Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Healthy food for a change...

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This product is quite nice, not overly sweet unlike those I tried before whereby my tooth will ache with the first bite. The aroma of the berries is also quite pleasant, doesn't taste artificial at all.

When did I try this? I snacked on it in the evening that day while waiting for hubby to return for dinner, ahha... It is actually his energy bar while cycling, recommended by his buddy. Usually dh will get the "Nature Valley" brand, but this would be another choice from now on.

* This is just my personal opinion, and I am in no way associated with/work for this company *

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Wah!! Purple award

Count today my superbly extremely very the auspicious day, couple with the full moon tonite (in conjunction with Mid-Autumn Festival), I'm giving away another reward, this time round from Peony.
Presenting to you :
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So I like this award, for many reasons (this is by no mean implying that I don't like the previous Pink one, don't get me wrong):
* I'm creative in nature, and I know that, even proud of it, hahah..
* I'm a big fan of the colour purple, and most of my stuff are in purple colour (provided the manufacturer has the acute business acument to do that). But hor, I don't wear the colour purple, hahah...it just doesn't look good on me.

Now on to my NK msn kakis (the list is by no mean exhaustive as not everyone owns a blog), so share away, gals..

Count Thy Blessings

Thanks to Jo for presenting me my very first virtual award ~~ The "Rockin' Girl Blogger".
I'm not sure I fit the description per se (see left, right, centre, top, down, inside out, upside down, 180 degrees, rear-view included *with the help of a mirror lah, of course*) also kenot believe the words, hahahhh..

You see, I'm so 'green' in this big big world of blogging that I'm still groping my way around. In fact, just let me share this secret joke:
Jo gave me this "pangkat" (malay word for honor/knighted) on 16-September, which is more than a week ago. Of course I was delighted beyond cloud 9, but I've got a small problem, I don't know how to proceed, hahha..that's how the award aged for like 10 days till now.

But of course, I'm not doubting Jo's honor to me also, so I shall just accept it gracefully with a grateful heart.

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As the world is round, what goes around, sure comes around mah, don't you agree?
Passing on this bright pink torch (with a single stalk of rose) to:
@>--- Jo: For your selflessness, for a great forum at IK, for the sembang (chitchat), and the latest being the "command"

@>--- Peony: For a great blog, for being such a doting granny to her grandson, for the endless bento boxes that made me go ga-ga, for the msn-ing

{I am aware that Jo and Peony got the above award before, in fact, it was from Peony - to Jo - then to me, so now I'm closing the loop by bouncing back to them. Ever hear of double reward?)

@>--- Min: For the pep-talk on kick-starting this blog, the friendship, the wonderful tools and gadgets (pics only lah, not the real thing), for the "footprints"

@>--- Mellie: Another great forum owner at NK, and here's to more yakking sessions, moi.

Beauty Queens

Tadaa..finally made use of the cake sprinkles featured in my previous entry doing this. By my own standard of a procrastinator, point-to-point (from blog entry of the 'raw' ingredient to the 'final product') of 7 days is quite a marked improvement.

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Vanilla Cupcakes with Elegant Icing Swirls

Had quite a bit of fun attempting this, and I made each one unique...different types of sprinkles. Though it's not clear in the pix, this is evident of the number of "stash" I have, hahha...
Let me count: there's dinosaur, heart (2 types) , star (2 types) , teddy bear, clover, moon (2 types), daisy, maple leaf, dragee. And that is not exhaustive of my treasures, it's just those used in this session.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Crown jewel (not)...

Frankly speaking, my Kitchen Aid (KA) is pretty "pampered", so far I've only used it for cake and biscuit making, never really knead bread dough before. Essentially that means it's under-utilised and didn't have a chance to realise it's full potential. Finally I put it into good use, my 1st time ever making bread at home.

As usual, one loaf of Gardenia bread can last us a whole week (ya, we are kinda small eaters despite our size. more like we control our food intake ~smile~), so there's not much incentive to DIY bread. For home-made breads need to be consumed within a day or two, else it gets dry since it's without any addictives/preservatives/enhancers/softener/improver, whateva chemical in any other names...

