road riding in Penang | Malaysia
revoluta 2005 Tour Beer Langkawi, Day 2
It is 6:30am and I am snug in my bed when the doorbell rings and Ween Sze bursts in screaming for everybody to wake up. Kai "The Sleeping Machine" Seng and I would have just bundled her out of the room if it was not for the fact that our ride was scheduled to start at 8:00am. It was going to be a long day on the road so it was important to start reasonably early. Not to mention eating a good meal. Speaking of that, the food at the breakfast table of the hotel was decidedly poor, not only in variety but also in quality. I stuffed my face with as much food as I could before getting ready for the ride. It was close to 9:00am by the time we finished all the photo-taking and goofing around. Every cyclist hit the road, followed by the support van with Pei Gim and Hooi Kiang in it.
By the way, Team Discovery was in town too.
As we had covered the eastern side of the island the previous day, it was due west for today. We coasted along Kuah town, made a left turn, and soon the buildings disappeared and the scenery turned to breathtaking views of beaches, bays and yatchs, and jungle. At the same time, the road also started to go up and down, which led to the breakup of the group and some spirited riding, especially by Jimmy Babey who enthusiastically rode up every crest despite being on a mountain bike.
We stopped frequently to regroup as the lumpy terrain made staying together difficult. Plus it wasn't easy for Ee Teong to keep up, as not only was he new to cycling, he had what was probably the heaviest bike in the world. It looked like it came from the 70s, with 5 speed cassette and all.
At the junction to Datai Bay (around 35km into the trip), we decided to split up. Those game for it will attempt to ride to the famous Datai Bay while the rest will take it easy and head home .. err .. to the hotel. Five brave (or maybe insane) guys volunteered to test out the Datai Bay road and sure enough, it turned out to be anything but flat. The road either went up or down and while you enjoyed the "downs", you knew at the back of your mind that the "ups" would have to be ridden because the road is a dead end and only a U-turn would get us back. In other words, tough.
We stopped at the junction which splits the road into two, one to The Datai (a six-star Resort) and the other to the equally luxurious Andaman. It would have been nice to ride all the way to the resort but when I saw a 10% downhill (sounds nice huh, but you need to ride that back up!) I just cracked and told the lads to turn around. I was sure, though, they didn't have much of an objection ... We were so far up north of the island that our phones switched to mobile phone carriers from Thailand.
If the way there was tough, the way back was even tougher. I felt my legs cramping from the short bursts up the crests. Riding up slowly in the small chainring was even worse, so I preferred to pound the 52 over the crest and relax on the way down. The part about not riding a single kilometre for the past 3 weeks was certainly telling on my face.
We stopped at "Malaysia's Highest Man-Made Waterfall" (that's what the sign says) for much needed rest and of course, some photo-taking.
I had completely burned my breakfast and was already starting to bonk. We had run out of water and the support car was no where to be seen. Desperate, we trudged along for a few more km and finally spotted signs of civilisation - the Langkawi Crocodile Farm. Finally, food and water! We dived into the canteen and probably cleaned the place of all food. Pei Gim and Hooi Kiang (along with Ee Teong) turned up and we all had a hearty lunch - or at least I did. I looked completely out of it and started to wonder if I would make it back.
Charged or at least partially, we formed a train back to Kuah. Thankfully, the road back - the northern and eastern coast - was flat and headwind was largely non-existent (most of the time it was either a tailwind or cross-wind). Our train was a double paceline for half the journey before slimming down to a single paceline - a sure sign that all of us are tired. The Sleeping Machine was getting dropped on the false flats and we finally lost him halfway through even though we tried our best, encouraging him and slowing down a couple of times for him to catch up.
I was absolutely dead and took progressively shorter and shorter pulls. Our hero was Red Shorts who became the main engine of the train and thanks for him we made it back in good time. As we reached the hotel I breathed a huge sigh of relief and crawled into the lift before crashing out of it and into my room.
To my amazement everyone wanted to go out for the afternoon. The intention was to visit the Langkawi Cable Car, ... a 45 minute drive away! I was out of it and begged off to take a nap. The gang returned shortly and it turned out they didn't go after all as it was raining heavily that afternoon.
Anyway, the 45-minute drive was still on but this time it was to dinner at Pantai Kok. We were recommended this place which serves "Brazilian BBQ" and the food is unlimited at Rm50 per pop. We were eager to try it out - the nice thing is that they barbeque the stuff for you in small quantities and on giant skewers. So not only do you get it straight from the grill, wastage of food is minimised.
Along with the wonderful dinner, we were treated to some superb views of the bay from where we were sitting, as you can see from the next photo:
All in all, a great way to finish off a punishing day!
Next up: Day 3!
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