RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: January 2019

Four Apiduras and One Topeak to Teluk Intan

Danial, Halim and I had intended to do a bicycle tour to Port Dickson and Melaka at the end of December. That plan was scuttled when I had to pull out.

The next possible dates for an overnight were over the Thaipusam long weekend. Choo Chian and Mark were able to join this time. The program was to take the KTM Komuter train to Tanjung Malim and then to ride from there to Teluk Intan.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Choo Chian met up with Halim in Ampang and they rode to the Kepong KTM station. Danial rode from his home and linked up with Choo Chian and Halim en route to the Kepong station. The three of them had to reroute when they discovered that Jalan Ipoh was completely closed for the Thaipusam chariot procession.

Photograph courtesy of The Sun Daily

Despite the redirection, they got to the Kepong station in time to catch the first train of the day to Tanjung Malim. That train departs Kepong at 7.30am.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Track upgrading works mean that until the end of 2019 the Komuter train service to Tanjung Malim starts and terminates at Kepong. Once the upgrading is completed the service will run from and to KL Sentral station.

I drove to Mark’s house and we rode to the Kuang KTM station. The first train to Tanjung Malim gets to Kuang at 7.54am. We would meet our three companions on that train.

Mark and I got into the last of the six carriages as discussed to find that the other three had boarded the first carriage. Fortunately, that was the only part of our two-day plan that went awry. We nevertheless had both carriages to ourselves.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

We arrived at the Tanjung Malim KTM station bang on at 8.51am. On thing that KTM got right is running the Komuter service on schedule.

We rode one kilometre from the station to Restoran Ocu Amy on Jalan Ketoyong for breakfast. Fed and watered, we got onto Federal Route 1 and rode northwest to Sungkai, which is just over halfway to Teluk Intan.

Federal Route 1 is believed to be the nation’s earliest public roadways ever constructed. Construction began in 1880 under the orders of the Sultan of Kedah at that time, connecting Alor Star to Songkhla, Thailand. Federal Route 1 now runs 993km / 617mi from Johor Bahru in the south to Bukit Kayu Hitam in the north.

In 1994 the North-South Expressway took the role of the Federal Route 1 as the main backbone route in Peninsular Malaysia. This has reduced the volume of traffic on Federal Route 1. Coupled with the numerous towns that grew along its path, Federal Route 1 is quite a nice road to cycle on.

We stopped at Slim River for ten minutes. We stopped again at Sungkai. It was 11.00am, we were riding under a cloudless sky and the air temperature was already 32ºC / 90ºF. We needed a cold drink and to refill water bottles.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We left Federal Route 1 at Sungkai to join Jalan Kuala Bikam – Sungkai (Perak State Route A189). That road is relatively new, so the surface is good. However, I managed to bang into one of the very few potholes after about 10km / 6mi. I was more vigilant about keeping my eyes on the road ahead after. There were no more flats.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The temperature had risen to 35ºC / 95ºF by 12.30pm. We were getting toasted.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

We stopped again after 63km / 39mi for yet more drinks and bottle refills. That was a 20 minute stop. It was even hotter. We needed some time in the shade.

20km / 12mi later we were in Teluk Intan. More specifically we were in the McDonald’s Teluk Intan. It was almost 2.00pm. Time for lunch.

Hot and happy to be at our destination.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The Yew Boutique Hotel is our regular hostelry when we visit Teluk Intan. Not least because it is a bike-friendly hotel with a convenient place to leave our bicycles right next to the 24-hour reception desk.

We parked our bikes, plopped into chairs in the air-conditioned lounge area and drank numerous glasses of the lemon citrus water provided by the hotel for its guests. Then it was time for showers and to wash our sweaty cycling kit.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Another plus for the Yew Boutique Hotel is its friendly and accommodating staff. It was no problem to hang our kit to dry on the fence next to the car park. We were even given extra hangers.

Everyone then took naps. At about 5.30pm I was awake and convinced Mark to come with me to explore the neighbourhood. I messaged the other guys but got no reply. Mark got no reply to his offer to get some of the famous Teluk Intan chee cheong fun. They were still fast asleep.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Those are rainclouds over the arch. The wind blew those clouds toward Mark and I. When rain drops started falling on us we made a quick call to Halim to ask him to bring all our cycling kit inside.

I had booked an udang galah (giant freshwater prawn) dinner at Restoran D’Tepian Sungai. The udang galah is frankly our only reason for visiting Teluk Intan. The rain stopped in time for us to get to the riverside restaurant only five minutes late.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian
Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The udang galah dishes – masak lemak cili padi, tiga rasa and goreng berempah, as always, were awesome.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

In a post-feast prawn coma . . .

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

On the way back to the hotel we bought Magnum and Solero ice creams for dessert. It was 8.45pm. A bit early to go to bed even though the plan was to start riding at 6.30am. We sat in the hotel lounge drinking more of that lemon citrus water as we chatted. It was 11.00pm before we checked the time again. Definitely time to the hit the hay.

