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Seven R@SKLs Ride to Teluk Intan

Teluk Intan Banner

Photograph courtesy of tourismperakmalaysia.com/

My first ride to Teluk Intan, in 2016, was along Federal Route 5, which is one of three north–south backbone federal highways in Peninsular Malaysia.  Which makes it a heavily-used road by all manner of motor vehicles.  The road surface bears the scars of constant pounding by heavy lorries and buses.  Which makes it less than ideal to cycle on.

I rode to Teluk Intan twice in 2017, each time trying to find more and more secondary roads to ride on, as an alternative to Federal Route 5.

It fell to me to plan the route for this ride to Teluk Intan.  Ride With GPS has a route planning feature which is easy to use.  My goal was to put us onto as many roads like this as possible.

Smaller, scenic roads and paths, with very few cars or motorcycles.  For the first 110km / 68mi or so, we rode on Federal Route 5 only when we had to cross a major river, e.g. the Sungai Selangor at Kuala Selangor, or the Sungai Bernam north of Sabak.  We rode all but 13km / 8mi on these quiet, secondary roads.

There were a few surprises though.  We came upon a few sections where the tarmac turned into this.

Off Road 4 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

I had discovered, too late, that Ride With GPS will plot a route along any road possible, paved or otherwise.

I now know that counter-checking a route generated by Ride With GPS with Google Map Street View is essential.  All the laterite or otherwise unpaved roads and paths which Ride With GPS took us onto do not have Google Map Street Views.  This check is easy to do, because Ride With GPS uses maps provided by Google Maps.  So the small yellow Street View man is always available in the lower right corner of the map.

The red line on the upper map shows the route we rode, as created with Ride With GPS.  The blue lines on the lower map show where Street View is available.  That section we rode, where Street View is not available, was a narrow, unpaved track.  We were able to ride it, but it was a bit worrying on narrow 23mm or 25mm tires.

I learned through experience that in future, I must avoid plotting routes on roads and paths where Google Map Street View cameras have not been.

Map 1

Upper map courtesy of Ride With GPS.  Lower map courtesy of Google Maps

Despite the unexpected off-road bike handling skills tests, we all had a good time.  Fortunately no one took a tumble or had a flat caused by the uneven surfaces, which at times were liberally strewn with sharp stones.

As is par for the course with the R@SKLs, a long ride like this one required frequent refreshment stops.

Breakfast was at 23km / 14mi.

Meal 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had a 10am snack at 65km / 40mi.

We made a slight detour to the beach at Sekinchan, to look at some of the catch being brought ashore at the jetty.

Catch of the day Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

And to pose under the “good luck” tree.

Wishing Tree Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The good luck tree didn’t work out for Simon.  He had a flat tire at 89km / 55mi.  It was lucky for the rest of us though.  Simon’s flat was conveniently right next to this stall selling Air Batu Campur, which is a local dessert made of shaved ice coated with with brown sugar syrup, other flavoured syrups, and evaporated milk. Other ingredients are kidney beans, red beans, creamed corn, and crushed peanuts.

Meal 2a 2 Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

While we were quenching our thirst, the stall owner told us that there was a restaurant 2km / 1.2mi away that serves very good mee kari udang lipan (noodles and mantis shrimp curry).

It was 12.30pm when we got to that restaurant.  Which, coincidentally, was when it opened.

After lunch, we had just under 25km / 16mi, including another unexpected off road section, this time 3km / 2mi long, before we got to the bridge over Sungai Bernam.  From that point we had no option but to ride along Federal Route 5, and then Federal Route 58 to Teluk Intan.  Fortunately the roads north of Sabak are wide, the road surface is reasonably good, and the traffic is a bit lighter.

The 55km / 34mi ride from our lunch stop to the Yew Boutique Hotel in Teluk Intan had worked up a thirst and hunger.  It was three and a half hours to dinner.  We needed something to keep our strength up until then.

