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CFAL 2018: Round Island Ride

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Penang City Hall

Photograph courtesy of

Sunday morning, woke up yawning; did my alarm really ring?
Pulled on my bibs and sprayed that sun screen all over my skin.
Went down the stairs and kissed my bike to make it come alive.
‘Cause with 22 gears and the R@SKLs all in pink,
I got to go for a Round Island ride.

With apologies to The Bee Gees

The half dozen or so R@SKLs who needed breakfast before the Round Island Ride met in front of the Tien Hotel at 6.00am.  Lebuh Chulia and the surrounding streets were becoming filled with blinking bike lights as cyclists emptied out of the many hostels, backpacker inns and boutique hotels which have opened in old Georgetown since it was accorded UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site status in 2008.

Old Georgetown is now even more of a tourist draw.  Most tourists don’t look for breakfast at 6.00am on a Sunday morning.  So we were greeted with rows of dark shop fronts as we rode around looking for breakfast.

The first open place we found was the Restoran Liyaqatali Nasi Kandar Beratur.  Open from 10.00pm to 8.30am.  As its name suggests, you queue (beratur) for your food, and then try to find somewhere to sit on the sidewalk outside.

We wanted roti canai.  We were directed to Restoran Dalcha Kassim Mustafa.  That was open, but the roti man only starts doing his thing at 7.00am.  So we settled for rice and curry and hard-boiled eggs.

We were back in front of Tien Hotel at 6.30am where a cloud of pink was already gathering.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Tien Billy

Photograph courtesy of Billy

There were more than twenty-five of us.  As is always the case, the larger the group, the more likely that at least one rider will have a flat tire.  Mark, who seems to have become our designated mechanic whenever Danial or CK is not around, was called into action to help Kieren with his flat.  Which ultimately required a change of tire to fix.  Henry, thank goodness, had a spare tire to loan to Kieren.

Kevin also had a flat tire outside the Tien Hotel.  He took it as a sign that he should skip the ride.  A decision no doubt helped by the after-effects of the beach party.

The Penang City Hall on the Esplanade is a little more than 1km away from the Tien Hotel.  We took up our customary position right at the back of the estimated 3,500 participants in this, the 10th edition of CFAL.

CFAL Day 2 Start 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We were flagged off a bit after 7.00am by Malaysia’s Finance Minister Mr Lim Guan Eng.  Mr Lim has a long-standing relationship with CFAL, having served as the Chief Minister of Penang between 2008 and 2018.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Lim Guan Eng Cycling Plus Mag

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

The start was slow as the exit from the Esplanade is narrow.  That gave us the opportunity to enjoy the sunrise.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Sunrise TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We made a short photo stop opposite Pulau Jerejak, where you have a view of both bridges between the island and the mainland.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 2nd Bridge

The next stop was at Teluk Kumbar.  We were 28km / 17mi into the ride and 1km from the first of the two climbs on the route.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Route Map event howei com

Map courtesy of

Nasi lemak, teh tarik and a restroom.  This place ticked all the boxes.

CFAL 2018 First Stop Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Up, up and away.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Climb 1 Cycling Plus Mag

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine


CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 4 Marvin

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 2 Marvin

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 3 Marvin

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 5 Marvin

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 3 Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan


CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 6 Marvin

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 1 Marvin

Photograph courtesy of Marvin Tan

In past years the CFAL route took a sharp left turn at the bottom of the rapid descent from Bukit Genting.  I was behind a group of a dozen riders as we approached that corner at speed.  All of us were looking at the RELA man at the junction for directions.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Rela Cycling Plus Mag

Except our man was not indicating anything.  He wasn’t even looking our way.  So everyone ahead of me continued straight down the road.

4km /2.5mi later I started thinking “This can’t be right.”  I looked back and saw Martin Lee and Ralf.  They had followed me.  Oops!

