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Monthly Archives: January 2017

The Eddington Number for Cycling

When I first started using VeloViewer, I focused primarily on the graph showing distance cycled by year.  My main goal in 2015 and 2016 was to cycle further than I had in any previous year.  This zoomable graph was one way to track my progress, ride by ride, against that goal.


Graph courtesy of VeloViewer

VeloViewer displays a plethora of other data, spread across eleven pages.  You can read an overview which I wrote more than two years ago here.

I occasionally browse the other pages, but I spend most of my time on only two pages.  The Update page, where you import your Strava data into VeloViewer, and the Summary page, where the graph above, and other charts and tables, are displayed.

It was many months before one item, highlighted in red in a panel titled Activity Stats on the Summary page, caught my eye.  It was a button labeled “Eddington”.


Graphic courtesy of VeloViewer

Which I soon found out stood for “Eddington number”.

Some Googling revealed that there are two Eddington numbers, both devised by Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington.  Arthur Eddington was, among other things, an astrophysicist.  In astrophysics, the Eddington number NEdd is the number of protons in the observable universe.  Eddington was the first to propose, in 1938, a value of NEdd.

Arthur Eddington was also a cyclist.  He is credited with devising a measure of a cyclist’s long-distance riding achievements. The Eddington number (E-number) for cycling is defined as the largest number E, where you have cycled at least E kilometers / miles on at least E days.  For example an E-number of 50 kilometers means that you have ridden 50 kilometers or more on 50 or more days.

Note that the units of distance are important.  An E-number of 50 in miles means having covered at least 50 miles on 50 days.  The equivalent E-number in kilometers means having covered at least 80 kilometers on 80 days.

Achieving a high Eddington number is difficult, since moving from, say, a metric 80 to 85 will probably require more than five new long distance rides, as any rides shorter than 85km will no longer be included in the reckoning.

VeloViewer displays an informative graph when you click on the red “Eddington” button in the Activity Stats panel.


Graph courtesy of VeloViewer

The blue bars show the number of times each distance (you can select kilometers or miles) has been completed.  The top of the orange bar intersects with the orange E-number line.  The orange bar shows your current E-number.

A more interesting feature pops up when you hover the cursor over a bar.


Graph courtesy of VeloViewer

The pop up box shows how many days you have cycled the distance denoted by that bar.  For bars to the right of the orange one, the pop up box also displays the number of days you need to cycle at least that distance for it to become your new E-number.

My current metric lifetime E-number is 104.  VeloViewer tells me that I have covered at least 104km on 113 days.

To move my E-number to 110, I need 23 days of 110km or more.  A minimum of 2,530km is a lot of riding to move my E-number up by 6.

Which is what makes the E-number an interesting, and I am sure to Type A cyclists, an addictive measure of progression.  It gets more and more difficult to increase your E-number.

Two more days of at least 105km.  Come on!



Another Udang Galah Dinner – Courtesy of the Bukit Bintang Rotary Club


Graphic Courtesy of Bukit Bintang Rotary Club

Johny Sui, the Deputy Organizing Chairman and Immediate Past President of the Bukit Bintang Rotary Club, one of the 78 clubs that make up Rotary International District 3300, asked Mark if he would help them with a ride to Teluk Intan.

Rotary International celebrates its 112th anniversary in 2017.  In conjunction with the anniversary, the clubs in RI District 3300 are organizing a four-day charity bicycle ride, called Rotary 112 – Cycle 4 Life. Riders will cycle from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh to Penang, and then around the island of Penang, covering a total of 500km / 311mi.

Rotary 112 – Cycle 4 Life will raise funds for the Rotary Kidney Fund to give assistance to dialysis patients from five Dialysis Centres located in the Klang Valley, Ipoh and Penang. The Rotary Kidney Fund also provides education and leads advocacy efforts to help the people of Malaysia.


Graphic courtesy of MIMS Pte. Ltd

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a major health issue in Malaysia.  The number of new dialysis patients who suffer from CKD has doubled over the last decade.  In the last four years alone, 24,000 new patients required regular dialysis.

Rotary 112 – Cycle 4 Life was initiated by Yap Fatt Lam, Organising Chairman & Past President of the Rotary Club of Bukit Bintang.  He was inspired to organise this charity ride after participating in the recent End Polio Taiwan Round Island Charity Ride from 22nd to 30th October 2016.

The charity ride is scheduled for 31st August to 3rd September, and planning is already underway.  This ride to Teluk Intan was to recce the route for Day 1 of the charity ride.


