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A bit like trying to herd cats

Morib Banner jkstakent com

Graphic courtesy of jkstalent.com

The Bangsar Cycling Group organised a Sunday ride from Kota Kemuning to Morib.  I suggested that they use the route that the R@SKLs ride to get to Morib.  It avoids the heavily-trafficked and poorly surfaced Jalan Klang Banting, except for  4.5km / 2.8mi stretch from Jenjarom to Jalan Bandar Lama.

None of the BCGers knew that route.  That is how I ended up leading the BCG ride.

Coincidentally, the R@SKLs were also riding from Kota Kemuning to Morib on Sunday.  They were starting from their usual meeting point, Restoran BR Maju.  The BCG were starting from their usual meeting point, McDonald’s.  So I arranged for both groups to meet at Bandar Rimbayu, so that we could all do the ride together.

Both groups got to Bandar Rimbayu, as planned, at 7.30am.  There were forty two riders in all, including the cameraman for this shot.

Morib 01 J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

From the left:

Morib 07f J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07e J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07d J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07c J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07b J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07a J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

I set off at the head of this large group of riders, leading them through Bandar Rimbayu and onto the bridge over the SKVE.

Morib SKVE Bridge Up Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

As we rolled off the bridge I was still at the head of the group, riding at approximately the advertised moving speed of 29kph / 18mph.

Morib SKVE Bridge Down Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Just as I felt a sense of control over the group, my illusion was shattered.  Riders shot off ahead of me, clearly more interested in testing their legs than sticking to 29kph.  Oh well!

Morib 12 Winston Wong

Photograph courtesy of Winston Wong

To no one’s surprise, the faster riders missed the right turn at Kampung Seri Cheeding.  Mobile phones to the rescue.  A few back-and-forth calls, and Google map consultations, and everyone was reunited 15km / 9mi later at the junction of Jalan Bukit Jugra and Jalan Jeti.   Google maps didn’t warn of this road hazard though.

Morib Cows Wee Hwee Wang

Photograph courtesy of Wee Hwee Wang

As usually happens, there was some talk of climbing Bukit Jugra.  I thought that first getting some food and drink at Morib was the way to go.  And that was what we did.

It was about 10.30am, and getting hot, by the time we left Morib for the homeward leg.

Morib 03 Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

The R@SKLs left a bit before the BCGers, and they headed straight back to Kota Kemuning.  Some of the BCGers were determined to climb Bukit Jugra.  Which is why we ended up here.

Morib Jugra Climb Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Some, probably wisely, elected to wait at the bottom of the hill.  Those who braved the up to 17° gradients were rewarded with views of the Langat River from the lookout point.

Morib Jugra Viewing Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

And the added treat of watching a paraglider launch himself off the slope.

Morib Paragliding backpackerzmag com

Photograph courtesy of backpackerzmag.com

We probably spent a bit too long up on the hill.  I had expected that we would be back at Kota Kemuning at about noon.  It was 11.30am by the time we all got going again from the base of Bukit Jugra.  There was 45km / 28mi, and a cendol stall, between us and Kota Kemuning.

Any thoughts of skipping the cendol stall were dispelled by the 34°C / 93°F temperature.  The heat, and the distance, were starting to affect some riders, so a stop for a cold drink and a rest was well worth it.

And then the punctures started.  First at the cendol stall, when a tube spontaneously popped.  Then 5km / 3mi later.  A further 5km and it was my turn.  I rode over a rock. Eight of us clustered in the shade under a tree in someone’s front garden to review the damage to my rear rim.

Morib Flat Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Not good.  Fortunately the rim was still rideable.

We weren’t done yet.  We had only just got moving again when we had puncture number four.  All in the space of 13km / 8mi.

What with one thing or the other, it is no surprise that out of the total ride time of seven hours, we were stopped for three hours.  Which explains why we didn’t get back to the McDonald’s in Kota Kemuning until 2.00pm, when the temperature was pushing 37°C / 99°F.

A salted caramel sundae never tasted so good!

Morib Salted Caramel

We all got split up between Morib and Kota Kemuning.  I haven’t heard any reports of missing cyclists, so I can only assume that everyone got back safely.  Albeit some with minor scrapes, cramps and sore muscles.

I need to practice being a ride leader.  If nothing else, it makes a good excuse!

Morib Banner north florida bicycle club

Graphic courtesy of North Florida Bicycle Club

R@SKLs at the NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017

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NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Banner

It pays to have friends with connections.  In this case, Heng Keng, who got some VIP parking passes for the R@SKLs driving to Puncak Alam for the NST C-Cycle Challenge century ride.  We all car-pooled, two people and two bikes to a vehicle, and got parking spots just meters from the start line.

