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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
We made it before the rain!
Drinks all round before picking up our room keys at the Yew Boutique Hotel next door.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.