The Long and winding road – Summary, KPIs and lessons learned

We had a great weekend on the beautiful roads near KL. Our host Mark Losi told me that the name Kuala Lumpur comes from Kua-La, “hilly hill”, and Lum-pur “rainy rainforest”, and I wish we had the same on the outskirts of Singapore (as you all know Singa = “blue smoke”, Pura = “friendly truckie”).

I struggled on the bike so I’ll be brief on the ride report. Many valid excuses, but the main reason for struggle is that I tried to follow Raoul and Craig. I shouldn’t have done that. They killed me on the front side of “Evian”. Evian is a deceiving little bump, that looks like nothing on the ride profile, but that got a few of us by surprise.

Later I found a good rhythm on the main climb of the day, Bukit Fraser, until I cramped massively to the point that I had to stop at a road sign because I couldn’t move or get off the bike. A bit of sightseeing from the side of the road and many start-stops later, I made it painfully to the top where our peloton of 19 riders regrouped around a nasi goreng that was not very goreng. Such a great location deserves a better restaurant where the meriting cyclist should be rewarded with a five course meal including duck, wine and mousse au chocolat.

At that point we had tallied 100 km including the 35 km climb of Fraser and everyone was proud of this achievement. The 100 km return trip was surely going to be a walk in the park.

The descent was awesome. A fantastic surprise as I had completely neglected it, focusing only on the climb. It was like downhill skiing. One problem though: I probably spent more energy there than I should have, considering that the remaining 60 km were not going to be completely flat.

The back side of Evian was like the front side, but worse. I had to walk /creep the last k. Casualties everywhere. Derek and Laura still standing on their bike but hardly faster than me on foot. At the top I resigned myself to wait for the van. Except that the van never came, so after recovering to zombie level (from sub-zombie), I had to ride back.

We had a good rest in the VIP lounge of Mark Losi’s chateau. And went for more of the same on Sunday, with a mini-ride of 70 km to Genting Sempah, and once again a beautiful helter skelter in the jungle.

– 19 riders. 4 chicks who all chicked me.
– 5 000 km ridden
– 38 000 m climbed
– 2 flat tires (in fact probably 1 flat and one sabotage)
– No rain
– Approx 12 hours on the bike and 12 hours in the bus
– Very reasonable amount of beer drunk

As the coordinator of this trip, I would like to share a few lessons learned during the week-end:

It's all about the cake!1. Objective of the ride
This kind of trip is a social event, focusing on riding together more than on pure performance. It is open to all (well so far we have done the 340 km Mersing weekend and the 270 km KL hills, so the distance was a limiting factor on both trips) and I would hope that we are able to accomodate everyone. This was a bit of a challenge this weekend with a wide span of riding levels present. The fast boys had to wait a lot for the slowies, which can be annoying, so next time we’ll try to:
– give the boys something to chew in the meantime (extra loops?), or to
– shorten the route for the newbies, or to
– let the slower riders leave earlier so that everyone reaches the top a around the same time and can enjoy the mousse au chocolat.

Bus Fuss2. Bus
Apart from:
– the bus being one and half hour late
– myself picking a stupid location (Toa Payoh) for the start
– the massage seats not working
– the video system not working
– the main screen showing the first half of Independence Day

… the bus went well. Even with the traffic jams at the Tuas border, we still made it in approximately 6 hours door to door, which is what I had in mind. And the reclining seats were comfy enough for the team to get some sleep. The bus had a lower compartment where we squeezed 11 bikes vertically (bring blankets or removalist plastic wrap to separate the bikes). We could have added 3 or 4 more bikes (in bags) on the free seats of the top deck.

3. Route, support and communication
A few rules in order to avoid having isolated tired riders scattered on the road:
– the meeting/regrouping points should be respected. If a few riders wish to break away they should let their intentions clearly known
– everyone should know the route or carry a map
– everyone should have a phone, charged, but bear in mind that for most of the ride there is no network coverage
– everyone should carry some cash for a taxi ride back to the hotel

Thanks to Megan for her great help in advertising this ride, recruiting at the Coffe Bean, and preparing the trip. Huge thanks to Mark Losi for treating us like kings and for organising the rides. Thanks to ANZA Cycling and the sponsors for their support. Looking forward to the next destination, we will return to KL shortly for sure.

Y’all ride safe


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