..........we try to thread the cable through the tiny hole..............and that proved to be an impossible task..............................

We have no sure way now to thread the cable through the other end of the hole. We cannot see the line of sight of the cables path.

We tried to thread the tube back in...............it just gets lost inside the huge down tube..........and we cannot see where the tube is going. It being soft didnt help.

NOW..................we were really in deep shit.........................................we turned the frame side ways.................upside down. Threading front to back. Back to front. We could not get the RD cable through from one end out to the other. For a moment we panicked.  For 30 minutes we tried and tried with our not so great threading skills and techniques how we going to get a small cable 1mm in diameter.......through two holes 3mm in diameter...........through roughly 2 feet of frame length which we cannot see directly............and its 1.30am in the morning............and Interstate 2012 is 5 hours away.

We both sat down.................paused and thought for a while..................a really long long while....................

We did nothing for a good 5 minutes. Just think.

Suddenly my cousin asked................what material are the cables. I said stainless steel la.

He had an idea.............use magnet. He grabbed my sensor magnet and tested. The cables will stick to the magnet.

But through a 2-3mm thick carbon frame...........we need a stronger magnet.

Our plan : Thread the RD cable through the frame using strong magnets and get it out the hole so at least when we get the whole cable through...........we can re-thread the tube it. We will thread the cable out to the top end instead of the BB end because the hole at top is bigger and easier to see. But still............all this does not sound so easy at all.............not by an aeon easy...........................

We were desperate to get this solved or else I am without a rear RD control. I had the thought of just sticking the cable housing on the outside of the frame..........but who in their right mind will do that?

We needed more stronger magnets..........because for 20 minutes we struggled with just 1 magnet and 1 tiny hole and one small cable. Then suddenly I remembered, i have my alarm magnets in my car. A good few of them. I quickly went to my car and grabbed 3 of the strongest magnets.....brought it to the operation room.......and began..........fishing. For a cable. For another 20minutes we still struggled with the 3 magnets just to get it out the hole. Because of the funny position of the outlet hole, the cable would drop at some point and we have to start all over. We threaded the cable near to the whole.........then used the magnets to pull it right up to the position of the hole and tried to push it slowly through.

My cousin said it would be easier if we can see.......the BB is totally sealed by the aluminium housing and there are no holes to see through like some old school frames. Then we decided to try take out the fork......and see if the headtube has a hollow connection with the top and down tubes. We took out the fork we had worked on so much on..........and we can see finally the hollow tubes of the downtube and top tube. But its still a difficult angle to see as the cable outlet hole is further down the frame than the line of sight we can see. The RD cable can be seen........but bringing it up to the level of the outlet is difficult and keeps dropping......................but we tried and tried well into 2am.

Seems like a never ending drama eh?

We just kept trying.......and trying...........and trying..........................and trying....................................until my cousin suddenly shouted : STOP! WAIT!!!

He said he can see the cable in line with the hole. The magnets are holding the cable in place. While my hand was holding the bottom end of the cable. Now he asked me to push the cable. And i know if i messed up this chance...............it might not come again for a few hours..........so i pushed the cable millimeter by millimeter slowly. As long the magnets hold it and the cable goes straight and dont drop..................

"Push some more...............some more..................bit more............................more.................................."

I was really anxious now. How long more do i need to push? So i asked him is the cable out yet? He say it is but i dont see like its coming out despite my continuous slow pushing. This feels like a delicate brain surgery if you ask me.

Then suddenly he asked me "Dont MOVE. Hold the frame." while he gets something.............I was like really really really holding and keeping steady with all my life for this stupid situation to be done and over with. One hand is holding the frame. One hand is keeping the cable steady. Seems so close. Hope it doesnt go far away again. Then my cousin came back with a really tiny allen key and long nose pliers.

From the bottom side of the frame looking up and him using those two tools.........he looked like a doctor performing a heart bypass surgery for a moment. And then...........................................................

I see in the pliers.................................................the cable is out of the hole.....................................

I cannot tell you..................................................what relief............................................and what stupidity both of us felt doing this dumb procedure to solve this almost impossible problem for the last 1++hour or so.

Just for one small cable. For the whole Interstate.

We both just sat down.....................and took five. And looked at that cable dangling out from the hole.........threaded using magnets by two "smart" engineers. At 2.30am.

My cousin cursed and swear not to do internal cabling again. LOL!

I had nothing to say. I just wanted to get things over with. Now...........I really hope............this is the LAST STRAW because i dont see anything else that can or should be messing around with this frame setup anymore.............................. After a while we got back to work. And this time we take things one at a time. We re-thread the tube back through the frame successfully. And took out the cable because it was the wrong way in. Put it the right way in...........came out where it supposed to. I pulled out enough cable and THEN only we pulled out the tube. And i made sure one hand is holding the cable so it dont go back in that hole. Then i threaded it through the cable guide under the BB and through the next tube to the RD outlet at the back of the chainstay. Now i have a full length cable from front to back. And i can pull out the tube as well. We quickly tensioned the cable, checked and rechecked for sure that all is okay, and finally fastened it to the RD first to prevent another disaster.

