25th Dec 2020, the day we decided to do Rapha500 differently. I usually only ridden 500KM in two days, just to fulfil the 500KM requirement
But this year, we planned differently. Plan A is for a 4-days 750 KM bikepacking ride from Kuantan to Cameron Highland and back. But due to Covid-19 situation in Bentong and Koyan (which are the few small towns we had to go through), we changed to Plan B which was just 500KM to Penarik in Terengganu and back. However, two days seems not enough for all the preparations done, so we settled with Plan C, which is back to 750KM but skipped Cameron Highlands. We planned to go to Lipis, Gua Musang and Kuala Berang via Aring and Kenyir, before going home along the Terengganu coastal road.
Day 1. Kuatan-Jerantut-Kuala Lipis. 240KM
Day 1 was uneventful. We started early that Friday’s morning. By 6:00 AM we were at a musolla around Lepar for our Fajr’s prayer. The weather was nice. Had breakfast at Maran, before continuing the ride to Damak. We struggled a bit to find a proper place for our lunch especially after a rather fast pace along horrible road condition and traffics. I was still feeling good. I mooted the idea to proceed to Gua Musang by adding just another 100KM, but when we arrived at Simpang Benta, few already exhausted, and it was 3:00 PM. So we decided to stick to the original plan, which was to stop at Kuala Lipis after 240KM ride. We stayed at a new Star Well Hotel in Kuala Lipis. We also had a nice Azmi’s Steam Patin Tempoyak for dinner. Due to the long and tough profile on Day 2, we should have taken early sleep. But no thanks to the long waiting time though, we wasted some good rest and recovery time.
Soon after that, my nightmare started. I had episodes of diarrhoea. Went to the toilet more than 4 times. My rest was interrupted.
Day 2. Kuala Lipis – Gua Musang – Kuala Berang. 280KM
Woke up at 3:00 AM feeling tired. True enough, the moment I hit the road, my legs felt heavy, feeling so weak and tired. The ride was tough. I can’t climb and can’t maintain high speed as usual. The toughest 100KM ride for me. On top of that, we had several punctures. We even had to perform our Fajr’s prayer by the roadside. We were off-scheduled by 2 hours. Most of the time because of me.
We arrived at Gua Musang at about 9:30 AM. I tried to eat but I couldn’t. We continued for another 20KM and stopped at the R&R there. We had a very long break. Continued again for 20KM and stopped at a petrol station near Chiku. Had our Zuhr’s prayer there. And yet another long break. Again because of me. Once we entered Aring, I knew I can’t continue. I had no more energy left. I urged them to go ahead without me, but they refused. So I decided to hitch-hike a 4WD to Kuala Berang. Only then, they resumed at their normal speed.
I did only 150 KM on Day 2. I would like to thank Mr Jefri who was very kind to help me and willing to send me to Kuala Berang.
Kudos to all my friends. They made it to Kuala Berang despite the tough rollings in Aring and Kenyir, horrible road conditions and rain. I booked Serai Cottage at Kuala Berang. Not sure when they actually arrived as I was too exhausted and just sleep upon entering my room.
Day 3. Kuala Berang-Kuantan. 215KM
This should be our recovery ride.
Woke up feeling better. Hungry but still did not able to eat well. We started the day late. Began the ride at around 8:30 AM. It was raining when we made the move. But soon after, the weather was hot.
The ride was not as bad as Day 2. I managed to be with the group most of the time…. well until some of them started to pull 40-45 km/h obviously. Had a break in Rantau Abang. Took our time easy this time. Good chat and laugh.
We had a long break at Paka. Had our lunch at our usual gerai ikan kerisi goreng panas stall. Prayed Zuhr at the nearby mosque there.
Had a puncture again just after 5 KM away from Paka. But after that, the speed was pretty high. Managed to follow but dropped a few times. Around 4:30 PM we arrived at The Bolock Coffee. Nice milked coffee and ambience. A friend knew we were there and he sponsored our drinks. Thanks, Meka. Fadli and Pokleh were kind enough to ride from Kuantan and follow us back. That was 60 KM one-way at least.
Alhamdulillah by Marghrib we were already at Shell near Simpang Balok. We considered as achieved what we planned for. I just continue to ride another 16 KM to reach home.
What is the lesson learnt?
No matter how strong you are, it is all a loan from Almighty Allah. If He takes it back, you will have nothing. I felt great on Day 1, but in split second, I lost all the energy and strength. I thought I could perform well the whole 3 days and even planned to extend Day 3 to make it 400 KM, but as Allah mentioned…
وَ مَکَرُوۡا وَ مَکَرَ اللّٰہُ ؕ وَ اللّٰہُ خَیۡرُ الۡمٰکِرِیۡنَ
“And they devised, and God devised, and God is the best of devisers.” – Ali Imran:5
Even though the verse is relaying the plot made for Jesus Alaisalam, it also tells us that Allah is the Great Planner!
Thanks to Andy, Azizi, Muzammil, Mizi, Abang Rahim and Syafarim for the great camaraderie. We started together and ended the 3 days bikepacking together. Thanks Allah for giving me such friends.