Kayuhan Dalam Hujan (Cycling in the rain)
Today was the day we had to say goodbye to Pengkalan Balak after our two night stop over. We packed our panniers very early in the morning and started to load them onto our bikes. Today’s cycling will be much heavier compared to yesterday when we were travelling light into town. We decided to start cycling without having breakfast first as we wanted to get warmed up first and to have breakfast along the way. On the way out of Pengkalan Balak we took this group picture in front of the “Pengkalan Balak” signpost to record our memory of cycling here.
Once we worked up an appetite, we stopped at the food stall by the roadside for some carbo-loading for this morning’s journey. Several of us had “nasi lemak” while some went for “roti canai and teh tarik” both are very Malaysian breakfast favorites.
There were some local cyclists having breakfast there too so we made introduction and soon had a very good conversation with them on the routes, common friends and events. It is so easy to make friends when you are cycling. You are always in a good mood when you cycle, when you passed by kids they will wave at you and some will chase you with own bikes etc, when you gave salam the older folks will smile at you and return your greetings. All these responses are rare when you are driving in a car at your normal speed with your windows rolled up.
After breakfast, we slowly made our way towards the Malacca – Negeri Sembilan border which is the bridge over Sg Linggi. Since we had a lot of time we make several stops along the way to take pictures and explore the route a little bit.
In Malaysia, it is generally said that we also experience 4 seasons in a year but ours is hot, very hot, wet and very wet seasons. The very hot weather can unexpectedly turned to very wet weather and when it rains in Malaysia, it really pours.
Just before we were about to reach the Sg Linggi bridge, the dark clouds started to unleash the rain complete with thunder and lightning. Luckily there is a row of food stalls just after the bridge on the Negeri Sembilan side where we could seek shelter.
Cycling in heavy rain is not advisable since the visibility for motorists will be limited and this poses danger to cyclists. Water ponding is also a common occurrence and when a car or lorry hit the water pond and you happens to be cycling alongside you will be in for a surprise shower. Furthermore the road condition will be slippery during the rain and especially avoid cycling on the white line as it will be slippery too. Many potholes could also be covered by the accumulating rain water and if you are not familiar with the route you could fall into one and worse damaged your wheels/rims.
Sometimes the rain in Malaysia comes in high intensity but short bursts showers ie lasting around 30 minutes or so but there are also rain that lasted for hours or even days. We decided to to wait out for the rain to subside. When you are touring in a group you will have friends to talk to but I can imagine if you are doing a solo tour, waiting time such as this will be such a bore. So don’t forget you iPod/iPad or portable transistor radio to kill the time.
While we were waiting under the shed talking we realized the Abg Zol was nowhere to be found. His bike was out there in the rain but he was missing.
Apparently he had managed to get into the kitchen of one of the food stalls and guess what? teaching the cook there how to make a fantastic “mee hailam”. I told you this guy is cool hehehe.
I believed we had waited for the rain to stop for almost two hours but there was no sign that it would stop soon. As a group we made the decision to start cycling in the rain and the next few hours was a new experience for me, cycling where not an inch of me was dry. You have to be extra careful when you cycle in the rain as most times when there are water ponds on the road shoulders you will be forced to cycle on the road so watch out for the traffic behind you at all times. A rear view mirror will be very helpful when touring so that you don’t have to turn your head back too often to check on oncoming vehicles.
I took off my cycling shades as the rain water and the heat from my breath/face was creating condensation on the lenses making it more difficult to see. If you are wearing fully covered shoes, water will collect in your shoes making it uncomfortable and sometimes heavier to pedal. It is best to switch to open sandals or slippers or “crocs” with closed toes (for protection if you skidded) but with enough vents for the water to exit your shoes / sandals. The only good thing about cycling in the rain is the cooler temperature but that’s about it.
Finally we made it safely to Port Dickson at around 4.00pm. There we met up with Ann and Merah who had both cycled earlier from Sg Pelek and planning to join us for the trip back tomorrow back to Sg Pelek. Both Ann and Merah were sharing an apartment nearby the beach.
The rest of us headed toward a camping ground fronting the beach. The rate to set up camp there was RM25 per tent and for that you can use their facilities to shower/toilet and there is also a surau. If you don’t have your own tents, rental is also available (good for families that drive there and wanted to try some camping by the beach).
Since Abg Zol’s cooking skills have now been discovered, we were joking with him to cook something special for us. Abg Zol agreed and made an arrangement with the site caretaker to make use of their kitchen later that evening. Abg Zol then cycled to the market to buy his cooking ingredients. During our 3 days of cycling, our diet have been mostly high in carbs and Abg Zol wanted to make briyani rice with lots of vegetables for a change.
That night we had an unforgettable home cooked feast and Abg Zol is without a doubt a great chef, perhaps one of his many hidden talents (apparently coming back from the market there was a road accident between a motorcycle and a car and Abg Zol helped to direct the traffic until the authorities arrived at the scene). I was too busy eating that I totally forgot to take any pictures of the food we had.
What a day we had, cycling fully drenched in the rain for hours but at least the ending for the day was a good one. With my stomach full and the nice cool breeze blowing from the sea and I finally have the privacy of my tent, it had been a great day after all. Alhamdulillah.