Recounting Kedah Century Ride 2016
Event: Kedah Century Ride 2016
Date: 19th November 2016
Venue: Menara Alor Setar, Kedah
The spectacular views of endless and vibrant green paddy fields of Kedah are truly breathtaking. This beautiful setting was my inspiration as I joined 260 other riders to test our endurance limits over a new 160km route.
I was looking forward to a great aerobic workout, and I was excited to explore more of Kedah’s countryside on two wheels.
With any full-fledged century ride, anything can happen on the great open roads, and I never know exactly what to expect on race day. I guess that’s what makes this challenge more interesting, and being alert and ready to face any obstacle along the way, be it physical, mental or external factors, could be the difference between a successful or failed mission.
Second Time Around
The venue of the inaugural Kedah Century Ride in 2015 was the Paddy Museum which was located next to the majestic Gunung Keriang.
This year, the race venue was shifted to the iconic Menara Alor Setar which is very convenient because it’s smack in the middle of town and it’s surrounded with many retail shops and hotels. Of course, the swanky Aman Sentral shopping mall there,which was also the kit collection point, is a great place to chill and watch the locals pass-by over a cup of coffee.
Epic New Route
The highlight of last year’s route was the crosswinds of the flat plains, watching people in the dry harvested paddy fields flying ornate kites, and stopping at roadside vendors for refreshing drink of fresh local sugar cane.
This year, the route was totally different and it took us pass Kepala Batas, Jitra, Changing, Kuala Nerang, Pokok Sena, and Langgar.
After the 7am flag-off under Alor Setar Tower, we cycled passed several landmarks such as the grand Zahir Mosque (Kedah’s state mosque), the palatial Istana Anak Bukit and Sultan Abdul Halim Airport.
In 30 minutes, we found ourselves in the middle of luscious paddy fields which were filled with water from the irrigation canals. This picturesque and flat roads took us to Jitra Town.
After 30km, we headed to Chulang and the elevation really started to build-up when we reached Bukit Wang or known as Bukit Lenguh by the locals. The first half of the route was technically easier because there were less climbs, and the morning temperatures were cooling. In contrast, the second part had really tested my physical fortitude and patience.
From Racing To Touring
My Elliptigo bike and my strength were no match for all the super fast roadies who left me behind in just 15 minutes! Nevertheless, I was determined to complete the official 166 km distance, and with no support crew or sweeper trucks available, failure was not an option.
My ultimate target was to NOT get lost, and to record the local sights, sounds and smells which were unique to this region. Afterall, it isn’t often I get the chance to explore the real countryside of Kedah, and so, I wanted to make the most of this opportunity.
What really helped me to persevere alone, in unfamiliar surroundings, were the awe-inspiring sights of the beautiful countryside and the remarkably friendly villagers who had encouraged me with their kind gestures and warm smiles.
Moreover, the existence of sufficient and highly visible course markers throughout the whole route allayed my fears of getting lost. As I had discovered before in previous Century Rides, there’s nothing worse nor more demotivating than wasting precious energy cycling in the wrong direction.
In the end, it took me a record-breaking 12 hours to reach the Finish Line compared to 7 hours in the previous year. Funnily, I enjoyed the ride more this year. Maybe, it was because the new route had better attractions. Maybe, it was because I had stopped worrying about my timing and began riding in the moment. The answer can be found in my favourite parts of the ride such as :-
The panoramic views of luscious greenery of waterlogged paddy fields and natural forests.
The welcoming and generous nature of the friendly villagers.
The good conditions of the road.
The quiet country roads and vibrant flora and fauna.
The coolness of the morning breeze.
The fresh air and shade offered by the tree lined roads and Bukit Wang.
The quaint farms, rubber estates and palm oil plantations were a nice change to the impersonal concrete factories.
The scenes of village life.
The comprehensive and distinctive route markers.
The pre-race Pasta Dinner at Fuller Hotel gave the participants an opportunity to meet and mingle over a great buffet spread.
The Great Escape
On hindsight, the Kedah Century Ride 2016 was the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of my typically busy modern city lifestyle. Frankly, living in a noisy concrete jungle is very stressful, and I was just happy to unwind and relax in the serenity of a slow-paced Kampung Life…
📹Videos Of My Journey
Sunny Paddy Fields
The Perfect Spot
To the best of my knowledge, all of the information provided herein is accurate at the time of publishing and the views expressed are based on my own personal opinions and findings, and they don’t necessarily reflect the views of the Product Manufacturer, Event Organiser or any Third Party unless explicitly specified otherwise.
About The Author
Gus is the Founder of Running Toons and a HIIT Fitness Coach. As a freelance 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 Happy Runner for RUNNING UPDATES, Gus Rider for CYCLING NEWS, Gus Ghani for SPORTS INFOTAINMENT and FOLLOW gusghani @IG for LIFESTYLE.