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Geometric Progression Weekend

Double

We didn’t plan for our ride distances to double everyday, but that is how our three-day weekend turned out.

Day 1

Leslie, Simon, Ridzuwan and I met at the Bank Negara KTM station for the Komuter train ride to Tampin.

Day 1 Bank Negara Arthur

Photograph courtesy of Arthur Ang

As is usually the case, there were only one or two other people with us and our Apidura saddle pack-equipped bicycles in the carriage at the back of the train.

Tampin is the last stop on the Komuter line that starts from Batu Caves, to the north of Kuala Lumpur.

Day 1 Tampin Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

It took about two hours to get there.  Long enough for an appetite for lunch to develop.  So our first stop was at Restoran Nasi Kandar Impian in Tampin.

The Fenix Inn in Melaka is 40km / 25mi from Tampin.  So it wasn’t very long before we were on the outskirts of Melaka.

Day 1 Arriving in Melaka Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

One of our rooms at the Fenix Inn wasn’t ready when we arrived there.  So we did what most people do when in Melaka.  We went cendol hunting.

Day 1 Cendol Hunting Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We found a shop selling cendol on Lorong Hang Jebat.  But the guys spotted Sid’s Pub across the road.  Cendol lost out to cold beers and lime juice.

Day 1 Sid's Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

While we were on our second round of drinks, the sky darkened and thunder rumbled.  We had had enough of riding in the rain in Southern Thailand, so emptied our glasses and rode back to the hotel.

It didn’t rain.

After a shower and a nap, we gathered for what Arthur described to me as a Melaka tradition.  Satay at 5pm.

Arthur, a Melaka boy, couldn’t ride with us as he had hoped.  So he drove to Melaka to act as our guide while we were there.  You can’t beat local knowledge.  Arthur knows which tourist traps to avoid, and where the hidden gems are.  The satay at the restaurant he took us to was excellent.

8.00pm is dinner time in Melaka.  Arthur took us towards Umbai, in search of grilled fish.  We found the Medan Selera MBMB, at the end of  Jalan Alai Perdana 21.  The Medan Selera (food court) houses a number of restaurants, all selling fresh seafood, cooked to order.

Arthur and Simon chose this place.

Day 1 Arthur.png

Simon loaded up a bowl with fresh prawns, cencaru (torpedo scad), pari (stingray), and squid, under Wan’s watchful eye.  The prawns and fish were grilled, and the squid was batter-fried.  Delicious!

Thank you Arthur for being our food guide, and driving us around Melaka.

Day 1 Umbai Dinner

Day 2

We slept in after all that food the evening before.  At 9.00am Arthur led us to a restaurant that is fabled for its fish ball soup.  Unfortunately the stall owner was on holiday, so we settled for soft-boiled eggs, and toast with kaya.

Then we headed north along Lorong Hajah Maznah toward Port Dickson.

Day 2 Rolling 1 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

32km / 20mi later it was time for a drink.  And some roti canai.  We shared two rotis between us.  It was, after all, only 75 minutes since we ate breakfast!

Eight drinks and two rotis for the princely sum of RM10 / USD2.45.  You can’t complain.

Day 2 Roti Stop Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

At 52km / 32mi we crossed the Sungai Linggi.  Worth a few photographs as the Sungai Linggi at that point forms the border between the states of Melaka and Negeri Sembilan.

Day 2 Border Bridge Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Day 2 On the Border Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

A few kilometers later we saw a sign advertising mango floats.  It was 36° C / 97° F.

We stopped.

Day 2 Mangga Shake

There was a buffet with grilled cencaru and curried ikan parang (wolf herring).  It was as good a time as any for lunch.

At Pasir Panjang I led the guys on a detour from our planned route.  We left Route 5 and rode along Jalan Kampung Sungai Sekawang toward the sea.  It made a nice change to be on a road with no vehicles.

Day 2 Quiet Road

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Jalan Kampung Sungai Sekawang rejoins Route 5 near the Eagle Ranch Resort.  As the tepees indicate, the theme of this resort is the American West of cowboys and log cabins.

Day 2 Eagle Ranch Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

By 2.00pm we were on the outskirts of Port Dickson.  We had time to burn before check in time at the Waterfront Boutique Hotel.  I saw a sign for Pantai Purnama.  That seemed a better bet than the beach further along at Teluk Kemang, which was likely to be crowded with weekend holiday makers.

 

This photograph of Purnama beach is misleading.  There was a reunion event going on at the beach.  Just out of shot, there were lots of people on the beach and in the water.

Day 2 Beach

We enjoyed the shade and sea breeze, and our ice cold rose syrup and lime drinks.

Day 2 Beach Stop Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Leslie bought eight packets of drinks.  We could only finish one packet each, so we gave the other four packets to the family having a picnic behind us.

40 minutes later we were riding past Teluk Kemang beach.  It did look very crowded.

