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Excellent Warranty Policy: Apidura

Click on the Warranty link at the bottom of the Apidura home page and this is what appears:

WARRANTY

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.

Photograph courtesy of Apidura

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.

Kudos to Apidura.

Graphic courtesy of Bitmoji

Credit Card Tour to Port Dickson and Melaka

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

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.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

We stopped at the Shell station in Sepang to refill bottles.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Farid Abu Bakar

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.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki
Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

It was 12km from the ferry to rejoin Federal Route 5 south of Sepang at Tanah Merah.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki
Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

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.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

The road was very quiet.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

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.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

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.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian
Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

Photograph courtesy of Halim Zin

The home of the best coconut shakes in Melaka.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

Photograph courtesy of Baba Charlie Nyonya Cake

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.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

Photograph courtesy of Halim Zin

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 . . .

Graphic courtesy of Bitmoji

Four Apiduras and One Topeak to Teluk Intan

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

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

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

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

Photograph courtesy of The Sun Daily

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

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

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

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

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

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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

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

Hot and happy to be at our destination.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian
Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

In a post-feast prawn coma . . .

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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

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

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

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

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

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

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

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

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specialized KEG Storage Vessel

An article titled 6 of the best: saddle bags, which appeared recently on bikeradar.com, 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 sigmasports.com

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

 

Eating Our Way to Melaka

Melaka Banner Johan Sopiee

Graphic courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Mark and I decided that it was high time to break out the Apidura saddle bags and go on an overnight bicycle trip.  We chose Melaka as our destination, because it is a reasonable distance from Kuala Lumpur, the roads are generally good, and the eating along the way and in Melaka is excellent.

After some canvassing, we had a group of six.  Alan and Chee Seng could not stay overnight, so their plan was to ride to Melaka, and then get to Tampin KTM station for the train back to KL.  Johan S., Ridzuwan, Mark and I would spend Thursday night in Melaka.

We were all excited about the trip.  Bikes and saddle bags were set up the day before, and some of us struggled to get to sleep the night before.

We started from where I live.  We were on the MEX Highway by about 6.15am.  The adrenaline levels are a bit high when riding on MEX.  It is a highway after all.  Though at that early hour, there isn’t much traffic leaving KL, so the riding is not too fraught.

We made a quick pit stop at the Seri Kembangan R&R.

Melaka MEX R&R Alan

Photograph courtesy of Alan Tan

As expected, given the wet weather of the preceding days, we got rained on as we left the R&R.  Fortunately the rain wasn’t heavy, and it didn’t last long.  We did have wet roads until we reached Dengkil.  A benefit of the Apidura saddle bag is that it extends back far enough to block the spray coming off the rear wheel.  It is like riding with a rear mud guard.

Dengkil was where our first planned food stop.  There is a roadside stall on the corner of Jalan Aman and Jalan Mutiara 1J.  We stop there for breakfast whenever our rides take us through Dengkil.

Melaka Dengkil Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had a visitor looking for handouts during breakfast.

Melaka Dengkil Cat Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

From the Dengkil bypass we rode along the busy Putrajaya–Cyberjaya Expressway and the Nilai – KLIA Highway before turning right onto the quieter Jalan Besar Salak at Salak Tinggi.

Melaka Rolling Johan sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Our next stop was at the Shell station in Sepang.  70km / 43.5mi done.  110km / 68mi to go.  It was supposed to be a short stop for drinks and the loo, but soon after this picture was taken . . .

Melaka Sepang Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

this picture was taken.

Melaka Flat 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

My front tire had gone soft while we were at the Shell station.  This was the culprit.

Melaka Flat 2 Alan Tan

Photograph courtesy of Alan Tan

An advantage of Two-Way Fit™ rims is that the tire bead stays locked to the rim after a puncture.  A flat tire doesn’t roll off the rim.  A very useful quality when you get a flat while speeding down a winding descent.

The associated disadvantage of 2-Way Fit™ rims is that it is difficult to get the tire off the rim, and even more difficult to seat the tire properly when reinflating the tube.  Thank goodness for the air pump at the petrol station, which generated enough air pressure to quickly seat the tire.

Happy smiles as we finally got going again.

Melaka Sepang Rolling Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

We rode out of the Shell station onto Federal Route 5, which runs along the west side of Peninsular Malaysia, from Skudai in the south to Ipoh in the north.

Our intermediate destination was Cendol Azmi in Port Dickson.  Which serves some of the best cendol I have ever had.  Mark and I have been there a number of times.  We talked up Cendol Azmi over the 25km / 15.5mi to Port Dickson.

So imagine our collective disappointment when we go to Cendol Azmi and found it closed.  What a letdown!

We settled on Sukand’s Food Station, across the road from Cendol Azmi.

