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CFAL 2018: Prelude

CFAL Banner

Graphic courtesy of event.howei.com

The annual Campaign for a Lane (CFAL) ride is the most anticipated event on the R@SKL calendar.  Planning starts in March, as soon as registration for CFAL opens.

The early birds get the best accommodation in Penang.  A room at the Tien Hotel.  Those who were slower off the mark get the next best thing.  Shared accommodation at Tien Residences.  Both locations are courtesy of TH Lim, who once again outdid himself as host extraordinaire.

CFAL 2018 Welcome Banner

Graphic courtesy of TH Lim

TH took care of all the arrangments in Penang.  Dehydration would not be a problem.

CFAL 2018 Hydration CH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

He went to Penang a few days early to make sure the hawker food was up to scratch.

Food Taste Testing TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

He even provided custom-made caps for us.

CFAL 2018 Cap TH Lim

All the rest of us had to do was arrange our travel and get our bikes to Pegasus in time to catch the transporter van.

R@SKLs started travelling early on Friday.

CFAL 2018 Plane Kenix Chiang

Photograph courtesy of Kenix Chiang

Including some from Hong Kong.

CFAL 2018 HK Arrivals Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

By lunchtime on Friday bikes were in a van and on the road from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

CFLA Prelude Loading Bikes Marco Lai

Photograph courtesy of Marco Lai

Th’s host duties started early on Friday evening as the first wave of R@SKLs arrived at the Tien Hotel.

CFAL 2018 Early Arrivals TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The festivities were interrupted by the arrival of the van carrying our bicycles.

CFAL 2018 Unloading Bikes TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Unloading expended a lot of calories, which of course had to be immediately replaced.  So festivities recommenced at a hawker stall down the road from the Tien Hotel.

CFAL 2018 Eating Lai Voon Kiat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Kiat

A sign of things to come . . . .

CFAL 2018 Sign of things to come Simon Su Hoo

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The R@SKLs Like Penang – Day Three

Sunday AM CFAL Banner

The Tien Hotel was buzzing at 5.30am.  R@SKLs were getting coffees and filling bottles. Pumping up tires.  Filling jersey pockets with ride essentials.

At 6.10am sharp we rode down Lebuh Chulia toward the Residence carpark on the corner of Jalan Penang, where the rest of the R@SKLs were waiting.  A headcount confirmed that we had twenty four riders in our group.

Local boy Lay led us over the 6km / 3.7mi from the Residence to the CFAL start line at the Youth Park.  There were reportedly 3,500 participants in this ninth edition of the Campaign for a Lane.

We positioned ourselves at the back of the pack.  We didn’t want to get caught up in the starting rush and crush.

Sunday AM Start Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

The excitement, or pressure, of the event must have got to some of the R@SKLs.  They developed a sudden interest in the surrounding bushes.

Sunday AM CFAL Start Leakage TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The CFAL event has developed a reputation as one of the better organised rides.  The organisers get most things right.  Like starting the event on time.  Cyclists began pouring out of the part at 7.15am.  Right on time.

Sunday AM CFAL Start Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

The CFAL route has remained unchanged for a number of years now.  Out of the Youth Park to Persiaran Gurney, and then clockwise roughly following the coast, down to Bayan Lepas in the south-eastern corner of the island.

Our new jerseys stood out well against the sea of purple CFAL jerseys that most of the other participants were wearing.  That made staying together as a group easier.

A very popular photo spot along the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Highway is within view of the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, more commonly known as the Penang Second Bridge.

Sunday AM Penang Bridge Leslie Tong

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

It took a few tries, but we did get that bridge in the background.

We had our first proper rest stop at the Caltex station, just the other side of the Sungai Bayan Lepas, about 30km / 18.5mi into the ride.  We raided the station shop for drinks and food.  And queued for the toilet.

From the Caltex station the route curved inland to the right for a kilometer or two, and then curved back down toward Teluk Kumbar on the coast.  At Teluk Kumbar the route headed due north to the Puspakom vehicle inspection site in Kampung Tengah.

That Puspakom compound marked the start of the first of the two climbs on the CFAL route.  It is about 2km / 1.2mi long, and has 115 meters / 377 feet of elevation.

Everyone was looking good on the slopes.

We went past this guy on the lower slope of the climb.