It was about 85km / 53mi from the Fenix Inn in Melaka to the Waterfront Boutique Hotel in Port Dickson.  Day 1 distance x 2.

Arthur had headed back to KL after guiding us to the Melaka breakfast spot.  So we didn’t have access to a car in Port Dickson.  Which made the Waterfront Boutique Hotel, located on the boulevard walk, an excellent choice.  Within walking distance of the hotel entrance are a variety of food outlets, bars, a bank, a 7-Eleven, etc.

As per Day 1, a shower and nap were the immediate priority after getting our room keys.  Also as per Day 1, we kept up the Melaka tradition of tea at 5pm.

We sat at the Pattaya Bar, and had food delivered from the neighbouring Double Q Thai Cuisine restaurant.  A selection of Thai appetizers, and plates of pad thai.

Dinner followed at 8.00pm.  We walked to the Arab place a bit further along the boulevard.  A family platter of chicken mandi, with an extra serving of lamb, and Turkish coffee and crème caramel for afters.

The one downside of the hotel’s location made itself apparent at about midnight.  That is when the pub near the hotel sprang to life.  Pounding music and arguments in the car park kept us awake until 3am.  Except for Leslie, who brought earplugs.  Smart man!

Day 3

Port Dickson to Kuala Lumpur was the longest leg of our trip.  An early start, despite our lack of sleep, was necessary.

We checked out of the hotel at 6.45am, and rolled the 500 meters to the McDonald’s at the end of the boulevard.  The jazzy music which accompanied our McMuffins made a cool change from the Hindi-pop of the night before.

Day 3 Breakfast Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We were on the road at 7.20am.  Our target was a 9.30am rendezvous at Morib beach with Luanne, Chew, Mark, and Shawn.  They were riding from Kota Kemuning to Morib.  The idea was for us to take a break at Morib, and for them to ride with us from there back to Kota Kemuning.

The highlight of this leg was the ferry ride across the Sungai Sepang.  The ride from Tanah Merah New Village to Pekan Sungai Pelek using the ferry near Kampung India is 7km / 4mi shorter than it would be if we stayed on Route 5 to Pekan Sungai Pelek.

The N4 is a quieter road than Route 5.  The 1km to the ferry is even quieter.

Day 2 Off the Main Road Simon

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The river at that point is no more than 100 meters wide.  The ferry crossing costs RM0.80 / USD0.20 per person, including the RM0.30 / USD0.07 charge for a bike.

Day 3 Rolling onto the Ferry Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The banks of the Sungai Pelek are lined with mangrove forest.  Sadly, one of the Earth’s most rapidly disappearing ecosystems.

Day 3 Mangrove Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Back on Route 5 in Pekan Sungai Pelek, we came upon the first road sign indicating the distance to Morib.  I had underestimated the distance from Port Dickson to Morib by 30%.  I said, with misplaced confidence, “About 50km / 30mi.”  It was actually 65km / 40mi.

It was clear we weren’t going to be at Morib beach at 9.30am.  We got to Tanjung Sepat at 9.00am, and needed a break.  We stopped at a roadside food stall for tea, coffee, and you char koay (deep-fried strips of dough).

The four we were going to meet at Morib beach had arrived there at 9.00am.  They were already tucking into their nasi lemak as we were ordering our coffee etc. at Tanjung Sepat.

Day 3 Morib Group Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Morib beach is 18km / 11mi from Tanjung Sepat.  I sent Mark our live location via WhatsApp.  (That is such a cool WhatsApp feature).  Simon messaged Mark, suggesting that he and the others start riding and meet us on our way to Morib.

Which is what they did.  We crossed paths about 5km / 3mi south of Morib beach.  By then the Port Dickson crew were ready for another pit stop.  The Delicious Bread Café in Morib was our first choice, but it was closed.

So we rode a further 10km / 6mi to Restoran Madam Kopi-O in Banting.

Day 3 Banting Stop Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

From there it was on familiar roads to Kampung Seri Cheeding, Bandar Rimbayu, and Restoran BR Maju in Kota Kemuning.

Day 3 Morib to Kota Kemuning Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The Morib four were done for the day.  Kudos to Shawn, who rode almost 100km / 62mi – his longest ride by some 60km / 37mi.

Simon and Leslie decided to call it a day as well.  They accepted Luanne’s and Mark’s offers of a lift home.  Wan and I had a relatively flat ride to get to Jalan Ampang, so we decided to ride on.

22km / 14mi later, we wondered if we had made a mistake.  It had been more overcast than sunny all morning, but by the time we got to the Kinrara R&R it was 35° C / 95° F and bright.

The die had been cast though.  We each downed an iced 100 Plus, and headed back out onto the KESAS motorcycle lane.