Map courtesy of Strava

Twelve of us did the ride.  Rotarians Johny Sui and Yap Fatt Lam from the Rotary Club of Bukit Bintang, Steven, Ben, Jack, Cher, Mark, Leslie, Lay, Alvin, Liang and myself.  We were a diverse group of riders, ranging from Jack, who had never ridden more than 58km in one go before, to the likes of Alvin and Liang, who were on their fixies


Photograph courtesy of Yap Fatt Lam

We all met up at Rasik Bistro in Ara Damansara, where we had breakfast.  Then we loaded our overnight bags into the two support vehicles, driven by Javan and Ivan.


Photograph courtesy of Ivan Wong

Mark gave us a short briefing before we rolled out of the car park.  We were less than 2.5km / 1.5mi from the start point when a recurring feature of the ride made its first appearance.


Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

We would have half a dozen more punctures before we got back to KL.

We made our first rendezvous with the support vehicles at the junction of the LATAR Expressway and Jalan Kuala Selangor.  There we dipped into a ice chest filled with chilled Coca Cola and 100 Plus.


Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

By the time we had covered 65km / 40mi it was time for a food stop.  The McDonald’s in Kuala Selangor did very nicely.  RI District 3300 should ask McDonald’s Malaysia to sponsor their charity work.  We certainly ate enough of their food over the two day ride.

The two guys in polo shirts are Javan and Ivan.  They drove the support vehicles, and were a great help to all the riders.


Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

90km /56mi into the ride we had reached Sekinchan.  It was past noon by then, sunny and hot.  The lady running this fruit stall must have felt like she had just won the lottery when twelve thirsty cyclists appeared, all demanding multiple cups of iced mango juice .


Photograph courtesy of Johny Sui

Once rehydrated, we decided to get off the main trunk road, Jalan Kuala Selangor – Teluk Intan, aka Route 5, in favour of the secondary roads that run parallel to it.  The road surface of Route 5 is damaged in a lot of places, and the speeding lorries, buses, and cars are no fun to share a road with.

We got onto Jalan Tepi Sawah, which literally means “the road beside the paddy field.”  Those smaller, traffic-free roads are so much more relaxing and pleasant to cycle on.

We rode past the Sekinchan Padi Box on the short jink between Route 5 and Jalan Tepi Sawah.  Padi Box is a homestay location made out of repurposed shipping containers.  A recent addition is N. 16, a restaurant in a converted bus, which I assume, once upon a time, was the number 16 bus.


Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

At about 2pm we rolled into Sungai Besar.  We stopped at, surprise surprise, a McDonald’s.  This time just for drinks and a visit to the bathroom, although one or two hungry ones had a burger as well.

The rest of us held off eating until we got to Sabak Bernam.  Restoran Ammin Maju was a food stop on the Flipside ride to Teluk Intan, and so it was for the Rotarians as well.

Here we are, fed and watered, and after yet another inner tube change, ready for the final 40km / 25mi push to Teluk Intan.


Photograph courtesy of Yap Fatt Lam

We made it before the rain!


Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

Drinks all round before picking up our room keys at the Yew Boutique Hotel next door.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The main reason for the ride was of course to help the Rotarians to recce the route from KL to Teluk Intan for their August charity ride.

This came a close second on the list of reasons to ride once again to Teluk Intan!


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

There were twenty of us at Restoran D’Tepian Sungai.  Riders, support vehicle drivers, and distinguished guests from the Rotary Clubs of Bukit Bintang, Titiwangsa and Teluk Intan.

We went through 6kg / 13.2lb of Grade A udang galah, 1.5kg / 3.3lb of batter fried squid, plus plates of chicken, omelettes, mixed vegetables, and rice.  All washed down with twelve pitchers of watermelon juice and orange juice.

A very big thank you from all the riders to Amy Kong, President elect of the Rotary Club of Bukit Bintang and five others Rotarians: Sherman, Wilson, Elsie, Steve and Wendy, for generously picking up the dinner tab.  Very much appreciated!

The ride back to KL started just like the ride the morning before.  With a flat tire.  This time before we had even left the hotel.


Photograph courtesy of Yap Fatt Lam

That wouldn’t be the last opportunity to stand around watching someone change an inner tube!

The Yew Boutique Hotel is a stone’s throw from a 7-Eleven.  Which was a great place to restock the ice chest in the support vehicle, and to refill bottles.  And to take an arty photograph or two.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We opted for an alternative to riding along Route 5 again.  That road is the only way out of Teluk Intan, but there are options once you get to Sabak Bernam.  We regrouped after riding 35km / 22mi along Route 5, at the corner where we turned right onto Jalan Gertak Tinggi.


Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We wanted to stay on the back roads all the way to Sungai Besar, but we weren’t sure of the way.  We unintentionally ended up back on Route 5 for fifteen minutes before stopping for refreshments at Restoran Rashid Fadil RM3 in Sungai Besar.

It was the network of back roads again for us as we left Sungai Besar and headed south to Sekinchan.  We stopped at Kampung Batu 23 to raid the ice chest following behind us.  This turned out to be a convenient place to stop.  We all needed something to sit on as we waited for yet another flat tire to be repaired.