Sunday AM CFAL Penny Farthing Dennis Tan

Photograph courtesy of Dennis Tan

He gave it a good effort, but it wasn’t long before he was walking his penny-farthing up the hill.

We regrouped at the bottom of the descent of Jalan Balik Pulau, where the road takes a sharp left onto state route P239 toward Pulau Betong.  Once we were all together again, we cruised over the next 15km / 9.3mi to the row of shophouses opposite the Sin Min primary school.

Sunday AM Kampung Tomoe Suga.png

We stopped so that riders could buy water, 100 Plus etc. from the sundry shop there.  It is a good place to stop for a rest and a drink.  The small temple on the end of the row of shophouses marks the start of the second climb.  This one is 4.8km / 3mi long, with an elevation of 259 meters / 850 feet.

We agreed to meet on the other side of the hill, at the Teluk Bahang Dam.  Most of us know the spot, because we took photographs there the last time we rode in Penang.  This is one of those photographs.  We were standing on the dam.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Reservoir View 1 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

I got to the dam first.  I stopped in the shade of a tree opposite the dam, and waited for the other pink jerseys to appear.

5 minutes went by.  No pink jerseys.

10 minutes went by.  Still no pinks jerseys.

15 minutes went by.  Aha!  There is a pink jersey.  Damn (pardon the pun).  Not one of ours.

I started to wonder if someone had suffered a puncture, or worse, had suffered a fall.

20 minutes went by.  Then a participant shouted at me as he rode past.  “I think your friends are resting up the hill.”

I pedaled 300 meters back up the hill and around a corner, and there they were.

Sprawled on the grass.  Looking comfortable and relaxed.

Leslie, who wasn’t in Penang with us the last time, pulled off at this spot.  Everyone else followed him, instead of continuing down to the dam.

Sunday PM Teluk Bahang Dam CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of Lim Heng Keng

I do admit that it was a nice place to stop.

But for next time guys.  This is what the dam looks like.

Sunday PM Teluk Bahang Dam

There were about 20km / 12.4mi to ride back to the Youth Park.  It started raining as we got to Batu Ferringhi.  Jalan Batu Ferringhi is a winding, rolling, narrow stretch of road, with a hill on one side and a drop-off to the sea on the other side.  It would be a pleasant road for a bike ride, if only there wasn’t so much traffic.

Sunday PM Batu Ferringhi Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Add rain to the mix, and the ride along Jalan Batu Ferringhi to the Penang Swimming Club is a bit stressful.  Sometimes the safest place to be is in the middle of the slender lane.  It can upset drivers, but it stops them trying to squeeze past you, and in the process forcing you right to the edge of the road, or worse, off the road.

The last 5km / 3mi along Jalan Tanjung Bungah is also busy with cars, lorries, and buses, but the road is wider and has a proper shoulder, so you are not riding in amongst the traffic.

It was still raining when we got to the Youth Park.  3,500 riders quickly turned sections of the grass field into a quagmire.  The large marquee tent was packed with people sheltering from the rain.  As I was looking for somewhere to leave my bike, I saw Husher from Meng Thai Bicycle Centre.  He was manning a stall at one corner of the marquee, where he was displaying some of the Rikulau stainless steel bikes that he sells.

Husher’s stall became the area for the R@SKLs to park their bikes.  It was close to the medal, water, and food pickup points.

Sunday PM CFAL Food Tomoe Suga.png

And also close to the backdrop for finisher photographs.  Thank you Husher.

The lucky draw was in progress as we waited for all the R@SKLs to finish and to collect their medals.  I don’t think any of us expected to win a prize, although it does appear that one of us did have a winning number.  Number 2276 was called.  One R@SKL had number 2275, and another had number 2277.  So someone in the group must have had number 2276.  Oh well!

It was still raining after everyone had their medal in hand.  So we decided to ride back to the hotel, rather than looking for somewhere to eat along the way.  Halfway to the hotel the rain stopped.  It was sunny and hot at the Tien Hotel.

Lunch was at Goh Thew Chik Hainan Chicken Rice, which is a few doors away from the Tien.  Simon reserved four whole chickens for us.  Two roasted, and two poached.

That wasn’t enough.  It took two more chickens, and more rice, to satisfy the R@SKLs.

Lay and Leslie couldn’t join us for lunch.  Their ride back to KL left Penang at 2pm.  Heng Keng left for the airport right after lunch.

