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Strava Ride # 1,000

I read a WordPress post by Tempo Cyclist the other day, where he described the first ride he uploaded to Strava.  That got me thinking about all the rides I have uploaded to Strava over the years.

Riffing off Tempo Cyclist’s post, I looked at my 1,000th ride on Strava.  It was a ride to Genting Sempah, with good friends Mark and Ridzuwan, on 18th October last year.

Coincidentally, my very first ride in Malaysia, after moving back home from the Netherlands, was also up to Genting Sempah, on 7th October 2012.

The Genting Sempah climb is probably the most cycled route in the Klang Valley.  I have done the Genting Sempah climb at least forty times since that first ride in 2012.  There has always been dozens of other riders on Jalan Gombak with me.

The climb is generally considered to be from the Hospital Orang Asli (HOA) to the flyover at the summit, which is almost on top of the border between the states of Selangor and Pahang.

GS Strava Heatmap (1)

Heatmap courtesy of Strava

A lot of people start their ride from somewhere near the HOA.  It all depends on where they can find a parking space.


Photograph courtesy of Danial Lim

The ride to the flyover is very pleasant.  It is usually quite cool and shady.  The average gradient is about 3.5%, but with some kickers along the way to get the heart rate up.  And traffic is usually fairly light, although occasionally there are car clubs or motorcyclists blasting up the hill..

A number of troops of monkeys live in the jungle lining the road.  It is not unusual to see some during the ride.

GS Monkeys Rodrigo Sala at

Photograph courtesy of Rodrigo Sala at

The bridge with 1.8km / 1.1mi to go to the summit is a convenient spot to stop to get your breath back before tackling the last two steep corners on the way to the flyover.

GS Bridge Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Near that bridge, you get a good view of the Karak Highway, which replaced Jalan Gombak as the primary route between Kuala Lumpur and Bentong.

GS Karak Highway Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Most riders turn around at the flyover.

If you are hungry, there is a McDonald’s one kilometer down the other side of the hill, at the Genting Sempah R&R on the Karak Highway.  We often start the Genting Sempah ride with the intention of going to the McDonald’s, but change our mind at the flyover.  The prospect of climbing 64 meters / 210 feet over 1km / 0.6mi from the McDonald’s back to the flyover puts us off.

GS McDonald's

If you want to go further afield for food, you can continue down the hill from the R&R for 5km / 3mi to the left turn to Bukit Tinggi, with its collection of kopitiams, or Hokkien coffee shops.

GS Strava Heatmap (1)

Heatmap courtesy of Strava

A popular alternative is Janda Baik.  Instead of turning left to Bukit Tinggi, you turn right and ride under this arch.

GS Janda Baik Arch

My go-to place for breakfast in Janda Baik used to be Andak’s Place.

GS Food Andak's Place

Sadly Andak’s Place has closed down.

An alternative is Kopi n Kraf.

GS Janda Baik Food Stop

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

If you are looking for a longer ride, continue straight down the hill, past the turnings to Bukit Tinggi and Janda Baik, for another 30km / 18.6mi to Bentong.

There are food choices for those who turn around at the flyover and head back down the hill.  The food stall a few hundred meters from the HOA is a popular spot for a pre-ride or post-ride drink and meal.

GS Food Stall 2 Eric Siow

Photograph courtesy of Eric Siow

A few of us have taken to starting our ride to Genting Sempah from where I live.  Which adds about 40km / 25mi to the 32km / 20mi from the HOA to the flyover and back.  More importantly, it allows us to stop at Santa Chapati, near the Tawakal Hospital, for lunch on the way home.

GS Food Santa

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Good riding, and good eats.  No wonder Genting Sempah is a favourite route.

R@SKLs do Bentong

Bentong Sign gobentong com

Photograph courtesy of

Before 1977, all traffic across the Titiwangsa range used the winding, narrow Federal Route 68, which runs from Gombak in Kuala Lumpur to Bentong, Pahang.  Everyone going to Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu, and other points east of Kuala Lumpur drove through Bentong.

The Kuala Lumpur – Karak Highway, opened in 1977 and upgraded to a full expressway in 1997, bypasses Bentong.  Today, the majority of traffic uses the Kuala Lumpur – Karak Expressway, leaving Federal Route 68 to learner drivers and cyclists.

Regular readers will know that the climb up to Genting Sempah is popular with cyclists from the Klang Valley.  A more ambitious ride continues to Janda Baik.  Even more ambitious is a ride to Bentong.

The R@SKLs are nothing if not ambitious.  About twenty of us turned up at the Hospital Orang Asli Gombak car park for a 7am start toward Bentong.

Bentong 2

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

The first 16km / 10mi is uphill to Genting Sempah.

Bentong 7 Kiat Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Yit Kiat

This was early on in the ride.  Clockwise from top left, Luanne, Tomoe and Daniel, Arthur, and Kelin.


We regrouped under the flyover at Genting Sempah.  Behind us is our support vehicle.  Leonard very kindly provided his pickup and driver.  Plus coolers of ice and drinks.  Top man Leonard!

Bentong 6 TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

From the flyover we let gravity take over for the 20km / 12.5mi run downhill to the Suria Hot Spring Resort.  We regrouped there before riding the flatter 17km /  10.5mi to Bentong town.

