|Bridge of Dreams:
2007 PCC InterState
Ipoh - Taiping - Bukit Mertajam - Penang
story and photos by Darren Lee
If you are a cyclist and live around the northern region of Malaysia, chances are that you have thought about riding your bike over the Penang Bridge - somewhat of an "ultimate" achievement given the fact that bicycles are banned from the Bridge for (safety amongst other reasons). Certainly one to put into your cycling's "top ten things to do before I die" list. Well, thanks to the Pedalphiles Cycling Club, that dream became a reality this year.
Before we go on, here are some interesting nuggets about the Bridge - cyclists did, in fact, ride over it when it was first opened - that was before the authorities got a little smarter and imposed the ban. And at 13.5km, it still is one of the longest bridges in the world. Work was started this year to expand the Bridge from a four laner into 6 lanes. And oh, it is also a favourite spot to commit suicide... you get a panoramic view of the island or the mainland, depending which side you're on, before you.. err... I'll stop here...
So it goes without saying that riding over the Bridge was the highlight of this year's InterState. More on that later (and a pic taken on the Bridge!) but first, let us reverse a bit to the days before...
Team cycas revoluta has a relatively large contigent this year - there were twelve of us, and in fact we had TheDuh.com's official photographer Andrew "Hats" Lee on board too but unfortunately he had to pull out after being hit by an SUV three months ago (while jogging, not cycling, so there you go, cycling *is* a safe sport after all, hmm!). So yes, missing a digital SLR means that most of the photos in this series of articles came from my camera phone, so please bear with the quality.
Day 0: Bukit Mertajam to Ipoh, 150km
Just to prove how macho we cyclists are, the four of us (me, Budak, Melvin and Jimmy Lance) decided to ride down into Ipoh from Edwin's house in Bukit Mertajam. Well, that and the fact that we didn't have enough space for everyone on the support cars. But I like the macho reason better, so yeah, we did it because we're tough, hardcore, dedicated, motivated, blah blah blah...
Budak shows his "funny lines" even before the start of a 4-day riding tour..
An intended start time of 8:00am dragged into 9:45am so by the time we rode the sun was already shining brightly. Which was great, because it had been raining intermittently over the past few weeks. Looks like all that waxing was worth it…
The route used (Federal Highway 1 or also known as the trunk road) was good training, with a headwind to fight all the way down to Ipoh, but unfortunately we forgot that today was a working day, so the trunk road was crowded with lorries and busses belching awful diesel fumes (as you know, the corrupt Puspakom isn't really doing its job, whoops, did I say something wrong…?). And today being the last day before Merdeka and the long weekend probably increased the number of commercial vehicles on the road.
Wheezing and gagging, we (along with Hooi Kiang our support car driver) made our way along at a good pace nevertheless, and upon reaching the only climb of the day (Bukit Gantang) were greeted by a bout of heavy rain. The sudden shower caught me by surprise and rainwater with salty sweat conspired to seep past my glasses and sting my eyes. Hurtling down a descent with my eyes were still hurting and half closed certainly isn't what I recommend!
Anyway, the now soggy foursome made it to Kuala Kangsar where we had a nice steamy lunch in town. I repeat, I hate soggy socks. I should also mention that I made an effort to keep alive The Great CR Tradition by emptying whatever I ate over the past 6 hours - hmm, enough said. At least I became lighter by a few hundred grams.
We soldiered on towards Sungai Siput and then finally reached the outskirts of Ipoh town. I'll have to say, I've never been more pleased to enter a city than today, because the air was actually fresher than what we've been taking in over the past 5 hours (!). Five cars with petrol exhaust is preferable to one big smelly lorry anytime.
We checked into the official event hotel, Impiana Casuarina, and it was, as Borat would say,
I forgot to take some photos, though. I wondered if we could just stay in Ipoh for the next 4 days, although, given the kind of hotels we got during the next few days, I would say it was good that we left too. Well, there shall be another time!
Ipoh is a town we've been to many times but never spared the time to explore, so after the ride we headed over to the local mall Ipoh Parade. Ok ok, so that may not meet the definition of "exploring", but after 150 kilometres, air-con, a nice meal and somewhere to sit down was just the thing we needed.
6:00pm: Jimmy Lance and Hooi Kiang enjoying lunch.. umm.. dinner... whatever
Thanks for reading and next up: Interstate Day 1
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