This is the 5ft time G-Club is organising CFAL and its my 3rd time participating in it. Last year, I finish the entire course in 4hrs 19m with the Fixie. While it is tempting to repeat it, I decided to take the Road Bike instead. I wanted to find out how fast I can finish the course and also look to improve the timing. All the excitement kept me up almost all night and as a result, I only manage to catch snippets of sleep. The adrenalin kicks in and by 6.10am, I was already at the starting line waiting for my friends.
Sharp at 7am, the Chief Minister flag off the three thousand riders and we started at a steady pace. The pace continue till we hit the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Highway where I signal my friends to speed up to 30kmph. I was leading the pack and by the time we come to the Penang Bridge, I took a photo of my rear and to my surprise, they were not there. They were having a hard time to keep up due to their mountain bike smaller wheel set. I slowed down a little and told them that I am going to push on to shoot for a record time and continue with the journey.
Coming into Queensbay, dark clouds was visible at the southern part of the island and I made a brief stop to pack all my electronics into plastic. Soon enough, when I arrived at Automotive Lighting, it started to rain. The rest of the journey were laced with spots of rain which felt refreshing and at one point, which is at the Teluk Bahang Dam area, where the rain is the heaviest, one start to challenge nature on weather this is the best It got.
At the hour mark, I arrived at Kampung Sungai Batu, which was ~26km from the starting point. This was just a couple of km before the first water point. I manage to grab the Red Bull and a couple of bananas from the first water station and pushes on. As I brought my own 100plus and water, I did not take more water from this station. This water station also mark the beginning of the Bukit Genting climb. From the water station, it was a slow ascend, about 1km on, the road bend right and the category 4 climb appears. The climb was only about 3km long, but the gradient is so steep that I had to stop and push the bike many rides previously. This time I stayed on the bike and paddle on with a steady pace of 9-10kph. I keep telling myself that the climb will be over soon, it felt like forever and as the road bend left and then right again, I could see the peak ahead, it was just another short 300m to go and I pushes on. Many stop at the peak taking a break or cigarette break, I just continue on and enjoy the fast and winding descend. I was reaching the speed of 52kph and I started to slow down as the road becomes narrower. We had to turn a hard left right at the bottom to go to Pulau Betong. This is the flattest and most straight stretch of the entire route. This is also where all the road bikes overtaking the mountain bikes with lower wheel size.
I was relaxing a little here and enjoyed the village and paddy field view. Before I know it, I arrived at the second water station. Here I took one can o f 100Plus, down it, got the can into the trash and moved on. At this point, there were some sun and the heat start to get to me. The cold 100Plus was refreshing. I arrived at Kampung Sg. Pinang 5 minutes ahead of my target time of 2hrs. This is the start of the second daunting climb, the Teluk Bahang Climb, which is 6km long. Last year when I arrived at this point, there was a guy holding a sign saying 6km climb ahead, my heart sank at that time. I knew what I was getting into this time round and was better prepared. Know what to expect, the climb still felt endlessly long. Similar to Bukit Genting climb, the pain is rewarded with beautiful scenery. As I was pushing for time, I only enjoyed the micro glimpse of the view. After the climb, the long descend was rewarding and equally dangerous. The road was slippery and many slip and fell. At one point one support truck stopped in the middle of the road helping a cyclist who fell to load the bike into the truck. Me and a few cyclist lock our brakes and my rear tyre skidded right. Fortunately, I was in control and nothing happen. I had a fright of my life as I thought I would fall. I guess I need to learn to skid more.
Coming down to the Teluk Bahang Dam, the rain was the heaviest. By the time I reach Ferringhi, I was quite spent. I remembered I had some sultanas which I had prepared for the ride and I took them. It only manage to give me small burst of energy and I had to keep consuming it. It was awfully sweet, so taking a whole bunch of them was difficult. Nevertheless, the pack of sultanas took me to the finishing line. I finally clock 3.5hrs for the entire ride beating last year’s time. I was glad to see my wife waiting for me at the finishing line with the camera.
I collected my medal and look for a place to sit and rest. My friends later came in after the 4hr mark and the clouds was gone and the heat start to set in. The lucky draw started and the organisers had to make a last minute change where they call the names instead of numbers as many riders number flew off their bikes after the rain wet the paper stickers and made it soft. Through out the Southern part of the island, the road was filled with lucky draw numbers. I walk away empty handed this year. It was ok, as I had achieved my goals and enjoyed the entire ride. Kudos to G-Club for this event, I hope there will be another CFAL 6 next year.
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