Fortunately for us, the clouds rolled in again, and we didn’t get roasted alive during the following 20km / 12.5mi to Mak Jah Corner in Ampang Jaya.  Which is just down the road from where Wan lives.

Mak Jah Corner is noted for its Malay kuih.  These were delicious.  I had two more iced teas in quick succession before saying goodbye to Wan and heading home.

Day 3 Kuih

I ended up riding 163km / 101mi.  Day 2 distance x 2.

The four of us had an excellent weekend.  Helped in no small way by Arthur being with us in Melaka, and Luanne, Chew, Mark and Shawn joining us in Morib.

We had dry and generally cool weather over the three days.  And no punctures or other mechanical issues enroute.  And lots of tasty food, good company, and laughter.

Route

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

We are already thinking about where to tour next.

Eating Our Way to Melaka

Melaka Banner Johan Sopiee

Graphic courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Mark and I decided that it was high time to break out the Apidura saddle bags and go on an overnight bicycle trip.  We chose Melaka as our destination, because it is a reasonable distance from Kuala Lumpur, the roads are generally good, and the eating along the way and in Melaka is excellent.

After some canvassing, we had a group of six.  Alan and Chee Seng could not stay overnight, so their plan was to ride to Melaka, and then get to Tampin KTM station for the train back to KL.  Johan S., Ridzuwan, Mark and I would spend Thursday night in Melaka.

We were all excited about the trip.  Bikes and saddle bags were set up the day before, and some of us struggled to get to sleep the night before.

We started from where I live.  We were on the MEX Highway by about 6.15am.  The adrenaline levels are a bit high when riding on MEX.  It is a highway after all.  Though at that early hour, there isn’t much traffic leaving KL, so the riding is not too fraught.

We made a quick pit stop at the Seri Kembangan R&R.

Melaka MEX R&R Alan

Photograph courtesy of Alan Tan

As expected, given the wet weather of the preceding days, we got rained on as we left the R&R.  Fortunately the rain wasn’t heavy, and it didn’t last long.  We did have wet roads until we reached Dengkil.  A benefit of the Apidura saddle bag is that it extends back far enough to block the spray coming off the rear wheel.  It is like riding with a rear mud guard.

Dengkil was where our first planned food stop.  There is a roadside stall on the corner of Jalan Aman and Jalan Mutiara 1J.  We stop there for breakfast whenever our rides take us through Dengkil.

Melaka Dengkil Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had a visitor looking for handouts during breakfast.

Melaka Dengkil Cat Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

From the Dengkil bypass we rode along the busy Putrajaya–Cyberjaya Expressway and the Nilai – KLIA Highway before turning right onto the quieter Jalan Besar Salak at Salak Tinggi.

Melaka Rolling Johan sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Our next stop was at the Shell station in Sepang.  70km / 43.5mi done.  110km / 68mi to go.  It was supposed to be a short stop for drinks and the loo, but soon after this picture was taken . . .

Melaka Sepang Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

this picture was taken.

Melaka Flat 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

My front tire had gone soft while we were at the Shell station.  This was the culprit.

Melaka Flat 2 Alan Tan

Photograph courtesy of Alan Tan

An advantage of Two-Way Fit™ rims is that the tire bead stays locked to the rim after a puncture.  A flat tire doesn’t roll off the rim.  A very useful quality when you get a flat while speeding down a winding descent.

The associated disadvantage of 2-Way Fit™ rims is that it is difficult to get the tire off the rim, and even more difficult to seat the tire properly when reinflating the tube.  Thank goodness for the air pump at the petrol station, which generated enough air pressure to quickly seat the tire.

Happy smiles as we finally got going again.

Melaka Sepang Rolling Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

We rode out of the Shell station onto Federal Route 5, which runs along the west side of Peninsular Malaysia, from Skudai in the south to Ipoh in the north.

Our intermediate destination was Cendol Azmi in Port Dickson.  Which serves some of the best cendol I have ever had.  Mark and I have been there a number of times.  We talked up Cendol Azmi over the 25km / 15.5mi to Port Dickson.

So imagine our collective disappointment when we go to Cendol Azmi and found it closed.  What a letdown!

We settled on Sukand’s Food Station, across the road from Cendol Azmi.

Melaka Port Dickson 1 Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

To Sukand’s credit, their cendol was pretty good.  As was the three-layer air bandung.

We debated having lunch in Port Dickson, but decided to hold out until we got to Kuala Sungai Baru, across the state border in Melaka.  Mark and I had eaten at Kuala Seafood during previous cycling trips to Melaka.  That restaurant was a highlight every time.

We stopped to buy Cokes at Pasir Panjang, about halfway between Port Dickson and Kuala Sungai Baru.  We then picked up the pace over the 20km to Kuala Seafood.  2pm had come and gone, and we were hungry.

So imagine our extreme disappointment when we got to Kuala Seafood and found it closed.  What a bummer!!

