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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Anatomy of an Adrenaline Rush

Adrenaline Rush De Wallen Industry

Illustration courtesy of De Wallen Industry

Cycling is a safe activity, posing little risk either to cyclists themselves or to other road users.  The degree of risk assumed by cyclists depends on a variety of factors:  where they are riding, the condition of the road surface, the speed they are riding (especially on descents), the condition of their bikes, how visible they are at night, and so on.

Kuala Lumpur is a relatively safe place to cycle, even in the city center.

Safe Urban

Illustration courtesy of Lucas Varela (FT Magazine)

Accidents involving cyclists do happen though.  Sometimes fatal ones.  So my friends and I do what we can to stay away from dangerous situations.  They cannot be avoided entirely however, for example when crossing junctions.  With proper care, those can be negotiated safely.

Nevertheless, there is one place along a popular route where the risk level rises significantly.  This is before and after the Persiaran Kewajipan intersection on the KESAS highway from Kota Kemuning toward Subang Jaya.  There are in fact three danger points to be negotiated during that 2km /  1.2mi stretch.  There is no motorcycle lane along that stretch, so cyclists have to ride on the highway.

KESAS Kewajipan Map

Map courtesy of Google

The first danger point comes 400 meters / 1,300 feet after the motorcycle lane ends, and we are spat out onto the highway.

A lane of traffic filters down onto the highway from the left.  We cyclists have to hold our line while watching for vehicles cutting across from left to right.  At this point we are already riding in the middle of the highway, with three lanes to our left, and three lanes to our right.

KESAS Kewajipan 1

Map courtesy of Google

The second danger point immediately follows.  We have to switch our attention to our right.  We must watch for traffic merging from the right and moving into the three exit lanes on our left.  That is the most adrenaline-inducing section, because the traffic approaching from behind and to our right is travelling at highway speeds.  The speed limit there is 90kph / 65mph, but some vehicles are moving faster.

Our strategy is to ride together as one group, in double-file, and as fast as we can, along that section.  Fortunately it is slightly downhill, and we can spin up to about 60kph / 37mph.  The adrenaline rush helps as well!

KESAS Kewajipan 2

Map courtesy of Google

We then get a rest as the highway separates from the off-ramp, and we can roll along the road shoulder under the Persiaran Kewajipan overpass.  The shoulder is wide, and we can ride a few yards to the left of traffic.

We have about 500 meters / 1,600 feet to catch our breath.  Then we have to cross the two lanes of traffic coming from the left down the ramp from Persiaran Kewajipan onto KESAS.

There is about 200 meters / 660 feet for us to get over to the far left and back onto the safety of the motorcycle lane.

KESAS Kewajipan 3

Map courtesy of Google

It is an unavoidable gauntlet for anyone riding from the west of Bandar Sunway towards Bukit Jalil.  We have ridden that section many times, and have, so far, been lucky.  No near misses.

I have ridden that section alone.  Which raises the adrenaline level even more.  I make sure that I am as visible as possible.  Bright clothes, flashing lights, and an arm waving in the air.  I also make sure that I get there before dark.  Riding that section of KESAS at night would really be tempting fate.

We seal our fate

Two things that thoughtless drivers do to upset cyclists – i.e. me

Inconsiderate Bike Banner

There are more than two things that thoughtless drivers (this is a more family-friendly and safe-for-work term than the label I would prefer to use) do that upset me, but these two are at the top of my list.

First is the driver who overtakes a cyclist . . .

Inconsiderate Braking 1



and then immediately brakes, usually to make a left turn.  Often without indicating said left turn.

Inconsiderate Braking 2


Which forces the cyclist to take evasive action.

Suggestion for drivers reading this (you don’t want the label I have in mind for you if you do the above)

Slow down behind the cyclist.  It will take mere seconds for the cyclist to ride past the left turn / parking space that you want to take.  Then you can make your left turn without endangering anyone.

Number two on my list is the driver who doesn’t look, or looks and chooses anyway to . . .

