The last time I rode along the road from Kota Puteri to Bandar Seri Coalfields was in January 2017. That was during an Audax BRM300. We had ridden 270km when we got to Kota Puteri.
Yesterday I rolled through Kota Puteri after a 60km ride from Bandar Utama to Kuang, Bestari Jaya and Simpang Tiga Ijok. We rode via Selangor Fruit Valley (or Selangor Fruits Valley, depending on who you ask). Another place I had not seen for many years.
Selangor Fruit Valley is a 646-hectare tropical fruit farm cum agro-tourism destination. The farm is at the northern end of our ride route.
Twenty of us did this first proper R@SKLs group ride in months. We started as one group but soon split into two sets of cyclists. The first group waited at the junction with the road to Batu Arang for the rest of us to catch up.
We got there eventually!
Our next stop was at the Caltex station in Bestari Jaya.
More specifically, the FamilyMart at the Caltex station in Bestari Jaya. Where else can you get onigiri (Japanese rice balls) and Caramel Dalgona Coffee Sofuto?
What is the change alluded to in the title of this post?
That came south of Kota Puteri. In 2017 the road there looked like this.
A winding two-way road with a narrow shoulder.
Today that road looks like this.
A four-lane divided highway. You can see a remnant of the old road to the left.
Here is my route from January 2017 overlaid on the current map of the area.
The narrow winding road with ruts and bumps has changed into a relatively straight and smooth divided highway that runs from Simpang Tiga Ijok to the Sungai Buloh Prison. All part of improvements to Federal Route 54, starting from the junction with Federal Route 5 at Taman Assam Jawa to the west.
Planning for a three-day ride from KL to Penang started in August. Culminating with a last meeting over roti canai and thosai. And a loaf of home-baked sourdough bread courtesy of AiLin.
Lay, Marvin, Amy, Pai and I were ready to go at 5:15. Mark isn’t in this photograph because he was the cameraman. Martin isn’t in the photo either because he was slightly late (he had to finish the breakfast his wife made for him before he was allowed out of the house).
The first leg for the day was from Taman Tun Dr Ismail to the KTM station in Kuang. It had rained during the night so the roads were wet. Our freshly-washed bicycles didn’t stay clean for long.
Staying true to the R@SKL raison d’etre there were two themes to this adventure. Riding and eating. Our first food stop was at a coffee shop across the road from Kuang station. Three of us fuelled up with plates of noodles for the train ride to Tanjung Malim.
The 7:27 am train was on time so we didn’t spend much time striking poses on the platform.
We had most of the carriage to ourselves. Once settled in our seats the first order of business was checking mobile phones. We did speak to each other during the one hour journey to Tanjung Malim. And one not-to-be-named person took a nap.
Amy provided her truck as a support vehicle. That was very helpful because we could put bags in the truck instead of riding with saddle packs. Mark was the driver on the first day because Daddy duties prevented him from riding with us at 5:15 am.
We met Mark at a roadside stall about a kilometre from Tanjung Malim station. We had only ridden 30km / 19mi but were already into our second meal of the day. Roti canai for those who hadn’t eaten in Kuang. If you ever find yourself on Jalan Ketoyang, north of Tanjung Malim station, stop at Restoran Al Kassim Maju. Their roti is the bomb.
The riding then started in earnest. Our final destination for Day 1 was Kampar. 88km / 55mi north on Federal Route 1. Mark would drive ahead of us and park on the side of the road. After we went past him he would leapfrog us again.
After ninety minutes we stopped for a break at Kampung Gajah, which is just south of Sungkai. Drinks only for all of us except for Martin, who had burned through his home-cooked breakfast and was hungry.
We were riding under clear blue skies. The temperature was rising steadily. It was 25º C / 77º F when we left Taman Tun. It was 38º C / 97º F when we rolled into Bidor at noon.
We had plenty of time to cover the 30km to Kampar. There was no point getting there before we could check in to the hotel. We spent ninety minutes consuming cold drinks and kai chai pang (chicken biscuits) under a fan at Restoran Mee Wah. Why the name “chicken biscuits” is a mystery because they do not contain any chicken.
Soon after we got going again clouds rolled in and we got drizzled on for a while. No one complained because the cooler temperature was appreciated by all.
10km / 6mi from Kampar the sky to the east got dark and the wind started to blow. A thunderstorm was on the way. We picked up the pace and got to the Kampar Boutique Hotel just ahead of a burst of rain.
After a shower and a short nap, we headed out to look for snacks. We found cendol, ais kacang and noodles.
