September 2013 has turned into a month for metric century rides. Yesterday Chris, Keat, Mark, Raj, Seow and I joined Dave Ern and about twenty-five other riders on a hunt for durians.
The durian is known as the King of Fruits in Malaysia. Durian is a seasonal fruit, generally available in Malaysia from June to August and from end November to January. Its popularity has led to extensive cloning and farming, not just in Malaysia but throughout South-East Asia. One result is that durians can now be bought all year round, although supply is limited and aficionados will tell you that the quality of the fruit in the off-season is variable.
Keat, Raj, Seow, Mark, photographer Chris and I started from the BHP petrol station in Kampung Bukit Tinggi.
The route that Dave Ern had planned took us downhill along the old Bentong Road. I travelled this road many many times as a child. Then it was the only way to get from Kuala Lumpur to points east of the Titiwangsa Range, which bisects the peninsula from north to south.
After about twelve kilometers the road levelled out, and it was relatively flat from the Bentong Hot Spring near Kampung Temiang to the town of Bentong.
We made a refuelling stop at Bentong. Kedai Kopi Phoon is famous for its wanton noodles. Definitely finger-licking good.
The plan had been to continue on to the town of Raub while a support car drove on ahead scouting for durian stalls. Seven kilometers north of Bentong we got word that there were no durians to be found up the road toward Raub. So we turned off the Bentong to Raub road and rode toward Kampung Baru Sang Lee instead.
We made an unscheduled stop just after that turn. Raj and I watched as Keat replaced his punctured rear inner tube. In case you think that I was not helpful, I did lend Keat my pump. 🙂
Kampung Baru Sang Lee is surrounded by extensive durian orchards. The village does not hide its claim to fame.
We found lots of durians at a large roadside stall in the village.
Unfortunately these were already loaded onto a lorry, ready to be hauled away to a wholesaler somewhere. There was precious little left to be eaten at the stall. The durian lovers amongst us had to make do with sharing just a couple of fruit.
So the Durian Fiesta Ride was a disappointment for anyone who had hoped to feast on the fruit. But the ride was a lot of fun nonetheless.
This was the first metric century for Chris.
For Raj and Seow too. It was a very hot day, but we had shaded and quiet roads for the most part.
Quiet for the most part. Every now and then we had one of these for company.
I overtook this lorry before slowing down to take this photograph. As the lorry swept past I saw Mark behind it, being sucked along in the slipstream. I have never been motor-paced by an eighteen-wheeler before. Mark and I had a blast effortlessly hitting 50kph plus behind this lorry. Later we latched onto the back of an oil tanker for another tow. The experience of being pulled along at speed was worth all the dust we ate.
We stopped at a Shell station in Bentong to wash the dust out of our throats. This is now my mid-ride drink of choice.
As I downed a half-liter of cold chocolate milk I noticed this display next to the cash register. What first caught my eye was the collection of mini-LEGO cars and trucks. Then I saw what the toys were sitting on. PowerBars and PowerGels.
This petrol station must attract a lot of cyclists.
The day got hotter and windier. Just as the road started tilting upward south of Bentong. We regrouped at the Bentong Hot Spring. Sadly the suspension bridge across the Benus River makes a more interesting photograph that the Hot Spring does.
The last photo op was the small waterfall four kilometers from the end of the ride.
The section of the ride between Kampung Bukit Tinggi and Kampung Rasia is the nicest. All the traffic across the Titiwangsa Range is now carried by the Karak Highway. What is left is a peaceful road that follows the arcs and curves of the Benus and Tanglir rivers, hemmed in by primary and secondary jungle.
Everybody made it back to the BHP petrol station at Kampung Bukit Tinggi. Tired and hot, but glad to have made the trip. It was a very pleasant century ride, despite the shortage of durians.