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Monthly Archives: September 2016

The Tandem Men


Logo courtesy of

Three months ago a former colleague of mine asked if he could connect me with two guys who are attempting to be the first pair to circumnavigate the globe on a tandem bicycle.  A ride that would take them through thirty countries.


Photograph courtesy of

Andy told me that at the time, the guys were cycling between Istanbul, Turkey and Tbilisi, Georgia.  Their route from Thailand to Singapore would bring them through Kuala Lumpur.

I replied “I would love to meet up with your friends when they come through KL.”

It then went quiet until last Monday, when I received a WhatsApp message from George Agate, one of The Tandem Men.  John Whybrow and he had just crossed the border between Thailand and Malaysia, and were on their way to Georgetown.

That’s when I opened up their website, The Tandem Men, and checked their route through Malaysia.  John and George has started their 29,000km / 18,000mi journey from Canterbury, England in June.  Since then they pedalled through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, The Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey (arriving there on the day of the attempted coup d’état), and ending the European leg  of their round-the-world trip in Georgia (due to a detour after not being able to get visas to enter Iran).

They then flew from Tbilisi to Mumbai, India, to start the Asian sector.  From Mumbai they cycled down the west coast of the sub-continent to Nagercoil, before heading northeast to Chennai.  A flight across the Bay of Bengal took them to Bangkok, their first stop in South-East Asia.  Now they were almost on my doorstep.


Map courtesy of

My initial reply to George was to welcome them to Malaysia, and to suggest an alternate route for them to follow from Georgetown to Kuala Lumpur.  The route on their website was via the North-South Expressway.  This would not work because bicycles are not allowed on the North-South Expressway.  Never mind that the volume and high speed of the traffic on that highway make it a dangerous place for cyclists to be.

I suggested that they use the coastal roads through Seri Manjung and Kuala Selangor instead.  Further to pedal, but more scenic, and with less traffic to contend with.  That route would also allow my friends and I to meet them in Bandar Botanic, and to ride with them along the KESAS and MEX highways into KL.

I also offered to host them while they were in KL, and I was delighted that they took me up on my offer.

George and John did follow the coastal route, spending nights at Seri Manjung and Kuala Selangor on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively.  On Thursday morning, Lay, Marco and I rode to Bandar Botanic, where  I had suggested we meet.

The three of us got to Bandar Botanic a bit early.  We parked ourselves at Restoran Resepi Warisan for nasi lemak, teh tarik and iced coffee.  The restaurant was a couple of hundred meters from the point on Jalan Langat where I had suggested we meet.

I sent The Tandem Men our location via WhatsApp.  A few minutes later John and George rolled up to the restaurant.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai


We got another round of drinks before heading to the motorcycle lane along the KESAS highway.

One of the many rules rules stipulated by Guinness World Records is that George and John are not allowed to draft.  So the tandem bike led the way, complete with its 35 kilo / 77 pound complement of panniers, bags and water bottles.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Taking KESAS to get into KL from the west was certainly a better option than coming in from the north via Jalan Kuching.  Not having to share the road with cars, vans and lorries is a definite plus.

Being separated from other traffic does not prevent punctures though.  George and John noticed that they had a slow leak as we neared the Kinrara R & R.  The rear tire leak was slow enough, and we were close enough to home, that we decided to take the risk of pumping it up and continuing on our way, rather than changing the inner tube.

We exited the KESAS highway at Awan Kecil and took the MEX highway to Jalan Tun Razak.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

One kilometer to go.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

John and George graciously agreed to go to Le’Park@Nasi Lemak Malaya for dinner, and to share stories with some of my cycling friends.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The Tandem Men have so far covered 10,651km / 6,618mi over 114 days.  About one third of the distance required to become the first people to circumnavigate the world by tandem bicycle.

One of their personal goals is obviously to complete this adventure of a lifetime.  Another is to raise at least £100,000 / RM537,000 / USD130,000 for the three brilliant causes that they have chosen to support on their journey.  The work of these charities changes the lives for many, both locally and internationally. These charities are:

  • Porchlight (which will receive 34%)
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital (which will receive 33%), and
  • WaterAid (which will receive 33%)

If you would like to donate to these charities, please click the link below.


It has been a treat and an honour to meet and host George and John.  My friends and I will be following their progress as they cross Australia, ride up through New Zealand, make their way from San Francisco to Panama, and finally ride from Marrakech up through southern Europe and back to Canterbury in England.

Godspeed, and fair winds George and John.


Photograph courtesy of

Audax BRM400 Malaysia 2016 Part 2


We were at the halfway point.  We were rested and ready to go.  At 9.45am we rolled out of the McDonald’s on Lebuh Skudai Pontian.  Within 400 meters, we started riding up onto an overpass rather than staying left on the filter lane toward Jalan Bertingkat Skudai.