It started to rain again, this time heavily, as we sat drinking and eating. We were trapped on the wrong side of the road from our hotel. After twenty minutes we gave up waiting for the deluge to stop and ran across the road through the rain.
Mark, Marvin and Pai were stuck on the hotel side of the road because of the rain, and couldn’t join us for cendol. Instead they went to Restoran Yin Phun Low, which is next door to the hotel. The rest of us joined them for dinner and beers. The food was so-so. I don’t recommend this restaurant.
The highlight of our time in that restaurant was deciding who would drive the truck the next day. In the week before the ride, everyone expressed a desire to drive. There was the talk of taking turns through the day as a way of getting some time off the saddle.
By the end of Day 1, that sentiment had changed. We had ridden at a relaxed pace. No one needed a break from riding. And Mark made it clear that the stop and start driving was no fun. There were no volunteers to drive the next day.
So Mark held out a fan of one ringgit notes and we each took one. Pai drew the note with the lowest last digit in the serial number. To the relief of the rest of us!
You would have thought that dinner would be the end of eating for the day. You would have been wrong. Kampar is noted for its Claypot Chicken Rice. A couple of the guys ventured out later that night for some.
The rest of us called it a night. We had another early start planned for Day 2.
Danial, Halim and I had intended to do a bicycle tour to Port Dickson and Melaka at the end of December. That plan was scuttled when I had to pull out.
The next possible dates for an overnight were over the Thaipusam long weekend. Choo Chian and Mark were able to join this time. The program was to take the KTM Komuter train to Tanjung Malim and then to ride from there to Teluk Intan.
Choo Chian met up with Halim in Ampang and they rode to the Kepong KTM station. Danial rode from his home and linked up with Choo Chian and Halim en route to the Kepong station. The three of them had to reroute when they discovered that Jalan Ipoh was completely closed for the Thaipusam chariot procession.
Despite the redirection, they got to the Kepong station in time to catch the first train of the day to Tanjung Malim. That train departs Kepong at 7.30am.
Track upgrading works mean that until the end of 2019 the Komuter train service to Tanjung Malim starts and terminates at Kepong. Once the upgrading is completed the service will run from and to KL Sentral station.
I drove to Mark’s house and we rode to the Kuang KTM station. The first train to Tanjung Malim gets to Kuang at 7.54am. We would meet our three companions on that train.
Mark and I got into the last of the six carriages as discussed to find that the other three had boarded the first carriage. Fortunately, that was the only part of our two-day plan that went awry. We nevertheless had both carriages to ourselves.
We arrived at the Tanjung Malim KTM station bang on at 8.51am. On thing that KTM got right is running the Komuter service on schedule.
We rode one kilometre from the station to Restoran Ocu Amy on Jalan Ketoyong for breakfast. Fed and watered, we got onto Federal Route 1 and rode northwest to Sungkai, which is just over halfway to Teluk Intan.
Federal Route 1 is believed to be the nation’s earliest public roadways ever constructed. Construction began in 1880 under the orders of the Sultan of Kedah at that time, connecting Alor Star to Songkhla, Thailand. Federal Route 1 now runs 993km / 617mi from Johor Bahru in the south to Bukit Kayu Hitam in the north.
In 1994 the North-South Expressway took the role of the Federal Route 1 as the main backbone route in Peninsular Malaysia. This has reduced the volume of traffic on Federal Route 1. Coupled with the numerous towns that grew along its path, Federal Route 1 is quite a nice road to cycle on.
We stopped at Slim River for ten minutes. We stopped again at Sungkai. It was 11.00am, we were riding under a cloudless sky and the air temperature was already 32ºC / 90ºF. We needed a cold drink and to refill water bottles.
We left Federal Route 1 at Sungkai to join Jalan Kuala Bikam – Sungkai (Perak State Route A189). That road is relatively new, so the surface is good. However, I managed to bang into one of the very few potholes after about 10km / 6mi. I was more vigilant about keeping my eyes on the road ahead after. There were no more flats.
The temperature had risen to 35ºC / 95ºF by 12.30pm. We were getting toasted.
We stopped again after 63km / 39mi for yet more drinks and bottle refills. That was a 20 minute stop. It was even hotter. We needed some time in the shade.
20km / 12mi later we were in Teluk Intan. More specifically we were in the McDonald’s Teluk Intan. It was almost 2.00pm. Time for lunch.
Hot and happy to be at our destination.
The Yew Boutique Hotel is our regular hostelry when we visit Teluk Intan. Not least because it is a bike-friendly hotel with a convenient place to leave our bicycles right next to the 24-hour reception desk.