We all slept well. Yet another plus for the Yew Boutique Hotel is that it is in a very quiet part of town. The New Glutton Square food court next door shuts down quite early.

We were on the road right about on schedule, with our first stop of the day being 4km / 2.5mi down the road at Restoran M. Gulam Rasul for breakfast.

It was such a nice change to be riding in cool temperatures.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

We were in Sungkai at 8.30am. We stopped at a BHPetrol station for drinks. These ducks stopped there too, but they didn’t get a drink.

We briefly entertained thoughts of getting to Tanjung Malim in time for the 10.15am train but conceded that was too ambitious. A more realistic goal if we had started at 6.00am.

We had plenty of time to make the next departure from Tanjung Malim at 11.55am.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

We were on the same route that we had ridden the day before.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Danial and Choo Chian stopped again at the PETRONAS station in Slim River. The petrol station where I had dropped and broken the screen of my mobile phone during our ride back from Ipoh in July last year. Halim and Mark were ahead of us and had stopped a kilometre up the road. I kept going and as I rode past them I shouted: “Let’s ride to Kuala Kubu Bahru.”

It is just over 21km / 1mi from Slim River to Tanjung Malim. Kuala Kubu Bahru (KKB) is a further 21km down the road. The three of us got to the PETRONAS station in Tanjung Malim at 10.20am. The train we wanted to be on leaves KKB station at 12.11pm. There was more than enough time for us to ride to KKB.

We got to KKB at about 11.30am. We had time to ride into KKB town for some fresh coconut water and a slice of sweet pineapple before heading to the station.

Choo Chian and Danial were on the train, in the last car this time, when we got on. It was getting as hot as it had been the day before, and the air conditioning on the train was very welcome. Though it didn’t feel as cold as it had been on previous rides.

Mark and I got off the train at the Sungai Buloh station. It was too hot to ride back to Taman Megah from Kuang. Choo Chian, Danial and Halim got off at Kepong.

Mark and I made one last stop before getting back to his house. It was 37ºC / 99ºF. A couple of bowls of icy cendol hit the spot.

The heat was the only drawback in a very enjoyable weekend. Good company, good food and good riding. All in all a very successful bike tour. More of the same, please.

** Four of us have Apidura saddle packs to hold our clothes and other bits and pieces. The other uses a Topeak saddle pack.

BRM200 Pink Ride 2.0

Photograph courtesy of Audax Malaysia

The R@SKLs signed up for the first Malaysian Brevets de Randonneurs (BRM) ride for 2019. 200 kilometres / 124 miles from Kota Kemuning to Port Dickson and back.

Map courtesy of Ride with GPS

We parked at Restoran BR Maju. Parking at BR Maju was sure to be easier than it would be around the ride start and finish point. There were lots of parking bays available when Alfred got there at 3.30am. The rest of us were parked and getting ready by 4.00am.

Photograph courtesy of Alfred Chan

Why so early? This Audax started at 5.00am. We wanted to be riding to the start at 4.15am so we would have plenty of time to get our brevet cards.

The start/finish line was 2.5km away from BR Maju. Brevet card distribution was in full swing when we got there. Sam Tow and his team from Audax Randonneurs Malaysia had been hard at work setting up from before 2.00am.

Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

Almost 1,000 people were registered for this ride. I had anticipated a long queue to collect our brevet cards. That worry was unfounded as the organisers scanned the QR code on our tickets to verify our names rather than searching through long printed lists. We all had our brevet cards before 4.30am.

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo
Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

At precisely 5.00am a horn sounded and a stream of blinking red lights flowed down the road.

Photograph courtesy of Kieren Ooi

We had 13.5 hours to ride 200km. I had planned out how we were all going to achieve this with as little pain as possible. Regular stops were key parts of the plan, which was predicated on an average speed of 25kph / 15.5mph.

TimeDistance (KM)Event
050000Start ride
060024Brief stop 1 at Sungai Manggis
064540Checkpoint 1 at Taman Langat Murni
0700Restart ride
080062Brief stop 2 at Sepang
084578Brief stop 3 at Bukit Palong
091590Checkpoint 2 at Port Dickson
1015Restart ride
1130115Brief stop 4 at Sepang
1245143Checkpoint 3 at Tanjong Sepat
1400Restart ride
1445160Brief stop 5 at Morib
1600182Brief stop 6 at Jenjarom
1715200Finish ride

To my surprise, this plan worked out quite well. We stopped at Sungai Manggis for a few minutes and were at Checkpoint 1 slightly ahead of schedule. Which meant that we were moving a bit faster than 25kph.

Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

We had our brevet cards stamped and were on our way again within the space of about five minutes. Dawn was breaking as we approached the airport.

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

After 51km / 32mi we had an unscheduled stop to fix a puncture.

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee
Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

That repair took longer than expected so I decided we would skip the next planned stop at Sepang, which was only 12km away, and ride through to Bukit Palong. There were some spectators along the way.