Once everyone was ready, i.e. after last minute visits to the loo, we joined the 1,000 or so other participants behind the start gantry.  There were two events:  a 160km / 100mi race, and a 35km / 22mi Fun Ride.  We combined the two events, and planned to have a 160km Fun Ride.

The horn sounded and the starting flag fell at about 7.50am.  Only twenty minutes late, which is par for the course at Malaysian cycling events.

C-CYCLE CHALLENGE 2017

Photograph courtesy of Khairull Azry Bidin

The organizers had made some late changes to the course that had been initially announced.  They took about 15km / 9mi off the total distance, including 6km / 4mi of climbing.  Which significantly increased the odds that we would all have a fun ride.

The course followed a rough figure-of-eight path.  We headed south from Puncak Alam over a few of the Dragon’s Back climbs before heading west and then north around the clockwise lower loop.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Route.png

The temperature was in the mid to high 20s C / 70s F.   We had a support vehicle loaded with ice chests packed with water and 100-Plus isotonic drink.  Everything was lined up for an excellent ride.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 On The Road Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

But you know that saying about the best laid plans?  Kelin and Thomas, together with about twenty other riders, didn’t see the admittedly poorly-placed directional arrow, and sailed past the 90° right hand turn at 43km / 27mi, where the route around the lower loop turned inland.

It was 15km / 9mi before they realised their mistake.  Which perhaps wasn’t a mistake after all, as they found a cendol stall, while the rest of us didn’t.

We made our first stop just after that right turn.  It makes such a nice change to have a support vehicle on our rides, instead of depending upon the official rest stops.  Being guaranteed cold drinks and bananas is a massive plus.  Thank you Heng Keng for loaning your driver and vehicle to the R@SKL cause.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 First Stop Danial Shaz

Photograph courtesy of Danial Shaz

The weather had been closing in from the time we started pedalling again.  By the time we started the climb to the Department of Civil Aviation site at the top of the hill on Jalan Batu Arang, the rain had started.  It rained, heavily in places, along the entire 22km / 14mi hilly stretch which made up the middle section of the ride.  The rain kept us cool, but care was needed on the steeper descents.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Rain Kelin Chan

Photograph courtesy of Kelin Chan

Stop number two came after 87km / 54mi.  It had stopped raining, but roads were still wet.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Water Stop 2 Simon

Photograph courtesy of Luanne Sieh

Leonard didn’t get the memo about which camera to look at.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Water Stop 2 Which Camera

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Despite the rain, everyone was having a good time.  That came to a crashing halt, literally, when Danial and Ray went down just shy of the 100km / 62mi mark.  It was a high speed crash precipitated by a depression in the road surface.  Ray came out of it with just some scrapes and bruises.  Danial was not so lucky.  He will be off his bike for some time with a fractured cheekbone and the after-effects of a mild concussion.

The official paramedic who arrived on the scene was very good.  He checked Danial out for broken bones and internal injuries, cleaned up his cuts and scrapes, and got him off the road.  Forty minutes after the crash, Ray and Danial were in an ambulance to the Sungai Buloh hospital, accompanied by Luanne.

We were shaken and a bit shocked by what had happened.  We debated whether to continue the ride or not.  The group decision was to ride on, but at a slower speed.

We had more rain to contend with over the 15km / 9mi to Kuala Selangor.  The McDonald’s at Kuala Selangor was a good place to stop for some shelter and some food.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 McDonald's Simon

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

After burgers and chocolate sundaes, we realised that we would miss the cutoff time for the event.  We would all officially DNF.  Never mind.  In the bigger scheme of things, that was not the worst thing to happen that day.

Our last 40km / 25mi were made easier for us by three marshals on motorbikes, who accompanied us all the way back to Puncak Alam.  They kept traffic at a safe distance, pointed out potholes and other hazards, and blocked off junctions so we didn’t have to stop for any traffic lights.  That added some fun back into what had become a bit of a somber day.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Jln Kuala Selangor - Sg Buloh Rosdan Wahid

Photograph courtesy of Rosdan Wahid

The sun was out as we negotiated Jalan Kuala Selangor and Jalan Bukit Cerakah toward the finish.  The day had warmed up considerably by the time we crossed the line.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Finish 01 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Thomas and Kelin were already at the finish, medals in hand, after their unexpected detour cut short their ride.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Medals Thomas Tan

Photograph courtesy of Thomas Tan

The rest of the R@SKLs joined them at the finish area while we waited for TH and the support car to get back from the Sungai Buloh hospital with Luanne.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Finish 02 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

I suppose we could have let ourselves be entertained by these superheroes while we were there.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Super Heroes Muhd Zaaba Zakeria

Photograph courtesy of Muhd Zaaba Zakeria

It had been a day of mixed emotions, and we were all more concerned to get an update on Danial’s condition than anything else.

