Riding Interstate

09
Sep
2014

10653721_961185403907458_2726141454811855518_nAs I mentioned last week, after doing the Interstate event I was exhausted, and not quite ready to process how the three days of riding unfolded. I was finally able to sit and write my account of the weekend.

Day 1: Kota Damansara – Fraser Hill

The first day of Interstate found me ambivalent about my form, but excited to do a major group event again. I’ve always loved the feeling of riding amongst a ginormous peloton, even better when it’s not a race and I don’t get dropped in the first 10k. My team started at the back, with a friend towing his daughter in a trailer per a request from sponsor, Thule. We hurriedly started catching up to everyone and soon found ourselves at the front of the pack, perfect timing for photos. Once we got to the open road, though, I dropped back through several groups that were a bit too quick, and ended up riding solo for the next 50k.

10665347_493573867445608_6279635651153868417_nStarting the ride so fast meant I had already burnt out, topped by the air feeling so thick it could be cut. My heart rate was unusually high for the speed and terrain I was on, but this could’ve been due to the shit traffic and road work. Our support van was supposed to stop every 40k, but a miscommunication meant he was nowhere to be found, with the other support car back with the last team rider (with the trailer).

After a rest stop at the petrol station and a regroup of some of the team, we caught up to another teammate, and he and I decided to call it quits after about 86k and hopped in the van.

20k from the finish, mostly up the finishing climb, we decided to hop out and give it another go. Of course I had been neglecting proper food and drink, so a bonk was imminent. We made it to the 8k to go mark, where the road really turns up and is one-way, and got back in the van. Overall, 100k on the first day, and indicators that this ride was going to be a lot tougher than I imagined.

Day 2: Fraser Hill to Cameron Highlands

Waking up on the second day was a bit rough. Do I really want to ride? I knew the first part was downhill and then was mostly flat until starting the long, 80k climb to the top of Cameron Highlands. I decided I definitely wanted to ride in Cameron, so I would go as far as I could, then hop out of the van again, like the previous day.

The downhill from Fraser was awesome. Up until that point, it was the best riding I’ve ever done. The road was steep, windy, a bit sandy but dry. The first section was quite sketchy and since I started in the back, I passed a ton of riders. Descending is basically the one aspect of cycling I’m good at. I stopped with the group to strip off the wind vest and took off again, in chase of some teammates that had passed. I rode with them for a bit, ended up on the front and the next time I looked back I had the entire Peloton2k team on my tail, with my guys nowhere to be found. I got a bit nervous having their team on my wheel so I let them by, only for one to puncture and end up behind me again anyway.

At the bottom of the hill and high on adrenaline, I rode away with a teammate who, at the end of the event, was one of two from my team to finish the entire 525k course. I knew the pace was too quick, and that combined with the need for food and cleaning sunscreen from my eyes meant I had to stop. Along came more of the team and I hopped on for the final 20k of my ride before a back spasm meant the van was a dear friend.

Per the plan, I wanted to hop out somewhere in Cameron and ride. However the skies opened up and it was too dangerous, and I too tired, to think of riding again that day. I was pretty disappointed because if nothing else, I wanted to do the event to climb in Cameron Highlands, on my old steel bike. Clearly I didn’t know the course for the final day.

Day 3: Cameron Highlands to Damai Laut

10540857_464304597045658_1205164234373971861_nThe last day. I wanted to finish the last day, 190k downhill from Cameron towards the sea, where a beachside resort was calling my name. I felt so sick in the morning and it was all I could do just to down some rice and beans. I thought the first 70k were downhill, so the only other female on my team and I started together. We get riding and bam, immediate uphill. This ends soon, right? Nope.

The first 10k went from steep uphill where I warmed up, unzipped the vest and climbed slow, to a crazy steep descent on torn up and wet roads where my quads froze up. Coming down one of the sections I remember gritting my teeth because of the pain my arms were in, having to grab the brakes so much. My hands cramped up and it was so very cold out. I had brought a long-sleeve jersey, but this would have only meant sweating so much on the uphills I would’ve gotten hypothermia. Yes, in Malaysia.

Eventually the steep uphills stopped, and it was downhill for a very, very long time. My teammate isn’t as proficient at downhill as I, so she stayed close to my wheel and we bombed down with me leading the charge and picking lines around slower riders and rough patches of road. I did keep sitting up to admire the view. Descending down Cameron Highlands topped descending Fraser the previous day and was absolutely the best riding I’ve ever done. The views were remarkable, especially when the whole area still being covered in a bit of fog in the early morning. This changed quickly, though.

When the road flattened out it became unbearably hot and sunny. After a lunch break (where we had caught up to the rest of the team) we barely made it another 20k before calling it a day. I was getting goosebumps and chills, which are the first signs of heat exhaustion (something I have lots of experience with).

10557558_10154551035205543_5572988875387077089_oWhile I had been disappointed to hop in the van the previous day, it was very welcome on the third day. Considering I had been wrong about the route I was happy with 94k, plus in the end I did manage to climb in Cameron Highlands.

I will say, it took until the last day for me to do some stupid things. The first being accidentally jamming my index finger straight into the tire as I was doing 60kph. That can happen when you’re exhausted and have a bike with downtube shifters. The other stupid move was asking for cooling spray on my knee and forgetting I had shaved that morning. Talk about excruciating pain that left me crying and laughing at the same time. Whoops.

After a night at the resort I was actually ready to ride again, but wasn’t able to until the following Tuesday, where I had much-earned bacon.

Next week I’ll talk a bit about what it’s like doing support for teammates in these kinds of events, as well as what I thought of our accommodations throughout the event.

Photos courtesy of (in order): Imagines, Ebakz Sports, XviCliX and Princilia Lee.

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