Inconsiderate Pulling Out 1


pull out into the road in front of the cyclist.

Inconsiderate Pulling Out 2


Which forces the cyclist to take evasive action.

Suggestions for drivers reading this (you don’t want the label I have in mind for you if you do the above)

  1.  Look over your shoulder to the right before you pull onto the road
  2. If you see a cyclist approaching, wait for a few seconds until the cyclist has ridden past you.  Then you can pull out without endangering anyone.

Why do some drivers do these two things that upset me?

The unkind view is that they are impatient anal sphincters (I’m trying to be family friendly / SFW).  I don’t know if this can be remedied.

A more generous view is that they are bad drivers, and just don’t know any better.

Even more generously, they underestimate the speed of the cyclist, and are surprised at how quickly the cyclist is actually moving.

I can only hope that as a result of being shouted at / gesticulated at by a pissed-off cyclist, the bad drivers and poor estimators of speed realise where they went wrong, and correct their errant ways.

Then I’ll be doing less of this.

Inconsiderate Banner 2 theangrycyclist blogspot com

Graphic courtesy of

A bit like trying to herd cats

Morib Banner jkstakent com

Graphic courtesy of

The Bangsar Cycling Group organised a Sunday ride from Kota Kemuning to Morib.  I suggested that they use the route that the R@SKLs ride to get to Morib.  It avoids the heavily-trafficked and poorly surfaced Jalan Klang Banting, except for  4.5km / 2.8mi stretch from Jenjarom to Jalan Bandar Lama.

None of the BCGers knew that route.  That is how I ended up leading the BCG ride.

Coincidentally, the R@SKLs were also riding from Kota Kemuning to Morib on Sunday.  They were starting from their usual meeting point, Restoran BR Maju.  The BCG were starting from their usual meeting point, McDonald’s.  So I arranged for both groups to meet at Bandar Rimbayu, so that we could all do the ride together.

Both groups got to Bandar Rimbayu, as planned, at 7.30am.  There were forty two riders in all, including the cameraman for this shot.

Morib 01 J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

From the left:

Morib 07f J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07e J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07d J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07c J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07b J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07a J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

I set off at the head of this large group of riders, leading them through Bandar Rimbayu and onto the bridge over the SKVE.

Morib SKVE Bridge Up Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

As we rolled off the bridge I was still at the head of the group, riding at approximately the advertised moving speed of 29kph / 18mph.

Morib SKVE Bridge Down Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Just as I felt a sense of control over the group, my illusion was shattered.  Riders shot off ahead of me, clearly more interested in testing their legs than sticking to 29kph.  Oh well!

Morib 12 Winston Wong

Photograph courtesy of Winston Wong

To no one’s surprise, the faster riders missed the right turn at Kampung Seri Cheeding.  Mobile phones to the rescue.  A few back-and-forth calls, and Google map consultations, and everyone was reunited 15km / 9mi later at the junction of Jalan Bukit Jugra and Jalan Jeti.   Google maps didn’t warn of this road hazard though.

Morib Cows Wee Hwee Wang

Photograph courtesy of Wee Hwee Wang

As usually happens, there was some talk of climbing Bukit Jugra.  I thought that first getting some food and drink at Morib was the way to go.  And that was what we did.

It was about 10.30am, and getting hot, by the time we left Morib for the homeward leg.

Morib 03 Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

The R@SKLs left a bit before the BCGers, and they headed straight back to Kota Kemuning.  Some of the BCGers were determined to climb Bukit Jugra.  Which is why we ended up here.

Morib Jugra Climb Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Some, probably wisely, elected to wait at the bottom of the hill.  Those who braved the up to 17° gradients were rewarded with views of the Langat River from the lookout point.

Morib Jugra Viewing Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

And the added treat of watching a paraglider launch himself off the slope.

Morib Paragliding backpackerzmag com

Photograph courtesy of

We probably spent a bit too long up on the hill.  I had expected that we would be back at Kota Kemuning at about noon.  It was 11.30am by the time we all got going again from the base of Bukit Jugra.  There was 45km / 28mi, and a cendol stall, between us and Kota Kemuning.

