Up until 2017, there was nothing at the summit of the Genting Sempah climb. Anyone wanting to buy a drink or a snack had to continue down the other side of the mountain to the Genting Sempah R&R (and face the average 7% gradient 1km climb back up to the flyover) or turn around and go back down to the roadside restaurants 16km / 10mi away.
That changed after Encik Mohd Najib Hashim, helped by his family, started selling cold drinks out of the boot of his car which he parked under the flyover. His signature drink is kurma madu, which he makes himself from dates and honey. Most refreshing.
Over the last two years that enterprise has blossomed to include bananas and fresh cut fruit, cookies, Snickers bars and the like.
Mohd Najib also sets out plastic chairs and stools so cyclists and runners can rest their legs.
To top it off he also brings a pump and a set of tools. He has created a full-service feed zone.
Mohd Najib has become an advocate and campaigner to make Jalan Gombak safer and more attractive for cyclists and runners. This includes resurfacing the road and cleaning up the illegal rubbish dumps on the roadside.
He is now collecting signatures for a petition to the state government.
I don’t know very much about Mohd Najib. I’ll have to be nosy and ask him to tell me a bit about himself the next time I ride to Genting Sempah.
I have discovered that he is a photographer, specializing in wedding, landscape and macro photography. He is good.
Thank you Encik Mohd Najib Hashim. I am sure I speak for all cyclists and runners when I say that your presence under the Genting Sempah flyover is very much appreciated.
Danial suggested the route for our latest credit card tour.
Day 1 • Cycle from home to the Kepong KTM station and ride the Komuter train to Tanjong Malim • Cycle from Tanjong Malim to Ipoh
Day 2 • Cycle from Ipoh to Brinchang
Day 3 • Cycle from Brinchang to the Tanjong Malim KTM station and ride the Komuter train to Kepong • Cycle from the Kepong KTM station to home
Choo Chian and Halim quickly said that they were up for it. I enjoy riding with the three of them and opted in as well. If I had thought more about the route I was committing to I might not have been so quick to agree to participate. 390km / 242mi and more than 3,000 metres / 9,800 feet of climbing over three days.
I met Choo Chian and Halim at just past 6.00am on Day 1 and we rode together to the 7-Eleven on Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah where Danial was waiting.
We caught the first train from Kepong, the 7.30am departure, to Tanjong Malim. All smiles at this point.
It was 8.50am when we rolled our bikes out of the train in Tanjong Malim. We had 118km / 73mi to ride. But first, breakfast at our usual spot, Restoran OCU Amy, 1km from the station.
The plan was to ride to Ipoh at an easy pace so that we would have fresh legs for the 2,000 plus metres / 6,500 plus feet of climbing on Day 2.
So much for that plan. We spent almost three-quarters of our moving time riding at 30kph / 18.6mph or faster. “Fresh Legs” became our ironic catchphrase for the next three days. As in “My legs feel so fresh” or “Your legs look so fresh” when the opposite was the case.
We weren’t helped by the heat. We made regular stops to refill bottles. We bought iced fresh fruit at the Bidor stop. It was 37ºC / 99ºF when we got to Tapah at 1.00pm.
We spent the next two hours over a long lunch in the air conditioning at the KFC there. It was still a furnace outside when we got going again. At 3.45pm we had to stop (what a relief) because of a puncture. It was 38ºC / 100ºF.
Halim’s sister saw this photograph and commented that I looked like I was regretting coming on this ride. What I did look like was this . . .
We arrived at the Mornington Hotel in Ipoh without further incident. Choo Chian had done the research into accommodation and had booked the most promising looking places in Ipoh and Brinchang. The Mornington Hotel was excellent.
For RM45 / USD11 each we got two Standard Twin rooms with the amenities not usually provided at this price point. The fixings for coffee and tea, a couple of bottles of mineral water, toiletry sets including toothbrushes and toothpaste, a fridge, a safe, and wifi. Best of all, bicycles are allowed in the rooms, which are big enough to accommodate two bikes without them being in the way. The bonus is the Mornington has a lift so we didn’t have to carry our bikes up a flight or more of stairs.