Even the lucky draw held no attraction for us, despite the attractive prizes.

Upon reflection, it was a fun ride.  It was just such a shame that Danial and Ray had that bad crash.  All the R@SKLs are very relieved that the outcome was not worse, and we wish the both of them speedy recoveries.

NST C-Cycle Challenge 2017 Medal.png

 

R@SKLs do Bentong

Bentong Sign gobentong com

Photograph courtesy of gobentong.com

Before 1977, all traffic across the Titiwangsa range used the winding, narrow Federal Route 68, which runs from Gombak in Kuala Lumpur to Bentong, Pahang.  Everyone going to Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu, and other points east of Kuala Lumpur drove through Bentong.

The Kuala Lumpur – Karak Highway, opened in 1977 and upgraded to a full expressway in 1997, bypasses Bentong.  Today, the majority of traffic uses the Kuala Lumpur – Karak Expressway, leaving Federal Route 68 to learner drivers and cyclists.

Regular readers will know that the climb up to Genting Sempah is popular with cyclists from the Klang Valley.  A more ambitious ride continues to Janda Baik.  Even more ambitious is a ride to Bentong.

The R@SKLs are nothing if not ambitious.  About twenty of us turned up at the Hospital Orang Asli Gombak car park for a 7am start toward Bentong.

Bentong 2

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Lim

The first 16km / 10mi is uphill to Genting Sempah.

Bentong 7 Kiat Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Yit Kiat

This was early on in the ride.  Clockwise from top left, Luanne, Tomoe and Daniel, Arthur, and Kelin.

 

We regrouped under the flyover at Genting Sempah.  Behind us is our support vehicle.  Leonard very kindly provided his pickup and driver.  Plus coolers of ice and drinks.  Top man Leonard!

Bentong 6 TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

From the flyover we let gravity take over for the 20km / 12.5mi run downhill to the Suria Hot Spring Resort.  We regrouped there before riding the flatter 17km /  10.5mi to Bentong town.

Bentong 12 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Some of us had the dubious pleasure of being dragged along from the hot spring at up to 44kph / 27mph by Daniel, as he waved his hand in the air, urging us forward.  I for one was glad to see the outskirts of Bentong.

Once in Bentong the only thought on everyone’s mind was food.  We rode into the streets where the Sunday morning market is held, and stopped at Po Lai Kam kopitiam.  We queued to fill our bowls . . .

Bentong 10 Kiat Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Yit Kiat

. . . and then filled our stomachs.

Bentong 11 Kiat Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Yit Kiat

There had been some talk of riding on to the Chamang waterfall.  The consensus on the day was that it was too hot for extra kilometers.

So we rolled back toward the hot spring.  At a much more sedate pace.  Well, some of us rode at a more sedate pace.  About half the group had shot off ahead.  We all stopped at the hot spring for a rest in the shade, and something cold to drink.

If it hadn’t been a hot spring I might have jumped in.

Bentong 8 Kiat Luanne

Photograph courtesy of Khoo Yit Kiat

We had all enjoyed the 20km / 12.5mi downhill roll to the hot spring on the way to Bentong.  Now it was time to pay the piper.

After 10km / 6mi and 270 meters / 885 feet of elevation we were ready for another rest.  This time outside the Bukit Tinggi secondary school.

Bentong 4 TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We weren’t yet halfway through the grind back up to Genting Sempah.  There was another 8.5km / 5.3mi and 405 meters / 1,330 feet to climb before we got to the Genting Sempah R&R.

We all got to the Genting Sempah R&R – eventually.  But we couldn’t celebrate yet.  There was still the not insignificant obstacle of Hamburger Hill to surmount.  Exhilarating to descend, but a lung-burning, leg-breaking 81 meters / 266 feet, 6.4% average grade climb over 1.1km / 0.7mi, especially after the kilometers ridden and meters climbed to that point.

Lay, Mark and I delayed the inevitable by detouring to the McDonald’s at the R&R.  I for one needed a sugar boost – in a big way.  McDonald’s delivered.

I might not have been able to get up Hamburger Hill (you see the reason for the name now) without that pie and sundae flooding into my bloodstream.

