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Una Leggenda Italiana

Pegoretti Italian Classics TBA.png

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

The Fiat Seicento, an update of the Cinquecento, is a classic of the automotive world.  Dario Pegoretti, on the other hand, is a bicycle frame building legend.  He is one of the most revered and respected steel frame builders in the world.  His frames, exclusively in Columbus steel, are unique.  Frames which are turned into works of art by paint that expresses his artistic passions.

The Bike Artisans brought Dario to Kuala Lumpur to meet his fans, and more importantly, to take orders from aficionados eager to own a custom-built DuendeMxxxxxxo, Responsorium, or Big Leg Emma frame.

Pegoretti Banner 3

Graphic courtesy of The Bike Artisans

Over two days Dario measured and interviewed more than thirty individuals.  He suggested which of his frames would suit each person’s build and riding style.  Then, each customer had to decide whether to have that frame finished with a stock paint scheme, or to go for the “surprise me” option of a hand-painted Ciavete design.

Pegoretti Measure 1

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

The Bike Artisans very kindly organised two events to mark Dario’s visit to Kuala Lumpur.

The first was dinner on Saturday night at Timbre, conveniently located next door to the bike shop.

It was an opportunity for Pegoretti owners to get their bikes autographed by Dario, for wish-we-were-owners to ogle the bikes and frames on display, and to get a photograph with the master.

Pegoretti Bikes 10 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Pegoretti with Dario Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The second was the Pego-Raduno Asia Edition ride, from The Bike Artisans to Genting Sempah and back.

Pego-Raduno Ride Griffin Yong

Photograph courtesy of Griffin Yong

Pego-Raduno Ride Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

It has been unusually cool over the past few days.  Which helped make the Sunday morning ride very pleasant.

The ride ended with a satay lunch outside The Bike Artisans.

Pegoretti Satay Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

And the opportunity to look over what was probably the largest collection of Pegorettis ever assembled in Kuala Lumpur.

Pegoretti Marcelo MxxxxxO 8

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

Pegoretti Bikes 15 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Pegoretti Bikes 11 TBA

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

Pegoretti Bikes 14 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Pegoretti Bikes 13 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

Pegoretti Bikes 12 Alvin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

The thirty or so who ordered frames now have a ten month or so wait while Dario cuts and welds tubes, and paints frames in his workshop in Verona.

Perhaps Dario will visit Kuala Lumpur again at the end of the year to deliver those eagerly awaited frames.

Pegoretti Dario

Photograph courtesy of The Bike Artisans

 

Strava Ride # 1,000

I read a WordPress post by Tempo Cyclist the other day, where he described the first ride he uploaded to Strava.  That got me thinking about all the rides I have uploaded to Strava over the years.

Riffing off Tempo Cyclist’s post, I looked at my 1,000th ride on Strava.  It was a ride to Genting Sempah, with good friends Mark and Ridzuwan, on 18th October last year.

Coincidentally, my very first ride in Malaysia, after moving back home from the Netherlands, was also up to Genting Sempah, on 7th October 2012.

The Genting Sempah climb is probably the most cycled route in the Klang Valley.  I have done the Genting Sempah climb at least forty times since that first ride in 2012.  There has always been dozens of other riders on Jalan Gombak with me.

The climb is generally considered to be from the Hospital Orang Asli (HOA) to the flyover at the summit, which is almost on top of the border between the states of Selangor and Pahang.

GS Strava Heatmap (1)

Heatmap courtesy of Strava

A lot of people start their ride from somewhere near the HOA.  It all depends on where they can find a parking space.

GS HOA 2

Photograph courtesy of Danial Lim

The ride to the flyover is very pleasant.  It is usually quite cool and shady.  The average gradient is about 3.5%, but with some kickers along the way to get the heart rate up.  And traffic is usually fairly light, although occasionally there are car clubs or motorcyclists blasting up the hill..

A number of troops of monkeys live in the jungle lining the road.  It is not unusual to see some during the ride.

GS Monkeys Rodrigo Sala at tcktcktck.org

Photograph courtesy of Rodrigo Sala at tcktcktck.org

The bridge with 1.8km / 1.1mi to go to the summit is a convenient spot to stop to get your breath back before tackling the last two steep corners on the way to the flyover.

GS Bridge Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Near that bridge, you get a good view of the Karak Highway, which replaced Jalan Gombak as the primary route between Kuala Lumpur and Bentong.

