One of those training days a couple of weeks before jetting off to Langkawi for the Ironman, Yip brought up his plans post-Ironman.
Apparently plenty had been pondering ways to counter their post Ironman-blues.
Yip, among many other things had signed up for Hatyai Century Ride about 6 weeks after. With full gusto, the group of us agreed to go as well.
A total of 140 participants.
But here I was…the LAST cyclist at the very back, with full view of the start arch right infront of me.
* Photo courtesy of We See :)
I was use to pedalling up hills fast (need momentum!!!) to enjoy the downhills so I took off quickly when I saw it infront of me. After several uphills and down, I lost Phuitin. I figured she’d catch up soon so I continued pedalling.
A 100m infront of me was this guy in purple compression calve sleeves (it was bright enough to be difficult to ignore) and so I followed him from then on. He was doing a pretty decent pace and I was intrigued at how good his bike handling was that he was able to refill both his bike bottles all while cycling…take mineral water from passing car or from volunteers….put in back pocket….unscrew cap of bike bottle in bottle cage….fill in with water from bottle at back pocket….toss empty mineral bottle away….cap back bike bottle….take filled bike bottle and placed it in back pocket….take back bottle cage bottle and placed in front….take another mineral water bottle from passing car (we seem to have a lot of cars handing out water!!!!)….repeat whole series of action.
No one came.
However, cycling alone in an unknown part of our Northern neighbour where the majority of people speak a different language and all you can muster at that point in time in local tongue was hello and thank you, well now THAT was bad.
Couple that fact with poor signage (signage? what signage!?!?!) along the route and plenty of major intersections….it was about to get even worse.
Most part of the ride, I was riding on faith (‘yeah I think going straight is the correct way’ sorta faith) and was banking a lot of my choices on luck (I’d still like to think of myself as an extremely lucky person….who just needs to channel that luck into buying lotteries).
I just looked dirty.
We were winding through some narrow kampung roads with plenty of potholes and uneven roads. The local guy was awesome. He told us which road to take and which sign said what which will lead us to where. Before we knew it, it was the next water station. Ka Chin told me to go ahead. I did offer to let him draft me but he declined as he wanted to rest longer. So the local guy went ahead with me. After some prepping on which roads to take ahead, he too bid farewell. I think he was waiting for someone who was actually in the race.
Did I mention I was out of spares?
The sun was out with a vengeance by that time. I was hoping that the dirt I was covered in was going to give me some sort of sun protection. I too sometimes marvel at my own optimism.
At the end of that highway, there was a small piece of paper with a red bold arrow on it (the kind of flyer sized paper where people advertised their lost cat or dog and stuck them on lamp post or similar vertical objects that you typically find flyers being stuck on) directing me to turn left. I thought, how ironic it was that I was placing my faith on a small red arrow coz for all I know I could be cycling back to Malaysia at that point!
I gestured to them….cycling, ahead? Blank stares. I gestured to the bib I'd attached to the front of my handle bar. More blank stares. I stared at them….they stared back at me. Then I pointed to my bike….and pointed behind. Oooh yes yes, nod nod…..more bikes behind.
I thanked them. It was the only other Thai word that I knew. They were back on their jolly way and I was relieved with knowing that there were more idiots behind me on bicycles, likely to be participants of this same century ride. If I was lost….I took great comfort in knowing I wasn’t lost alone. Misery loves company, eh?
I went closer just to make sure it wasn’t someone advertising for a lost cockatoo that looked like a red arrow from afar.
It wasn’t (phew).
I turned right and continued pedalling. I was finally back in town!!!!
Praise all higher powers in this universe!!! I wasn’t lost after all!!!!!
(mental note to self: your travel insurance expired last month)
Slowed down tremendously. No fun getting hit by random vehicle in foreign land...not that I'd ever tried.
Then infront of me, a traffic police and he was gesturing me to cycle into a pseudo left lane created with yellow cones.
I did as ordered….and just ahead of me…the finishing gantry!!!!!!
And I saw Phuitin there and I was like…either she was on stealth mode and overtook me while I was nursing the puncture, or one of use got severely lost.
(turns out she got lost at the first major intersection and she used waze to cycle back to the hotel)
(I wasn’t too proud of the fact that I won due to other people getting lost)