Any thoughts of skipping the cendol stall were dispelled by the 34°C / 93°F temperature.  The heat, and the distance, were starting to affect some riders, so a stop for a cold drink and a rest was well worth it.

And then the punctures started.  First at the cendol stall, when a tube spontaneously popped.  Then 5km / 3mi later.  A further 5km and it was my turn.  I rode over a rock. Eight of us clustered in the shade under a tree in someone’s front garden to review the damage to my rear rim.

Morib Flat Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Not good.  Fortunately the rim was still rideable.

We weren’t done yet.  We had only just got moving again when we had puncture number four.  All in the space of 13km / 8mi.

What with one thing or the other, it is no surprise that out of the total ride time of seven hours, we were stopped for three hours.  Which explains why we didn’t get back to the McDonald’s in Kota Kemuning until 2.00pm, when the temperature was pushing 37°C / 99°F.

A salted caramel sundae never tasted so good!

Morib Salted Caramel

We all got split up between Morib and Kota Kemuning.  I haven’t heard any reports of missing cyclists, so I can only assume that everyone got back safely.  Albeit some with minor scrapes, cramps and sore muscles.

I need to practice being a ride leader.  If nothing else, it makes a good excuse!

Morib Banner north florida bicycle club

Graphic courtesy of North Florida Bicycle Club

You Want the TV Remote for How Long?

TdF Banner DOGO News

Photograph courtesy of DOGO News

To the uninitiated, watching a three-week long cycling Grand Tour (the Giro d’Italia, the Tour de France, or the Vuelta a España) would seem akin to watching paint dry.  Even Test cricket manages to reach a conclusion, albeit sometimes a draw, in five days.

For my non-cycling readers, here are some of the attractions of a Grand Tour to a cycling fan.

TdF Route.png

Firstly, consider the scale of the undertaking.  This year’s Tour de France covers 3,540km / 2,200mi, spread over 21 stages.  There are fifty three categorized climbs packed into the route. Eight rise 1,000 meters / 3,280 feet or more each.  Three tower to more than 2,000 meters / 6,560 feet each.  Those eleven climbs will require the riders to ascend a total of 19,164 meters / 62,874 feet.  That is the equivalent of riding a bicycle to the top of Mount Everest.  Twice.

TDF Muscles Pauline Ballet ASO

Photograph courtesy of Pauline Ballet / ASO

Secondly, consider the physiological stresses the riders must face to complete a Grand Tour.  These men are amongst the fittest endurance athletes on the planet.  The stage with the most climbing in this year’s Tour de France, Stage 18, has 2,642 meters / 8,668 feet of elevation.  Perhaps cruelly, the longest stage of this year’s Tour de France is Stage 19, covering 222.5km / 138mi.  The winning rider has to average about 40kph / 25mph over each of the stages, and do that day after day after day.  There are only two rest days during this year’s Tour, after Stage 9 and after Stage 15.

TdF Mental Crossfit Aevitas

Graphic courtesy of Crossfit Aevitas

Thirdly, the psychological challenges are immense.  Each stage is incredibly stressful.  The riders have to fight their way against rain, temperatures reaching 30 degrees Celsius and strong cross winds, whilst tricky surfaces including cobbles, street furniture and winding roads demanded their full attention.  The risk of crashing is ever present.  The finishing kilometers of each stage, which can last for four-to-six hours, are particularly taxing.  Riders must overcome severe mental and physical fatigue in order to maintain speeds of more than 60kph / 37mph for the last 5 to 10km / 3 to 6mi of racing, reaching speeds of 75kph / 47mph at the finish line.

TdF Peloton Eric Gaillard Reuters

Photograph courtesy of Eric Gaillard / Reuters

I don’t mean to imply that the entire duration of a Grand Tour makes for riveting television.  The riders may be suffering, but often all the viewer sees is an unchanging peloton for kilometer after kilometer.  Which forces the television commentators to give us geography and history lessons to liven things up.