So here goes, 1st attempt of "Basic Sweet Bun Dough", with creamed butter+icing filling (a tad too sweet, need to reduce the sugar proportion).
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Pardon the uneven sizes

New Restaurant: Taiwan Bull @ Queensbay Mall's basement

Loong time no posting on my eat-outs, which doesn't mean I don't dine out, just no posting only. So now you have it, lunch yesterday at this new food outlet in Penang's newest mall called Taiwan Bull.

Reasonably priced, but it's like half half self-service system, order and pay at the counter, but food will be served at the table.

Bringing on the drool factor:
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Beef Stone Bowl Rice (nice pipping hot food in the extremely cold mall)
Taiwan style Fried Chicken (crunchy and crispy, and quite big portion)
Runny Yolk Egg
(so happy get to try this after reading it in Peony's blog)
Mango Ice (combination of fresh mango cubes with mango pudding cubes)

Will want to try this place again for their other items.

Have a break...

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KitKat in a can

Anyone would like to make a guess why I bought this? It's a two-fold reasoning (or should it be two-fools' reasoning): Hubby likes the cycling picture, and I like the tin can, bwahahha... Of course it's not the KitKat within, though it's "International Recipe", but well oh well, the so-called by-product is welcomed, ehhehe...

As I only fancy dark bitter-sweet chocolates, this is far too sweet to my liking. Any takers for "Have a break, have a kit(y) kat?"

Apa ini?

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Hong Zhao Chicken

Most of my food items are tried out of curiousity, that just goes to show how much of a curiosity baby I am one **wink** I will cuba once, and then cukup coz it's like I've tried and 'conquered' it, hahha...

I have never tried Red Wine Residue dishes before, so really need to search high and low for this rare ingredient. In fact, I nearly went as far as making my own Red Rice Wine to get the residue, which is it's by-product. Got all the ingredients for making the Red Rice Wine, then I stumbled upon this Chinese Medicine Hall that sells them. I even get the rice residue for free, hahha.. Saves me the trouble, but alas, what to do with the raw ingredients? For now, it's kept intact in the larder..

Verdict: ok lah, not that superbly nice per the review fellow forumers gave. Probably it's just me?!?

Huff and puff...

My last post before today was last Tuesday, so that essentially means I've got like 7 postings to do in order to be on par with my own self-imposed 'homework' of A-Post-A-Day, keeps my sanity from decay? Three down (that is if this short post count), 4 more to go, bwahahha...

"Home Cooked" Maggie..

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Hokkien Maggi Mee

Cheater's way to get a steamy hot bowl of Hokkien Mee (that is what Prawn Noodle Soup is known as in Penang). It doesn't resemble the real thingy at all tho', but I was just curious to check out the product after a fellow forumer said that it's good.
On the other hand, it's nice for the dry version, meaning added to dry instant noodle for the extra bite and taste. Actually this is in fact, nice to be eaten on it's own, hahah... Slightly on the salty side, it taste exactly like Sambal Udang, drier style only.

Rare chance..

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Thai Chicken Salad

Very rare occassion whereby I would deviate from the normal coleslaw preparation for our weekday meals consumption, namely for dinners on Monday till Thursday. Friday dinner would be at our fav usual makan place having tandoori chicken with naan bread. If we don't get a chance to go there on Fri, then we need to at least get our 'dosage' on either Saturday or Sunday, ahha...funny folks we are one.

It has sorta became a norm for us to eat our greens this way (re: the coleslaw). Actually it would not be much of a green, more like a sea of white because of the mayo, kekekkekkk...

Our menu for the week is rather standard, hahah...so it makes life easy for me when it comes to meal time, rite? Actually, I shant complain loh, but then hor, I get bored out of doing the same old thing leh...so how now, brown cow?

Sometimes we eat out, but there's just so much of hawker food to choose from...ever heard of anyone complaining that he/she get bored of Penang's variety of hawker fare?

That is what brought us to today's topic, presenting to you ~~ Thai Chicken Salad, simple and easy prep.

Ingredients:
Chicken breast, boiled and shredded
Bunga kantan (ginger flower bud), chopped finely
Daun limau purut (kaffir lime leaves), sliced finely
Red chilly, sliced finely
Shallots, sliced finely
Fresh chinese celery, chopped finely

Sauce (combined)
Lime juice
Fish Sauce (nampla)
Sugar to taste

As with any salad, just mix them all up and Voila! Enjoy it chilled, practically not a trace of oil in this (of course the chicken breast is sans the skin), so it's considered a healthy choice :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Thirst Quencher for buka puasa..

