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Four Apiduras and One Topeak to Teluk Intan

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.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

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.

Photograph courtesy of The Sun Daily

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.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

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.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The temperature had risen to 35ºC / 95ºF by 12.30pm. We were getting toasted.

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian
Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The udang galah dishes – masak lemak cili padi, tiga rasa and goreng berempah, as always, were awesome.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

In a post-feast prawn coma . . .

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

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.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

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.

Photograph courtesy of Heng Choo Chian

We were on the same route that we had ridden the day before.

Map courtesy of Ride With GPS

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.

Udang Galah Tour – Teluk Intan to Petaling Jaya

teluk-intan-overview-blog-tourism-gov-my

Photograph courtesy of blog.tourism.gov.my

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.

teluk-intan-mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The hotel is bicycle friendly, with a Cyclist Corner in the lobby.  Bicycles in rooms?  No problem.

yew-boutique-hotel-mark

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.

cooler-weather-mark

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.

coconut-shake-marco

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!

mark-flat-marco

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.

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.

saying

Quote courtesy of Alistair Humphreys

We Meet Again Mr. Dragon’s Back

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.

Dragonback Veloviewer

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.

Dragonback 4

We all made it over all those humps without incident.

Dragonback 3 Leslie

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.

Dragonback Eggs Marco

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.

Ingenious!