New Routes, New Challenges
Last weekend, a friend organised cycling to our favourite Bintan Laguna Kelong (previously known as Ocean Bay). Instead of landing at Tanjung Pinang as we usually did, we disembarked at the Bintan Resort Ferries Terminal in the north. The route was ‘longer, more challenging but with much less traffic’. If you didn’t know yet, traffic at Tanjung Pinang is treacherous.
Day 1 statistics:
- Organiser: kenny
- Group size: 15 pax
- Cost: $70 for ferry, $20 for bike handling, $90 for kelong (1 lunch, 1 dinner, 1 breakfast), $10 for miscellaneous
- Ferry departure time: 0910 hours, 45 mins
- Cycling start time: 1030 hours (approximate)
- Cycling end time: 1600 hours (approximate)
- Total distance covered: 66km
- Total slopes cleared: xxx
- Highest temperate hit: 37 degree celsius
Here’s the back-breaking, leg-numbing, mind-curdling day 1 route. and they said this was the easier route.
4km was all we got for warming up before the climbing started. Thereafter, the slopes came – in pairs and triples. And, unlike the Tanjung Pinang route, the houses (and shops) were sparsely distributed. There were no food stalls; even grocery shops were hard to come by. Thankfully, we were backed up by a support team (free flow mineral water and Pocari). I don’t usually take electrolyte drinks but I downed all the Pocari handed my way. Good thing they managed to get bananas – that helped us stave off hunger pangs for a while.
My rear was searing, my head was burning, At one point, I came down to push the bike and thought of giving up. What would I give to put an end to my suffering! But no, had to wait till tomorrow.
However, tomorrow was a brand new day.
The next day, we took the shorter but ‘tougher’ route. The sun shone even more zealously than yesterday.
I was told this route was 10x harder than Desaru and that during an earlier trip in Mar 15, many gave up while cycling this stretch on the way to the Kelong. Not encouraging at all.
Here’s the day 2 schedule:
- Cycling start time: 0930 hours (local)
- Cycling end time: 1300 hours (local)
- Total distance covered: 57km
- Ferry departure time: 1435 hours
- Ferry arrival time: 1615 hours (sg time)
- Home arrival time: 1715 hours
and the day 2 route.
The 15km of steep hills after the flat coastal run featured the steepest up slopes I’d ever cycled. But it wasn’t as bad as I’d feared because we were riding on downhill momentum that sometimes hit 50km/hour. Adapting to the momentum enabled us to save some legwork for later. But it was atrociously hot. I felt I was burning from outside-in and from inside-out.
The next 20km or so were not as painful – the slopes were rolling types (ie gentler gradient). There were a couple of steep ones (we got down to push). Plus, the clouds made an appearance so we cycled under their cover almost all the way to the ferry.
Really, the weather made a huge difference.
The final turn-off at the roundabout had us climbing almost immediately. The slopes were impossibly windy and long – that I wondered how long more I had to endure. That was the back breaking part. Thankfully, the end was near.
The kelong looked more picturesque than I remembered. The skies were blue, the sea was blue and dusk was extra beautiful.
At night, we switched off all the lights, sat outside our rooms and just looked at the star-studded sky. How often do we get the chance to do that?
I was thankful we could get home earlier (more time to wash up, rest); the ferry ride was short and comfortable (compared to the usual 2.5 hours to Tanjung Pinang through choppy waters) and the ferry staff at both sides handled our bikes professionally.
Taking this ferry was definitely the better choice.
So, it’s a toss up between short ferry ride + killer slopes or long ferry ride + easier ride (38km).
I can’t decide.