Monday, January 25, 2010

The final push – the 4th Overnight…the longest night
23-24 Jan 2010 transit to a half moon.
Terengganu to Kota Bahru, Malaysia to Golok, Thailand to Kota Bahru, Malaysia. 225 kms

I’m sitting now in a café…
in between flights back to Singapore with my fellow riders and now friends, brother and sisters. Let me back pedal the day for you.
I immediately felt a sense of pride and achievement by the team as we assembled in the lobby of the Grand Hotel Tenrangganu. There was also an aire of confidence and renewed energy that we will finish this odyssey together with a smile.

I gave Lyndon a gift jersey from Victorio Sports – the same jersey we proudly wore over the past 3 evenings and daybreaks but with a full length front zipper and < > added over the 3 back pocket panels. This tweak in the jersey design is what I hope would be the product end when additional orders are placed to further benefit the fund raising campaign.

Back to Lyndon…he gave a final message which he wanted to write but couldn’t, wanted to sleep over but couldn’t and wanted to fully prepare for but preferred not to. He expressed the feeling of gratitude of the entire entourage of support team members and riders in a brief statement that the fireflies has not started and ended with him and the mission of the project will not end with the destination…or even after the collection of memories, accounts and glutial sensations. Some reminders on the final route and off we went …ooopps Su Pei reminds Lyndon that a lunch bill still had to be settled…and out with the cash or card or whatever he had on hand to advance for bills that will eventually and hopefully balance off after and when all the contributors send in their support.

It was a strange last leg for me. I concluded that it was safer to bike in Malaysia than drive a car as we passed by 3 vehicular incidents, frontal smash ups between 2 or more vehicles along the first 80 kms. There were dark clouds as we started, rain that threatened to stop the entire ride, a continued fascination over coffee mixes, a brewing search for an ice cold beer on the finish line and pain. I started to experience stiffness in both inner thighs, the front of the left knee, wrists and area around the atlas vertebrae or back of my neck …as the kms passed I was nearing a cramp. We dealt with pain and exhaustion and difficulty in our own different ways. We did it by stretching during each rest, continuously replenishing with food and fluids, pressure and massage on key spots done on oneself or with Jonathan’s help, a choco or coffee mix (woohoo!) and while on the road – everyone keeping the pace, pedaling on, keeping it easy, changing grip positions, easing the grip on the bars, sitting & standing while pedaling, changing gears, taking turns at the front, talking to each other, keeping silent, talking about each other or about anything, playing music over Wei’s pocket speaker or my water bottle mounted blaster.

In flight: Singapore to Manila…
The half moon finally rose over the rain clouds and we pedaled thru the quiet towns and cities of the Kelantan state to our finishing points; the border passport controls of Kota Bahru, Malaysia and Golok, Thailand a walk between the landlocked borders.

The stars were also out to greet and guide us. While the cool early, early morning air made music from the pocket audio cans sound better than studio speakers. We rode through a revised route charted by Omar and the Malaysian Polis that helped place the final distance to a manageable 225 kms. This new route also allowed us to see the actual cows, yes cows who posed for the cautionary road sign…mooooooow! (we also saw goat, horse, excitement ! signs and crash Bahasa Malay language guide on how to drive/bike safely- Terima Kaseh! / Thanks);…and a new 10 km stretch of well paved and well lit road that felt like 20kms as it undulated and went on and on and on like the Energizer batteries and lights that co-sponsored us as well…this switchable red/white LED light with a stretchable band that I wore around my waist over my rear was what Joy Riding Joyce would call as a “red lighted area”. Idwan our driver of the SAG (Support & Gear)/Media/Paparazzi, Fountain & Resto hyperVan together with co-pilot Colin (both of whom are key people from the Arts House who are both present and in full support of damn dear friend Lyndon) could easily identify any of the riders from a range of 50 – 200 meters literally from the rear.