The other R@SKLs didn’t need a McDonald’s boost.  They had made their way up Hamburger Hill and down to the Hospital Orang Asli car park, and had packed up and left by the time the three of us got there.

As Leonard said, it was fun.  Painful fun at times, but fun nonetheless.

You know what they say about ambition.  It grows.

The R@SKLs have decided that Fraser’s Hill is next.

Freeze in ‘Little England’

Photograph courtesy of malaysiasite.nl

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.

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Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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

cny-2017-sepang-shell-danial

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.

cny-2017-waterfront-hotel-danial

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.

cny-2017-day-2-start-danial

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

Melaka here we come!

cny-2017-day-2-route

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.

cny-2017-day-2-otr-danial

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.

cny-2017-melaka-border-danial

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.

cny-2017-day-2-rain-danial

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.

cny-2017-day-2-melaka-river-danial

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?

cny-2017-day-3-mcd-danial

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.

cny-2017-day-3-route

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.

cny-2017-day-3-amj-highway-danial

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.

cny-2017-day-3-sun-chasing-gear-danial

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.

cny-2017-day-3-tracks-danial

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.

cny-2017-day-3-restoran-nelayan-seafood-warisn9world-blogspot-my

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.

cny-2017-day-3-seremban-station-danial

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.

cny-2017-day-3-komuter-danial

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!

cny-2017-day-3-lamb-balls-danial

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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

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Another Udang Galah Dinner – Courtesy of the Bukit Bintang Rotary Club

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Graphic Courtesy of Bukit Bintang Rotary Club

Johny Sui, the Deputy Organizing Chairman and Immediate Past President of the Bukit Bintang Rotary Club, one of the 78 clubs that make up Rotary International District 3300, asked Mark if he would help them with a ride to Teluk Intan.

Rotary International celebrates its 112th anniversary in 2017.  In conjunction with the anniversary, the clubs in RI District 3300 are organizing a four-day charity bicycle ride, called Rotary 112 – Cycle 4 Life. Riders will cycle from Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh to Penang, and then around the island of Penang, covering a total of 500km / 311mi.

Rotary 112 – Cycle 4 Life will raise funds for the Rotary Kidney Fund to give assistance to dialysis patients from five Dialysis Centres located in the Klang Valley, Ipoh and Penang. The Rotary Kidney Fund also provides education and leads advocacy efforts to help the people of Malaysia.

rotary-112-kidney

Graphic courtesy of MIMS Pte. Ltd

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is a major health issue in Malaysia.  The number of new dialysis patients who suffer from CKD has doubled over the last decade.  In the last four years alone, 24,000 new patients required regular dialysis.

Rotary 112 – Cycle 4 Life was initiated by Yap Fatt Lam, Organising Chairman & Past President of the Rotary Club of Bukit Bintang.  He was inspired to organise this charity ride after participating in the recent End Polio Taiwan Round Island Charity Ride from 22nd to 30th October 2016.

The charity ride is scheduled for 31st August to 3rd September, and planning is already underway.  This ride to Teluk Intan was to recce the route for Day 1 of the charity ride.

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-map

Map courtesy of Strava

Twelve of us did the ride.  Rotarians Johny Sui and Yap Fatt Lam from the Rotary Club of Bukit Bintang, Steven, Ben, Jack, Cher, Mark, Leslie, Lay, Alvin, Liang and myself.  We were a diverse group of riders, ranging from Jack, who had never ridden more than 58km in one go before, to the likes of Alvin and Liang, who were on their fixies

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-start-yap-fatt-lam

Photograph courtesy of Yap Fatt Lam

We all met up at Rasik Bistro in Ara Damansara, where we had breakfast.  Then we loaded our overnight bags into the two support vehicles, driven by Javan and Ivan.

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-support-vehicle-ivan-wong-wai-keong

Photograph courtesy of Ivan Wong

Mark gave us a short briefing before we rolled out of the car park.  We were less than 2.5km / 1.5mi from the start point when a recurring feature of the ride made its first appearance.

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-first-flat-cher-weng-chun

Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

We would have half a dozen more punctures before we got back to KL.

We made our first rendezvous with the support vehicles at the junction of the LATAR Expressway and Jalan Kuala Selangor.  There we dipped into a ice chest filled with chilled Coca Cola and 100 Plus.

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-latar-cher-weng-chung

Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

By the time we had covered 65km / 40mi it was time for a food stop.  The McDonald’s in Kuala Selangor did very nicely.  RI District 3300 should ask McDonald’s Malaysia to sponsor their charity work.  We certainly ate enough of their food over the two day ride.