Tested the shifting.......with some adjustments..........and now...........i have a working RD and gearing system. Big big BIG sigh of relief.

Then we worked on the FD cabling. Same procedure. And all was smooth this time. In no time we got all cables in and secured. Tested working............................................except still.......................the rear brake.

Back to this conundrum of an issue..........simply its a mix of a weirdly poor outlet design and too stiff of cable housing to work around with. Jagwires to be precise. Cutting these are a nightmare as compared to Shimano's Dura Ace cable housings which are super easy to cut. We both worked on this rear brake issue alone for another 20 minutes........cutting cables...........trying this and that way just to get my brakes to work properly. The original problem is that the cable housing was so stiff that when installed, it pushed my brake caliper to one side and doesnt make it easy to adjust and center the caliper. How to get a 1 1/2'' cable from the outlet to the brake caliper and make it work? Most frames have the outlet holes further in front so that at least 5" of cable can be out and flexible enough to make cables run without much friction or bends.

In the end we used like 1" of cable and a end cap loosely installed to make the darn thing work. It didnt look pretty but it works at least. And final brake pad adjusting. Front brake was not an issue. Straight forward.

And then the seatpost and saddle adjustments came last. That was just a simple thing

And now FINALLY! I have a bike. A supposedly working bike. I have yet to take it for a test spin. And its 3.30am in the morning.

My cousin went to bathe and just slumped on the couch drained and lack of sleep from helping me out. I myself am having a sleepless night from all of this. I took the bike out for a short spin and test ride. Testing brakes shifting etc etc. Everything seemed in order. And i hope it stays that way for 3 days because its going to be a tough 3 days....................and especially with this kind of last minute setup of a full bike at 3.30am with half sleepy eyes and a near blank mind. OK so i was satisfied with the bike. Now to give it a short cleaning and clean up the messy floor. Check all my gear for one final time and prepare stuff i need for the ride in like.............2.5hours. =.=

I can tell you....................................this was worse that last years incident because we are both still working until 3am. Last year......well..........although a predicament.........i wasnt really working. Just more like still resting and worrying. Which wasnt as bad. Didnt need brain power to rest. I got to sleep abit here and there. In the house. In the car.

Again i didnt bathe. Could not be bother with just 2.5 hours where i will be sweating and busting my legs again. After cleaning everything...........finally packed. Bike has a tag number. Bottles filled with water. Washed my dirty hands. I too finally slumped on the couch and too a short shut eye. Really short. Its like 3.50am now. And we both need to wake up by 5am or 5.30am latest.

So off to bed i went....................new frame done. That problem away from my mind. Now only how to ride 3 days Interstate with out training. Yes i didnt train...........again.

Good night for a while..............


PCC Interestate 2012 : Kajang - Kuala Pilah - Muar - Pulai (Part 1)

Greetings to my almost certain dead blog! This is my yearly update of the PCC Interstate ride (Due to request from certain ppl). Otherwise i might be quite lazy to type this out. Lol. Didnt know i had such loyal followers still. :P Anyway.........as always........enjoy the journey i experienced. XD

PCC Interstate 2012 : Briefing and summary
Date : April 28th - May 1st (Sat, Sun, Mon, Tues)
Kajang - Kuala Pilah : 120km (Hilly)
Kuala Pilah - Muar : 130km (Rolling)
Muar - Pulai : 170km (Flat)

Total KM : 420+-

Participants : 400 riders + support car drivers + crew.

April 2012 : Before the actual ride.............

Well its the month 400 people who are working adults, family man, retired employees, housewives, few kids, MD's, young, old and important of all................crazy cyclists are looking forward to : The annual pilgrimage to somewhere most of us never been to. Interstate 2012 by PCC.

Remembering what drama i had last year...........i was really hoping this year it will not happen again. (Read last years IS report if you all dont know by now). So this year, this month in particular i made sure i wasnt going to be in another sticky situation where my ride is on the line. Fortunately........nothing major happened.........EXCEPT a few things.

Cousin Lee will be joining me again this year. Happy to have seen him complete last years long 480km. This years 420km should be relatively easy for him. Though he said he hadnt had training, I was the more worried one. Well, to ease the worry, we both wanted to get some new equipment before the ride. He got a nice set of Shimano Dura Ace C50 carbon wheels. Darn nice wheelsets. Tested it myself and i must say its a good buy. For me? I havent really decided yet

2 Weeks Before IS12

I was literally sick the whole week after doing the 115km Broga loop. I think my body wasnt up to the hard punishing ride. I imagined I would suffer terribly in IS12. Mon - Friday was a mixture of cough, runny nose and fever. The again hectic trip to Johor mid week didnt help. Thank God i recovered almost 95% by Sunday.

And I told BikePro mechanic Lim to reserve a pair of Mavic Cosmic Carbone SL wheelset for me. I wanted those cool wheels for Interstate 2012. *wink wink* New weapon to use in IS i hope.

