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Monthly Archives: January 2013

OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2013

My alarm went off this morning at 4.15am.  It was time to get ready for the OCBC Cycle Malaysia ride.  Malaysia’s only mass participation cycling event on closed, public roads in Kuala Lumpur.

OCBC Route

Our start time was 6.15am.  That would give us time to complete four loops before the city streets were once again opened to motorcycles, cars, lorries and buses at 8.30am.

By 5.00am my Racun Cycling Gang buddies were arriving at the entrance to my apartment building.  The ride started in front of the Petronas Twin Towers.  The building I live in is 500 meters from the Twin Towers.  So I had access to some of the most coveted parking space in the KLCC area.

At 5.30am we were gathered in front of Restoran Pelita, about two-thirds of the way to the start.  That was where we met those of our group who had parked further away and had ridden to the KLCC.

Time for some last-minute adjustments before we rolled to the start.


This ride was billed as one of the largest of its kind in Malaysia.  It certainly seemed that way as we waited amongst about 5,000 other riders at the start.


There were riders from Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and from further afield.  Being amongst so many riders was a bike-spotter’s dream.  The “splash the cash” award went to the rider on the bike right beside us at the start.  I had never seen a Specialized S-Works McLaren Venge in the wild before.

The only difference between the bike in the photo above and the one we saw this morning was that the Zipp 404s had been swapped out for a Mad Fiber carbon wheelset.

Photo courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photo courtesy of Procycling at

So it was with the heady sight of a RM 54,000 / US 18,000 bicycle disappearing into the darkness ahead of me that I started the ride.

Photo courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photo courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

I soon forgot all about the Venge as what was supposed to be a fun ride exploded around me.

For some reason the organisers had given each of us a timing chip.  Perhaps that was the reason for so many people blasting along the fairly narrow start chute at maximum speed.  Sadly a number of riders came to grief a few minutes later along Jalan Raja Chulan when they hit a pot hole at speed in the pre-dawn darkness.  From the pieces scattered along the edge of the road I think at least two riders are in the market for new carbon front wheels.  A few others required medical attention after going down hard.

Mark L picked up a double puncture along the same stretch of road.  Fortunately we had a spare inner tube each so he was able to fix both flats.  The upside, if you could call it that, of having a double puncture is that by the time we got rolling again the sun was up, and the high-speed riders were all ahead of us.

The rest of the ride was a lot of fun.  A few meandering cyclists notwithstanding.  After the drama of the flat tires there was a short climb into the Lake Gardens followed by a u-turn back down the hill.  We rode past the Bank Negara Malaysia (Central Banks of Malaysia) building and through a wooded and quieter part of the city.  The second half of the loop took us back past the office blocks, shop houses, hotels and apartments of the city center.  It was a treat to ride on streets that are usually clogged with traffic.

Photo courtesy of Yuri Wong.

Photo courtesy of Yuri Wong.

When I was sixteen I cycled to school along some of these same streets.  So I really appreciated the opportunity to ride through a city center that has changed dramatically since then.

The morning ended in the best way possible.  I made it safely to the finish in front of the Twin Towers, where I got my participant medal.

Photo courtesy of Irene Cho

Photo courtesy of Irene Cho


Then it was back to Restoran Pelita with the Racun gang, where we traded ride stories between mouthfuls of roti canai, nasi lemak and teh tarik.

Local Weather Alert: Snow at Times.

Winter has truly arrived in the Netherlands.  There is snow in the forecast for Den Haag.

I can’t say I miss getting dressed for winter weather.

-3C 26F on the thermometer Felt like -8C 17F in th

I do miss the winter scenery though.  These frosty fields are near Delft.

Delft Distant View

This was near the Kyocera soccer stadium.  Home of ADO Den Haag.

Frosty today

On one weekend the ice on the Rottermeren was thick enough for people to skate.

Rottemeren Skating 03

The ducks could skate on the canals for longer.

It was colder today than it was yesterday 4C at be

I had wet feet over the weekend from riding in the rain.  I’ll take that over cold feet any day of the week.

I Know What To Buy You For Your Birthday

It rained hard in the early afternoon before the Putrajaya night ride yesterday evening.  So for the first time since I got home I clipped on my SKS Raceblade Long mudguards.  As it turned out the roads had dried out by the time we started the ride.  The mudguards attracted the interest of my riding companions but were excess to requirements.