GS Karak Highway Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Most riders turn around at the flyover.

If you are hungry, there is a McDonald’s one kilometer down the other side of the hill, at the Genting Sempah R&R on the Karak Highway.  We often start the Genting Sempah ride with the intention of going to the McDonald’s, but change our mind at the flyover.  The prospect of climbing 64 meters / 210 feet over 1km / 0.6mi from the McDonald’s back to the flyover puts us off.

GS McDonald's

If you want to go further afield for food, you can continue down the hill from the R&R for 5km / 3mi to the left turn to Bukit Tinggi, with its collection of kopitiams, or Hokkien coffee shops.

GS Strava Heatmap (1)

Heatmap courtesy of Strava

A popular alternative is Janda Baik.  Instead of turning left to Bukit Tinggi, you turn right and ride under this arch.

GS Janda Baik Arch

My go-to place for breakfast in Janda Baik used to be Andak’s Place.

GS Food Andak's Place

Sadly Andak’s Place has closed down.

An alternative is Kopi n Kraf.

GS Janda Baik Food Stop

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

If you are looking for a longer ride, continue straight down the hill, past the turnings to Bukit Tinggi and Janda Baik, for another 30km / 18.6mi to Bentong.

There are food choices for those who turn around at the flyover and head back down the hill.  The food stall a few hundred meters from the HOA is a popular spot for a pre-ride or post-ride drink and meal.

GS Food Stall 2 Eric Siow

Photograph courtesy of Eric Siow

A few of us have taken to starting our ride to Genting Sempah from where I live.  Which adds about 40km / 25mi to the 32km / 20mi from the HOA to the flyover and back.  More importantly, it allows us to stop at Santa Chapati, near the Tawakal Hospital, for lunch on the way home.

GS Food Santa

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Good riding, and good eats.  No wonder Genting Sempah is a favourite route.

Cycling Infographics

Infographics make complex information eye catching, shareable and easily digestible.  The best ones combine eye-catching graphics with interesting facts.

For example, A World of Languages.  Did you know that 146 living languages are used as a first language in Malaysia?

2017 Infographic 7 Alberto Lucas López www lucasinfografia com

Graphic courtesy of Alberto Lucas López

Unsurprisingly, there are lots of infographics to do with cycling.  This one plots the increase in the number of riders who completed the Rapha Festive 500 between 2011 and 2014.

2017 Infographic 3

Graphic courtesy of Rapha

For 2017, the number of roundel winners is above 19,000.

More details about the 2012 and 2013 Festive 500s are presented in these infographics.

Some activity-tracking sites produce individualised infographics.  Strava is perhaps the most popular online cyclists’ community, with 203 million rides logged in 2017.

Each cyclist using Strava can generate a movie summarising their own achievements in 2017.  The closing graphic looks like this.

2017 Strava My Year in Sport

Graphic courtesy of Strava

Strava also lets members generate heatmaps showing where they have ridden during a user-selected time period.  The color used highlight the routes changes from blue through purple to red, depending on how often that particular route has been ridden.

2017 Strava Heatmap

Map courtesy of Strava

Third parties can access Strava’s data to produce their own infographics.  This is the heatmap produced by Jonathan O”Keeffe’s Strava Multiple Ride Mapper application.  It improves on the native Strava heatmap by using a wider range of colors to indicate ride frequency.

Veloviewer.com is another third-party application that pulls data from Strava to create individualized infographics.

One is a variation on the heatmap, supplemented with the date, distance, and elevation of each of the rides within the user-selected date range.

2017 Veloviewer Wheel

Graphic courtesy of Veloviewer

The more popular Veloviewer infographic, especially at year-end, is the one which tracks a variety of measures through the year.

2017 Veloviewer

Graphic courtesy of Veloviewer

Madewithsisu.com uses your Strava data to produce art, rather than infographics in the strict sense of the word.

Like Veloviewer, the user selects the time period from which data is to be used.  Clocked represents each of your activities as a ring. They start when you started and finish when you finished.

The Multi-Route plots the route of all your rides for the chosen time period.

If you are interested in more infographics about cycling, like this one . . .

2017 Science of Suffering

Graphic courtesy of Velopedia: The Infographic Book of Cycling

or this one . . .