The two guys in polo shirts are Javan and Ivan.  They drove the support vehicles, and were a great help to all the riders.

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-kuala-selangor-mcdonalds-cher-weng-chung

Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

90km /56mi into the ride we had reached Sekinchan.  It was past noon by then, sunny and hot.  The lady running this fruit stall must have felt like she had just won the lottery when twelve thirsty cyclists appeared, all demanding multiple cups of iced mango juice .

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-mango-juice-johny-sui

Photograph courtesy of Johny Sui

Once rehydrated, we decided to get off the main trunk road, Jalan Kuala Selangor – Teluk Intan, aka Route 5, in favour of the secondary roads that run parallel to it.  The road surface of Route 5 is damaged in a lot of places, and the speeding lorries, buses, and cars are no fun to share a road with.

We got onto Jalan Tepi Sawah, which literally means “the road beside the paddy field.”  Those smaller, traffic-free roads are so much more relaxing and pleasant to cycle on.

We rode past the Sekinchan Padi Box on the short jink between Route 5 and Jalan Tepi Sawah.  Padi Box is a homestay location made out of repurposed shipping containers.  A recent addition is N. 16, a restaurant in a converted bus, which I assume, once upon a time, was the number 16 bus.

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-padi-box-wc-cher

Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

At about 2pm we rolled into Sungai Besar.  We stopped at, surprise surprise, a McDonald’s.  This time just for drinks and a visit to the bathroom, although one or two hungry ones had a burger as well.

The rest of us held off eating until we got to Sabak Bernam.  Restoran Ammin Maju was a food stop on the Flipside ride to Teluk Intan, and so it was for the Rotarians as well.

Here we are, fed and watered, and after yet another inner tube change, ready for the final 40km / 25mi push to Teluk Intan.

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Photograph courtesy of Yap Fatt Lam

We made it before the rain!

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Photograph courtesy of Cher Weng Chun

Drinks all round before picking up our room keys at the Yew Boutique Hotel next door.

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Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The main reason for the ride was of course to help the Rotarians to recce the route from KL to Teluk Intan for their August charity ride.

This came a close second on the list of reasons to ride once again to Teluk Intan!

rotary-kl-to-teluk-intan-dinner-mark-lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

There were twenty of us at Restoran D’Tepian Sungai.  Riders, support vehicle drivers, and distinguished guests from the Rotary Clubs of Bukit Bintang, Titiwangsa and Teluk Intan.

We went through 6kg / 13.2lb of Grade A udang galah, 1.5kg / 3.3lb of batter fried squid, plus plates of chicken, omelettes, mixed vegetables, and rice.  All washed down with twelve pitchers of watermelon juice and orange juice.

A very big thank you from all the riders to Amy Kong, President elect of the Rotary Club of Bukit Bintang and five others Rotarians: Sherman, Wilson, Elsie, Steve and Wendy, for generously picking up the dinner tab.  Very much appreciated!

The ride back to KL started just like the ride the morning before.  With a flat tire.  This time before we had even left the hotel.

rotary-teluk-intan-to-kl-hotel-flat-yap-fatt-lam

Photograph courtesy of Yap Fatt Lam

That wouldn’t be the last opportunity to stand around watching someone change an inner tube!

The Yew Boutique Hotel is a stone’s throw from a 7-Eleven.  Which was a great place to restock the ice chest in the support vehicle, and to refill bottles.  And to take an arty photograph or two.

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Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We opted for an alternative to riding along Route 5 again.  That road is the only way out of Teluk Intan, but there are options once you get to Sabak Bernam.  We regrouped after riding 35km / 22mi along Route 5, at the corner where we turned right onto Jalan Gertak Tinggi.

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Photograph courtesy of Alvin Lee

We wanted to stay on the back roads all the way to Sungai Besar, but we weren’t sure of the way.  We unintentionally ended up back on Route 5 for fifteen minutes before stopping for refreshments at Restoran Rashid Fadil RM3 in Sungai Besar.

It was the network of back roads again for us as we left Sungai Besar and headed south to Sekinchan.  We stopped at Kampung Batu 23 to raid the ice chest following behind us.  This turned out to be a convenient place to stop.  We all needed something to sit on as we waited for yet another flat tire to be repaired.

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Photograph courtesy of Yap Fatt Lam

We were blessed with perfect riding weather from Kampung Batu 23 onward.  Clouds rolled in, and it stayed overcast and cool for the rest of the day.