The Raceblade Longs came off my bike last night.  Their place in my kit for this morning’s ride was taken by a tube of sunscreen and a couple of bottles of frozen drink.  The plan was for Syihan, Azhar and I to ride 20 km /12 mi or so from Bukit Jelutong along the familiar Guthrie Corridor Expressway.  Then would come the “Uncle Wiggily” bit for me.    A 25 km / 15 mi blast along the Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Selangor Expressway to the Ijok interchange before following our wheel tracks back to Bukit Jelutong.

Naturally it started raining as we got onto the Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Selangor Expressway.  It started raining hard.  Right about the time Azhar thought it would be fun to ride at 40kph plus.

I spent a lot of time in Azhar’s rooster tail of spray.  And Syihan’s.  I quickly learned that I was better off being right on the wheel in front rather than 3 meters behind.  Somehow the volume of spray increased exponentially the further back I was.

Needless to say we all got soaked to the skin.  Not that we minded in the least.  The rain and the overcast sky made for a cool morning.  I didn’t need my sunscreen.  The only downside was that my frozen drink wouldn’t melt fast enough.  I know I know.  Complain when it is hot.  Then complain when it is cool.

My Raceblades wouldn’t have helped me this morning.  I wish Azhar and Syihan had a set each though.

Work Bench Illustrated

I wrote about our Kuala Lumpur accommodation requirements in 2 Into 6 ft².  The tale of my ever-expanding collection of tools is in Giving it the Full Muller.  That blog post has a photograph of the work bench I was forced to buy after coming home from the Downland Cycles Bike Maintenance Course with yet more tools.  I have since rearranged how the tools are hung on the peg board.  I am not sure how it happened but the number of tools has grown as well.

Here is what lives on my work bench today.

Tool Bench 1

Starting at the top:

Number  Tool              Notes
      1 Rubber Mallet  So far only used with pedal wrench to “persuade” tight pedals to come off crank arms.
      2 Pledge Furniture Polish Makes bikes shiny. Helps stop road grunge from sticking to bikes. Comes with lemon scent if you so desire.
      3 Hex Wrenches Ironside.  Sizes 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 10mm.
      4 Pedal Wrench Standard 15mm pedal wrench.
      5 Chain Tool Park Tool CT-3.  Used to remove links so that new chains are the correct length.
      6 Vise Whip Pedro’s.  An excellent alternative to a chain whip.  For removing cassettes without skinning your knuckles.
      7 Radio & CD Player Bose Wave Radio.  You can’t wrench without tunes.
      8 Long Nose Locking Pliers Stanley.  For clamping and holding parts to be worked on.
      9 Cable Cutters Pedro’s.  So far used only to cut zip ties.
     10 Missing Link Opener KMC.  Makes easy work of removing SRAM Powerlock chain connectors.
     11 Rubber Gloves These give you sweaty hands, but that beats greasy hands.
     12 Needle Nose Pliers Straight needle nose and curved needle nose pliers for holding small and fiddly bits.
     13 Chaingrip Chain Holder BBB BTL-50.  Keeps chain under tension when rear wheel is removed.
     14 Torque Settings Crib Sheet List of torque setting for various bolts.  Crucial for proper tightening of said bolts.
     15 Hex Bits Britool Expert.  Sizes 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14 and 17mm hex bits.  For use with the Syntace torque wrench.
     16 Grease Gun Weldtite TF-2.
     17 Chain Wear Indicator Park Tool CC-3.2.
     18 Multitool Park Tool MT-1.  My first bike tool. 3, 4, 5, 6 and 8mm hex wrenches.  8, 9 and 10mm socket wrenches.  Flat blade screwdriver.
     19 Pen Knives Swiss Army.
     20 3-Way Hex Wrenches Park Tool AWS-1 (4, 5 and 6mm bits) and Park Tool AWS-3 (2, 2.5 and 3mm bits).
     21 Screw Drivers Assorted Park Tool and other flat blade and cross tip screw drivers.
     22 Touch-Up Paint Orbit Industries.  Fortunately only used once.
     23 Ultrasonic Cleaner James Ultra 7000.  One of the tools I bought after the bike mechanic’s course.  Excellent for cleaning cogs, chains etc.
     24 Chain Lube Finish Line Dry Lube and Purple Extreme.  The Purple Extreme is my current favorite.
     25 Cable Puller XLC.  Unused to date.  I have to refer to my course notes to remind myself of how to use it.
     26 Cone Wrench Cyclus 19mm.  Fits the preload adjuster on my Easton EA90 SLX rear hubs.
     27 Spoke Wrench Park Tool SW-0 3.23mm.  Fits the spoke nipples on my Easton EA90 SLX wheels.
     28 3-Way Socket Wrench Park Tool ST-3 with 8, 9 and 10mm sockets.
     29 Magnetic Parts Bowl Pedro’s.  Bolts, screws and other ferrous parts stay put.
     30 Bottom Bracket Tool IceToolz MO91.  For use with the Syntace torque wrench.
     31 Cassette Lock Ring Tool IceToolz with pin.  For use with the Syntace torque wrench.
     32 8mm Hex Bit Britool Expert.  Most used size.  For use with the Syntace torque wrench to remove and install SRAM self-extracting crank bolts.
     33 Utility Knife Park Tool UK-1.
     34 Magnetic Knife Rack IKEA Grundtal.  Knife rack that is a convenient size to hold various tools that cannot be hung on a peg board.
     35 Chain Wear Indicator Wipperman.  A giveaway item from a bike show.
     36 Hook & Pick Set Bluespot.  For cleaning bolt threads, removing debris from tires etc.
     37 Aluminum Rim Cleaning Block Mavic.  For cleaning and smoothing the brake tracks on aluminum rims.
     38 Mini Torque Wrench Giustaforza 2-16.  Click-type torque wrench comes with a variety of bits.  Torque range of between 2 and 16 Nm.  Good for tightening stem bolts, seat post bolts etc.
     39 Torque Wrench Syntace.  Click-type torque wrench with a range of between 5 and 80 Nm.  Essential for tightening crank bolts, bottom bracket cups and cassette lock rings.
     40 Wipes Bison.  Degreasing wipes in a convenient dispenser.
     41 Degreaser Cyclon Bionet.  A biodegradable degreaser.
     42 Chain Lube Pedro’s Ice Wax.  Good in wet conditions.
     43 Anti-Rust Spray Hunter’s.  I’ve sprayed some down the seat tube of my steel bike. I figure it can’t hurt.

