Friday, July 21, 2000

THE EXTREME TOUR OF REJANG (ETOR)2000 - Stage 4, Kanowit to Sibu

Fri 21st July - Despite the late start on the last day of the ride, the routine of the previous days had established a set wake-up routine for us. The thought of a relatively easy 50km ride to Sibu had everyone in extremely cheerful spirit that morning. The plan was to start our journey from Kanowit town itself.

Packed into a Toyota Land Cruiser pickup, 7 bikes and riders and a driver, we flout every rules in the book to get transferred to the town from the timber camp. With no record at stake, the extra 20-km let off was the only luxury for our battered body.

That's 7 riders/ bikes and a driver versus a pickup truck
We left the great hospitality of the people of Camp Mapai, with four of us in the back of the pickup courting danger of a different kind. Hanging to anything, we were bounced and wind blown all the way to the river crossing at Sedaya Secondary School. I reminisced the battle I had with mud, cramp and heat along this stretch of the road last year, which by now is fully tarred. This probably explained why we weren't too eager to ride this section of the tour.

The sun seemed to know that we needed some challenge to compensate for the flat terrain we would be riding through. The temperature rose, fittingly in the same manner as the opening stage of the tour. A short bike tour of Kanowit town and a wonderful lunch of low fat grilled chicken and rice, the team (including the support crew) headed for the fire road that would take us to the mid-way point, the town of Durin.

Riding roadie style, we were making good time. The sun was fierce and the dust were there but without the aid of much traffic they could only throw their occasional flimsy veil at us.
A small incline came into sight and Malcolm went, "Hills!" and that was the only excitement until we reached the town of Durin for a break; to time our arrival into Sibu and to do a phone-in to the local radio station for our daily report.

There were now about 20-km of riding to do, through a country side aptly described by Glen as , 'a picturesque rush'.

In front of a typical farm house in the area

The combination of cement footpath, pre-war farm houses, durian orchards and plenty of canopy cover transported us into a world, refreshing to most of us, hardened by the single tracks and technical terrains typical of Ibans and Bidayuhs (Sarawak natives) country. The well-worn path with the occasional dips, the surreal feeling of deserted farm houses, the quiet lay back ambience of the area left an indelible mark in each one of us. If ever there was a need for us to be reminded of the recreational aspect of mountain biking than this place had been successful.

Typical of the cement path and shade along this stretch of the ride
After what seemed like an endless cement path ride, it finally ended at a fire road for a butt- jarring ride to the ferry point. The FSR was worth its weight in gold as it glided effortlessly over the gravelly terrain.

The internal combustion engines of some were running on hot when I decided to increase the pace after realising that we were behind schedule. We separated and re-grouped on several occasions. 'Glen, I don't want to see you!' as I cast my eyes to the rear helping him to take advantage of my draft. The rest followed in Glen's wake. My familiarity of the area told me that the pace had to be maintained for the 4pm welcoming ceremony.

"Big job, well done" says the advertisement slogan

The elations were understandably uninhibited as we rolled into the ferry point one after the other. Bear hugs, warm hand-shakes, back slapping and smiles made their rounds on board the ferry as I called Eddy Puah, the Bureau Chief of Sarawak Tribune, Central region, of our pending arrival at Tanahmas Hotel.

After 4 days, 200 km, we arrived at Tanahmas Hotel, Sibu at 4:07pm to a warm welcome by En. Daniel Ngieng, The Political Secretary to The Chief Minister, The Assistant Secretary of Sibu Municipal Council, Mr. Hii Chang Kee, friends and supporters.

Hip hip hurray!

May the Tour lives on.................and thank God for answered prayers and journey safety.


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