We got to the Shell station at Bukit Palong at 8.30am. As we were refilling bottles we saw some speedier participants already on their way back to Bukit Jelutong. Way too fast for us.

We rolled into Checkpoint 2 at the McDonald’s at the Port Dickson Waterfront right on schedule.

Photograph courtesy of Jason Yee Tsin Koh
Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

Port Dickson was also a food stop. We had done 90km / 56mi and it was time to replenish.

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

We were still on plan when we rode out of Port Dickson. As you can see from the sharp shadows the sun was starting to make its presence felt.

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

It had been a really hot week leading up to the Pink Ride. We were all concerned about getting roasted. It was 32ºC / 90ºF as we left Port Dickson. Luckily for us, the sky alternated between sunny and overcast. So the temperature fluctuated up and down between 32ºC and 36ºC / 97ºF.

These photographs were taken during one of the overcast periods.

There was about 500 meters / 1,640 feet of elevation on this ride. Two-thirds of which came on the Sepang to Port Dickson and back to Sepang stretch. We had about 100km / 62mi in our legs when we started the last series of rolling climbs at Lukut.

Despite that we were still ahead of schedule when we got to Stop 4 at Sepang. We were averaging 26kph, which was good considering that just under half of the ride had been on rolling terrain.

Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

It is pan-flat from Sepang to Sungai Pelek and then along the coast to Morib and then inland to Kota Kemuning. Unsurprisingly the pace picked up and we averaged 28kph over the next 67km. A bit faster than had been advertised before the ride.

We had two stops during that time. Checkpoint 3 was at Tanjung Sepat. The air temperature was 35ºC. After sitting in the sun for forty minutes my Garmin read 48ºC / 118ºF. After getting brevet cards stamped it was time for a longer stop in the shade under a fan with a cold drink in hand.

Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow
Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

We stopped again 18km later at Morib. We were one hour ahead of schedule by then. So we could easily afford to spend fifty minutes at Morib having lunch.

I was the first to sit down. Unfortunately, I sat down at the stall serving substandard nasi lemak. I should have chosen a table at the adjoining stall. Note-to-self taken.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We discovered the second flat tire of the day after lunch. There were no more flat tires or other mechanical issues for the remainder of the ride. Which was pretty good going for a group of over twenty riders who covered a cumulative total of more than 4,000 kilometres.

There was a tailwind between Morib and Jenjarom. Which meant we rode the next 21km at an average of 30kph. I take the blame for that. I was having fun.

It was very hot fun though. Three of these helped to cool me down as we regrouped at a 7-Eleven in Jenjarom.

We had 18km to go the finish. The wind was still favourable but we rode that last bit at a more sedate pace. We crossed the finish line about forty-five minutes earlier than I had estimated when I drew up my ride plan. Very good going by all the R@SKLs.

All that was left to do when we were back at Kota Kemuning was to get the final stamp on our brevet cards. Some also collected t-shirts that they had pre-ordered.

Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

There were no finisher’s medals left by the time we ended our ride. So it will be a few months before fresh stock arrives from Paris and we get our medals.

Happy faces at the finish.

Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow
Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Beaucoup congratulations to all the R@SKLs, and especially to everyone who did a 200km ride for the first time. Bravo mesdames et messieurs.

Grow Your Jersey Collection One Ride at a Time – 2018

There were fewer organised rides (often 160km / 100mi long with an entry fee in exchange for partially or completely closed roads, a jersey and a finisher’s medal) on offer in 2018 than there had been in previous years.

In 2013 I participated in eleven organised rides.

In 2014 it was seven events.

In 2015 I rode in six events.

In 2016 the number of organised rides I did went back up to seven.

In 2017 the number fell to five.

The steadily falling number of organised rides I have participated in can be attributed to two things. One is the “done that” syndrome. The only ride with enough appeal for me to consistently take part over the years is the Campaign for a Lane (CFAL) ride in Penang.

The other factor is that there are fewer century rides being organised. A couple of years ago an event was cancelled after the organiser absconded with all the entry fees. Since then the cycling community has been averse to signing up for events unless it is with a known / trusted organiser. There are not many of those on the local scene.

So in 2018, I collected four event jerseys. The first was the CIMB Challenge Ride in April. The highlight of that century ride was that the start and finish were at the Sepang International Circuit, which hosted the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix for many years.

The 10th edition of the CFAL Ride took place in August. The organisers provided a jersey and a t-shirt. That ride is part of a party weekend in Penang for the R@SKLs.

The Avillion Coastal Ride was in October. I managed to give myself a saddle sore the day before the event and couldn’t ride on the day.

Note to self: Always use chamois cream, even if the ride is only 32km / 20mi long.

Hence no ride report for that event. I still got the jersey though

The final organised ride of the year was the King of Mountain Challenge in December. That ride is an approximately 1,800 metre / 5,900 foot climb up to Cameron Highlands.

As in previous years, I offered up these jerseys to anyone who wanted them. As in previous years, the jerseys were rapidly snapped up.

I wonder how many event jerseys I will pick up in 2019.