We parked our bikes, plopped into chairs in the air-conditioned lounge area and drank numerous glasses of the lemon citrus water provided by the hotel for its guests. Then it was time for showers and to wash our sweaty cycling kit.
Another plus for the Yew Boutique Hotel is its friendly and accommodating staff. It was no problem to hang our kit to dry on the fence next to the car park. We were even given extra hangers.
Everyone then took naps. At about 5.30pm I was awake and convinced Mark to come with me to explore the neighbourhood. I messaged the other guys but got no reply. Mark got no reply to his offer to get some of the famous Teluk Intan chee cheong fun. They were still fast asleep.
Those are rainclouds over the arch. The wind blew those clouds toward Mark and I. When rain drops started falling on us we made a quick call to Halim to ask him to bring all our cycling kit inside.
I had booked an udang galah (giant freshwater prawn) dinner at Restoran D’Tepian Sungai. The udang galah is frankly our only reason for visiting Teluk Intan. The rain stopped in time for us to get to the riverside restaurant only five minutes late.
The udang galah dishes – masak lemak cili padi, tiga rasa and goreng berempah, as always, were awesome.
In a post-feast prawn coma . . .
On the way back to the hotel we bought Magnum and Solero ice creams for dessert. It was 8.45pm. A bit early to go to bed even though the plan was to start riding at 6.30am. We sat in the hotel lounge drinking more of that lemon citrus water as we chatted. It was 11.00pm before we checked the time again. Definitely time to the hit the hay.
We all slept well. Yet another plus for the Yew Boutique Hotel is that it is in a very quiet part of town. The New Glutton Square food court next door shuts down quite early.
We were on the road right about on schedule, with our first stop of the day being 4km / 2.5mi down the road at Restoran M. Gulam Rasul for breakfast.
It was such a nice change to be riding in cool temperatures.
We were in Sungkai at 8.30am. We stopped at a BHPetrol station for drinks. These ducks stopped there too, but they didn’t get a drink.
We briefly entertained thoughts of getting to Tanjung Malim in time for the 10.15am train but conceded that was too ambitious. A more realistic goal if we had started at 6.00am.
We had plenty of time to make the next departure from Tanjung Malim at 11.55am.
We were on the same route that we had ridden the day before.
Danial and Choo Chian stopped again at the PETRONAS station in Slim River. The petrol station where I had dropped and broken the screen of my mobile phone during our ride back from Ipoh in July last year. Halim and Mark were ahead of us and had stopped a kilometre up the road. I kept going and as I rode past them I shouted: “Let’s ride to Kuala Kubu Bahru.”
It is just over 21km / 1mi from Slim River to Tanjung Malim. Kuala Kubu Bahru (KKB) is a further 21km down the road. The three of us got to the PETRONAS station in Tanjung Malim at 10.20am. The train we wanted to be on leaves KKB station at 12.11pm. There was more than enough time for us to ride to KKB.
We got to KKB at about 11.30am. We had time to ride into KKB town for some fresh coconut water and a slice of sweet pineapple before heading to the station.
Choo Chian and Danial were on the train, in the last car this time, when we got on. It was getting as hot as it had been the day before, and the air conditioning on the train was very welcome. Though it didn’t feel as cold as it had been on previous rides.
Mark and I got off the train at the Sungai Buloh station. It was too hot to ride back to Taman Megah from Kuang. Choo Chian, Danial and Halim got off at Kepong.
Mark and I made one last stop before getting back to his house. It was 37ºC / 99ºF. A couple of bowls of icy cendol hit the spot.
The heat was the only drawback in a very enjoyable weekend. Good company, good food and good riding. All in all a very successful bike tour. More of the same, please.
** Four of us have Apidura saddle packs to hold our clothes and other bits and pieces. The other uses a Topeak saddle pack.
Teluk Intan extends into an oxbow meander of the Perak River. The Yew Boutique Hotel is the blue and white building to the left, about halfway up the spit of land.
This is the view from the hotel rooftop.
Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim
The hotel is bicycle friendly, with a Cyclist Corner in the lobby. Bicycles in rooms? No problem.
Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim
After breakfast in the hotel, we were on the road at just after 8.00am. It looked and felt like it would be another roaster of a day as we made our way out of Teluk Intan. But after 25 km / 15.5 mi it became overcast, and consequently a little cooler.
Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim
The cloud cover was not total, so weather vacillated between being overcast and being sunny. Which kept the temperature relatively high, but thankfully it never got to the boiling hot levels of the previous day.
Despite feeling warm, we were comfortable enough to make good time to Sabak Bernam, where we made our first stop.
