A ride around the island is the main reason for our trips to Penang. Okay, maybe the food is the main reason, and the round island ride is the excuse to come to Penang. Either way, a group of R@SKLs and our Penang-based friends gathered outside Tien Hotel.Residence at 7:15 am.
Pai and I were not among them. We planned to cycle back to Tanjung Malim, starting on Monday. We took the weekend off from riding.
The annual organized ride is not happening this year because of COVID-19. The route for the morning was very similar to the one used during CFAL. With a couple of detours led by our Penang friends.
As always with our round island rides, the outrider boys accompanied the group to provide directions and stop traffic and junctions.
Many thanks and kudos to Serena and TH, who once again were fabulous hosts. They took care of all the arrangements in Penang for us. Accommodation, food, weekend activities, the works.
The detours were into the paddy fields of Balik Pulau.
The rest of the route was familiar to anyone who has ridden around the island before.
No ride can be complete without a yum cha stop.
The festivities continued with drinks and dinner at Tien Hotel.Residence.
There was plenty of food. Char koay teow fried to order, pasembur, samosas and fried cauliflower.
We had Simon’s birthday cake for dessert.
I had a craving for nyonya kueh as well. The kueh stall was closed, but Geetha and Vanessa found an apom vendor. It took a while for him to whip up fifty apoms.
There was some leftover char koay teow in takeaway boxes for anyone who needed a late-night snack.
Day 3 was the final leg of our ride to Penang. 88km to the Butterworth ferry terminal, and a few more kilometres in Georgetown to get to the Tien Residence Hotel and the Tien Terrace.
The Flemington Hotel breakfast buffet opens at 7:00 am.
Breakfast is on the rooftop, so there is a nice view of the Taiping Lake Gardens.
We were ready to hit the road at 7:45 am.
Our first bottle refill stop was at the PETRONAS station in Bagan Serai. We stopped again nine kilometres later to put on rain gear.
Naturally, the rain eased off for the next twenty kilometres. We stopped again for drinks and bananas at Kawasan Perindustrian Valdor.
It started pouring as we set off again. It rained for most of the way to Butterworth.
We made good time despite the rain and were on the ferry just after noon.
Our first destination in Georgetown was the Tien Hotel.Residence. Some of the group were staying there.
The Welcome banner was a thoughtful touch.
We all took advantage of the outside hose to wash off our bikes.
A smaller group of us rode on to Tien Terrace.
Tien Terrace is the latest of TH’s boutique hotel projects. A half dozen of us were the first guests in the as-yet unopened hotel. Our role was to give TH feedback about what needed attention and fixing as the finishing touches are applied.
The pool is ready.
Penang is a food lovers paradise. No surprise then that some hit the food stalls early on for snacks.
Drinks and dinner were at Tien Terrace.
Of course, where there is a pool . . .
A good time was had by all. There would be a few sore heads in the morning.
Day 2 was the longest of the three days. It was 124km from Kampar to Taiping.
We left the Grand Kampar Hotel at 7:00 am.
Breakfast was about an hour later at D’Anjung Bali. I had talked up their puri to Vanessa, so I was relieved that the place was open. Despite the sign on the gate saying “Closed.”
We paused for drinks at Gelung Pepuyu. Our next scheduled stop was at Beruas.
4km from Beruas Vanessa had her second flat tire in as many days. It sounded like a gunshot when her rear inner tube exploded. Fortunately, her tire was undamaged. It was the same tire that had flatted the day before, which was a bit of a worry. When we got to Taiping she had her wheel and tire checked at a bicycle shop. Happily she had no further problems.
Most of the group were considerably ahead of us when Vanessa flatted. They had finished their drinks at Beruas by the time the rest of us got there.
The road from Beruas to Terong is in poor condition. All the lorry traffic has left it badly rutted. Sadly one of those ruts caused Ernestine to lose control and fall. Thankfully she wasn’t hurt badly, but that was the end of her ride.
Once she was on her way in one of the support cars to get her abrasions cleaned and dressed, the rest of us stopped at Padang Gajah for drinks and to refill bottles.
