It has been slightly more than two months since I had my last serious cycling and the Kayuhan Sawah Padi was supposed to be my reintroduction. So I was a bit unsure of myself the day before the ride. Furthermore it was a three day weekend which I could easily find many good excuses for not going. I nearly did. Deep down I knew I can’t do that as I really needed this ride. I am glad in the end I decided to go.
I woke up at 0500 and straight walked into the bathroom to shower. My wife had been saying that she wanted to go to Kuala Selangor as well days before. But then she also said otherwise few times as she was not feeling too good. So I was not sure if my wife was coming along so I woke her up to ask. She said yes which means Mar had to come as well as we could not leave her with Baqir and Kakcik..
I had everything prepared the night before so I just collected everything and carried Mar inside the Ranger and we were out at 0530. The RV at Elmina R&R was at 0600 and to me it was too early and if indeed that was the intend I was confident I could make it there in 30 minutes. I did not floor the accelerator instead had a nice drive on the ELITE highway towards Shah Alam to connect to the Guthrie Expressway. Of course Elmina is the R&R on Guthrie Expressway that I reached at slightly past 0600. To my surprised everyone was there already waiting. They must be very discipline with timing or excited to be there earlier . My guess is it was both as I knew they are always on time. I came down straight away and said my salam to all. Col Azudin told me they left Putrajaya at 0515. Just a few minutes after I arrived we heard the muaezin calling for suboh prayer not far down across the highway.
After we said our suboh led my Dr Azmi we convoyed to Kuala Selangor and arrived at Sg Sireh homestay 10 minutes before 0800. Without any prompting we got our bike readied and prepared ourselves for the ride. It was a glorious morning at Sg Sireh and we really like it. Dr Taufik, the organizer, had managed to prepare us light breakfast at the nearby stall and all of us sat there to eat. Before we got there I already suggested to my wife, Sam, to follow us at the back. I told her that Dr Taufik’s wife would be doing just that as a support car. So our Ranger became the second support car which proved to be useful later.
As everyone still excited meeting and talking to each other I was already anxious for us to start. I was eager and maybe a little impatient because I just would want to start my ride. Also the day is getting hotter as it would be nicer to start early to enjoy a more beautiful morning sawah padi. But of course we had to go through the customary short briefing, led by Col Azudin and Dr Taufik, as well as our photography session. In the end we rolled off at 0840. Altogether there were 30 or us comprises of the season and new cyclists. About 5 of us were on road bikes (RB) and the rest using mountain bikes (MTB). Out of 30 there were 4 ladies (two of them powerful riders), a thirteen year old girl and a boy age around 10 or 11. We were to cover 30km, I presumed, a flat tarmac and dirt road. 30km was fine with me but I was expecting and eager for more off road track on the paddy ban.
I started at the back with Col Azudin and Bro Samad (I think), the days sweepers, and maintained a normal relax speed. I had to pace myself properly if I were to have a good ride and with that speed I eventually caught up with the last palaton and stayed with them until I saw flocks of cranes on my left in the paddy field. I saw them when we drove in so I was excited to take a few shot of them. When I saw that I turned to my left at the next ban dropped my bike and stooped low to get a good angle and frame. There and then I wish I had a long lens with me. Looking at my collection after the ride I decided to buy one soon. I managed a few shots before the cranes realized I was there and flew away. I got back on the main track just to discover a few meters away a group of cyclists resting under a shade not sure whether or not the immediate junction was the one we supposed to take. At the same instant Dr Tauf8k zoomed in from behind to indicate it was the next one. So I continued cycling until the right junction and I think I was the first. Ahead of me was a long stretch of road with new planted paddy on my left and empty just recently cultivated fields on my right. On my left also was the water ways making up the irrigation system (tali air) for the fields. I really just was enjoying my cycling most of the time and looking for opportunity for nice shorts. A quarter ways I stopped by to photograph the fields and the places around me. I thought I had enough but later I realized I missed a lot other opportunities. Again making the mistake of not being observant. Soon few riders started to come into view and I started to photograph them. After the last rider in the group passed me I got on my bike and cranked hard to catch them. I stayed at the back of the group until we reached our first official rest point. As usual I photographed them riding from the back as well. Then it was 0917 and due to the open plain very hot already. When we started out we were riding against the headwind and I was surprised it was almost a still air on the second stretch. Or was I really hot and did not notice the wind blowing.
We waited for the last group to join us and added few more minutes before we rolled off again. As I was cycling earlier I noticed that the ban on my left was running parallel to the road and made up my mind to ride off road style on them on the next one. As soon as I got to the next turn to the ban I turned left but not before the two ladies from the Gedebe gang turned first. So I was not the only one having the idea. Soon a few more followed suit and we were like kids again having fun on the ban. I was so intense cycling on the ban I forgot about stopping by taking few photograph. Luckily Dr Taufik did me a favour by taking a few nice shots of us. The third phase before the last home stretch was a long straight cycling in between paddy field and planters houses. The heat was even worse than before and I was just cycling to finish. I initially rode that stretch with Col Azudin but he decided to crank his Bianchi RB and left me behind. I rode alone almost the whole stretch maintaining a constant speed. Since we were cycling the route in one round back to where we started I thought we were cycling straight back without any more stop but once I approached almost the very end of the paddy fields I saw a group waiting by the roadside. So I eased in knowing another big group still far behind me. Since the earlier group was already happy chit chatting among themselves I did not join them instead concentrated on looking for good scene to photograph.
The best thing about this ride was the willingness of everyone to help each other. Well, a lot of time people would say it was expected and will take things for granted. More so the ride of this nature tends to be cliquey. Not this one as it was obvious in all our conducts. I for one should do a lot more. As soon as the last two riders were in they decided to continue so as to keep the momentum. When I looked at them I knew they were spent and only their grit and will power would take them home. Alhamdulillah there were more than enough riders to prod, encourage and push them. At that point the MTB riders decided to take the inner ban route back and the RB riders favouring the even clean tarmac went ahead as per the original planned route back. I followed the other MTB riders. The thought of riding on a rough surface disappeared as soon as I saw the route ahead. It was the same as the main track only narrower with trees and houses close on both sides skirting the paddy fields. At times we were riding under the canopy of big mango trees. I though I wanted to crank up all the way back but starting from the back I saw a young rider struggling. I decided to accompany him and we rode side by side talking about, what else, cycling. He told me he was more the off road rider that do a short but tough terrain run. I agreed I love to do that too occasionally. Riding under a canopy of trees shielded you from the sun and with more oxygen it is a bit easier and cooler. With that kind of ride the terrain will be your challenge. As for this one it was the distance and speed. We rode slowly until we joined the RB riders on the original planned track home. At that point I saw a group trying to help a lady rider by the road side but seeing there were already enough capable people helping I continued riding and finished the ride at around 1045.
I rested a bit and asked Dr Taufik what was the next plan. He said nothing special just maybe the group would like to go somewhere for a drink or maybe to eat. Since Sam and Mar had been waiting for quite a while I decided to go first.
Thank you all for the enjoyable and memorable sawah padi ride.
You can view most of the photos from the ride by going here, here and here.