CFAL Day 2 Wrong Way Ride With GPS

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

Now I know we could have turned left at Jalan Sungai ‘Pinang and rejoined the official route about 4km from the second climb.  Oh well.  An extra 8km / 5mi never hurt anyone.  Ha ha ha!

The rest of the R@SKLs had no such problems.  Except for Kieren, who suffered a second cut tire and had to Grab Car it back to town.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 1 Cycling Plus Mag

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

The second climb up Jalan Teluk Bahang is more than twice as long as the Bukit Genting climb, but the average gradient is the same.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 3 Cycling Plus Mag

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Riders 2 Cycling Plus Mag

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Our next regrouping point was at the Teluk Bahang Dam.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Reservoir

While we were larking and monkeying about (SOP for the R@SKLs at rest stops) this young man, Danial Asyraf, pulled up.  He was riding with his grandfather, Bakar Noordin.  Bakar Noordin is one of six friends who in 2012 rode from Lebuh Downing in Penang to Downing Street in London.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Six year old and Grandfather Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

His six-year-old grandson is no slouch on a bicycle either.  If it took you more than four hours to complete the Round Island Ride, please do not look the next photograph.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Danial Asyraf

Photograph courtesy of Penang Mountain Bike Association

You looked!  Repeat after me . . .

CFAL 2018 Day 2 OMG

Emoji courtesy of Bitmoji

We let Danial and his grandfather ride off ahead of us.  I for one had no need to be embarrassed by a six-year-old spinning past me on the slopes of Jalan Batu Ferringhi.

A final water and restroom stop at the Caltex station at the bottom of the descent from the Teluk Bahang Dam, and we were on the last 22km / 13.5mi to the finish.  The traffic on Jalan Batu Ferringhi was challenging, but we all got through that section okay.

Plain sailing from then on, until . . . .  This time Mark had a flat of his own to fix.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Mark Flat TH Lim (1)

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

With lots of onlookers.  Who knew changing an inner tube could be a spectator sport?

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Mark Flat TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

In less than 10km / 6mi we were collecting our medals at the finish line.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Medal Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Posing for selfies.

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Finish Cycling Plus Mag

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

CFAL 2018 Day 2 Finish 2 Cycling Plus Mag

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

And sprawling on the grass.

CFAL 2018 Finish Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Where TH started yelping in pain.  We all thought he had a cramp.  Turns out having your hand stood on by someone wearing cycling cleats hurts just as much as a cramp.

Another fantastic weekend trip with the R@SKLs.  Thank you, everyone, for making it so enjoyable.


Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

CFAL 2018: Food Hunt

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Hawker Food www misstamchiak com

Photographs courtesy of

Penang is noted for its street food.  Forget the air-conditioned restaurants with slow service. Food in Penang is all about hawker centres and roadside stalls, with dirt-cheap dishes packed with flavour.

The R@SKLs were in Penang for the CFAL ride.  That was the story anyway.  I think the Saturday food hunt is really the main event for the R@SKLs.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Start TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We were guided by these young men from PKKT Pulau Pinang.  They provided escort service for us last year.  This time they rode scooters upgraded with blue and red flashing lights and what sounded like an ambulance siren and an emergency vehicle horn.  The first time I heard the siren I thought there was an ambulance behind me.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 PKKT Boys Leonard Yee

Photograph courtesy of Leonard Yee

We didn’t have to ride far for breakfast.  Cecil Street Market is 2km / 1.2mi from the Tien Hotel.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Breakfast Jake Sow

Photograph courtesy of Jake Sow

We were joined on the ride by friends who live in Penang.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Penang Friends ST Chan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis HS Tan

We each put RM50 / USD12 into a communal pot to pay for food and drinks during the ride.  Marvin was in charge of doling out money when required.  He figured no one would suspect he was carrying RM1,500 / USD365 around with him in that orange plastic bag.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Money Bag Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

Our next stop was at the recently completed Spiral Bridge which allows cyclists to cross the Bayan Lepas Expressway.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Circular Ramp Billy

Photograph courtesy of Billy

The spiral bridge is opposite the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah Bridge which is one of two bridges joining the island to the mainland.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Bridge TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We did two climbs.  The first was the same one we would do during the CFAL ride.  Along Jalan Teluk Kumbar from the PUSPAKOM centre to the top of Bukit Genting.

