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Category Archives: Cycling in Malaysia

Chamang Waterfall with the R@SKLs

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Chamang Banner odysseyonline com

Photograph courtesy of odysseyonline.com

My body clock usually wakes me up before the alarm clock goes off.  I was awake before the alarm clock buzzed this morning, but this time it was thunder and lightning at 4.30am which stirred me.  Not a good omen for a ride that thirty people had signed up for.

It was still raining in most of Kuala Lumpur at 6.00am.  The last time this happened, I stayed in bed.  Only to later see R@SKLs smiling in group photographs taken on dry roads.

This time I took the chance that it would be dry in Bukit Tinggi.  Kedai Makan dan Minum Zheng Ji (literally translated as Zheng Ji Eat and Drink Shop) in Bukit Tinggi was the designated meeting point for the start of the ride.

Depending on where you live in Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Tinggi is 40km to 50km / 25mi to 31mi away.  The rain put some people off from driving that far.  I started to have my own doubts as I drove through the rain at Genting Sempah, which is 5km / 3mi from Zheng Ji.

I needn’t have worried.  The rain had stopped by the time I parked my car.  Half a dozen buddies were already sitting over hot drinks at Zheng Ji, and more were arriving by the minute.  Twenty-eight riders were ready to roll at 7.20am.  The roads were wet, but the rain had stopped.

Chamang Start 01 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Chamang Start Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Our destination was the Chamang waterfall, with a stop in Bentong on the way for breakfast.

Chamang Route

It is about 28km / 17.4mi from Bukit Tinggi to Bentong.  Almost all of it downhill.  We were on the old road between Kuala Lumpur and Bentong.  The old road runs alongside the Kuala Lumpur – Karak Highway, which was opened in the 1970s to provide a faster and safer link between Kuala Lumpur and the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia.

There is usually very little traffic on the old road.  Add the overcast skies and you have very pleasant conditions for a ride.  Despite the short flooded section and the occasional rutted patch of tarmac.

Chamang On The Road 03 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Chamang On The Road 01 Khoo Bin Soo

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Bin Soo

Among us were some cyclists who had never ridden this route before.  We stopped after 11km / 7mi at Bentong Hot Spring to regroup.

Chamang Bentong Hot Spring gobentong com

Photograph courtesy of gobentong.com

All smiles at this point.

Chamang Hot Springs 03 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Chamang Hot Springs 01 Arthur Ang

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

The next regrouping location was the Shell station on the edge of Bentong town.  Clearly some fiddling was going on here.

Chamang Bentong Shell Station 02 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Chamang Bentong Shell Station 03 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Then it was on to breakfast at Kedai Kopi dan Makanan Kow Hing (Kow Hing Coffee and Food Shop).

Chamang Bentong Breakfast Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Napoleon Bonaparte said Une armée marche sur son ventre (An army marches on its stomach).

In the case of the R@SKLs, Le peloton monte sur son ventre (The peloton rides on its stomach).

Stomachs ready for more cycling, it was on to Chamang waterfall.  The ride to the waterfall requires about 200 metres / 655 feet of climbing.  Which is even more of a challenge when you are on a touring bike, as Marco was.

Chamang Entrance Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The work was worth it.  The waterfall was in full flow.  The heavy rain the night before meant that there was a greater volume of water than usual tumbling down the rock face.

Chamang Waterfall 03

Group photo time.

Chamang Waterfall Group Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Those darned photobombers!

Chamang Waterfall 01 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

The first time I rode to Chamang waterfall was in 2013 with the Flipsiders.  It was very nice to be still riding with some of that group.

Chamang Flipside Marco Lai 02

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Usually, where hills are involved, our rides end with a descent.  This time the last part of our ride was the 550 meter / 1,800 foot climb from Bentong to Bukit Tinggi.

Still smiling!

Chamang On The Road 02 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We made the obligatory stop in Bentong to take photos in front of the big sign.

Chamang Bentong Sign 01 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Paul deserves a solo photo for smiling through the longest ride he has done for some time.  Despite getting a puncture.