2017 Hour Record

Graphic courtesy of Velopedia: The Infographic Book of Cycling

then Velopedia:  The Infographic Book of Cycling is the book for you.

Grow Your Jersey Collection One Ride at a Time – 2017

This is my fifh annual gallery of jerseys and T-shirts that were given out by event organisers.

You can look at previous year’s galleries here:

2013

2014

2015

2016

The first event jersey for 2017 was from the CIMB Cycle @ Seri Menanti ride.  Remembered most for the evil 1km / 0.6mi, 9% average gradient climb within sight of the finish.

CIMB

April saw the 10th running of one of my favourite events, the Janamanjung Fellowship Ride.  Always well-organized, and always fun.  This event give out T shirts of registered participants.

JMFR

The next month brought the NST C-Cycle Challenge.  We got rained on, hard, during that ride.

I gave away the event jersey, so have this mock up rather than a photograph.

NST

Another event that is a regular fixture on my calendar is the Campaign for a Lane ride in Penang.  The R@SKLs turn CFAL into a weekend adventure.

CFAL

I didn’t ride in many organized events this year.  Quality over quantity.  The Satun International Century Ride certainly had quality.  Despite the low turnout, the organisers looked after the participants very well.

This event has given both jerseys and T shirts to riders in the past.  This year we got T shirts only.  I suspect the low number of participants necessitated a budget cut.

Satun

As in previous years, I offered these jerseys and T shirts to any of my friends who want them.  A new rider snapped them up.  Perfect!

Geometric Progression Weekend

Double

We didn’t plan for our ride distances to double everyday, but that is how our three-day weekend turned out.

Day 1

Leslie, Simon, Ridzuwan and I met at the Bank Negara KTM station for the Komuter train ride to Tampin.

Day 1 Bank Negara Arthur

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

As is usually the case, there were only one or two other people with us and our Apidura saddle pack-equipped bicycles in the carriage at the back of the train.

Tampin is the last stop on the Komuter line that starts from Batu Caves, to the north of Kuala Lumpur.

Day 1 Tampin Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

It took about two hours to get there.  Long enough for an appetite for lunch to develop.  So our first stop was at Restoran Nasi Kandar Impian in Tampin.

The Fenix Inn in Melaka is 40km / 25mi from Tampin.  So it wasn’t very long before we were on the outskirts of Melaka.

Day 1 Arriving in Melaka Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

One of our rooms at the Fenix Inn wasn’t ready when we arrived there.  So we did what most people do when in Melaka.  We went cendol hunting.

Day 1 Cendol Hunting Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We found a shop selling cendol on Lorong Hang Jebat.  But the guys spotted Sid’s Pub across the road.  Cendol lost out to cold beers and lime juice.

Day 1 Sid's Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

While we were on our second round of drinks, the sky darkened and thunder rumbled.  We had had enough of riding in the rain in Southern Thailand, so emptied our glasses and rode back to the hotel.

It didn’t rain.

After a shower and a nap, we gathered for what Arthur described to me as a Melaka tradition.  Satay at 5pm.

Arthur, a Melaka boy, couldn’t ride with us as he had hoped.  So he drove to Melaka to act as our guide while we were there.  You can’t beat local knowledge.  Arthur knows which tourist traps to avoid, and where the hidden gems are.  The satay at the restaurant he took us to was excellent.

8.00pm is dinner time in Melaka.  Arthur took us towards Umbai, in search of grilled fish.  We found the Medan Selera MBMB, at the end of  Jalan Alai Perdana 21.  The Medan Selera (food court) houses a number of restaurants, all selling fresh seafood, cooked to order.

Arthur and Simon chose this place.

Day 1 Arthur.png

Simon loaded up a bowl with fresh prawns, cencaru (torpedo scad), pari (stingray), and squid, under Wan’s watchful eye.  The prawns and fish were grilled, and the squid was batter-fried.  Delicious!

Thank you Arthur for being our food guide, and driving us around Melaka.

Day 1 Umbai Dinner

Day 2

We slept in after all that food the evening before.  At 9.00am Arthur led us to a restaurant that is fabled for its fish ball soup.  Unfortunately the stall owner was on holiday, so we settled for soft-boiled eggs, and toast with kaya.

Then we headed north along Lorong Hajah Maznah toward Port Dickson.

Day 2 Rolling 1 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

32km / 20mi later it was time for a drink.  And some roti canai.  We shared two rotis between us.  It was, after all, only 75 minutes since we ate breakfast!