Not visible on my work bench, but probably my most-used tool, if you can call it that, is a Lezyne Classic Floor Drive pump.  Worth every penny for the threaded chuck alone.

Also not in the photo is my Feedback Sports Pro-Classic work stand.  The second most-used item in my home workshop.

It may have taken me a long time to figure out why my steel bike was creaking, but it wasn’t for the lack of tools!

Another Uncle Wiggily

Many moons ago I lived with a host family in Painesville, Ohio.  I have very fond memories of my year as an American Field Service (AFS) exchange student.  One memory in particular is of Uncle Wiggily Longears.  Uncle Wiggily is the main character in more than seventy children’s books by Howard Garis.  Those books must have been a childhood favourite in my host family.  “An Uncle Wiggily” came to mean a new adventure or experience.

I just had my latest “Uncle Wiggily”.  I have driven along the Shah Alam Expressway on countless occasions.  Also known as KESAS, it is a major roadway linking Kuala Lumpur, Cheras, Petaling Jaya, Subang Jaya, Shah Alam and Klang.  I never dreamt that one day I would cycle a part of it.  That day, or night to be precise, came yesterday.

Six of us started off near the Sunway Lagoon Theme Park.  I managed to have a rear tire puncture as we rode past the Monash University Malaysia campus on the way to the highway.  All of two kilometers from where we had parked our cars.  I suppose better there than alongside the highway.  The university carpark came in useful as a safe place to replace the inner tube.  My companions were ahead of me when I stopped.  It is a good thing they came back for me.  I didn’t know the route.  It would have been a short ride back to my car.


Photo courtesy of maslogo

We rode on the motorcycle lane beside the highway.  The riding surface is very good and all the tunnels are well-lit.  Best of all we didn’t get buzzed by many motorcycles and scooters

Photo courtesy of Sam Cheong at The Samosaurus Chronicles

Photo courtesy of Sam Cheong at The Samosaurus Chronicles

We covered about 30 kilometers from the Kewajipan interchange to the Sukom interchange and back to the Sunway interchange.  Negotiating the Sunway interchange toll booths in a car is often a fraught-filled experience because of all the traffic.  Cycling unhindered around those toll booths was a most pleasant “Uncle Wiggily”.


Shall We Climb?

