Posted on: 18th Feb 2013 1:06 PM
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Follow your heart and you wont regret. With preparation of course.
In May 2011, I did a solo ride from Bedok to Butterworth (900km) on a $150 run-down commuter bike, 2 cheapo haversacks tied to the rear rack, camera, the usual essentials and a heavy dose of enthsiasm coupled with unerving uncertainty and self-doubts. Conceptualisation to execution took abt 2 wks, I did not want to succumb to analysis paralysis hence I decided on the west coast after deliberating for a day or two, reasons being I've cycled the east coast numerous times (up to Kota Tingi) so was looking for a new route, and secondly the west coast is more populated than the east so that means more things to see/do/eat/stay etc.
I was on federal roads all the way, no expressway (Lebuhraya) for me. Route (not stopovers) is Bedok-Woodlands-Pontian-Batu Pahat-Muar-Malacca-Port Dickson-Nilai-KL-Rawang-Tg Malim-Tapah-Ipoh-Taiping-Bt Mertajam.
Accomodation was not planned, neither was the route, and no GPS either. I'd to play by ear depending on my physical condition, state of mind and the external circumstances I find myself in. I'd a Map of Peninsula Malaysia bought from the bookstore and found its limitations in the scale of the maps not detailed enough to even show country roads. Lots depend on putting aside ego and using my limited vocab in Malay language, seek help from anyone who looked like they could help, and most if not all the time, I get friendly responses (though not all are actually helpful). I relied heavily on road signs, and for accomodation, it was never difficult to find a budget one (I've simple expectations though).
Cycling from KL to Taiping was probably the most enjoyable as traffic was lesser, skies bluer (or so I thought) and to the east I could appreciate the long vista of the Titiwangsa mountain range, very nice. Weather was extremely hot, and the long stretches of federal roads without trees are a real challenge, sometimes with strong headwinds too. I relied entirely on food/drinks available along the route, no fancy gels/bars etc. I relished on roadside stalls selling sugar cane juice, banana fritters, chendol etc too, and replaced isotonic drinks with iced teh for my bottles. All cheap and really good.
With the exception of Malacca, I stopped riding once I reach a town at 5pm or so, to give me enough time to find accomodation, do my laundry before heading out (on foot) to find local delicacy and some simple shopping. I was late coming into Malacca and despite having bike lights, I was not too keen on cycling alone after sunset. This message was reinterated several times by locals (strangers) whom I spoke to along the way.
At Butterworth, I got a friend to book a Jetstar ticket for a flight back to Spore. All I'd to do was rode around, find a bike shop to box-up my bike and get them to arrange a lorry transfer for my bike and myself to Penang Airport on departure day. May sound seemless but the stress level was quite high due to the many 'ifs'. I returned home in one piece, sunburnt, lost couple of kilos but renwed with newfound confidence. Bike tour is a good way to bring out the human spirit in yourself and others too.
All in, go ahead and do it. The accomplishment is beyond words (and medals or certificates).