All smiles so far!  We particularly enjoyed the PKKT guys bossing the traffic with their siren, horn and whistle so that we could ride through intersections and roundabouts unimpeded.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Marshalled TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We regrouped at the top of Bukit Genting before the rapid descent toward Balik Pulau.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Top of Climb 1 Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

We stopped at the Balik Pulau Food Court for drinks.  Including amra juice.  Amra is a contraction of ambarella, which is this fruit’s English name.  The Malay name for this fruit is buah kedondong.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Ambarella Juice Dilmah Conservation

Photograph courtesy of Dilmah Conservation

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Balik Pulau Stop Martin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

Immediately after exiting the Balik Pulau Food Court car park we started the second climb of the day, rising up Jalan Tun Sardon.  325 metres / 1,066 feet of elevation over 4.5km / 2.8mi, at an average grade of 7.4% with a maximum grade of 17.5%.

This blog has young readers, so I can’t repeat what the fellow below and on the left said when he got to the top of the climb.  It was something like this . . .

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Swearing

Marvin won the Star R@SKL Of The Day award for riding his Brompton up Jalan Tun Sardon and wearing a pair of Crocs while doing it.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Riding 2 Dennis HS Tan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis HS Tan

How tough was the climb?  Leonard’s “during” and “just about to die” faces tell the story.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Riding 13 Dennis HS Tan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis HS Tan

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Tough Climb up Tun Sardon Dennis HS Tan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis HS Tan

Wake me up before you go go!

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Tough Climb up Tun Sardon TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

You can’t keep a smile of Kelin’s and Kevin’s faces for long.

After everyone but Leonard’s heart rates had returned to near-normal levels, we unrolled our R@SKLs banner.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Top of Tun Sardon Climb TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Jalan Tun Sardon is steep going up, and just as steep going down.  60kph / 37mph plus where the traffic allowed.

We regrouped at the PETRONAS station at the bottom of the hill before the PKKT boys shepherded us across a busy Jalan Paya Terubong to Serrena’s business premises in Taman Seri Rambai.  She had laid on a much-appreciated supply of Carlsberg, 100 Plus and fresh fruit.

Thank you Serrena!

Anyone else getting the impression that Thomas needed some rest?

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Serrena's Place TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Serrena Stop TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

It was noon when we left Serrena’s.  Time for lunch.  We went to Sin Yong Wah Coffee Shop in Air Itam.  The same place where we spent more than an hour during last year’s CFAL Food Hunt, waiting in vain for the torrential rain to stop.

This time it was pushing 36° C / 97° F with not a drop of rain in sight.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Air Itam Lunch TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Air Itam Lunch Jake Sow

Photograph courtesy of Jake Sow

Last year we rode up to the Kek Lok Si Temple before lunch.  This time we just took pictures from the coffee shop.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Kek Lok Si Temple Kenix Chiang

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

It was about 9km / 5.5mi from Air Itam to the Penang Town Hall.  We went there to collect our CFAL ride packs.  We would be there again first thing in the morning to start the CFAL round island ride.

In the meantime, it was back to the Tien for a shower and a rest before the evening beach party.

It’s a good thing the hotel rules do not bar hanging cycling kit out to dry on the roof.

CFAL 2018 Day 1 Bespoiling the View Eugene Lee

Photograph courtesy of Eugene Lee

Or was the rule just ignored?

CFAL 2018: Prelude

CFAL Banner

Graphic courtesy of

The annual Campaign for a Lane (CFAL) ride is the most anticipated event on the R@SKL calendar.  Planning starts in March, as soon as registration for CFAL opens.

