I didn’t realize that we would become such cycling pros so quickly, that certain things would already take on a ho-hum, just-another-day-in-the-office hue. You know how a routine day in the office goes? You wander in, eighth-ish, maybe nine-ish, maybe even ten-ish if you are a very big mucky muck. You chat with the security guy, the receptionist, and anybody else you can find, including the FedEx guy who is passing through making deliveries. You gradually find your way to your office. You check your email, respond languidly to a few, then get on to Facebook for a while, before heading down to your firms’ equivalent of the water cooler. You chat some more with some buddies who have gathered there. Then you attend a meeting or two, speak up, take some notes, then head out to lunch. After lunch you give some orders to underlings, read the news, check your stocks, attend a few more meetings. And then you go home and get some tennis or even golf in, when the light is still good. And the amazing thing is, even with just this much work, consisting essentially of your just showing up, you have managed to do what is needed to keep your firm’s wheels moving smoothly.
Well that was what our cycling was like today. We rode from Muar to Batu Pahat, cycling almost sixty kilometers, but at the end of the day, don’t actually remember doing any riding. It was that easy a day. For one, it was all flat. This makes a huge difference to the ride. Partha managed to get Google’s cycling map for Malaysia working (he couldn’t during the first few days), and we learned, for instance, that on our first day riding out of KL, we had ascended nearly a kilometer in altitude. (This is the total of all the climbing we did, but each climb was interspersed with desents, so this does not represent our final height above KL.) That’s over half a mile climbed. Compared to that, today was nothing: a marble dropped on our road would have had a very hard time deciding which way to roll.
I think we spent more time taking sugarcane juice breaks, pulasan (a rambutan-like fruit) breaks, lunch breaks, check-air-in-tires breaks, upload-to-Facebook breaks, and no-reason-at-all breaks than actual riding. The road was smooth, without much traffic to worry us. The weather was cool and pleasant most of the way. The scenery, while not as spectacular as during the past three days, was nonetheless pleasing. So the kilometers just rolled right past us. It is almost as if the bicycles simply pedaled themselves for sixty kilometers.
But there are storm clouds on the horizon. Partha’s bottom bracket, where the pedals go through, has been making intermittent noises. If it holds till Singapore we are OK, if not, we are not. I noticed a slight scratchiness in my throat this morning, and I need to watch it. I moved my vitamin C tablets from my panniers to my handle-bar bag for easy access, and have been popping them liberally. And the final storm cloud: my grandmother, almost a hundred years old, has been admitted to the ICU. She is a very giving person: she would insist on giving my coffee and snacks every time I went to her house, and would make the coffee herself. This happened even the last few times I saw her, just a couple of weeks ago.
It was such a relaxed ride that I took only a handful of pictures. I leave you with one of them: another whimsical structure, at a roundabout in Muar, the town we stayed at last night. (I wonder if it is a reference to the Sultan of Johore? He’s a bit of a power-house around here. If he is the one who put up that statue of the cycle-rickshaw that I showed in my previous post, then he’s alright, my kinda sultan.)