We took a Grab car into Ipoh for dinner. Danial suggested the Ipoh Hainan Chicken Rice restaurant on Anderson Road. Sadly the quality of the food there has declined since he last ate there. The food was alright but not worth another visit.
By 9.00pm it was lights out. Our legs weren’t feeling particularly fresh, which was a bad sign.
At 6.40am we rolled away from the Mornington Hotel to the Restoran Nasi Kandar Pulai 3km / 2mi away for breakfast. The restaurant must have only just opened because there were only a couple of staff members there to take orders and make hot drinks and prepare food. Service was slow, to say the least.
While we were there a group of four cyclists came in looking for breakfast as well. One of them asked us for directions to the road to Cameron Highlands. Like us, they were from Kuala Lumpur. Unlike us, they hadn’t ridden to Ipoh the day before. I’m sure their legs were fresher than ours. We wished them well on their maiden ride to Cameron Highlands and headed to the 7-Eleven a couple of shop lots away to stock up on drinks.
Our paths would unexpectedly cross, in a manner of speaking, later in the day.
I had ridden from Simpang Pulai as far as the Meiko Strawberry Centre a couple of times, but never with a 5kg / 11lb saddle pack. This time there would be a further 23km / 14mi to ride, and another hill to climb to get to Brinchang. It promised to be a long and hard day.
13km / 8mi from the hotel we got to the start of the climb to Cameron Highlands. The first 2.5km / 1.5mi are particularly steep, rising 280 metres / 918 feet.
Mindful of the amount of climbing we had to do, we made regular stops to stretch our not-fresh legs.
Despite the sunshine, the temperature stayed at or below 25ºC / 77ºF for the first 40km / 25mi.
We made another of our frequent stops after 45km / 28mi. The temperature had risen to 30ºC / 86ºF in the space of 5km / 3mi. Admittedly it had taken us forty minutes to climb that 5km, but still.
It was very humid. We were sweating profusely and despite carrying extra bottles of fluid we were running out.
There are very few places selling drinks along Federal Route 185. We knew that there was a café somewhere near the border between the states of Perak and Pahang, but weren’t sure where exactly it was or whether it would even be open. I was starting to worry that we would run out of water before we found a place to restock.
That’s when a father and son in an SUV pulled over and asked if we wanted water or 100 Plus. We gratefully accepted his generous offer. It turned out that the man’s wife was one of the four cyclists we met over breakfast at the Restoran Nasi Kandar Pulai. Quite a coincidence. We never did see those four cyclists again though.
It was a relief to have more water in our bottles. Though as it turned out we were only 2km / 1mi (and ten corners) from the Waterfall Café. Which was open.
It was 12.45pm and we had no idea where the next place selling food was. So we had lunch. In my case a bowl of Maggi mee with two poached eggs and keropok udang (prawn cracker) croutons. Very delicious.
We spent a very pleasant fifty-five minutes over lunch chatting and watching the koi in the pond that fronts the café.
1km up the road, I had a surprise. The last time I rode here was in the Cameron Highlands KOM event in December 2018. At that time there was nothing but a construction site.
Today that construction site is the Kafe Banjaran. Which is clearly very popular with big bikers. The motorized kind. There is even a shop selling Route 185 merchandise.
3km / 2mi later we were at the border between Perak and Pahang. Just 31km / 20mi to go . . . .
The road continues upward, albeit with some short descents along the way, until the right turn onto Federal Route 59. From there it is a 7km / 4mi descent to the Cameron Valley Tea House. We stopped for some cardamom tea and scones with cream and strawberry jam.
We needed the calories. The road kicks upward from the Cameron Valley Tea House for 9km / 5.5mi and more than 400 metres / 1,300 feet of climbing to Brinchang. The payoff was chocolate-coated strawberries at the Kea Farm street market. I have to admit that I didn’t expect the strawberries to be so good. What a treat that was. We should have bought more.