Photograph courtesy of Yap Fatt Lam

We were blessed with perfect riding weather from Kampung Batu 23 onward.  Clouds rolled in, and it stayed overcast and cool for the rest of the day.


Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang


Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang


Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang


Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang


Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang

By 2.30pm we had reached Sekinchan.  We had a very nice lunch at Restoran Bagan Sekinchan, and continued down the pleasant roads along the coast until we got to Tanjung Karang.  At which point staying off Route 5 was no longer realistic, especially as the bridge on Route 5 is the only way to get across Sungai Tengi.

You’ll never guess where we stopped in Kuala Selangor for drinks and to regroup.


Photograph courtesy of Javan Yap

About 70km / 43.5mi to go.  We took a slightly longer route to Bukit Rotan, via Kampung Kuantan, so that we could stay off Route 5, and spend less time on Jalan Kuala Selangor.

We stopped to raid the ice chest again at the entrance to the LATAR Expressway.  And stopped again at the Kundang Timur R&R, where we said our farewells to Ben, Cher, Jack and Steven, who were finishing the ride at MisiCafe in Bukit Jelutong.

Johny, Yap and we six Flipsiders ended our ride where we had started, at Rasik Bistro in Ara Damansara.

Thank you Rotarians for organizing the ride and the accommodation in Teluk Intan, and for providing the support vehicles and drivers.  And congratulations to all the cyclists for riding 350km / 217mi over the two days.


Graphic courtesy of the Rotary Club Bukit Bintang

So How Much Do You Spend on Cycling?


Graphic courtesy of

This is a popular meme, available on mugs, T-shirts, hip flasks, canvas, posters and probably anything else that can be printed on.  Fortunately I don’t need to resort to creative accounting with my Biker Chick.  I can spend what I like on cycling.  And she can spend what she likes on her hobbies.  It is a good partnership.

But how much has this hobby cost me?

The biggest chunks of change went, of course, into the purchase of my bikes.  I have owned four road bikes since I started cycling in early 2010.

I think of the cost of my bicycles in terms of cents per kilometer ridden (CPK).  The more a bike is ridden, the lower its cents per kilometer figure, and the more value I am realising from that bike.

My first two bicycles have been sold.  The sale date CPK for my steel Alchemy, bought in January 2010, is USD 0.20 per kilometer.


My titanium and carbon Alchemy, bought in November 2011, ended at USD 0.38 per kilometer.


I put 32,700km into those two bikes before I sold them in August 2015.  Their CPK figures are after deducting the selling prices from the purchase prices.

Bike number three, my titanium Ritchey Break Away bought in March 2013, is currently at USD 0.53 per kilometer.

Ritchey Breakaway Ti

And my titanium Alchemy Eros, bought in July 2015, is already at USD 0.52 per kilometer.


Photograph courtesy of Alchemy Bicycle Co.

So far I have ridden a combined 23,000km on the Ritchey and the Eros.  The CPK for the Eros will go down faster than that for the Ritchey because I ride the Eros a lot more.  I already have more mileage on the Eros than I do on the Ritchey.

You could argue that defining the cost of my bikes in terms of cost per kilometer is a fudge.  Just another form of creative accounting that masks the true purchase price.  I like cost per kilometer.  It is a bit like depreciation of a fixed asset, but linked to the usage of that asset.  If I can get the CPK of my bikes down to USD 0.20, the money to buy those bicycles will be money well spent.

So that is the my fixed cost of cycling.  The bicycles themselves.

Then there is the variable cost.  The cost of everything else that goes with cycling.

Over the years, the second largest amount of money I have spent has been on clothing and shoes.  Not helped in the least by the need to buy separate gear for winter and summer temperatures.  While I lived in Houston and Den Haag I owned cold weather versions of everything:  cycling shoes, shoe covers, socks,  bib longs, tights, long sleeved jerseys, base layers, arm warmers, jackets, gloves, hats, and even a balaclava mask.


Photograph courtesy of

Next come accessories, gadgets and upgrades.  I’ve bought helmets, saddle bags, saddles, mini pumps, CO2 inflators, bottles and bottle cages, lights, bells, bike locks, and rear-mounted and roof-mounted bicycle car racks.  I’ve bought bike computers, and an indoor trainer. I have so far, however, resisted the gadget du jour, a power meter.  I have upgraded a set of wheels and a handle bar, and switched a standard crankset for a compact crankset.

All cyclists end up owning some tools.  At the bare minimum, they have tire levers, a set of hex wrenches and a floor pump.  Those who do their own bicycle maintenance also own a selection of other tools.  These could include a cassette removal tool, a pedal wrench, a chain whip, a chain breaker, a torque wrench, spoke wrenches, cone wrenches, torx wrenches, cable cutters, a bottom bracket removal tool, and perhaps even a wheel truing stand.   I don’t have a truing stand, but I do have a work bench and a repair stand.