Others went straight from the chicken rice shop to look for dessert.

Sunday PM Chendol 1 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Those of us on evening flights were able to linger at the Tien.

Sunday PM Time to Relax 2 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Sunday PM Time to Relax 3 Tomoe Suga

Pai was a true team player.  He brought cendol back to the hotel for those of us who were too idle to walk to the stall with him.  Thank you Pai.

Sunday PM Chendol 2 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Most of the remaining R@SKLs were on an 8pm flight.  Which gave them time to devour one last plate of char koay teow and oyster omelette before bidding farewell to Penang.

Sunday PM Last Food Run Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The Hong Kong trio flew out on Monday.  TH looked after them very well.  Champagne even!

Sunday PM HK Crew TH

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Our bikes and bags had been loaded onto the van at 4pm.  ETA at Pegasus Cycles was 10pm.  Collecting our bikes marked the end of a wonderful weekend with great friends and great food, with some cycling thrown in for good measure.

Sunday PM Bike Unloading Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Thank you TH and your staff for looking after us so well.

Thank you CK and Danial for providing much valued support.

Thank you R@SKLs for being excellent company.

When is our next trip?

Sunday PM Medal.png

 

The R@SKLs Like Penang – Day Two

Saturday AM Banner

Our Penangite friends who were going to lead our Saturday morning ride, and the young chaps on motorbikes who were our outriders, were outside the Tien Hotel and ready to go at 7.15am.

It’s too bad that the R@SKLs weren’t.

The story we are sticking to is that Tomoe’s bus didn’t get onto the island until about 8am.  It would have been churlish not to wait for her, after all the effort she took to get to Penang.

In truth it took us some time as a group to get organised.  About twenty minutes after the agreed start time, we were finally ready for a group photograph.

Saturday AM Ride Start Leonard Yee

Photograph courtesy of Leonard Yee

Then we rode six hundred meters (the distance sounds much more impressive when expressed in meters) to breakfast at a coffee shop on Jalan Kuala Kangsar.

There were twenty six cyclists, and four outriders.  Too many to fit in the shop.  So we sat in the lane behind the shop.  We were perfectly comfortable, and it was easy to keep an eye on our bikes.

The breakfast dish of choice was the koay teow soup.

Saturday AM Breakfast Lai Voon Keat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Von Keat

The toast with butter and kaya, and the soft-boiled eggs were very good too.

After breakfast we rode a further one thousand one hundred meters to the car park outside the Residence, where we met Tomoe.  And waited fifteen minutes for various R@SKLs to use the toilet.

Better late than never, as they say.  By 8.45am we were heading south on the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Highway.  We were on our way at last.

Err, not quite.  This McDonald’s was a convenient spot for one last toilet stop.

Saturday AM Outriders Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

The guys in the fluorescent vests were our outriders.  They helped us the last time we rode in Penang.  See R@SKLs Do Penang – Day One for details..

They did an excellent job for us this time too.  With an added weapon.  One of the guys has outfitted his motorbike with a horn which would do a container truck proud.  We all nearly jumped out of our skins the first time he blasted that klaxon!

We took a short diversion off the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Highway and onto Persiaran Bayan Indah.  A popular photo stop on Persiaran Bayan Indah is where you can get Pulau Jerejak in the background.

Saturday AM near Bridge Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

The main destinations for our Saturday morning ride, apart from coffee shops and restaurants, were the Snake Temple, and the Kek Lok Si Temple.  We got to the Snake Temple first, about 22km / 14mi into the ride.

Saturday AM Snake Temple 1 Lai Voon Keat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Keat

The temple is known for its namesake snakes, in this case a variety of pit vipers.

Saturday AM Snake Temple Snake Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

As we left the Snake Temple, one of our Penangite friends, Dennis, told me that we would soon be on a climb.  He then asked if the R@SKLs would be okay to climb about 500 meters to 1km / 0.3 to 0.6mi of “quite steep” slopes.

“No problem” I replied.

I owe the R@SKLs an apology.  As you can see, “quite steep” was actually very steep in places.  And the climb was longer than advertised.  2.5km / 1.5mi, with 167 meters / 548 feet of elevation.

That climb claimed one victim.  Voon Keat’s rear derailleur.

 

Saturday AM Broken RD Lai Voon Keat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Keat

Fortunately our outriders knew just where to go to get a replacement installed.  Voon Keat was up and running again by the time we finished lunch.

