|Bridge of Dreams:
2007 PCC InterState, Part II
Ipoh - Taiping - Bukit Mertajam - Penang
story and photos by Darren Lee (see Articles page for links to related articles)
additional photos by Kong Ee Pheng
Day 1: Ipoh to Taiping, 150km (the long way!)
Being the lazy pigs that we are, we found ourselves slumbering and falling off our beds at 5:30am, which was dangerously close to the start time of 6:30am. And PCC is quite punctual! A quick peek outside and the front of the hotel was already a hive of activity, with the unmistakable sound of riders' cleats on the road reverberating through the room windows.
My roommate Finian and myself (collectively known as the Annoying Snorers) buzzed about collecting and packing our stuff. It seems to me that Finian was more ready for last year's Interstate than this year's. He looked a little disorientated, what more arriving late last evening without dinner - a big NO NO for the man known as the Eating Machine. And last night, he changed the tyre on his bike and put back the old one. Then broke the inner tube valve while pumping it. Hmm…
I initially thought the breakfast room would be packed with PCC-ers having their morning meal. Rushing down to the coffee garden, I found it to be devoid of souls - strange. I then realised that most, if not all of the PCC-ers took the room package which excluded breakfast. Well, that sure was pleasant, having the buffet line to ourselves! Dining wasn't all that blissful, though, as I nervously eyed the hordes of riders pouring out of the 3 lifts which served the hotel rooms.
By the time we got ready, the PCC peloton had already left, but there were still two groups at the hotel and coincidentally both were from Penang - MKH and Knights of the Round Table. They were waiting for Danny who had a flat before the ride started. Well, some company then.
The famous Erwin Towle rides in front of the group.
Having started 15 minutes late, we never really did see the front of the PCC peloton again that day, but nevertheless, riding with your own mates was equally fun too.
Above: A little blur, but you just make out the milestone which says "Sg Siput - 13km"
First stop at 90km-ish: As you can see from the photo below, you can tell who's been riding in the car and feeling all nice and cheery and who's slumped over after 90km of reasonably fast paced riding on the bike…
The expressions on these faces say it all…. On the far right is Gaf, my somewhat long lost Interstate partner. I recall we had some pretty good times during the last Interstate we rode together (2004), where we joined the "race" on the second day. We rode the 92km route to Tekam Plantation Resort non-stop and arrived before 10:00am. Which wasn't so smart after all, because we had to wait until 2:00pm to get our rooms!
Now, now, we can't have such depressing photos during Interstate! Let's have a bit of a pose here shall we?
Anyway, back to the ride…
You can trust the PCC to get us riding on scenic, secondary roads, free of traffic. A roadie's dream! For example, today, the time we spent on the trunk road was a fraction of the total distance. You can see from the profile above that the "bump" the four of us rode over the previous day - Bukit Gantang - was again ridden today except in the opposite direction. Shorter at 1.4km (compared to 2.3km) but steeper at nearly 5% average gradient.
Most of us were feeling the strain by the time we got to the outskirts of Taiping, especially myself who was feeling smashed up and badly low of sugar. I started begging David in the support car for anything sweet. I think I ended up eating 6 Kandos Crispies, 1 100Plus, 1 Cool Rhino, and lots of mangoes in a desperate attempt to get the sugar flowing again.
Still shaking on the bike when we rode past the Taiping Lake Gardens, I was relieved when the gang decided to stop and enjoy the view of the lake. We chose a grassy and shaded spot and plunked tired butts onto the green carpet. Of course, no visit here is complete without a stylish photo:
Ok! Everyone get ready… time to look good by the Lake Gardens (Finian, drink some Cool Rhino for the sponsor). Let's see, we have Yati with the Oakley Girl look, Gafino is promoting some yoghurt drink, Budak is the 100Plus Boy, and Melvin does his best impersonation of a bothered Richard Gere.
Let's see - I shall give the Heroes of the Day award to Edwin, Finian and Gaf for completing the ride even though they have either not been training or are coming back from a long layoff.
Taiping Golf Resort was fantastic, hidden deep into Taiping and complete with a golf resort, swimming pool and dining areas. The balcony at our room was especially appreciated, and for a bunch of cyclists with lots of clothes to dry, the value of a balcony cannot be overstated!
After a nice siesta in the afternoon, we woke up for dinner. Or, maybe I should say, woke up *late* for dinner. Ach, today is a day for being late, I guess. By the time we got to the dining hall, everyone was either finishing or were already leaving. We found a table (complete with leftovers and a plate of raw prawns) and proceeded to seat ourselves. For change, we had steamboat on the menu, hmm! Delicious.
The resort restaurant ran out of those gas-fired cookers so we were given one that was coal-fired. Wow, how rustic, how old fashioned, how charming… but not when you're starving! Again, the sorry looking faces say it all…
Bah, where the food?
After waiting a little too long, the restaurant snagged a gas cooker for us (should be easy since the hall is nearly empty!) and we proceeded to have our dinner. It was good of all those cyclists to leave lots of prawns for us, which we duly finished by the plateloads…
It was then a slow walk back to our rooms (anything faster would constitute exercise, and no, we can't have that..) and time to turn out the lights for next day's 135km jaunt.
Thanks for reading and next up: Interstate Day 2
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