Date of Ride: 15th Dec 2002 Trail: Pulada, JB, Malaysia

To sum up 2002, what could Togoparts do better, than to organize its maiden overseas trip? Though it isn?t that far from home, it?s definitely refreshing to try a trail in Malaysia. Under these conditions, Mass Ride 4 was held at the Pulada Trail, which primarily runs through a palm and jackfruit plantation. This also marks the first collaboration with Cyclemotion, with volunteers from them acting as bike leaders for the ride. The sheer bulk of the work started off in November, and on 17th November, Zishin posted the attendance thread, seeking participants. The thread, ended on 12th December with a final list of 76 participants going over the Causeway.

On the morning of 15th December, participants had already gathered probably as early as 6:00 the old Woodlands bus interchange, where some were already tucking into roti prata and teh peng. By 6:40, there was already a crowd gathered, while Gab and radio69 were already distributing the ubiquitous white immigration cards to the riders. The showers earlier in the morning didn?t seem to dampen the mood of the riders, most of whom were eager to try out cycling over the Causeway for the first time of their lives. The old maxim, ?Have bike, will travel? seems to true, after all! deux_ex71 and pling seem to set a possible world record, by shuttling six bikes in his car! On the other hand, it seems that mann was the only person on a full downhill rig for this ride! *applause*

Most of the riders who had already reached the McDonald?s were busy doing last-minute tuning for their bikes, since when the group reached Johor Baru, it?s ?up the lorry? for the bikes, and no time to do further adjustments; and up the bus for the riders to the trail. By 7:20, the entire group had started to move off for the Singapore Checkpoint, and we cleared the Customs via the motorcycle lane. Cannoncal was the one who was leading the main pack clearing both Checkpoints, doing the job of the ?Uncle?. *laugh*

Once up the bus, Zishin was the tour guide, and we got off introducing ourselves to the other participants. Only two under-18 riders were not wearing helmets, although everyone was advised to do so. Under a half-joking, half-serious mood, the two of them were sworn for a disclaimer against the organizers against accident or injury. We also had a short stopover at a Shell gas station to do some shopping for drinks or tidbits. I personally chose to buy a controlled item back home Рchewing gum Рand lots of it! *laugh*

Once everyone unloaded and accounted for their own bikes, we had a field time taking group photos as a keepsake. I can?t recall what time the ride started, but it sure was a good experience trying to cover entire event as a photographer. Most of the riders, not knowing exactly what to expect, decided to favour the intermediate group – while there were only three people in the advanced group.

The starting 1 kilometer of the ride was over hard packed bumpy earth, and trust me, a lot of people got the rock and roll feeling back here. J Unfortunately, not long into the ride, disease[Kelly], sunzman, butterfingers, and dgoh87 were involved in a massive tangle at the bottom of the first long downslope. They all received ample medication, and all carried on with the ride with the exemption of dgoh87. Most of the terrain was hard to well-packed earth, so the ride was probably monotonous. Pretty soon, the entourage paused for a quick stop-over for about 10 minutes at the wooden huts along a riverside.

Once the rest was over, it was full steam ahead for the end/turnaround point, which was a Chinese temple. On the route to the temple, we cut through a slightly hilly and very open stretch of plantation where there were young palm trees all around neatly cultivated. Not long after everyone reached the temple, the skies open up and poured a pretty non-stop torrent on the landscape. Most of the riders decided up trade for some snacks and drinks here, since there weren?t any other refreshment point along the way back – since we are using the same route to go back.

When the heavy torrents died down, some of the more fatigued riders decided to go out the easier way, by loading up the lorry nearby, while the rest just pedaled the same way back. The route, surprisingly, was much easier to cycle when wet than dry. But with the chilly winds, it was a hard chore to stay warm, other than to continue cycling.

Along the route back, some portions of the road had small little 2 inch puddles of water that were fun to splash through on the bike. But nothing prepared us for what we were about to face. For most riders who were far far back in the pack, all they saw was the whole large group of the faster riders all severely slowed down. The reason was that a long stretch of road that was earlier covered was now shin-deep covered with rainwater. That wasn?t so bad, yet. As everyone moved on forward, still with a continuous drizzle descending from he sky, the depth of this pool of water that was at least another 100 meters longer to clear, increased to knee-depth for most people. This time, most riders decided to carry their bikes so that water wouldn?t flood into the bottom bracket, and cross this newly formed water body this way. But there were further complications, because there was a stretch of 20 meters of this ?river? where there was actually a small current that impeded the mobility of most riders. But the Tenacious Togoparts members all cleared the entire ?river? quickly, and continued on the journey back to home base. There on, it was mainly a drudgery ride back, but it was much easier since the weather was much cooler this time.

Once the riders reached the original assembly point for the Pulada trail, all that was needed to be done was to wait for the lorries to come right in so that all the bikes can be loaded up. But at this point of time, Zishinrealized that his colleague Joey was missing! Colin offered assistance to look for the missing girl, and headed into the trail again. The complication was that the route wasn?t really anyone?s homegrounds, so there was a risk of losing riders. Cannoncal and deus_ex71 then went in together to search as well, since they both had GPS units on their bikes.

After quite a lot of confusion, the riders were finally accounted for, and the wait for most riders already waiting on the bus was a struggle not to sleep. With all the concentrated efforts of¬†Colin,¬†Cannoncal,¬†deus_ex71,¬†Gab,¬†peugeot,¬†radio69¬†and many others, finally the lost sheep –¬†Joey¬†and¬†sunzman¬†all were brought back to us. What a scare!

The ride had now officially ended – and then it was a long bus trip back to some city area near the Causeway where some of the riders decided to get a quick bite before heading across the Checkpoint. The traffic at both Checkpoints were extra heavy because of the nature of Sunday evenings, but all the riders were all intact and glad that they came for the ride.

See you at the next Mass Ride!

P.S. More photos can be seen at¬†Cyclemotion’s site, under¬†Album 78,¬†Album 79¬†and¬†Album 80. Another set of photos by¬†FoesDH¬†can be seen at¬†his WebShots album.