There weren’t many options for food.  The few restaurants in the vicinity had sold out of their lunch offerings.  We settled for some mediocre fried rice, just to fill out stomachs more than anything else.

We had 40km / 25mi to go to Melaka.  Alan had been talking about getting coconut shakes once we got there.  Melaka is known for good coconut shakes.  Alan said that Klebang Original Coconut Shake was the place.  Having been disappointed twice already, we made Alan call Klebang Original Coconut Shake to make sure that it was open.

It was.

Melaka Coconut Shake 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

And the coconut shakes were good.  Good enough for us to drink a second round of shakes.

Melaka Coconut Shake 2 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

This place is worth visiting again.

Melaka Coconut Shake 3 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

By the time we left Klebang Original Coconut Shake, my patched inner tube was failing.  I gave it a good pump up, and Johan S., Mark, Ridzuwan and I headed to our hotel.

Alan and Chee Seng were heading back to KL that evening.  They first rode to Jonker Walk and Dutch Square for obligatory tourist photographs.

Melaka Alan & Chee Seng 1 Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

And a refreshing recovery beverage.

Melaka Alan & Chee Seng 2 Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

The rest of us checked in to the Hallmark Crown Hotel.  I had booked the hotel sight unseen.  Welcome to the Internet Age!  The price was right – about USD25 per night for a double occupancy room, including buffet breakfast.

We weren’t expecting much, but were pleasantly surprised when we got to our rooms.  Which were clean and comfortable, and had air-conditioning and a mini-fridge which worked.  Plus there was lots of hot water on the shower, and the free wifi signal was strong.

Showered and changed, we walked to the next food destination on our list.  The Makko Nyonya Restaurant.  Another repeat visit venue for Mark and I.  Fortunately for the two of us, Makko was open!

Fried eggplant with chilli, beancurd skin rolls, cincalok omelette, chicken rendang, curry prawns with pineapple, and chendol.

The 180km / 112mi bike ride was worth it for this meal alone.

While we were stuffing our faces at dinner, Alan and Chee Seng had made it to Tampin, and were on the KTM Komuter train back to KL.  Comfortably so.

Melaka Train Alan Lee Chee Seng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Chee Seng

Not to be outdone in the food stakes, Alan and Chee Seng had supper in KL.

On Friday morning the four of us attacked the hotel buffet breakfast.  An observer would have thought that we hadn’t eaten at all the night before!

Then it was out turn for tourist photographs.

Melaka Tourist 3 Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Melaka Tourist 2 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We had, briefly, considered cycling back to KL.  Riding to Tampin and taking the train seemed like a more reasonable thing to do.

Melaka Lebuhraya AMH Johan Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

40km / 25mi of pedalling got us to the Pulau Sebang (Tampin) KTM station.

Melaka Tampin 3 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We loaded our bikes and ourselves into the last carriage of the train.

Two and a bit hours later, we were at the Bank Negara KTM station in KL.  It is a short ride from there to where I live.

It was lunch time, so we made a side trip first, to Santa Chapati House on Jalan Sarikei.  A fitting end to our two-day adventure.  It was, after all, an eating trip with some cycling thrown in for variety.

Melaka Santa 1 Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Thank you Alan, Chee Seng, Johan S., Ridzuwan and Mark for your enjoyable company.  We had a lot of laughs and good riding.  To be repeated for sure.

Footnote

The graphic at the top of this post is a mashup of our coconut shakes and the logo for a anti-littering campaign which was launched by the Melaka state government in 2014.  A take on the “Don’t Mess With Texas” campaign started there in 1986.

 

More Train Adventures

Marco, Mark and I attempted a ride to the KTM Komuter station at Tanjung Malim.  We started from Mark’s house in Taman Mayang Jaya.  We followed our usual route toward Rawang via the Guthrie Corridor Expressway.  Our plan had been to get onto the LATAR Expressway and ride into Rawang from the south east.

But as we circled around the cloverleaf intersection to get onto the LATAR Expressway, we noticed very dark clouds and rain over Rawang in the distance.  So we looped around the cloverleaf again and got onto LATAR going in the opposite direction, toward Kampung Baru Kundang.  The skies were clear in that direction.

Our new plan was to stop at our favourite noodle shop in Kundang, and weather permitting, get to Rawang from the south west.

KKB Noodles Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

It was spotting with rain when we had finished our noodles.  We took a chance and rode toward Rawang anyway.  The drizzle soon stopped, but it had already rained quite hard, and the roads were very wet.  Why do I always have a white jersey on when we hit wet roads?

We rode through Rawang and onto Federal Route 1.  Federal Route 1 is the oldest federal road in Malaysia, as is one of the nation’s earliest public roadways ever constructed.  It runs the length of the Malay peninsula, from the causeway into Singapore up to the Thai border in the north.  As we left Rawang toward Serendah the road dried up.  We had pleasant, overcast riding conditions.  The skies were gloomy, but we thought we had dodged the rain.