The early birds get the best accommodation in Penang.  A room at the Tien Hotel.  Those who were slower off the mark get the next best thing.  Shared accommodation at Tien Residences.  Both locations are courtesy of TH Lim, who once again outdid himself as host extraordinaire.

CFAL 2018 Welcome Banner

Graphic courtesy of TH Lim

TH took care of all the arrangments in Penang.  Dehydration would not be a problem.

CFAL 2018 Hydration CH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

He went to Penang a few days early to make sure the hawker food was up to scratch.

Food Taste Testing TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

He even provided custom-made caps for us.

CFAL 2018 Cap TH Lim

All the rest of us had to do was arrange our travel and get our bikes to Pegasus in time to catch the transporter van.

R@SKLs started travelling early on Friday.

CFAL 2018 Plane Kenix Chiang

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

Including some from Hong Kong.

CFAL 2018 HK Arrivals Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

By lunchtime on Friday bikes were in a van and on the road from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

CFLA Prelude Loading Bikes Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Th’s host duties started early on Friday evening as the first wave of R@SKLs arrived at the Tien Hotel.

CFAL 2018 Early Arrivals TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The festivities were interrupted by the arrival of the van carrying our bicycles.

CFAL 2018 Unloading Bikes TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Unloading expended a lot of calories, which of course had to be immediately replaced.  So festivities recommenced at a hawker stall down the road from the Tien Hotel.

CFAL 2018 Eating Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

A sign of things to come . . . .

CFAL 2018 Sign of things to come Simon Su Hoo

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Grow Your Jersey Collection One Ride at a Time – 2017

This is my fifh annual gallery of jerseys and T-shirts that were given out by event organisers.

You can look at previous year’s galleries here:





The first event jersey for 2017 was from the CIMB Cycle @ Seri Menanti ride.  Remembered most for the evil 1km / 0.6mi, 9% average gradient climb within sight of the finish.


April saw the 10th running of one of my favourite events, the Janamanjung Fellowship Ride.  Always well-organized, and always fun.  This event give out T shirts of registered participants.


The next month brought the NST C-Cycle Challenge.  We got rained on, hard, during that ride.

I gave away the event jersey, so have this mock up rather than a photograph.


Another event that is a regular fixture on my calendar is the Campaign for a Lane ride in Penang.  The R@SKLs turn CFAL into a weekend adventure.


I didn’t ride in many organized events this year.  Quality over quantity.  The Satun International Century Ride certainly had quality.  Despite the low turnout, the organisers looked after the participants very well.

This event has given both jerseys and T shirts to riders in the past.  This year we got T shirts only.  I suspect the low number of participants necessitated a budget cut.


As in previous years, I offered these jerseys and T shirts to any of my friends who want them.  A new rider snapped them up.  Perfect!

The R@SKLs Like Penang – Day Three

Sunday AM CFAL Banner

The Tien Hotel was buzzing at 5.30am.  R@SKLs were getting coffees and filling bottles. Pumping up tires.  Filling jersey pockets with ride essentials.

At 6.10am sharp we rode down Lebuh Chulia toward the Residence carpark on the corner of Jalan Penang, where the rest of the R@SKLs were waiting.  A headcount confirmed that we had twenty four riders in our group.

Local boy Lay led us over the 6km / 3.7mi from the Residence to the CFAL start line at the Youth Park.  There were reportedly 3,500 participants in this ninth edition of the Campaign for a Lane.

We positioned ourselves at the back of the pack.  We didn’t want to get caught up in the starting rush and crush.

Sunday AM Start Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

The excitement, or pressure, of the event must have got to some of the R@SKLs.  They developed a sudden interest in the surrounding bushes.

Sunday AM CFAL Start Leakage TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The CFAL event has developed a reputation as one of the better organised rides.  The organisers get most things right.  Like starting the event on time.  Cyclists began pouring out of the part at 7.15am.  Right on time.