Haha...not that I am fasting, but supposedly this drink is invented for that purpose.
I chanced upon this new product while grocery shopping, but didn't have the courage to give it a go!, lest I will only take one sip and chuck the rest away if it's not to my liking. I told my self that I would wait for the promotional booth to hand out free samples so that I may satisfy my curiousity without pinching my pocket. It's not so much the price, but the idea of food wastage that is in my mind.

Subsequently, I read an article that feature this item, and what caught my eyes were that it's a Coca-Cola company product. That got me thinking to myself, it can't get any worse coming from a big name in the industry, rite? Thus I plucked up enough courage to give it a shot. Note to self: remember to pick it up during the next trip to Giant (supposedly only Giant carries this item, per the article).

I immediately walked to the isle when I step foot into Giant, for fear that I might forget and then chicken out from trying, hahha... Wokie, so I finally managed to lay my hands on this, so here's the verdict from those who tried (I bought this before meeting up for dinner with some friends, thus more tasters):
Comment from the floor was that it tasted like the Red Dates tea served during Chinese New Year, whereas I think it has a hint similar to that of Prune Juice (neh, the one to drink to counter constipation). Well, both are equally correct, for afterall, red dates, prune and kurma are somewhat in the same fruit family, aren't they?

Upclose and personal with "Qurma"
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Monday, September 17, 2007

Convenience drink..

The nice packaging of this drink sure caught my attention, especially the bright pink orchid. Needless to say, I picked up not one but two bottles to be tested. I could hardly wait for it to be chilled in the fridge, and immediately opened it once it was cold to the touch to savour it, regardless of the rainy weather. On the other hand, I didn't want to dilute it, hence I didn't try it sooner by putting ice into it.

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Air Kelapa in a can

Verdict: It's nice with small tiny bits of coconut flesh, but of course, can food (or drinks for this matter) will never beat the original version. I would give it a higher rating if not for some bits of old coconut flesh I bit into which tasted like 'santan'. Probably a 6.5 out of 10 should do it justice for the innovation. :)

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p/s: another eye-opener is this message, first time ever seeing it. good reminder non-the-less.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Hole-in-1

Saw this idea from blog-hoping and finally, get to try it out.
It's a fun way to spice up the morning (the incessant rain these few days not helping much).

All you need is:
1 piece of sandwich bread (I used wholemeal, more fibre)
1 egg

Step-by-step:
a) Use a doughnut cutter to 'cut' a hole out of the bread.
b) Heat up a flat pan with a bit of butter over low heat, then put the bread in. Pour the egg in the hole and let it cooked. I tried to centralise the egg yolk for a nicer effect.
c) Flip it over carefully to cook the egg thoroughly (depends on preference as to the doneness of the yolk).
d) Voila! Enjoy it 'dressed' or however way you fancy...

My yolk got smudged, so sad *sob*

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Mighty bottles

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From left: Star, Teddy, Moon & Heart

Another 4 members added to the family of cake-deco ingredients, simply can't resist buying them. Not that I have any impending use for them, but I am pretty sure they will come handy one of these days. Until then...

Keeping the momentum..

After a short hiatus from blogging, not intentionally but due to unforseen circumstances
(partly to be blamed is the instability of photobucket at that time, but these days photobucket is ok *let's hope it stays that way, if not better*),
I am trying to build the discipline of 1 post per day to keep the momentum going.
Thus the string of entries of late and today, I will put in more entries (in advance for the weekend, rather than come Monday, I will have to catch up with 2 more posts to cover the weekend bygone). I find it easier this way, rather than the latter, which might get me overwhelmed and with that, creative juices won't be able to flow smoothly. Just my crazy-reasoning at work again :)

Day 3: Fruit Enzyme

What started as a dry bottle (with no liquid added) is not half-filled with liquid within 3 days, isn't it amazing? Not just any liquid, but precious droplets extracted from the fruits. One of the wonders of nature, if I may say so. Take a peek and compare with the last last posting..