The good thing was that we realised our mistake before crossing the overpass.  However, being a Saturday morning, traffic was heavy, and we couldn’t risk riding the wrong way back down the road.  Instead we had to get over a couple of drains and down a grassy slope.


Photograph courtesy of Google Maps

Audax lesson 4 was a painful one.  Which is to remember that a brain that has not slept for more than twenty-four hours is prone to making bad decisions.

I stepped across the first drain, my bike in my hands in front of me.  My left foot slipped on the far edge of the drain (in hindsight no surprise, given that a carbon sole is very slippery), and my legs hit the concrete edge as I fell forward onto my bike.


My scraped shin and ankle were the least of my injuries.  I also heavily bruised the outside of my right thigh (the photo of my thigh was taken five days later), and I had fallen onto a pedal, so had bruised ribs on the side of my chest as well.

My half-asleep brain was now fully awake.  I was seeing stars, writhing on the grass, and cursing my stupidity.  I wasn’t sure I could continue.  A minute or two later my head cleared, and the pain in my thigh lessened enough for me to feel that I could keep pedalling.

Having seen me fall, the others were very careful to get down to the slip road safely.  I gingerly remounted and we started riding toward Kulai.  The traffic was even heavier on Jalan Bertingkat Skudai.  Like a guardian angel, Johnny Lee appeared beside us on his scooter, whistle between his lips.  Blasting his whistle at traffic, he guided us through innumerable busy junctions over the next 25km / 16mi as we made our way along Lebuhraya Senai and Jalan Kulai – Sedenak.  Thank you sir!


The only mechanical in our group over the entire ride happened during that stretch.  Mark had a flat rear tire about 40 minutes after we got going after my fall.  I appreciated the opportunity to stop and re-evaluate my condition.  My right thigh concerned me the most.  I was worried that a hematoma would develop, and that would restrict the flexion of my knee.  I decided the best thing would be to keep riding, and to be sure that I kept my right knee bent as much as possible whenever we stopped.  That, and some Panadol Extra, got me through the ride.

We took another break at the Shell station in Kampung Sri Paya.  The 70km / 43mi stretch from there to Checkpoint 3 in Yong Peng was the most taxing part of the entire route.  By then it was midday, with temperatures in the mid 30s° C / mid 90s° F.  Much of the terrain to Yong Peng was rolling hills that required 450 meters / 1,475 feet of climbing.  The road surface was poor in many places, with lots of cracks, potholes, and badly patched sections.  No doubt caused by the constant heavy lorry and bus traffic, some of which passed perilously close to us as they sped past.

I can see why the organisers didn’t send us down Jalan Besar at night.  The road conditions make it too dangerous to cycle in low visibility conditions.

We were dragging along by the time we got to Simpang Renggam.  The first built-up area we had encountered since Kulai, 25km / 16mi prior.  We pulled into the first restaurant we saw, Restoran D’Tepian Amirul.  Some of the others ordered food.  I just wanted fluid.  Once I got two lime juices down my throat, an ais kacang sounded tempting.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

That was exactly what I needed.

The heat and the hills continued to be a challenge.  We stopped at a Shell station roughly halfway between Simpang Renggam and Checkpoint 3.  That was at 2.30pm.  The station proprietor helpfully told us that riders had been stopping there since 8.30am.  That would have been a real hit to the ego if we had been riding for a fast time.

We were instead riding to beat the checkpoint closing times.  We were cutting it a bit fine though.  Checkpoint 3 closed at  We got to Yong Peng with an hour to spare.


Photograph courtesy of Chong Su

It would have been nice to have a fan on my bike, like Sam Tow has on his mobile.


Photograph courtesy of Chong Su

Yong Peng offered a better alternative.  Air-conditioning in the KFC across the road from Checkpoint 3.  My biker chick met us at the checkpoint with the cycling kit and supplies that we had stashed in her car on Friday morning.

A couple of us changed into fresh gear.  All of us had a drink and something to eat.  And other riders got some shuteye.


Photograph courtesy of Nash Lim

As planned, we stayed at that KFC in Yong Peng until 5.30pm.  Waiting for the sun to descend in the sky, and for the temperature to drop.  Five and half hours to cover the remaining 107.9km / 67mi seemed reasonable.

We rode out of Yong Peng straight onto more hilly terrain.  After 224 meters / 735 feet of climbing in 20km / 12mi we pulled off the road to catch our breath.  12km / 7mi later we needed another break.  This driveway in front of an empty house between Parit Sulong and Parit Hassan Ahmad Satu was a much nicer place to stop.


