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The R@SKLs Birthday Ride for TH

The word went out one month ago.  There would be a special santai (relaxed) ride followed by lunch to celebrate TH’s birthday.

Then the route was revealed.  We ride from the Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant car park through Batu 14 and over Bukit Hantu to the Sungai Tekala Recreation Forest.  We would then retrace our route back over Bukit Hantu and up 3km / 1.9mi of the climb to Lookout Point back to the restaurant.  So much for a santai ride.

TH Birthday Original Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

The day before the ride I was asked to map an alternate route for the “less strong” riders who didn’t want to climb Bukit Hantu.

There was really only one option.   Ride from Batu 14 to Batu 18, and then along Jalan Sungai Lui and Jalan Sungai Lalang to the Jalan Sungai Tekali junction.  Then turn around and ride the same route in reverse.

TH Birthday Alternate Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

The alternate route prompted lots of chatter about where to start the ride.  The thought of 140 meters / 460 feet of climbing to get back to the restaurant with Bukit Hantu in our legs didn’t appeal to many.  So we decided to park at the Gou Lou Chicken Rice shop on Jalan Sungai Tekali.

That turned out to be a good choice not just because it eliminated that final climb.  We discovered that the road from the restaurant car park to Jalan Hulu Langat was not only bumpy and heavily patched, it was also steep.  70 meters / 230 feet of elevation over 0.6km / 0.4mi.

Twenty-five of us turned up for TH’s birthday ride.  A discussion in the Gou Lou Chicken Rice shop car park on the relative merits of each of the proposed routes ended with everyone deciding to do the Bukit Hantu climb.

We regrouped at the top of the climb, and again after the descent.

And when everyone got to the Sungai Tekala Recreation Forest, we decided to continue on to the Fatt Hwa Gong Temple in Semenyih.

TH Birthday Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Two riders chose to wait at the Sungai Tekala Recreation Forest while the rest of us rode to the temple.

“The temple is only 5km from here,” said a few in the group.

Yeah right.  It was 12km / 7.5mi later that we were on the steps of the temple.

TH Birthday Temple Johan S

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan

The jaunt to the temple added 25km / 15.5mi to our ride.  When we got back to the Sungai Tekala Recreation Forest we all decided that we would tackle to climb back over Bukit Hantu rather than ride the flatter but longer route to Batu 18 and then back to Batu 14.

It was a challenge going up the steeper side, but everyone got over Bukit Hantu for the second time that morning.  It felt warmer than the thermometer temperature of 29°C / 84°F.  Cold drinks were required before we drove to the Veg Fish Farm Thai Restaurant.

We had some time to burn anyway as lunch wasn’t until 11.00am.

TH Birthday Ride After Drinks Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

The restaurant is built around a large fish pond.  The food is delivered from the kitchen to various sections of the restaurant by a small motorboat.

TH Birthday Ride Restaurant Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

And food there was aplenty.

Of course there was cake too.

TH Birthday Ride Cake Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Naely and Kevin also have birthdays in June.

TH Birthday Ride Trio

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

Everyone was stuffed to the gills (pardon the seafood pun!)

Thank you TH for inviting us to a fabulous lunch after a tough but enjoyable ride.  And an especially big thank you to Alison for the behind-the-scenes organisation.

TH Birthday Ride cake cutting

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

TH Birthday Banner

Selle Italia SP-01 Superflow

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The best cycling-related advice I have ever been given is “Make sure the bicycle frame you buy is the right size for you.”

The second-best is “If your saddle is comfortable and isn’t giving you trouble, don’t change it.”  I got the advice about saddles from a salesperson at Condor Cycles in London.

In 2012 fi’zi:k launched their Kurve range of saddles.

Fizik Kurve road cc

Photograph courtesy of road.cc

There were three models, in the range: the Snake, Chameleon and Bull.  Each shape was designed to suit where your bodyweight was positioned, as determined by your flexibility.  That was sufficiently geeky to attract me. 

I walked into Condor Cycles ready to buy a Kurve saddle.  The salesperson asked me which saddle I was using at the time, and if I liked it.  My first road bike came with a Selle Italia SL saddle.

Selle Italia SL

Photograph courtesy of Selle Italia

I said I had no complaints about that saddle.  Which is when she told me that she wouldn’t sell me a different saddle.