There is a surprising amount of money hanging on that pegboard.


In the maintenance vein are the costs of keeping my bicycles on the road.  I regularly spend on consumables like tires, inner tubes, chains, brake pads, cables, bar tape, and bearings.  I also had to buy new shifters to replace the ones broken in crashes, and replace a cassette that had been damaged by my riding for too long on a worn chain.  If you take your bicycle to a shop for a general service, that costs too.

Finally, riding in organised events is challenging and fun, but not free.  There are registration fees, and if the event is in another state, travel and accommodation costs come into the picture.

So it turns out that I have spent quite a bit on my hobby to date.  I estimate that over the seven years I have been a road cyclist, I have spent about USD3,000 per year on clothes, gizmos, parts and spares, etc.  And will probably continue to spend similar amounts in future years.


Photograph courtesy of

I will be the first to admit that my fixed and variable costs are higher than they could have been.  I could still be riding that steel Alchemy, and not bought three other bicycles.  I own more jerseys and bib shorts than are really necessary.  The wheels that I upgraded from were perfectly serviceable.  I could do more bike maintenance myself, rather than sending the bikes to a shop.

However I enjoy researching all the latest and greatest gear, making a selection from the myriad of choices, and then owning and appreciating a quality jersey, or bicycle component, or tool.  It adds to the appeal of cycling.

But it could be worse.  Much worse.  I could be into high-fidelity sound reproduction for instance.  A Sennheiser Reference Orpheus Headphone System, anyone?


Photograph courtesy of Bloomberg


My Local Bike Shop (LBS)

Wikipedia defines local bike shop or local bicycle shop as a small business specializing in bicycle sales, maintenance and parts.

To become my local bike shop, the business has to meet a few more criteria.

  1. It has to be not more than 5km / 3mi from home.
  2. The staff are there because they love it and really want to be there.
  3. The staff are knowledgeable and keep up to date on the latest technology.
  4. The staff provides exceptional customer service.
  5. The shop provides value for money.
  6. The staff do not unnecessarily upsell, when a simple repair will suffice.
  7. Points 2 to 6 come together to create a “je ne sais quoi” that makes me want to go back there.

My first LBS was West End Bicycles in Houston, Texas.  The story of how I found West End Bicycles, in 2009, is here.


Photograph courtesy of West End Bicycles

West End Bicycles has been in business for thirty one years now, and long may they prosper.  I moved away from Houston in 2010, but have been back a few times over the years to ride the BP MS150.  Most recently in April 2016.  Every time I visit Houston I make sure to call in at West End, which is my favourite LBS to this day.

I moved from Houston to Den Haag, The Netherlands.  It took me a year to find a group of like-minded cyclists to ride with.  By which time my bike needed a full service.  David Porritt introduced me to Tom Schouten Wielersport.


Photograph courtesy of Tom Schouten Wielersport

Like West End, Tom Schouten Wielersport is an owner-operated bike store.  Tom was always there to talk to and connect with his customers.

The personal touch matched the quality of service provided.  My bike felt like a new one when I got it back.  All the cables had been replaced.  The hubs, bottom bracket and headset had been cleaned and greased.  The wheels had been trued.  It had new bar tape.  It was cleaner than it had been since the day I took delivery of it.

The only downside?  It cost me €175 / USD187 / RM833.  Enough to convince me to attend a bicycle maintenance course!

There were a few other bike shops within a 5km radius of the Benoordenhout area where I lived.  Which would not be considered unusual in cycling-mad Holland.  Van Herwerden and Mammoet Rijwielen were two that I used on occasion when I needed an inner tube or a bicycle light.  Tom Schouten remained as my go-to LBS when my bike needed work that I couldn’t do myself, like replacing a broken spoke.

In 2012 I moved back home.  My first ride in Kuala Lumpur was with a group from Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.


Photograph courtesy of

It was during that ride up to Genting Sempah ride that my bike developed a nasty creak.  Read about getting that creak fixed at Van’s here.

Van’s Urban Bicycle Co. met most of my criteria for an LBS, except the “local” part.  The shop was in Petaling Jaya.  More than 15km / 9mi, through city streets, from where I lived.  Six months later the shop had moved to Kampung Tunku, which was even further away.

As time went by I gravitated to a group of road bike riders, rather than the folding bike riders that Van’s catered to.  Those roadies introduced me to Meng Thai Bicycle Centre.