Photograph courtesy of They Wei Chon

We had hoped to get to Muar for dinner.  We hadn’t counted on the 160 meters / 525 feet of elevation facing us over the next 20km / 12mi.  Energy levels were very low when we got to Bakri, so we decided to stop there for nasi lemak, fried chicken and omelettes.

We ate as quickly as we could.  We all knew that we were running short on time.  We left the restaurant with 53km / 33mi left to the finish.  And exactly two hours to do it in.

I learned Audax lesson 5 as we negotiated what should have been the last 31km / 19mi of the ride.  A tired brain should not be relied upon to accurately perform even simple mental calculations.  We had followed the cue card directions to turn left off Jalan Kesang toward Malacca at KM370.1, and to turn left again toward Merlimau at KM377.4.

The cue card showed the left turn to Jalan Permatang Pasir at KM401.8.  Because all our cyclocomputers were not in sync with the cue card, a little bit of mental mathematics was required.  My rested brain easily works out that we should have ridden 24.4km / 15.1mi to the left turn at Jalan Permatang Pasir.

My sleep-deprived and tired brain told me that the left turn was 14.4km / 8.9mi away.  which of course it wasn’t.  I thought we were lost.  Fortunately I was riding with guys who were more lucid than I was.  They dispensed with the cue card and relied on Waze to get us to the finish.  I was not happy.  I thought we were riding even more unnecessary kilometers.  Which was not the case.  Waze took us along the cue card route anyway.

I owe an apology to Sam and his team for my complaint to them about getting lost.

My one suggestion for future Audax BRM cue cards is that the distances between turns not be shown cumulatively.  Instead show the actual distance between each turn.  As illustrated by the red numbers below.


This way riders do not have to compensate for the difference between the cumulative distance shown on the cue card and the actual distance shown on their cyclocomputer.  The number of the cyclocomputer will almost certainly be different, for all sorts of reasons.  Some mental addition will still be required to use the red numbers, but hopefully even a small brain like mine can cope with that.

We all got to the finish at Dataran Pahlawan with ten minutes to spare before the cutoff time of 11.00pm.  We had made it by the skin of our teeth.

These are some of the two hundred or so riders who completed this Audax BRM400 ride.

It took a combination of physical endurance, determination aka mental strength aka stubbornness, a bit of luck, and perhaps most importantly, the support of others for each of us to get to the finish line.

Be they friends who rode with us, or parents and/or family who were at all the checkpoints and the finish, or partners or spouses who believed in us, even when we doubted ourselves.

This medal is for all the people who supported me through this challenge, as much as it is for me.


As for the Audax BRM600 to come in 2017.  No comment.

Audax BRM400 Malaysia 2016 Part 1


This is the ending of my January post about the Audax BRM200 Malaysia 2016:

The teaser video for the 400km / 248mi brevet in September is already out!  The time limit is 27 hours.

The question now is, will my buddies and I ride it?

“No way!”

For now.

As they say, “famous last words.”

Seven of us were in a three-vehicle convoy to Malacca on Friday afternoon.  We had lunch at the McDonald’s on the KL – Seremban Highway, near the Sungai Besi Toll Plaza.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

It is an easy 133km / 83mi drive from that McDonald’s to the Fenix Inn Melaka.  Our base for the weekend.

There was still some important preparation to be done for the long ride ahead.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

My power nap burned through all the calories from lunch.  Some of us walked around the corner for dinner.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Roasted chicken rice, some of the eponymous chicken rice balls, and an omelette.  The roasted chicken was very good.  The rice balls were mushy and disappointing.  The rice balls would have been better if there was a bit of chicken inside each one.

By 6.45pm we were ready to roll.  We all had additional storage on our bikes to supplement our saddlebags.  Essential items for a long ride like this were one or more power banks to recharge cyclocomputers, lights and mobile phones, extra stocks of energy bars and N8 Endurance drink mix, and small medical kits.

We had prepared as well as we knew how.  Nevertheless we were all a bit nervous at the thought of covering slightly more than 400km / 249mi in 27 hours.  None of us had ever ridden that far before.  Ken (third from the left) had good reason to be more nervous than we were.  His longest ever ride had been only 140km / 87mi, he was on a borrowed bicycle, and he was wearing tennis shoes.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The event organisers were at the McDonald’s Dataran Pahlawan before 7.00pm to hand out the brevet and cue cards for the ride.

Before I go any further, I must convey a big Thank You to the volunteers who ran this event so smoothly.  Jess Lim, Ray Lee and Chong Su at Checkpoints 1 and 3.  Stefaaniem Choo at Checkpoint 2.  Johnny Lee on his scooter.  Sam Tow in the Audax Landrover Defender.  And Jaykay helping out where needed, while at the same time riding most of the route.


Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

By sundown the area was teeming with riders anxious to get their brevet and cue cards, and to make the first of the many, many, many pedal revolutions needed to get to Skudai and back to Malacca.  Including one rider on this specially badged bike.


Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

Kudos to the organisers for a much-improved card distribution process.  There was no repeat of the long queues we saw at the Audax BRM200 early this year.  Minutes after arriving at Dataran Pahlawan, we were ready to go.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We headed first to a Malacca landmark, the historic Dutch Stadthuys, for a photograph.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The short ride to and from the Stadthuys took us through a procession of lighted trishaws, a distinctive feature of Malacca.


Photograph courtesy of

I wish I could blame the dazzling lights for my leading the group down the wrong side of the McDonald’s at Dataran Pahlawan to start the ride.  409km / 254mi to go, and we picked up some unnecessary extra distance right out of the gate by going the wrong way.

The real culprit was being too dependent on the cue card, excellent though it was, and not studying the route beforehand.  This was the first of a few lessons about riding Audaxes that we learned over the next 27 hours.

Fortunately we were soon back on track, and following a string of blinking red lights southeast along the coast toward Muar.


Our mantra for the night was “start slow, finish strong.”  We kept our speed below 30kph / 19mph as we rolled through Muar and on to Checkpoint 1 at Kompleks Niaga Benteng Peserai, in Batu Pahat.

I was in new territory as the clock ticked toward midnight.  I had never ridden my bike that late at night before.  I think it was a new experience for everyone in the Flipside group.

Team Flipside got to Checkpoint 1 together.  The cue sheet read 93.5km / 58mi.  Our cyclocomputers showed 7km / 4mi more, given our unplanned detour through Malacca.


Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

Every time I participate in an organized cycling event, I see something new.  Someone on a bike with an “AUDAX BRM400” label on the down tube, a Specialised S-Works Mclaren Venge, or a unicycle, or an Elliptigo.  This time it was unusual footwear for a long-distance ride.  Those are flip-flops on the feet of the second gentleman from the left.

Don’t laugh.  The last I saw of him and his riding companion, both on small-wheel bikes, were their rear lights disappearing into the distance at more than 30kph / 19mph.


Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

After getting our brevet cards stamped, we grabbed some of the sports drink on offer.  100 Plus very kindly donated 1,200 bottles of their Edge non-carbonated isotonic drink to this event.

We also needed something to eat.  Given the late hour, the pickings were slim at the Kompleks Niaga Benteng Peserai.  We needed some help.

Article 7 of the Rules of Brevets Randonneurs Mondiaux states, in part, that

Each rider must be self sufficient. No follow cars or support of any kind are permitted on the course. Personal support is only allowed at checkpoints.

Luckily we had the benefit of support from a person who has local knowledge.  My biker chick is from Batu Pahat, and she, together with my mother-in-law, met us at Checkpoint 1.  She would also meet us fourteen hours later, at Checkpoint 3.

Her advice was to cross the road and eat at the Restoran Ceria Maju Klasik.  It was an excellent suggestion.  Fried rice done in a variety of styles, some fried eggs, and sweet teh tarik.  Just what we needed to set us up for the next leg to Skudai, 113.5km / 70.5mi away.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We stuck to our plan to keep the pace below 30kph / 19mph, and continued to ride as a group of seven.  At 2.30am, an hour after we left Batu Pahat, we started seeing lightning and hearing thunder in the distance.  By 3.30am the roads looked like this.


Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

Marco and I had rain jackets, and we were happy to ride on.  The other Flipsiders did not have wet weather gear, and as the rain got heavier, they decided to take shelter at a bus stop.

The rain came with a strong tail wind.  Marco and I were glad to be pushed along for as long as possible.  We sailed through Pontian Kecil, dodging puddles and ride down the center of the deserted roads. It was a lot of fun for the next 12km / 7mi, until we realised that we should have made a left turn in Pontian Kecil.

Which brings me to the second and third lessons about riding Audaxes.  Lesson 2 is always put your cue card where you can easily refer to it.  Taped to the handlebar or top tube.  Not in a jersey pocket, which makes retrieving the card a hassle.  It is even more of a hassle when your rain jacket covers your jersey pockets.

Lesson 3 is once you do pull out your cue card and realise that you missed a turn, it is better to double back to the turn that you missed.  That is a much smarter option than trying to navigate to the next checkpoint on your own, in the hope of not having to ride too many extra kilometers.

Suffice to say that instead of arriving at Checkpoint 2 in Skudai at about 5.30am, as originally anticipated, Marco and I got there at 8.00am.  Admittedly, thirty minutes of that additional time was spent getting a drink and some you char koay at Bukit Indah, when a hunger bonk threatened with 15km / 9mi still to go before Checkpoint 2.