We regrouped to catch our breath at the Petronas station at the bottom of the descent of Jalan Paya Terubong.  If a shot of RON 97 would have helped me recover, I would have been in the queue behind Ralf.

Saturday AM Electrolytes Leonard Yee

Photograph courtesy of Leonard Yee

More preferable refreshment was available 2km / 1.2mi down the road, at Serrena’s business premises.  She kindly laid on a variety of cold liquids for us.

Saturday AM Serena Refreshment Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

We needed the drinks and the breather.  Less than 3km / 1.9mi further on was the start of the ascent to the Kek Lok Si Temple.

First we had to negotiate Jalan Pasar, or Market Street.  It is an aptly named road.  Both sides of the road are lined with market stalls that make up the Air Itam market.  We were competing with pedestrians, cars, and buses for what little road space there was.

Sometimes you just had to stop and wait for an opening to ride through.  The riders who faced fewer blockages waited at the junction of Jalan Pasar and Jalan Balik Pulau for the others.

Saturday AM Ready to Attack Kek Lok Si Hill Martin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

We were aiming for the base of the Kek Lok Si pavilion and the pagoda, 90 meters / 295 feet above where we regrouped.

Saturday AM Kek Lok Si Arne Müseler www.arne-mueseler.de

Photograph courtesy of Arne Müseler at http://www.arne-mueseler.de

We all got there!

Saturday AM Kek Lok Si Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

It is a spectacular temple complex.  The bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin, is 30.2 meters / 99 feet high.

The view from up there isn’t too shabby either.

 

Saturday AM Kek Lok Si View Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

As we were about to leave the Kek Lok Si Temple, those dark clouds started delivering their payload.  The rain made the descent – 18.5% gradient in places – rather tricky.

Everyone got down without incident.  The rain was getting heavier, so there were no complaints when we were ushered into the Sin Yong Wah coffeeshop for a Penang speciality.  Asam Laksa.

Asam Laksa is made with mackerel soup, and its main distinguishing feature is the asam or tamarind which gives the soup a sour taste. The fish is poached and then flaked.  Other ingredients that give asam laksa its distinctive flavour include lemongrass, galangal, and chilli. Typical garnishes include mint, pineapple slices, thinly sliced onion, ginger flower, and  petis or haε-ko, a thick sweet prawn paste.

Saturday AM Sin Yong Wah Coffee Shop Assam Laksa Kevin Chin

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Chin

Our Penangite guides know their food.  The asam laksa at the Air Itam market is rated amongst the best on the island.

Their char koay teow is pretty good too!

Saturday AM Sin Yong Wah Coffee Shop Char Koay Toew Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

We sat at Sin Yong Wah for an hour.  Not because we were stuffing our faces the entire time mind you.  The rain got heavier and heavier as we ate.

Saturday PM Sin Yong Wah Coffee Shop Rain 2

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C. Pai

The rain didn’t let up.  So we ordered tea and coffee, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Eventually the rain eased a bit.  It didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon, so we headed out and rode the very wet 12km / 7.5mi back to the hotel.

We had the Tien staff chasing after us with towels to wipe up the water we left behind as we splashed our way up the stairs and into our rooms for a shower and some dry clothes.

It is a good thing we had the Tien Hotel and Residence all to ourselves.  I don’t think any non-cyclists would have been impressed with our use of the space!

Saturday PM Residence 3 Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Pretty soon it was time for tea and nyonya cakes.

Saturday PM Snacks Martin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

And some vino by the pool after the rain stopped.

Saturday PM at the pool Tomoe Suga

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

While we were getting rained on at lunch, Leslie, Lay and Philip were getting rained on as well.  They had been riding from Ipoh, where they had spent Friday night, after eight hours in the saddle from KL.  At 3pm they hit heavy rain, which persisted for the hour that it took for them to get to the ferry terminal at Butterworth.  Fortunately the rain stopped by the time they were on the ferry to the island.  They were on track to be at the hotel by about 5.30pm.

Saturday PM Ferry Leslie Tong

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

It is hard to believe, but by 6.30pm we were hungry, and ready for dinner.  It was threatening to rain again, but we risked it and walked the 1km / 0.6mi to Auntie Gaik Lean’s.

The restaurant is housed in what used to be a jewelery shop.  The safe door is still in place at the back of the shop.