Sunday AM CFAL Start Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

The CFAL route has remained unchanged for a number of years now.  Out of the Youth Park to Persiaran Gurney, and then clockwise roughly following the coast, down to Bayan Lepas in the south-eastern corner of the island.

Our new jerseys stood out well against the sea of purple CFAL jerseys that most of the other participants were wearing.  That made staying together as a group easier.

A very popular photo spot along the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Highway is within view of the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, more commonly known as the Penang Second Bridge.

Sunday AM Penang Bridge Leslie Tong

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

It took a few tries, but we did get that bridge in the background.

We had our first proper rest stop at the Caltex station, just the other side of the Sungai Bayan Lepas, about 30km / 18.5mi into the ride.  We raided the station shop for drinks and food.  And queued for the toilet.

From the Caltex station the route curved inland to the right for a kilometer or two, and then curved back down toward Teluk Kumbar on the coast.  At Teluk Kumbar the route headed due north to the Puspakom vehicle inspection site in Kampung Tengah.

That Puspakom compound marked the start of the first of the two climbs on the CFAL route.  It is about 2km / 1.2mi long, and has 115 meters / 377 feet of elevation.

Everyone was looking good on the slopes.

We went past this guy on the lower slope of the climb.

Sunday AM CFAL Penny Farthing Dennis Tan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis Tan

He gave it a good effort, but it wasn’t long before he was walking his penny-farthing up the hill.

We regrouped at the bottom of the descent of Jalan Balik Pulau, where the road takes a sharp left onto state route P239 toward Pulau Betong.  Once we were all together again, we cruised over the next 15km / 9.3mi to the row of shophouses opposite the Sin Min primary school.

Sunday AM Kampung Tomoe Suga.png

We stopped so that riders could buy water, 100 Plus etc. from the sundry shop there.  It is a good place to stop for a rest and a drink.  The small temple on the end of the row of shophouses marks the start of the second climb.  This one is 4.8km / 3mi long, with an elevation of 259 meters / 850 feet.

We agreed to meet on the other side of the hill, at the Teluk Bahang Dam.  Most of us know the spot, because we took photographs there the last time we rode in Penang.  This is one of those photographs.  We were standing on the dam.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Reservoir View 1 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

I got to the dam first.  I stopped in the shade of a tree opposite the dam, and waited for the other pink jerseys to appear.

5 minutes went by.  No pink jerseys.

10 minutes went by.  Still no pinks jerseys.

15 minutes went by.  Aha!  There is a pink jersey.  Damn (pardon the pun).  Not one of ours.

I started to wonder if someone had suffered a puncture, or worse, had suffered a fall.

20 minutes went by.  Then a participant shouted at me as he rode past.  “I think your friends are resting up the hill.”

I pedaled 300 meters back up the hill and around a corner, and there they were.

Sprawled on the grass.  Looking comfortable and relaxed.

Leslie, who wasn’t in Penang with us the last time, pulled off at this spot.  Everyone else followed him, instead of continuing down to the dam.

Sunday PM Teluk Bahang Dam CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of Lim Heng Keng

I do admit that it was a nice place to stop.

But for next time guys.  This is what the dam looks like.

Sunday PM Teluk Bahang Dam

There were about 20km / 12.4mi to ride back to the Youth Park.  It started raining as we got to Batu Ferringhi.  Jalan Batu Ferringhi is a winding, rolling, narrow stretch of road, with a hill on one side and a drop-off to the sea on the other side.  It would be a pleasant road for a bike ride, if only there wasn’t so much traffic.

Sunday PM Batu Ferringhi Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Add rain to the mix, and the ride along Jalan Batu Ferringhi to the Penang Swimming Club is a bit stressful.  Sometimes the safest place to be is in the middle of the slender lane.  It can upset drivers, but it stops them trying to squeeze past you, and in the process forcing you right to the edge of the road, or worse, off the road.