By the time we stopped for a snack, we had burned ninety minutes on stop-start riding as we navigated through unfamiliar territory via Waze and Google Maps.  Including a failed effort to stay off the Malaysia-Singapore Second Link Expressway.  We finally had to accept that the shortest route from where we were, in Kampung Ulu Pulai, to Checkpoint 2 meant riding for 6km / 3.7mi along that expressway.

That misadventure added another 28km / 17mi of unnecessary riding to our total mileage.

Marco and I put a brave face on things as we finally arrived at the McDonald’s on the Skudai-Pontian Highway.


Photograph courtesy of Stephaaniem Choo

The five others rolled in to Checkpoint 2 an hour later.  I thought that they might have lost their way as well.  But no.  They all napped for a couple of hours while they waited out the rain.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

A McDonald’s Brekkie Wrap with Sausage had called my name.  All the tables were occupied by riders who had arrived before us.  So I pulled off my wet shoes and socks, and perched on the curb of the Drive Thru lane.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The other guys got a table when they arrived.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

It was 9.00am and we were halfway through the BRM400.  We had fourteen hours to cover the 202km / 126mi back to Dataran Pahlawan in Malacca.  That felt possible.  Despite the faces in this photograph.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Logo 02 CM

Putrajaya is a popular venue for sporting events.  Duathlons and triathlons are regularly held in Putrajaya because of the wide and rolling roads, and the easily accessible man-made lake.  So it was no surprise to see the announcement of the first Putrajaya century bike ride.

Putrajaya is a visually impressive location.  It is only twenty years since construction started on this planned city, which serves as the administrative capital of Malaysia.  Buildings are still going up, in a variety of architectural styles.

The ride would start and finish near the Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin Mosque, also known as the Iron Mosque.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Iron Mosque Ezry Abdul Rahman

Photograph courtesy of Ezry Abdul Rahman

The first kilometer of the ride would be over the Seri Wawasan Bridge.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Sri Wawasan Bridge Dien Aj

Photograph courtesy of Dien Aj

Less than three kilometers later riders would recross Putrajaya Lake, this time over the Seri Saujana Bridge.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Seri Saujana Bridge Brandon Lim

Photograph courtesy of Darren Lim

Then over the lake again via the Seri Gemilang Bridge.  The lake has a surface area of 650 hectares / 1,606 acres.  There are eight major bridges and one pedestrian bridge that cross Putrajaya Lake.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Seri Gemilang Bridge

Photograph courtesy of Nguyễn Thành Lam

Which is the main approach to the Putrajaya International Convention Centre.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 PICC Badangperkasa

Photograph courtesy of Badangperkasa

All this in the space of just over 6 km / 4 mi.  It should have been a great event.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but in hindsight the postponement of this event just nine days before it was scheduled to run, was an omen.  Then came a very late change to the route.  This route map was published in March.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Route 01

A very different route map was confirmed two days before the event took place.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Route 02

Instead of a simple figure-of-eight route that would take us to the coast (and ais kacang) and back, the revised route stayed north of the KL International Airport, and crossed over itself a number of times as it wound around Putrajaya.

Again, hindsight is 20:20, but all this should have been an omen that all was not well behind-the-scenes.

Everything started well though.  The collection of jerseys and ride numbers was quick and relatively efficient.  Although I do think that matching your itinerary number to the appropriate collection desk would not have been so easy in the afternoon, when lots of people would have been there, all pushing to look at the same sheets of paper tacked on the door.

Nine Flipsiders were at the start the following morning.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Start 02 Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The ride started bang on time.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Start 07 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Kudos to the organizers for getting the pre-ride briefing out of the way, and ensuring that the VIP was ready to flag us off by 7.00am.

This gentleman deserves a medal just for turning up on an ElliptiGO, let alone trying to cover 160km on one..

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Start 08 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

We always start at the back of the pack, because a) we aren’t interested in recording fast times, and b) we want to stay out of the way of those who are in it to win it.  So we don’t get the benefit of an escort throughout the ride.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Marshalls 03 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Which is usually not an issue, but we don’t normally have courses as complicated as this one was.  The marshalls had their work cut out for them, trying to keep all of us on course.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Marshalls 02 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

The Flipsiders were still in a group, and feeling relaxed as we spun though Putrajaya.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Early 03 Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Early 08 Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Early 04 Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Early 01 Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Early 05 Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Early 02 Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Early 06 Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Early 07 Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

The weather forecast 12 hours before the ride showed a high chance of rain by noon.  As the sky brightened it looked highly unlikely that we would see any rain.  Probably because I had packed some rain gear.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Rolling at Start 02 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Though the sun was still low in the sky and casting long shadows on the road, the temperature was rising steadily.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Rolling 04 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Rolling 02 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Rolling 01 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Rolling 05 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

None of us believed the course elevation published by the organizers.  1,955 meters / 6,414 feet of climbing was overstated.  We did climb more than I had anticipated.  Lots of short climbs over bridges and overpasses, and the steeper stuff in the middle of the ride, do add up.  By the end of the ride we had climbed about 1,200 meters / 3,937 feet.