Saturday PM Auntie Gaik Lean's Safe Door Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C. Pai

The nyonya food?  Delicious!

Saturday PM Auntie Gaik Lean's Dinner Menu TH.png

The R@SKLs?  Happy!

Saturday PM Auntie Gaik Lean's Kevin Chin

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Chin

Perhaps a bit too happy.  I suspect we were too loud for some of the other patrons in Gaik Lean’s that evening.  They can’t deny that we had ourselves a good time though.

It was drizzling when we left the restaurant.  Some of us walked anyway.  I certainly needed some gentle exercise after all that I ate.

I was stuffed, happy and ready for bed by the time I got back to the hotel.  Others, however, went out for supper later that night.  I don’t know where they put more food.

The R@SKLs staying at the Tien Hotel planned to met the others at the Residence car park at 6.15am.  We would then ride as a group to the Youth Park for the start of the CFAL event.

We would have to be up before this guy.

Saturday PM Kek Lok Si View Rooster.png

The R@SKLs Like Penang – Day 1

Penang Banner

A well-earned reputation for great food, and a very good annual cycling event, make Penang an attractive destination in August each year.

The R@SKLs started planning the trip to this year’s Campaign for a Lane (CFAL), at the end of May.  First a WhatsApp chat group for interested R@SKLs was created.  By early June sixteen of us had registered for the event (thank you Simon), and we had booked accommodation at the Tien Hotel-Residence (thank you TH).

By July flight reservations had been made, and a van to transport bicycles had been booked.  We had also ordered a new jersey, to be debuted at CFAL.

Friday AM Jersey

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

By early August a cycling itinerary for Saturday had been agreed, and a dinner venue for that evening had been confirmed.  The R@SKLs were set for another Penang adventure.

The action started last Friday Friday morning, when fifteen bikes and assorted bags were loaded into the van for the trip to Penang.

Friday AM Van Loaded Start.png

The day had started even earlier for Leslie and Lay, who together with their friend Philip, were cycling from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

Friday PM Cycling to Penang Leslie Tong

Photograph courtesy of Leslie Tong

The next to start their travels were probably Ralf, Voon Keat and Aaron.  They flew to Penang from Hong Kong.

Friday PM Hong Kong Team Arrival Lai Voon Keat

Photograph courtesy of Lai Voon Keat

Three colourful bike cases, and their owners, got to Penang around midday.

Most likely starting their travels at about the same time as the Hong Kong trio were Martin and CC, who drove to Penang.  This is Martin and his son, and of course a bike, just about to start the drive.

Friday AM Driving Martin Lee

Photograph courtesy of Martin Lee

Danial and CK drove as well, but they weren’t leaving until Saturday.

The rest of the R@SKLs had to get to the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport in Subang for evening fights.  Which proved more difficult than anticipated for some.  Rain made the Friday evening crawl even worse than usual.

Friday PM Subang Traffic Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Luanne made it to the airport just in time for her flight.

Tomoe did not.  Nevertheless, she was determined to ride with us on Saturday morning, so she caught the midnight bus to Penang.

Friday PM Bus Station Tomoe

Photograph courtesy of Tomoe Suga

Meanwhile, the early arrivals wasted no time getting stuck into the famous Penang food.

Friday PM Early Arrivals Dinner Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

And a bottle or two.

Friday PM Party Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Thomas, Zulfa and I were on a much-delayed flight, so we were the last to arrive.  The Tien Hotel was a welcome sight at midnight.

 

 

As was the newly-opened Residence, which was home to twelve R@SKLs, including Thomas.

Some stayed up late for a last glass of wine.  Most called it a night at about 12.30am.  The aim was to start riding at 7.15am.

Friday PM Dreaming

 

R@SKLs Do Penang – Day Two

Posted on

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Banner.png

After the santai (relaxed) turned bantai (thrashed) ride of the day before, some of us were dubious about attempting a round-the-island ride.  Following the CFAL route to the south-east, south-west, and north-west corners of the island, before heading east back to George Town, had been the original plan when this Tien Hotel Residence getaway to Penang was first mooted.  Now we wondered if it would be a bit more than we could handle, given the exertions of the previous day.