Melaka Port Dickson 1 Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

To Sukand’s credit, their cendol was pretty good.  As was the three-layer air bandung.

We debated having lunch in Port Dickson, but decided to hold out until we got to Kuala Sungai Baru, across the state border in Melaka.  Mark and I had eaten at Kuala Seafood during previous cycling trips to Melaka.  That restaurant was a highlight every time.

We stopped to buy Cokes at Pasir Panjang, about halfway between Port Dickson and Kuala Sungai Baru.  We then picked up the pace over the 20km to Kuala Seafood.  2pm had come and gone, and we were hungry.

So imagine our extreme disappointment when we got to Kuala Seafood and found it closed.  What a bummer!!

There weren’t many options for food.  The few restaurants in the vicinity had sold out of their lunch offerings.  We settled for some mediocre fried rice, just to fill out stomachs more than anything else.

We had 40km / 25mi to go to Melaka.  Alan had been talking about getting coconut shakes once we got there.  Melaka is known for good coconut shakes.  Alan said that Klebang Original Coconut Shake was the place.  Having been disappointed twice already, we made Alan call Klebang Original Coconut Shake to make sure that it was open.

It was.

Melaka Coconut Shake 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

And the coconut shakes were good.  Good enough for us to drink a second round of shakes.

Melaka Coconut Shake 2 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

This place is worth visiting again.

Melaka Coconut Shake 3 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

By the time we left Klebang Original Coconut Shake, my patched inner tube was failing.  I gave it a good pump up, and Johan S., Mark, Ridzuwan and I headed to our hotel.

Alan and Chee Seng were heading back to KL that evening.  They first rode to Jonker Walk and Dutch Square for obligatory tourist photographs.

Melaka Alan & Chee Seng 1 Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

And a refreshing recovery beverage.

Melaka Alan & Chee Seng 2 Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

The rest of us checked in to the Hallmark Crown Hotel.  I had booked the hotel sight unseen.  Welcome to the Internet Age!  The price was right – about USD25 per night for a double occupancy room, including buffet breakfast.

We weren’t expecting much, but were pleasantly surprised when we got to our rooms.  Which were clean and comfortable, and had air-conditioning and a mini-fridge which worked.  Plus there was lots of hot water on the shower, and the free wifi signal was strong.

Showered and changed, we walked to the next food destination on our list.  The Makko Nyonya Restaurant.  Another repeat visit venue for Mark and I.  Fortunately for the two of us, Makko was open!

Fried eggplant with chilli, beancurd skin rolls, cincalok omelette, chicken rendang, curry prawns with pineapple, and chendol.

The 180km / 112mi bike ride was worth it for this meal alone.

While we were stuffing our faces at dinner, Alan and Chee Seng had made it to Tampin, and were on the KTM Komuter train back to KL.  Comfortably so.

Melaka Train Alan Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

Not to be outdone in the food stakes, Alan and Chee Seng had supper in KL.

On Friday morning the four of us attacked the hotel buffet breakfast.  An observer would have thought that we hadn’t eaten at all the night before!

Then it was out turn for tourist photographs.

Melaka Tourist 3 Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Melaka Tourist 2 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had, briefly, considered cycling back to KL.  Riding to Tampin and taking the train seemed like a more reasonable thing to do.

Melaka Lebuhraya AMH Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

40km / 25mi of pedalling got us to the Pulau Sebang (Tampin) KTM station.

Melaka Tampin 3 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We loaded our bikes and ourselves into the last carriage of the train.

Two and a bit hours later, we were at the Bank Negara KTM station in KL.  It is a short ride from there to where I live.

It was lunch time, so we made a side trip first, to Santa Chapati House on Jalan Sarikei.  A fitting end to our two-day adventure.  It was, after all, an eating trip with some cycling thrown in for variety.

Melaka Santa 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Thank you Alan, Chee Seng, Johan S., Ridzuwan and Mark for your enjoyable company.  We had a lot of laughs and good riding.  To be repeated for sure.

Footnote

The graphic at the top of this post is a mashup of our coconut shakes and the logo for a anti-littering campaign which was launched by the Melaka state government in 2014.  A take on the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign started there in 1986.

 

Udang Galah Tour – Petaling Jaya to Teluk Intan

teluk-intan-banner-itbm

Graphic courtesy of ITBM

Two days after completing the Cendol Tour to Melaka, four of us embarked on a credit card tour to Teluk Intan.  This time Mark and I had Marco and Lay for company.

Everyone was on road bikes this time, all sporting Apidura saddle bags.

ready-to-roll-mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We started the ride under the sun, the moon, and clouds.  It looked like we would have nice weather for our ride.  Looks can be deceiving!

moon-mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We rode from Ara Damansara to Denai Alam.  Once on the motorcycle lane alongside the Guthrie Corridor Expressway, we cycled past the Lagong toll plaza to Exit 3501.  There we joined the LATAR Expressway toward Ijok.