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Half-way mark

Bubbles can be seen, it is a sign of "activity" within...lemon and sugar being the active substances that are doing the 'magic'. Also note how much the fruits have sank, it's now about 3/4 full. Will report in due time, stay tuned.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Spiral Yam Mooncake - 2nd installment with enhancement :)

I did this 2nd batch, bigger and better than the previous entry. I, for one, don't like repetition, and to do it two days in a row is a record in itself. Got no other choice but to finish up the 2 yams I bought, each costing approximately RM5. As they were cleaned and ready-to-be-used (read: kenot be kept longer and need to be used immediately), so die-die also need to break my own law of repetition (if ever there is one, hahha...) and put the tuber to good use.

With the experience from the first attempt, I varied this second trial. I used brown sugar for the yam filling, and the aroma is heavenly. The colour of the resulting yam paste is somewhat darker, but well, taste is more important.

Also, I wrapped each ball of yam paste with a big shiny round orange "moon", and the contrast in colour is beyond words. This just elevated this batch of moonies 2 notches up, my-oh-my. I shall let the picture speaks for itself...

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Spiral Yam Mooncake with salted egg yolk
(bigger, better and mightier)

Suffice to say, doubt I would be doing any of this type of mooncakes, twice is more than enough for me in terms of the fun. Not to mention, the calories intake as well, for afterall, I only consume 1 piece out of each batch I made, the rest were given away.
*So happy can strike off this item from my to-try-list (phew, finally)*

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Bountiful fruits ................. in a jar, oh so C-O-L-O-R-F-U-L

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A casual trip to the chinese medicine shop, and jars of this caught my eyes, not to mention my fascination as well. I simply was so amazed what it's all about, and the lady shopkeeper told me it's Fruit Enzyme. She's one helpful soul, imparting her knowledge unselfishly, telling me how to go about doing it. In fact, it's pretty easy, the only downside being the harvest time, at least one month.

Here's sharing the information:

What you need:
~ a clean glass jar
~ lemon(s) [quantity depends on the size of the jar]
~ sugar bar {called pien tang in mandarin}
~ any fruits you fancy (pick from pineapple, green apple, red apple, orange, grapes, dragonfruit}
The fruits in bracket are those I saw in the jar, and you can combine any of your choice to make it more colourful or however it suits you. Needless to say, the end product will vary according to what fruits were used, with reference to the taste as well as the colour of the liquid extracted.

How you go about doing it:
1/ Wash all fruits, then pat dry ready to be used.
2/ Slice them about 2mm thick (except grapes, which can be left whole)
3/ Arrange them in the jar as you like in any sequence, just need to remember to alternate the layers with lemon and the sugar.
4/ Label it with the date it is made, then store away from sunlight undisturbed.
5/ Last but not least, keep counting the days, hahha... Or keep checking the water level.
I am guilty of both, so I pretty understand how's the excitement.

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Ingredients used

Benefit of drinking this is it fights against constipation (not that I need it, but the curious baby in me just gotta give it a go, hahah...). Will update this thread in a month's time, or sooner if the jar is ready (when no more bubble can be seen, meaning no more activities within the jar).

I have no idea how it would taste like, but for sure, it will be abit of sour and sweet element within it. 29 days to go...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

1st day of 8th Lunar Calendar

With the Hungry Ghost Festival over yesterday, today marks the countdown to mid-autumn festival....exactly a fortnight from now, it would be MoonCake festival. Lanterns abound, the marketplace has been flooded with new flavours of mooncake each passing year, with reduced-sugar paste filling taking the centre-stage this year. Frankly, I am not sure if this reduced calories (sugar = calories, so reduced sugar hence the reduction in calories, that's my theory) mooncake paste is better than it's overly sweet cousin of bygone year, for I don't fancy them.

The only thing I like about the MoonCake festival lies in the packaging of the mooncakes, hahha.. Each year the packaging gets more and more creative, and I simply love to collect them. The marked improvement is clear, from metal ones to paper-made, the range is simply amazing. They also come in all shapes and sizes, not just the boring square... I have in fact, one this year that is shaped like a 2-tiered rectangular box with a handle resembling a tiffin. It can even double-up as tissue paper box holder. Shall snap a pix of that and post it up later, do check back soon.