Photograph courtesy of Meng Thai Bicycle Centre

Like Van’s, Meng Thai Bicycle Centre ticked all the boxes, sadly except for the accessibility one.  The shop is in Kota Damansara, about 20km / 12.5mi away.  To make things worse, the traffic on the way there is usually terrible, and once there, parking spaces around the shop are very difficult to come by.  Which is a shame, because Husher and his team at the shop have that je ne sais quoi.

About a year ago Lee and another mechanic moved to their new branch in Kota Kemuning.


Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The drive there and parking is much easier, but the Kota Kemuning shop is 40km / 25mi away.  Though I must admit that, despite the distance, that shop is relatively easy to cycle to from where I live.  Up onto the MEX Highway, and then onto the KESAS Highway to Kota Kemuning.  Nevertheless, Meng Thai Cycle is not local.

There is one bike shop that is a 6km / 4mi ride away from home.  I went there twice.  Once to address a mechanical issue, and once to buy an inner tube.  Both times I came away disappointed.  I didn’t feel that the mechanic knew what he was talking about with respect to the mechanical issue, and I was charged 30% above the market rate for the inner tube.  I will never go there again.

They say that good things come to those who wait.  A new bike store opened 2.5km / 1.5mi away in December 2016.  The Bike Artisans.


Photograph courtesy of Adrian Goh

Jeff Liew has certainly given his bike shop a generous dose of je ne sais quoi.  Helped in no small measure by the drool-worthy bike frames, kit and accessories carried by The Bike Artisans.  Brands include Pegoretti, Stelbel, Look, Cervélo, Slide Away, Moulton, Black Sheep Cycling, PEdALED, Warsaw Cycling, Apidura, Kask, Tacx and MCFK Carbon.

Jeff is clearly passionate about the products in his shop, and he is happy to chat about all things cycling.  Lim is the in-house mechanic.  I am very happy with the shifting tuneups he did on both of my bikes.

And despite the high-end gear in the shop, an inner tube sells for the market rate.

I’ve found my Kuala Lumpur LBS.


Graphic courtesy of

Bikes on Trains in Kuala Lumpur

A rail-based rapid transit system came into being in Kuala Lumpur in 1995, with the introduction of the STAR Light Rail Transit (LRT).  This was followed by the PUTRA LRT in 1998, and the KL Monorail in 2003.  These three systems have since been placed under one administrative umbrella, and branded as RapidKL.

These privately operated commuter train systems supplemented the KTM Komuter service, which was introduced in 1995.  KTM Komuter is operated by the national rail company, Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Malayan Railways Ltd).

Bicycles were not very welcome on LRT and Komuter trains.  While folding bicycles have been allowed on LRT trains during off peak hours for many years, this quote from a 2009 online article in The Nut Graph is illustrative:

RapidKL considers bicycles, even folded ones, “potentially dangerous” to bring onboard an LRT. Hence, its policy restricting bicycles from LRT trains during peak hours.

RapidKL: Bicycles “potentially dangerous weapons”  The Nut Graph  17 September 2009

So it is not surprising that RapidKL had a long list of guidelines for commuters with folding bikes. in 2011 these guidelines were:

  1. Inform station personnel of your intention to bring a foldable bicycle onboard.
  2. Bicycles MUST be folded and once folded, dimensions must not exceed 3 x 2.5 x 1.5 feet.
  3. Bicycles must be dry and clean from oil/mud/grease. This is to ensure grime from the tires or the working parts does not contaminate the trains.
  4. Bicycles must not block the aisles and doors or impede commuter movement at ANY time.
  5. When taking the Kelana Jaya Line, cyclists with foldable bicycles must stand near the door, while on the Ampang Line cyclists must stand near the Driving Cab area.
  6. If traveling in a group, only FIVE (5) cyclists are allowed with the bicycles on board the Ampang Line, and if traveling on the Kelana Jaya Line only TWO cyclists are allowed. If traveling on the bus only ONE cyclist and foldable bicycle is allowed at one time.
  7. All folding and unfolding activities must be done outside the station area.
  8. Please use good judgement and logic whenever you travel with a foldable bicycle onboard the LRT

But things were about to change.  Cycling was becoming increasingly popular in Malaysia in general, and in Kuala Lumpur in particular.  A group of cycling activists coalesced around Jeffrey Lim, who in 2012 had the idea of creating a bicycle map for Kuala Lumpur.  2012 was also the year in which an avid cyclist, Tan Sri Ahmad Phesal Talib, took office as the mayor of Kuala Lumpur.

The Bicycle Map Project became a reality in September 2014, with the first print run of 10,000 copies of the bicycle route map.  You can view and download a copy of the map here.

The mayor of Kuala Lumpur worked with Jeffrey Lim on a number of cycling-related initiatives, including the creation, in 2015, of the first official cycling lane in the city.  Read more about the creation of the bicycle route map and related Kuala Lumpur City Council efforts here.