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Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang

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Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang

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Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang

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Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang

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Photograph courtesy of Wong Thean Liang

By 2.30pm we had reached Sekinchan.  We had a very nice lunch at Restoran Bagan Sekinchan, and continued down the pleasant roads along the coast until we got to Tanjung Karang.  At which point staying off Route 5 was no longer realistic, especially as the bridge on Route 5 is the only way to get across Sungai Tengi.

You’ll never guess where we stopped in Kuala Selangor for drinks and to regroup.

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Photograph courtesy of Javan Yap

About 70km / 43.5mi to go.  We took a slightly longer route to Bukit Rotan, via Kampung Kuantan, so that we could stay off Route 5, and spend less time on Jalan Kuala Selangor.

We stopped to raid the ice chest again at the entrance to the LATAR Expressway.  And stopped again at the Kundang Timur R&R, where we said our farewells to Ben, Cher, Jack and Steven, who were finishing the ride at MisiCafe in Bukit Jelutong.

Johny, Yap and we six Flipsiders ended our ride where we had started, at Rasik Bistro in Ara Damansara.

Thank you Rotarians for organizing the ride and the accommodation in Teluk Intan, and for providing the support vehicles and drivers.  And congratulations to all the cyclists for riding 350km / 217mi over the two days.

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Graphic courtesy of the Rotary Club Bukit Bintang

BCG Tour Kajang – Melaka – Kajang Day 1

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BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Banner

Johan S and Danial AM of BCG Tour held their second event on June 4th and 5th.  This time from Kajang to Melaka, and back again the next day.

Unlike the inaugural tour from Ijok to Teluk Intan, this time the outbound and inbound routes were different.  It was about 149km / 93mi to Melaka, and 112km / 70mi back to Kajang.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Melaka Route

Or in my case, the outbound ride would have been 149km if I had followed the excellent cue card that was given out at the start.

Kajang Melaka 04jun16

 

I downloaded the .gpx files for the routes to my Garmin 705.  I should have just stuck with the cue sheet for the ride to Melaka.  Rather than just following the downloaded route, my Garmin directed me down an alternate route.  The Garmin did guide me to the New Century Hotel in Melaka.  But from the 117km / 72mi point it took me along a path very different from the one so carefully planned by the organisers.  More on that later.

Twenty of us met at the start point near the Bandar Teknologi Kajang Police Station.

Mark, Leslie and I grabbed a quick drink before we went to the pre-ride briefing.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Start Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

The pre-ride briefing by Danial was thorough, and with our safety on the road in mind. Johan chipped in as well, in between taking the photographs.  Unless otherwise indicated, the photographs featured in this post are courtesy of Johan S.

In a delightfully retro gesture, Danial had a bulb horn rather than a whistle or a gun to start us off with.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Start Danial

We followed Johan’s car for the first 20km / 12mi as he guided us along the busy roads out of Kajang and through Semenyih and Bangi.  A départ fictif.  Just like in the major bike races!

Once Johan released us, the pace quickened.  All the riders who were in front of Mark and I, which was most of the group, missed the left turn off Jalan Kajang – Dengkil onto the much quieter Selangor State Route B48.  So the two of us were riding alone for about thirty five minutes.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Duo

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Duo 2

The rest of the group steadily made up ground on us.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Chasing Pack BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Chasing Pack 2

Mark and I were caught 5km / 3mi from Sepang.  The faster riders pulled ahead.  By then the bunch had broken up into smaller groups as riders settled into the pace that best suited them.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sepang

 

Leslie had caught us too.  The three of us, and Max, made our first stop at the Shell petrol station in Sepang.  We caught our breath and shared a litre of 100Plus as the rest of the group sailed past and onto Federal Route Route 5 toward Port Dickson.

We got going again at about 9.30am.  All hopes of a cool morning were evaporating in the sun that had broken through the cloud cover.  It was going to be a hot one.

At about 10:30am, as we approached Port Dickson, Leslie, Mark and I diverted off the published route onto Jalan Seremban.  That took us to the Port Dickson Waterfront.  More specifically to the McDonald’s there.  Mark and I, along with some other Flipsiders, had stopped at that McDonald’s three years ago, during our ride to Tanjung Tuan for the Raptor Watch 2013.

Why McDonald’s?  The Brekki Wrap with Sausage is the bomb after 70km / 43mi on a bike.

Mc Donalds weekday breakfast special brekkie wrap with sausage rm4 Possible To Earn RM30,000 A Month For Malaysian Blogger From the World of Advertisement Starting From McDonald's Ads

Photograph courtesy of Golden Arches Restaurants Sdn Bhd

And there is air-conditioning.  And a sea view.  What’s not to like?