Chamang Bentong Sign 02 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Everyone finished the ride safely, albeit sweatily because the sun had come out and the humidity had soared over the last 20km / 12.5mi.  Just what we didn’t need on the uphill road.

Stomachs needed refilling in Bukit Tinggi.

I’m sure the R@SKLs will do this ride again soon.  Those who slept in are demanding it!

The R@SKLs get fried

Temperature

I suspect what will be remembered most about today’s ride to Pulau Carey is how hot it was while we were riding back to Kota Kemuning.  It got up to 37° C / 99° F.  Combine the temperature with the humidity of almost 70%, and the temperature felt like 45° C /  113° F.  Even a rare tailwind – hooray – between Jenjarom and Bandar Rimbayu did nothing to cool us down.

Route

We shouldn’t have been surprised that it got so hot.  It felt warmer and more humid than usual at 6.15am when the first R@SKLs arrived at Restoran BR Maju.  Warning sign #1.

Carey Island early arrival

Photograph courtesy of Alfred Chan

30 of us were ready to roll at 7.00am.  Under a cloudless sky.  Warning sign #2.

Carey Island start

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Twenty minutes later we were riding through Bandar Rimbayu, with the sun already making its presence felt as it rose above the horizon. Warning sign #3.

Carey Island riding

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We were in Jenjarom at 8.00am.  The temperature was 28° C / 82° F.  About half of the group could only do a short ride and were turning back at Jenjarom.  We all flooded into a coffee shop for breakfast before the group split up.

Carey island breakfast

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Carey island breakfast 2

Photograph courtesy of Jiv Sammanthan

40 minutes later 17 of us continued on to Pantai Tanjung Rhu, Pulau Carey.  We were very happy to see that sections of Jalan Klang Banting had recently been resurfaced.  Including the section between the Lebuhraya Lembah Klang Selatan flyover and Jalan Bandar Lama, which had been exceptionally badly rutted and potholed.

As you can see from the route map above, Pulau Carey is barely an island.  The land mass of Pulau Carey is separated from the peninsula by the Langat River and a narrow meandering finger of the Strait of Malacca.

When we got to the sea at 9.20am, the tide was out.

Carey Island panorama

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

There was no shade, which was inconvenient as Jiv had a puncture just as we got to the end of the road.  There was quite a bad cut in his tire, so the fix was a bit involved and took some time.  CK to the rescue!

Carey Island flat

Photograph courtesy of Jiv Sammanthan

We interrupted the repair for a group photograph.  It was too hot to linger, so as soon as Jiv’s tire was fixed we started the return leg to Kota Kemuning.

Carey Island group

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

By 10.30am we had covered the 16km / 10mi between the beach and our regular cendol stall.  Wet, ice cold and sweet.  Just what the doctor ordered when it was 32° C / 90° F and felt closer to 37° C / 99° F.

Carey Island cendol

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The temperature kept climbing as we rode the 28km / 17mi from the cendol stop to Restoran BR Maju in Kota Kemuning.  We needed a short rest in the shade at Kampung Sri Cheeding after 15km / 9mi.

Lots of sunblock and sunscreen were applied today.  Nevertheless, I suspect some of us got burnt over the last 35minutes of the ride today.  It was a scorcher!  Probably hot enough to do this.

Carey Island fried egg

Photograph courtesy of alert-conservation.org

 

Enough already!

 

 

Flat Banner

Diorama courtesy of my Biker Chick

I’ve been fixing flat tires a few too many times lately.  As in three times in one week.  More often than not, the punctures were caused by staples like these.

Staple

I have pulled entire “fresh” staples out of my tires.  After staples have been on the road for a while they look like this.

The Culprit Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

The latest rash of staple-induced flats got me thinking.  I had many punctures while riding in Houston and Den Haag, but none of those were caused by staples.  Broken glass, sharp flints and stones, and thorns – yes.  But not staples.

Do Malaysian roads have an unusually high proportion of staples mixed in with the other road debris?

I did a little survey, asking respondents to rank the following causes of bicycle tire punctures, from most frequent (1) to least frequent (6).  The choices were:

  • Glass
  • Thorns
  • Staples or other wire
  • Pinch flats
  • Flints or other small stones
  • Unknown cause

I received 42 responses.  The table below shows the number of times each option was ranked as the most frequent cause of punctures.  Two respondents did not indicate a top cause of punctures.

