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Teluk Intan with the R@SKLs

Some adventures take months of planning. Others come together in a matter of days. This latest bike-packing ride to Teluk Intan (the fourth or fifth for some of us) was an example of the latter.

The idea was mooted on 24th July and by the next day, we had seven riders signed up. A draft itinerary had been drawn up, hotel rooms had been reserved and the udang galah (giant freshwater prawn) dinner had been ordered.

Over the next week, a few riders had to drop out and some more joined in so we ended up as a group of ten. We also added two others who would drive to Teluk Intan. My Biker Chick Zulfa, always ready for an udang galah meal, was one.

Having drivers was why a bikepacking trip for ten became a bikepacking trip for three. Seven of us, myself included, opted for transporting our stuff in a car rather than on our bikes.

The railway tracks between Kepong and Kuala Lumpur has recently reopened after the conclusion of the double-tracking work, so Choo Chian could board the Komuter train to Tanjung Malim at KL station. He was the first of us on the train at 6.34am.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

Zaryl and Dan were the next to board the train at Segambut station at 6.50am. Lay, Mark and I set off on our bikes from Taman Bukit Emas at about 5.20am. We met up with Amy, Bin Soo, Kenix and Zeus in Kota Damansara at about 5.35am and we rode at a leisurely pace to Kuang station.

We had no mishaps along the 30km ride so we got to Kuang station with plenty of time to spare.

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

We bought tickets for our bikes (RM2 each) and had a drink at the coffee shop across the road from the station while waiting for the train.

We took up half of the last carriage on the train. There was room to spare because we had the entire carriage to ourselves for the entire trip.

Photograph courtesy of Zeus

The first order of business upon arriving in Tanjung Malim was breakfast. Our usual breakfast spot, Kedai Ocu Amy, was closed so we stopped at the next roadside restaurant that had lots of people in it. Which was a very good choice. The roti canai was excellent. And the price was right. Enough roti and nasi lemak for ten, plus more than a dozen drinks for RM38 (USD9.15).

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

Fed and watered, we got on the road at about 10.15am.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

The first 45km was along Federal Route 1 to Sungkai through Slim River and Trolak. Route 1 is believed to be Malaysia’s earliest public roadway. Construction began in 1880 under the orders of the Sultan of Kedah at that time. It was the backbone of the road system in the western states of Peninsular Malaysia before being supplanted by the North–South Expressway in 1994.

The rest of the way was on quieter roads, the majority being on Jalan Teluk Intan – Bidor.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

It is always a boost when you see your destination name on a road sign.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

60km from Tanjung Malim (with 80km or so already ridden by those who cycled to Kuang) the group split into two groups. Zaryl, Bin Soo and Dan forged ahead while the rest of us looked for a place to stop for a stretch and a drink.

Photograph courtesy of Zeus

The temperature is always a concern on longer rides in Malaysia. This day was overcast, which was a blessing. Nevertheless, it was warming up. When we left the sundry shop it was 31ºC / 88ºF.

Getting to the McDonald’s in Teluk Intan was our next goal. While a McDonald’s might not be everyone’s mid-ride choice of restaurant, it does have one key attraction. Air-conditioning.

As it turned out half of the population of Teluk Intan was enjoying the AC in their local McD’s. So we had to sit outside. Thank goodness for the fan. And chocolate sundaes!

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

The lead three had stopped at the same McDonald’s but didn’t eat there. “Who rides to Teluk Intan to eat at McDonald’s?” was their sentiment 😳. They opted for fruit rojak and fresh coconut water at a stall close to our hotel.

Photograph courtesy of Zaryl Tan

It was just a few more kilometres from the McDonald’s to the Yew Boutique Hotel. Our go-to hotel whenever we ride to Teluk Intan. Reasonably priced with nice rooms, a secure place to leave our bicycles, and a comfortable lobby where we can relax and chat. A bonus is that it is fifty metres from Liew Kee Chee, the purveyors of Teluk Intan’s famous chee cheong fun.

A shower and a nap, followed by a mid-afternoon snack of that chee cheong fun, char koay teow, washed down with Tiger and Asahi beer at the New Glutton Square next door to the hotel, did wonders to rejuvenate everyone.

Photograph courtesy of Zaryl Tan

We walked from the New Glutton Square to Restoran d’Tepian Sungai to enjoy the main reason for cycling to Teluk Intan. The udang galah.

As its name suggests, the restaurant sits on a bank of the Perak River.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

As always the udang galah masak lemak cili api and udang galah goreng berempah were the stars of the show.

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

I had also ordered sweet and sour red snapper for Jeff, who is allergic to prawns. Sadly he had to pull out of this ride. We enjoyed the fish anyway. This dish will be part of our standard d’Tepian Sungai dinner order from now on.

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

This was the first visit to Teluk Intan for Amy, Jolene, Zaryl, Zeus and Dan. So, of course, we walked the one hundred metres from the restaurant to Teluk Intan’s landmark Leaning Tower.