1 Week Before IS2012

I prayed hard to God that this week I will not have to go to Johor or any outstation trip just before the start of IS this coming Saturday. I tried hard to clear off any outstanding work, get things done and all before Friday so at least im at a peace of mind. And i STILL havent got time to drop by Bike Pro to pick up my wheels..........busy clearing off my work.

Sadly.....one news came to me was......yes..... I had to go to Johor on that Thursday. Well....Thursday is fine. I was determined to make it a one day trip only. Dont want to stay back and i dont care how late i finish my work there. As long as I am back by Friday. Funny though, I drive down to JB, come back up, and then ride back down again. Sounds silly and stupid to me. Why not i just wait there right? Anyway, I was supposed to meet my cousin to go bike shop together during the early week, but due to business, looks like i have to make it on Friday, just a day before IS starts. But its only a pair of wheels. Nothing hard for me la i guess.

Thursday I went down to JB......did all my work like a man possessed. I know the site had lots of problems needed to be rectified, and i knew all the problems and knew all the solutions in my head already. Yes the ppl there made lots of fuss but i didnt care. Im going to get all the things done by hook or by crook. And I did it. I solved all major problems by 3.00pm. Good for me. Did another small favour for the site. 4-5pm I was done on this particular site. 5-7pm I was at a customers house not far away. Done with that. I was so "on fire" to do the work because i really wanted to get back to KL by tonite. Whole day i skipped all my meals, ignored a few phone calls and I hit my target. Had McD for dinner and on the way back to KL just the way i planned.

1 Day Before IS2012 : Day 0

Okay, the final day before suffer fest begins...........so today i have to drop by Bike Pro to get my pair of wheels. Went with cousin Lee during lunch time. And guess what? Wheels sold off to someone else. So I was like, well, looks like nothing for me for this years Interstate. Same old trusty bike Ive been using for the past 5 years to Interstate. Well since I could not get the wheels, maybe I get something else to replace it. Looked around the shop, didnt see anything I was particularly interested in. If its Shimano stuff I can get from a better source but now be too late to get that.

So me and Lee went to the next bike shop in TTDI. Walked around abit. And i stated looking at their road frames. Nice interesting mix : Carrera, BH, Time, Pinarello, Kuota, Wilier. Hmmmm.........Wilier. Looking at their models on sale : Cento 1 - RM10 500. Cento 1 Superlaggera - RM20 000. GranTurismo - RM5500. Imperiale - RM5800.

The salesman named Leong approached and asked if I needed help. I pointed at the Imperiale "Any size for me?". He said size for me was no longer in stock. However , he said, the GranTurismo was on sale at special price. And just the right size for me. "How much" I asked.

RM4950 after discount. He says the usual normal price is around RM8000 but im getting at near 50% off. Deep deep consideration. I looked at my cousin, he looked back at me. "How? Want or not?" I was there thinking just as hard. I was just supposed to get something simple like wheels. Even a groupset be fine. But a frame? At this hour? 1 day before Interstate? I must have gone mad........well like all cyclist.......but this is beyond mad and crazy. Its like suicide to do a frame a day before a big 3 day ride. And this is no ordinary frame.

I asked : "Any cheaper frame than this?"

I was pointed to the Carrera Velano. A nice crafted integrated seatpost frame. But being ISP (Integrated Seat Post) i had to cut the seat post myself , which i am a a little bit worried about cutting wrong length, too short and im dead. I would like the bike shop to cut, but that will take some time, which i didnt have. But the price was 1000 bucks cheaper than the Wilier. But the thing is , Wilier has pedigree. A place in the high end Italian stable of bicycles. And Wilier is a World Champion winning brand - Lampre uses it and Alessandro Belan won the World Championship with a Wilier Cento1. Hence.....all Wilier frames will get the rainbow stripes to mark its World Championship status.

More accolades for this frame manufacturer. More reason to choose? Importantly whether did I like the frame or not? Take it or leave it? But its not everyday I get a good deal like this. My stand on buying stuff has always been that I like to take or buy stuff not normally popular. Wilier is not a popular brand like Scott, Giant, BMC, Look or Pinarello...........but its still there among the bling bling stars of Italian flare. Italian. Why not? So out of my crazydarren mind, I said "I'll take the frame".

I am sooooooo going to..............enjoy???regret??? taking this frame? Btw I had to add a seatpost which cost an additional 450 bucks otherwise I be without a seat to sit on. So the total damage from this out of no where suddenly a new frame shopping spree?

RM5400. And I have to thank my cousin for paying first. I have the money. Just not the card. And the idea of paying 5400 cash is a little bit..........scary. ATM limit is 3000 per withdrawal anyway. :P

So.........................well...................................... I got a new frame for Interstate 2012. I wasnt overly joyed or ecstatic about it. Simply because now i landed myself in another problem : I need to get this whole bike fixed up and ready by tomoro to ride. And I can work on it only after working hours when i get home.

Chucked the new frame in my back seat and continued to work and continued till i clocked off at 6pm. Once my office ends at 6pm.............my Interstate journey begins. A crazy journey.

You think the craziness just stops here right?

Read on more in next part............