We had just 6km / 4mi to go to Barrington Square and our apartment for the night. We checked into our fifth-floor G Residence apartment just as the clouds rolled in and it started to rain.
Choo Chian had picked another winner for accommodation. This time a comfortable and spacious two-bedroom apartment. Again bicycles are allowed inside the property and there is a lift. Barrington Square consists of three blocks of apartments, shops and restaurants. We didn’t have far to walk to dinner.
Paradise Reyan serves Middle Eastern and Western food. We had a combination: hummus as the starter and lamb pizza as the main course. Both were good.
It was lights out for me at 8.00pm. Fresh legs? Only in my dreams.
We were out of the apartment at 6.30am. Brinchang is at an altitude of 1,540 metres / 5,050 feet. It was 14ºC / 57ºF. We had a mostly downhill and very chilly 3.5km / 2mi ride to Tanah Rata where we had breakfast at Restoran Nasi Kandar Mamu Ismail. The hot drinks and roti canai warmed us up before the still nippy 50km / 31mi descent to Tapah.
About 4km / 2.5mi from Tanah Rata is the Cameron Valley tea plantation, owned by the Bharat Group. Bharat is Malaysia’s second largest tea producer.
It was very quiet as we dropped more than 1,000 metres / 3,300 feet through rain forest over the next fifty minutes. There was very little traffic on the road with us. However, the quality of the road surface was inconsistent. Sometimes smooth and then suddenly rutted and patched. So we had to keep our eyes on the road rather than on the scenery around us, especially when descending at more than 45kph / 28mph. The occasional pack of dogs on the road added to the hazards to be alert for.
I took off my windbreaker about two-thirds of the way down the mountain. Stowed on my saddle pack it made my butt look like a baboon’s.
The gravity assist came to an end 10km / 6mi before we got to Tapah. From Tapah it is 70km / 43.5mi to ride to get to Tanjong Malim. With legs which were most definitely not fresh.
We had a long stop at Tapah, and an even longer one at Sungkai. Then a ten-minute break at Slim River before getting to Tanjong Malim at about 1.15pm. Where we had time to sit in the air conditioning at the PETRONAS station before riding to the station to catch the 1.55pm train to Kepong.
The only comments to make about the ride from Tapah is that there seemed to be a headwind for most of the time and the temperature went up from 28ºC / 82ºF to 36ºC / 97ºC.
The train was a welcome respite from the heat. Still all smiles as we waited for the train to depart.
The exertions of the trip caught up with us not long after we were seated.
We were all at home by about 4.00pm. It had been a tough trip. I won’t be doing the same route again in a hurry. But it was definitely a lot of fun riding with Choo Chian, Danial and Halim. There were plenty of laughs throughout the weekend.
Now if only there really were a cream to turn tired legs into Fresh Legs.
Click on the Warranty link at the bottom of the Apidura home page and this is what appears:
Apidura covers defects in material and craftsmanship for the reasonable lifetime and intended usage of its products. Should any flaw appear due to defective materials or craftsmanship, we will gladly repair or replace the product. If we determine the damage to be the result of normal wear and tear, abuse or accident, or exceeding reasonable expectations of the products lifespan, repairs will be made at a reasonable cost. Please note that this warranty excludes zipper damage.
We proudly stand behind this guarantee as it offers us the chance to see the effects of real user wear on our gear.
I recently put this guarantee to the test.
The Apidura Saddle Pack has an adjustable bungee cord on the top of the pack which allows for storage and easy retrieval of small items.
Two of the bungee cord attachments points came unstuck from my Saddle Pack.
I emailed the photograph above to Apidura customer service. Jonathan from Customer Service emailed back within 24 hours apologising for this failure, asking for the serial number of the item, and expressing the hope to resolve this as quickly as possible.
Jonathan again responded the day he received the serial number, confirming that Apidura consider this a manufacturing defect and are happy to replace this pack as part of their warranty policy.