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 PD Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

By the time we  got back on our bikes at 11:15am the sun was out in full force and almost directly overhead.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sun

The shadows were getting shorter and shorter as we made our way through Port Dickson and past the Wan Loong Temple.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 PD Wan Loong Temple Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

Staying hydrated and cool become all important as the “feels like” temperature edged towards 40°C / 104F°.  An hour after coming out of the air-conditioned McDonald’s we were looking for some shade and another drink.  Others were looking for the same thing.

We found it at Kampung Sungai Raya, at the junction of Selangor State Route 5 and Federal Route 138.  There was a row of roadside stalls selling various drinks.  Leslie, Mark and I  downed two glasses of iced coconut water each in quick succession.

Someone else was thirsty too!

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Coconut 2

An hour further down the road we were again getting desperate for shade and something cold to drink.  We started looking for a petrol station or a shop after making the left turn onto Melaka State Route 142.  It seemed like a long time before we came upon a minimarket in Kampung Jeram.  In reality it was less than 4km / 2.5mi, but in the midday heat it certainly felt further.

It had been a long time since I had done this, but it was so hot that I resorted to the ice tricks that have helped me in the past.  Ice wrapped in a bandana and placed on the back of my neck.  Ice under my skull cap.  Even ice under my arm sleeves at each inner wrist.

Ice

I was dripping all over as the ice melted, but I felt cooler and much more comfortable.  So much so that I pulled ahead of Leslie and Mark, admittedly helped in that regard because they had to stop and wait at a couple of red traffic lights that were green for me.

I should have waited for them.  12km / 7mi outside Kampung Jeram my Garmin directed me to turn left onto Lebuh Spa.  I should have stayed on Federal Route 5 to Jalan Malim Jaya.  Instead I had an unplanned mystery ride through some villages and residential neighbourhoods.

The ice on my head lasted just long enough before I rode into this.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Melaka Weather

A most welcome rain shower that kept me cool, and rinsed some of the sweat and salt out of my cycling gear.

The rain was quite heavy, but it didn’t last very long.  It had stopped by the time I popped onto Federal Route 19 with just 5km / 3mi to go.

Everyone got a bit wet before arriving at the New Century Hotel.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent reliving the day’s ride, eating, napping, and eating some more.

It had been an early start for Mark and I.  We had driven to Leslie’s home before 6:00am so that we could car-pool to Kajang in Leslie’s bike / people mover.  So we called it a night after dinner.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sleep

 

Let’s Get Wild Ride

These pre-dawn starts to bike rides are getting to be a habit.  The latest Dave Ern-organised ride was scheduled to start from Bandar Sri Sendayan.  About 70km from home.  At 7.30 am.  Chon, Chris, Mark, Marvin, Shahfiq and I were among the thirty five or so bleary-eyed souls who convoyed to the Sendayan Galleria for the start of the “Let’s Get Wild Ride.”

Photo courtesy of Dave Ern

Photo courtesy of Dave Ern

This ride would take us to Raptor Watch 2013 in Tanjung Tuan, Port Dickson.  Regular readers of my blog will recall that Dickson is apparently one of a number of Scotsmen who have given their names to places in Malaysia.

For the last fourteen years the Malaysian Nature Society has organised a Raptor Watch event around the migration of birds of prey like the Oriental Honey-buzzard , Black Baza, Chinese Goshawk and Japanese Sparrowhawk.  These hunting birds migrate north between mid-February and mid-April to their breeding grounds in Mongolia, China, Russia, Siberia, the Korean Peninsula and Japan after a taking refuge from the harsh winter in the south.

Tanjung Tuan is the nearest landfall across the Straits of Malacca from Pulau Rupat in Sumatra, Indonesia.   The birds have to traverse just 10 nautical miles / 18.5 km of open water to catch the thermals at Tanjung Tuan to help them on their way back to their habitats in the northern hemisphere.  If the weather is right it is not unusual to see a hundred or more raptors swirling overhead in the updrafts.

The usual mix of road bikes, mountain bikes, folding bikes were joined by a tandem-like bike ridden by Dave Ern with his young daughter on a tag-along.

Photo courtesy of Ann Daim

Photo courtesy of Ann Daim

Our 40 km or so route to Tanjung Tuan along the old trunk road took us southward through rolling countryside and under the Seremban – Port Dickson Highway.  This highway  now carries the bulk of traffic between Seremban and Port Dickson.  We then went south-west, under the highway once more and through the town of Lukut to Port Dickson, or PD as it is commonly called.  From there is was about 15 km to Tanjung Tuan.