After hundreds of kilometers, a couple or more hundred thousand pedal strokes and a 4th on going sleepless night boss Lyndon Strikes again…this time he unintentionally or unconsciously swerves into me from the left --- whoaaaaa…I call out as calm as I can to absorb the oncoming and potentially magnificent wipe out of half the bunch with both of us entangled in a heap of metal, aluminum, carbon, rubber and lycra, blood, grime, sweat, dust, growls and mayhem---whoaaaaa…I try to keep an upright and straight path so both of us recover and Lyndon wakes up and grabs his balance together---everybody goes whewww. That was close with less than 8 kms to go and the kms count down and shazaammm! We are in the Malaysian side of the border crossing.

We made it! The Thailand High Commissioner and Chief of the Golok post were waiting for us, to welcome and to fete us to a parade around their quiet and proud city as they were really amazed and honored to be a co-destination of the Fireflynightrace. WE arrived 5:30 am and by 7:30 (a 2 hour delay due to our oversight not to take our passports from our bags which were in a staff car that regularly moves on ahead to a feed stop or hotel, no final reminder or instruction given regarding the route schedules of all members of the entourage and all belongings, everybody really tired or in Basti’s rare moments of inner calm would say… “these things happen and when they do we can always learn from it…” OM…) Nevertheless…we were cycling in Thailand escorted by the police to a roadside café for coffee, choco, satay bbq and loads of photos and endless exchanges of greetings, gratitude and smiles…the Chief of the border post and I didn’t realize that we were already having a conversation even before we were introduced. And to make amazing a lower case sensation…after the breakfast treat WE were treated by the Thailand people and their Police to an escorted bicycle parade with their colleague on a Trek road racer, with a proper bike helmet, shoes, cleats, shades, reflector vest and a service 9mm. WE were paraded out around and back and we stopped by the plaza, a national monument honoring their King, greeted the train station “Hello!” as we passed by the market, stores, shops, the hospital, school the local government office ad park. Before we truly felt exhaustion we were being guided back to the border crossing, a final stamp of our passports, more photos together with our gracious hosts of a blissful 2 hours and we were biking back to the Malaysian passport control for the final stamp of achievement.

Back home…
Our one thousand kilometer night ride is done. The journey has ended with the final destination but it has opened a new horizon. A new journey has begun with new friends who have gone through pain and joy, uncertainty and purpose, near tears and joy for Art Scholarships and for each other. The Firefly Night Race though miniscule in scale like with our tiny bike blinkers over the vast landscape has lit up my life big time as I turn 50 this year. I have a wonderful feeling of renewed energy and inspiration to do my work, to make what is possible a reality, to imagine and act. This experience is beyond precious.

Thank you dear Lim Su Pei for taking care of us and coordinating our needs, thank you to the multi-national and multi-fun Support Staff that completed Team FireflyNightRace each fellow Rider; Silence of One Basti, One Joy Riding Joyce, Fara my Fellow Flipflop, the Fab Five Singaporean Spinners; Rushdi to d Rescue, boss Lyndon d Weaver, Am@Casey, On-One Way Wei and Ho-Ly (that’s Hole Left) Bernard. for being my friends and new found brothers and sisters, thank you to my hosts Miles & Richard Nicholas and Jenny & Nick Plumeridge, and friends for your support and contributions (Claire and daughters, Nick & Jenny, Miles & Richard, Bien Galang, Richard Cavosura, Lori Kodama, Robert Seña, Eugene van Erven, Mariz Agbon, Bong Sual of Road Bike Phils/7-11, Shane Chin, Liezel of Extreme Bike, Lalaine & Goyo of Bike Town Cyclery,
Noel Baltazar, Joby Bataclan, Vic & Christine of Victorio Sports, my Uptempo Cycles partners; Ric Rodriguez, Froi Dayco, Wilson Sy, and my Mom & Family and mates in PETA and hopefully many many more) and Thank You Lyndon for being bold and determined with your ideas and inviting me to be part of this!

By Jack Y. (Firefly Night Race Rider #2 a.k.a. papaJack d muzikman)
Logged between Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand & the Philippines
January 20-26, 2010

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