He asked me to make a cut through the lash tab upon which the serial number is printed and then send him a photo of this so that Apidura can identify the pack as one that has been replaced under warranty. He even sent a photograph showing where to make the cut.
I sent Jonathan a photograph of the cut lash tab and the next morning I received a Fedex International Priority Service tracking number for a replacement Saddle Pack. I will get my replacement pack tomorrow.
Apidura make high-quality packs and accessories, but their products are not the cheapest in the market. I prefer to pay more for a quality product that comes with a world-class warranty and responsive customer service.
When the four of us were planning this trip we referred to it as road bikepacking. I have since discovered that is is not the correct term for what we did. Bikepacking involves at least one or more nights of camping.
What we did was credit card cycle touring. Which is essentially like bikepacking but without the camping gear. Accommodation was procured with our credit cards.
Day 1: Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson. 108km / 67mi.
Three Apiduras and one Topeak met early in the morning at the Shell station on Jalan Kampung Pandan in Kuala Lumpur. We got onto the Maju Expressway and rode south through Cyberjaya to Dengkil where we stopped for breakfast. From Dengkil we rode to Sepang. This is a section of Federal Route 29 somewhere around Kota Warisan.
We stopped at the Shell station in Sepang to refill bottles.
From Sepang, we would normally have ridden onto Federal Route 5 toward Port Dickson. But Choo Chian and Halim had never been on the little ferry that crosses the Sepang River at Sungai Pelek. So we rode 8km / 5mi in the opposite direction so we could take that 70-metre ferry ride.
The ferry carries pedestrians, motorbikes and bicycles. Contrary to Chris de Burgh’s advice, you pay the ferryman when you board. 80 sen / US20 cents per person and bicycle.
Danial, Choo Chian, Halim and I on the ferry.
It was 12km from the ferry to rejoin Federal Route 5 south of Sepang at Tanah Merah.
And a further 15km / 9mi to the Waterfront Boutique Hotel in Port Dickson. We got there at 12.45pm, which was a bit early to check in. So we spent an hour over lunch at the McDonald’s nearby to pass the time.
The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent washing cycling kit (Choo Chian and I hung our kit to dry on a lamp post outside the hotel), napping and eating and drinking at PappaRich, Double Queue Thai Cuisine (the pad thai was pretty good) and Starbucks. All within walking distance of the Waterfront Boutique Hotel.
The Waterfront Boutique Hotel is in a commercial development that houses a bank, a 7-Eleven and a number of other restaurants. So the location is excellent. Another plus point is that bicycles are allowed in guest rooms. The only downside is that you have to carry your bike up and down stairs. No lifts.
Day 2: Port Dickson to Melaka. 84km / 52mi.
We were up early for the ride to Melaka. While Danial and Halim were getting ready, Choo Chian and I perused the bun shelves at the 7-Eleven looking for something for Halim to nibble before we started riding. We were spoiled for choice.
We were on Federal Route 5 towards Melaka at about 6.30am.
The road was very quiet.
Federal Route 5 follows the coast from Port Dickson until Pasir Panjang, where it heads inland to Linggi. We turned right off Federal Route 5 onto Jalan Pasir Panjang – Kuala Linggi (N143) and immediately stopped at a roadside restaurant for breakfast. Halim and Danial were happy at the prospect of food.
The N143 continues along the coast. It becomes Federal Route 138 as it crosses the Linggi River, which at that point forms the border between the states of Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.
At Kuala Sungai Baru we left Federal Route 138 to ride along Jalan Telok Gong / Pengkalan Balak, which hugs the beach facing the Straits of Malacca for about 5km / 3mi. There is a concrete jetty at Kampung Sungai Tuang which we couldn’t resist riding onto.
At 10.45am we were at Klebang. The day was starting to get hot (it was 37ºC / 99ºF when we got to Port Dickson the day before). Not that we needed an excuse to stop at Klebang Original Coconut Shake.
The home of the best coconut shakes in Melaka.