Back to the topic of the day, I finally attempted one of the few mooncakes that I like, the "Thousand Layer Flacky Yam Mooncake". But as usual, I shun those commercially produced ones for the reason of it being overladen with sugar, which means in other words, I gotta make my own yam filling. It was indeed very easy, I just steamed the yam, then beat it while hot (to get a smooth texture) using my KitchenAid mixer. I also added in the castor sugar in this step and by the time it's done being mashed (or should it be creamed, per the creaming of butter and sugar in cake batter method), the sugar would have melted. There you go, a healthy version of Yam paste ready in no time at all. Thanks for my greengrocer as well who helped to pare the yam for me, with no extra charge, that's so professional a service.

The conventional method would be to fry the mashed yam with oil in a wok till dry, and that can take up quite a lot of time. I couldn't resist the temptation of a few mouthfuls of this yummy yam paste which is so fresh, hahha... Had to stop myself, else I would be having insufficient yam filling to work with.

The recipe which I tried for the pastry is very good, it's so accurate that no additional adjustment is needed. Everything is perfect, and one recipe yields 16 pieces. However I find the end product kinda small, if I were to attempt it again, will go for 12 pieces.

Yam Filling:
500g yam (net, meaning skin removed)
160g castor sugar {will attempt with brown sugar next round for more aroma}
~ essentially it means 3 portions of yam to about a portion of sugar ~

Pastry:
Ingredients for water dough:
200g plain flour
2 tbsp castor sugar
50g shortening
100ml water
1/2 tsp white vinegar (to make the skin crispier)

Method for water dough:
1) Sift the plain flour into a mixing bowl, add in the sugar and mix them together.
2) Rub in the shortening to resemble bread crumbs, then add in the liquid (water + vinegar).
3) Knead till smooth, and let it rest for 15 minutes. [by the time the oil dough is mixed, this water dough would have sufficiently rested]

Ingredients for oil dough:
200g plain flour
100g shortening
~ 2 parts plain flour: 1 part shortening ~

Method for oil dough:
1) Sift the plain flour into a mixing bowl, then rub in shortening till a big lump of dough is formed.

Method for combined dough:
1) Divide each type of dough into 4 portions, then wrap 1 portion of oil dough in 1 portion of water dough. That means now there would be 4 portions of combined dough to work with.
2) Flatten 1 portion of combined dough into a rectangle, then roll it up ala swiss-roll style.
3) Give this "swiss-roll" dough a 90degree turn, then flatten it.
4) Roll it up into a swiss-roll again (total would be twice of swiss-rolling).
5) Cut off both ends of the "swiss-roll" (as the ends are uneven), then divide this combined dough into 4 pieces. It will resemble round disk with circular pattern at this stage.
6) Flatten each piece of this round "disk" and wrap in the yam filling. Seal the edges well and it's ready to be deep-fried.

Notes to self:
* Dough = 50g, Yam Filling = 50g, end product = 100g per piece (makes 16pieces)
** When deep-frying, put the sealed edges on top as this way is better. The nice top would come off when done the other way round as it's very fragile.

Verdict:
+ I am satisfied with the outcome. Will add in salted egg yolks for the next batch.

Now on to the photo:

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Spiral Layered Yam MoonCake

Monday, September 10, 2007

Piala Merdeka 2007 (Bicycle Race in Penang)

There hasn't been much a bicycle race these days, and yesterday's event would mark the last one before the fasting begins for the month of Ramadhan. The next one in the racing calendar would be at the end of October, which is a whopping 120km race. In comparison, yesterday's 42km would be easy-peasy. But who am I to comment, as I was not the one sweating it out under the hot sun, instead I was behind the wheels in the comforts of the AC of my car, tailing (i think escort would be a better word) the whole event. As usual, playing support role, and making myself useful, hahha...on a bright lazy sunday morning indeed.

This is hubby's second year participating in this competition, starting from KOMTAR all the way to the Teluk Bahang roundabout, u-wie back and ended at Esplanade. Last year saw more participation from his buddies, but this year it was just down to 2, namely Darren and Melvin, besides hubby. One of the reason could be due to the timing, considering the group just came back from a 4d3n PCC Interstate event last weekend. That's just my guess...

I would leave the technical information such as average speed, heart rate, % incline and the profile to the pros as it doesn't make much sense to me. Thus it means my comments would be very general, mainly the weather and the itsy-bitsy stuff that would be considered menial, but nevertheless meaningful to me, hahah...