KKB Rain Coming Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Not so.  The rain caught up with us while we were stopped at the Petron station in Rasa.  We waited at the petrol station for about fifteen minutes in the hope that the rain would stop.  It did not.

KKB Petron Rasa Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

So we rode out into the rain.  By then the conditions were miserable.  Federal Route 1 is a busy road.  We were riding through rain and the spray thrown up by passing vehicles.  We decided to stop at the nearest KTM station, which was 8km / 5mi away in Kuala Kubu Bharu.  Tanjung Malim was a further 20km / 12.5mi away.  Too far given the very wet conditions.

We bought a ticket for our bikes, and tickets for ourselves, and sat at the station with a drink in our hands, waiting for the train.

KKB Bikes Ticket Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The towns along the KTM Komuter line to the north of Kuala Lumpur are smaller than the towns to the south of the city.  Which may explain why there are less people on the trains going south from Kuala Kubu Bharu than there are on the trains going north from Seremban.  We shared the carriage with only two or three others all the way to our stop at Sungai Buloh.

KKB Carriage All to Ourselves Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We hopped off the train at Sungai Buloh, which was the closest station to Taman Mayang Jaya.  By then the rain had stopped, and the sun was out.  We had to negotiate some busy roads for the first few kilometers, but once we were in Kota Damansara the traffic was less fraught.

It was lunchtime when we got to Aman Suria, which is the neighbourhood adjoining Taman Mayang Jaya.  Patty & Pie is in Aman Suria.  Their burger lunch special hit the spot.

KKB Patty & Pie Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Another overall enjoyable ride (bike) and ride (train), despite the rain.

Bicycle Out, Train Home

I wrote about taking road bicycles onto KTM Komuter trains in Bikes on Trains in Kuala Lumpur.  Since then I have incorporated a train into my ride a few more times.

Once was over the Chinese New Year holiday in early February.  In the last week I’ve done two more bike and train rides.

The KTM Komuter network operates on two lines.  The Port Klang line runs east to west, from Batu Caves to Port Klang.  Batu Caves is less than 15km / 10mi from home, so a train ride from there doesn’t make sense.  Port Klang, at 50km / 31mi away, is further, but not far enough away to make a one-way ride to that station seem worth it.  And the ride to Port Klang through an entirely urban landscape is boring anyway.

The Seremban line runs from Tanjung Malim in the north to Rembau in the south.  Tanjung Malim is about 90km / 56mi from Kuala Lumpur.  Rembau is more than 120km / 75mi from Kuala Lumpur.  Those are reasonable distances to cover during a morning’s ride.  Much of the riding in either direction is through countryside and villages, so the views from the bike are pleasant.

KTM Map

We covered both directions last week.

Train Routes

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

 

Five of us did a mid-week ride to Rasa station in the north.  The destination was meant to be the railway station in Kuala Kubu Bharu.  Afternoon plans meant that we had to be on the train by noon.  A series of flat tires in Rawang and Bukit Beruntung slowed us down.  We were at risk of missing the train at Kuala Kubu Bharu.

Rasa Station 4 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

So we had something to drink in Rasa town, and were in the station with plenty of time to spare.

Rasa Station 1 Evelyn

Photograph courtesy of Evelyn Bird

Rasa Station 2 Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

Eight of us rode out on Friday morning, bound for Seremban.  The early challenges were to get over the Ampang Lookout Point and Bukit Hantu climbs.

It was a clear morning, so it was worth stopping halfway up Lookout point for a photograph.  The Twin Towers are just about visible to the left of Liang’s head.

Seremban Lookout Point Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We needed a bit of sustenance after the 200 meters / 650 feet or so up climb to Lookout Point, and before the 259 meters / 820 feet up Bukit Hantu.

Seremban Batu 14 Breakfast Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Coming off the descent of Bukit Hantu, it was nice to see the Semenyih Dam full again after such a long time.

Seremban Tekala Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

25km / 15.5mi later we were in the town of Broga, and desperate for a drink.  It was turning into a hot day.

This caught our attention.

Seremban Broga Drinks Menu Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Waiting for our coconut shakes and pineapple shakes to arrive.

Seremban Broga Evelyn

Photograph courtesy of Evelyn Bird

Delicious!

Seremban Broga Drinks Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Seremban was 30km / 18.5mi away.  Unlike Wednesday’s ride, we all got there with only one flat tire between us.  Which happened, unfortunately, just seven kilometers from Seremban.  Or to put a positive spin on things, fortunately, because the flat came just after a 150 meter / 490 feet climb.  Which gave everyone the opportunity for a rest.