However, the die was cast.  We had invited some Penangites to ride with us, and they were on the doorstep at 7.45am, expecting to replicate the 80km / 50mi CFAL route.  So nine R@SKLs and six Penangites posed in front of the Tien hotel before following our three guardian angels – we had retained the same three young men from the day before – out to Pengkalan Weld and then to Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu highway.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Start 366 via TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

This time we covered 12km / 7.5mi before having to stop for a mechanical problem.  This time to reseat Simon’s rear tire.  It is a mystery how, but a section of the bead had separated from the rim.  Fortunately we had CK with us.  The man from Pegasus Cycles soon had Simon’s wheel sorted out.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Lifesaver Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Our next stop was intentional.  Kampung Tengah was 25km / 15.5mi into our ride.  We stopped to regroup there because Kampung Tengah is at the base of Bukit Genting.

Everyone agreed that the 2km / 1 mi climb up Bukit Genting was easier than we had anticipated.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 First Climb View Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

As we came off the relatively fast descent – more than 50kph / 31mph in places – we had to drop anchors and cut speed in time for the sharp left turn at the bottom of the hill onto Jalan Sungai Nipah.  The day before, we had continued north, straight on Jalan Balik Pulau to the food court.

This time we headed south to Kampung Bakar Kapur and the coast.  That was the closest we would come to the sea until we got to Teluk Bahang, in the north-west of the island, about 25km / 15.5mi away.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Beach 1 Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

But that would be later.  It was first time for some food.  I wouldn’t have known this was a restaurant.  It is a good thing we had locals riding with us.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Food before Second Climb Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Highlights of this meal, apart from the noodles, were the home-made soya bean milk and nutmeg juice drinks.  Nutmeg juice is a unique Penang speciality.

Fed and watered, we made the straight run northward to Sungai Pinang in quick time.

We regrouped at the 玄龙双祝宫 temple, which Google translates as Xuanlong Double Wish Palace.

As you may have guessed, our local guides stopped at the temple because it is at the base of the climb up Jalan Teluk Bahang.  A 5km / 3mi winding route that rises 255 meters / 837 feet.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Route

We got ourselves to the top of the climb, which wasn’t as bad as we had anticipated.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Climb 2 At The Top CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

The run down to the Teluk Bahang Dam would have been much more fun if the road hadn’t been littered with leaves, small branches, sand and mud.  It had rained very hard the previous night, and a lot of debris had been washed onto the road.  Descending with extra care was required.

We wanted to take our bikes with us through the security post at the dam, but that was a non no.  So it was just us at the water’s edge, showing off our better sides.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Reservoir View 1 Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

We made our last stop at Restoran K-Haleel, just after the roundabout at the bottom of the descent from the dam.  It was a good place to stop for a drink, and to thank our newfound local friends for their hospitality and guidance.  Most of them were not going all the way back into town.  Instead heading their own ways to get home.

There were just over 20km / 12.5mi to go.  Most of it rolling terrain as we hugged the coast through Batu Ferringhi and Tanjung Tokong.  Once we got to Gurney Drive we had a flat 5km / 3mi to the Tien hotel.

Six of us were 3 km / 1.8mi from the hotel when word came through, via walkie-talkie to the guardian angel with us, that Pai had suffered a puncture.  Once again, it was CK to the rescue.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Lifesaver 2 Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Hsing C Pai

Waiting.

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Where Are They Pai Flat Leonard Yee

Photograph courtesy of Leonard Yee

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 First Flat Waiting Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

Inner tube replaced, Pai and the rest soon rolled around the corner where we were waiting, and we had no further interruptions as we wound our way through town to the hotel.

It was then a case of replaying the post ride activities of the previous day.  Showers, hanging kit up to dry, napping, and eating and drinking.  Plus loading bicycles and bags into the repaired van for the trip back to Pegasus Cycles.

All too soon, our boutique hotel / cycling getaway was over.  We owe a large debt of gratitude to TH and the staff at the Tien Hotel Residence for making our stay such a nice one.  We are already planning to stay there again during our next Penang trip.  CFAL 9 is on 13th August.

Book those seats fellas!

R@SKLs Penang Day 2 Homeward Bound TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

 

R@SKLs Do Penang – Day One

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R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Shoes Not Allowed.png

The R@SKLs crawled or bounced out of bed, depending on how much wine and beer had been consumed the night before.  Freshly-baked bread, jam, juice, yogurt, fresh fruit, and coffee were waiting in the communal kitchen / dining area.