The famed Teluk Intan chee cheong fun (rice noodle roll, char koay teow, and a fermented barley drink did the trick.

The main event was at 7.30pm, at Restoran d’Tepian Sungai.  The udang galah (giant river prawn) feast.  Clockwise from top left:  curried, grilled, fried with turmeric, and in spicy coconut gravy.

We made short work of 4 kilos / 9lb of Grade A prawns, plus fried mixed vegetables, omelettes, white rice, and three jugs of fruit juice.

After all that food, I barely managed to ride my bike to the Menara Condong (Leaning Tower) for an illuminated photograph to go with the daytime shot we took when we arrived in Teluk Intan.

Menara Condong Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The trip back to Kapar the next day was equally food and drink-filled.

We had breakfast at the coffee shop across the street from the hotel.  Our rooms came with breakfast, but the hotel starts serving at 7am.  We had filled our bottles at the nearby 7-Eleven and were on the road by then.

We skipped the off-road section between Sabak and Sungai Besar.  I’m not convinced that the equivalent stretch of Federal Route 5 was any smoother.

Our first stop was in Sungai Besar, 50km / 31mi into our ride.  We had iced Milo, coffee,  and roti canai.

Meal 7 Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Our next stop was a sightseeing one.  Our route along the coast took us past a small fishing jetty at Pasir Panjang.

Fishing Jetty Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Fishing Jetty Birds' Nests

We put in a further 42km / 26mi before stopping again.  This time for air kelapa (fresh coconut water).  Most of us had two coconuts each.

Meal 8 Drinks Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The air kelapa stand was 60km / 37mi from our Sungai Besar food stop.  The guys were hungry.  Mark and I knew that the Kuala Selangor McDonald’s was only 4km / 2.5mi down the road.  A sundae was calling my name.  Burgers, chicken nuggets, and fries were calling out to the others.

The air-conditioning at McD’s was another attraction.  It was pushing 30°C / 86°F, and it would get hotter.  40 minutes in cool air was a welcome respite.

There was 35km / 22mi left to ride from Kuala Selangor to Kapar.  Including another unexpected 2km / 1.2mi sandy and stony section.  Fortunately it wasn’t wet like it is in this Google Maps Street View.

Off Road 3

Photograph courtesy of Google

Our tires survived the sharp stones.  There was just one more section of Federal Route 5 to ride along.  It is a toss up between riding to the right of the road shoulder, where the surface is cleaner but rougher, or on the road shoulder, where there is always a lot of debris.  The heavy traffic often makes the road shoulder the safer option, but the risk of having a puncture is higher.

My rear tire went soft. It was hot, and I was cheesed off at flatting with just 5km /3mi left to go in our 290km / 180mi round trip.  In my impatience, I fumbled two changes, rendering both inner tubes unusable.  Lay, Marvin, and Ridzuwan bailed me out with another inner tube, helping with the tube installation, and buying cold drinks from the petrol station across the road.

The day ended well though.  Simon got home with plenty of time before the concert he was going to that evening.  There had been no falls or major mechanical issues.  Everyone enjoyed the ride to Teluk Intan and back, despite the unpaved sections.

And Lay, Wan and I had one more meal together before our day was over.  Braised lamb shanks and cendols all round.

Teluk Intan Quote

Audax BRM200 Malaysia 2016

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Banner

When I first read the terms “Audax,””Brevet” and “Randonneurs,” I had to look up what they meant.

  • Audax:  A cycling sport in which participants attempt to cycle long distances within a pre-defined time limit. Audax is a non-competitive sport: success in an event is measured by its completion.  Also known as Randonneuring.
  • Brevet:  A long-distance bicycle ride with check-point controls.  Also known as a Randonnée.
  • Randonneur:  A rider who has completed a 200km event.

