|Bridge of Dreams:
2007 PCC InterState, Part V and final
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
last photo © Andy Lee
Day 3: Bukit Mertajam - Penang Bridge - Tanjung Bungah, 85km
(Continued from Part IV): After the Brigde, we turned left and headed to Penang's newest shopping centre, Queensbay Mall, for a cup (or two, three) of sponsored coffee, tea and herbal drinks. As soon as the arrived, a Boeing 747 flew low over us, as if providing a welcome flyby. F-16s would be preferable, but hey, beggars can't be choosers can they.
Queensbay Mall is touted as the "longest shopping mall in Penang". It has Jaya Jusco as the anchor tenant and some other well known restaurants have set up shop here, for example, TGI Friday's and Sakae Sushi. So we deprived Penangites finally don't have to travel down to KL anymore for some "branded" fare...
I took quite a number of photos while at Queensbay, so here goes:
The peloton gathering in front of the Mall. The dude in the foreground is a German on a recumbent, riding his first InterState.
And this is the view from where I took a .. umm ... "watered the flowers"
Right, time for some team photos:
Team cycas revoluta with Jordan: Everyone say "char koay teow"…
After enjoying a warm cuppa, the peloton trickled out of Queensbay, and proceeded to tackle the first hill of the day, the 3km Teluk Kumbar climb rated at 3.6%. Before we reached the hill, though, a thorough "welcome" to the visitors was given in the form of heavy rain at Batu Maung. Nothing like getting your socks soggy for the next 35km…
For those unfamiliar with Batu Maung, it is primarily a fishermen's village, but it is also famous for the Sam Poh Footprint Temple (alternatively called the Cheng Ho Temple), where legend has it that the giant footprint embedded in the temple grounds belonged to the famous Chinese admiral Cheng Ho. The footprint is said to be around 400 - 500 years old. So yet another place to check out when you are in Penang, eh? There, I've done my bit part for the promotion of tourism...
Anyway, back to the Teluk Kumbar climb: Once an enchanting and shaded route twisting over a low hill, it has become a mess as the authorities are turning it into a highway. Can you imagine, a highway over a hill! Sadly, this has taken away the very character of the climb and we local cyclists can only hope that the same fate does not befall the Fruit Farm hill (the next climb). The various construction works, exposed steel bars on the road and wet weather made for a slightly dodgy descent and we had to go easy on the speed.
We reached Balik Pulau town where another treat awaited us - this time it was a buffet lunch with rice, chicken, ulam and fried crispy crunchy salty delicious fish, wow! They even had a kompang group to welcome us. Very nice. I'm sure if all rides had these many meals/breaks everyone would become a cyclist… and did I mention about the delicious crispy salty fried fish? I confess I had four. I hope I didn't deprive any deserving cyclist of his delicious crispy fried fish.
This was at the Balik Pulau Sports Complex where the buffet lunch was served - here we are drying ourselves while waiting for the food. In case you were wondering where Andreas Kloden was during these few weeks, wonder no more….
After gorging ourselves on the food, it was then time to ascend the final hill of the day, the 5km Pagoda/Fruit Farm climb. The afore-mentioned rain had long stopped by then, but the cool weather remained, so this made the climb a pleasant experience (that is, if you were not joining the race up front - yes, there was one today too). Certainly you should enjoy this climb if this is your first time here, for the views of the "other" side of Penang can be quite breathtaking (you were looking at the north or north-east side of Penang on your way up).
After the top, the 5km downhill was thankfully, a safe affair as the roads were already almost dry by the time we went down it. From then on it was just a short 10km jaunt along the northern coast of Penang before we reached the event hotel, Sandy Bay Paradise in Tanjung Bungah, thus capping the 3-day, 360km adventure.
At this juncture, I shouldn't forget a word of thanks to the support crew here - Yati and Hooi Kiang especially and not forgetting Ee Pheng, David and Edwin for their excellent and untiring tolerance of the bunch of us pampered cyclists.
The nice thing about finishing in Penang is being able to ride to your house for a shower! So that's what I did, and it was nice to be home again, such familiarity is always a comfort. However, the chores were still not over yet as I (and a few others ) had to go over to BM again to collect our cars which were left at the hotel. By the time I (and we) got back, there wasn't much time for a rest as we headed back to the hotel for the gala dinner. The highlight of the dinner? The draw, of course. I won myself a helmet which at "Extra Large" does not fit my head, so I'm looking to give it away.
All in all, a wonderful trip. Kudos must, of course, go to the PCC for yet another succesful InterState, but one shouldn't forget to KOTRT too for "opening" the Penang Bridge to us. This shows us how and what collaborative efforts can bring us.
One final photo for the road:
(It really does look more impressive at its native resolution which is four times bigger than this photo, but the native size also happens to be 6MB..)
I hear that the next InterState will be heading from central region to the east. And, apparently, with lots of hills thrown in. Time to pencil that into your calendar now!
Thanks for reading, and see you on the road soon!
TheDuh.com :: cycling :: © 2001 to present, Darren Lee et al. Please request permission before reproducing contents contained in this website. Thanks.