Chart 2

30.00% of respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the number 1 cause of punctures.  22.50% of respondents ranked Pinch flats as the number 1 cause of punctures.
22.50% of respondents ranked Glass as the number 1 cause of punctures.

33 of the respondents live in Malaysia.  3 live in North America.  2 live in The Netherlands.  2 live in Australia / New Zealand.  1 lives in The United Kingdom.  And 1 lives in another Asian country.

2 out of the 3 North American respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the number 1 cause of punctures.   The other North American rated Staples or other wire as the second most frequent cause of punctures.  So perhaps I was just lucky to avoid staples when I lived and rode in the United States.

Interestingly, both of the Dutch respondents ranked Staples or other wire as the least frequent cause of punctures.  Which matches my own experience over more than two years of cycling in The Netherlands.

The sample size is small, and the methodology is not scientific by any means.  Nevertheless, this survey does show that Malaysian cyclists suffer more punctures due to staples or other wire (usually fragments of steel wire from failed car and truck tires) than from any other cause.

I don’t know why there are so many staples on Malaysian roads.  Perhaps stapled paper, being light, gets blown out of rubbish trucks and onto the road.

I do know that some Malaysians have the atrocious habit of tossing rubbish out of their moving cars.  Which has to be the explanation for the most unusual cause of a puncture reported by a Malaysian cyclist.  A chicken bone.

Other causes of punctures reported by respondents were variations on pinch flats – hitting a pothole, drain grille etc. (4), faulty valve stems (2), worn or misaligned rim tape (2), old inner tubes (2), nails or screws (2) and overheating by being left in a car under a hot sun.

I have my share of pinch flats too.  My fault for not checking my tire pressures before every ride.

There’s not much I can do about the staples and other debris on the roads, apart from staying off the road shoulders as much as possible.

Perhaps it is time to consider an old-school device – a tire saver / tire wiper.

Tire Saver Stronglight flickr com

Photograph courtesy of Stronglight at flickr.com

 

If your children want to visit Legoland Malaysia, take your bike

Puteri Harbour is a marina development that spans 2.8km2 (687 acres) in the new regional city of Iskandar Puteri.  The harbour opens into the Johor Strait, which separates peninsular Malaysia from the island of Singapore.

Iskandar Puteri Location

Iskandar Puteri used to be known as Nusajaya.  To add to the potential confusion, Kota Iskandar is the name of the administrative centre for the state government of Johor, which within Iskandar Puteri.

I spent a few days at Puteri Harbour.  I wasn’t there to visit Legoland Malaysia, though it is the main attraction in Iskandar Puteri.

I was there to keep Biker Chick company in the evenings.  On the first day, while she was at work, I went exploring on my bicycle.

The Hotel Jen Puteri Harbour looks out onto the marina.

Iskandar Puteri Marina

This was my favourite among the boats and yachts moored there.

Iskandar Puteri Ycht

The grounds of the marina are decorated with, among other things, a series of bamboo sculptures.

Iskandar Puteri Sculpture

There is also the beginnings of a bike-share scheme.  This was the only station I saw.  More may appear as the residential and office buildings in the area are completed and opened.

Iskandar Puteri Bike Share

Medini City, to the west of Puteri Harbour, recently announced a 22km / 14mi cycling path from north to south of the development.

 

Many of the buildings around Puteri Harbour and Medini are still either being constructed or being fitted out.  I saw a large lorry delivering air-conditioning units to one apartment block.  Other towers still have cranes alongside them.

Iskandar Puteri Panorama

Because of the ongoing building work, many of the roads in the area are closed to traffic.

Iskandar Puteri Blocked Road

The roads themselves are finished and are in excellent condition.  Perfect for a bike ride.  The entire area where I rode was almost devoid of traffic.  I avoided Lebuh Kota Iskandar, which is a major road.  Even that road had very few vehicles on it each time I rode across it.

