Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thailand to Singapore, via East Coast of Malaysia, Ride: Day 11

I have yet to sleep,
and the sun is now rising.
I can't feel my legs.


Long, hard ride today. After turning onto the new route towards Sedili Besar (through Tenggaroh), it got even harder.

Morning coffee reading.

Carried this stash the past 10 days just for today.

Not a very good complementary breakfast. I had to force myself to finish it (I knew I would need the energy).

Left the hotel at 11:10 AM.

Jetty to Pulau Tioman.

Local cabdriver discovers that Michelle's saddle is a trifle high for him and settles for her top tube instead.

Left the jetty at 11:25 AM.

And so it begins.

Though sometimes inferior in road quality, the generous shoulders help a lot.

Harvested oil palm fruits awaiting collection.

A closer look.

Another look.

Objects in the mirror are closer than they appear.

Free tool!

22 km (13.75 miles) from Mersing is Jemaluang.

The lady didn't quite understand when I said I only needed one pair of chopsticks and a spoon  :-P

The balak or timber trucks are a sorry sight these days. The old growth trees are all but gone. Even logs with a diameter of 1 feet (30 cm) are cut down now.

All along Highway 3 from Mersing, truckers honked their horns in encouragement (leaving my ears ringing), incoming motorists flashed their lights, little children yelled, "Hello!", and scooters beeped at me, their passengers sometimes punching a fist in the air. There is something special — an indescribable purity — in moving across a landscape on a bicycle, powered only by legs, lungs, a heart full of hope, and strength of will.

When there's no wind...

41.1° C

A glimpse of Highway 3, southbound from Mersing.

Took a premature turn, thinking it was the road through Tenggaroh and had to turn back.

Back onto Highway 3.

Approaching the junction. Besides leading to the jetty for Pulau Sibu, Highway 1393 services the various Tenggaroh kampungs. Highway 1419 turns off between Tenggaroh 4 and 6 towards Sedili Besar.

Confused? Don't worry. If you get lost, you will become a stronger climber  :-D

There's a bus stop, a truck stop (with food and drinks), and even a taxi stand at this junction.

'Supposedly, there's a resort at Tanjung Sutera but the road climbs a rather steep dirt road, so I didn't explore.

While the road is quieter than Highway 3, there aren't any shoulders.

Trucks carrying palm oil. In the rare instances where two of these pass each other, you are forced to ride off the road least you wish to become ayam penyet (smashed chicken).

A police officer at the checkpoint to the entrance of Highway 1393 said, "It is about 40 km straight to Sedili Besar. Good luck!"

Hmm... Why the "good luck"?

Highway 1393 is deceptively flat at the beginning, drawing you in.

*Evil laughter*

Ohhh, so that's why.

Did I mention that it also started to rain?

4:10 PM.
Aaron's riding to Mersing to catch a ferry to Pulau Tioman.

Road heads north to the jetty for Pulau Sibu.

After this, I made the mistake of ignoring a sign and my instruments, consequently missing a turn, climbed an extra 5 km of hills, and ended up in Tenggaroh 6.

Two mullahs walking out of a mosque stopped me, saying, "Ini bukan jalan! Jalan mati! Where do you want to go?"

Upon hearing, "Sedili Besar," they told me to turn right at the first simpang (junction) out of town, towards Tenggaroh Selatan.

Ter Ka riders beware! You might get mistaken for a wild relative and get shot.

5 PM.
The road is really quiet at this point.

For some reason, there are a lot of millipedes crossing the road. I tried really hard not to squish them, but gave up after a while. They are hard to spot from a distance, and muscling a 45 kg (99 lb) bicycle to swerve gets exhausting after a while.

The signs also mess with you. You think you are 11 km from Sedili Besar when the sign shows 11 km to Tenggaroh Selatan; then when you are 4 km from Tenggaroh Selatan, another sign informs you that you are 15 km from Sedili Besar. A lyric from a song by Metallica, "Wherever I May Roam," goes like this, "And the road becomes my bride..." So, this is a lot like getting married, IMHO.

Distance covered so far:  76.26 km (47.66 miles)
Elevation climbed:  1460 ft (445.1 m)
Time:  5:30 PM
Temperature:  85° F (29.4° C)

Broke open my first packet of energy gel here.

One of the highlights of today's ride: with the road running on top of the ridge, you forget all the aches and pains, fumes and traffic, as you cruise along in silent solitude, soaking in the view, and just listening — listening to... space.

To the left, you can see the rest of the road.

I did mention that this is not an easier route, right?

Somewhere after this, I had my 2nd packet of energy gel.

Bridge to Sedili Besar.

Looking west.

Kuala Sedili fishing village.

Time:  6:52 PM
Distance:  91.16 km (56.98 miles)
Elevation climbed:  1780 ft (542.7 m)
4 hours 54 minutes 43 seconds
Average speed 11.5 mph (18.4 km/h)

The number for Le's Chalet was disconnected so I went to try my luck at Tanjung Sedili.

The jetty though, was practically deserted, so I bought a pack of Milo from a nearby grocery store, chatted with the lady, and considered my options.

Having ridden through this locale before, I am familiar with this area, so I have no qualms about cycling in the dark if the need arises; that, and I know I have guaranteed accommodation at Sedili Kercil Country Resort. So, it's 12 km (7.5 miles) to Sedili Kercil then.

However, 4 (or was it 5?) km down the road, I chanced upon Jason's Bay Resort. Upon inquiry, accommodation was available. Done!

(Annotated map, courtesy of Wind, Weather, Windsurfing and more.)

The owner, a rather strong gentleman who used to harvest oil palm, easily lifted Michelle — with her full complement of luggage — up the steps and into my room. Woohoo!

Upon inquiring what I was going to do for dinner, and hearing my reply of riding back to Tanjung Sedili, the owner said, "No. You need to rest. I want you to finish your trip. My son will take you on his motorbike to town for dinner. Now, if you will excuse me, I've got karaoke."



Who am I to refuse such an offer?

And so, for the second time this trip, I am treated to a rewind and fast forward of the last part of the day's ride.

Motorbike ride to Tanjung Sedili Part I.

I thought of wearing my helmet for the 70 km/h (43.75 mph) ride, but was so tired I actually forgot. Zipping along at that speed, helmet-less, in the dark, through country roads, was a trifle hairy.

Motorbike ride to Tanjung Sedili Part II.

Riding into town now.

The Onya bag came to be very handy in transporting dinner #1, dinner #2, 1.5 liter bottles of mineral water and 100 Plus.

Dinner on the floor of the hut, beside my bike.

'Amazing that I managed today's ride, and my knees held up. 'Will continue to pray that they do (and Michelle too).

'Tired. zzz...
-12 AM.


Cateye AT-100
Elevation climbed  1780 feet (542.7 m)
5 hours 10 minutes 50 seconds
Average speed  11.4 mph (18.24 km/h)
Maximum speed  32.8 mph (52.5 km/h)
Distance  59.4 miles (95 km)
Temperature  85° - 106° F (29.4° - 41.1° C)

Cateye Velo 5
Distance  95.77 km (59.86 miles)
Maximum speed  52.7 km/h
Cumulative distance  779.3 km (487.1 miles)


Anonymous said...

Holy hell, that bridge looks like one heck of a climb. I'm feeling all wanderlusty now reading your posts. Darn.

-ben said...

Ya, I seem to recall that bridge being a bit much after Mersing and Tenggaroh (especially the latter).


Yes, in many ways I was quite sad when the trip ended. 'Just when I was getting comfortable in my skin...