THE TMS Cycling Challenge: Day Four

Friday 8th November. A big day, John cycles into Malaysia! But first we have to pack the big Ford 4×4 3.2 litre tonka toy. Very much the case of style over substance. Lovely if you are sitting in the front but no leg space in the back and hardly any trunk in the rear and then you have to fit the bikes, yikes!

We are aiming for Alor Setar in Kedah province but first we have to cross the border. John and Sang cycle the 28kms and we arrive around 0930.

Having crossed at Wang Kelian the boys start to cycle up and into Perlis State Park, which involves a long mountain pass section. Then the rains came, and lordy lord, did they come. It was torrential for about 45 mins. The boys couldn’t cycle uphill because the weight of water coming downhill was so great it stopped them in their tracks. They pushed the bikes up to a large tent at the side of the road where they found four workman staying dry. The youngest spoke English and said he was from Bangladesh. The tent is where they live. It has a two ring burner and they have chickens under the raised bed platform on which they were sitting when we arrived. This was their home.

Meanwhile The driver, Mr A, put the bikes on the back of the Ford and we waited for the rain to pass. We decided to drive up and over the mountain letting the chaps free to cycle once we were at the Andaman coast at Kuala Perlis forty minutes later. From there it is about 50kms to Alor Setar where we are to stay the night. The cycling was fantastic, much of it with the sea to the right and paddy fields to the left. A bit like cycling the Norfolk Broads but with the heat and rice. We passed a number of birds nest soup factories where swallows nest and salivate into their nests for the creation of the soup.

We arrive at our destination 1930 hours. The plan was to stay in a Home Stay on the outskirts of the city but after an hour trying to find it we gave up and found a hotel. Cost for the night? About £18.

John cycled 65 miles today. His rib is still giving acute pain and every limb and fibre in his body shouted at him to get off his bike. But he doesn’t. He won’t listen. He keeps on peddling. To him it is the agony and the ecstasy. To us he is simply amazing.

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