As it was a rare chance I was in Penang island on a Sunday morning, and considering the even rarer chance that I was in town, I went to tarpau (take-away food) my fav nasi lemak as I didn't have any breakkie. This stall enjoys brisk business, one needs to go before 10am to avoid the risk of disappointment. To my surprise, the old couple that manned the store was no longer around, what greeted my were 2 middle-aged man. That took me aback, but since my mind was set on Fat Rice (direct translation from "nasi lemak"), I went ahead to order. Furthermore, it was like either I eat this nasi lemak or risk going hungry with time was running out. The settings of the stall looked the same, down to the pots used to house the curries, so I bought with good faith. Boy was I wrong, very wrong indeed with my 1st mouth of the rice. Costing an exorbitant price of RM 3.60 per packet (which was also my 1st sign of something amiss because it was never this expensive with the aunty), I had to savour every morsel (also keep in mind that wasting food is a big no-no that was drilled in us since young). This shall mark my final visit to the stall ever again...the search for the next best nasi lemak is ON.

Back to the race, this event is sponsored by Penang's tourism rep, Mr Teng Chang Yeow. However, this morning, the person who flagged of the event was someone else, guess our YB has other events to cover? Neway, the race had a neutral start, meaning the peloton will ride together as a group till the agreed point before they initiate any breakaway, which is the Gurney Drive roundabout. So it was merely cruising along with the group for me...I was marvelled at the amount of police escort for this year's race. Couldn't help but wonder if election is really round the corner, you know, with such clear 'indications', heheheh...

There were numerous attacks and attempts at breakaway during the race, a tactic played to drop those weaker ones, and further along the race, the lead group got smaller and smaller till about only 10 riders were left. Darren was not himself today (which startled me, as he's quite a strong rider), thus only Melvin and Jimmy remained in the main pack. From what I learnt from the riders, the main peloton kept to the pack and raced to the finish line only in the last few metres for they need to conserve their energy for the sprint-to-the-finish. All's well that end's well, Chin Ching Chai managed to secure his placing in his category, which is fantastic. Overall, CR ranked 13th, 8th and 7th respectively. Way to go, team CR!!!
For the record, here's hubby's timing: 1:09:47:12

See you all next year...

Excerpts written by Mel:
Duh, Jim and me finished 13th, 8th and 7th respectively. I finished in the first group (~100 metres behind CCC), with Jimmy coming in a few seconds adrift, and Darren in a small chase group behind. Spent the whole race hiding in the bunch; and even in the finale, I did not have the speed to break free. The quality of racing has improved since last year; the riders maintain a good pace now. And the attacks, altho' they do not sting, come one after another. The first selection came as soon as the PSC hill. There were a few more attacks that wittled down the field along Bt Ferringhi. By the time we arrived in Tlk Bahang, there were only 8 of us left. Darren didn't seem his usual self and drifted back at this point. I was trying to ride conservatively with the low gears. The army camp hill proved too much for a lot of riders. Jimmy cramped, but soon after, made his way back. Good work! I never responded to most of the attacks, instead just slowly riding back thru the gaps. CCC and Mohd Rahmat broke away in Tg Tokong and I thought they would not stay away. They were only within 50-100m gap. Then we reached Gurney Dr and suddenly the traffic went haywire with cars reversing and people crossing the road. That's when CCC took the opportunity and slipped away. Zahin had been attacking more than necessary (presumably to break the others mentally). But by this point, he was out of breath. I wasn't going to do them any favours and only did one short turn at the front. Jimmy did one too, but then faded. I can't help but feel like Jimmy missed out on a good opportunity for a good result. He's been shredding in training rides, and even in the IS 'races'. For what it's worth I spent most of the race between 53x25, 23, 21, and 19. Perhaps he should learn to conserve more energy in races too. I had half a mind to ask him to ride close to me, but holding him back doesn't seem right. We caugh M R at the E&O, and soon after I tried to launch thru' the last corner. But it was not to be, as a rider held a tight line around the bend. I got thru' but my momentum had been broken. For a few moments, seeing CCC ahead of me felt like a role reversal of last year's race, but in the end I faltered and sat up and coasted across the line. HK was right - I was indeed very lethargic this morning.

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Event Banner, a 2-in-1 event

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Average Speed