Wind comes with the territory, so to speak, in the Netherlands.  So often the key decision for the Not Possibles is whether to start a ride with the wind or against it.  Hills come with the territory in Kuala Lumpur.  The choice to be made here is to ride a route with some climbing, or to ride a route with a lot of climbing.  The choice on recent weekends has been to climb a lot.  1,319 meters / 4,300 feet the Sunday before Christmas.  1,069 meters / 3,500 feet the Saturday before New Year’s.

So it was nice to climb ‘only’ 684 meters / 2,240 feet last weekend.  The Racun Cycling Gang met at Pekan Batu 18 at the usual unearthly hour of 6.45am.  Well, some of us were there at 6.45am.  This is Malaysia after all.  Our peleton of folding bikes, mountain bikes and road bikes started into the mist along Jalan Sungai Lui at about 7.15am.

11km later we got to the T-junction with Jalan Sungai Lalang and Jalan Hulu Langat – Kuala Klawang.  Every other time we have turned right toward Tasik Semenyih.  There is some climbing along the way to the Sungai Tekala Recreation Park, but nothing like the climbing awaiting those who turn left.

On this day our only option was to turn left.  The road to Tasik Semenyih was still closed following a landslide that took a section of the road into the reservoir.  Here we are at the T-junction, waiting for the folding bikes to catch up to us.  Mark is helpfully pointing out the “Road Closed” sign.

Hulu Langat Comfort Break

Photo courtesy, I think, of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

We regrouped, girded our loins, and started the 9km climb to the summit of Genting Peres.  I had struggled to the summit from the opposite direction during the Broga 116 ride in November 2012.  This time the climb was almost pleasant.  It was much cooler, and I didn’t have cramping quadriceps.

A third of the way up the climb we turned a corner to a spectacular view of the mist-shrouded valley below.  That view alone made the climb worthwhile.

Hulu Langat Mist 01

The summit of Genting Peres is on the border between the states of Selangor and Negri Sembilan.  We waited at the border marker for the rest of the foldies to arrive.

Hulu Langat Genting Peres Summit 02

As always the payoff for all the climbing, the view notwithstanding, is the “look ma, no brakes” descent.  Well, perhaps not quite “no brakes.”  It is a twisty road, the surface is a bit sketchy in one or two spots and there are cars and motorbikes to watch out for.  Nevertheless I surprised one driver by overtaking at 60kph.

The mist had burned off by the time we got back to the T-juntion.  We had blue skies and a crescent moon overhead (I promise the moon is visible in the photo) as we rode back to Pekan Batu 18.

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

From Pekan Batu 18 some of us rode on to the Sungai Congkak Recreational Forest.  The others drove there.  We all went there for this . . .

Hulu Langat Nasi Lemak 01

Photo courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

Nasi lemak, curry puffs and teh tarik of course.  At the stall beside the river.  Note that the unopened packets of nasi lemak were not for me!

All that was left to do after a beautiful ride and yummy food was to roll back down the hill and gently pedal the short distance back to Pekan Batu 18.

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

Photo courtesy of Mark Lim

And of course to take a nap once I got home.

Roll on 2013

My plan for a morning ride on New Year’s day suffered a serious blow as I sat in a traffic jam at 2am.  The injury proved fatal to my plan.  The official time of death was 5.45am.  Which was the time when I turned off my alarm, rolled over and went back to sleep.

So my first ride of 2013 was on 2nd January.  There were about twenty of us who set off from Van’s Urban Bicycle Co for an evening ride around Kelana Jaya.  Most people were riding what Van’s specialises in – folding bicycles.  I had not ridden this route before I so was very happy to stay at the back of the group and take in the sights.

Kelana Jaya

As you can see from the route this was an urban ride in every respect.  Van’s occupies shop space in 3 Two  Square, which sits in a group of commercial buildings on the edge of a large residential area.  We alternated between busy main thoroughfares and quieter neighbourhood streets.  We rode past restaurants, schools, banks, mosques, sports facilities, a park and of course lots of homes.

3 Two Square

Naturally we had to stop for refreshments at a mamak restaurant a kilometer or so before we got back to Van’s.  We parked our bikes in front of the closed pharmacy next to Al-Ehsan restaurant.


As is often the case in the evenings folding tables are set up on the sidewalks, and where possible, on the edge of streets as well.  We joined some tables together and plonked ourselves down on plastic stools.  We tucked into what else but roti canai, nasi lemak and teh tarik.

We didn’t cover many kilometers, but that isn’t the point of the Racun Cycling Gang rides. There will be time enough for kilometers and climbs this weekend.  This was a good start to the year.