Constructed in 1885 as a water tower, it started leaning to the southwest due to the weight of the water in the tank and the soft ground upon which the tower was built. Unsurprisingly the tower is no longer used for water storage.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We chatted and laughed back in the hotel lobby for a while before hitting the hay. Breakfast was scheduled for 6.00am.

Breakfast was at 6.00am. Earlier for some who were at the Kedai Kopi Jalan Pasar across the road from the hotel before the place was ready for customers.

We were checked out of the hotel and on our bikes at 6.40am. We made a short stop after five hundred metres to buy water at a 7-Eleven. Then it was toward the sun and Sungkai.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim
Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

We stopped at the Petron station in Changkat Jong to use the restroom.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We didn’t make another proper stop, i.e. not counting traffic lights and a brief halt to regroup after a particularly sharp climb in Trolak until 47km later at the Petronas station in Slim River.

Despite the intention to take it a bit slower than we had the day before (there had been rumblings amongst the troops about riding back to Tanjung Malim in a support car), we moved along at a decent pace. We averaged 28kph between Changkat Jong and Slim River.

So we had plenty of time to cover the remaining 21km from Slim River to the Tanjung Malim station. We were targetting the 10.59 train. We had one hundred minutes.

Which gave us enough time to stop for a quick drink at the same roadside restaurant where we had that excellent roti breakfast before we needed to be at the station.

Photograph courtesy of Zeus

We decided to have lunch at Patty & Pie in Aman Suria. Everyone except Choo Chian either lives or parked in the area. We said our goodbyes to Choo Chian and got off the train. at the Sungai Buloh station.

It is 14km from Sungai Buloh station to Patty & Pie. After 7km Amy, Bin Soo, Kenix and Zeus split off toward where Bin Soo lives.

Photograph courtesy of Zeus

Zaryl, Dan, Lay, Mark and I rode the rest of the way to Patty & Pie. Amy, Bin Soo and Kenix drove there after getting their vehicles. Jolene and Zulfa joined us too, after driving from Teluk Intan. Which was very convenient because Zaryl and Dan could get their bag from Zulfa, and load their bikes into Amy’s truck.

You couldn’t miss that we were at this restaurant.

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

Patty & Pie has had some mixed reviews recently as the owners have been busy opening a sister restaurant in Mont Kiara. We hit one glitch with Mark’s order, which was rectified, and everything else was very good. I still recommend this place for their salt beef, burgers and pizzas.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

An excellent way to end a laughter-filled and fun weekend. We are already thinking of our next touring destination.

The R@SKLs at the CIMB Cycle 2019

Graphic courtesy of CIMB Cycle 2019

The third annual edition of the CIMB Cycle was held on 21st April. This year there were two options: an 80km Challenge ride and a 160km Endurance ride. In a rush of enthusiasm about fifty R@SKLs registered for the event. Twenty of whom opted for the 160km Endurance ride.

As the 21st drew closer some had second thought and switched to the 80km Challenge ride. We all owe thanks to Heng Keng and his PA Nida for their CIMB insider help to get us registered, manage the changes and collect the ride packs on our behalf.

I was one of the R@SKLs who switched to the 80km ride. My excuse was that I was in the midst of moving house and couldn’t afford the time riding 160km would require. Was I ever glad I made that decision.

3,700 amateur riders and pro cyclists (there were prizes for the winners) from 26 countries were at the start line. Including the pink-clad R@SKLs.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Lim

The Endurance and Challenge rides were flagged of by the Minister of Youth and Sports Syed Saddiq, accompanied by Tengku Dato’ Sri Zafrul Aziz, Group CEO of CIMB Group (on the left) and Azizulhasni Awang, Malaysia’s “Pocket Rocketman” and CIMB brand ambassador (on the right). Azizul was the gold medallist in the keirin event at the 2017 UCI Track Cycling World Championships.

Photograph courtesy of Putrajaya IPD

The events started on time, with the Endurance riders the first to roll past the Ministry of Finance building in Putrajaya and out onto the route.

Photograph courtesy of KBSMalaysia

Putrajaya has a number of man-made lakes and therefore a number of bridges. This is the Endurance ride départ fictif crossing the Seri Gemilang bridge.

Photograph courtesy of Engku Iskandar Photoworks

Half a dozen or so brave souls from the R@SKLs took on the Endurance route.

Map courtesy of CIMB Cycle 2019

This was the Challenge route.

Map courtesy of CIMB Cycle 2019

The Challenge riders hit their first water stop after about 40km / 25mi.

Photograph courtesy of Grace C

The Challenge ride so far had been fun. Despite my falling. A guy got caught in too hard a gear on a steep climb and veered across the road into me. I banged an elbow and wrist and scraped a knee. I’m just glad I stayed out of the open drain along the side of the road.

