With yesterday devoted to honoring the legend of the iHawk, I’m a day behind on the Genting Mini mission update. I have alluded already to what I’ve found here so far, so lets jump cleat first into the weirdness that is Genting Highlands.
I had heard a lot about this place and it was usually pretty positive… Which goes to say something about those that preceded me (bullshitters). I have just found it very strange… Sure, I know, I have been spoilt with Canada, Italy, Japan and NZ, so the expectation meter is cranked to the maximum. This probably hasn’t helped GH’s cause, but it also doesn’t help itself.
Let the weird mini-adventure begin. For this trip I enlisted the assistance of the Goat (AKA the Terrier). I wanted to ride Genting and he is soon off to Italy for the Worlds, where some of the best amateur cyclists on the planet will be dishing out free rectal exams on big climbs, so he obviously wanted to get a serious climbing training weekend in before then (DN has already scoped out what is in store for him in Italy: http://dirtynomad.com/2013/07/22/italy-day-3-dirty-recon-mission/), so voila, it was road trip time.
I of course outsourced navigation duties and Hotel booking to the Goat. What could go wrong? After all, he had 8 pages of maps and we had iPhones with no Data Roaming. We got off to a ripping start, leaving at 5am has its benefits – Namely 3 lane Malaysian highways that are completely empty. Progress is therefore rapid:
I was assured by the Goat that there was pretty much one road to follow. Sweet… I lose my shit when lost, so this was reassuring. It was smooth sailing until we hit the outskirts of KL to find the luxurious freeway give way to shitty little wannabe highways. At this point I started to hear words you never want to hear from your Goat Positioning System:
- “Ah… Just give me a minute”
- “What was that road back there called?”
- “All these roads look the same…”
Eventually after calling a team meeting down a side road shared with chickens and dogs that definitely had rabies, we were found again. To be fair to the GPS, we were never really lost, its just that we weren’t that found either… A crisis in navigational confidence we shall call it. Here’s Joe 90 on gas detail once we were back on track:
Arriving at the summit of Genting Highlands and the penny started to plummet that this was a weird set up. How best to describe it? Well… it’s a bit like someone has taken the summit of the nicest hill around, carved the top off and implanted the most garish and badly laid out ‘resort’ (calling it that is a massive insults to real resorts) known to man. It has also dated rapidly and is busy falling apart as fast as it can… The word ‘Ghetto’ springs to mind.
It’s also extremely confused as to whether it’s an amusement park, hotel, casino or shopping mall. In essence, it’s a freak show and oh boy, is it rammed? Oh fuck yes it is. We got to experience this first hand when it took 30 minutes driving through the worlds most poorly laid out car parking building to find a park… A hint of things to come. The lobby resembles a cross between a train station and horror movie:
After copious amounts of faffing around it was finally time to suit up and ride… Pretty much the only thing I would want to do here (I passed on the weird indoor shopping mall roller coaster… WTF). I was tempted to ride this magic mall dragon though:
Getting outside into the clouds and it was time to admire the hideousness of our hotel block… I would love to see the meeting minutes from where this set up was agreed on, many cocks with no taste were clearly in attendance:
The Goat was excited, it was time to TRAIN!
Of course, to start you need to descend to the valley floor basically… Cool, no worries… Er, until you start descending. Yes, I am used to beautiful Italian and Japanese descents, which have decent surfaces and are made by people who haven’t been sniffing glue. It took about 100m to realize that this was an all you can eat buffet of shit road. Cracked, poorly routed, not maintained and chock full of judder bars and painted strips, this was not a good time. Case study of a judder bar of doom (hard to see, but this one had a crater in the middle of it):
All I can say is that fuck for the Cannondale Evo and its Speed save rear stays. By the halfway down point I could feel the sulk coming on… By the time we had ridden some shit roads through villages that passed for landfills my bottom lip was starting to hurt from hanging out so much. Here we are in one such place, with Dave trying to arrange some motorpacing and the kids trying to arrange to mug us:
Then of course, it started to rain… Cue internal tantrum:
But, let me not be hasty… I was dragging my Giro heals, but we did have the ‘best’ part still to come and the primary reason that I wanted to come here: the 22km climb back to the summit.
The bottom was… boring. It was ok, but it wasn’t exactly road climbing porn. The Goat was following a specific training plan and given I was following a Dirty Nomad plan, I skipped away on my own to see how I could go on the Strava segments. To be honest, I felt a bit fatigued and tired and there was a long way to go.
It started to rain harder, but given I was running out of water and it was a tad sticky, I was stoked to have it start to piss down more and more. By the roundabout (a key landmark apparently), I had worked out that I was about to run out of water completely, not good given the hardest section was to come.
I therefore had a choice to make: Stop and get supplies, or push on for a decent segment time. I chose the latter… Was this a tactically astute move? Initially it looked to be ok given how hard it was raining.
But, as I hit some of the 15% sections and started to feel a little hungry, my dry mouth hinted that perhaps I was about to score an own goal as opposed to a top 10 segment time. The top section of this climb is a LOT more interesting with switch backs, changes in gradient and better scenery, offset of course by a lot of traffic!
With a couple of KM’s to go and I was starting to struggle… I wanted to eat, but couldn’t as I would have turned my mouth into a desert (it was already a dried gravel road). I kept trying to punch through section by section… Happy with how I was climbing, but realizing I wasn’t making it my bitch by any stretch of the imagination.
I had nothing left for a kick at the summit (which happens to be between 13 and 15%, a total mofo) and after I rolled over the top I realized that I was cold, starving and dehydrated… Fingered. It was straight into some Coke’s… To put things into numbers for the big climb:
- Climb length – 22km’s
- Average gradient – 7.4%
- Elevation gain – 1600m
- Time – 1.40.16
- Average Heart Rate – 165 BPM
Turns out my effort was good enough for some Strava top 10’s, so job done. How does the biggest and baddest climb in Asia (allegedly) rate against the rest of the world? Hmmm… Its ok… The top section is the best, but it’s busy with traffic, so something to look out for. Would I come back to ride it again? No chance at all, this is a one shot deal for sure; I can’t see a training camp here!
But, I will elaborate more on that tomorrow in part 2…