Trio of Riders Crack 24-Hour Melaka Goal
ALAN GRANT | 8th Jan 2015 | FEATURES
Trio of Riders Crack 24-Hour Melaka Goal
Just before Christmas we brought you the crazy story of a small group of cyclists planning to raise money for charity by spending the full 24 hours of Christmas Eve pedaling to and from the Malaysian town of Melaka in a single ride.
Well, we’re pleased to tell you the “Melaka and Back in One Crack” team not only completed their task but also covered the 525km with an hour to spare. It really was a remarkable feat especially as due to pullouts, by the time they gathered at Novena Square just after midnight on December 24, there were only three gallant men on the start line.
Jeff Paine, Lawrence Loh and David Kolpak were the heroes, and at the time of writing the sterling efforts from the three long-time Singapore residents had resulted in $5,710 being raised for A New Vision (http://www.anewvision.org), a charity committed to treating curable blindness across Indonesia.
All of the “Crack” squad were members of 2012’s TransMalaysiaExpress (TME), which rode 800km in 43 hours from the Thai-Malaysian border to Singapore, but the latest feat was much harder in comparison, primarily because the TME had 15 riders to their three. For the Xmas Eve heroes this meant less shelter from the wind and a much smaller pool of people to talk to; even the best of friends can struggle to keep a conversation going for 24 hours, especially while riding a bike under conditions of extreme fatigue.
“None of us were very good at singing or had a full 24 hour repertoire of jokes to tell. But while the singing and jokes were mediocre, they were better than the moments of silence that meant we were really tired or worse, totally shattered,” recalls Paine.
Those moments of silence were inevitable on a journey of 23 hours. Imagine getting on your bike at midnight, knowing you faced seven hours of riding before daybreak, and then while welcoming that light, realizing that its arrival meant the temperature would begin to soar as the sun rode higher in the sky.
But Paine and Co are veterans of such ultra-endurance adventures and they were well prepared for anything that came at them. Having regular but short refueling breaks, helped break down the 23 hours into smaller chunks and they also deployed other techniques to help keep their focus on completing the ride on time and safely. Little things like the Kolpak, an American, making a point of fist bumping his two colleagues at each 100km mark helped keep morale high, as did seeing the ongoing support from donors, family and friends as they took a few minutes to check in on their fund-raising goal at each rest break.
The Malaysian wildlife kept them on their toes too.
“The strangest thing we saw was surely a giant cobra lying coiled in the middle of a highway. It was very big, although fortunately for us (but unfortunately for it) it was dead! I’m very afraid of snakes,” says Paine.
While the trio managed to keep their spirits up for most of the ride, there were lows too, including missing a turn on the final stretch of highway in Johor Bahru that necessitated walking against the traffic for 500 metres. The worst moments, though, came a few hours before that as they entered their second spell of night riding.
“During the last 100km we had to fight with rain, cold conditions and a dark, crowded, two-lane highway with fast drivers,” says Paine. “We were fortunate to have a support car in front and an ambulance behind us but even then it was a bit scary to be on the road at that time.”
The support Paine was referring to was a seven-strong team put together by ride director John Koh of the M3 group. Joining Koh in the lead support vehicle were Gerard Christopher and Lionel Lim, while Abdollah, Tan Khee Khee and Thiri Naing manned an ambulance. Last but not least was photographer Shireen Lim of Slowpoke Studio who captured the entire ride for posterity.
“We could not have done the ride without them and we were also fortunate to have Shireen join us for the entire ride and capture many memories along the way. An amazing team!” Paine said.
They riders got through the storm and after negotiating the Malaysian and Singapore immigration procedures they were on the last leg of the journey. Completing those last few kilometres brought on a mixed bag of feelings, including, joy, relief and accomplishment, not to mention huge jolts of adrenaline as they negotiated the final “hills” of Mandai Road, knowing they were almost done.
“It was definitely not easy and probably one of the hardest cycling events that I have participated in,” says Paine. “But it was great that we were all able to complete the ride safely and within our 24-hour goal.
“From the charitable perspective, it was great to make progress on our fundraising goal and we are even today still getting donations. Ideally we will hit our goal of $10,000 but we are extremely pleased with the generosity from family and friends, and even some from Strava who we don’t know in person, who donated to A New Vision.”
Paine, Kolpak, Loh and their fantastic support team are true cycling heroes and deserve to reach their fund-raising goal. If total strangers from Stravaland can chip in, it would be nice to think that the Singapore cycling community could also provide an assist or two.
So go on, click on the link below and donate a few dollars.
Pictures courtesy of Shireen Lim & Slowpoke Studio
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