Eight drinks and two rotis for the princely sum of RM10 / USD2.45.  You can’t complain.

Day 2 Roti Stop Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

At 52km / 32mi we crossed the Sungai Linggi.  Worth a few photographs as the Sungai Linggi at that point forms the border between the states of Melaka and Negeri Sembilan.

Day 2 Border Bridge Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Day 2 On the Border Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

A few kilometers later we saw a sign advertising mango floats.  It was 36° C / 97° F.

We stopped.

Day 2 Mangga Shake

There was a buffet with grilled cencaru and curried ikan parang (wolf herring).  It was as good a time as any for lunch.

At Pasir Panjang I led the guys on a detour from our planned route.  We left Route 5 and rode along Jalan Kampung Sungai Sekawang toward the sea.  It made a nice change to be on a road with no vehicles.

Day 2 Quiet Road

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Jalan Kampung Sungai Sekawang rejoins Route 5 near the Eagle Ranch Resort.  As the tepees indicate, the theme of this resort is the American West of cowboys and log cabins.

Day 2 Eagle Ranch Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

By 2.00pm we were on the outskirts of Port Dickson.  We had time to burn before check in time at the Waterfront Boutique Hotel.  I saw a sign for Pantai Purnama.  That seemed a better bet than the beach further along at Teluk Kemang, which was likely to be crowded with weekend holiday makers.

 

This photograph of Purnama beach is misleading.  There was a reunion event going on at the beach.  Just out of shot, there were lots of people on the beach and in the water.

Day 2 Beach

We enjoyed the shade and sea breeze, and our ice cold rose syrup and lime drinks.

Day 2 Beach Stop Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Leslie bought eight packets of drinks.  We could only finish one packet each, so we gave the other four packets to the family having a picnic behind us.

40 minutes later we were riding past Teluk Kemang beach.  It did look very crowded.

It was about 85km / 53mi from the Fenix Inn in Melaka to the Waterfront Boutique Hotel in Port Dickson.  Day 1 distance x 2.

Arthur had headed back to KL after guiding us to the Melaka breakfast spot.  So we didn’t have access to a car in Port Dickson.  Which made the Waterfront Boutique Hotel, located on the boulevard walk, an excellent choice.  Within walking distance of the hotel entrance are a variety of food outlets, bars, a bank, a 7-Eleven, etc.

As per Day 1, a shower and nap were the immediate priority after getting our room keys.  Also as per Day 1, we kept up the Melaka tradition of tea at 5pm.

We sat at the Pattaya Bar, and had food delivered from the neighbouring Double Q Thai Cuisine restaurant.  A selection of Thai appetizers, and plates of pad thai.

Dinner followed at 8.00pm.  We walked to the Arab place a bit further along the boulevard.  A family platter of chicken mandi, with an extra serving of lamb, and Turkish coffee and crème caramel for afters.

The one downside of the hotel’s location made itself apparent at about midnight.  That is when the pub near the hotel sprang to life.  Pounding music and arguments in the car park kept us awake until 3am.  Except for Leslie, who brought earplugs.  Smart man!

Day 3

Port Dickson to Kuala Lumpur was the longest leg of our trip.  An early start, despite our lack of sleep, was necessary.

We checked out of the hotel at 6.45am, and rolled the 500 meters to the McDonald’s at the end of the boulevard.  The jazzy music which accompanied our McMuffins made a cool change from the Hindi-pop of the night before.

Day 3 Breakfast Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We were on the road at 7.20am.  Our target was a 9.30am rendezvous at Morib beach with Luanne, Chew, Mark, and Shawn.  They were riding from Kota Kemuning to Morib.  The idea was for us to take a break at Morib, and for them to ride with us from there back to Kota Kemuning.

The highlight of this leg was the ferry ride across the Sungai Sepang.  The ride from Tanah Merah New Village to Pekan Sungai Pelek using the ferry near Kampung India is 7km / 4mi shorter than it would be if we stayed on Route 5 to Pekan Sungai Pelek.

The N4 is a quieter road than Route 5.  The 1km to the ferry is even quieter.

Day 2 Off the Main Road Simon

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The river at that point is no more than 100 meters wide.  The ferry crossing costs RM0.80 / USD0.20 per person, including the RM0.30 / USD0.07 charge for a bike.

