Cycling Alone, Dec 13, 2009
My wife could not cycle so I decided to go on alone. I woke up with a little drizzle but I went down all the same to start to prepare myself. My intended route that morning was Federal Route 2 (Jalan Beserah) going south from Duta Village to Teluk Chempedak (TC to the locals) via Jalan Tengku Muhammad and Alor Akar. There was a little bit of darkness when I rolled out of the Duta Village. As usual I was not bothered with the distance and enough to have at least two major climbs before I’ll get to Teluk Chempedak. I pedaled hard and fast as I was trying to avoid the morning traffic and sun during my climb. The best part of cycling in the east coast or early in the morning in a small town or kampung is that you got to see how life comes alive in the morning. It never failed to provoke the nice feeling in me, at times sense of deja vu. So I was cycling accompanied by that nice feeling through the village, passing Batu Hitam, Sekolah Menangah Kebangsaan Beserah and Pusat Sumber Pendidikan Negeri Pahang on my right until I arrived at my first long climb just after the small Beserah town. I knew I could do it but if you asked any cyclist not a single one of them would say they would like to do climbing alone. I am certainly not one of them as I prefer to maintain my own pace as well as not pressured by the speed of others. My only fear of doing it alone is being too hard on myself and forgetting my limits. On this one I sat a comfortable cadence and not pushing too hard up. The gradient was not steep but long. I was basically already climbing the range making up the whole Bukit Pelindung. When I reached the peak I was still full of energy and came down fast to the main traffic light junction. At the junction I turned left to start to climb towards Alor Akar. Cycling up and along Jalan Tengku Muhammad and Alor Akar area was really nostalgic for me. Especially when I passed the old Alor Akar Field Force Camp where we used to live for a short while before the whole camp moved to the then new Bukit Galing Camp. I was cycling while at the same time tracing back the sweet memories associated with the area. The orphanage opposite the Camp reminded me of my old primary school mates who lived there. I could not even remember any of their names. If I am not mistaken one of them was Adnan, a footballer. At the end of both the Camp and Orphanage started what still known as the school zone or areas, as along the road there were and are at least 4 schools beginning with Sekolah Teknik Alor Akar, followed by Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Alor Akar, both Sekolah Rendah and Menengah Kebangsaan Tengku Afzan, MRSM and Assunta Convent Girl School. My old puppy love went to Assunta.
One other most significant thing was of course the entrance of the climb to Bukit Pelindung. Where the trees and bush started are now filled with rows of exclusive homes. I could not remember how many times I climbed to the top of Bukit Pelindung but one occasion that I can remember clearly was our Scouts trekking exercise to the top. With our uniform drenched from our sweat we scrambled slowly next to the gate of the Telekom tower signified as the peak. I still remember I used to have a black an white photo of that and I do not know where it is now. I continued to cycle dictated by how fast my brain was tracing my memory bank for old stories and images to be superimposed by the new images I was experiencing.
Of course TC has changed. I even made a mistake of entering it wrongly through the McDonald’s drive in. To maintain certain order the authority had transformed the front of the main beach area into a boardwalk environment. So it was a no entry zone for all types of vehicles. Visitors to the beach have to park on the left side and walk to the beach from there. On a bicycle it posed no problem to me as I just swung my bicycle around and jumped onto the curb to cycle between two stalls to be on the beach front. Once on the beach front I cycled slowly to the end until I saw a boardwalk, wide enough for me to cycle on without being a nuisance to others, going over to the other side of TC, really on the other side of Bukit Pelindung. It was a discovery for me as in my many years in Kuantan I have never been to the other side of TC as it was then well known as lovers den. When I got to the other side I found out that the beach was beautiful. Not a lagoon but it was as nice as one. There was a big group of students camping in the beach. It was almost 0800 when I was there and the sun is beginning to take a peep of the world in the horizon. I stayed for awhile enjoying the atmosphere.
Grudgingly I got onto my bike and started cycling back on the boardwalk back to the main beach area. I had to, as I wanted to beat the heat to cycle back to Balok. Nevertheless, I stopped next to the downhill wooden ramp built for the recent Kuantan Enduro Downhill Race. I had to tip my hat off to those participated as looking at the ramp either your have to really know your stuff or your are missing a nut or two from your head to be doing the downhill. One wrong move you’ll smash onto the rocks below.
I cycled to the nearest stall to buy a drink as when I was on the boardwalk I realised I left my water behind. Trying to relax a bit I took a few shots of the place and while pushing my bike I thought I should capture myself for the record. I was lucky when I was there a saw a guy walking with his wife carrying a camera bag holding a Nikon. I requested him to take my photo with the Trek. I found out he was a MTB rider of sort as well and came from Shah Alam. After the ‘photo session’ I thanked the guy and cycled back, and the journey to Balok was no fun. The sun was already up by then and I had to do two major climbs immediately before I could cruise home. Just after the Pusat Sumber Pendidikan Pahang I crossed the road to cycled through Batu Hitam beach area instead of climbing through on the main road. It was around 0904 by then and I could not delay anymore or I would be trapped under the hot sun. Pushing hard ten minutes later I was already at the resort. I saw my water bottle sitting pretty on the back fender of the Ranger.
On my way to TC I saw a stall at Beserah selling variety of kueh and other foods so as soon I I had packed the bike inside the Ranger I drove out towards Kuantan again to buy some breakfast. When I was back at the room on Mar was interested in eating. Well, nowadays she always interested in eating. She is the girl version of Baqir growing up.
Mar and I were back in the pool again after we had breakfast and just like yesterday the pool was packed with holiday makers. Even the second pool was quite packed and kids jumping in. They’d never learn apparently that jumping could be dangerous, if not for them, for others in the pool. We just find our own space. I did a couple of strokes before I decided to just stand at the edge of the pool to watch on Mar. While standing there I got a muscle cramp on my right leg and I was mad with myself. Painful and I just could not move but to stand there until my muscles relaxed for me to be able to move slowly out of the water. The cycling before must have taken loads of salts from my system. I let Mar enjoyed the pool a little bit longer until I called for us to leave.
Lunch, dinner and the rest of the day were nothing to shout about. In fact we spent most of our times exploring the new mall.