Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cycling Alone at High Altitude, July 15, 2007

I inched closer to the window and pulled the curtain to look outside. It was misty and cold down the valley and made me had a second thought of cycling alone. Since the apartment was on higher ground looking down was really a pleasure creating nice feeling in me. I knew I made the right decision to come up here to rest after a week bout of on and off fever. That actually gave me more reason why I shouldn’t be out there cycling alone. My wife and Mar were still in deep sleep cuddled under the heated comforter as if announcing silently not to disturb them. I envied them for that as it was supposed to be me under the sheet but I was awake staring out. It was not really a complain though as I was really enjoying the view with nice feeling building up inside me even more after each minutes. Then, all of a sudden I decided to go down cycling. I do not know but at that time I just thought it would be a waste not to do it. I put on my gear, woke my wife to let me out and drove down to the park. The small parking area was empty but I saw few people walking in the park already. I immediately took out my bike form the back of the Ranger and cycled towards the hospital passing Mardi as a warm-up run. At that point I have not decided where to go but I figured the climbed to the hospital would be a good warm up to acclimatize with the thin air at that altitude. As I was climbing towards the hospital I only saw a lady and an Indian gentleman joggers.

Probably it was a Sunday morning or probably no body really gets sick in this nice cool place. The hospital was not like any other hospital that I had been to not only the architecture was like and English cottage it was really quiet with hardly any activities. I circled the lobby and sped down with cold air breaking on my face. While enjoying the speed down from the hospital I decided to cycle around the small town to check out all the nooks and crannies of the place. I started by turning right towards the new Century Pine Hotel to cycle around the field next to the school where I met a couple jogging. When I cycled out I saw a group of ladies sitting, I thought firstly were exercising, around reading. That was nice I thought the morning cool condition was indeed pleasant enough for them to do that. I wondered what they were reading. My eyes caught the clock tower in the park and it said 0815 but the morning was hardly breaking it seemed. I was beginning to really love the ride. I proceeded towards the heart of the small town. Wanting to absorb the nice feeling that was constantly growing inside me that I did not understand I cruised in enjoying the town. I turned left at the end and circle around the block where Maybank was and came out of the other side where I saw a small Sunday market was in progress. It was a small Sunday market but I knew I would check it out later. I entered the main road after that and turned left immediately to climb towards Heritage Hotel. Although most people I met ignored me as if I was a normal occurrence I still guessed I was the only one doing it in this town. From there on I kept on cycling in and out of corners and turns to explore part of the town that I took for granted before. In the end I found myself cruising down to where I started off and undecided for a while. I knew at that point it was about 5-6 kilometres from Tanah Rata to Brinchang and it was not the distance that I was worried about as I had covered more than that before. It was not the steep non-stop climb that bothered me really but whether my body was ready to cross the pain barrier after a week of uncertain sickness. To top it off doing it at the altitude of thin air. I was genuinely concern on how my body going to react. In the end I decided to do a Nike, just do it.

I began slowly as I had lost the momentum while I was on the thinking mode and got the bike to lower gear. It was not bad and I managed the first steep corner without difficulty. I looked up and in front of me was another steep corner that forced me to continue climbing without any let-up to stabilize my momentum. Cycling alone with that kind of condition was indeed a challenge as you do not have anybody to push or pull you up. I was perspiring inside but the cool high altitude air suppressed the flow of my sweat. I pressed on with my head up looking ahead and my confident grew after each corner and climb. It was really a wonderful feeling as well as relieve when I reached the top of the climb. I knew it was then steep down hill in front of me that coiled until the Smokehouse. I sped down breaking cool breeze along the way until I got to the edge of the golf course. It was then a long stretch of decent gradual incline interval but a short downhill before the steep climb into Brinchang town. I managed enough to turn left to checkout the unexplored part of the town. Still it was not an easy ride as Brinchang was built of a slope. The thought of pushing up further towards Equatorial Hotel crossed my mind as I harbour ambition to go off road within Sg Palas tea plantation. I knew and confident I could do it but I decided to turn back.

Based on the sign board at the golf course I realized there was an alternative road to bypass the major part of the climb going back to Tanah Rata. So just before the Smokehouse I turned left towards Kg Sg Sedia. Following my instinct I cycled through the kampong and emerged at the second steep corner on my initial climb. By all means it was not that easy going through the kampong as I had to negotiate a decent and the steepest climb towards the end. However it was a pleasant ride through as I discovered a couple of homestay places. Judging from the atmosphere and aura of the area I assumed it was a nice kampong. I even passed a kenduri in progress. After the steepest climb I cruised into Tanah Rata and did not want to stop.

I stopped at the parked Ranger and called my wife to ask whether they wanted to go out for breakfast or for me to buy for them. They decided it was still cold, it was already 0930, to get out and instead of putting the bike in the Ranger and drive I cycled into Tanah Rata to get breakfast. Getting a decent healthy breakfast at Tanah Rata was really a challenge for me. People in Cameron Highland either have Nasi Lemak or Roti Canai for breakfast. I stopped at the mini Pasar Minggu and bought a few kueh, stopped at the sundry shop to get newspapers and cycled back to the Ranger. This time I packed the bike in and considering what I had just bought would not be enough I drove back to town to buy Roti Telor and several nasi lemak. As soon as I got to the apartment it started to rain heavily.

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