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Category Archives: Cycling in Malaysia

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

Specialized KEG Storage Vessel

An article titled 6 of the best: saddle bags, which appeared recently on, reminded me of a post I wrote last year about how to carry everything that you need while on a bike ride.

When I wrote that post, I was using a Silca Seat Roll Premio under my saddle to carry a spare tube, tire levers, a CO2 regulator and gas cartridge, patches, a multi-tool, and cleaning wipes.

I’ve recently switched to using a Specialized KEG Storage Vessel instead of the Premio.

KEG Storage Vessel

Photograph courtesy of Specialized

Not that there’s anything wrong with the Premio.  Far from it.  The Premio is an excellent piece of kit, and there will be times when I use it again.

When I go on overnight credit card tours, my Apidura Saddle Pack takes the place of the Premio, so I need an alternate way to carry a spare tube, tire levers etc.  I could put them in the Apidura, but opening the Saddle Pack mid-ride is not particularly convenient.  I have used a top tube bag a number of times, but found that the bag gets in the way when I am out of the saddle.

The KEG sits, out of the way, in the bottle cage on my seat tube.  It has the additional advantages of being extremely easy to open, it does not need to be removed from the bike like a saddle roll, and items can’t fall out like they may from a saddle bag.

Items inside the KEG are held securely by a pocketed “tool wrap,” which also prevents rattling.

KEG Storage Tool Wrap sigma sports com

Photograph courtesy of

There are always a compromises when it comes bicycle components.  On the minus side, the KEG occupies a bottle cage, leaving me with room for one water bottle instead of two.  Which is not a problem, as there are lots of places to refill my bottle where I usually ride.

On the plus side, I have lots of exposed seat tube where I can mount one or more rear lights.

The Specialized KEG Storage Vessel is now my preferred way of carrying flat tire repair essentials.

I give it Two Thumbs Up


Seven R@SKLs Ride to Teluk Intan

Teluk Intan Banner

Photograph courtesy of

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.

Off Road 4 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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.

Map 1

Upper map courtesy of Ride With GPS.  Lower map courtesy of Google Maps

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.

Meal 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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.

Catch of the day Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

And to pose under the “good luck” tree.

Wishing Tree Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

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.

Meal 2a 2 Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

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.

Menara Condong Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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.

Meal 7 Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Our next stop was a sightseeing one.  Our route along the coast took us past a small fishing jetty at Pasir Panjang.

Fishing Jetty Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Fishing Jetty Birds' Nests

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.

Meal 8 Drinks Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

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.

Off Road 3

Photograph courtesy of Google

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.

Teluk Intan Quote

Keat Wong Memorial Ride

Keat Wong Banner Marco

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Keat Wong lined up as a member of team Flipside for many a ride in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

By 2016 life was taking many Flipsiders in new directions, and our rides together became fewer and farther between.

I saw less and less of some of the Flipsiders, including Keat, over the past couple of years.  Keat and I did stay in touch, but our occasional meetings were over lunch rather than on a ride.

It is sad that it took Keat’s untimely passing to bring a larger group of Flipsiders back together for a ride.  At the same time, I am very happy that sixteen of Keat’s cycling companions were able to gather in his memory.  Including some who literally dusted off long unused bicycles in order to honour Keat.

Keat Wong 4 Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We took a route that Keat rode with us many times.  Bandar Sunway to Kota Kemuning for breakfast, and then on to Bandar Botanik and back to Bandar Sunway.

Keat Wong Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

There was only one choice of restaurant for breakfast.  Pun Chun Noodle House.

I had one of Keat’s favourite breakfasts.  Duck drumstick noodles.

Keat Wong Duck Drumstick Noodles Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We pedalled along roads familiar to Keat, and laughed and smiled as we talked about the good times we had shared with him.

Keat Wong 1 Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

RIP Keat Wong


Photograph courtesy on Yen Wong

You will be sorely missed by all who rode with you.

Wong Keat Soon: 1956 – 2018

Keat Banner Yen Wong

Photograph courtesy of Yen Wong

My Flipside friends and I are deeply saddened by the passing of Keat Wong.

I first met Keat in early 2013.  I don’t remember the circumstances.  Like most cycling friendships, I suspect ours began with an introduction by a mutual cycling acquaintance.

Keat and I became members of Team Flipside.  I remember lots of pre-dawn starts.

Keat 3 Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Keat Kedah 2015 2 Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Keat Durian Fiesta 2013 Chris Chin

Photograph courtesy of Christopher Chin

Keat 2 Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

We shared many pre, mid, and post ride meals.

Keat 1 Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Keat 5 Melaka 2014 Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Keat 6 Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Keat brought much joy and laughter wherever he went.

Keat 2015 Liang (1)

Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang

And a never-say-die attitude to cycling.  Keat’s exploits on a bicycle are legendary.  Land’s End to John O’GroatsThe Maratona dies DolomitesThe 
Lake Taupo Cycle ChallengeThe VätternrundanThe Silk RouteThe Cape Town Cycle Tour.  The list goes on.

Whatever the challenge, you could count on Keat to make it to the finish.

Keat Tour de Kelantan 2015 Keat

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Keat Kuantan 2 2013

Photograph courtesy of Yen Wong

Keat Kedah 2015 Keat

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Keat you will be sorely missed by all who knew you, and who had the pleasure of your company on various bike rides.

Wishing you eternal peace.