Our first stop was at Sin Loong Kee Noodles in Kampung Baru Kundang.  Steaming bowls of beehoon and mee, accompanied by strong coffee.

That breakfast set us up nicely for the ride along the rest of the LATAR Expressway toward Ijok.

latar-marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

At this juncture it was still overcast and relatively cool.  It didn’t stay that way.  By the time we were riding through Bukit Rotan on our way to Kuala Selangor, the sun was out, and the heat was on.

getting-hot-mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We stopped in Kuala Selangor for a photograph by the Selangor River.  And truth be told, a bit of a rest.

kuala-selangor-mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Then we were on the hunt for something to drink.  Which we found at a roadside stall advertising ‘kelapa wangi’ (fragrant coconuts).  You pick the coconut that you want, or just let the vendor choose for you.  Four or five swings of his cleaver, and the top of the coconut is off.  Add ice and guzzle.

The sun was unrelenting.  By 1.00pm the “feels like” temperature was 40° C / 104° F.  We were in Sekinchan, and had covered 101 km / 63 mi.  It was time to stop for lunch.

We sat in the KFC in Sekinchan for seventy five minutes.  Half of that time was spent eating.  The rest was spent sipping drinks and summoning up the willpower to leave the air-conditioning and venture back out into the furnace.

We got as far as Sungai Besar before we needed another dose of air-conditioning.  This time in McDonald’s, where we chilled our insides with lime sundaes.  The green food colouring in the lime topping might have been flourescent, but there was nothing wrong with the taste.  Those sundaes hit the spot.

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Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Back on our bikes again, we were starting to get worn down by the double whammy of the broiling heat, and the frequent stretches of rutted, poorly patched, and pot-holed roads. We were expending a lot of energy negotiating around and over the holes and bumps in the road.  A raised or depressed manhole cover is just an irritation to a driver, but it is a hazard to a cyclist.

After a particularly bad section of road north of Sabak Bernam, where even the patches over older patches had themselves been patched, we pulled over under some trees, beside a small Indian shrine, to rest our tired hands and forearms.

indian-temple

It was nine and a half hours since we left Ara Damansara.  That dead straight road ahead of us seemed endless, disappearing into the horizon.

We had roughly 25 km / 15.5 mi to go.  Not a lot.  But we were getting to the end of our reserves of energy.  We were at that point where every kilometer seems to take an age to cover. The distance markers at the roadside were becoming more of a hindrance than a help. Seemingly mocking our slow forward progress.

We covered just 15 km / 9 mi before we needed another stop.  The Shell petrol station at Taman Aman was a haven of air-conditioning and cold drinks.

As the distance between us and the Yew Boutique Hotel in Teluk Intan fell to single digits, the sun finally dropped low enough in the sky so as to make the heat less oppressive.  At this point the distance markers were in partial numbers.

Teluk Intan 3.5 km

Teluk Intan 2.5 km

At 6.00pm we made the left turn onto Jalan Mahkamah, and then left again onto Jalan Mahkota.  We had arrived at the the place that was the reason for making this trip to Teluk Intan.

The Restoran D’Tepian Sungai.

The udang galah (giant freshwater prawn) restaurant right on the bank of the Perak River, where the participants in the BCG Tour to Teluk Intan had feasted.

BCG Tour Teluk Intan Udang Galah

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

We wanted to order our food ahead of time, so that we could come back at 8.00pm knowing that we had a table, and that our food would be ready.  Just as the proprietor was telling us that the largest of the udang galah, the Grade A ones, were finished – “Boo”, a supplier pulled up with a fresh delivery – “Yahoo!”

We made one last stop before the hotel.  The Menara Condong, or Leaning Tower, is the iconic structure of Teluk Intan.

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We were back at the Restoran D’Tepian Sungai at 8.00pm sharp.  Waiting for us were 2 kilos / 4.4 lbs of those Grade A udang galah, prepared three different ways.  500 grams / 1.1 lbs of batter fried squid.  And a couple of steamed crabs.

It sounds like a lot of food.  It was.  But we consumed all of it!

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

You would have thought that everyone was full after eating all that.  Think again.

Teluk Intan is noted for its chee cheong fun.  The best is reputedly made by Liew Kee (Ah Lek) Chee Cheong Fun.  Which is not far from the Yew Boutique Hotel.

We took a few night shots of the Menara Condong on the way to the chee cheong fun shop.

menara-condong-at-night-marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The chee cheong fun shop looks like a maximum security prison.  There are no tables and chairs.  Strictly takeaway only.  Nevertheless, the queue was long.  The place is famous far and wide.

There was talk of a few drinks before calling it a night.  That turned out to be talk only.  Once we got back to the hotel all thoughts turned to sleep.  And dreams of cooler weather for the ride back to Petaling Jaya.