The first water stop for the Endurance riders was at 50km / 31mi.

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

It was still relatively cool at that time. It wouldn’t stay cool for very much longer.

The Endurance guys made a food and drink stop at some point.

Photograph courtesy of Jake Sow

We Challenge riders made do with our second water stop at 55km / 34mi.

Photograph courtesy of Leonard Yee

It had been humid from the start and it was now getting hot. I was well into my second bottle of water and glad I only had 25km / 15.5mi to go rather than 105km / 65mi.

The Endurance riders were starting to feel the heat midway through their distance.

They were rolling into their second water stop as we were finishing our ride. Our ride was a tad over 80km / 50mi. Those last few kilometres at 33ºC / 91.4ºF were slightly uphill and into a hot headwind. I was glad to see the finish line.

It was so hot that a finish line shower was in order for some.

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

Heng Keng kindly got us into the vicinity of the VIP tent (it pays to have friends on the inside) where he supplied us with nasi lemak, kuih, water and lattes. And arranged a photograph with Malaysia’s only rainbow jersey winner.

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

It was about 11.00am when we all got to the VIP tent. Just a few minutes later the first three finishers of the Endurance ride flashed across the finish line. Their average speed for 160km or so was a smidgen over 42kph / 26mph. Amazing.

Our Endurance ride guys were still on the course and suffering in the heat.

Photograph Ric Foo

I was still sweating forty five minutes after the ride. So I was very happy to not still be out on the Endurance ride course. The rising temperature and the hilly route brought many Endurance participants to a halt well before the finish.

Voon Kiat and Martin persevered and completed the Endurance ride. As did Mokhtar Nadzri but I don’t have a photograph of him.

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat
Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

The Challenge riders were happy with the event. The route was reasonably challenging but not excessively so. The roads were exceptionally well marshalled. The water stops were well managed. And we got to the finish before it got too hot.

The R@SKLs who did the Endurance ride had a much tougher time. A tip of the hat to them for giving it a go.

Graphic courtesy of CIMB Cycle 2019

Genting Sempah Feedzone

Photograph courtesy of Genting Sempah UNDERBRIDGE-Gsub

Up until 2017, there was nothing at the summit of the Genting Sempah climb. Anyone wanting to buy a drink or a snack had to continue down the other side of the mountain to the Genting Sempah R&R (and face the average 7% gradient 1km climb back up to the flyover) or turn around and go back down to the roadside restaurants 16km / 10mi away.

That changed after Encik Mohd Najib Hashim, helped by his family, started selling cold drinks out of the boot of his car which he parked under the flyover. His signature drink is kurma madu, which he makes himself from dates and honey. Most refreshing.

Over the last two years that enterprise has blossomed to include bananas and fresh cut fruit, cookies, Snickers bars and the like.

Photograph courtesy of Omrin Kamarudin

Mohd Najib also sets out plastic chairs and stools so cyclists and runners can rest their legs.

To top it off he also brings a pump and a set of tools. He has created a full-service feed zone.

Mohd Najib has become an advocate and campaigner to make Jalan Gombak safer and more attractive for cyclists and runners. This includes resurfacing the road and cleaning up the illegal rubbish dumps on the roadside.

He is now collecting signatures for a petition to the state government.

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Yusri Kamaludin

I don’t know very much about Mohd Najib. I’ll have to be nosy and ask him to tell me a bit about himself the next time I ride to Genting Sempah.

I have discovered that he is a photographer, specializing in wedding, landscape and macro photography. He is good.

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Najib Hashim
Photograph courtesy of Mohd Najib Hashim
Photograph courtesy of Mohd Najib Hashim

Thank you Encik Mohd Najib Hashim. I am sure I speak for all cyclists and runners when I say that your presence under the Genting Sempah flyover is very much appreciated.

Photograph courtesy of Omrin Kamarudin

Save a bottle of kurma madu for me.

The #FreshLegs Tour

Photograph courtesy of amazon.com

Danial suggested the route for our latest credit card tour.

Day 1
• Cycle from home to the Kepong KTM station and ride the Komuter train to Tanjong Malim
• Cycle from Tanjong Malim to Ipoh

Day 2
• Cycle from Ipoh to Brinchang

Day 3
• Cycle from Brinchang to the Tanjong Malim KTM station and ride the Komuter train to Kepong
• Cycle from the Kepong KTM station to home

Choo Chian and Halim quickly said that they were up for it. I enjoy riding with the three of them and opted in as well. If I had thought more about the route I was committing to I might not have been so quick to agree to participate. 390km / 242mi and more than 3,000 metres / 9,800 feet of climbing over three days.

Day 1

I met Choo Chian and Halim at just past 6.00am on Day 1 and we rode together to the 7-Eleven on Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah where Danial was waiting.

We caught the first train from Kepong, the 7.30am departure, to Tanjong Malim. All smiles at this point.