It is probably busier on weekends and holidays.  Legoland Malaysia does not disclose attendance figures.  It did exceed its target of 1 million visitors by the end of its first year of operation in 2013.  The number of visitors must have increased since then.

Iskandar Puteri Route

The main attraction in Iskandar Puteri.

Iskandar Puteri Legoland

Lots of apartment blocks with sea views are going up.

If you don’t want to moor your boat at the marina, you can buy a property with its own pier.

Iskandar Puteri Emerald Cove

Kota Iskandar rubs shoulders with Puteri Harbour.

Iskandar Puteri Kota Iskandar Sign

This is the front of the State Secretariat building.

Iskandar Puteri State Secretariat Building

The Kota Iskandar State Mosque is not far from the State Secretariat.

Iskandar Puteri State Mosque

The Iskandar Botanical Gardens is worth a visit.  And not just for wedding album photographs.

Iskandar Puteri Botanic Gardens 1Iskandar Puteri Botanic Gardens 3

There are several PublikArt spaces in Medini.  This sculpture of three manatees is titled I Too Am Iskandar Puteri.

Iskandar Puteri Manatees

There is a lot to see as you cycle along.  Next time you take your children to Legoland Malaysia, bring your bicycle as well.

 

 

 

Not Your Usual Sunday Ride

Went Wrong

The R@SKLs have executed this plan many times:

  1. Leave Nam Wah (Batu 18) at 7.15am
  2. Ride up Peres
  3. Continue to Kongkoi, or
  4. Ride back down the hill and go to Tekala Forest Reserve

Today things went wrong from the start.

  1. Leave Nam Wah (Batu 18) at 7.15am
    There was a trail run which started at the Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara, Dusun Tua (National Youth Skills Institute).  Dusun Tua is 4km / 2.5mi from Batu 18.  Lots of trail run participants, many of who I presume were unfamiliar with where the Institute is, clogged up the road.
    So most of the group were late getting to Nam Wah.
  2. Ride up Peres
    There were swarms of bees all the way from Batu 18 to the summit of Peres.  Lupe, Alfred, Simon, and Woo were stung.  In some cases more than once.
    Kelin had intestinal troubles, so he had to turn back to find relief.
    Simon waited for Kelin at the T-junction while the rest of us started climbing up Peres.  It was a good thing that Simon waited.  Unbeknown to us, and I think to Simon too, he started developing an anaphylactic reaction to the bee sting.  This is a serious allergic reaction which can be fatal.
    To cut a long story short, Kelin managed to get Simon to Dr. Zam’s clinic just in time for a steroid shot.A few kilometers from Batu 18, Lupe lost the cap to one of her water bottles.  I lost one of my cleat covers at one of the stops along the way.

    Here we are at the summit.  You can’t see the bees, but they were buzzing around us.

    CLC 2018 Ride #6 6b

    Photograph courtesy of Alfred Chan

    CLC 2018 Ride #6 6

    Photograph courtesy of Manuel Cernusco

  3. Continue to Kongkoi, or
    By this time we had heard about Simon’s allergic reaction.  Which must have concerned the others who had been stung.
    While the sun wasn’t out in full, it was a hot morning.  The bees and the potential for a very hot ride back from Kongkoi made the decision to turn around and ride back down the hill an easy one to make.
  4. Ride back down the hill and go to Tekala Forest Reserve
    When we got back to the T-junction, I expected the group to ride on to the Tekala Forest Reserve.  Wrong!  Perhaps the bee stings had spoiled the mood.
    Just Lupe, Manuel, Ridzuwan and I did the 22km / 14mi out and back to the Forest Reserve carpark.

The good news is that on the ride back to Batu 18, Lupe found her bottle top.  And I found my cleat cover at the bike rack outside Nam Wah.

The four of us had a good breakfast at Nam Wah.  The other R@SKLs had long left the scene.

I don’t know if they got caught in a traffic jam getting back to town.  We certainly did.  It took me 35 minutes to drive the 8km / 5mi from Batu 18 to the traffic light at Batu 14.  All the trail runners were exiting the Youth Skills Institute.  And there were a couple of weddings along the way.  Cars parked on the roadside added to the delay.