When I got my second road bike I went with a Selle Italia SLR Superflow saddle.  Which was essentially the SL with a larger cutout.

SLR-Superflow-S

Photograph courtesy of Selle Italia

Fast forward a few years, and my SLR Superflow was showing its age.

Selle Italia SL

There was a cut right at the tip on the left side.  A memento from a crash.  Riding in the rain with wet and gritty bibshorts had abraded the cover on either side of the nose.  And the blue elastomer insert under the rails at the front had been squeezed out of shape.  It was time for a new saddle.

Last July Selle Italia announced the latest iteration of the Superflow saddle.  The SP-01.

Selle Italia SP-01-TITANIUM superflow

Photograph courtesy of Selle Italia

Immediately noticeble is that the rear frame is divided into two parts.  This allows the saddle to adapt and flex subtly to different riding positions and shifts of rider weight from side to side and front to back.  That was sufficiently geeky to attract me.

The avice from the Condor Cycles salesperson was ringing in my ears.  But I figured I was safe by keeping my new saddle choice in the Superflow family.

I’ve had the SP-01 Superflow for a couple of months now.  I like it alot.  I still have an SLR Superflow on my Ritchey Break-Away.  So I have been able to compare the two saddles.  This is a subjective assessment, but the SP-01 Superflow does feel a bit more comfortable and compliant than the SLR Superflow.

The SP-01 Superflow meets that main criteria for any saddle.  I have a

Happy Bottom

Photograph courtesy of worldofsigns.com

Check With Your Doctor

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Ticket to Ride banner

Every now and then newspapers and especially social media carry reports of a cyclist succumbing to a heart attack or cardiac arrest mid-ride.  The cyclists are usually men in their 40s or older.  The latest happened three Sundays ago during an organised century ride.

These events generate a flurry of conversation about cycling being risky for older individuals.  Despite all the research showing the health benefits of cycling for older adults.

I am not implying that precautions are not necessary.  My Biker Chick is very very supportive of my cycling habit.  With one proviso.  I must pass a full health screening every year.

Ticket to Ride medical assessment

My annual medical examination includes the usual blood and urine tests, a pulmonary function test, a resting 12-lead ECG and treadmill stress test, a chest x-ray and a full abdomen and pelvic ultrasound examination.  This year I added a full skin analysis since I spend a lot of time in the sun and had a squamous cell carcinoma a few years ago.

Ticket to ride all clear

I’m good to go for another year!

 

Chamang Waterfall with the R@SKLs

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Chamang Banner odysseyonline com

Photograph courtesy of odysseyonline.com

My body clock usually wakes me up before the alarm clock goes off.  I was awake before the alarm clock buzzed this morning, but this time it was thunder and lightning at 4.30am which stirred me.  Not a good omen for a ride that thirty people had signed up for.

It was still raining in most of Kuala Lumpur at 6.00am.  The last time this happened, I stayed in bed.  Only to later see R@SKLs smiling in group photographs taken on dry roads.

This time I took the chance that it would be dry in Bukit Tinggi.  Kedai Makan dan Minum Zheng Ji (literally translated as Zheng Ji Eat and Drink Shop) in Bukit Tinggi was the designated meeting point for the start of the ride.

Depending on where you live in Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Tinggi is 40km to 50km / 25mi to 31mi away.  The rain put some people off from driving that far.  I started to have my own doubts as I drove through the rain at Genting Sempah, which is 5km / 3mi from Zheng Ji.

I needn’t have worried.  The rain had stopped by the time I parked my car.  Half a dozen buddies were already sitting over hot drinks at Zheng Ji, and more were arriving by the minute.  Twenty-eight riders were ready to roll at 7.20am.  The roads were wet, but the rain had stopped.

Chamang Start 01 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Chamang Start Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Our destination was the Chamang waterfall, with a stop in Bentong on the way for breakfast.

Chamang Route

It is about 28km / 17.4mi from Bukit Tinggi to Bentong.  Almost all of it downhill.  We were on the old road between Kuala Lumpur and Bentong.  The old road runs alongside the Kuala Lumpur – Karak Highway, which was opened in the 1970s to provide a faster and safer link between Kuala Lumpur and the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

There is usually very little traffic on the old road.  Add the overcast skies and you have very pleasant conditions for a ride.  Despite the short flooded section and the occasional rutted patch of tarmac.