It was 8.50am when we rolled our bikes out of the train in Tanjong Malim. We had 118km / 73mi to ride. But first, breakfast at our usual spot, Restoran OCU Amy, 1km from the station.

The plan was to ride to Ipoh at an easy pace so that we would have fresh legs for the 2,000 plus metres / 6,500 plus feet of climbing on Day 2.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

So much for that plan. We spent almost three-quarters of our moving time riding at 30kph / 18.6mph or faster. “Fresh Legs” became our ironic catchphrase for the next three days. As in “My legs feel so fresh” or “Your legs look so fresh” when the opposite was the case.

We weren’t helped by the heat. We made regular stops to refill bottles. We bought iced fresh fruit at the Bidor stop. It was 37ºC / 99ºF when we got to Tapah at 1.00pm.

We spent the next two hours over a long lunch in the air conditioning at the KFC there. It was still a furnace outside when we got going again. At 3.45pm we had to stop (what a relief) because of a puncture. It was 38ºC / 100ºF.

Photograph courtesy of Halim Zin

Halim’s sister saw this photograph and commented that I looked like I was regretting coming on this ride. What I did look like was this . . .

We arrived at the Mornington Hotel in Ipoh without further incident. Choo Chian had done the research into accommodation and had booked the most promising looking places in Ipoh and Brinchang. The Mornington Hotel was excellent.

For RM45 / USD11 each we got two Standard Twin rooms with the amenities not usually provided at this price point. The fixings for coffee and tea, a couple of bottles of mineral water, toiletry sets including toothbrushes and toothpaste, a fridge, a safe, and wifi. Best of all, bicycles are allowed in the rooms, which are big enough to accommodate two bikes without them being in the way. The bonus is the Mornington has a lift so we didn’t have to carry our bikes up a flight or more of stairs.

Photograph courtesy of the Mornington Hotel

We took a Grab car into Ipoh for dinner. Danial suggested the Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice restaurant on Anderson Road. Sadly the quality of the food there has declined since he last ate there. The food was alright but not worth another visit.

By 9.00pm it was lights out. Our legs weren’t feeling particularly fresh, which was a bad sign.

Day 2

At 6.40am we rolled away from the Mornington Hotel to the Restoran Nasi Kandar Pulai 3km / 2mi away for breakfast. The restaurant must have only just opened because there were only a couple of staff members there to take orders and make hot drinks and prepare food. Service was slow, to say the least.

While we were there a group of four cyclists came in looking for breakfast as well. One of them asked us for directions to the road to Cameron Highlands. Like us, they were from Kuala Lumpur. Unlike us, they hadn’t ridden to Ipoh the day before. I’m sure their legs were fresher than ours. We wished them well on their maiden ride to Cameron Highlands and headed to the 7-Eleven a couple of shop lots away to stock up on drinks.

Our paths would unexpectedly cross, in a manner of speaking, later in the day.

I had ridden from Simpang Pulai as far as the Meiko Strawberry Centre a couple of times, but never with a 5kg / 11lb saddle pack. This time there would be a further 23km / 14mi to ride, and another hill to climb to get to Brinchang. It promised to be a long and hard day.

Graph courtesy of Garmin Connect

13km / 8mi from the hotel we got to the start of the climb to Cameron Highlands. The first 2.5km / 1.5mi are particularly steep, rising 280 metres / 918 feet.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Mindful of the amount of climbing we had to do, we made regular stops to stretch our not-fresh legs.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Despite the sunshine, the temperature stayed at or below 25ºC / 77ºF for the first 40km / 25mi.

We made another of our frequent stops after 45km / 28mi. The temperature had risen to 30ºC / 86ºF in the space of 5km / 3mi. Admittedly it had taken us forty minutes to climb that 5km, but still.

It was very humid. We were sweating profusely and despite carrying extra bottles of fluid we were running out.

There are very few places selling drinks along Federal Route 185. We knew that there was a café somewhere near the border between the states of Perak and Pahang, but weren’t sure where exactly it was or whether it would even be open. I was starting to worry that we would run out of water before we found a place to restock.

That’s when a father and son in an SUV pulled over and asked if we wanted water or 100 Plus. We gratefully accepted his generous offer. It turned out that the man’s wife was one of the four cyclists we met over breakfast at the Restoran Nasi Kandar Pulai. Quite a coincidence. We never did see those four cyclists again though.

It was a relief to have more water in our bottles. Though as it turned out we were only 2km / 1mi (and ten corners) from the Waterfall Café. Which was open.

It was 12.45pm and we had no idea where the next place selling food was. So we had lunch. In my case a bowl of Maggi mee with two poached eggs and keropok udang (prawn cracker) croutons. Very delicious.

We spent a very pleasant fifty-five minutes over lunch chatting and watching the koi in the pond that fronts the café.