It was 35ºC at Padang Gajah, and it was 38ºC when we got to Terong 11km later. I needed to stop for ice cream. Fifteen minutes later we were riding the last 20km to Taiping.
AiWei and AiLei are from Taiping. They took us to the Larut Matang Hawker Centre for lunch.
It was a short ride from lunch to the Flemington Hotel. It was 4:00 pm by the time we were in our rooms. That gave us seventy-five minutes before we had to be in the lobby, ready to be driven to dinner.
Dinner was courtesy of Simon. His penalty for pulling out of the ride. We went to Restoran Light House Seafood.
This restaurant is famed for its seafood porridge. We had that, and lots more besides.
I was stuffed after that meal, but others had room for more. One of the Taiping-ites ordered fried chicken by phone. We stopped to collect the order on our way back to the hotel.
We wanted to sit at the rooftop bar but our chicken, being outside food, was not allowed. So we went to the Taiping Lake Garden across the road.
This year a group of seventeen opted to cycle to Penang.
The first day’s ride was from Tanjung Malim to Kampar.
Some of us got to Tanjung Malim by road.
The rest took the train from Sungai Buloh. After stopping at Bin Soo’s and AiLei’s for muffins.
Being the R@SKLs, our first stop was one kilometre from Tanjung Malim KTM station for roti canai and nasi lemak at Restoran Al Kassim Maju.
We had two support vehicles for this trip. An ice chest in the back of Amy’s truck held water and 100 Plus. Our drivers, Azaman and Suwardy, took advantage of an ice delivery to the restaurant to buy ice for us.
There was a flat tire to deal with before we could get going. That was the opportunity to try out TH’s new toy.
Then we were on our way.
Our next stop was an unplanned one. Vanessa had a flat tire north of Trolak.
We dipped into the ice chest at our first rest stop just before Sungkai.
The next stop was for fresh-cut fruit at Bidor. Having ridden 55km, we were more than halfway to Kampar.
We spent more than one hour at Tapah for lunch. We got there at 1:00 pm. It was 36ºC, and we appreciated the air-conditioning in the KFC. We are on the floor because all the furniture has been removed from the ground floor of the restaurant. No doubt for social distancing reasons.
The others went to a chicken rice shop across the road. I assume that shop had ceiling or wall fans.
The remaining 22km passed without incident. We checked into the Grand Kampar Hotel, showered, and went looking for food. About half of us went to the McDonald’s around the corner from the hotel. We had our first taste of strictly enforced COVID-19 SOPs there. In addition to the now-standard registration via the MySejahtera app and temperature checks, we couldn’t all gather at the counter to order our food.
After our burgers, we met most of the rest at the Entertainment Hub for more rehydration. We fell foul of the COVID-19 SOPs there too. Our group had grown to more than ten, so we couldn’t stay.
The last stop before calling it a day was at Restoran Ken Claypot House. Claypot meals are a Kampar speciality. COVID-19 SOPs meant five people to a table.
Pai and I signed up for this ride when it was scheduled for March 2020. COVID-19 put paid to this event and many others. The Movement Control Order came into effect on 18th March and life as we knew it came to a sudden stop.
Five months later, life has returned to a semblance of normalcy. Including the resumption of outdoor sporting activities. The postponed BRM300 and BRM1000 rides were rescheduled to the end of August. A BRM600 ride was added to the mix. All to coincide with Malaysia’s Independence Day (Merdeka) on August 31st.
The ride started from Morib. Pai and I spent Saturday night in a hotel in Banting. By the time we got our acts together, all the hotels in Morib were full, so Banting, about 12 km from Morib, was the next best option.
The idea was to get the 65 km drive from home out of the way on Saturday and thus be able to sleep for an extra ninety minutes on Sunday morning.
I neglected to check the location of the hotel. It was on a very noisy Jalan Sultan Abdul Samad, which is the main road through Banting. I didn’t get much sleep.