Apart from noting that audax is an excuse to market hi-viz jerseys for brevets (see the zipped chest pocket for carrying a brevet card), I thought little more about that variety of cycling.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Jersey

Image courtesy of Rapha

Some time later I read an online article in CyclingTips titled “Paris-Brest-Paris – Never Again.”  Written by James Fairbank, a finisher of the 2011 edition of the quadrennial 1,200km brevet from Paris, to Brest, and back again in a time limit of under 90 hours.

Then I read the accounts of four other riders who also completed the 2011 Paris-Brest-Paris in “PBP 2011: Four Journeys” on the Rapha website (the provider of the Brevet jersey above).

Utterly mad!

So when I was invited to participate in the first Official Audax Brevet in Malaysia (thanks Yue-Jin), I thought “No way!”  220km / 137mi was further than I had ever ridden in one sitting, so to speak.

But the more my cycling buddies and I talked about it, the more we thought “Why not?”

Which led to ten of my buddies and I being amongst the 480 or so mad folk who registered for this event.  Here we are in Kapar, ready for the 5am start.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Start Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

We collected our brevet cards and then rode off into the darkness.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Brevet Card Collection Lawrence Loh

Photograph courtesy of Lawrence Loh

Fortunately we didn’t have to make any turns during the first two hours.  In the dark I couldn’t read the nifty cue card that Liang had made for us.  Brevet routes are not marked, so this cue card taped to my top tube was consulted often after we got past the first check-point.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Cue Card

By sunrise we had reached Sekinchan on our run northwest up the coast.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Route

Just before 8am we rolled into the first check-point at the McDonalds in Sungai Besar.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 1st Checkpoint Liew Jho

Photograph courtesy of Liew Jho

We needed breakfast, but an Egg McMuffin didn’t appeal.  So some of us went on a hunt for roti canai.  Which we found at what is apparently Sungai Besar’s oldest Malay restaurant.  I think the wait staff were a bit surprised to have a dozen lycra-clad guys turn up together.  All demanding food.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Breakfast Shop Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Six more of these please!

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Roti Canai Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

By the time we got going again the sun was breaking through the clouds.  The weather forecast had called for continuous rain, and I had come prepared with a rain jacket and shoe covers.  We were all looking forward to the cooler temperatures that rain brings.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Weather

However the only water we saw all day was in this canal.  No need for that rain gear.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Canal Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

The sun got brighter and brighter as the day progressed.  There was some cloud cover, so we had occasional respite from direct sunshine, but we felt the heat anyway.

Photograph courtesy of Eric Chen

Photograph courtesy of Eric Chen

At about 9.30am we turned onto Jalan Sungai Panjang.  Why did the squirrel cross the road?

Photograph courtesy of Ahmad Nasir

Photograph courtesy of Ahmad Nasir

Jalan Sungai Panjang, or Long River road, is appropriately named.  We were on it for 40km / 25mi.

That is not the river on the left by the way.  Sungai Bernam is a couple of kilometers to the left of this road.  That river demarcates the border between the states of Selangor and Perak, starting from the river mouth on the west coast and meandering 90km / 56mi or so eastward to Tanjung Malim.

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Radzi Jamaludin

Photograph courtesy of Mohd Radzi Jamaludin

Before long some of the group got bored and upped the pace.  The rest of us followed for about 10km / 6mi before letting the faster riders go.  We needed a break.  Mark spotted a stall in the midst of the oil palm trees.  Literally in the middle of nowhere.  Just what the doctor ordered.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Coke Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

We cruised the remaining 17km / 10.5mi to the second check-point at Kampung Soeharto, posing for some GoPro shots along the way.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Liang and Mark Liang

Photograph courtesy of Liang

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 JM Liang

Photograph courtesy of Liang

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Leslie Liang

Photograph courtesy of Liang

And enjoyed the shade beneath the clouds where we could.