Seremban Flat Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We got to Seremban in time for food and drinks at the Pasar Besar Seremban, which is the main wet market in the city.  The fresh vegetables, meat and fish are sold on the first floor, and part of the second floor.  The rest of the second floor is occupied by food stalls.

There are ramps leading up to the second floor, so we rode our bicycles right up the the food stalls.

Seremban Market Evelyn

Photograph courtesy of Evelyn Bird

The railway station is a short ride from the market.  Marvin forgot his cycling shoes, but his sandals were a good stand-in.

Seremban Station 4 Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

We discovered that Fridays are not the best day to ride the train with our bikes.  There were a lot of people waiting on the platform for the 2.15pm train.  Luckily there was space in the last carriage for us and our bikes.

Seremban Train

More people with luggage got on at each successive station, and before long it was standing room only, with people squeezed in between our bikes.  Friday afternoons must be a popular time for people to start their weekend trips.

Quite a lot of people got off at the Bandar Tasik Selatan station, which is linked to the Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, KL’s main long distance bus terminal.   Some people got on at that station too though.  So it wasn’t until the train had passed through KL Sentral station that seats became available again.

Lay and I got off the train at Bank Negara station.  The others in our ride group got off one stop later, at Putra station.

We needed food and drink en route to home from the station.  League of Captains provided the coffee, and Souled Out on Jalan Ampang provided the satay.

We may never go this far to get our bicycles onto train tracks,

Seremban Rail Bike

but we will definitely be on the train with our bikes again and again.

 

Chinese New Year 2017 Tour

gong-xi-fa-cai

Danial, Safwan and I kicked off the Year of the Fire Rooster with a three day / two night credit card tour from Kuala Lumpur to Port Dickson, Melaka, and Seremban.

cny-2017-day-1-route

Map courtesy of Strava

On the morning of Day 1, Safwan and Danial rode from Bangsar to the McDonald’s at Ampang Park.  I met them there.  This would be the standard start to each day.  Breakfast at McDonald’s.

cny-2017-day-1-ampang-park-mcd-danial

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The ride along the MEX Highway was quieter than usual.  Being the second day of Chinese New Year, the roads everywhere were relatively empty.

We made a short “nature calls” stop at the Seri Kembangan R&R.  Then another stop at the PETRONAS station in Dengkil, for provisions.

Other than a few stops for traffic lights, like this pretty long wait at the junction of the Nilai – KLIA Highway (Federal Route 32) and Jalan Besar Salak (Selangor State Route B48), we kept moving for the next two hours.

cny-2017-dengkil-danial

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Our next stop for a drink and a bathroom was at the Shell station in Sepang.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

After that is was over the lumps on Federal Route 5 to Lukut, and then the flatter closing 12km / 7.5km to Port Dickson.  About 100km / 62mi for the day.

It was lunch time when we arrived in Port Dickson.  We had cendol and rojak at Azmi Cendol, and the guys bought cheap flip flops from a nearby shop,  before we rode to the Waterfront Boutique Hotel.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

After a shower, in my case whilst wearing my kit so it got a wash as well, I took a short nap.  Then we met in the lobby for the short trip around the corner to Starbucks Coffee.  A venti Mocha Frappuccino hit the spot.

That evening we revisited Restoran Seri Mesra Ikan Bakar for dinner.  We had eaten there during a BCG Tour to Port Dickson.  Fortunately we didn’t have to cycle the 11km / 7mi to the restaurant.  Darshini had made a day trip to Port Dickson, so we had a car ride there and back.

There was the option for another Starbucks after dinner, but I was fading.  We planned a 7.00am start, so I fell into bed and was soon fast asleep.

My kit was dry, and more importantly, not smelling funky, at the crack of dawn.  We checked out of the hotel and rolled the few hundred meters to McDonald’s for breakfast.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Melaka here we come!

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Map courtesy of Strava

The roads between Port Dickson and Melaka, along Federal Route 5, Federal Route Route 138, Melaka State Route M142, and back onto Federal Route 5, are very pleasant.  The road surface is good, and there isn’t much heavy vehicle traffic to contend with.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

33km / 20.5mi from Port Dickson, we crossed the Sungai Linggi, which at that point doubles as the border between the states of Negri Sembilan and Melaka.  We did notice that the road narrowed a bit, and changed colour, once we crossed into the state of Melaka.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

We made an early lunch stop at Restoran Kuala Seafood, in Kampung Kuala Sungai Baru.  Not everything on the lunch buffet menu was ready yet, but there was enough on offer for us to fill our tummies.

Our lunch stop, or more accurately, our brunch stop, came about halfway to Melaka.  We made a semi-emergency stop 10km / 6mi further on, at the Petron station in Masjid Tanah.  Danial needed an ice-cream to quell the flames in his stomach from the too-spicy curry he ate at lunch.

