Thursday, September 18, 2008

Thailand to Singapore, via East Coast of Malaysia, Ride: Day 4

Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.
         (David Brent)

Making coffee at 6:45 AM.

Next time, I will bring along an immersion cup heater. That way, I don't have to open the windows to avoid being asphyxiated from the stove's carbon monoxide.

Lubed chain at 7:43 AM. Finish line Dry Lube is really unsuitable for touring. After 98 km (61 miles) on a loaded bike, the chain squeaks more than a pet shop full of hamsters. I applied the wetter (dirtier) Finish Line Wet Lube.

'Have to learn to pack and set off faster, more efficiently. A lot of time is wasted repacking and securing bungie cords. I wonder if better pannier designs have their strengths in this area.

A familiar sight during the month of Ramadan.

Southeast-bound over Sungai Besut.

Smooth asphalt and a generous road shoulder.

So much for the generous shoulder, here's a minaret in Kampung Raja.

'Missed T148, which lies before Kampung Raja, so T155 will have to do.

It looks like a nice, quiet road.

'Don't think I can reach Kuala Terengganu today.

I am to go straight, but thankfully, I don't have to scale 92.7 m (304 ft) Bukit Jerok.

I think the signs says, "Do not climb or you will become orang bakar."

Best seat in the house: snack break by the road.

Taking T3, the coastal road.

Crossing Sungai Besut Keluang.

82 km (51.3 miles) to Kuala Terengganu.

Changi Coast Road compared to this?
You are kidding, right?  

Snack break #2. The Quaker Oats Granola bars are life savers. Thanks, Pete!

The view as I munch.

Crossing Sungai Ular. The massif in the background is 542.9 m (1780 ft) Bukit Bintang. 6 km to the west of it (i.e. "behind") lies 1036.6 m (3400 ft) Bukit Tebu.

About to cross Sungai Caluk into Penarik, but something caught my eye.

Beach at Penarik.

Further southeast, in the distance, before Kampung Merang, lies 111 m (364 ft) Bukit Batu Besar, whose flanks I have to grind up.

Cooling down in the shade of a rural bus stop. Unlike a certain tropical-island-city-state-paradise — loudly claimed to be defended by a state of the art 3rd Generation Whining Force Farce — I guess they don't have people writing in to whine about the benches being too high here; having no backrests; no reinforced concrete floors, et cetera.


Journal entry

Today was a hard ride; a miserable breakfast — 2 pieces of roti bakar (bread with kaya. Infested with ants by morning; I flicked them away) — bought last night, was all I had. From 11 AM onwards, I was famished and constantly bonking. I tried to ward it off with salted biscuits and gulps of warm, flat 100 Plus, but it only worked for 15 minutes at most. Finally stopped to get a chocolate roll (294 kcal) but the warm weather made it next to impossible to swallow.

Having done 86.7 km (54.2 miles), battling stiff headwinds, under the blazing sun, with hardly any food, I knew I had to conserve energy for the long haul. With under 30 km (18.8 miles) from Kuala Terengganu, I called it a day and began searching for accommodation for the night.

I gave Bildong Beach Resort a pass, dismissing the sign as rundown, and headed toward Gem Beach Resort instead. The single rooms were all taken. RM181 for a double with a king-sized bed, plus a single; I was too tired to search for cheaper lodging. I knew I had pushed past my usual threshold today, and was at risk of falling ill. So, I paid up.

The room is nice. I quickly turned it into a swamp; what, with damp and sweaty clothing; and then later, laundry, wet and dripping, hanging to dry.

To offset the pricier lodging (over my daily budget), instead of dining at the resort, I walked a couple of kilometers out into the village of Batu Rakit for food. There were only 2 stores open. This is one of them.

One of those rare instances where I wish I could eat more.

Much earlier, at 1:15 PM, outside Penarik Inn, a series of thatched-roof chalets by the sea, I was tempted to stay for the night. At that point, I had covered 53 km (33 miles) and was already bonking. FWIW, Natalie and Nick stayed here on April 18, 2007 and enjoyed it.

With enough people, you can create your own hippie commune by the sea.

Rates for the non-air-conditioned single huts were reasonable at RM50. The larger huts went for RM100, and the air-conditioned units, RM150. But lots of daylight remained, and I wanted to cover as much distance as possible. The additional 33 km turned out to be hard fought, dearly bought.

The owner of Penarik Inn speaks excellent English, and also manages an on-site cafe / eatery. As the entire premise is built on sand, I did not check out the beach. (Sand in socks while cycling sucks.) 'Wish I bought the tee-shirt though. (I have a weakness for raglan tees.)

The rest of the beach along Penarik is so-so, typically littered with bits of trash and detritus in the sand. It really is a crying shame, given the clear blue water.

Walking back into Gem Resort after dinner.

Helicopter parents from a certain tropical-island-city-state should stay away.

The gahmen didn't mandate safety barriers. Imagine the whinging, "Think of the children!"

'Brought back supper, Seafood Tom Yam noodles. 'Will eat it in a bit to refuel my glycogen levels for tomorrow. 'Bought 2 packets of Maggi noodles too. These no-meal rides with a 42 kg (92.4 lb) to 45 kg (99 lb) bike can't go on. On the other hand, cooking lunch whilst on the road presents additional logistical demands / complexities: specifically time, a place to cook, and washing up.

Tomorrow, the conservative plan is to reach Merang, the leap off point for Pulau Redang. With no access to energy-dense food along the road, Rantau Abang or Dungun will have to wait until the following day.

All right, it's 10:10 PM, time for supper, and then another shower. I'm not even going to bother brushing my teeth tonight — that's one of the perks of traveling alone: one can be as dirty or fastidious as one wishes.
-Banzai Ben


Cateye AT-100
Elevation climbed  140 feet (42.7 m)
4 hours 35 minutes 37 seconds
Average speed  11.7 mph (18.7 km/h)
Maximum speed  18 mph (28.8 km/h)
Distance  53.8 miles (86.1 km)
Temperature  93° - 96° F (33.9° - 35.6° C)

Cateye Velo 5
Distance  86.71 km (54.19 miles)
Maximum speed  29 km/h
Cumulative distance  184.6 km (115.4 miles)

Point #9 owns.

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