Photograph courtesy of Denny Zulkasi

Photograph courtesy of Denny Zulkasi

The first order of business upon arriving in Kampung Soeharto at 11.30am was to get our brevet cards stamped by a group of cheerful volunteers.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Check-Point 2 Lawrence Loh

Photograph courtesy of Lawrence Loh

Then it was time for lunch.  The brevet organisers had warned us that there was no food or drink to be had for 40km / 25mi beyond Kampung Soeharto.  We crowded into Laila Restaurant for chicken rice and lime juice.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Lunch Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

Shade was in demand!

BRM 200 2016 Looking for Shade Joel Tanmenghan

Photograph courtesy of Joel Tanmenghan

We spent about an hour in Kampung Soeharto.  It was almost 2pm by the time we got to the outskirts of Batang Berjuntai.  The first sign of refreshment after the previous bone dry 40km / 25mi was a roadside stall selling coconut water.

Take one freshly-opened young coconut, add ice and a straw, and say “aaaaaah!”

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 JM Air Kelapa Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

We made one more stop at the PETRONAS station at Simpang Tiga Ijok.  That was only 10km / 6mi from the coconut water stall, but it didn’t take long in the 35° C / 95° F heat for us to want more cold drinks and some time in air-conditioning.

At that point most, if not all, of my buddies had ridden further than they had on their previous longest rides.  I was in new territory also.  Despite having ridden 190km / 118mi we were all still in good shape.  Tired and a bit sore perhaps, but no one was cramping.

Our decision to ride conservatively (there was one collective rush of blood to the head before our Coca Cola stop, but that turn of speed didn’t last very long) had paid off.  I was certainly feeling better at 190km on this day than I remember feeling at 100km / 62mi on a number of previous rides.

We also had the good fortune of not suffering any mechanical problems.  Not a puncture amongst us.  Respect to this gentleman, who finished the ride solo on a tandem that had suffered a broken rear wheel spoke.  Thereby embodying the self-reliance that the Audax culture prizes.  External support is expressly prohibited in the Audax rules, and if you go off course or experience a mechanical, you are expected to take responsibility for finding your own way home and making your own repairs on the road.

Photograph courtesy of Liew Jho

Photograph courtesy of Liew Jho

With ‘just’ 30km / 18.5mi to go, we lost our conservativeness.  Our average speed went up by at least 4kph / 2.5mph as we pushed for the finish.  This despite riding over the poorest road surface of the entire route between the 200km / 124mi and 215km / 133mi points.

The organisers had been forced to make a last-minute change to the end of the route, to avoid presumably worse conditions.  The roads on the rest of the route were by and large in good to very good condition.

Audax Randonneurs Malaysia did a terrific job putting this event together.  Kudos to the committee members.  And a heartfelt shout-out to the volunteers who distributed and stamped the brevet cards.

All the information that went out ahead of the event was very helpful. In particular the cue sheet and photographs of the turns along the route, like this one.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Directions Sam Tow

Photograph courtesy of Sam Tow

All my buddies and I finished the ride in about 10 hours 45 minutes.  Well within the time limit of 13 hours 30 minutes.

As did this group, which rolled into the final check-point at the Kapar KFC about 8 hours after they started.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 1.04 Finishers Lawrence Loh

Photograph courtesy of Lawrence Loh

In the spirit of Audax, all 389 of us who finished the event before 6.30pm, including getting to the check-points on time, were successful.  One last stamp on the brevet card.

BRM 200 2016 JM Finish Joel Tanmenghan

Photograph courtesy of Joel Tanmenghan

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Brevet Card

We are all very pleased with our achievement.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Finish Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

I think all my riding buddies joined me in stumping up the cash to get a 200km medal from the Audax Club Parisien, the body that administers randonneuring around the world.  This will be quite a memento.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 Medals Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

The teaser video for the 400km / 248mi brevet in September is already out!  The time limit is 27 hours.

Video courtesy of Sam Tow.

The question now is, will my buddies and I ride it?

“No way!”

For now.