Ridzuwan had a lunchtime wedding to go to.  Luckily the wedding ran until 3.30pm, so he was able to get there in time.

I do know that Simon made a full recovery – apart from some itchy rashes.  We are all going to carry some prednisolone tablets on our rides from now on.

Alls Well

トモエスガのお別れライド *

* The Farewell Ride for Tomoe Suga

Tomoe 14

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

The R@SKLs have been delighted, and privileged, to have had Tomoe ride with us.  Her ready smile and infectious enthusiasm brightened every ride she did with us.

Tomoe is a very accomplished cyclist.  Basking in her reflected glory is the closest most of us got to being a podium finisher!

Tomoe 1 Tomoe

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

It is a measure of the friendships Tomoe has developed during her time in Kuala Lumpur that 47 cyclists participated in the farewell ride the R@SKLs organised for her.

We started from Restoran BR Maju in Kota Kemuning.  As usual, Alfred was early.  Very early!

Tomoe BR Maju Alfred Chan

Photograph courtesy of Alfred Chan

By 7.10am we were on the road toward Bukit Jugra.

Tomoe 6 Pai

Photograph courtesy of Pai Hsing Chou

This was the largest group ride many of us had ever been on.

It turned out to be a day of a few firsts.  The ride from the base of Bukit Jugra to the lighthouse is just 1km / 0.6mi long, but the road rises 111 meters / 364 feet in that distance.  That is an average gradient of 10%.

For some, this was their first ride up to the lighthouse and the Jugra sign.

Tomoe Jugra Top Pai

Photograph courtesy of Pai Tsing Chou

For first-timer and regular alike, getting up that hill is an achievement.

Danial won the prize for Most Daring Cameraman.

Tomoe Jugra 1 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

Some thought better of sweating and grunting up the climb.

From Bukit Jugra we rode the 13km / 8mi to the beachfront at Morib for breakfast.

And some posing with the Straits of Melaka behind us.

About 45 minutes later we were back on the road, retracing our route.

Japan may be the Land of the Rising Sun, but Malaysia has its share of sun as well.

Tomoe Rising Sun

The temperature was 19°C / 66°F when we started the ride in Kota Kemuning.  When we left Morib it was 34°C / 93°F.  By the time we got to our regular cendol stop 23km / 14mi later, it was 37°C / 99°F.  We needed that ice-cold cendol.

The proprietor of Cendol & ABC Santa Sawit Mak Lang was taken aback when I ordered 60 bowls of cendol.  He didn’t think that he heard me right.  It took a few repetitions of the order, helped by the sight of more and more overheated cyclists streaming into the stall’s seating area, to convince him that I was serious.

Tomoe Cendol Martin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

The return ride from Morib had turned into a hot one.  That meant a touch of sunburn, and some cramps, within the group.  But that didn’t stop everyone from completing the ride.  For some it was their first metric century ride.  Another milestone achieved!

Fortunately there were no falls or crashes.  The worst mechanical issues were one dropped chain, and one slow leak.  An excellent result for a group of 48 riders.

The R@SKLs wish Tomoe much success and happiness back in Japan.  And of course, many enjoyable kilometers on her bicycle.

Tomoe Happy Biking

Jepun Boleh!

Avoiding the Heat

Malaysia’s climate is equatorial, being hot and humid throughout the year.  The maximum temperature and high humidity numbers for Kuala Lumpur so far in February 2018 bear this out.

Feb Temp and Humidity

Data courtesy of Weather Underground

I have written in the past about how to beat the heat. I wrote a post about how much to drink on a ride.  Another post was about the efficacy of wearing a base layer.  There was a post about how to keep sweat out of your eyes.

Lately a few riding buddies and I have taken heat and humidity management to a new level.

Ride Start Times.png

When possible, we have taken to starting rides before 5.30am.  That way we get most of our riding in before the sun rises at around 7.30am.  We get an average of 85km / 53mi done, and have breakfast, by about 9.30am.  At that time of the morning the temperature is still in the mid 20s °C / mid 70s °F.

Not everyone can start a ride before 5.30am.  I for one need to take a mid-afternoon nap.  But for those who can, there is no better way to stay

Out of the sun