The mayor has continued to drive initiatives to develop a cycling culture in Kuala Lumpur.  For example, the KL Car Free Morning, introduced in 2014, is now a twice-monthly opportunity for cyclists, joggers, walkers and skaters to take over major streets of the Golden Triangle.

That cycling culture has infiltrated RapidKL and KTM Komuter.  In September 2015 RapidKL announced efforts to encourage more commuters to cycle, by reaffirming that commuters can take folding bicycles aboard LRT trains during off peak hours.  Those limitations are understandable as the LRT carriages are compact, and often very full, even during off peak.  Kuala Lumpur City Hall also announced plans to provide bicycle storage areas at all LRT stations.

Of more interest to me, as a roadie, is what KTM Komuter  announced in June 2016.  As part of a new, first-of-its-kind programme called “Ride N’ Ride”, KTM Komuter now allows all types of bicycles inside Komuter trains.  Foldable bicycles are allowed at all times, while full-sized bikes are only allowed during off peak hours.

I had my first experience on being on a KTM Komuter train with my bicycle today.  Lay, Henry, Leslie and I rode from Kuala Lumpur to Seremban in the morning.

After lunch at the Pasar Besar Seremban, we pedalled the kilometer or so to the Seremban railway station.  A ticket to take a bicycle on board the train is RM2 / USD0.45.  My fare from Seremban station to Bank Negara station was RM9.00 / USD2.00.  Not bad for a 55km / 34mi journey.

The train arrived on schedule.  Always a good start to any rail journey.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We had a very pleasant ninety minute ride, in air-conditioned comfort.  The space allocated for bikes in the first and last carriages of each Komuter train is more suited to folding bikes.  But the powers that be at KTM are clearly okay with full-sized bikes in the two designated carriages.

I brought slippers with me.  They definitely made moving around the stations and the train easier.


Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The whole trip was such a success that we are already planning more Ride N’ Rides, to use KTM’s tagline.  There are a few possibilities to choose from amongst the stations that KTM Komuter serves.


Graphic courtesy of


I see more of this in my future.

KTM Komuter Bikes.png



Grow Your Jersey Collection One Ride at a Time – 2016

This is my fourth annual gallery of jerseys and T-shirts that were given out by event organisers.

You can look at previous year’s galleries here:




The first event jersey for 2016 was collected in April at the BP MS150.  This is normally a  two-day 150mi / 241km charity ride from Houston to Austin.  In 2016 inclement weather forced the organisers to reduce the ride to one day.  I was a part of the team representing Hess Corporation, a company I worked for from 2006 to 2010.

I don’t have the 2016 Hess jersey.  I must have left it in Houston.  Here are my friends and I, in what is one of the better Hess jersey designs that we have worn over the years.


The RHB Shimano Highway Ride LEKAS was at the end of April.  The unique thing about that event was that it was held at night, on a closed highway, under LED street lights.


Next was the Perak Century Ride in May.  I didn’t know the significance of the bull that featured prominently on the event jersey was.  Reader Hanafiah Aris pointed out that it is not a bull, but a seladang, or gaur in English.  Hanafiah also reminded me that the Perak  state soccer team is nicknamed the Seladang.


I have a jersey from the Klang Premiere Century Ride that was held in July.  I didn’t ride in that event though.  I opted to do the two-day BCG Tour from Klang to Port Dickson and back, which happened on the same weekend, instead.


The next event jersey that I “earned” was from the Campaign For A Lane ride in Penang, at the end of August.  For the first time the organisers required participants to wear the event jersey during the ride.  If not riders would not get support at the water stops and at the finish.


Participants got a finisher’s T-shirt as well.


The Putrajaya Century Ride was held on the first weekend in September.  This was one of the more elegant jersey designs of the year.


The last organised ride with swag was the Satun International Century at the end of November.  It was a rather subdued affair because Thailand was in mourning following the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyej.


There was a T-shirt for that event too.  The design was very much like the event jersey.


As I have done in previous years, I will offer these jerseys to anyone who wants one.  Better that they are worn regularly by others, rather than sitting at the back of my closet.

I wonder what event jerseys 2017 will bring.

Audax BRM300 Malaysia 2017


Graphic courtesy of Audax Randonneurs Malaysia

December 31st for most people means staying up until midnight to watch fireworks and to welcome in the new year.

For about 550 arguably slightly unhinged people, December 31st 2016 meant either staying up past midnight, or waking up in time, to make the 2.00am start of the the Audax Randonneurs Malaysia BRM300.

I was amongst that crowd.  Regular readers of this blog will recall that after the very first official Brevet in Malaysia, the BRM200 in January 2016, I said that it was unlikely that I would ride another Randonnée.

“Famous last words” is a quote introducing my post about the BRM400, which I rode in September 2016.

My excuse for participating in the BRM300 is that my Biker Chick said that I should, because “The colours of the medal are nice.”