1km up the road, I had a surprise. The last time I rode here was in the Cameron Highlands KOM event in December 2018. At that time there was nothing but a construction site.

Photograph courtesy of Google Maps

Today that construction site is the Kafe Banjaran. Which is clearly very popular with big bikers. The motorized kind. There is even a shop selling Route 185 merchandise.

Photograph courtesy of picgra.com

3km / 2mi later we were at the border between Perak and Pahang. Just 31km / 20mi to go . . . .

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The road continues upward, albeit with some short descents along the way, until the right turn onto Federal Route 59. From there it is a 7km / 4mi descent to the Cameron Valley Tea House. We stopped for some cardamom tea and scones with cream and strawberry jam.

We needed the calories. The road kicks upward from the Cameron Valley Tea House for 9km / 5.5mi and more than 400 metres / 1,300 feet of climbing to Brinchang. The payoff was chocolate-coated strawberries at the Kea Farm street market. I have to admit that I didn’t expect the strawberries to be so good. What a treat that was. We should have bought more.

Photograph courtesy of Lacasa Biru Jr

We had just 6km / 4mi to go to Barrington Square and our apartment for the night. We checked into our fifth-floor G Residence apartment just as the clouds rolled in and it started to rain.

Choo Chian had picked another winner for accommodation. This time a comfortable and spacious two-bedroom apartment. Again bicycles are allowed inside the property and there is a lift. Barrington Square consists of three blocks of apartments, shops and restaurants. We didn’t have far to walk to dinner.

Paradise Reyan serves Middle Eastern and Western food. We had a combination: hummus as the starter and lamb pizza as the main course. Both were good.

Photograph courtesy of Paradise Reyan

It was lights out for me at 8.00pm. Fresh legs? Only in my dreams.

Day 3

We were out of the apartment at 6.30am. Brinchang is at an altitude of 1,540 metres / 5,050 feet. It was 14ºC / 57ºF. We had a mostly downhill and very chilly 3.5km / 2mi ride to Tanah Rata where we had breakfast at Restoran Nasi Kandar Mamu Ismail. The hot drinks and roti canai warmed us up before the still nippy 50km / 31mi descent to Tapah.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

About 4km / 2.5mi from Tanah Rata is the Cameron Valley tea plantation, owned by the Bharat Group. Bharat is Malaysia’s second largest tea producer.

It was very quiet as we dropped more than 1,000 metres / 3,300 feet through rain forest over the next fifty minutes. There was very little traffic on the road with us. However, the quality of the road surface was inconsistent. Sometimes smooth and then suddenly rutted and patched. So we had to keep our eyes on the road rather than on the scenery around us, especially when descending at more than 45kph / 28mph. The occasional pack of dogs on the road added to the hazards to be alert for.

I took off my windbreaker about two-thirds of the way down the mountain. Stowed on my saddle pack it made my butt look like a baboon’s.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

The gravity assist came to an end 10km / 6mi before we got to Tapah. From Tapah it is 70km / 43.5mi to ride to get to Tanjong Malim. With legs which were most definitely not fresh.

We had a long stop at Tapah, and an even longer one at Sungkai. Then a ten-minute break at Slim River before getting to Tanjong Malim at about 1.15pm. Where we had time to sit in the air conditioning at the PETRONAS station before riding to the station to catch the 1.55pm train to Kepong.

The only comments to make about the ride from Tapah is that there seemed to be a headwind for most of the time and the temperature went up from 28ºC / 82ºF to 36ºC / 97ºC.

The train was a welcome respite from the heat. Still all smiles as we waited for the train to depart.

The exertions of the trip caught up with us not long after we were seated.

We were all at home by about 4.00pm. It had been a tough trip. I won’t be doing the same route again in a hurry. But it was definitely a lot of fun riding with Choo Chian, Danial and Halim. There were plenty of laughs throughout the weekend.

Now if only there really were a cream to turn tired legs into Fresh Legs.

Photograph courtesy of HFL Laboratories

Excellent Warranty Policy: Apidura

Click on the Warranty link at the bottom of the Apidura home page and this is what appears:

WARRANTY

Apidura covers defects in material and craftsmanship for the reasonable lifetime and intended usage of its products. Should any flaw appear due to defective materials or craftsmanship, we will gladly repair or replace the product. If we determine the damage to be the result of normal wear and tear, abuse or accident, or exceeding reasonable expectations of the products lifespan, repairs will be made at a reasonable cost. Please note that this warranty excludes zipper damage.

We proudly stand behind this guarantee as it offers us the chance to see the effects of real user wear on our gear.

I recently put this guarantee to the test.

The Apidura Saddle Pack has an adjustable bungee cord on the top of the pack which allows for storage and easy retrieval of small items.

Two of the bungee cord attachments points came unstuck from my Saddle Pack.

I emailed the photograph above to Apidura customer service. Jonathan from Customer Service emailed back within 24 hours apologising for this failure, asking for the serial number of the item, and expressing the hope to resolve this as quickly as possible.

