DESTINATION: A TALE OF 2 PORTS
PENANG-LANGKAWI CYCLE CRUISE
ON BOARD SUPERSTAR GEMINI
(4th Cycle Cruise Penang Langkawi's finale ride at Langkawi!)
The sweet bits about cycling can be appreciated all around the world from a different angle and pace. It is a form of transportation that differs drastically from our experience on foot, in a car or on board a plane. Somehow, the speed and experience of being on a bicycle is perfect for us to soak in everything at a pace that is exciting, yet flowy and paced. Now add that cycling bliss with some maritime pampering serenity and we have a concoction for relaxing healthy fun. A group of cyclists recently did a round of Cycle Cruise on board Superstar Gemini. Read on to discover the fun!
CRUISE AND CYCLE
A typical 4 Day 3 Night cruise itinerary on board Superstar Gemini may not sound "newsworthy" to travel bugs in this region, but throw in a well-planned cycling program with a hundred other like-minded cycling enthusiasts and things suddenly become a whole lot different. This was what went down with the 4th Cycle Cruise Programme organized by Star Cruises and it was obvious that the overall response had picked up tremendously. On board the cruise liner, our writer bumped into fellow cyclist friends as he strolled along the corridors or visited the restaurants. A ship filled with cyclists! That's a good feeling, if there ever was one.
BEFORE THE RIDE
Some time back, Bikezilla did a coverage on the 3rd Star Cruises Cycling Cruise expedition to Taiwan and Japan. Bikes were provided in that said trip by Giant Adventures, which took on the responsibility of the designated cycling guide for the trip. This time round, the trip was guided by Star Cruises and their very own cycling volunteers. And participants brought their own bikes along for the rides. With their years of experience in cruise tours, checking-in the bikes was a breeze and the group was soon on board settling down and preparing for the safety briefing. Everyone was all smiles, and there was definitely a contagiously positive, near ecstatic, vibe floating around on deck.
Once the briefing started, there was an immediate assurance that the cycling portion of the trip was as well planned as were the other components of the cruise. Our event manager Collin Ng, an experienced event and tour manager, started off with an introduction of how the rides would be like, followed by an introduction on
(1) the volunteers that the group could turn to for help during the rides,
(2) what to bring during the rides and
(3) basic safety gestures to observe during the ride.
The group was then divided into 3 sections based on the cyclists' personal assessment of their own cycling prowess. With the group divided into smaller sections and led by the various volunteers, each section could then keep a more regular pace. Each section would be led by a point rider and a rear sweeper from the volunteer group. In addition, there were 3 supply vans providing logistic support throughout the ride and local motorized marshals who would ensure road safety and provide navigation guidance. Such was the level of attention to safety and logistic support. Impressive, to say the least.
RIDING PENANG AND LANGKAWI
Time to ride!
The ride at Penang brought the group through the busy evening traffic, to Snake Temple and a finale climb at Jalan Paya Terubong. The experienced rider section did 55km while the leisure sections did 45km. The hill was not an easy climb and proved to be a challenge to both new and experienced cyclists. But the volunteers, logistic vans and motorised marshals were always nearby to offer assistance. The group completed the ride with time for some local fares at Gurney Drive. Sweet rewards!
The following day brought the group to Langkawi. Although the terrain comprised of more rolling hills, traffic was lighter and this made the ride a lot more enjoyable. The experienced rider section managed to cover 65km with a short visit to Black Sand Beach, while the other sections did 45km – with enough time for some local lunch. Again, the logistic vehicles and motorized marshals proved to be an invaluable asset throughout the ride. The Langkawi ride is also the climax of this trip and some participants rode in their favourite superhero costumes. All in the name of good sporting fun!
(Ready to roll?)
Our writer was impressed with Star Cruises and the organizing team with regard to some of the more "impressive bits" of the ride.
Attention to Details
The whole program was thoroughly well thought out. From logistic to safety to entertainment to photography … these guys got all of it covered!
This term was coined for the way the trip was packaged. If cycling is your main focus during a cycle cruise trip, you will notice that the facilities on board the cruise liner made superb complements to the cycling portion. There were swimming pools, gym, jogging track and lots of place to nourish yourself before and after a ride. And they were all within a stone's throw away.
Social and Fitness
Although many in the group started off as strangers, by the end of the trip, they could well be cycling together in their regular rides. Such is the power of social activities and sharing a common interest. Star Cruises Cycle Cruise programs are not meant to be professional training camps, but they are not to be shrugged off as simple rides too. The rides can be tailored to suit the fitness standards of the participating members. Get-togethers like the costumed ride, the Gala Dinner and the certificate ceremony all add up to more communal interactions. For the experienced cyclists, joining in with a relaxed mentality would make this one of the best getaway trips with some cycling thrown in. For the leisure and new cyclists, this trip is one good way to explore other parts of the world on bikes safely and comfortably.
(The Alternative Spidey – Winner of the Superhero costume contest)
(Ride any bike you like. As long as you ride.)
(Part of the volunteer lead team)
The Cycling Cruise trips are designed for all levels of cyclists in mind. It doesn't matter if you are experienced or novice, the pace can be adjusted to suit the majority of the group. It is also one convenient and relaxing way to have an opportunity to cycle outside of your usual cycling spots. Join them alone if you are confident in making new friends quickly or go in a small group with your mates or spouse. You will end the trip with more cycling friends and more invitation for rides.
The next Cycle Cruise will happen from 7th – 12th June 2015 on board Superstar Aquarius, with rides in Taiwan and Japan. For more details and booking, visit Star cruises website or fill up the form at the bottom of the page.
(Snake Temple Penang)
(Ride up or push up? – just enjoy the climb)
(Enjoy the breezy descend)
(Give your "better half" a helping hand when the going gets tough)
(Family bonding time!)
(Time for some much deserved rest)
(Penang cycle route)
(Langkawi cycle route)
Want to join in the next Cycle Cruise? Here's the details!
For more photos of the Cycle Cruise, visit Bikezilla's photo gallery.
Special thanks to Star Cruises for making this coverage possible.
Photos by Star Cruises and Bikezilla
Maps by Google Map