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Tag Archives: Jalan Gombak

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.

Independence Day Ride

BCG Bentong Merdeka

Malaysia was born on 31st August 1957.  That day Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, read the official declaration granting the Federation of Malaya independence from the British Empire.

Most years friends and I have marked Merdeka Day (Independence Day) with a bicycle ride.  This year it was the BCG Merdeka Ride to Bentong.

About fifteen of us met at the Orang Asli Hospital for a 7.15am start.  I got there early, hoping to have a hot drink at the small restaurant near the hospital.  The restaurant was closed.

I had forgotten that it was a five-day weekend.  Thursday was Merdeka Day.  Friday and Saturday were public holidays for Hari Raya Haji (Eid al-Adha)  And Monday had been declared a public holiday to commemorate Malaysia winning 145 gold medals out of the 225 gold medals competed for at the 2017 SEA Games, which had come to an end on 30th August.

Traditionally Malays celebrate both Hari Raya Puasa (Eid al-Fitr) and Hari Raya Haji with family in their home towns and villages.

Which means a mass exodus from Kuala Lumpur the day before those festivals.  The Karak Highway is the main road link between Kuala Lumpur and the cities and towns on the east coast of the peninsula.

We stopped near the summit of the Genting Sempah to look at the traffic on the Karak Highway.

BCG Bentong Bridge Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

This was the view of the eastbound lanes of the Karak Highway from Genting Sempah.

BCG Bentong Jam Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The volume of traffic on the Karak Highway prompted many to take the old road to Bentong.  Jalan Gombak is usually very quiet.  We cyclists typically share the road with the odd lorry, a few learner drivers, and some motorcycles.  On this day there was a steady stream of cars, vans and buses heading up the road with us.

We had a nice surprise at the Genting Sempah flyover.  The couple who, on weekends, set up a makeshift drinks and snacks stall out of the boot of their car, were there.  Hooray!

BCG Bentong Genting Sempah 2 Vince Chan

Photograph courtesy of Vincent Chan

If you are wondering, I couldn’t find a red hibiscus, which is the national flower of Malaysia.

BCG Bentong Genting Sempah 1 Vince Chan

Photograph courtesy of Vincent Chan

We continued to share the road with a stream of vehicles on the 35km / 22mi run from Genting Sempah to Bentong.  There is a section between Bukit Tinggi and Bentong where the road is badly potholed.  That caused traffic to be backed up for a few kilometers.

Once past the potholes, those vehicles that we had overtaken roared past us.  Only for us to overtake them again as they waited in a long queue for the traffic lights at the T-junction of Jalan Gombak and Jalan Lama Bentong – Karak.  It was definitely faster by bike over the last 25km / 15.5mi to Bentong.

We had planned to eat at Lemang To’ki, home of the best lemang in Bentong.  We weren’t surprised to find that Lemang To’ki was closed.  So we settled for the next-best option.  Roti canai, half-boiled eggs, and kaya toast.

And peanut ice cream at Kow Po Coffeeshop.

BCG Bentong Ice Cream Daniel Ng

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Ng

That was the easy part over and done with.  It was all uphill from Bentong back to Genting Sempah.  1,000 meters / 3,280 feet of elevation gain.

We were smiling as we rode through Bentong.

BCG Bentong Sign Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The climbing, and the 34° to 36° C / 93° to 97° F temperatures, wiped those smiles off our faces.  By the time we got back to Genting Sempah we were gagging for cold drinks.

We gave the McDonald’s there a miss, assuming, no doubt correctly, that it would be packed with travelers taking a break from the traffic jams.  The roadside stall we stopped at had run out of canned drinks, but fortunately they still had lots of ice and Sunquick.

Then it was just Hamburger Hill between us and the 16km / 10mi descent to the Orang Asli Hospital.  We had to be careful.  The traffic was still streaming up the hill, with some drivers cutting corners.  The bus drivers were the worst culprits.

We all got down the hill safely.  Tired, but glad to have done the ride in great company.  I wonder where we will be riding to when Malaysia turns 61.