Day 3 Rolling onto the Ferry Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The banks of the Sungai Pelek are lined with mangrove forest.  Sadly, one of the Earth’s most rapidly disappearing ecosystems.

Day 3 Mangrove Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Back on Route 5 in Pekan Sungai Pelek, we came upon the first road sign indicating the distance to Morib.  I had underestimated the distance from Port Dickson to Morib by 30%.  I said, with misplaced confidence, “About 50km / 30mi.”  It was actually 65km / 40mi.

It was clear we weren’t going to be at Morib beach at 9.30am.  We got to Tanjung Sepat at 9.00am, and needed a break.  We stopped at a roadside food stall for tea, coffee, and you char koay (deep-fried strips of dough).

The four we were going to meet at Morib beach had arrived there at 9.00am.  They were already tucking into their nasi lemak as we were ordering our coffee etc. at Tanjung Sepat.

Day 3 Morib Group Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Morib beach is 18km / 11mi from Tanjung Sepat.  I sent Mark our live location via WhatsApp.  (That is such a cool WhatsApp feature).  Simon messaged Mark, suggesting that he and the others start riding and meet us on our way to Morib.

Which is what they did.  We crossed paths about 5km / 3mi south of Morib beach.  By then the Port Dickson crew were ready for another pit stop.  The Delicious Bread Café in Morib was our first choice, but it was closed.

So we rode a further 10km / 6mi to Restoran Madam Kopi-O in Banting.

Day 3 Banting Stop Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

From there it was on familiar roads to Kampung Seri Cheeding, Bandar Rimbayu, and Restoran BR Maju in Kota Kemuning.

Day 3 Morib to Kota Kemuning Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The Morib four were done for the day.  Kudos to Shawn, who rode almost 100km / 62mi – his longest ride by some 60km / 37mi.

Simon and Leslie decided to call it a day as well.  They accepted Luanne’s and Mark’s offers of a lift home.  Wan and I had a relatively flat ride to get to Jalan Ampang, so we decided to ride on.

22km / 14mi later, we wondered if we had made a mistake.  It had been more overcast than sunny all morning, but by the time we got to the Kinrara R&R it was 35° C / 95° F and bright.

The die had been cast though.  We each downed an iced 100 Plus, and headed back out onto the KESAS motorcycle lane.

Fortunately for us, the clouds rolled in again, and we didn’t get roasted alive during the following 20km / 12.5mi to Mak Jah Corner in Ampang Jaya.  Which is just down the road from where Wan lives.

Mak Jah Corner is noted for its Malay kuih.  These were delicious.  I had two more iced teas in quick succession before saying goodbye to Wan and heading home.

Day 3 Kuih

I ended up riding 163km / 101mi.  Day 2 distance x 2.

The four of us had an excellent weekend.  Helped in no small way by Arthur being with us in Melaka, and Luanne, Chew, Mark and Shawn joining us in Morib.

We had dry and generally cool weather over the three days.  And no punctures or other mechanical issues enroute.  And lots of tasty food, good company, and laughter.

Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

We are already thinking about where to tour next.

The R@SKLs Ride to Cameron Highlands

The romantic view of Cameron Highlands consists of rolling tea plantations and Tudor-style bungalows.

The R@SKLs dispensed with romanticism, opting instead for athleticism.

Banner

Graphic courtesy of Darul Ridzuan Cycling Club

Most of us had left it too late to register for this event.  Only Tomoe and Danial had signed up before registration was closed.  Eight of us decided to ride “with” Tomoe and Danial.  I say “with” because we would be with them in spirit only.  We would see them once as they raced past us, and not again until after the finish.

There are four ways to get to Cameron Highlands.  From the south via Tapah, from the south-east via a newer road from Raub, from the east coast via Gua Musang, and from the west via Simpang Pulai, on the outskirts of Ipoh.

My only previous ride to Cameron Highlands was in 2013.  I rode along the older road from Tapah through Ringlet, Tanah Rata and Brinchang.

This event started in Simpang Pulai.  We convoyed to the Hotel Pulai on Saturday evening.  The weather enroute did not look promising.

Rain to Ipoh Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We all hoped that we would not have a repeat of our rain-filled Southern Thailand experience.

One doesn’t visit Ipoh without eating.  Nga choy kai (beansprout chicken) is at the top of many foodie lists of must-eats in Ipoh.  Restoran Ayam Tauke on Jalan Guntong has a deserved reputation for excellent nga choy kai and sar hor fun (flat rice noodles).