Photograph courtesy of Audax Club Parisien

I didn’t have a comeback for that.  So I booked a room in the Acappella Suite Hotel in Shah Alam, and Biker Chick and I made a weekend getaway out of the ride.

The BRM300 started in Bukit Jelutong, Shah Alam.  I have driven there many many times for weekend rides.  So why the need for a hotel this time?

Biker Chick and I live a stone’s throw from the PETRONAS Twin Towers.  Where most of Kuala Lumpur seems to congregate as the sun sets on New Year’s Eve.  Roads in the area become clogged, and are then closed to further traffic as midnight approaches.  I really had no choice but to flee to the relative calm of Shah Alam before the area around the Twin Towers ground to a standstill.

Biker Chick dropped me off at MyMydin in Bukit Jelutong at 1am on New Year’s Day.  Lay, Liang, Chon and Mark were already there.  They would be my riding buddies for the next fifteen or so hours.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The MyMydin area was an excellent choice.  There is lots of parking, and options for food and drink.  A number of restaurants, a 7-Eleven,  and even a burger stall or two.

Audax BRM300 Ramly Burger Sam Tow.png

The Audax Randonneurs Malaysia team had been at the start since 11.00pm, ready to distribute brevet cards.  A brevet card and a cue sheet are the two essential documents for a randonneur.  The cue sheet indicates the route and the location of the checkpoints.  The brevet card is stamped at each checkpoint.  The stamps verify that the rider passed through those checkpoints between the opening and closing time for each checkpoint.

There was a bit of rain about forty five minutes before the start.  As it turned out, wet weather gear was not required because the shower was short and localised.  Although the ground was wet at MyMydin, the roads were dry by the time we got to Jalan Sungai Buloh.

Audax BRM300 Start Sam Tow.png

Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

With our brevet cards and cue sheets in our pockets, we rolled out exactly at 2.00am, behind the Audax Randonneurs Malaysia liveried Land Rover.  With Sam Tow, the President of Audax Randonneurs Malaysia, at the wheel.


Photograph courtesy of Sonny SK Chang

We headed north out of Bukit Jelutong, through Rawang, toward Tanjong Malim and Checkpoint 1.


We made our first stop in Rawang.  It was almost 4.00am, and some of the guys were hungry.  Restoran Al Basheer was one of the few eateries open at that hour.  In 30 minutes we had finished our roti canais and iced Milos, and were on our bikes again.

The moon was in a waxing crescent phase, with only 3% of it illuminated.  The sky was very dark.  Until we got to Rawang, the lack of moonlight wasn’t much of a problem.  There were street lights along most of our route to that point.  In some places the artificial lighting was so bright that we didn’t need our bike lights.


Photograph courtesy of Lee Lee K

That changed after Rawang.  It was very dark between the towns of Serendah, Rasa, Kering and Tanjong Malim.  My riding buddies and I appreciated having 1,400 lumens from my Lezyne Deca Drive 1500XXL lighting up the road ahead when necessary.

It took us 4 hours and 20 minutes to get to Checkpoint 1 in Tanjong Malim.  By which time the sky was brightening, ahead of the sun rise.


Photograph courtesy of Chris Soh

Lee Lee K, Stanley Low and Ong Hock Seong were the Audax Randonneurs Malaysia committee members and volunteers waiting outside the Restoran D Warna Warni to stamp our brevet cards.

Audax BRM300 Checkpoint 1 Volunteers Sam Tow.png

Riders spent time at Checkpoint 1 eating,

Audax BRM300 Checkpoint 1 Food Sam Tow.png

drinking, refilling bottles, and in some cases, napping.

Audax BRM300 Checkpoint 1 Sleep Sam Tow.png

And waiting in line for a bathroom!

It was light when we pushed off toward Checkpoint 2 in Sungai Besar.  There had been some rolling terrain between Rawang and Tanjong Malim.  After we made the left turn at Behrang we hit some steeper hills.  That was the last climbing of any consequence until we got to the Dragon’s Back climbs at the very end of the ride.


Photograph courtesy of Peter Lim Hang Weng

After those hills we were on Jalan Sungai Panjang.  A 45km / 28mi stretch through oil palm estates on one side, and secondary forest on the other.  With almost no sign of habitation for most of its length.  Certainly no roadside stalls or restaurants.

We had ridden Jalan Sungai Panjang in the opposite direction during the BRM200.  I had forgotten just how boring that had been.  Especially the sections where the road was straight and seemingly never-ending as it disappeared into the horizon.

We pulled over 40km / 25mi after leaving Tanjong Malim for a stretch and a rest.  We stopped again at the first sign of civilisation in 35km / 22mi.  There were some sundry shops at Merbau Bedarah, where we bought cold drinks and some cakes.