The last 5km / 3mi along Jalan Tanjung Bungah is also busy with cars, lorries, and buses, but the road is wider and has a proper shoulder, so you are not riding in amongst the traffic.

It was still raining when we got to the Youth Park.  3,500 riders quickly turned sections of the grass field into a quagmire.  The large marquee tent was packed with people sheltering from the rain.  As I was looking for somewhere to leave my bike, I saw Husher from Meng Thai Bicycle Centre.  He was manning a stall at one corner of the marquee, where he was displaying some of the Rikulau stainless steel bikes that he sells.

Husher’s stall became the area for the R@SKLs to park their bikes.  It was close to the medal, water, and food pickup points.

Sunday PM CFAL Food Tomoe Suga.png

And also close to the backdrop for finisher photographs.  Thank you Husher.

The lucky draw was in progress as we waited for all the R@SKLs to finish and to collect their medals.  I don’t think any of us expected to win a prize, although it does appear that one of us did have a winning number.  Number 2276 was called.  One R@SKL had number 2275, and another had number 2277.  So someone in the group must have had number 2276.  Oh well!

It was still raining after everyone had their medal in hand.  So we decided to ride back to the hotel, rather than looking for somewhere to eat along the way.  Halfway to the hotel the rain stopped.  It was sunny and hot at the Tien Hotel.

Lunch was at Goh Thew Chik Hainan Chicken Rice, which is a few doors away from the Tien.  Simon reserved four whole chickens for us.  Two roasted, and two poached.

That wasn’t enough.  It took two more chickens, and more rice, to satisfy the R@SKLs.

Lay and Leslie couldn’t join us for lunch.  Their ride back to KL left Penang at 2pm.  Heng Keng left for the airport right after lunch.

Others went straight from the chicken rice shop to look for dessert.

Sunday PM Chendol 1 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Those of us on evening flights were able to linger at the Tien.

Sunday PM Time to Relax 2 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Sunday PM Time to Relax 3 Tomoe Suga

Pai was a true team player.  He brought cendol back to the hotel for those of us who were too idle to walk to the stall with him.  Thank you Pai.

Sunday PM Chendol 2 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Most of the remaining R@SKLs were on an 8pm flight.  Which gave them time to devour one last plate of char koay teow and oyster omelette before bidding farewell to Penang.

Sunday PM Last Food Run Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The Hong Kong trio flew out on Monday.  TH looked after them very well.  Champagne even!

Sunday PM HK Crew TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Our bikes and bags had been loaded onto the van at 4pm.  ETA at Pegasus Cycles was 10pm.  Collecting our bikes marked the end of a wonderful weekend with great friends and great food, with some cycling thrown in for good measure.

Sunday PM Bike Unloading Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Thank you TH and your staff for looking after us so well.

Thank you CK and Danial for providing much valued support.

Thank you R@SKLs for being excellent company.

When is our next trip?

Sunday PM Medal.png


The R@SKLs Like Penang – Day 1

Penang Banner

A well-earned reputation for great food, and a very good annual cycling event, make Penang an attractive destination in August each year.

The R@SKLs started planning the trip to this year’s Campaign for a Lane (CFAL), at the end of May.  First a WhatsApp chat group for interested R@SKLs was created.  By early June sixteen of us had registered for the event (thank you Simon), and we had booked accommodation at the Tien Hotel-Residence (thank you TH).

By July flight reservations had been made, and a van to transport bicycles had been booked.  We had also ordered a new jersey, to be debuted at CFAL.

Friday AM Jersey

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

By early August a cycling itinerary for Saturday had been agreed, and a dinner venue for that evening had been confirmed.  The R@SKLs were set for another Penang adventure.

The action started last Friday Friday morning, when fifteen bikes and assorted bags were loaded into the van for the trip to Penang.