We had planned to ride non-stop the rest of the way to Melaka town.  We got to Tanjung Kling before large raindrops began to fall.  We ducked under the first shelter we could find, and waited out the rain.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

I was quite smug about having packed shoe covers and a rain vest.  I put those items on as we waited for the rain to stop.  Twenty minutes later we rolled out onto the wet road.  We could hardly have gone more than a kilometer before the road changed to being completely dry, and the sun was out.  I wasn’t so smug anymore.

We had been caught, quite literally, under a cloudburst.  And now it was sunny and dry, and I was getting hot under my vest.  We started making jokes about my rain gear having the power to repel rain.

It was 12km / 7.5mi to Melaka from Tanjung Kling.  There was a traffic jam for most of that distance into Melaka.  I was glad to be on a bicycle.  We stopped on the bridge over the Sungai Melaka for a photograph of the river.  A river that is much cleaner these days.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Then it was off the bridge and around the corner to the Fenix Inn.  The bicycle-friendly hotel that we have stayed at before.

Our post-ride routine was identical to the one the day before.  A shower with kit on, a short nap, and then a walk to the Starbucks Coffee next door to the hotel.  The guys even had to buy flip flops.  It turned out that the RM2.50 / USD0.60 flip flops they had bought in Port Dickson weren’t such a good deal after all.  They were more stiff plastic than rubber, and were very uncomfortable.  So the guys left them in Port Dickson.

I was happy to wait until dinner to eat anything.  Danial and Safwan were peckish, and wanted to try the chicken rice balls at Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball.  I related my disappointing experience with the chicken rice balls at that restaurant.  Ee Ji Ban Chicken Rice Ball has developed quite a name for itself, so the guys thought that I must have been there on an off-day.

They admitted after eating there that they should have listened to me.

Dinner was at the Restoran Ole Sayang, on the recommendation of AiLin, who is a Melaka girl.  AiLin was in Melaka for Chinese New Year, and not only came to Ole Sayang with us, but picked up the tab as well.  We owe you one Ailin.  Thank you.

A Starbucks was between the restaurant and out hotel, so we stopped for coffee and cake.  There were some brief thoughts of going on to somewhere else after Starbucks, but common sense, and age in my case, caught up.  I needed to get to sleep if I wanted to be ready for another 7.00am start.

Guess where we went for breakfast on Day 3?

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The sharp-eyed will have spotted that Safwan had packed a second set of cycling kit.  Danial and I stuck to our wash-and-dry routine.  Which worked yet again.

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Map courtesy of Strava

Our route out of Melaka to Seremban took us onto the AMJ Highway (Federal Route 19).  A road which is characterized along its entire length by rolling terrain.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Compounded on the day by a headwind that blew all the way to Seremban.  All that up and down riding against the wind was thirsty work.  We stopped at the R&R at Simpang Ampat for a cold drink.  We had covered all of 31km / 19mi.

The sun had come out in full force while we were at the R&R.  I pulled on my arm screens, and made a mini keffiyeh out of a bandana to keep the sun off the back of my neck.  Of course, as soon as we got going, the cloud cover rolled in and blocked out the sun.

We were blessed with excellent rising weather over the three days.  Apart from brief periods of bright sun, we rode in overcast and cool conditions.  We think my bandana was the charm.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Our plan was to hop onto the KTM Komuter at Seremban, rather than ride all the way back to Kuala Lumpur.  After 39km / 24mi we turned left off the AMJ Highway onto Jalan Seremban – Tampin, which roughly paralleled the rail tracks we would be on later.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The guys were hungry at about the 50km / 31mi mark, so we stopped at Isyani Café in Rembau.  They devoured large plates of fried rice, and I sucked down a couple of iced Milos.

There were 30km / 18.5mi to go to Seremban.  Or more precisely, to Restoran Nelayan Seafood, which is where Danial wanted to have lunch.  That restaurant is well-known for its masak lemak dishes, which are a Negri Sembilan speciality.  A variety of meats, fowl and seafood are cooked in a coconut milk and bird’s eye chilli gravy, which is coloured a rich yellow by turmeric.

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Photograph courtesy of warisn9world.blogspot.my

The guys ate well.  Luckily it was only a few hundred meters from the restaurant to the train station.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

 

RM11 / USD2.50 each for ourselves and our bikes, and we were in air-conditioned comfort for the ninety-minute train ride to the Bank Negara station.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

I skipped eating at Restoran Nelayan Seafood.  I was looking forward to the Lamb Balls and Egg at Born & Bread Café.  A mere 4km / 2.5mi from the Bank Negara station.  Admittedly through some heavy traffic.  It was worth the wait and the ride!

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Three happy guys, ready to do it all again sometime soon.

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Bikes on Trains in Kuala Lumpur

A rail-based rapid transit system came into being in Kuala Lumpur in 1995, with the introduction of the STAR Light Rail Transit (LRT).  This was followed by the PUTRA LRT in 1998, and the KL Monorail in 2003.  These three systems have since been placed under one administrative umbrella, and branded as RapidKL.