We had one mechanical between us.  Marco hit a pothole after about 25km / 15.5 mi.  And a cumulative 250 meters / 820 feet of climbing.  I think we were all secretly pleased at the opportunity to catch our breath.

After Marco had fixed his pinch flat, Liang decided that we needed to speed things up a bit.  And proceeded to pull us along in the high 30s / low 40s kph for twenty minutes.

We were riding too fast to stop at the first water station at 35km / 21mi.  Then we realised that we were near our regular nasi lemak and roti canai stall in Dengkil.  Everyone was ready for that break.

Liang stayed at the front of the group when we got going again, though thankfully limiting his pace to the mid 30s kph.  By the second water station at 70km / 43.5mi we were hot, and we had climbed 566 meters / 1,857 feet.  To get there we had been on a jaunt toward the KL International Airport and through Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi.  We needed a short rest and to refill bidons.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Airport Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

The third water station at 105km / 65mi was in Cyberjaya, with Putrajaya to the east, on the other side of the lake.  Not only did that station still have water and cold isotonic drinks, there was also a fire engine spraying a mist of water on us as we approached the stop.  That felt good.  I was sorely tempted to ride back through the spray a second time.  Instead I made do with emptying a bottle of water over myself to cool down a bit more.  I probably should have sat down for a while, like this gentleman was doing

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Rest Break CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Did I mention that it was hot?  It was very hot.  2 kilometers after that third water station we came upon Shaftsbury Square.  Shaftsbury Square is a commercial and residential development in Cyberjaya.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Shaftsbury Square

Of interest to Alvin, Liang and I because amongst its many shops at ground level is a 7-Eleven.  Which equals cold drinks and air-conditioning.  And a place where we could sit while we guzzled our drinks.

By the time we got to the 7-Eleven we had separated from the other Flipsiders.  The three of us headed back out into the sun for the last third of the ride.  One disadvantage of wide roads with generous sidewalks or motorcycle paths is that there is no shade on the roads themselves.  So we slow-roasted.

Things really went pear-shaped for Alvin, Liang, and I at 120km / 74.5mi.  What marshalls there had been on the course had long beaten a retreat out of the scorching sun.  Without anyone to point us in the right direction, we were relying on the yellow arrows at intersections to stay on course.

Well, either there wasn’t an arrow there, or all three of us didn’t see it.  We should have  stayed to the right side of the intersection and taken the ramp that looped round and onto the Damansara – Puchong Highway (or LDP) heading south.  Instead, we took the ramp to the left that dropped us onto the Damansara – Puchong Highway going north west, i.e. the wrong way.

After we had ridden past three highway off ramps without seeing a yellow arrow, I knew we were in trouble.  We were in Puchong, and we were supposed to be in Putrajaya.

It was hot and we were getting tired.  Once we realised we were off course we lost interest in getting back onto the route.  We just wanted to get back to the finish line in the shortest possible distance.

Waze to the rescue.  That app gave us the most direct route back to the finish line.  In those final 18km / 11mi we passed many a rider who had also missed a turn and ridden off the course.  If I had known this was waiting at the finish line I might have ridden faster.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Finish Spray Crankyard

Photograph courtesy of Crankyard

We ended up riding toward the finish line from the wrong direction.  Which sums up the day that many participants had.  The official Facebook page for this event is now full of complaints from people who got lost, or got to water stations that had run out of water, or felt short-changed because the length of the ride, even for those who didn’t get lost, was less than 160km.

Others complained that there were no freebies, like a power bar, or a magazine, or a drink, in the event goodie bag.  In other words, there wasn’t a goodie bag.  The upside of no freebies is that the event jersey does not have any sponsor logos on it.  Just a simple graphic of the Seri Wawasan Bridge.  Which makes a nice change from the logo-laden jerseys handed out at other century rides.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Jersey

Apart from getting lost, I had fun.  I wasn’t up for complaining.  All I wanted to do at the finish was get into the shade, like these folk.  Even if it meant standing in the hedges.  By the time I got to the finish the fire engine shower had lost its appeal.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Finish Shade 01 CM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Oh, and I had to collect my finisher’s medal.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Medal

All nine Flipsiders made it back to the finish line, albeit via varying routes.  Leslie was the only one who stayed on course and rode the full route.

Despite the heat and the fact that eight of us got lost, everyone was in pretty good spirits.  If nothing else, the challenges of the morning gave us a lot to talk, and laugh, about.

Which we did, over lunch of Chicken Mendy and Lamb Kabsa at Mr. Kabab & Briyani.