Tanjung Tuan Route

It was relatively cool when we started riding.  So we were presentable enough to be photographed.  This is Marvin and I.

Photo courtesy of Ann Daim

Photo courtesy of Ann Daim

We were less presentable by the time we got to Tanjung Tuan.  The sun had come out at it had warmed up considerably.  It was definitely arm-cooler and Sweat Gutr conditions.

Migrating raptors not withstanding, Tanjung Tuan, or Cape Rachado as it was once known, is perhaps best known for it’s lighthouse.  Local folklore states there has been a lighthouse at that location since the Portuguese colonization of Malacca in the sixteenth century.

There is a paved path from the entrance to the Tanjung Tuan Recreational Forest up to the base of the steps leading to the lighthouse.  It is a stiff climb on a bike. 75 meters / 250 feet of elevation in 900 meters / 3,000 feet of path.  We all needed a bit of a rest before we tramped up the steps to the lighthouse.

Tanjung Tuan Lighthouse 05

Photo courtesy of the Malaysian Nature Society at http://mnsraptorwatch.wordpress.com/about-rw/

The area inside the balustrade is not normally open to the public.  However the keepers of the lighthouse agreed to open the area to the public for this weekend.  So we joined everyone else on the courtyard facing the sea, hoping to spot a raptor or two.  It had rained the day before, which kept the birds away.  It has to be a hot day to generate the thermal updrafts that the raptors depend upon.  It was certainly hot when we were there.  We were perhaps a bit too early though.  All we saw were a pair of native White-Bellied Sea Eagles.

It had been some time since I was last in PD.  I lived in the Sunggala army camp in PD for a couple of years from when I was seven.  My memories include the barber who arrived at our home on a bicycle, the neighbors who had one of the few televisions in the camp, the friend of my mother who would visit bearing a packet of ginger biscuits for a sweet-toothed little boy, the Officers’ Mess where my parents played tennis in the evenings and then watched Shindig on perhaps the only other television in the camp, and of course the long stretches of almost empty beach.

When I was nine or ten we moved to KL.  PD became a regular weekend destination.  The Sri Rusa Inn was a favorite spot.  We also spent a lot of time at the Port Dickson Yacht Club, especially after my father acquired a speed boat.  We would often fortify ourselves for the drive home with excellent Cantonese style fried noodles from a stall along the seafront in town.

Things are a little different today.  The army camp must be at least four times the size it was when I lived there.  It even houses an Army Museum.  The Si Rusa Inn is sadly derelict.  The Yacht Club has a Royal designation.  And much of the beach frontage is built-up.  Unfortunately the hotel and resort boom of the 1990s was curtailed by the Asian Financial crisis.  So amongst the resorts, hotels, villas and bungalows are many unfinished and abandoned projects.

I had to be back at my car by about 2pm.  The other five were happy to head back before the day got really hot.  Before we got going again we replenished our potassium reserves with coconut water.  As fresh as can be, straight out of a green coconut that had been opened to order.  The stall also sold cold canned drinks.  My bidons were almost empty so I topped them up with two cans of 100 Plus.

We made our way down from the lighthouse at about 11am.  Lunch somewhere in PD was the plan.  We made a photo stop about half way between Tanjung Tuan and PD town.  The road runs along a rise right alongside the beach at that point, so nothing has been built on the beach side of the road.  Which preserves views of the beach and the sea that I remember from many years ago.

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IMG_1148

Shahfiq, Chris, Mark and Marvin.  Chon was behind me taking photographs of the views

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We rode into town in the vicinity of the noodle stall that I remember so fondly.  Except the area is now covered with rows of shops and restaurants.  Including the McDonalds that we patronized.  Obviously ‘fast,’ ‘predictable.’ and ‘air-conditioned’ were qualities that appealed to us.  The restaurant was surprisingly crowded.  It turned out that the locals knew something that we didn’t.

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It wasn’t yet noon when we got to the counter.  Our server told us we would have to wait a few minutes before she would take our order.  Something about a special offer.  Promptly at noon the menu boards were flipped to reveal all.  25% off double cheeseburger meals!

It was 12.45 pm and broiling when we left McDonalds.  We had been smart to take advantage of the free refills to recharge our bidons.  In no time I was sweating buckets and dipping into my bottles.  To the relief of all, it started to rain.  Patchy at first, but pretty heavily for the last 7 km.  We all got soaked to the skin but were thankful for the respitefrom the heat the rain provided.  The final 15 km of rolling hills were challenging despite the cooling rain.  That final section might have been just a bit too wild in the full heat of the day.