 

Cycle For Life 2103

Cycle for Life Logo (Triathlon Malaysia)

Logo courtesy of Triathlon Malaysia

The final organized ride of the year for my riding buddies and I was a 125km / 78 mi charity event in aid of St. John Ambulance and Mission for Missing Children.

The route ran clockwise from Setia Alam to Kapar, and then north to Kuala Selangor.  There we turned right onto Jalan Rawang and followed it through Batang Berjuntai before turning right again onto Jalan Batu Arang for the southward leg back to Setia Alam.

Cycle for Life Route

It wasn’t a particularly big group that gathered in the Setia Alam Welcome Center parking area at the crack of dawn.  About 350 of us were at the start to listen to the pre-ride briefing from Chan Chee Seng.

Chee Seng was a familiar face from my past.  The last time I met this accomplished sporting figure (he represented Malaysia in swimming at the 1964 Tokyo Summer Olympics, went on to become a successful coach, and then launched a second sporting career, becoming the first Malaysian to participate in the Kona Ironman World Championships in 1995) was about forty years ago.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Most of the usual suspects in our group did this ride.  Raj, Mark, Chris, Marco, Keat, and a friend almost ready to roll.

Photograph courtesy of Raj

Photograph courtesy of Raj

Marvin, Griffin and Chon were also there.  Gary rode too, but he didn’t make it into the start line photographs.

Photograph courtesy of Chon

Photograph courtesy of Chon

The first 65 km / 40 mi were as flat as the proverbial pancake.  Just one highway overpass to get over as we hummed along at 35 kph / 22 mph.  We grabbed bottles of water on the go (how pro is that?) at the first water zone at the 40 km / 25 mi point.

Photograph courtesy of Khairuddin Abdul Aziz

Photograph courtesy of Khairuddin Abdul Aziz

This was the road we were on between Kapar and Kuala Selangor.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

We hit the first of the lumps on the route after 65 km / 40 mi, as we entered Batang Berjuntai.  That sudden 20 meter / 66 ft climb took so much out of us that we had to stop at a 7-11 for a break!  Where we were joined by a fellow rider in need of some rest and refreshment.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Marvin and Chon caught up to us at the 7-11.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

We had been told that the next water stop was after 90 km / 56 mi.  So we were surprised to come across it just 7 km / 4 mi later.  That didn’t stop us from partaking of the PowerBars and bananas on offer.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

As well as enjoying a touch of Mother Nature.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Most of the excellent photographs in this post come courtesy of this gentleman.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

He was on his bike with his DSLR camera in his right hand, taking photographs as he rode.  Fantastic.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photographs courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Perhaps the organizers moved the stop so that we could refuel before the route turned really hilly.  Which it certainly did.  We had about 225 meters / 740 feet of climbing in the next 20 km / 12 mi.

Then there was a respite for 15 km / 9 mi before we came to the part of the ride that we were all dreading.  The Dragon’s Back.  100 meters / 330 feet of elevation over 5 km / 3 mi, with a 12.5% pitch on the last climb.

The profile looks like this.

Cycle for Life Dragon Back Profile

This is the view back down the last hill.

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

Photograph courtesy of Cyclinghappy

By the time most of us got to the Dragon’s Back it was noon.  It had been a warm, albeit overcast, morning to start with.  The temperature kept rising throughout the morning, and by midday the heat index was pushing 34° C / 93° F.  Everyone in our group had to battle cramps at some point during the ride.

The remainder of the ride was thankfully flat.  Even so it felt like a long 11 km / 7 mi to the finish.  I suspect that more than a few riders were grateful for the assistance from the St. John Ambulance volunteers during and after this ride.

Cycle for Life St John Ambulance 01 (Cyclinghappy)

Everyone in our group made it to the finish on their bikes rather than in a support vehicle, despite the heat and the cramps.  This was the longest ride to date for Chon, Gary and Raj. So they more than any deserved their finisher’s medals.

Cycle for Life 2013 Medal