Cross-Country (XC) Cycling And Running at Paya Indah Wetland
Recently, my friends Becky Chua & Joie Chin of STRACO event company organised their first sports event consisting of XC Mountain Bike (MTB) Jamboree (46km) & Trail Run (10km) categories at the Paya Indah Wetland, situated 6km from Dengkil. Their inaugural event attracted 800 Mountain Bikers and 350 Trail Runners who were game to try-out a new and captivating venue. Becky Chua said, “We wanted to give both cyclists and runners a unique opportunity to ride and run at this lovely nature reserve, surrounded by unspoilt greenery and lakes”.
My First MTB Outing
Previously, my imaginary fear of injury by crashing down some rocky hill or tumbling down a deep ravine had prevented me from joining any off-road mountain bike event. However, I made an exception in this case because I wanted to find-out first-hand what is the attraction of cycling off the beaten track, so to speak. Secondly, since I had never been to Paya Indah Wetland, this was a great opportunity to explore the area on a bicycle with the full support and supervision of course marshals and volunteers. Psyching myself up for my virgin ride, I reassured myself, “If I can handle cycling regularly on busy city roads, I should be able to overcome the fear of crashing my bike in the jungle too”.
Colour Me Mud
As soon as day broke, we rolled-out on our epic 46km XC ride. Initially, I pedaled as hard as I could, and I overtook some riders by taking full advantage of my fresh legs. Just as I began to settle down to a steady and swift speed, we came across our first real challenge which was a 1km narrow stretch of intimidating muddy trails. My bike slipped and slided as I mustered all my riding skills not to fall-over or hit the rider in front. Occasionally, we had to dismount and push our bikes laboriously through ankle-deep mud. Huffing and puffing our way through this muddy section, it felt like we were moving in slow-motion. Lucky for me, my bike and I passed through this sludge without a hitch, but the gigantic effort required had took some of the wind out of my sails for several minutes.
Wheels Keep On Spinning
In the stillness of the natural surroundings, we whizzed along pristine lakes and across green fields, palm estates and country lanes. During the long ride, it felt good to be totally surrounded by nature instead of concrete buildings, and it was rejuvenating change to be breathing in fresh instead of polluted air. The only sounds audible were the bike wheels spinning on the gravel, dried leaves and broken twigs. I was really tempted to take photographs of such scenic landscape, but instead, I kept cycling, keen to cover as much distance before my muscles tired-out.
Cramp My Style
Two kilometres from the finish line, I could feel a twinge of cramp along my inner thighs which I blamed on my lack of adequate training. Not wanting to worsen the situation, I slowed-down my speed to give my weary legs some time to recover. With only one kilometre to go, I could almost smell the finish line. There was just one more steep climb left between me and glory. To play safe, I decided to push my bike up the last hill. Then, as soon as I dismounted my bike, both my legs cramped-up and my knees locked-up, and I just laid beside the track in agony, feeling completely helpless and defeated. All that I wanted more than anything, at that point in time, was to make my excruciating pain disappear. Low and behold, my prayers were answered in the shape of a rider and a marshal who immediately massaged and treated my legs. Thanks to the help of these two good samaritans, I was able to continue and cycle happily back to the finish line and join the rest of the exhausted riders and runners, recovering from their respective grueling races.
I’ll Be Back
My first MTB ride was a steep learning curve, and I enjoyed every exciting moment of it. Apparently, cycling cross-country (XC) does not have to be dangerous to be fun. In fact, given the same opportunity, I would not hesitate to hop on my bicycle and head for the trails less traveled again.
About The Author
Gus is the Founder of Running Toons and he is passionate about endurance sports. As a writer, he has contributed numerous insightful articles to The Star newspaper, Running Malaysia magazine, Cycling Malaysia magazine, Cycling Evolution magazine, Swim Bike Run magazine and more. LIKE Gus Rider and follow gusghani @Instagram.