The BRM300 started at 5:00 am on Sunday 30th. We had twenty hours to complete the distance. Pai and I got to the start with plenty of time to check in and to set up our bikes.
As we were about to start, I noticed that my chain was trapped below the chain catcher, which hadn’t done its job. However, the chain catcher did stop me from getting the chain back onto a chainring. The only way to get the chain back onto a chainring was to break the chain. Fortunately, I had a quick link on my chain, and Pai had quick link pliers. And a stack of wet wipes for me to get all the grease off my fingers afterwards.
I was not a happy man when we finally got going.
The route took us to Lukut and then clockwise to Rembau, Tampin, Sungai Udang, Port Dickson, Lukut and back to Morib.
As soon as we left Morib, Pai noticed that my rear derailleur was making a clicking noise. We stopped at the roadside to check my RD, but in the dark, we couldn’t see anything wrong. We stopped again under lights at the Petronas station in Sungai Pelek and saw the problem. In the dark at Morib I had threaded the chain over rather than under a small tab on the RD. So out with the quick link pliers and wet wipes again.
Dawn was breaking when we left Sungai Pelek. 20 km later it was bright enough to turn my front light off.
It was the middle of the three-day weekend so the roads were very quiet.
Checkpoint 1 was at Restoran 3 Abdul in Rembau. That was 94 km into the ride.
We had breakfast there.
We rolled out of the restaurant at 10:00 am.
It might have been a better idea to stay and nap at the restaurant like this fellow.
The major climb of the day started at KM 102.
How major? This major.
We decided to save our legs.
I didn’t feel very good after that climb. My average heart rate increased by 10% and I was pedalling squares. It was getting hot, which didn’t help.
I started to cramp in the sartorius muscles. The sartorius are the longest muscles in the human body, spanning both the hip and knee joints. Fortunately I was able to stretch and stop the cramps from really biting.
I emptied my water bottle at a rapid rate. We stopped at the sundry shop at KM 119 for a rest and to buy some drinks.
50 minutes later, just south of Tampin, Pai spotted a roadside stall selling coconut shakes. That was a much needed cold drink.
The temperature was on its way up. It was 33ºC / 91ºF when we stopped for that coconut shake. It would hit a high of 39ºC / 102ºF later in the day.
Along with the heat, there were these to contend with.
At 1:20 pm we got to checkpoint 2 at the Petronas Sungai Petai station on the AMJ Highway. It was the hottest time of the day. We had ridden 153 km, and I needed a break. As did many others.
That bike with the orange fork is mine. I was inside the station, enjoying the air-conditioning and more drinks.
Our next stop was at a Petron station in Sungai Udang. Pai needed nutrition. I needed more drinks and to get rid of my jersey. It would be cooler riding with just a base layer on.
Those stops and a lot of sugary drinks must have helped me. I felt a lot better when we left that Petron station. I still had to ward off the occasional sartorius muscle cramp.
We hit some holiday traffic on Federal Route 5 between Sungai Udang and Taman Masjid Tanah. It was a relief to get off Federal Route 5 at Kampung Pulau Semut and out of a steady stream of traffic.
We took a short break in the shade at a bus stop at Kampung Tengah. It was still 34ºC / 93ºF. The forecast had predicted rain, but there was not a drop all day. It was 4:20 pm, and we had ridden 195km.
Checkpoint 3 was 15km later at a FIVE petrol station in Pasir Panjang. Five Petroleum is a local fuel brand that launched in March this year. This particular site used to be a Caltex station.
After yet more drinks.
At 6:00 pm we got to Teluk Kemang. It was time for some food at the McDonald’s linked to the Shell station there.
“Only” 75 km to go!
We spent 40 minutes refuelling, chatting and cooling down. Then it was ‘lights on’ and through more bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic along the beachfront to Port Dickson town.
We made a short pit stop at the Petronas station just after the Lukut climb. And a longer stop at the Petron station in Sungai Pelek. Then Pai pulled us along at 28 kph over the last 35 km to Morib.
Thank you Sam Tow and his group of amazing volunteers for organizing yet another excellent BRM ride.