Jonathan again responded the day he received the serial number, confirming that Apidura consider this a manufacturing defect and are happy to replace this pack as part of their warranty policy.

He asked me to make a cut through the lash tab upon which the serial number is printed and then send him a photo of this so that Apidura can identify the pack as one that has been replaced under warranty. He even sent a photograph showing where to make the cut.

Photograph courtesy of Apidura

I sent Jonathan a photograph of the cut lash tab and the next morning I received a Fedex International Priority Service tracking number for a replacement Saddle Pack. I will get my replacement pack tomorrow.

Apidura make high-quality packs and accessories, but their products are not the cheapest in the market. I prefer to pay more for a quality product that comes with a world-class warranty and responsive customer service.

Kudos to Apidura.

Graphic courtesy of Bitmoji

Credit Card Tour to Port Dickson and Melaka

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

When the four of us were planning this trip we referred to it as road bikepacking. I have since discovered that is is not the correct term for what we did. Bikepacking involves at least one or more nights of camping.

What we did was credit card cycle touring. Which is essentially like bikepacking but without the camping gear. Accommodation was procured with our credit cards.

Day 1: Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson. 108km / 67mi.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Three Apiduras and one Topeak met early in the morning at the Shell station on Jalan Kampung Pandan in Kuala Lumpur. We got onto the Maju Expressway and rode south through Cyberjaya to Dengkil where we stopped for breakfast. From Dengkil we rode to Sepang. This is a section of Federal Route 29 somewhere around Kota Warisan.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

We stopped at the Shell station in Sepang to refill bottles.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

From Sepang, we would normally have ridden onto Federal Route 5 toward Port Dickson. But Choo Chian and Halim had never been on the little ferry that crosses the Sepang River at Sungai Pelek. So we rode 8km / 5mi in the opposite direction so we could take that 70-metre ferry ride.

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Farid Abu Bakar

The ferry carries pedestrians, motorbikes and bicycles. Contrary to Chris de Burgh’s advice, you pay the ferryman when you board. 80 sen / US20 cents per person and bicycle.

Danial, Choo Chian, Halim and I on the ferry.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki
Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

It was 12km from the ferry to rejoin Federal Route 5 south of Sepang at Tanah Merah.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki
Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

And a further 15km / 9mi to the Waterfront Boutique Hotel in Port Dickson. We got there at 12.45pm, which was a bit early to check in. So we spent an hour over lunch at the McDonald’s nearby to pass the time.

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent washing cycling kit (Choo Chian and I hung our kit to dry on a lamp post outside the hotel), napping and eating and drinking at PappaRich, Double Queue Thai Cuisine (the pad thai was pretty good) and Starbucks. All within walking distance of the Waterfront Boutique Hotel.

The Waterfront Boutique Hotel is in a commercial development that houses a bank, a 7-Eleven and a number of other restaurants. So the location is excellent. Another plus point is that bicycles are allowed in guest rooms. The only downside is that you have to carry your bike up and down stairs. No lifts.

Day 2: Port Dickson to Melaka. 84km / 52mi.

We were up early for the ride to Melaka. While Danial and Halim were getting ready, Choo Chian and I perused the bun shelves at the 7-Eleven looking for something for Halim to nibble before we started riding. We were spoiled for choice.

We were on Federal Route 5 towards Melaka at about 6.30am.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

The road was very quiet.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

Federal Route 5 follows the coast from Port Dickson until Pasir Panjang, where it heads inland to Linggi. We turned right off Federal Route 5 onto Jalan Pasir Panjang – Kuala Linggi (N143) and immediately stopped at a roadside restaurant for breakfast. Halim and Danial were happy at the prospect of food.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

The N143 continues along the coast. It becomes Federal Route 138 as it crosses the Linggi River, which at that point forms the border between the states of Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.

At Kuala Sungai Baru we left Federal Route 138 to ride along Jalan Telok Gong / Pengkalan Balak, which hugs the beach facing the Straits of Malacca for about 5km / 3mi. There is a concrete jetty at Kampung Sungai Tuang which we couldn’t resist riding onto.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian
Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

At 10.45am we were at Klebang. The day was starting to get hot (it was 37ºC / 99ºF when we got to Port Dickson the day before). Not that we needed an excuse to stop at Klebang Original Coconut Shake.

Photograph courtesy of Halim Zin

The home of the best coconut shakes in Melaka.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Choo Chian told us that we must visit Baba Charlie Nyonya Cake next. The Baba Nyonyas, also known as the Straits-born Chinese, are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago between the 15th and 17th centuries. They have developed a unique “Nyonya” cuisine which includes a wide variety of traditional kuih or cakes.

Photograph courtesy of Baba Charlie Nyonya Cake

It took a bit of time to find Baba Charlie despite it being only 3km / 2mi from Klebang Original Coconut Shake. When we got there we found that it is a take away kuih shop. No tables and chairs there.