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Lunch Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

Putrajaya Century Ride 2016 Lunch 02 Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

Any day that includes a bike ride with good friends, and ends with yummy food and a nap is a good day!


BCG Morib Ride


The Bangsar Cycling Group can be counted on to organise fun rides.  The latest one I did with them was a run from Kota Kemuning to Morib.  Just shy of 100km / 62mi there and back.

BCG Morib Ride Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

14 of us left the McDonald’s Kota Kemuning car park just after 7.00am.  Unfortunately one cyclist suffered a broken spoke 5km / 3mi into the ride, so she and her partner had to turn around.

The rest of us continued along the motorcycle lane beside the KESAS Highway, keeping our ears open for the sound of approaching Hondas, Yamahas and Suzukis.  Unfortunately we cyclists don’t get the motorcycle lane to ourselves, even on a Sunday.

It wasn’t long before we on Jalan Klang Banting, sharing the road with all manner of motorised vehicles.  I for one was thankful that there seemed to be less traffic than usual on Jalan Klang Banting for a Sunday.  Despite how it looks in this photograph.

BCG Morib Ride Banting 02 Johan S

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

We spent about 10km / 6mi on Jalan Klang Lama before we turned off that major road onto Jalan Bandar Long and then Jalan Pusara.  Both are much quieter secondary roads, or what we would call kampung roads.

One of the goals of this ride was to maintain a pace that everyone was comfortable with, and which allowed people to practice riding in a pack.  Always with the option to make a stop or two to ensure that the group stays together.

Once the group was on the really quiet coastal road between Pantai Kelanang and Morib, Foogie and I ran an experiment.  We wanted to find out what speed was just that bit too fast for people to hold a conversation whilst they were riding.  We put ourselves at the front of the peloton, reduced our speed until there was lots of chatter behind us, and then slowly ramped things up.  It got very quiet behind us at about 28kph / 17mph.

In just under two hours from the time we left Kota Kemuning we were all seated at the Medan Selera (Food Court) at Morib Beach, waiting for our drinks and ais kacang.

BCG Morib Ride Makan AiLin Lim

Photograph courtesy of AiLin Lim

After we were well-irrigated, we posed for the de rigueur seaside shots.

BCG Morib Ride at Morib

Photograph courtesy of Wee Hwee Wang

BCG Morib Ride at Morib Safwan Siddiq

Photograph courtesy of Safwan Siddiq

Photo session over, we retraced our route back to Kota Kemuning.  There was talk of making a short detour to Jugra.  There is a lookout point with an impressive view of the Langat River, and the Straits of Malacca beyond, at Bukit Jugra, but it is a very steep climb to get to it.  We turned right, away from the climb.  Maybe next time.

BCG Morib Ride Jugra Johan S

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Instead, a few kilometers further on we stopped at a sundry shop along Jalan Bandar to refill bidons, and to pose for more photographs.

We made one more stop just after crossing the Langat River to regroup.  When we got back to Jalan Klang Banting, the gloves came off and it was every person for themselves.  Those who wanted to could ride as fast as they liked.  Some of us – I won’t say who – did exactly that.

No matter the speed, we all got back safely to the McDonald’s in Kota Kemuning.  Where most of us immediately ordered something to drink and eat.

“I’ll have a mango sundae.  Make that two mango sundaes.”

I was happy.  And am looking forward to more BCG rides.

Come Back Soon

Andak's Place Logo

There were rumours that my favourite destination in Janda Baik had closed.  No one had the details.  Recent rides by others to Janda Baik for pancakes and nasi lemak had apparently ended in disappointment.

Hope springs eternal though.  Michael from Denmark was spending a week in Malaysia visiting friends and riding his bike.  I wanted to show off some of what makes cycling here so appealing.  Andak’s Place is one of those things.

So eight of us convened at our regular meeting point near the Hospital Orang Asli on Jalan Gombak Lama.  We have all ridden this particular route many times.  Apart from Michael of course.

16km / 10mi and 700 meters / 2,300 feet up to Genting Sempah, on the border between the states of Selangor and Pahang.

Janda Baik with Michael K 05 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Then a 6.5km / 4mi descent to the right turn under the arch that welcomes you to Janda Baik.


Janda Baik Arch 02

Followed by a final 7km / 4.3mi and 130 meters / 425 feet of climbing over rolling terrain before arriving at Andak’s Place.

Janda Baik Andak's Place

Illustration courtesy of Andak’s Place

The rumours were true.  Andak’s Place was closed.  Their Facebook page reveals the intention to reopen on a date to be announced.  Andak’s promises to be back with a fresh concept.  The Kuala Lumpur cycling fraternity is certainly looking forward to Andak’s reopening.

But what to do about feeding Michael and the rest of us?

