Stuck In Low Gear

By Jane Mountain | June 3, 2014

14,857 km so far.

After our rookie mistake of last night, with disastrous consequences, it was with great glee that we said goodbye to Jerantut.

A Road Too Far?

Today’s route was a mostly uneventful and quick ride along a mid-size highway.

There were the usual bumpy pavements, the usual spewing trucks, and more than the usual palm oil plantations. Fewer than usual hills though, and the sky stayed thick and cloudy all day, bringing some slight heat relief. In fact, we were so much cooler today, that when we stopped for a rest break we didn’t even want any ice cream.

I know, right?

Can't get enough of F&N Sarsi, the Malaysian root beer.

Can’t get enough of F&N Sarsi, the Malaysian root beer.

Truth be told, I am a little sick of cycling. Or maybe I’m sick of cycling in the conditions Malaysia provides. Either way, the enjoyment of peddling the day away is lost on me for the moment.

Maybe this is my body’s way of telling me I’m ready to be done with this trip.

Yank, Snap, Pop

About 2 kilometres before we got to the very small town of Mentakab, I was thinking how nice it was going to be to get checked into the hotel early, get lots of work done, and maybe take a little nap. We’d just crested what I was hoping would be the last annoying hill of the day when I reached for my shifter, yanked on it to switch into high gear, and… snap!

Instead of switching gears, the shifter just flopped around loosely on the end of my handlebar. I had snapped my gear cable, which was annoying, especially since I had no idea how to fix it.

Maybe this is my bike’s way of telling me I’m ready to be done with this trip.

We did the final 2 km with me in low gear, spinning my feet helplessly down the nice grade into town.

swallow house in malaysia

The holes in the walls are for swiftlet farming. Bird nests can fetch a fortune.

Mentakab has a branch of the nice little Jelai Hotel chain, which we highly recommend. They are happy to have bikes, full of good information, and run clean and charming establishments. Keep up the good work, Jelai.

The hotel staff informed us that there is no bike shop in town, meaning that if I wanted to fix my shifter cable, I’d have to do it myself.

DIY Bike Repair

After showering, I brought my bike into our spacious room to set about figuring out how to replace the derailleur cable. Once again, I will proclaim how much I love the internet, and how I don’t care if it’s rotting our minds. It is miraculous. A few searches and I found a great video explaining how to change a front derailleur cable.

We’ve been carrying a roll of replacement cables for 14 months now, with nary an opportunity to use them, so at least they finally came in handy. The job was super easy, as most bike repair jobs are once you know how to do them. It took longer to find and watch the “How To” video than it took to actually replace the cable.

Young Malaysians

Just as we were finishing dinner at a pretty decent roti place, we were joined by a trio of twentysomethings (one guy and two girls) who had grown up in the town. They all spoke excellent English, so we had a great conversation about what we are doing and what they are doing with their lives.

man pretending to sit on a cat

Stephen has a new hobby. Cat sitting. This one wasn’t smart enough to get out of the way.

While Stephen talked to the guy about road cycling, I discussed the pressures of life as a college student with the girls.

One is studying accounting and the other Teaching English As A Second Language. They are worried about being able to find a job once they’d finished college. They told me it is easy to get low-paying jobs that don’t require an education, but once you go to college, the job market becomes tougher. I asked if it was harder for women than men, and to my great surprise, they both said “Nooooo!” as if the idea itself was somehow ludicrous.

The UN’s gender gap report indicates a slightly different story, but still it’s great to know that girls of their generation feel they are treated as equals to their male counterparts.

Soundtrack: Eels, The Cautionary Tales Of Mark Oliver Everett | Liam Finn, The Nihilist  

Want to see the route map? View it on Ride With GPS.

1 comment

  1. Comment by Roxy

    Roxy June 5, 2014 at 11:34 pm

    Can’t believe it’s been 14 months!

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