The route: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/202252493 113km, 8000km total
Moseying out of sleepy Kuala Besut we picked up the East Coast Highway (or road 3) that we’d briefly encountered between Kota Bharu and Kuala Besut. Despite our best efforts to stick to more minor roads right on the coast, there are few places where this is possible and the riding was less than exciting, passing through palm oil plantations and villages deserted, it would seem, for Ramadam.
On the lookout for anywhere that would serve us lunch, we happily happened upon the very swish Suria resort, who were happy to serve the only diners (us) with superb fish curry and a local variation on Nasi Goreng. Moreover, they kindly let us use their beachfront infinity pool (claim to fame: ‘the largest structured pool with swim-up pool bar on the east coast of Malaysia’– niche) despite a huge sign stating it was only for registered hotel guests. Reluctantly dragging ourselves out of the pool after a very pleasant hour splashing about, we rejoined the belching trucks and boy racers on road 3 and raced on to Kuala Terengganu.
Although the first bike shop we spotted didn’t stock what we were after (52 and 54mm spokes, since you ask) we did acquire a local guide and cycle enthusaist, Zaki, who despite having fasted since 6 a.m. had enough energy to show us a shortcut into town, and then rode another 5km to take us to another bike shop. They too didn’t stock what we were after, but trimmed and custom-threaded some longer ones – see below.
Dropping us off near the town centre, Zaki cycled off to join his family for prayers and dinner. Zaki, thanks again – and we did try calling later but your phone was switched off!
After checking in to the cheapest hotel we could find (Hotel Mini Inda) and after replacing the four snapped rear wheel spokes, we wandered into town with stomachs rumbling. All the restaurants were closed – where could we eat during Ramadam? Turns out most Muslim towns have a food bazaar from 4-6.30pm so that fasters can pick up a feast for the nightly binge. Terengganu’s was GIGANTIC and we got panic-ordered as stalls were packed up around us. Spring rolls, curry, fish cakes – a ridiculous amount of food, all wrapped in newspaper and with little bags of chilli sauce on the side. Joining the locals waiting patiently for dusk in the park, we joined the collective sigh of relief at 7 30pm when a cannon announced the end of the day’s fasting and replaced the calories we’d burnt over 120km, and more.
A great day ended in a café with shaky wifi watching Cav and Wiggins ride for glory up the Champs Elysees – chapeau les deux!