Waiting for our food.

Dinner Group 3 Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

While we were waiting, Simon went to a restaurant a few doors away and brought back appetizers.  Chicken lor bak (chicken and vegetables rolled in thin bean curd skins and deep-fried), fried wantan (dumplings), and boiled and fried yong tau foo (stuffed bean curd).

Simon had to leave a deposit to ensure that he brought the empty dishes back to the other restaurant.

The main attractions.

Ipoh’s taugeh (bean sprouts) are the king of bean sprouts in Malaysia. Thanks to the abundance of hard water from the limestone hills surrounding the Kinta Valley, bean sprouts that grow here are crunchy and succulent.

Not sated by the nga choy kai, we then sat down at the restaurant where Simon had procured our appetizers.  The wan tan and lor bak were finished, so we had wing beans fried in chilli garlic oil, pork noodles, and beef soup.

Surprisingly, after that huge dinner – wait, I take that back.  I am talking about the R@SKLs here.

Unsurprisingly, despite the huge dinner, we wanted breakfast at 6.00am.  Which was delayed slightly, because as we waited outside the hotel for everyone to gather, one of CK’s inner tubes exploded.

Repairs made, we rode across Jalan Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah to Restoran Sun Kee Hin.

Breakfast Sulaiman

Photograph courtesy of Muhammad Sulaiman Jamaluddin

After noodles, coffee and tea, Tomoe and Danial rode the 4km / 2.5mi to the race start at the Symphony Suites Hotel.  They would start racing at 7.30am.

The eight of us ghost riders headed back across Jalan Raja Dr. Nazrin Shah to the A181, and upward to Cameron Highlands.

Upwards Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

The Simpang Pulai route is preferred by cyclists over the Tapah route because the road surface is better, and the shoulders are wider.

Simpang Pulai Road

As I said earlier, we didn’t actually ride with Tomoe and Danial.  We were on the road at 6.50am.  I think we perplexed a woman standing expectantly by the roadside, waiting to cheer on a boyfriend or husband.  A pair of police motorcycle had roared past her a minute or two earlier.  That is the usual signal that the race leaders are approaching.  But instead of next seeing a fast-moving peloton sweeping by, she was confronted with the sight of a group of shall we say mature men, riding at less than race pace.

Despite the forty minute headstart, the leading riders, and then Tomoe and Danial caught up with us after 20km / 12.5mi.  This was all we saw of them until the finish.

Tomoe and Danial Sulaiman

Photograph courtesy of Muhammad Sulaiman Jamaluddin

The rest of us santai-ed (relaxed) our way up the road.

Riding Pai Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

Riding Meng Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

Riding Mark Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

Riding Chew Sulaiman

Photograph courtesy of Muhammad Sulaiman Jamaluddin

Riding Simon Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

Riding CK Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

Riding Arthur 2 Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

Riding JM Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

We had a pair of support vehicles stocked with water, 100-Plus, bananas and biscuits.  Shelby took excellent photographs.

Official Photographer Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

She was in a car driven by Chew’s wife Alicia

Alicia & Chew Sulaiman

Photograph courtesy of Muhammad Sulaiman Janmaluddin

Man provided sterling roadside repair support from the other vehicle tracking us.

Support Car Sulaiman Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

We stopped a number of times to regroup.  At 30km / 19mi we had a longer stop to get drinks and bananas.

Rest Stop

That Basso Diamante is a sweet-looking bike.

Basso Sulaiman.png

Not long after we got going again we had the second, and last, flat of the day.

2nd Flat Tire Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

At 45km / 30mi we came to the second water stop for the race participants.  There was a nice view over the valley, and the road we had just ridden up.

I think the road branching up and curving to the left goes to a large farm.  The road looks rideable, but we weren’t about to try it on this day.

IMG_4584

2.5km / 1.5mi later we crossed the border from the state of Perak into the state of Pahang.  Along the way we rode through a 355 meter / 1,130 foot rock shed, built to shield the road from mud and rock slides.

Rock Shed

The border is marked by a large sign on the side of the hill.  Tomoe and Danial had ridden to the finish 7km / 4mi further up the road, and come back down to this point well before the rest of us go there.

The Only Competitors Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

We rolled over the undulating terrain to the finish, which ended with a 75 meter / 246 foot kick over the final 2km / 1mi.  Simon’s brand-new bike had been christened with a major climb.