Apidura Rackless Packing Systems

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Graphic courtesy of prettydamnedfast.com

A couple of my cycling buddies are experienced bike tourers.  As in riding across China, or riding from the Malaysia – Thai border to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, carrying all they need with them on their bicycles.  They own touring bicycles. Touring bicycle frames are differentiated from ‘standard’ road bike frames by having

  • A more relaxed geometry to provide a comfortable ride and stable handling
  • Mounting points for the attachment of mud guards, carrier racks, panniers and three water bottles, and
  • More clearance in the frame to accommodate 28mm or wider tires

As the rest of us followed their progress enroute, and heard their post ride stories, the thought of doing a bike tour ourselves started to appeal.  After all, if The Tandem Men can ride around the world unsupported, we could surely do a multi-day ride, albeit something much less ambitious.

Those thoughts coalesced into a plan to spend four days riding through southern Thailand. For our first foray into the world of self-supported tours, we decided on the ‘credit card’ variety.  We would carry basic cycling gear and clothing, then pay for things like meals, supplies and overnight accommodations as we travelled.

This lightweight approach would allow us to ride our road bikes.  All we needed were some ‘rackless’ touring bags.  Leslie pointed toward Apidura for the bags.

I had first come across the Apidura name in a feature on the Rapha website.  Rapha had partnered with Apidura on a series of rackless packs.  The feature made interesting reading.

Apidura was founded by Tori Fahey.  An experienced cycling tourist, she took some time off work in 2011 to race in the Tour Divide (a 4,400km continent-crossing race from Canada to Mexico).  In an interview published online in The Guardian, she says “It was through my trip from Canada to Mexico that I discovered pannier and rack systems and my revelation from the trip was that I was never going to use them again.”

So, in 2013, Apidura was born, producing storage solutions for people looking to travel the world by bike, race across continents and carry all they need to do so.

Today Apidura produces a range of packs and accessories.

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Graphic courtesy of Apidura

I bought three items, all of them the dry versions designed to keep water out, even in a sustained rain.

Saddle Pack Dry (14L)

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Photograph courtesy of Apidura

Handlebar Pack Dry (14L)

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Photograph courtesy of Apidura

Accessory Pocket Dry (5L)

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Photograph courtesy of Apidura

All five of us on the southern Thailand tour had Apidura saddle packs.

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Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

s-thailand-tour-3-apiduras-on-ko-yo-island-marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

The Apidura saddle packs meet four important criteria:

  1. They are easy to pack, and then to compress and close.
  2. They attach simply and securely to the seat post and saddle.
  3. They do not adversely affect the handling of the bike.
  4. They are waterproof.

We tested the waterproofness early on, when we were caught in a torrential tropical downpour.  It was so wet that our brakes were almost useless, and it was too dangerous to keep riding.  Despite the deluge, not a drop of water got into the packs.

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Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

I was the only one with the handlebar pack and the accessory pack as well.  The handlebar pack was just as easy easy to pack, close, and attach to the bars.  The accessory pack clips neatly to the handlebar pack, and together have negligible impact on bike handling.

The only thing to watch for with the handlebar pack is that it doesn’t press on the cables in front of the bar enough to actuate the front brake.  That happened to me, and the only solution was to lighten the load in the handlebar pack.

Apart from that niggle, the Apidura packs performed brilliantly.  The large 14 liter / 3.7 US gallon capacity saddle pack accommodated a full set of cycling kit, a pair of sandals, a pair of shorts, two tee shirts, a small foam travel pillow, toiletries, a spare inner tube, tire levers and a multitool, and a rain jacket.  With room to spare.

One trip is not enough to satisfy a fifth criteria, that of durability.  The materials list from the Apidura website, however, points to products designed to cope well with the rigours of bike touring in all conditions.

Dimension Polyant VX21 is the main body fabric. This 4 layer laminated fabric offers a combination of superior waterproofness, light weight, ultra high abrasion and tear resistance, and low stretch.

Ultra-durable hypalon is used in high abrasion, high stress areas to provide additional protection against friction and puncture.

Woojin buckles are used in the fastening system for enhanced reliability.

HDPE structural support to reinforce the shape of the pack, ensuring that it does not interfere with the ride.

I must report that I managed to separate the top and bottom parts of a clip on the handlebar pack to which a strap from the accessory pocket is attached.  I pulled too hard on the strap to tighten it.  Fortunately Marco was able to maneuver the two parts of the clip back together again.

While the Apidura packs are clearly built tough, care must be taken when tightening straps.

So far so good though.  I think I speak for all five of us when I say that we are very happy with our Apidura packs.  I recommend  them highly to anyone interested in a rackless packing system.

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Logo courtesy of Apidura