These privately operated commuter train systems supplemented the KTM Komuter service, which was introduced in 1995.  KTM Komuter is operated by the national rail company, Keretapi Tanah Melayu (Malayan Railways Ltd).

Bicycles were not very welcome on LRT and Komuter trains.  While folding bicycles have been allowed on LRT trains during off peak hours for many years, this quote from a 2009 online article in The Nut Graph is illustrative:

RapidKL considers bicycles, even folded ones, “potentially dangerous” to bring onboard an LRT. Hence, its policy restricting bicycles from LRT trains during peak hours.

RapidKL: Bicycles “potentially dangerous weapons”  The Nut Graph  17 September 2009

So it is not surprising that RapidKL had a long list of guidelines for commuters with folding bikes. in 2011 these guidelines were:

  1. Inform station personnel of your intention to bring a foldable bicycle onboard.
  2. Bicycles MUST be folded and once folded, dimensions must not exceed 3 x 2.5 x 1.5 feet.
  3. Bicycles must be dry and clean from oil/mud/grease. This is to ensure grime from the tires or the working parts does not contaminate the trains.
  4. Bicycles must not block the aisles and doors or impede commuter movement at ANY time.
  5. When taking the Kelana Jaya Line, cyclists with foldable bicycles must stand near the door, while on the Ampang Line cyclists must stand near the Driving Cab area.
  6. If traveling in a group, only FIVE (5) cyclists are allowed with the bicycles on board the Ampang Line, and if traveling on the Kelana Jaya Line only TWO cyclists are allowed. If traveling on the bus only ONE cyclist and foldable bicycle is allowed at one time.
  7. All folding and unfolding activities must be done outside the station area.
  8. Please use good judgement and logic whenever you travel with a foldable bicycle onboard the LRT

But things were about to change.  Cycling was becoming increasingly popular in Malaysia in general, and in Kuala Lumpur in particular.  A group of cycling activists coalesced around Jeffrey Lim, who in 2012 had the idea of creating a bicycle map for Kuala Lumpur.  2012 was also the year in which an avid cyclist, Tan Sri Ahmad Phesal Talib, took office as the mayor of Kuala Lumpur.

The Bicycle Map Project became a reality in September 2014, with the first print run of 10,000 copies of the bicycle route map.  You can view and download a copy of the map here.

The mayor of Kuala Lumpur worked with Jeffrey Lim on a number of cycling-related initiatives, including the creation, in 2015, of the first official cycling lane in the city.  Read more about the creation of the bicycle route map and related Kuala Lumpur City Council efforts here.

The mayor has continued to drive initiatives to develop a cycling culture in Kuala Lumpur.  For example, the KL Car Free Morning, introduced in 2014, is now a twice-monthly opportunity for cyclists, joggers, walkers and skaters to take over major streets of the Golden Triangle.

That cycling culture has infiltrated RapidKL and KTM Komuter.  In September 2015 RapidKL announced efforts to encourage more commuters to cycle, by reaffirming that commuters can take folding bicycles aboard LRT trains during off peak hours.  Those limitations are understandable as the LRT carriages are compact, and often very full, even during off peak.  Kuala Lumpur City Hall also announced plans to provide bicycle storage areas at all LRT stations.

Of more interest to me, as a roadie, is what KTM Komuter  announced in June 2016.  As part of a new, first-of-its-kind programme called “Ride N’ Ride”, KTM Komuter now allows all types of bicycles inside Komuter trains.  Foldable bicycles are allowed at all times, while full-sized bikes are only allowed during off peak hours.

I had my first experience on being on a KTM Komuter train with my bicycle today.  Lay, Henry, Leslie and I rode from Kuala Lumpur to Seremban in the morning.

After lunch at the Pasar Besar Seremban, we pedalled the kilometer or so to the Seremban railway station.  A ticket to take a bicycle on board the train is RM2 / USD0.45.  My fare from Seremban station to Bank Negara station was RM9.00 / USD2.00.  Not bad for a 55km / 34mi journey.

The train arrived on schedule.  Always a good start to any rail journey.

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Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

We had a very pleasant ninety minute ride, in air-conditioned comfort.  The space allocated for bikes in the first and last carriages of each Komuter train is more suited to folding bikes.  But the powers that be at KTM are clearly okay with full-sized bikes in the two designated carriages.

I brought slippers with me.  They definitely made moving around the stations and the train easier.

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Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The whole trip was such a success that we are already planning more Ride N’ Rides, to use KTM’s tagline.  There are a few possibilities to choose from amongst the stations that KTM Komuter serves.

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Graphic courtesy of http://www.spad.gov.my

 

I see more of this in my future.

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