Finish Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The weather had occasionally looked threatening, but the rain never came.  The cloud cover kept things cool during our ascent.

View Shelby Lim

Photograph courtesy of Shelby Lim

Everyone made it up the climb.  Arthur had a message for the R@SKLs who didn’t ride with us.

“I’m here.  Where are you?”

What is the problem? CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of Muhammad Sulaiman Jamaluddin

The rain did catch some of us on the way down.  By mid-descent the sun had come out again, and it was hot for the last 15km / 10mi.  It was 21° C / 70° F at the summit, and 36° C / 97° F at the hotel when we got back there.

A cold shower was just the ticket.  The receptionist at the Hotel Pulai was very nice, and she let us check out after 3.00pm without extra charge.  At RM80 / USD20 per night for a double room, basic but clean and comfortable, and bicycle friendly, the Hotel Pulai was an excellent choice.

Everyone was starving.  Nasi kandar is another Ipoh favourite.  It is so named from the time when nasi (rice) hawkers would move from place to place with a kandar pole on one shoulder, balancing large containers of rice meals hanging from either end of the pole.

Kedai Kopi Yong Suan is famous for their nasi kandar.  Nicknamed nasi ganja.  It is said that the rice is so delicious that it is as addictive as ganja (cannabis or marijuana).

We went there.  It was a somewhat underwhelming meal.  Admittedly we were late, so most of the food was finished.  The usual selection of side dishes had been reduced to just two:  fried chicken and salted egg.

As the saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers.  The final blow was that by the time we had finished our meal, the chendol man, who was outside when we got to the restaurant, had sold out, packed up and gone home.

Some of us went looking for more food.  Some of us hit the highway back to KL.  Arthur and Simon opted for some pampering before heading home.

Post Ride Pampering Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The wisest choice!

R@SKLS IN SOUTHERN THAILAND: DAY 4

Day 4 Clouds Photo by Anandu Vinod on Unsplash

Photograph courtesy of Anandu Vinod on Unsplash

Day 4 dawned in the same way as Days 1, 2, and 3 did.  I was beginning to wonder if Songkran, the Thai New Year’s festival, had arrived early.  That holiday is known for its water festival, which the Thais celebrate like this.

 

Day 4 Banner 2

We had spent three days being constantly doused with water.  Day 4 would be no different.

13 of us rode to Padang Besar.  Heng Keng took over the duties of the Chief Support Officer in the van accompanying us.

Day 4 Hat Yai Hotel Johan S

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Our train to KL was scheduled to depart Padang Besar at 3.43pm.  We figured we needed about 2.5 hours to clear Immigration and Customs, get cleaned up, pack our bikes in the van, and get something to eat.

We left the hotel, in torrential rain, at about 8.15am.  That gave us about 4 hours of riding time to cover 58km / 38mi if we were going to get to Padang Besar in time to catch our train.

Day 4 Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

The first flat tire of the day came within 4km / 2.5mi.  It wasn’t going to be a good day for Danial.

Day 4 1st Flat Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

The rain had eased off a bit by the time we got going again.

Day 4 Leaving Hat Yai Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Our next unplanned stop came after 8.5km / 5mi.  A railway line cuts diagonally across Kanjanavanich Road, at about a 45° angle.  Railway lines always pose a hazard to cyclists.

The ideal approach is to cross the tracks as close as possible to a 90° angle, thus minimizing the possibility of getting a tire stuck in the grooves between rails and tarmac.  Wet rails are slippery, so it is important to roll straight over them, without braking or turning as you are doing so.

I was the first to get to the tracks, followed by Danial and Johan S.  I was lined up to cross the tracks at an angle less than 90°, but offset enough from the rails to roll over safely.

Then I saw the potholes in the tarmac just before the rails.  I swerved to avoid the potholes, and skidded on the rails.  I don’t know how I stayed upright, but I did.

Danial and Johan S. were not so lucky.  Johan S. was unscathed, but Danial scraped an elbow, ripping his rain jacket sleeve in the process.  He also snapped the Boa cable on his right shoe.  Fortunately for both guys, the vehicles behind avoided them as they lay on the road.

As we were attending to Danial’s elbow, and jury-rigging a repair for his shoe, a motorcyclist skidded on the tracks and fell.  I suspect those tracks claimed many more victims.