I had packed some peanut butter and some kaya toasties.  It was my first attempt at carrying food other than energy bars and gels.  I had given up gels some time ago.  I think I’ll give up energy bars in favour of toasted sandwiches from now on.

Apart from eating and drinking, it was also time to smear on some sun block.  The weather had been overcast and cool for longer than is usual in the morning, but the sun had broken through the cloud cover.  It was definitely time for some protection from sunburn.

4km / 2.5mi from Merbau Bedarah the oil palm and secondary forest was replaced by paddy fields.


Photograph courtesy of

But only for 6km / 4mi before the oil palm estates taook over the landscape again.

We had 40km / 25mi to go to Checkpoint 2.  At 10.45am we got to Sabak Bernam.  We were still some way from Checkpoint 2, but we were hot, thirsty, and hungry.  We could not resist the attractions of KFC.

We spent 45 minutes ploughing through plates of fried chicken and chicken nuggets.  That perked us up enough to get us to Checkpoint 2, the McDonald’s in Sungai Besar.  We had our brevet cards stamped as soon as we got there.  Then we stood outside eating lime sundaes.  Which were just as good as they had been during our credit card tour to Teluk Intan.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

There was about 100km / 62mi to go.  We were on our way from Checkpoint 2 after a 30 minute stop.

As we drew close to Sekinchan we caught up to Danial and Farid.  Two guys who ride with another group of cyclists that Lay is also a part of.  The seven of us rode together the rest of the way.

Marco wasn’t able to ride the BRM300, but he met us south of Sungai Besar, and took on official photographer duties.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The sun kept breaking through the clouds often enough for us to get hot and sweaty, so we needed to stop in Sekinchan to get some ice and refill bottles.  We hung out in the shade for 25 minutes before moving on.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

After Tanjung Karang we had some long arrow-straight roads to endure.  Jalan Raja Musa includes a 7km / 4mi stretch heading due east, then a ninety degree right turn and 2km / 1mi due south, followed by a ninety degree left turn  and a further dead straight 17km / 10.5 mi.

The sun was still out while we were on Jalan Raja Musa, but an hour later, ominous looking clouds were on the horizon.


Photograph courtesy of Ray Lee

The route had been fairly easy to follow throughout the ride, although there were a few tricky sections.  I had learned my lessons from the BRM400.  Which were to study the cue sheet and a map of the route before starting the ride.  I also added the distances between turns to the cue sheet, so I wouldn’t have to rely on potentially faulty mental calculations mid-ride while trying to figure out how far it was to the next turn.

I’m happy to report that we didn’t get lost this time.


The others stopped at the Burger King in Bestari Jaya.  Hunger had struck again.  Lay and I didn’t need to eat, so we pressed on.

The slightly rolling roads after Bestari Jaya were the merest hint of what was the final act of the BRM300.  The 16.5km / 10mi and 360 meters / 1,180 feet of climbing that is Persiaran Mokhtar Dahari.  A real sting in the tail after more than 280km / 174mi.

Petrol stations are a regular stopping point on long rides.  Lay and I bought a final cold drink at the Caltex station at Bandar Seri Coalfields.  The last petrol station between us and the Dragon’s Back.


Photograph courtesy of Happy Cycling Photos

There were quite a few other randonneurs there as well.  All psyching themselves up for the test ahead.

Lay and I made it over the seven humps of the Dragon’s Back and down the last kilometer of Jalan Sungai Buloh and Persiaran Gerbang Utama to the finish at Kafe An Nurs.  Which got us that last, all-important stamp on our brevet cards.


Then it was time for finish line photographs.


Photograph courtesy of HC Lay


Photograph courtesy of HC Lay


Photograph courtesy of Danial

Liang, Mark and Chon arrived safely at Bukit Jelutong too.  Which was the result we had all hoped for when we left Bukit Jelutong fifteen and a half hours earlier.  No punctures, no crashes, and not getting lost were bonuses.


Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Those rain clouds on the horizon?  By the early evening riders were getting doused.


Photograph courtesy of Mohd Radzi Jamaludin

By 7.30pm a storm hit the Shah Alam area, creating what one rider described as near typhoon conditions.  The combination of torrents of water, wind, and poor visibility forced some riders to walk up the climbs on Persiaran Mokhtar Dahari.  As far as I can tell, everyone who was out on the roads during that deluge made it to the finish without incident.

Congratulations to all finishers!

So despite the rain showers and storm, the BRM300 was a great success.  Due in no small part to the long hours and hard work put into organising this event by the committee members of Audax Randonneurs Malaysia.

Thank you very very much:

Sam Tow
Okay Jaykay
Chong Su
Ray Lee
Lee Lee K


Photograph courtesy of Lee Lee K

I hesitate to ask Biker Chick if she likes the colours of the 600km medal.