By: Mark Losi (ANZA Cycling Alumni KL Chapter)
A few weeks ago, I received an email that some of my ANZA Cycling friends wanted to come to KL and ride some hills as a farewell ride for Mike Sewell and John Henley. After the usual disorganization, disagreement and chaos regarding which weekend would be the one, it was decided that they would come on Friday 9 May for a two day ride.
They foolishly allowed me to organize the rides. They wanted hills, so I gave them hills. A 200 km ride up to the Clock Tower of Fraser’s Hill, including 50 kms of climbing, on the Sat, followed by a 70 klm ride up to Genting Sempah, including 15 klms of climbing, on the Sun. The only problem was that I would have to climb them too!
Our very own Beer Fairy volunteered to provide support car services, on the condition we kept him hydrated.
Eleven cyclists, a bike-less cyclist and one non-cyclist arranged their own airfares and managed to book flights for the same day and for the correct destination.
Noel Jago, of the Newcastle Alumni Chapter, was the first to arrive on Thu. I could hardly recognize him, he has lost so much weight [25kg we are told, Ed.]. What can I say, but there are some positive advantages for those terrible diseases that one can catch. He got down to business straight away and demanded to know where he could ride the following day, not wanting to lose any fitness. I sent him on his way for a 130 klm ride including 1,800 metres of climbing, from the city, up Hulu Langgat, up Genting Perez, down to Titi and back. I thought that should sort him out for the following day’s brutal climb up Fraser’s Hill.
Most of the group arrived on the Fri afternoon. Unfortunately, our very own hotel vans forgot to remember which hotel they work for and delivered 3 cyclists and all the bikes to the wrong hotel, resulting in a delay in arriving at the complimentary cocktails and canape’s in the Club Lounge, which they missed out on. Unforgivable! We hastily made our way to the bar and several drinks and a few light meals later, all was forgiven and we were ready for the next day.
After breakfast, we were off. From the city we made our way north and met our first challenge for the day: The Wall. It is only 1 km but it is not called the wall for nothing. Down the other side, you enter a different world, from city to country, the road snakes around a reservoir and then we tackled Evian, 6-7% for 5 kms.
Once down the other side at Hulu Yam, having stopped for drinks, the first signs of mutiny appeared. Two riders wanted to opt out and do a chicken loop. After some gentle persuasion, which included threats of being exposed as “softies”, they relented and begrudgingly agreed to persevere on the condition they could bail out into the car on the way back.
From Hulu Yam to KKB, the road is flat and that justified the strong riders to hammer it and the group broke into two. From KKB the road climbs towards the reservoir to the base of Fraser’s Hill. This is a sneaky little section, no one tells you about. You have to climb 10 kms to get to the base of Fraser’s Hill, which is a 29 km climb. He He!
At this point, I cannot give any insight into the climb, as I was basically me, myself and I. Luckily, after about 10 kms, Beverly came by and we rode together to the top. It is a beautiful climb, 3 to 4 to 5%, mainly under the shade of trees, with little traffic. On the top section, from the Gap to the Clock Tower, we got dumped on by a rain shower, but I enjoyed it. Some gentle probes with the fast boys and I find out that I am one hour and 50 minutes behind. Mmmm…..need to HTFU here.
Downhill is easy, right? Well I still managed to get dropped. The sky turned black, there is lightening and then down she came. It was bucketing. After about 10 kms, during which we couldn’t see our noses, we come across some riders taking shelter under some awning. Then the support car appears and the Beer Fairy is complaining that he has a sore backside from sitting in the car too long! We load 3 cyclists and they go on ahead. I don’t want to mention names, lest I embarrass them, but one is a Kiwi whom none can understand, another is a software salesman and the third is a small lady who complains a lot.
The rain stops and we are off again. We have to climb Evian in reverse and then the Wall. The group is all splintered up and I hear some soft whimpering coming from the German rider in front. He cannot take it anymore and wants to get into the car, but err, the support is nowhere to be seen. The only thing to do is to soldier on. Finally, after we nearly climbed the whole damn hill, the car appears and he is saved. Once over the other side of The Wall, everyone is back on the bikes and we ride back to the hotel. I have 199 km, 2,055 metres of climbing, 9 hours and 32 minutes in the saddle on my Garmin [perhaps sitting on your Garmin is the source of your rear end problems Ed.].
Showered and changed, we re-group at the Lounge. Cocktail closing hour has to be extended to accommodate the late arrivals and they attack the canapés, the hot food, the noodles, the cheese, everything, like locusts. They scrape the bottom of the bowls for every last morsel. Chips, crackers, dips and guacamole, more wine, more beer, more G&T’s, they demand!
Then, we are off to Flams for these little French Pizzas. Delicious. Then, back to my apartment to watch Il Giro and drink more wine and beer, while Colin keeps falling asleep.
The next day, we all ready for a nice recovery ride up Genting Sempah. Mike Sewell and Noel Jago and Raoul and Andrew lose their ability to understand English and become deaf to the shouts from the back and drop the lot of us on the first incline. I don’t care. I can enjoy the views and I don’t have to listen to the groans of exertion of everyone. It is a beautiful day, there is a little mist in the air and the sun is shining and the sky is blue and I am on a bicycle. What could be better? I arrive at the top and present myself to the fast boys. Mike just gives a glance to his watch and calculates how long I am behind but doesn’t say anything. I get it, I need to HTFU.
Back at the hotel, it is lunch and beverages at the pool bar. In true lemming fashion, one ordered a steak sandwich and nearly everyone followed. It must be something to do with being a cyclist. Those that ordered something different were punished by having to wait longer for their lunches. Bjorn sent the Executive Chef into a tailspin by ordering half ‘n’ half chicken and beef satays from a standard portion of 9 skewers. His order was delivered to him last. That will teach him.
At 2.30 we are off to the airport and as they make their way into the terminal, all accounted for, no missing bike boxes, the Beer Fairy and I sigh with relief.
They came, they ate my food, they drank my booze, they dropped me on the hills, they washed their dirty bikes in my showers, they left chain marks on my sheets, they abused me for being slow and holding them up, they complained that I hadn’t supplied the rooms with proper cleaning materials and why didn’t they receive a complimentary bottle of expensive wine like someone else had received and they left.
Ah, the joys of hosting an ANZA Cycling Tour! But I would welcome them back any day.
[Andrew Cherriman, John Henley, Noel Jago, Johan Hundertmark, Raoul Berthillon, Colin Alexander, Dave Powell, Bjorn Engelhardt, Mike Sewell, Adrian Muir, Beverly Chin and Frankie Lee would like to express our thanks to Mark for a great weekend. Ed.]