Friday AM Van Loaded Start.png

The day had started even earlier for Leslie and Lay, who together with their friend Philip, were cycling from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

Friday PM Cycling to Penang Leslie Tong

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The next to start their travels were probably Ralf, Voon Keat and Aaron.  They flew to Penang from Hong Kong.

Friday PM Hong Kong Team Arrival Lai Voon Keat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Keat

Three colourful bike cases, and their owners, got to Penang around midday.

Most likely starting their travels at about the same time as the Hong Kong trio were Martin and CC, who drove to Penang.  This is Martin and his son, and of course a bike, just about to start the drive.

Friday AM Driving Martin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

Danial and CK drove as well, but they weren’t leaving until Saturday.

The rest of the R@SKLs had to get to the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang for evening fights.  Which proved more difficult than anticipated for some.  Rain made the Friday evening crawl even worse than usual.

Friday PM Subang Traffic Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Luanne made it to the airport just in time for her flight.

Tomoe did not.  Nevertheless, she was determined to ride with us on Saturday morning, so she caught the midnight bus to Penang.

Friday PM Bus Station Tomoe

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Meanwhile, the early arrivals wasted no time getting stuck into the famous Penang food.

Friday PM Early Arrivals Dinner Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

And a bottle or two.

Friday PM Party Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Thomas, Zulfa and I were on a much-delayed flight, so we were the last to arrive.  The Tien Hotel was a welcome sight at midnight.



As was the newly-opened Residence, which was home to twelve R@SKLs, including Thomas.

Some stayed up late for a last glass of wine.  Most called it a night at about 12.30am.  The aim was to start riding at 7.15am.

Friday PM Dreaming


R@SKLs Do Penang – Day One

Posted on

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Shoes Not Allowed.png

The R@SKLs crawled or bounced out of bed, depending on how much wine and beer had been consumed the night before.  Freshly-baked bread, jam, juice, yogurt, fresh fruit, and coffee were waiting in the communal kitchen / dining area.

The plan for the day was a gentle ride of between 30 to 40km / 18 to 25mi, interrupted at regular intervals for food and drink.  The estimated time of arrival back at the hotel was 11am.  What transpired was a little different.

We were all ready to roll at about 8am.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Start 2 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

Lay was in town, so he joined us

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Start 1

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

I mentioned in the Prelude post that we would do this ride in style.  We hired these three fine young men to accompany us on their scooters and motorbikes.  Armed with whistles, flags, and walkie-talkies, they stopped traffic at junctions and intersections, and rode between the traffic and us on multi-lane highways, so ensuring that we were safe during our ride.  They were our guardian angels over the weekend.  Thank you gentlemen.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Marshals CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

We spent the first kilometer of the ride looking for somewhere to have a second breakfast.  Clearly, the breakfast at the hotel was merely a snack to tide us over whilst we searched for a proper breakfast.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Breakfast TH Lee

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We didn’t get far after the roti canais and teh tariks.  Simon had a puncture within the next kilometer.  Some of us were up the road, so there were only Leonard, Kevin and Kelin to stand around and watch Simon and CK replace an inner tube.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 First Flat Spectators Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

We got an early taste of Penang’s bike paths.  There is an annual cycling event organized by the Campaign For A Lane (CFAL), that raises funds for the creation of bike paths and bike lanes.  CFAL has been running for about a decade, and the results are visible all around the island.

After our stint on the bike path we were on the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu highway, riding toward the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge.  This bridge, Malaysia’s longest, opened in early 2014.  It is the second bridge linking Penang to the mainland.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Penang Bridge Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

If we had known better, we would have retraced our track from here, and been back at the hotel, and out of the sun, by 11am.  As most of us expected.

