The 2008 PCC Interstate: KL to Kuantan
story by Andrea Tan / photos by James Bak and Andrea Tan / profile by Mahizzan Fadzil

Day 1: Kajang to Bahau - "I am outside your house" It was 5:05am - he was only supposed to leave Manjarala at 5am. Did he fly here? I quickly stepped out of the bathroom, pulling on my jersey and shorts. After Adzim loaded my Lorry Balak onto his car rack while his "slept" comfortably in the backseat, off we went. A slight drizzle turned into a downpour on the highway before Kajang and my poor lorry balak was soaked through. No sympathies from Adzim who even threatened to go through the SmartTag lane with a clearance height of 2m! Talk about making your pulse race before the ride. 5:45am - made it to Prescott Metro Inn, Kajang with my bike intact. It was already a hive of activities as cyclists and support crews were unloading bikes, baggage, packing and warming up for the long ride ahead.

6:30am - After a short briefing by "Ivan Basso", we were officially flagged off. The Chief Marshall's Truck was supposed to lead us out for a 10km neutral zone, but I lost sight of it the moment I turned out of the hotel. The rain got heavier and it wasn't easy trying to navigate through the early Kajang traffic while trying to keep up with someone .... anyone. Finally, we arrived at the turnoff to Semenyih just as the sun began to peak out beneath the rain clouds.

I was traveling at a comfortable speed of ~28km/h until the train led by Don and Daniel Lim came charging along. Here we go…. somewhere near the Tekala picnic area, our peloton nearly got killed by a Merc who decided to slam on his brakes after overtaking the group. Luckily everyone was alert and we escaped unscathed. A few rolling hills later, we arrived at the bottom of Perez where it's a ~3% 9km climb to the top. As the mountain goats scampered away, I kept to a comfortable pace knowing that there's another 100km to go. Two corners from the top, the front riders have stopped to help Abby who has driven into a ditch. After a couple of attempts, Don managed to get the truck back on the road and the only casualty was the roof rack.

Bad news for Ivan Basso's truck...

We did not linger long on top of Perez as most of us were getting cold and we started the downhill towards Titi. I descended carefully as the road was still wet from the early morning shower. "Ahhhhh…… Bang!!" John who was behind me had apparently overshot the corner, hit the retaining wall and landed in a ditch. Luckily he could still climb out and plopped himself on the grass. "Are you OK?" "No." Uh oh. I took out my handphone to call for help but as Murphy's Law would have it "No Signal". Adzim and I tried to clean up as much of his wounds as possible with water before a support vehicle arrived to send him to a clinic.

I was still in a rather large group heading towards Simpang Pertang where the first rest stop was. A couple of kms before the stop, I heard a funny noise coming from my bike. A quick glance showed that my rear light had slid down the seat stay and was being knocked about by my cassette. I signaled to come out of the paceline, and started slowing down. This was when I received a couple of "helpful pushes" to get me back into the group.

After the short stop, we continued our journey lead by The Daniel Lim Express. I was traveling at about 40km/h when a motorbike came by and Daniel tagged on. The speed crept up to ~45km/h before I got dropped in no man's land. I then decided to ride at my own pace, enjoy the scenery and breathe in the fresh air. I saw another group of cyclists who stopped at Geylang for some teh tarik and waved to them while they waved back.

Then came the big surprise… the never ending "Paris Roubaix" climb with only jungle or plantations on either side of the road. Every time I rounded a corner, there is more to come. Even the downhill was not a satisfactory one due to the bad tarmac and loose stones.

105km - finally got back to civilisation. OK, if I could do 30km/h, I will be at the hotel in an hour or so. Alas, the legs weren't co-operating and there was a nasty headwind to fight. I contemplated about stopping at one of those oh so shady bus stops while waiting for the next peloton to come by to rescue me. As luck would have it, a few kms later YM Lim and Danny came zooming by. So I got towed "happily" at ~38km/h to the hotel in Bahau and arrived around half past noon. Thanks mate.

Arrival scene at the hotel. The guy with the bandaged forehead is John who fell down from Perez earler. He has a heavily bandaged left hand too. Broke the handlebar and cracked his helmet. On the bottom left corner is my trustworthy lorry balak.

Are we at Eurobike?


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