All new combo!

salmon_mcdWell if McDonalds can do new stuff then so can we.  The only difference is that here at RTI towers we would never dream of a Paella flavored deep fried breaded Salmon burger.  If ever there was a food designed by a committee then that is surely it.  We have more taste and so we are merely combining our usual superfluous editorial with the real meat in the burger in order to say…

Good luck to everybody travelling to Bintan go win some trophies, and let’s be careful out there, before we glide on a layer of thousand island dressing seamlessly into the long awaited somewhat controversial Desaru trip write up courtesy of Cameron Fitton.

Now what could possibly go wrong on a daytrip to Desaru?  Given you essentially follow the main road north along the coast, turn around and return the same way, you wouldn’t think too much.  Maybe a puncture or 2, or some heat exhaustion, perhaps?  Well that’s what I thought too, before my first Anza Desaru “Classic” a couple of weeks ago.

After the usual logistics with the bumboats from Changi Village we rolled out in the second group around 9am… it was going to be a hot day!

The usual route would simply follow the coastal road east before heading north.  However, with the southern section currently closed we took the new road northeast before turning south, on Jln Kota Tinggi – Pengerang, back to the northbound coastal road.  Only 2 turns, that’s still pretty straight forward!  Anyway, with 36 of us across 2-3 groups someone will know the way, so not to worry.  Enjoy the ride!

Hold everyone!  Weren’t we supposed to turn left back there at the lights?  Yes, maybe.  The locals seemed to be telling us to turn left.  OK, yes that’s right, well not right, left.  So with a quick u-turn we were on track heading north.  With the tail end of the monsoon we maintained a steady pace into the headwind for the next 25kms without any further issues.  Despite the monotony of the wind in our faces, it did help to keep you a little cooler under the rising sun.

After a 30 minute stop to refuel at one of the plush resorts (the espresso was actually very good), we rolled out again, very much looking forward to having the wind at our backs.  We weren’t disappointed!  With our spinnaker up, the lead group set off back down the coast at swift pace.  Fantastic, we should be back at the port in plenty of time to grab a cold drink and some snacks before the early boats back at 2pm.

My turn on the front.  Still feeling pretty good, I can keep this up.  39-41kph, nice!  Time to roll off.  Hmm, did it just get a few degrees hotter?  Did we lose some wind?  HR was going up!  It should be coming down after that stint on the front.  That’s ok, we’re only 30kms out, I’ll be fine.  Maybe not… I dropped off the back, but kept the group in sight.

I wasn’t too far back, maybe I would catch them at the traffic lights turning right, heading north back on Jln Kota Tinggi – Pengerang.  Unfortunately not!  They had a green light, but I could make this… is there enough green in that amber?  No… $*&#!

Now might be a good time to pull over and wait for the other groups.  That roadside stall with fresh ice, coconuts and orange juice looks appealing…. but, I’m not too far out, so I should push on.  That new road was pretty nice to ride on and will be flat once I get over the next big roller, so no worries.  I just need to look out for a sign to the ferry.

The problem was, I really wasn’t sure where we turned, or had we turned?  What was the name of the town I was heading back to?  I didn’t know and it was really getting very very hot and my brain probably wasn’t at it’s sharpest.  Once again, I should have stopped at the next major turn and waited, but there was no shade and I didn’t know how long I would be waiting.  An icey OJ or coconut juice back there would have been ideal while I waited….

There were no signs pointing to a ferry port.  Should I turn left?  The construction should have given it away, but I decided to carry straight on, back into the headwind and another roller, and another roller… for another 20+kms with my average pace bleeding heavily.  Finally a sign to a ferry terminal, Tanjung Belungkor, this must be it!  I tuned left with some relief.

The road wasn’t new and it wasn’t flat, more rollers.  It was now 2pm and I had hit 108kms.  There was tree just off the side of the road offering some shade… it was time to stop and call someone.  I should be there based on the time on distance.

I called Phil, no answer.  I called Iain… “hello mate, where are you?”.  “I have no idea mate, but I think I need a taxi!”.  “Give me a minute, I will turn on my data and send you my location”.  I was on road 89… wherever that was, since I was still not sure where I should be.

Iain managed to arrange a taxi, but it was going to be 30mins!  Really?  I saw a taxi coming down the road, but it had a passenger… Iain suggested that I keep trying to flag down a car.  Someone finally stopped.  A car with 4 guys.  I said I needed to go to the ferry terminal, but they told me that had to go to work.  After another  5 mins another car pulled over.  It was a family… Mum and Dad and 4 kids in a small hatchback wagon.  They said they would help me and ushered the kids into the front and put the seat down to fit the bike.  I was extremely thankful as I squeezed in the back with the eldest son.

“Iain, cancel the taxi, I have lift.  Where am I going, what’s the name of the port?”  After some chat in the background, Iain replied, “Tanjung Pengelih”.  I relayed the message to the family, “Tanjung Pengelih, Tanjung Pengelih”.  They looked surprised, and a bit put out.  Oh dear!  But off we went.  Nothing could go wrong with this nice family, right?

We finally made it back to the main road and then right on the new road.  This started to look familiar with the big blue fence on the left.  We won’t be too late!  Then we pulled off the road into a car park on the side of the road.  Where are we going?  Do they need to stop?  Are they going to let me out?  Given the language barrier I asked “Tanjung Pengelih” and pointed to the road.  They said yes.  Mum realised I was a bit concerned and said “shortcut”.  Hmm, OK.

We finally popped out of the back roads and I recognised the school we passed when leaving the ferry port that morning.  All good, almost there!

We pulled up at the terminal.  I could see the crew waiting for me… relief!  Job done.  I thanked the family profusely and tried to give them some money, but they didn’t want to accept it.  The father just came and shook my hand and gave me an affectionate pat on the shoulder.  I think I gave him a bit of a hug and insisted he take some money.  Someone suggested I give to the kids and Dad allowed me to give them 50 ringgit.  I managed to offload another 10 to one of the younger ones.  What a lovely family!  I must have done something right along the way to deserve their kindness!

So that’s the story.  I think the takeaways are obvious.  However, a few facts.  After returning home, I figured I had gone ~23kms further north after missing the left turn, which put me 40+kms from the correct ferry terminal.  Garmin told me the average temp was 34 degrees with a max of 41!  Not ideal.  Oh and not one puncture!

On behalf of everyone, a huge thanks to Neridah for organising a great day out – great attention to detail and execution as always!  Thanks Ned.  Thanks also to Megan and Anza Cycling for sponsoring the ride!

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