Instead we continued on to Bayan Lepas airport, and beyond.  We all agreed that Kapitan Simon was to blame for this.  We are sure he misled our guardian angels into thinking that we all wanted to ride further.  So they took us on a longer route.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Route

Just after the right turn onto Jalan Permatang Damar Laut, at the southern tip of the island, TH had a puncture.  It was about 10am.  The sun was bright and it was already 32°C / 90°F.  A group of us waited in the only shade we could find as TH replaced his inner tube.

Fifteen minutes later we were all rolling again toward Teluk Kumbar, where we turned right.  We were now cycling north and starting to climb up Bukit Genting.  Those of us who had ridden CFAL in the past were familiar with this climb.

Once down the other side, it was time for more food.  A stall in the Balik Pulau Food Court is famous for its asam laksa.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 5 366 via TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

“What’s that?  No asam laksa?”

The guys had to settle for koay teow soup instead.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 4 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

“But wait!”  There is more asam laksa being made.”

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court Asam Laksa TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

So some of the guys had seconds.  Asam laksa on top of the koay teow soup.  A decision that would rise up, so to speak, to haunt at least one person.

All smiles at this point, as we left the Balik Pulau Food Court.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 6 366 via TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Literally 500 meters from where we took the photo above, the road started tilting up, and up, and up.  It was 5km / 5mi to Anjung Indah, with gradients touching 10% and more.  This was allegedly a shortcut back to the hotel.  Give me the longer way next time!

This was the last 20 meters of what is one of the hardest climbs any of us have done.

We stopped where the junction with a side road offered some extra tarmac where we could safely get off our bikes.  As you can see from the photos, the sun was directly overhead.  So we sought refuge in some shade across the road.  Pretty much in a drain.

Which would have been convenient if that asam laksa had erupted up and out of someone’s stomach!

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Anjung Indah Climb 7 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

If we had known that there were fruit and drinks stalls 300 meters up the road, we would have kept going, rather than stop where we did.  Although I must admit, that is easy to say now.  We were on the limit at the time.

After all the cursing about the climb while recovered beside the drain, smiles were restored when we discovered durian at the fruit stalls.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Anjung Indah Park 1 Kevin Chin

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Chin

Treasurer Heng Keng thought that he might have to make a cash call, given the amount of durian consumed.  Especially by some guy in pink from Taiwan!

We still had 23km / 14mi to get back to the Tien hotel.  With 8km / 5mi of that along the unshaded Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu highway.

By the time we got back into George Town it was about 2pm.  We were boiling.  Cendol was called for.  There is a very well-known cendol stall on Lebuh Keng Kwee, which goes by the less-than-modest name of Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol.  The queue for their cendol is always long – see below.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Cendol 1 Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Some locals say that the cendol from the stall across the road is, in fact, better.  We opted for that much less-crowded stall.  Some of us had two bowls of cendol, and we were on our way before the people at the end of the queue for the “Famous” cendol had been able to place their orders.

Just one more kilometer, and we were back in the air-conditioned comfort of the Tien hotel.  Most of us jumped into showers.  Some took another option.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Pool TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

All of us did turn the rooftop pool deck into a dobi, or laundry.  Open dividers, which had obviously been designed with considerable thought and care, became excellent places to hang wet cycling kit.

Some of us took naps.  Some went for a massage.  Some indulged in the nyonya cakes and bubur kacang merah (red bean soup) that were laid out in the hotel dining area.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Tien Hotel Tea

Cyclists that we are, we had all done the maths, and had determined that, despite all we had eaten already, there were still calories to be replaced – see I Am Sure I’ve Earned That Second Roti Canai.  We were ready for more food.

Dinner was at Yi Bing Qing Fish Head Steamboat.  Yi Bing Qing is a big name when it comes to steamboat restaurants in Penang.  So good that Leonard paused to give thanks at the altar of the steamboat chimney.

In all seriousness, the steamboat was delicious.

With that meal, Day One was a wrap.  There was, allegedly, a party that night up in the lounge / bar area of the hotel.

Allegedly.  If there was a party, I slept through it. R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Halo 2