Friday 31st January marked the start of the Year of the Horse. The horse is the seventh of the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac.
Federal Territory Day was celebrated on Monday 3rd February. So we had a four-day weekend. My riding buddies planned to ride on each of those days.
Four of us started the Lunar New Year with a morning ride along the KESAS Highway. We did one and a half of the Bandar Sunway to Bukit Jalil Sports Complex loop.
Now that I think about it, four was not the most auspicious number of riders. In Chinese tradition, certain numbers are believed by some to be auspicious or inauspicious, based on the Chinese word that the number name sounds similar to.
4 is considered the unluckiest number of all, because it is nearly homophonous to the word “death.” Despite being a quartet, we had a fun ride.
We did much better, numerologically speaking, the next morning. Eight of us did the climb to Genting Sempah.
8 is an extremely auspicious number, because it sounds similar to the word “prosper” or “wealth.”
As always with our morning rides, this one ended with breakfast.
Sunday was a “Go Green Car-Free Morning.” On the first Sunday of the month, some roads in the city center are closed to motor vehicles from 7.00 am until 9.00 am. Giving walkers, joggers, skateboarders, rollerbladers and cyclists a chance to use these stretches.
About ten of us met here for a wake-up coffee or a teh tarik before cycling to the start.
There was already quite a crowd in front of the City Hall building.
Including some on vintage bicycles and in period costume. The infantrymen were a reference to the Japanese invasion of Malaya and the capture of Singapore. One of the keys to the success of that invasion was the use of bicycles by the Japanese troops to move swiftly down the Malayan peninsula from Kota Bahru in the north to Singapore in the south.
Marco, Shahfiq and I did three loops of the 12 km route.
The highlight for me was cycling past my primary school. Batu Road School. In the 1960s a narrow access road ran in front of the school. I remember walking out of the school gates into a group of ice cream vendors, standing next to bicycles with cold boxes mounted on rear racks.
That access road has become Jalan Raja Laut, a five-lane thoroughfare. The school is still there. Sadly the ice cream vendors are no more.
The route also took us past the PETRONAS Twin Towers. They must be the most posed-before buildings in the country.
Here Shahfiq and I are rolling away from the Twin Towers, along a deserted Jalan Ampang toward the junction with Jalan Sultan Ismail.
I had a bonus ride in the afternoon. Ronnie held a Chinese New Year open house. Complete with chinese tea prepared with water collected from a natural spring that comes to the surface in Kuala Kubu Bahru. Which is an hour’s drive from KL.
Three-quarters of the residents of KL appeared to have left the city for the long weekend. So I took a chance that the roads to Ronnie’s place were relatively traffic-free.
I stayed off the main roads as much as I could, although there were some stretches where I had no other choice. Up the hill on Jalan Semantan for example, which was bit tricky because of the construction of the new MRT line and station.
It was worth the effort though. The chinese tea and the company at Ronnie’s was great.
The plan for the Day Four ride had to be changed. Some of us had to be back home by 11am. That ruled out a long ride along the Guthrie Corridor Expressway and beyond. Seven of us did the climb to Genting Sempah again instead.
It was probably good that we didn’t ride from Bukit Jelutong. It was a public holiday in Kuala Lumpur but not in the state of Selangor. The motorcycle lane along the Guthrie Corridor Expressway would have been crowded with people getting to work.
The road up to Genting Sempah was very quiet. We had long stretches where we were the only ones on the road.
There was only one other person at the summit when I got there. Marco soon joined me at the sign marking the border between the states of Selangor and Pahang.
Once the rest of the group got to the top of the climb we all turned around and shot back down the hill. Breakfast was waiting.
Chinese New Year social obligations prevented us from doing any long rides. Even so I rode about 160 km over the extended weekend. Which was a good start to the Year of the Horse.
Though not as good as it would have been if I had been on one of these.