8.6.14

Sometimes Things Just Don't Go To Plan

That's a hell of a thing to do to a man. Take away one of his climbs, and perhaps the hardest climb he ever would have ridden.

No, this is not the Genting Highlands. It's
inside the Batu Caves near Gombak.
In transit since Friday, Roz and I have visited Malaysia for a few days, before heading to Slovenia and Northern Italy. If you've read my book you'd know that I have had this peculiar notion to climb as many of the '50 Hardest Climbs' included in a magazine that a friend, Trev, leant to me a few years ago. Last calculation, I'd done about 33. So anyway, here I am in Malaysia, supposedly to climb the Genting Highlands, which was rated the fifth hardest in the magazine.

Sadly, I'd rate it the hardest climb I've NEVER done. That is, it's virtually impossiible to climb, unless you're a professional in the Tour De Langkawi; which I obviously wasn't. My journey, from Gombak to the summit, via Genting Sempah, was supposed to be approximately 39 kilometres. The 23 kilometres I covered was enough to suggest that this is an extremely difficult climb. The gradient even before the real climb begins is steadily uphill, while as for the humidity; you start out feeling like a juicy plum and end up a dried a prune, no matter how much water you take in.

 
Where we stayed.
Three kilometres into the climb, and looking forward to the descent up ahead, I was stopped by two Malaysian policeman at a checkpoint. The building they stood in front of was like a military outpost, with a number of rooms, security cameras, and a sign that read 'NO CYCLISTS'. Sitting by the side of the road for about 10 minutes – first regaining my breath, then just feeling sorry for myself – I began contemplating what to do next. Surely, I thought, they'd let an old guy who'd travelled all the way from Australia climb his bike up the rest of the way. After all, that's why he came here in the first place.

Yeah, more Batu Caves stuff.


Both policemen seemed very young, dressed in their sleek navy-blue uniforms. Having exhausted my array of attempts to extract the slightest bit of sympathy from the first officer, I tried his partner. He seemed slightly older, and certainly more casual as he puffed on a cigarette from the inside of the sentry box in between the two roads leading up and down the mountain.

But I might as well have been trying to get passed a security guard inside the MCC Members Stand without a pass. He was never going to budge an inch. Somewhat dejected, I at least consoled myself with the fact that it wouldn't take me nearly as long to descend the 23 kilometres I had already climbed, back to our accommodation at Gombak.

While unfulfilled, the experience at least gave me a brief (46 kilometre) taste of having ridden my Bianchi in Malaysia. But it felt a long way from climbing Mont Ventoux from all three sides in one day.



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Sometimes Things DO Go To Plan

My Second Hardest Climb