Chamang On The Road 03 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Chamang On The Road 01 Khoo Bin Soo

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

Among us were some cyclists who had never ridden this route before.  We stopped after 11km / 7mi at Bentong Hot Spring to regroup.

Chamang Bentong Hot Spring gobentong com

Photograph courtesy of gobentong.com

All smiles at this point.

Chamang Hot Springs 03 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Chamang Hot Springs 01 Arthur Ang

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

The next regrouping location was the Shell station on the edge of Bentong town.  Clearly some fiddling was going on here.

Chamang Bentong Shell Station 02 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Chamang Bentong Shell Station 03 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Then it was on to breakfast at Kedai Kopi dan Makanan Kow Hing (Kow Hing Coffee and Food Shop).

Chamang Bentong Breakfast Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Napoleon Bonaparte said Une armée marche sur son ventre (An army marches on its stomach).

In the case of the R@SKLs, Le peloton monte sur son ventre (The peloton rides on its stomach).

Stomachs ready for more cycling, it was on to Chamang waterfall.  The ride to the waterfall requires about 200 metres / 655 feet of climbing.  Which is even more of a challenge when you are on a touring bike, as Marco was.

Chamang Entrance Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The work was worth it.  The waterfall was in full flow.  The heavy rain the night before meant that there was a greater volume of water than usual tumbling down the rock face.

Chamang Waterfall 03

Group photo time.

Chamang Waterfall Group Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Those darned photobombers!

Chamang Waterfall 01 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

The first time I rode to Chamang waterfall was in 2013 with the Flipsiders.  It was very nice to be still riding with some of that group.

Chamang Flipside Marco Lai 02

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Usually, where hills are involved, our rides end with a descent.  This time the last part of our ride was the 550 meter / 1,800 foot climb from Bentong to Bukit Tinggi.

Still smiling!

Chamang On The Road 02 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We made the obligatory stop in Bentong to take photos in front of the big sign.

Chamang Bentong Sign 01 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Paul deserves a solo photo for smiling through the longest ride he has done for some time.  Despite getting a puncture.

Chamang Bentong Sign 02 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Everyone finished the ride safely, albeit sweatily because the sun had come out and the humidity had soared over the last 20km / 12.5mi.  Just what we didn’t need on the uphill road.

Stomachs needed refilling in Bukit Tinggi.

I’m sure the R@SKLs will do this ride again soon.  Those who slept in are demanding it!

The R@SKLs get fried

Temperature

I suspect what will be remembered most about today’s ride to Pulau Carey is how hot it was while we were riding back to Kota Kemuning.  It got up to 37° C / 99° F.  Combine the temperature with the humidity of almost 70%, and the temperature felt like 45° C /  113° F.  Even a rare tailwind – hooray – between Jenjarom and Bandar Rimbayu did nothing to cool us down.

Route

We shouldn’t have been surprised that it got so hot.  It felt warmer and more humid than usual at 6.15am when the first R@SKLs arrived at Restoran BR Maju.  Warning sign #1.

Carey Island early arrival

Photograph courtesy of Alfred Chan

30 of us were ready to roll at 7.00am.  Under a cloudless sky.  Warning sign #2.

Carey Island start

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Twenty minutes later we were riding through Bandar Rimbayu, with the sun already making its presence felt as it rose above the horizon. Warning sign #3.

Carey Island riding

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We were in Jenjarom at 8.00am.  The temperature was 28° C / 82° F.  About half of the group could only do a short ride and were turning back at Jenjarom.  We all flooded into a coffee shop for breakfast before the group split up.

Carey island breakfast

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Carey island breakfast 2

Photograph courtesy of Jiv Sammanthan

40 minutes later 17 of us continued on to Pantai Tanjung Rhu, Pulau Carey.  We were very happy to see that sections of Jalan Klang Banting had recently been resurfaced.  Including the section between the Lebuhraya Lembah Klang Selatan flyover and Jalan Bandar Lama, which had been exceptionally badly rutted and potholed.

As you can see from the route map above, Pulau Carey is barely an island.  The land mass of Pulau Carey is separated from the peninsula by the Langat River and a narrow meandering finger of the Strait of Malacca.

When we got to the sea at 9.20am, the tide was out.