Choo Chian told us that we must visit Baba Charlie Nyonya Cake next. The Baba Nyonyas, also known as the Straits-born Chinese, are the descendants of Chinese immigrants who came to the Malay archipelago between the 15th and 17th centuries. They have developed a unique “Nyonya” cuisine which includes a wide variety of traditional kuih or cakes.
It took a bit of time to find Baba Charlie despite it being only 3km / 2mi from Klebang Original Coconut Shake. When we got there we found that it is a take away kuih shop. No tables and chairs there.
But we also found out that there is a Baba Charlie Cafe less than 500 metres from the kuih shop. With AC and a lunch menu. It wasn’t noon yet so we have lots of time to burn before we could check in to the hotel. So we had a Nyonya meal.
Lemak nenas prawns, Cincalok fried omelette, brinjal udang kering and chicken curry. And kuih and cendol for dessert.
It ws 1.30pm. I was stuffed. And it was 38ºC/ 100ºF outside. Thank goodness it was only 4km / 2.5mi to the Fenix Inn. Our hotel for the night. Another bicycle-friendly hotel that allows bikes in guest rooms. Once again we asked for rooms on the first floor so we only had one flight of stairs to negotiate.
And once again the afternoon itinerary included laundry, a nap and a visit to the corner Starbucks. Once the day had cooled down we walked to dinner at Pak Putera Restaurant, which has a reputation as one of the better tandoori and naan restaurants in Melaka. We sat outside in the open air, which was pleasant. The food was merely okay, though I must admit that the tandoori chicken was good.
Day 3: Melaka to Tampin. 38km / 24mi.
We had another early start. We wanted to catch the 9.10am KTM Komuter train from Tampin station to KL Sentral station. That meant leaving the Fenix Inn at about 6.30am. Not that we got very far before stopping for breakfast. There is a McDonald’s 100 metres from the Fenix Inn.
The ride was unremarkable apart from the strong wind, which seemed to be against us for the entire ride. When we got to the station the train was already at the platform. We scanned out Komuter Link cards at the turnstile (KTM has introduced stored value cards as the payment mechanism for Komuter journeys) and took our customary places in car 6. As is often the case, we were the only occupants.
Other passengers did join us in that car as the train made its way to KL Sentral station. The Komuter trains on the southern route seem to have more passengers than the Komuter service to the north of Kuala Lumpur. Perhaps because the southern route connects to the KLIA Express and to the long-distance bus terminal at Bandar Tasik Selatan.
It is a two-hour ride with sixteen stops from Tampin station to KL Sentral station. It is a short walk through the KL Sentral station concourse to the street outside.
Danial had the shortest ride home. Choo Chian, Halim and I had about 8km / 5mi to pedal to get to where each of us lives.
We all enjoyed our latest credit card tour. Lots of fun and laughter. We are ready to do another one. The only question is . . .
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The temperature had risen to 35ºC / 95ºF by 12.30pm. We were getting toasted.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The udang galah dishes – masak lemak cili padi, tiga rasa and goreng berempah, as always, were awesome.
In a post-feast prawn coma . . .
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.
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.
We were on the same route that we had ridden the day before.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At precisely 5.00am a horn sounded and a stream of blinking red lights flowed down the road.
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.
Brief stop 1 at Sungai Manggis
Checkpoint 1 at Taman Langat Murni
Brief stop 2 at Sepang
Brief stop 3 at Bukit Palong
Checkpoint 2 at Port Dickson
Brief stop 4 at Sepang
Checkpoint 3 at Tanjong Sepat
Brief stop 5 at Morib
Brief stop 6 at Jenjarom
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.
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.
After 51km / 32mi we had an unscheduled stop to fix a puncture.
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.
Port Dickson was also a food stop. We had done 90km / 56mi and it was time to replenish.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Beaucoup congratulations to all the R@SKLs, and especially to everyone who did a 200km ride for the first time. Bravo mesdames et messieurs.
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.
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.