A former colleague and long-time friend, Louis Foo, asked me if I could round up some cyclists to take part in the INFINITI Drive & Ride 2017. Louis is the Managing Director of Big Road Media, the publishers of TopGear Malaysia and Cycling Plus Malaysia magazines. Those magazines were collaborating with INFINITI to put on this event.
Participants would get the opportunity to ride in an INFINITI car to Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) and back. And take a turn at the wheel. Why Kuala Kubu Bharu? Because that is the natural place to start the Ride portion of the event. Up to Fraser’s Hill and back down again.
That is why I, together with 31 other riders, ended up at the INFINITI Center in Kuala Lumpur at 5.00am.
We were greeted by a crew which provided excellent support throughout the event. Starting with the registration of participants.
We were each assigned a car for the day. We also received an identification tag for our bicycles. Those tags told the support crew which car we would be in, so that our bikes were in the Thule racks above us as we made the 80km / 50mi drive to KKB. Cyclists get nervous when they are separated from their bikes!
Registration formalities over, it was time to get a coffee and a banana, and to say hello to the other participants.
Next on the agenda was a welcome speech by Tiffany Tan, the General Manager of Inspired Motors, and technical briefings about driving in a convoy to KKB, and about hazards along the ride route up to Fraser’s Hill.
You learn something new everyday. On this day it was that the INFINITI logo represents “two central lines leading off into an infinite point on the horizon,” symbolizing this “luxury performance brand’s desire to be always looking forward – to new horizons, to infinity.”
After the briefings, all that was left to do was to pose for some group photographs, chose drivers, and start our engines.
There was a team from the Institute Jantung Negara (National Heart Institute). If anyone were to have a cardiovascular incident, this was the time and place for it. Some of the best cardiac surgeons in the country are serious cyclists.
Team NATO Bicycle Club were well represented.
And there were five R@SKLs.
Everyone squeezed together for a final photograph.
Tiffany and Louis dropped the TopGear Malaysia flag.
And we were away. The stars of the show were, of course, the cars.
The INFINITI Q50,
the INFINITI Q60,
And the INFINITI QX70.
Inside each car was a walkie talkie for incoming instructions from the convoy leader. Each car also had a pre-loaded Touch & Go card for the toll booths on the North-South Highway. We also found ziploc bags full of bananas and munchies. We were in no risk of being short of calories on this ride.
We made a quick stop at the Rawang R&R to use the toilets, and to switch drivers. It wasn’t long before the instruction came over the walkie-talkie to restart our engines, and to head back out onto the North-South Highway.
As you can see, it was a misty morning. We all hoped that the weather would be on our side, and we would have an overcast and cool ride.
We got to the car park outside Restoran Fazlina Maju in KKB safely, albeit behind schedule. It is always difficult to get a large group to stick to a schedule.
As the support crew were pulling bikes off the Thule racks, some of us had a last minute teh tarik before putting on our cycling shoes and helmets.
It wasn’t long before we all had our bikes, and were ready to start riding.
Team IJN led the way.
Then came the NATO Cycling Club.
Team ACT were riding with us too.
The R@SKLs were in our customary position toward the rear.
It is a 38km / 24mi climb from KKB to the clock tower at Fraser’s Hill. We had a number of support vehicles, and an ambulance, accompanying us as we made our way to The Gap. Water and bananas were available for anyone who wanted them at the halfway point. Many of us took a breather at The Gap, which marks the start of the one-way section of road to Fraser’s Hill.
It is 7km / 4.4mi from The Gap to the clock tower. The steepest slopes of the climb are within those 7km. The lighter-bodied amongst us shot up those slopes. The more well-padded weren’t as rapid.
After getting to the clock tower – the de facto finish of the climb to Fraser’s Hill – we headed 200 meters up the road to the Shahzan Inn for brunch.
There was a nice spread of fruit, pancakes with honey, scones with jam, roti jala with chicken curry, juice, coffee, and tea.
I hid my teh tarik from the guys at the IJN table. I don’t think teh tarik, with all its condensed milk, counts as heart-healthy.
The NATO Cycling Club riders got to the Shahzan Inn well ahead of the R@SKLs. So they had time to relax in the garden.
The support crew deserves a huge round of applause from all the riders. They made us feel like professional cyclists. All we had to do was ride our bikes. Everything else – food, drinks, mechanical help, etc. – was taken care of by the support crew. They were outstanding.
There were three or four photographers amongst the support crew. Hence all the excellent shots in this blog. They pulled out their cameras for another series of group photographs at the clock tower, before we headed back down the hill.
We weren’t photographed just with hand-held cameras. This was shot from a drone.
Then it was time for the fun part of the ride. Woohoo!!
All 32 of us, and the support vehicles, got to the Restoran Fazlina Maju car park without incident. Well, almost without incident. One of the IJN riders had a crank arm come loose early in the descent, which sadly put an end to his ride. But I believe that was it for mechanicals. I don’t think anyone had a puncture.
Everyone had an excellent time. There wasn’t much traffic on the roads. And as you can see from the photographs, the weather was kind to us. It was overcast and cool the entire time we were on our bikes.
In fact the weather did give us a bit of a scare, just as we headed down the hill after brunch. It started to drizzle, right where the steepest slopes and tightest corners are. Fortunately it lasted just a few minutes. There were some damp patches further down the road, so care was required. Happily the conditions weren’t so poor that they took the fun out of the descent.
The rain may have held off while we were riding, but it was waiting for us as we drove into KL. It poured as we passed through the Jalan Duta toll plaza and onto Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim. At least our bikes got a wash!
The rain had stopped by the time we got to the INFINITI Center.
The festivities didn’t stop though. While the support crew – they were amazing – took our bikes off the Thule racks, we were served more food inside the INFINITI showroom.
Perhaps to ensure that we had enough energy to jump up if our name was called in the lucky draw.
Thule donated a hiking pack and a laptop pack as lucky draw prizes.
The lucky draw marked the end of a wonderful event. Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Azhari Yakub, the CEO of IJN, stepped forward to say some words of appreciation on behalf of all the participants.
I am sure I speak for all the participants when I echo Datuk Seri’s sentiments. A very big and sincere “Thank You” to Louis Foo, Tiffany Tan, Adam Aubrey, who is the editor of Cycling Plus Malaysia magazine, Eugene Wong from Thule, and not least, to all the support crew.
We all thoroughly enjoyed the INFINITI Drive & Ride.