After the santai (relaxed) turned bantai (thrashed) ride of the day before, some of us were dubious about attempting a round-the-island ride. Following the CFAL route to the south-east, south-west, and north-west corners of the island, before heading east back to George Town, had been the original plan when this Tien Hotel Residence getaway to Penang was first mooted. Now we wondered if it would be a bit more than we could handle, given the exertions of the previous day.
However, the die was cast. We had invited some Penangites to ride with us, and they were on the doorstep at 7.45am, expecting to replicate the 80km / 50mi CFAL route. So nine R@SKLs and six Penangites posed in front of the Tien hotel before following our three guardian angels – we had retained the same three young men from the day before – out to Pengkalan Weld and then to Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu highway.
This time we covered 12km / 7.5mi before having to stop for a mechanical problem. This time to reseat Simon’s rear tire. It is a mystery how, but a section of the bead had separated from the rim. Fortunately we had CK with us. The man from Pegasus Cycles soon had Simon’s wheel sorted out.
Our next stop was intentional. Kampung Tengah was 25km / 15.5mi into our ride. We stopped to regroup there because Kampung Tengah is at the base of Bukit Genting.
Everyone agreed that the 2km / 1 mi climb up Bukit Genting was easier than we had anticipated.
As we came off the relatively fast descent – more than 50kph / 31mph in places – we had to drop anchors and cut speed in time for the sharp left turn at the bottom of the hill onto Jalan Sungai Nipah. The day before, we had continued north, straight on Jalan Balik Pulau to the food court.
This time we headed south to Kampung Bakar Kapur and the coast. That was the closest we would come to the sea until we got to Teluk Bahang, in the north-west of the island, about 25km / 15.5mi away.
But that would be later. It was first time for some food. I wouldn’t have known this was a restaurant. It is a good thing we had locals riding with us.
Highlights of this meal, apart from the noodles, were the home-made soya bean milk and nutmeg juice drinks. Nutmeg juice is a unique Penang speciality.
Fed and watered, we made the straight run northward to Sungai Pinang in quick time.
We regrouped at the 玄龙双祝宫 temple, which Google translates as Xuanlong Double Wish Palace.
As you may have guessed, our local guides stopped at the temple because it is at the base of the climb up Jalan Teluk Bahang. A 5km / 3mi winding route that rises 255 meters / 837 feet.
We got ourselves to the top of the climb, which wasn’t as bad as we had anticipated.
The run down to the Teluk Bahang Dam would have been much more fun if the road hadn’t been littered with leaves, small branches, sand and mud. It had rained very hard the previous night, and a lot of debris had been washed onto the road. Descending with extra care was required.
We wanted to take our bikes with us through the security post at the dam, but that was a non no. So it was just us at the water’s edge, showing off our better sides.
We made our last stop at Restoran K-Haleel, just after the roundabout at the bottom of the descent from the dam. It was a good place to stop for a drink, and to thank our newfound local friends for their hospitality and guidance. Most of them were not going all the way back into town. Instead heading their own ways to get home.
There were just over 20km / 12.5mi to go. Most of it rolling terrain as we hugged the coast through Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Tokong. Once we got to Gurney Drive we had a flat 5km / 3mi to the Tien hotel.
Six of us were 3 km / 1.8mi from the hotel when word came through, via walkie-talkie to the guardian angel with us, that Pai had suffered a puncture. Once again, it was CK to the rescue.
Inner tube replaced, Pai and the rest soon rolled around the corner where we were waiting, and we had no further interruptions as we wound our way through town to the hotel.
It was then a case of replaying the post ride activities of the previous day. Showers, hanging kit up to dry, napping, and eating and drinking. Plus loading bicycles and bags into the repaired van for the trip back to Pegasus Cycles.
All too soon, our boutique hotel / cycling getaway was over. We owe a large debt of gratitude to TH and the staff at the Tien Hotel Residence for making our stay such a nice one. We are already planning to stay there again during our next Penang trip. CFAL 9 is on 13th August.
Book those seats fellas!