One group of cyclists has an annual long-distance fellowship on wheels over hills, rivers and beaches, under scorching sun and stinging storms. And they come back for more every year.
CYCLE for 495km? Isn't that half the length of Peninsular Malaysia? People unfamiliar with Pedalholics Cycling Club's (PCC) annual "Interstate ride" would definitely think I was crazy to even have attempted that feat recently!
PCC's Interstate is one of the most anticipated event of the year for road cyclists, and it's usually (almost) fully taken up even before registration begins, because past participants want another taste of the gruelling distance. Each year, 350 cyclists and 50 support car drivers reunite and form new fellowships on wheels along Malaysian roads and this year's ride was held over three days spanning 495km from Temerloh, Pahang to Desaru, Johor.
Since I started cycling in 2010, this year marked my third Interstate. For PCC, it was the 17th edition of their iconic ride and the longest ever. As they say, "It doesn't get easier, it only gets faster!"
Saved my life
The day before, I met up with my group, which included faithful support driver Chong Siak Mei and my loyal "domestique", Richard Lee. The latter's 4WD was decked with four bicycle racks, water, bananas, a first aid kit and maintenence tools as we set out to Temerloh from Kuala Lumpur.
On Day One, we started from Temerloh, and the terrain was undulating towards Kuantan. The mission was to cycle 142km to a lunch sponsored by Volkswagen (VW) Kuantan at their showroom. Easy? Hardly!