There’s also the land art.

TdF Land Art

Photograph courtesy of Bicycling Magazine South Africa

And the occasional high wire cyclist to keep viewers entertained.

TdF High Wire Bryn Lennon Getty Images

Photograph courtesy of Bryn Lennon / Getty Images

Every so often though, the race bursts to life.  And you get to see what truly attracts fans to the Grand Tours.  Stage 9 of this year’s Tour de France, from Nantua to Chambery, had it all.

First there was the jagged stage profile.  Nasty, to say the least.  You might not win the Tour on this stage, but you could certainly lost it here.

TDF Stage 9 Profile

The stage profile set the scene for an incident-filled day.  The wet roads ensured that there were crashes.  Lots of them.  Only 4km / 2.5mi into the stage, Manuele Mori and Robert Gesink hit the deck, and both had to abandon the race.  Unfortunately, this was an omen of much worse to come.  Crash followed crash on the fast and wet descents.  Geraint Thomas, in second place in the General Classification standings, crashed on the descent of the Col de la Binche.  His race was over.  The same fate befell one of the pre-race favourites, Richie Porte, who had a horrific crash on the descent of the Mont du Chat.

Then there was alleged skullduggery.  On the ascent of the Mont du Chat, Chris Froome had a mechanical issue.  As he raised his right arm to signal for his team car, Fabio Aru, on his wheel, surged ahead, literally under Froome’s armpit.  This was a violation of the unwritten rule not to attack the race leader during a mechanical.

Nairo Quintana and Porte kept the pace down, and Aru’s ill-timed attack came to naught as three Sky teammates helped bring Froome back up to the group.  Aru proclaimed his innocence, saying he was unaware that Froome had a mechanical.  The polemics about Aru’s actions will rumble on for some time.

TdF Aru

Screenshot courtesy of cyclingnews

The three hors-categorie climbs on this stage probably put paid to the title aspirations of Nairo Quintana, who lost 1 minute 15 seconds to race leader Chris Froome.  Also out of the title frame is Alberto Contador, who finish 4 minutes 19 seconds behind Froome.  They now trail Froome in the General Classification by 2 minutes 13 seconds, and 5 minutes 15 seconds respectively.

Dan Martin was another pre-race who will rue this stage.  Porte took Martin down with him when he crashed.  Martin remounted and pedalled on, only to fall again a bit later on.  Incredibly Martin finished the stage in the Quintana group, but is now 1 minute 44 seconds behind Froome in the General Classification

This stage, arguably the hardest of the entire race, accounted for twelve riders leaving the tour.  Five due to crashes, and seven who did not make the time cut.

TdF Finish velonews

Photograph courtesy of velonews

The cherry on the cake was the incredibly exciting finish.  Warren Barguil led over the summit of the Mont du Chat.  Romain Bardet caught and passed Barguil at the bottom of the descent, with just under 12km / 7.5mi to the finish.

Froome, Jakob Fuglsang, Aru, and Rigoberto Urán were in the chase group.  Uran’s derailleur was damaged, and he was stuck in a big gear.  The television commentators blamed it on debris kicked up by Porte as he crashed, with Urán right behind him.  To me the video seems to show Dan Martin’s heel striking Urán’s derailleur as Martin tumbled over the unfortunate Porte.

Whatever the case, Urán muscled that big gear and stayed in the chase group.  With only 2.1km / 1.3mi to go, the group of five, now including Barguil, caught Bardet.  After 180km / 119mi and 4,600 meters / 15,092 feet of climbing, the stage came down to a bunch sprint.

Fuglsang started the sprint. First Bardet, then Urán passed him, but Barguil pulled up alongside Uran at the last second, and thought he had won.  Even the race officials gave it to Barguil, and he was led to the winner’s enclosure.  Prematurely, as it turned out.  It was a photo finish, and Uran, damaged derailleur and all, had held on for the win.

Stage 9 had everything that makes watching stage racing so addictive.  Bring on Stage 10.

TdF Minions Rest Day