Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Plentong Ride 13.11.11

I wrote this article and kept it in draft, waiting for a more relaxed moment to properly edit it but after coming across another cycling blog that wasn't in favour of the event, I thought I better not wait any longer or else the story will be cold. So, I am going to publish it from my point of view.

ECC members at the starting line

Tommy Nelson (left) and me by the trail description

Distributing ride plates to everyone

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, my grandparents had 4 plots of paddy field. Those days we did everything by hand. Paddy saplings were planted by hand and so was the harvesting. The best time was just after harvesting, the fields still filled with water and you could play in the mud. Later during bath time, no matter how you scrub and washed with soap, you have to live with the mud smell for quite some time.

The ride at Plentong brought back memories of my childhood. Why? Because it was a muddy muddy ride. But don’t be mistaken, not that it was not a pleasant ride, in fact it was a fantastic ride!

One of the areas made more rideable by the organisers

I think this is Cyclemotion’s 3rd time organizing this Epic ride and after last weekend ride, I know what I missed. I heard of Plentong ride from fellow ECC members who went last year and was told it was a gila track or crazy track. Then heard it again from fellow riders from Seremban and Pete from PCC that it has one of the best single tracks around and the lure of the sweet mention of single track is what made me go this year.

Sweet single track haven

Tackling a shape corner after exiting the single track trail

This event is held nearing year end where the monsoon season is starting and the trails are wet, slippery and muddy. There were so many river/stream crossings that I lost count. True to what I heard, the single tracks are awesome and fantastically long. Just as you exit a long single track trail, cross a road or an opening only to go into another long stretch of single track. Did I mention that we’re cycling under the canopy of trees most of the time. It’s a mountain bike heaven in Plentong! If only there weren’t so many stream crossing. The amount of energy used up to carry the bike over a slippery bank takes up every ounce of energy that you are saving for the next phase.

One of the stream crossing. As least this one you can easily push the bike up.

When you have only 1 area to cross and there is a bee line of riders behind you, this is what happens. Everyone starts looking for alternative way to cross.

Helping Mei with the help of Tim, to repair her broken chain

Finally when the single tracks ends and so are the nice cooling shade that the trees provided, we hit the open grounds and it was roasting time. Normally after a 45km mark, I am still in reasonable form but when I am almost approaching the last Check Point, CP5, it was past noon and every bit of energy seems to evaporate as the sun hits you full blast. It took a lot of will power and mental strength to finish the last bit of the trail.

The hardest portion of the ride, cycling under the hot sun

Looks pleasant with all the greenery right? But not when it is the last check point on top of the hill with hot blaring sun burning on the helmet and shoulders

I have been taking part in many jamboree & races throughout Malaysia and Plentong rates the best in my book. Toughest ride still goes to KLMBH Epic Ride in 2010.

My club riders were at the starting point early and we patiently waited at the starting arch only to be pushed back by late comers who conveniently took their place in front of us. Then a large group of riders formed their own starting point by the road beside the official one. The flag off was messy as both groups rushed into a bottle neck.

The organizers should also think of a better PA system. The speakers were placed at the wrong place (when it was working). Additional speakers pointing at the starting point would have been better. We couldn’t hear clearly the announcement and naturally will not pay any attention. Electrical failure that made the PA system stop during flag off stole the thunder that everyone was expecting. A contingency plan of a loud haler would have saved the day and best of all, an air horn will do a better job than any state of the art PA system that doesn’t work.

Other than the teething problems during flag off, the trail design is good. I cannot stop complimenting the single tracks that Plentong has. You guys are so lucky! The Check Point and Refuel stations are efficient and in my opinion, CP3 being the best, as the guys that manned it, brought the meaning of Check Point management to a higher level. They were enthusiastic, cheerful, helpful and welcomed every rider as if you are the Champion. As I was refueling my water bottle and had a banana, 1 guy will spray chain oil that my chains are crying for and one of them even quipped that massage is available. You guys rock!

The next few photos are dedicated to the guys of CP3. Never before a check point deserves so much write up.

The team that manned CP3

They will cheer up any tired riders with their energetic jumps and songs.

Me at the right hand corner getting my bottle refilled and not forgetting, bananas

See how attentive these guys are

Click on this link to see them in action

I wish the organizers would have put in more effort on the river and stream crossing. With so many participants taking part, it would have been helpful to put logs for us to walk across rather than making us go in. Maybe shave the banks to make it easier to go in and out. Last but not least, if all is not possible, put a rope where we can pull ourselves out of the river/stream banks. I heard a rider getting angry for missing the cutoff time as he wanted to finish the ride but was held up at most of the obstacles.

Overall, I would think the organizers did a good job. Minor hiccups are bound to happen and any complains or grouses should be looked into and taken as a lesson for improvement. Whatever it is, PLEASE organize another one next year. I am now a staunch supporter.

Note of thanks to the friends photos that I got from facebook.


reza! said...

See you again next year. We will make our cp more cheerful next year!

Alan Chan said...

Hi bro, your post is great !!
Interesting !! Continue