The plan for the day was a gentle ride of between 30 to 40km / 18 to 25mi, interrupted at regular intervals for food and drink.  The estimated time of arrival back at the hotel was 11am.  What transpired was a little different.

We were all ready to roll at about 8am.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Start 2 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

Lay was in town, so he joined us

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Start 1

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

I mentioned in the Prelude post that we would do this ride in style.  We hired these three fine young men to accompany us on their scooters and motorbikes.  Armed with whistles, flags, and walkie-talkies, they stopped traffic at junctions and intersections, and rode between the traffic and us on multi-lane highways, so ensuring that we were safe during our ride.  They were our guardian angels over the weekend.  Thank you gentlemen.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Marshals CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

We spent the first kilometer of the ride looking for somewhere to have a second breakfast.  Clearly, the breakfast at the hotel was merely a snack to tide us over whilst we searched for a proper breakfast.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Breakfast TH Lee

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

We didn’t get far after the roti canais and teh tariks.  Simon had a puncture within the next kilometer.  Some of us were up the road, so there were only Leonard, Kevin and Kelin to stand around and watch Simon and CK replace an inner tube.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 First Flat Spectators Lee Heng Keng

Photograph courtesy of Lee Heng Keng

We got an early taste of Penang’s bike paths.  There is an annual cycling event organized by the Campaign For A Lane (CFAL), that raises funds for the creation of bike paths and bike lanes.  CFAL has been running for about a decade, and the results are visible all around the island.

After our stint on the bike path we were on the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu highway, riding toward the Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge.  This bridge, Malaysia’s longest, opened in early 2014.  It is the second bridge linking Penang to the mainland.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Penang Bridge Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

If we had known better, we would have retraced our track from here, and been back at the hotel, and out of the sun, by 11am.  As most of us expected.

Instead we continued on to Bayan Lepas airport, and beyond.  We all agreed that Kapitan Simon was to blame for this.  We are sure he misled our guardian angels into thinking that we all wanted to ride further.  So they took us on a longer route.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Route

Just after the right turn onto Jalan Permatang Damar Laut, at the southern tip of the island, TH had a puncture.  It was about 10am.  The sun was bright and it was already 32°C / 90°F.  A group of us waited in the only shade we could find as TH replaced his inner tube.

Fifteen minutes later we were all rolling again toward Teluk Kumbar, where we turned right.  We were now cycling north and starting to climb up Bukit Genting.  Those of us who had ridden CFAL in the past were familiar with this climb.

Once down the other side, it was time for more food.  A stall in the Balik Pulau Food Court is famous for its asam laksa.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 5 366 via TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

“What’s that?  No asam laksa?”

The guys had to settle for koay teow soup instead.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 4 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

“But wait!”  There is more asam laksa being made.”

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court Asam Laksa TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

So some of the guys had seconds.  Asam laksa on top of the koay teow soup.  A decision that would rise up, so to speak, to haunt at least one person.

All smiles at this point, as we left the Balik Pulau Food Court.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Balik Pulau Food Court 6 366 via TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

Literally 500 meters from where we took the photo above, the road started tilting up, and up, and up.  It was 5km / 5mi to Anjung Indah, with gradients touching 10% and more.  This was allegedly a shortcut back to the hotel.  Give me the longer way next time!

This was the last 20 meters of what is one of the hardest climbs any of us have done.

We stopped where the junction with a side road offered some extra tarmac where we could safely get off our bikes.  As you can see from the photos, the sun was directly overhead.  So we sought refuge in some shade across the road.  Pretty much in a drain.

Which would have been convenient if that asam laksa had erupted up and out of someone’s stomach!

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Anjung Indah Climb 7 CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

If we had known that there were fruit and drinks stalls 300 meters up the road, we would have kept going, rather than stop where we did.  Although I must admit, that is easy to say now.  We were on the limit at the time.

After all the cursing about the climb while recovered beside the drain, smiles were restored when we discovered durian at the fruit stalls.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Anjung Indah Park 1 Kevin Chin

Photograph courtesy of Kevin Chin

Treasurer Heng Keng thought that he might have to make a cash call, given the amount of durian consumed.  Especially by some guy in pink from Taiwan!

We still had 23km / 14mi to get back to the Tien hotel.  With 8km / 5mi of that along the unshaded Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu highway.