A BIG thank you to Pai. I couldn’t have finished this without you riding with me, my friend.
A welcome sign of the slow journey to normalcy during the COVID-19 pandemic is people returning to work. Especially when work is in another country.
Nineteen R@SKLs met at Rimbayu to bid farewell to Kieren.
We did a relatively short ride to Jugra for a meal at the no-name Chinese restaurant on Jalan Bukit Jugra.
The drive to Rimbayu was through alternating belts of rain. Rimbayu was dry, but lightning flashed, and thunder rumbled not far away. The drizzle started as we rode through Kampung Seri Cheeding, and persisted to Kampung Sawah.
Soaked socks are not nice.
We have eaten at this restaurant before. The food is reliably good.
There is a temple next door. Giant joss sticks were across the road to celebrate an auspicious day for the temple deity.
No rain but there were a couple of flat tires to deal with on the way back.
We will miss your extended stints at the front of the group. Be safe and well, and we look forward to riding with you again.
Last month a group of us rode to Port Dickson and stayed at Paul’s apartment. One month on and seven of us were planning to invade Paul’s again.
We rode down on Friday 31st. It was Hari Raya Haji. The roads were fairly quiet as the majority of people who wanted to balik kampung had made their drives a day or two before.
Our route was the same as it was in June. Starting from where I live and making the short detour to Sungai Pelek to ride the ferry over the Sungai Sepang. Then ride to the Seremban KTM station the next morning to catch a train back to KL.
The planned 6:00 am start was washed away by the rain. We were in Yut Kee eating breakfast at 7:30 am. It was still drizzling after 9:00 am when we rode past the PETRONAS Twin Towers on our way to the MAJU Expressway.
We weren’t on MEX long before we had to stop. There was some broken glass on the road shoulder which may have caused this puncture.
Not surprisingly, most restaurants and coffee shops were closed because of the Hari Raya Haji holiday. Including our regular eating places in Dengkil. We ended up at the McDonald’s in Kota Warisan for some food and coffees.
The rain had stopped and we had cool overcast conditions for most of the way from Kota Warisan to Port Dickson.
This time the ferry at Sungai Pelek was running.
It is a short float across the Sungai Sepang.
Followed by a quick ride through mangroves to get to the N4 at Kampung India.
We had one more stop to fix a flat tire before we got to Port Dickson.
Port Dickson was heaving with people. We wanted a late lunch. Most places had people outside queueing to get in. We settled for PappaRich. Which wasn’t too full. However, the restaurant was understaffed, so it took an hour from when this snap was taken for our food to arrive.
Eight more kilometres of riding through holiday traffic and we were in Paul’s apartment.
Suffice to say a good time was had by all that evening.
The next day we started riding to Seremban at about 7:00 am.
It is just under 40km from The Regency Tanjung Tuan Resort in Port Dickson to the Seremban station. No punctures on the way 👍🏻.
Time to put on our masks. Wearing masks on public transport and in public places became mandatory this day.
We were at the station in plenty of time for the 9:06 am train.
AL was comfortable in her slippers ⬆️.
I got comfortable in my Furoshikis.
It was a short hop from Bank Negara station to Gavel for breakfast.
A fellow R@SKL turned me on to the fact that there are a lot of murals in KL. I knew of some along the bank of the Klang River because they are visible from the rapid-transit trains.
Zaryl led eighteen of us on a mural tour.
I had no idea that there were so many more within 8km / 6mi of where I live. Mostly in the old heart of the city, in areas which were run down and frankly dodgy until urban renewal efforts worked their magic. Jalan Alor. Changkat Bukit Bintang. Lorong Panggung. Now those areas are home to trendy cafés, restaurants and speakeasies. And are very Instagrammable!
And two murals which reflect the current zeitgeist.
We stopped for breakfast at Feeka, which is next door to this mural.
After all the treats for the eyes it was time for some treats for my tummy!
Our last stop was not at a mural but at a work of art nonetheless. The recently-opened Saloma Link Bridge.