But we also found out that there is a Baba Charlie Cafe less than 500 metres from the kuih shop. With AC and a lunch menu. It wasn’t noon yet so we have lots of time to burn before we could check in to the hotel. So we had a Nyonya meal.

Lemak nenas prawns, Cincalok fried omelette, brinjal udang kering and chicken curry. And kuih and cendol for dessert.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

It ws 1.30pm. I was stuffed. And it was 38ºC/ 100ºF outside. Thank goodness it was only 4km / 2.5mi to the Fenix Inn. Our hotel for the night. Another bicycle-friendly hotel that allows bikes in guest rooms. Once again we asked for rooms on the first floor so we only had one flight of stairs to negotiate.

And once again the afternoon itinerary included laundry, a nap and a visit to the corner Starbucks. Once the day had cooled down we walked to dinner at Pak Putera Restaurant, which has a reputation as one of the better tandoori and naan restaurants in Melaka. We sat outside in the open air, which was pleasant. The food was merely okay, though I must admit that the tandoori chicken was good.

Day 3: Melaka to Tampin. 38km / 24mi.

We had another early start. We wanted to catch the 9.10am KTM Komuter train from Tampin station to KL Sentral station. That meant leaving the Fenix Inn at about 6.30am. Not that we got very far before stopping for breakfast. There is a McDonald’s 100 metres from the Fenix Inn.

The ride was unremarkable apart from the strong wind, which seemed to be against us for the entire ride. When we got to the station the train was already at the platform. We scanned out Komuter Link cards at the turnstile (KTM has introduced stored value cards as the payment mechanism for Komuter journeys) and took our customary places in car 6. As is often the case, we were the only occupants.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Other passengers did join us in that car as the train made its way to KL Sentral station. The Komuter trains on the southern route seem to have more passengers than the Komuter service to the north of Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps because the southern route connects to the KLIA Express and to the long-distance bus terminal at Bandar Tasik Selatan.

It is a two-hour ride with sixteen stops from Tampin station to KL Sentral station. It is a short walk through the KL Sentral station concourse to the street outside.

Photograph courtesy of Halim Zin

Danial had the shortest ride home. Choo Chian, Halim and I had about 8km / 5mi to pedal to get to where each of us lives.

We all enjoyed our latest credit card tour. Lots of fun and laughter. We are ready to do another one. The only question is . . .

Graphic courtesy of Bitmoji

Four Apiduras and One Topeak to Teluk Intan

Danial, Halim and I had intended to do a bicycle tour to Port Dickson and Melaka at the end of December. That plan was scuttled when I had to pull out.

The next possible dates for an overnight were over the Thaipusam long weekend. Choo Chian and Mark were able to join this time. The program was to take the KTM Komuter train to Tanjung Malim and then to ride from there to Teluk Intan.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Choo Chian met up with Halim in Ampang and they rode to the Kepong KTM station. Danial rode from his home and linked up with Choo Chian and Halim en route to the Kepong station. The three of them had to reroute when they discovered that Jalan Ipoh was completely closed for the Thaipusam chariot procession.

Photograph courtesy of The Sun Daily

Despite the redirection, they got to the Kepong station in time to catch the first train of the day to Tanjung Malim. That train departs Kepong at 7.30am.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Track upgrading works mean that until the end of 2019 the Komuter train service to Tanjung Malim starts and terminates at Kepong. Once the upgrading is completed the service will run from and to KL Sentral station.

I drove to Mark’s house and we rode to the Kuang KTM station. The first train to Tanjung Malim gets to Kuang at 7.54am. We would meet our three companions on that train.

Mark and I got into the last of the six carriages as discussed to find that the other three had boarded the first carriage. Fortunately, that was the only part of our two-day plan that went awry. We nevertheless had both carriages to ourselves.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

We arrived at the Tanjung Malim KTM station bang on at 8.51am. On thing that KTM got right is running the Komuter service on schedule.

We rode one kilometre from the station to Restoran Ocu Amy on Jalan Ketoyong for breakfast. Fed and watered, we got onto Federal Route 1 and rode northwest to Sungkai, which is just over halfway to Teluk Intan.

Federal Route 1 is believed to be the nation’s earliest public roadways ever constructed. Construction began in 1880 under the orders of the Sultan of Kedah at that time, connecting Alor Star to Songkhla, Thailand. Federal Route 1 now runs 993km / 617mi from Johor Bahru in the south to Bukit Kayu Hitam in the north.

In 1994 the North-South Expressway took the role of the Federal Route 1 as the main backbone route in Peninsular Malaysia. This has reduced the volume of traffic on Federal Route 1. Coupled with the numerous towns that grew along its path, Federal Route 1 is quite a nice road to cycle on.

