My first ride to Teluk Intan, in 2016, was along Federal Route 5, which is one of three north–south backbone federal highways in Peninsular Malaysia. Which makes it a heavily-used road by all manner of motor vehicles. The road surface bears the scars of constant pounding by heavy lorries and buses. Which makes it less than ideal to cycle on.
I rode to Teluk Intan twice in 2017, each time trying to find more and more secondary roads to ride on, as an alternative to Federal Route 5.
It fell to me to plan the route for this ride to Teluk Intan. Ride With GPS has a route planning feature which is easy to use. My goal was to put us onto as many roads like this as possible.
Smaller, scenic roads and paths, with very few cars or motorcycles. For the first 110km / 68mi or so, we rode on Federal Route 5 only when we had to cross a major river, e.g. the Sungai Selangor at Kuala Selangor, or the Sungai Bernam north of Sabak. We rode all but 13km / 8mi on these quiet, secondary roads.
There were a few surprises though. We came upon a few sections where the tarmac turned into this.
I had discovered, too late, that Ride With GPS will plot a route along any road possible, paved or otherwise.
I now know that counter-checking a route generated by Ride With GPS with Google Map Street View is essential. All the laterite or otherwise unpaved roads and paths which Ride With GPS took us onto do not have Google Map Street Views. This check is easy to do, because Ride With GPS uses maps provided by Google Maps. So the small yellow Street View man is always available in the lower right corner of the map.
The red line on the upper map shows the route we rode, as created with Ride With GPS. The blue lines on the lower map show where Street View is available. That section we rode, where Street View is not available, was a narrow, unpaved track. We were able to ride it, but it was a bit worrying on narrow 23mm or 25mm tires.
I learned through experience that in future, I must avoid plotting routes on roads and paths where Google Map Street View cameras have not been.
Despite the unexpected off-road bike handling skills tests, we all had a good time. Fortunately no one took a tumble or had a flat caused by the uneven surfaces, which at times were liberally strewn with sharp stones.
As is par for the course with the R@SKLs, a long ride like this one required frequent refreshment stops.
Breakfast was at 23km / 14mi.
We had a 10am snack at 65km / 40mi.
We made a slight detour to the beach at Sekinchan, to look at some of the catch being brought ashore at the jetty.
And to pose under the “good luck” tree.
The good luck tree didn’t work out for Simon. He had a flat tire at 89km / 55mi. It was lucky for the rest of us though. Simon’s flat was conveniently right next to this stall selling Air Batu Campur, which is a local dessert made of shaved ice coated with with brown sugar syrup, other flavoured syrups, and evaporated milk. Other ingredients are kidney beans, red beans, creamed corn, and crushed peanuts.
While we were quenching our thirst, the stall owner told us that there was a restaurant 2km / 1.2mi away that serves very good mee kari udang lipan (noodles and mantis shrimp curry).
It was 12.30pm when we got to that restaurant. Which, coincidentally, was when it opened.
After lunch, we had just under 25km / 16mi, including another unexpected off road section, this time 3km / 2mi long, before we got to the bridge over Sungai Bernam. From that point we had no option but to ride along Federal Route 5, and then Federal Route 58 to Teluk Intan. Fortunately the roads north of Sabak are wide, the road surface is reasonably good, and the traffic is a bit lighter.
The 55km / 34mi ride from our lunch stop to the Yew Boutique Hotel in Teluk Intan had worked up a thirst and hunger. It was three and a half hours to dinner. We needed something to keep our strength up until then.
The famed Teluk Intan chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll, char koay teow, and a fermented barley drink did the trick.
The main event was at 7.30pm, at Restoran d’Tepian Sungai. The udang galah (giant river prawn) feast. Clockwise from top left: curried, grilled, fried with turmeric, and in spicy coconut gravy.
We made short work of 4 kilos / 9lb of Grade A prawns, plus fried mixed vegetables, omelettes, white rice, and three jugs of fruit juice.
After all that food, I barely managed to ride my bike to the Menara Condong (Leaning Tower) for an illuminated photograph to go with the daytime shot we took when we arrived in Teluk Intan.
The trip back to Kapar the next day was equally food and drink-filled.
We had breakfast at the coffee shop across the street from the hotel. Our rooms came with breakfast, but the hotel starts serving at 7am. We had filled our bottles at the nearby 7-Eleven and were on the road by then.
We skipped the off-road section between Sabak and Sungai Besar. I’m not convinced that the equivalent stretch of Federal Route 5 was any smoother.
Our first stop was in Sungai Besar, 50km / 31mi into our ride. We had iced Milo, coffee, and roti canai.
Our next stop was a sightseeing one. Our route along the coast took us past a small fishing jetty at Pasir Panjang.
We put in a further 42km / 26mi before stopping again. This time for air kelapa (fresh coconut water). Most of us had two coconuts each.
The air kelapa stand was 60km / 37mi from our Sungai Besar food stop. The guys were hungry. Mark and I knew that the Kuala Selangor McDonald’s was only 4km / 2.5mi down the road. A sundae was calling my name. Burgers, chicken nuggets, and fries were calling out to the others.
The air-conditioning at McD’s was another attraction. It was pushing 30°C / 86°F, and it would get hotter. 40 minutes in cool air was a welcome respite.
There was 35km / 22mi left to ride from Kuala Selangor to Kapar. Including another unexpected 2km / 1.2mi sandy and stony section. Fortunately it wasn’t wet like it is in this Google Maps Street View.
Our tires survived the sharp stones. There was just one more section of Federal Route 5 to ride along. It is a toss up between riding to the right of the road shoulder, where the surface is cleaner but rougher, or on the road shoulder, where there is always a lot of debris. The heavy traffic often makes the road shoulder the safer option, but the risk of having a puncture is higher.
My rear tire went soft. It was hot, and I was cheesed off at flatting with just 5km /3mi left to go in our 290km / 180mi round trip. In my impatience, I fumbled two changes, rendering both inner tubes unusable. Lay, Marvin, and Ridzuwan bailed me out with another inner tube, helping with the tube installation, and buying cold drinks from the petrol station across the road.
The day ended well though. Simon got home with plenty of time before the concert he was going to that evening. There had been no falls or major mechanical issues. Everyone enjoyed the ride to Teluk Intan and back, despite the unpaved sections.
And Lay, Wan and I had one more meal together before our day was over. Braised lamb shanks and cendols all round.