Friday – By New Frank
Gathering at 2pm at West Coast Highway McDonald’s and after ensuring all bikes were securely loaded, we boarded a very comfortable Malaysian bus. The ride to the Singapore Malaysian border hardly takes 30-45 min. Given the time of day, around 3pm, we cruised past the Singaporean side of the border in no time and set off to cross the border. Arriving at the Malaysian side, we had our passports checked once more and were ready to board the bus again, but not after re-assuring ourselves our precious road machines were still there. Sounds very smooth I hear you say! Indeed, but at that moment our Malaysian friends decided the whole bus had to be “scanned” for potential presence of drugs. True, cycling has been plagued by many doping scandals over the past decennia, but I guess Malaysian border control had other drugs in mind. As everybody knows, we are just happy ANZA folks interested in cycling (and our after-ride coffees and maybe the occasional beer). After an unsuccessful “scan”, that is nothing found, at 4.15pm we were finally on our way to our final destination: Kuala Lumpur!
I had the pleasure of doing several races this year for ANZA, Tour de Bintan, Tour de Phuket and Barelang Six Bridges, but this was my first social trip. From the start the atmosphere was relaxed and very friendly. At the first and only intermediate stop on the good quality Malaysian motorway, we all enjoyed ice creams and other healthy food. Hey, it’s a social trip, not a race!
By 8.15pm, we arrived in KL at the Parkroyal hotel. It took us in total just over 6 hours, which is pretty fast given the time spend at the border. We were treated as VIPs by the lovely people of the hotel and in no time had our road machines in the room. Given it was the first night and Saturday would have a tough ride in store, most of us made it back to the hotel in time for a good night sleep!
Saturday – By Less New Frank
Saturday morning, the day of 145km and around 2,000 meter of elevation, the ride to Genting Sempah, started with an excellent breakfast at 6.30am. We gathered around 7.45am for the inevitable group photo with everyone in the beautiful new kit showing off the names of our kind sponsors. At 8am sharp we were ready for our 15km parade out of Central KL. The ride out of town was smooth and it was surprising to see how considerate drivers are in this big city and leave sufficient distance. You can tell Malaysia has a cycling culture, of which the successful track team is the best example. The experts will recall Azizulhasni Awang claiming the gold medal in the keirin discipline at this year’s UCI Track Cycling World Championships! Unfortunately we missed the cycling disciplines of the South East Asia games which were kicked off on that Saturday.
Hardly warmed up we took on the first climb to the Ampang Look Out Point, a 3 km climb with an average gradient of 4%. The nice thing about a social trip is meeting people you normally don’t ride with given different shape, ambitions, etc. Here were rolled at a leisurely pace to the first hill and regrouped at the top of the hill. After just 20km we were all welcoming the cold refreshments from the 2 support vehicles carrying cold drinks and fruits.
After the descent, groups of similar capabilities and skills formed naturally and we took on several hills of varying gradients. The number of monkeys we’ve seen on the road were countless and it was a relief to Peter Archbold that climbing solo for the best part of the ride with bananas in his jersey pocket and a pace best described as a brisk walk on the hills, thankfully not one monkey seemed to notice the resemblance of Peter to a Deliveroo rider!
The route basically consists of 2 loops and near the end of the second loop as we were approaching lunch time and all stomachs were pretty empty from riding and enjoying the great scenery, only our group was rather unsure of the exact location were lunch was reserved. Our group consisting of around 10-12 riders decided it wise to call the driver of the support vehicle only to realise none of had a network signal. We started to doubt if we were on the right route and returning would imply taking a few hills again, which was not a nice prospect. Only than it occurred to us the restaurant was just around the corner and the driver was already waiving to us. Quite a relief!
The morning efforts had taken its toll on a several riders and in the afternoon multiple groups had formed again. The faster riders reached the Look Out point, basically the gateway to KL. Slowly but surely all riders reached the summit of the Look Out point, the last climb of the day. Some in somewhat better shape than others and together we descended for well-deserved ice cream before riding back to the hotel escorted by our friendly support vehicle.
The ride ended without a single puncture or other mechanical problem which is pretty amazing for a group of 26 riders. That seemed like a good prospect for Sunday’s ride!
After refreshing, we gathered at the Parkroyal lounge where we were pampered again by the hotel staff. Given the rugby game Australia – New Zealand was live at that time, it was a good moment to remind ourselves again what ANZA stands for. Discussing the result of the game is totally unnecessary for the country without black colours!
Around half of the group still went into town, while the rest was off to bed given the next day had some challenges as well. At FLAM’s, we enjoyed French thin crust pizza with a few beer towers. With a Man United game on TV, discussions quickly evolved to where real football is played. Given only Glenn and yours truly were able to defend “real” football, against a majority of Aussies it was clear it was a lost battle. So we will be looking forward to the next World Cup of Aussie-rules football, I mean footie!
Most of us still wanted a good night of sleep, while other were busy “simulating long endurance race efforts” where sleep deprivation is a factor in the race, including sufficient intake of liquids of course. Luckily they made it safe and sound back to the hotel at 3.30am.
Special credits go to Mary Scot and Mark O. for pushing their boundaries with their longest rides ever without getting into the support van (or maybe for 1.5km). And yes, every time Mark asked the driver of the sag wagon how far still to the top, he answered “it’s just around the corner!”
Sunday – By Julianne
The lovely ride up to Genting Sempah was on the menu for today. Not many suffered from any hangovers of last night, so we started bright eyed and bushy tailed our climb sharp at 8’o clock from the hotel.
22 ambitious riders were on the start today. The climb was decent and steady with some new QOMs and no big surprises.
Glen Raoul and Mike took off from the front of the group at the overhead bridge which caused some splits to the pack.
Other than the way back down where Steven decided to descent with one spoke less, just for the fun and to have some drama. The drama got luckily fixed thanks to Stephanie’s Ringgit donation and we were on our way (after an ice cream stop).
The only drawback was that our well deserved pool time got cut short by a few minutes.
Our KL trip ended with traditional beef burgers at the pool, followed by an almost sharp departure at 2 pm back home to Singapore.
The return drive was uneventful and with a super duper speedy crossing through Malaysia and Singapore boarders we even beat those who flew back into Singapore.
Many thanks to Mike who organised the trip, great job as usual!
Thanks for the ride guys!