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Tag Archives: Suria Hot Spring Resort

IIUM Endu-ride 2020

Graphic courtesy of IIUM

During a R@SKLs ride in November last year we met a group from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) who were doing a recce for a planned 280km / 1,200km cycling event. They invited us to take part. “Not a chance,” we all thought to ourselves.

Photograph courtesy of Hamzah Abu Samah

Never say “never.” Fast forward to this weekend and Johan S, Kenneth, Mokhtar and I had signed up for the 280 km / 174 mi ride from the IIUM campus in Kuantan to the IIUM campus in Gombak via the IIUM campus in Gambang. We had 26.5 hours to complete the ride.

The 1,200 km / 746 mi Ultra-ride event includes a visit to the IIUM campus in Pagoh. That event (going on as I write this) is many kilometres too far and many hours too long (105 hours) for us.

The logistics were painless thanks to Mokhtar. He has an apartment in Kuantan where we stayed on Friday night and a pickup truck that transported our bikes. He even drove us from KL to Kuantan.

We got to Kuantan at about 1:00 pm. We had some time to burn before collecting our ride packs, so we got a head start on carbo-loading at lunch.

Photograph courtesy of Mokhtar Nadzri

The ride pack collection and briefing went very well.

Photograph courtesy of Ali shamsul Bahar

I don’t know why my name was the only one not in all capitals.

I’m not sure that we needed to carbo-load as much as we did at dinner.

Photograph courtesy of Mokhtar Nadzri

We were ready to roll out of the IIUM campus in Kuantan as scheduled at 7:30 am. Fazwan was a great help driving the pickup and loading and unloading our bikes.

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

We had a detailed plan for the ride. Our strategy was to take short breaks every 25 km or so and to maintain a pace which would get us to the Suria Hot Spring Resort on Bentong by 6:15 pm. That was the plan anyway!

The route to the IIUM campus in Gombak from Bentong is via Genting Sempah. That road is unlit and in need of resurfacing. It would be a risky ride in the dark, so we chose to spend the night at the Hot Spring Resort.

The first checkpoint was at the IIUM campus in Gambang.

Photograph courtesy of MY1200

We got there on schedule but stayed much longer than planned. The organiser was serving cendol, and we had to have some after we got our MyPassports (akin to a brevet card) stamped.

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

The cendol was worth lingering for. From that point, we fell further and further behind our schedule as each five minute stop stretched to ten or fifteen minutes.

Our next stop was at Restoran Mak Lijah in Kampung Berkelah. We ran into Brian, who was doing the Ultra-ride.

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

I have driven to Kuantan and back along these roads many times. Passing through places like Kampung New Zealand. I don’t know why it is so named, but now I have cycled through it.

Photograph courtesy of Kenneth Lim
Photograph courtesy of Kenneth Lim
Photograph courtesy of Kenneth Lim
Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Our next scheduled stop was the just after we rode through Kampung New Zealand. The Two Brothers café was closed, but we made ourselves at home anyway.

Photograph courtesy of Mokhtar Nadzri

About 10 km later we pulled over to chat with AiLin and Mark, who were on their way to Kuantan by scooter.

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

We got to Taman Jaya near Temerloh at about 1:45 pm. It was 36ºC / 97ºF, so we lingered at over lunch for an hour and fifteen minutes.

Despite it being even hotter at 3:00 pm – 38ºC / 100ºF – we had to get moving if we were to have any hope of getting to Bentong before nightfall.

We only made it about 20 km down the road before we needed to cool down at the Petron station in Mentakab. By which time we had resigned ourselves to getting into Bentong after dark.

Photograph courtesy of Mokhtar Nadzri

We had 45 km to cover before the next checkpoint at Mempaga. Those kilometres happened to be some of the hilliest of the day, with gradients approaching 10%.

We got to the Mempaga checkpoint at about 6:30 pm.

Photograph courtesy of MY1200

We all needed fluid, and in some cases, food. It wasn’t until 7:15 pm before we turned on our front and rear lights and left the Petronas station in Mempaga.

The run into Bentong includes a nasty little climb which rises 125 metres over 5.8 km. Welcome to Bentong!

Photograph courtesy of Mokhtar Nadzri

The last 10 km to the Suria Hot Spring Resort is along an unlit road. I would not like to be riding on that road alone at night. Which is what Johan did. He stopped to eat as soon as he got to Bentong town. We planned to eat dinner at the resort. Johan told us to proceed without him. He made it to the resort unscathed.

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

234 km in the bag.

Map courtesy of

We all slept like babies that night, despite the children carousing outside our rooms at 1:00 am.

We were ready to get going again at 6:20 am. We had to be at the IIUM campus in Gombak by 10:00 am to make the time cutoff. 46 km and 570 metres of climbing away. We couldn’t afford to dilly-dally today.

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

We stuck to our plan of short stops at the Bukit Tinggi and Janda Baik junctions. We made such good time to the McDonald’s at the Genting Sempah R&R that we were able to have breakfast there.

Photograph courtesy of Mokhtar Nadzri

A McDonald’s scrambled egg sandwich always tastes better during a ride.

Photograph courtesy of McDonald’s® Malaysia

All that was left between us and the 19 km descent to Taman Permai Jaya was the 1 km 7.9% average gradient climb up what is known as Hamburger Hill.


Photograph courtesy of Fazwan

There was a slight sting in the tail on the final 3 km to the finish at the IIUM Gombak Sport Complex. A small matter of a few 6.5% slopes to get over. We got a bit lost inside the campus too, but that didn’t dampen our sense of achievement as we got our MyPassports stamped at the finish.

Photograph courtesy of Mokhtar Nadzri

Hamzah was of the guys who last November invited us to take part in this event. He was at the finish line.

Photograph courtesy of Hamzah Abu Samah

46 km on the day.

Map courtesy of

280 km over the two days. Thumbs up all round!

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

R@SKLs do Bentong

Bentong Sign gobentong com

Photograph courtesy of

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