We decided to try Kopi n Kraf.  We ride past it every time we complete the loop through Janda Baik after we have filled our faces at Andak’s Place.  We suppressed our hunger pangs for a further 5km / 3mi to the steps leading up to Kopi n Kraf, which is the café that serves the Danau Daun Chalets.

Janda Baik Kopi n Kraf 02

Photograph courtesy of Danau Daun Chalets

The café is certainly attractive.  Raised and nestled within the trees.  Kopi n Kraf wins the competition for scenic views.

Their menu is a little restricted on weekdays, so we weren’t able to try their nasi lemak.  They did serve us some of the Malaysian breakfast classics:  toast with kaya, soft-boiled eggs and roti canai.  One data point is not enough to form a definitive opinion, but on the basis of our visit to Kopi n Kraf, I think Andak’s Place, as it was before it closed, wins the competition for quality of food.

Janda Baik with Michael K 01 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

After breakfast there was the small matter of  345 meters / 1,130 feet of climbing over 11km / 7mi before we were back at Genting Sempah, ready to enjoy the 16km / 10 mi descent back to where we had started.

I hope Michael enjoyed his stay and the rides he did in Malaysia.  Come back soon Michael, and come back soon Andak’s Place.

BCG Tour Klang – Port Dickson – Klang Day 2

BCG Klang - PD - Klang Logo 2

The photographs are in!  Thank you Johan Sopiee.

The plan for Day 2 was to roll out at about 7.00am.  A few of us crept out of the hotel before dawn for breakfast at McDonald’s.  Trying not to wake up the person at the front desk.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Hotel

Then it was time to put on cycling shoes (which had dried overnight after the ride through the rain), sun tan lotion, inspect our bikes, and wake up the desk clerk so we could check out.



Fikri, Izzat and I were ready to roll at the appointed hour.  We discovered then that the rest of the group had opted to eat breakfast after putting on their cycling kit and checking out of the hotel.

So the three of us hit the road while the rest went to McDonald’s.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Early Breakfast

Before long we were making the left turn onto Route N4 toward Chuah.  I don’t think the others were that far behind.

By the way, despite what you see in these photographs, the national tree of Malaysia is NOT the oil palm.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Kampung Chuah Oil Palm

The climb of the day came as we approached the left turn to get back onto Route 5.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Kampung Chuah Climb

At 35km / 22mi the route curled through the small town of Sepang, before heading back toward the coast.  That was the closest we would get to the KL International Airport.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Hot Day

It was 8.45am when I rode through Sepang.  I was supposed to be at Morib at 10.00am, to meet up with some Flipside friends, who were riding to Morib from USJ.  Morib is 45km / 27mi from Sepang.  I was going to be late.

I made a short stop at the PETRONAS station in Sungai Pelek.  The same one where Fikri and I stopped on the way to Port Dickson.  As I remounted my bike, Izzat rode by.  I chased after him and we rode together back out toward the coast.

About 8km / 5mi outside Sungai Pelek we came upon the U-turn point for the participants in the Klang Première Century Ride.  That ride started and ended at the Klang Première Hotel in Bandar Botanic, a kilometer or so from where we would finish our ride.

We shared the road back to Bandar Botanic with the Klang Première riders,including some who had decided that they had ridden enough for the day.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Klang Premiere

I got to Morib at about 10.30am.  Alvin, Liang and Mark were still there.  I slurped down an iced Milo and an ais kacang, and enjoyed the sea breeze as we sat in the shade.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Ais Kacang Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Just as we were leaving Morib beach, Fikri rode up behind us.  He had been delayed by a problem with his seat post.  He might have wished he hadn’t caught up with us.  Liang proceeded to set a pace between 35kph /22mph and 40kph / 25mph for the next 20km / 12mi to Telok Panglima Garang.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Flipside 02

It was midday.  And hot.  And the pace had been high.  So a stop at Cendol Santan Sawit Mak Lang was called for.  Nothing like ice cold cendol to induce a touch of brain freeze.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Cendol Brain Freeze Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Brain freeze or not, we stopped again 7km / 4mi later at a PETRONAS station for yet more cold fluid.

It is 5km from that PETRONAS station to the interchange between Jalan Klang Banting, as Route 5 is named at that point, and the KESAS Highway.  Fikri and I waved goodbye to the Flipsiders as they turned right at the interchange toward USJ.   The two of us crossed the KESAS flyover and rolled the final kilometer to the Hotel 99 in Bandar Botanik.

Izzat was already there.  He has a great capacity for riding long distances without stopping.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Finish 03

Happily, everyone else made it to the Hotel 99 safely.

It was another excellent cycling event.  Foogie produced an excellent video summary of the two days.

Many thanks to Danial, Johan, Foogie, and the other participants for making this a fun weekend.

BCG Klang - PD - Day 2 Finish 13

So when is the next BCG Tour?