Bentong 12 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Some of us had the dubious pleasure of being dragged along from the hot spring at up to 44kph / 27mph by Daniel, as he waved his hand in the air, urging us forward.  I for one was glad to see the outskirts of Bentong.

Once in Bentong the only thought on everyone’s mind was food.  We rode into the streets where the Sunday morning market is held, and stopped at Po Lai Kam kopitiam.  We queued to fill our bowls . . .

Bentong 10 Kiat Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Yit Kiat

. . . and then filled our stomachs.

Bentong 11 Kiat Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Yit Kiat

There had been some talk of riding on to the Chamang waterfall.  The consensus on the day was that it was too hot for extra kilometers.

So we rolled back toward the hot spring.  At a much more sedate pace.  Well, some of us rode at a more sedate pace.  About half the group had shot off ahead.  We all stopped at the hot spring for a rest in the shade, and something cold to drink.

If it hadn’t been a hot spring I might have jumped in.

Bentong 8 Kiat Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Yit Kiat

We had all enjoyed the 20km / 12.5mi downhill roll to the hot spring on the way to Bentong.  Now it was time to pay the piper.

After 10km / 6mi and 270 meters / 885 feet of elevation we were ready for another rest.  This time outside the Bukit Tinggi secondary school.

Bentong 4 TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We weren’t yet halfway through the grind back up to Genting Sempah.  There was another 8.5km / 5.3mi and 405 meters / 1,330 feet to climb before we got to the Genting Sempah R&R.

We all got to the Genting Sempah R&R – eventually.  But we couldn’t celebrate yet.  There was still the not insignificant obstacle of Hamburger Hill to surmount.  Exhilarating to descend, but a lung-burning, leg-breaking 81 meters / 266 feet, 6.4% average grade climb over 1.1km / 0.7mi, especially after the kilometers ridden and meters climbed to that point.

Lay, Mark and I delayed the inevitable by detouring to the McDonald’s at the R&R.  I for one needed a sugar boost – in a big way.  McDonald’s delivered.

I might not have been able to get up Hamburger Hill (you see the reason for the name now) without that pie and sundae flooding into my bloodstream.

The other R@SKLs didn’t need a McDonald’s boost.  They had made their way up Hamburger Hill and down to the Hospital Orang Asli car park, and had packed up and left by the time the three of us got there.

As Leonard said, it was fun.  Painful fun at times, but fun nonetheless.

You know what they say about ambition.  It grows.

The R@SKLs have decided that Fraser’s Hill is next.

Freeze in ‘Little England’

Photograph courtesy of

Come Back Soon

Andak's Place Logo

There were rumours that my favourite destination in Janda Baik had closed.  No one had the details.  Recent rides by others to Janda Baik for pancakes and nasi lemak had apparently ended in disappointment.

Hope springs eternal though.  Michael from Denmark was spending a week in Malaysia visiting friends and riding his bike.  I wanted to show off some of what makes cycling here so appealing.  Andak’s Place is one of those things.

So eight of us convened at our regular meeting point near the Hospital Orang Asli on Jalan Gombak Lama.  We have all ridden this particular route many times.  Apart from Michael of course.

16km / 10mi and 700 meters / 2,300 feet up to Genting Sempah, on the border between the states of Selangor and Pahang.

Janda Baik with Michael K 05 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Then a 6.5km / 4mi descent to the right turn under the arch that welcomes you to Janda Baik.


Janda Baik Arch 02

Followed by a final 7km / 4.3mi and 130 meters / 425 feet of climbing over rolling terrain before arriving at Andak’s Place.

Janda Baik Andak's Place

Illustration courtesy of Andak’s Place

The rumours were true.  Andak’s Place was closed.  Their Facebook page reveals the intention to reopen on a date to be announced.  Andak’s promises to be back with a fresh concept.  The Kuala Lumpur cycling fraternity is certainly looking forward to Andak’s reopening.

But what to do about feeding Michael and the rest of us?

We decided to try Kopi n Kraf.  We ride past it every time we complete the loop through Janda Baik after we have filled our faces at Andak’s Place.  We suppressed our hunger pangs for a further 5km / 3mi to the steps leading up to Kopi n Kraf, which is the café that serves the Danau Daun Chalets.

Janda Baik Kopi n Kraf 02

Photograph courtesy of Danau Daun Chalets

The café is certainly attractive.  Raised and nestled within the trees.  Kopi n Kraf wins the competition for scenic views.

Their menu is a little restricted on weekdays, so we weren’t able to try their nasi lemak.  They did serve us some of the Malaysian breakfast classics:  toast with kaya, soft-boiled eggs and roti canai.  One data point is not enough to form a definitive opinion, but on the basis of our visit to Kopi n Kraf, I think Andak’s Place, as it was before it closed, wins the competition for quality of food.

Janda Baik with Michael K 01 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

After breakfast there was the small matter of  345 meters / 1,130 feet of climbing over 11km / 7mi before we were back at Genting Sempah, ready to enjoy the 16km / 10 mi descent back to where we had started.

I hope Michael enjoyed his stay and the rides he did in Malaysia.  Come back soon Michael, and come back soon Andak’s Place.