The same railway line cut back across Kanjanavanich Road again 19km / 12mi later.  Having learnt from experience, we crossed very carefully, and without incident.

Day 4 2nd Railway Crossing Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

When we crossed the second set of tracks, we had been out in the elements for about two hours.  It was time to look for a bathroom and some nourishment.  Our support van driver told us that there was a 7 Eleven a few kilometers up the road.  That would do nicely.

Day 4 7 Eleven TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We ended up not getting much from the 7 Eleven.  Alfred found a banana fritter stall on the side street beside the 7-Eleven.  That is what is in the bag I am holding.  Hot, crispy, sesame seed-coated, and delicious.

TH found a chicken rice shop a few doors down from the 7-Eleven.

Day 4 Chicken Rice Lady TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Tasty chicken rice and hot chicken soup was just the ticket.

Day 4 Chicken Rice TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The 7-Eleven did come in useful.  There was a standpipe outside.  We rinsed a lot of sand and grit off our bikes and ourselves at that standpipe.

Day 4 7 Eleven Bike Wash Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Strike three for Danial happened just before the right turn toward Padang Besar.  Flat tire number two for him.

Day 4 Flat Tire Stop 2 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

This is our support van driver, sensibly sheltering from the rain under the rear door of the van.

Day 4 Flat Tire Stop Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

It was 13km / 8mi from the junction toward Padang Besar to the border crossing.

Day 4 At The Border 8 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Day 4 At The Border 7 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Day 4 At The Border 6 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Day 4 At The Border 5 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Day 4 At The Border 4 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

We were back in Malaysia.

Day 4 At The Border 3 Johan S

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Day 4 At The Border 2 AiLin Lim

Photograph courtesy of AiLin Lim

We had come full circle over four wet, but fun-filled, days.  About 375km / 233mi in all.

Day 4 Overall Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

When I mapped the ride to Padang Besar, it looked like we would have a 5km / 3mi ride from the border crossing to the train station.  I asked an Immigration officer if there was a shorter way to the station.

“Yes” he said.  “Across the pedestrian bridge that runs from behind the cafe over there.”

The cafe had bathrooms, and perhaps more importantly, a hose.  We had picked up yet more sand and grit since we rinsed ourselves off at the 7-Eleven.  Another rinse was mandatory.

The pedestrian bridge took us over the railway tracks and straight into the station.  Our bike transport van was waiting for us in the car park, as was our support van.  The support van had been detained at Malaysian Customs.  They wanted to scan all our bags.  Arthur persuaded them to let the van through without us all having to backtrack to Customs to claim our bags and feed them through the scanner.

It had taken us 4 hours to ride to Padang Besar, despite the unanticipated stops.  We had plenty of time to change out of our soaking cycling kit, pack our bikes into the van which would haul them back to KL, and get something to eat at the station’s self-service restaurant.

Day 4 Loading the Van Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

There was one last bit of drama at the station.  TH had lost his ticket.  And the ticket office computer system was down.  Our train was also fully-booked, which added another complication to the mix.  It took a while to sort out, with tension levels rising as our departure time approached.

TH eventually got his replacement ticket, and we were able to relax on the platform while our train was being cleaned prior to departure.

Day 4 Waiting for the ETS TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We were somewhat quieter on the return journey that we had been four days earlier on the way to Padang Besar.

Day 4 ETS Home Marvin

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan

I think this sums up the situation . . .

Day 4 Low Battery

The damage to the track in KL was supposed to be rectified by the day of our return.  KL must have had the same weather we encountered in Thailand, because the repairs would not be completed until the coming Sunday.

So we had another MRT ride to end our 4 day jaunt through Southern Thailand.

Day 4 Warga Mas MRT Johan S

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Day 4 Thanks

Graphic courtesy of bitmoji

to everyone for their team spirit team and camaraderie.  We rode through some lovely countryside, had a lot of laughs, ate well, and had a very enjoyable time overall.

Khun Metharin is moving her century ride to Hat Yai in 2018.  Mark your calendars!

Postscript

Our bicycles arrived bang on time on Wednesday at Pegasus Cycles.  That is the good news.

The bad news is that four days of consistently wet and gritty conditions wreaked havoc on bottom bracket bearings.  So many of us had rough or seized BBs that Pegasus Cycles ran out of replacement bearings.

A valid excuse to buy some new bicycle stuff!