By the time we got back into George Town it was about 2pm.  We were boiling.  Cendol was called for.  There is a very well-known cendol stall on Lebuh Keng Kwee, which goes by the less-than-modest name of Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendol.  The queue for their cendol is always long – see below.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Cendol 1 Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

Some locals say that the cendol from the stall across the road is, in fact, better.  We opted for that much less-crowded stall.  Some of us had two bowls of cendol, and we were on our way before the people at the end of the queue for the “Famous” cendol had been able to place their orders.

Just one more kilometer, and we were back in the air-conditioned comfort of the Tien hotel.  Most of us jumped into showers.  Some took another option.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Pool TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

All of us did turn the rooftop pool deck into a dobi, or laundry.  Open dividers, which had obviously been designed with considerable thought and care, became excellent places to hang wet cycling kit.

Some of us took naps.  Some went for a massage.  Some indulged in the nyonya cakes and bubur kacang merah (red bean soup) that were laid out in the hotel dining area.

R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Tien Hotel Tea

Cyclists that we are, we had all done the maths, and had determined that, despite all we had eaten already, there were still calories to be replaced – see I Am Sure I’ve Earned That Second Roti Canai.  We were ready for more food.

Dinner was at Yi Bing Qing Fish Head Steamboat.  Yi Bing Qing is a big name when it comes to steamboat restaurants in Penang.  So good that Leonard paused to give thanks at the altar of the steamboat chimney.

In all seriousness, the steamboat was delicious.

With that meal, Day One was a wrap.  There was, allegedly, a party that night up in the lounge / bar area of the hotel.

Allegedly.  If there was a party, I slept through it. R@SKLs Penang Day 1 Halo 2

R@SKLs Do Penang – Prelude

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R@SKLs Penang Banner Oat Anantachote

Photograph courtesy of Oat Anantachote

Penang is noted for its food, its beaches, its street art, and its bicycle lanes.  The Tien Hotel Residence will soon join that list.

Fellow R@SKL TH Lim has been converting what was the Sky budget hotel into a swankier boutique hotel.  Here he is in the upstairs lounge / bar area.

R@SKLs Penang Prelude TH in Hotel TH Lim

Photograph courtesy of TH Lim

The Tien Hotel Residence will open its doors to the public soon.  TH invited the R@SKLs for a “shakedown” stay at the Tien.  He wanted feedback from us so that any kinks could be ironed out before the official opening.

Eight of us jumped at the chance to be the first guests at a very nice boutique hotel located in the historic center of George Town.  We did everything in the style befitting our accommodation.

Starting with transporting our bicycles.  We hired an eighteen-seater van and driver to get our bikes to Penang and back.  Nine bicycles (including TH’s bike) and our bags went into the van, with room to spare.

R@SKLs Penang Van Loaded Simon Soo Hu

Photograph courtesy of Simon Soo Hu

The eight of us met at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport on Friday evening for the short flight to Penang.  Some beers were needed to calm the nerves after some of us had endured stressful journeys to the airport through particularly bad KL traffic.

R@SKLs Penang Prelude Subang Airport Hsing C Pai

Photograph courtesy of Tsing C Pai

Malindo Air got us to Penang on time.

R@SKLs Penang Prelude Malindo CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

We each got a guided tour of our rooms upon arrival.  The rooms have everything you would expect from a boutique hotel, plus a few extras.  Along with the standard power sockets, the rooms also have USB sockets.  So mobile, Garmin, headphones etc. charging cables can be plugged into the sockets without the need for separate chargers.  There is also a wall-mounted HDMI port so you can stream A/V from a portable device to the curved screen television.  Lastly, the shower head has a built-in Bluetooth speaker.  What is really neat about the Bluetooth speaker is that it is powered by the flow of water through the shower head.  Eco-cool!

I did say Penang was noted for its food.  Given the Tien hotel’s location in the foodie area of George Town, we didn’t have far to walk for excellent street food.  Char kway teow, popiah, wanton mee, oyster omelette, apom manis and lok lok.  We had it all.

Simon and Pai were spoiled for choice at the lok lok stall.

R@SKLs Penang Prelude Lok Lok CK Lim

Photograph courtesy of CK Lim

After dinner our minds turned to our bicycles.  The van was supposed to arrive between 9 and 10pm.  We had been told that the van would be delayed.  This is why.

R@SKLs Penang Prelude Van Arrives

Better late than never!