Carey Island panorama

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

There was no shade, which was inconvenient as Jiv had a puncture just as we got to the end of the road.  There was quite a bad cut in his tire, so the fix was a bit involved and took some time.  CK to the rescue!

Carey Island flat

Photograph courtesy of Jiv Sammanthan

We interrupted the repair for a group photograph.  It was too hot to linger, so as soon as Jiv’s tire was fixed we started the return leg to Kota Kemuning.

Carey Island group

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

By 10.30am we had covered the 16km / 10mi between the beach and our regular cendol stall.  Wet, ice cold and sweet.  Just what the doctor ordered when it was 32° C / 90° F and felt closer to 37° C / 99° F.

Carey Island cendol

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The temperature kept climbing as we rode the 28km / 17mi from the cendol stop to Restoran BR Maju in Kota Kemuning.  We needed a short rest in the shade at Kampung Sri Cheeding after 15km / 9mi.

Lots of sunblock and sunscreen were applied today.  Nevertheless, I suspect some of us got burnt over the last 35minutes of the ride today.  It was a scorcher!  Probably hot enough to do this.

Carey Island fried egg

Photograph courtesy of alert-conservation.org

 

Enough already!

 

 

Flat Banner

Diorama courtesy of my Biker Chick

I’ve been fixing flat tires a few too many times lately.  As in three times in one week.  More often than not, the punctures were caused by staples like these.

Staple

I have pulled entire “fresh” staples out of my tires.  After staples have been on the road for a while they look like this.

The Culprit Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

The latest rash of staple-induced flats got me thinking.  I had many punctures while riding in Houston and Den Haag, but none of those were caused by staples.  Broken glass, sharp flints and stones, and thorns – yes.  But not staples.

Do Malaysian roads have an unusually high proportion of staples mixed in with the other road debris?

I did a little survey, asking respondents to rank the following causes of bicycle tire punctures, from most frequent (1) to least frequent (6).  The choices were:

  • Glass
  • Thorns
  • Staples or other wire
  • Pinch flats
  • Flints or other small stones
  • Unknown cause

I received 42 responses.  The table below shows the number of times each option was ranked as the most frequent cause of punctures.  Two respondents did not indicate a top cause of punctures.

Chart 2

30.00% of respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the number 1 cause of punctures.  22.50% of respondents ranked Pinch flats as the number 1 cause of punctures.
22.50% of respondents ranked Glass as the number 1 cause of punctures.

33 of the respondents live in Malaysia.  3 live in North America.  2 live in The Netherlands.  2 live in Australia / New Zealand.  1 lives in The United Kingdom.  And 1 lives in another Asian country.

2 out of the 3 North American respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the number 1 cause of punctures.   The other North American rated Staples or other wire as the second most frequent cause of punctures.  So perhaps I was just lucky to avoid staples when I lived and rode in the United States.

Interestingly, both of the Dutch respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the least frequent cause of punctures.  Which matches my own experience over more than two years of cycling in The Netherlands.

The sample size is small, and the methodology is not scientific by any means.  Nevertheless, this survey does show that Malaysian cyclists suffer more punctures due to staples or other wire (usually fragments of steel wire from failed car and truck tires) than from any other cause.

I don’t know why there are so many staples on Malaysian roads.  Perhaps stapled paper, being light, gets blown out of rubbish trucks and onto the road.

I do know that some Malaysians have the atrocious habit of tossing rubbish out of their moving cars.  Which has to be the explanation for the most unusual cause of a puncture reported by a Malaysian cyclist.  A chicken bone.

Other causes of punctures reported by respondents were variations on pinch flats – hitting a pothole, drain grille etc. (4), faulty valve stems (2), worn or misaligned rim tape (2), old inner tubes (2), nails or screws (2) and overheating by being left in a car under a hot sun.

I have my share of pinch flats too.  My fault for not checking my tire pressures before every ride.

There’s not much I can do about the staples and other debris on the roads, apart from staying off the road shoulders as much as possible.

Perhaps it is time to consider an old-school device – a tire saver / tire wiper.

Tire Saver Stronglight flickr com

Photograph courtesy of Stronglight at flickr.com

 

What causes your flat tires?

I’ve had four punctures in the past eight days.  Which made me curious about the common causes of punctures amongst cyclists.

If you want to share your experience, please click on the link below to respond to my survey on the subject:

Link to my survey

Thank you.