The fried egg, sausage, baked beans and toast breakfast at the hotel had been burned through, so we had brunch at Restoran Ammin Maju. Roti telur, thosai, and lots of teh tarik and iced Milo.
The sun continued to play with us, alternately toasting us and retreating behind the clouds, as we made our way through Sungai Besar. Sticking to our schedule of a stop every 30 km / 19 mi, we pulled into the PETRONAS station at Sungai Haji Dorani. We already had 57 km / 35 mi in the bank.
I wasn’t the only one who had started out in the morning feeling dehydrated. Despite drinking lots and lots during and after the previous day’s ride, I hadn’t replaced all the fluid that I had lost to perspiration. All of us commented on how little we had in our bladders through the night and into the morning.
No surprise then that dry mouths and empty bottles signalled the need to stop after 90 km / 57 mi. We had been looking for a cendol stall. We came upon a few. All were closed.
Then we arrived at the Gudang Food Court, with its large sign advertising coconut shakes. The coconut shakes were good. The cendol shakes – not so much. I think it was because they used the same coconut water mix in the cendol as was in the coconut shakes. Cendol needs coconut milk to taste right.
The cendol shake was however cold and wet, and everything is improved by a dollop of ice cream. So down it went.
Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai
We had been watching the sky since leaving Sabak Bernam. There were rain clouds to the east, and at one point we thought the precipitation would come our way. It never did. The skies continued to alternate between overcast and sunny. It never got as hot as it did the day before, but we were riding faster, averaging about 27 kph / 17 mph. Thus we were sweating a lot.
We decided against stopping for lunch, or for another visit to the coconut water stand, in Kuala Selangor, but we did need to rest and refill water bottles at the PETRONAS station there.
We were more than halfway home, and we were moving onto roads which we had ridden many times. Interestingly, the state of the roads was better coming south. Even the stretch near Sabak Bernam was less rough on the southbound side.
Perhaps spoken a bit too soon. Mark had a pinch flat as we made the left turn onto Jalan Kuala Selangor. The Caltex Assam Jawa station was a convenient place for Mark to sit down while changing his inner tube. And for me to have an iced lolly!
Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai
Once we got going again we were heading toward the rain clouds. By the time we got to the entrance to the LATAR Expressway, the sun was well-hidden by the clouds. Which was a very good thing. Up to that point the route had been pan flat. Now there were some hills to ride over along the LATAR Expressway and the rest of the way back to Petaling Jaya.
It was about 2.45pm. Often the hottest time of the day in these tropical parts. On this day it was just over 30° C / 86° F. Very nice. We were able to stay cool as we cruised over the hills. So cool that we didn’t need to stop as planned at the Kundang Timur R&R. Instead we carried on into Kampung Melayu Sri Kundang, looking for a stall selling banana fritters, cendol and the like.
We found Cendol ABC Setia across the road from Tasik Biru Kundang. Exactly what we were looking for. Cendol, banana and cassava fritters, and prawn fritters.
Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai
Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai
Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai
The last 30 km / 19 mi of this ride were much more comfortable than the equivalent kilometers the day before. We weren’t feeling beaten up by the roads and the heat. We made a final stop at the PETRONAS station in Kuang to fill our bottles. Then enjoyed a relaxed ride back to Petaling Jaya.
Once again I had a lot of fun, laughs, and good eats, with great friends for company. Thank you Lay, Marco and Mark for a wonderful bike tour. Let’s do another one soon.
It has been more than a year since I last rode the Dragon’s Back. That roughly 14km / 8.7mi stretch of slopes in Bukit Jelutong. The easier approach to slay the dragon is to turn onto Persiaran Mokhtar Dahari from the Guthrie Corridor Expressway. (The late Mokhtar Dahari is Malaysia’s most-revered soccer player). Turn left at the traffic light onto Jalan Paip, and then turn right 200 metres later onto Jalan Bukit Cerakah. You are done with the Dragon’s Back when you get to the T-junction.
Graphic courtesy of veloviewer
Leslie suggested the ride. Evelyn, Marco and I took the bait.
This is the Jalan Bukit Cerakah section of the Dragon’s Back.
We all made it over all those humps without incident.
Photograph courtesy of Leslie
Even so, it could be a while before I tackle the Dragon’s Back again.
The highlight for me came at Warung Selera Ria in Kuang, where we stopped for sustenance. Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention, but this was the first time I noticed this contraption.
Photograph courtesy of Marco
Order half-boiled eggs, and this is what appears before you. The hot water drains from the upper receptacle into the container below. When all the water has drained out of the upper section, your eggs are ready to eat.