We stopped at Slim River for ten minutes. We stopped again at Sungkai. It was 11.00am, we were riding under a cloudless sky and the air temperature was already 32ºC / 90ºF. We needed a cold drink and to refill water bottles.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We left Federal Route 1 at Sungkai to join Jalan Kuala Bikam – Sungkai (Perak State Route A189). That road is relatively new, so the surface is good. However, I managed to bang into one of the very few potholes after about 10km / 6mi. I was more vigilant about keeping my eyes on the road ahead after. There were no more flats.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The temperature had risen to 35ºC / 95ºF by 12.30pm. We were getting toasted.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

We stopped again after 63km / 39mi for yet more drinks and bottle refills. That was a 20 minute stop. It was even hotter. We needed some time in the shade.

20km / 12mi later we were in Teluk Intan. More specifically we were in the McDonald’s Teluk Intan. It was almost 2.00pm. Time for lunch.

Hot and happy to be at our destination.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The Yew Boutique Hotel is our regular hostelry when we visit Teluk Intan. Not least because it is a bike-friendly hotel with a convenient place to leave our bicycles right next to the 24-hour reception desk.

We parked our bikes, plopped into chairs in the air-conditioned lounge area and drank numerous glasses of the lemon citrus water provided by the hotel for its guests. Then it was time for showers and to wash our sweaty cycling kit.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Another plus for the Yew Boutique Hotel is its friendly and accommodating staff. It was no problem to hang our kit to dry on the fence next to the car park. We were even given extra hangers.

Everyone then took naps. At about 5.30pm I was awake and convinced Mark to come with me to explore the neighbourhood. I messaged the other guys but got no reply. Mark got no reply to his offer to get some of the famous Teluk Intan chee cheong fun. They were still fast asleep.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Those are rainclouds over the arch. The wind blew those clouds toward Mark and I. When rain drops started falling on us we made a quick call to Halim to ask him to bring all our cycling kit inside.

I had booked an udang galah (giant freshwater prawn) dinner at Restoran D’Tepian Sungai. The udang galah is frankly our only reason for visiting Teluk Intan. The rain stopped in time for us to get to the riverside restaurant only five minutes late.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian
Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The udang galah dishes – masak lemak cili padi, tiga rasa and goreng berempah, as always, were awesome.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

In a post-feast prawn coma . . .

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

On the way back to the hotel we bought Magnum and Solero ice creams for dessert. It was 8.45pm. A bit early to go to bed even though the plan was to start riding at 6.30am. We sat in the hotel lounge drinking more of that lemon citrus water as we chatted. It was 11.00pm before we checked the time again. Definitely time to the hit the hay.

We all slept well. Yet another plus for the Yew Boutique Hotel is that it is in a very quiet part of town. The New Glutton Square food court next door shuts down quite early.

We were on the road right about on schedule, with our first stop of the day being 4km / 2.5mi down the road at Restoran M. Gulam Rasul for breakfast.

It was such a nice change to be riding in cool temperatures.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

We were in Sungkai at 8.30am. We stopped at a BHPetrol station for drinks. These ducks stopped there too, but they didn’t get a drink.

We briefly entertained thoughts of getting to Tanjung Malim in time for the 10.15am train but conceded that was too ambitious. A more realistic goal if we had started at 6.00am.

We had plenty of time to make the next departure from Tanjung Malim at 11.55am.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

We were on the same route that we had ridden the day before.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Danial and Choo Chian stopped again at the PETRONAS station in Slim River. The petrol station where I had dropped and broken the screen of my mobile phone during our ride back from Ipoh in July last year. Halim and Mark were ahead of us and had stopped a kilometre up the road. I kept going and as I rode past them I shouted: “Let’s ride to Kuala Kubu Bahru.”

It is just over 21km / 1mi from Slim River to Tanjung Malim. Kuala Kubu Bahru (KKB) is a further 21km down the road. The three of us got to the PETRONAS station in Tanjung Malim at 10.20am. The train we wanted to be on leaves KKB station at 12.11pm. There was more than enough time for us to ride to KKB.

We got to KKB at about 11.30am. We had time to ride into KKB town for some fresh coconut water and a slice of sweet pineapple before heading to the station.

Choo Chian and Danial were on the train, in the last car this time, when we got on. It was getting as hot as it had been the day before, and the air conditioning on the train was very welcome. Though it didn’t feel as cold as it had been on previous rides.

Mark and I got off the train at the Sungai Buloh station. It was too hot to ride back to Taman Megah from Kuang. Choo Chian, Danial and Halim got off at Kepong.

Mark and I made one last stop before getting back to his house. It was 37ºC / 99ºF. A couple of bowls of icy cendol hit the spot.

The heat was the only drawback in a very enjoyable weekend. Good company, good food and good riding. All in all a very successful bike tour. More of the same, please.

** Four of us have Apidura saddle packs to hold our clothes and other bits and pieces. The other uses a Topeak saddle pack.