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INFINITI Drive & Ride 2017


Photographs courtesy of TopGear Malaysia magazine

A former colleague and long-time friend, Louis Foo, asked me if I could round up some cyclists to take part in the INFINITI Drive & Ride 2017.  Louis is the Managing Director of Big Road Media, the publishers of TopGear Malaysia and Cycling Plus Malaysia magazines.  Those magazines were collaborating with INFINITI to put on this event.

Participants would get the opportunity to ride in an INFINITI car to Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) and back.  And take a turn at the wheel.  Why Kuala Kubu Bharu?  Because that is the natural place to start the Ride portion of the event.  Up to Fraser’s Hill and back down again.

That is why I, together with 31 other riders, ended up at the INFINITI Center in Kuala Lumpur at 5.00am.


Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

We were greeted by a crew which provided excellent support throughout the event.  Starting with the registration of participants.

Registration 01

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

We were each assigned a car for the day.  We also received an identification tag for our bicycles.  Those tags told the support crew which car we would be in, so that our bikes were in the Thule racks above us as we made the 80km / 50mi drive to KKB.  Cyclists get nervous when they are separated from their bikes!

Loading Bikes

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Registration formalities over, it was time to get a coffee and a banana, and to say hello to the other participants.

Coffee before the drive 03

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Next on the agenda was a welcome speech by Tiffany Tan, the General Manager of Inspired Motors, and technical briefings about driving in a convoy to KKB, and about hazards along the ride route up to Fraser’s Hill.

Pre-Ride briefing

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

You learn something new everyday.  On this day it was that the INFINITI logo represents “two central lines leading off into an infinite point on the horizon,” symbolizing this “luxury performance brand’s desire to be always looking forward – to new horizons, to infinity.”

Infiniti Logo

Photograph courtesy of INFINITI

After the briefings, all that was left to do was to pose for some group photographs, chose drivers, and start our engines.

There was a team from the Institute Jantung Negara (National Heart Institute).  If anyone were to have a cardiovascular incident, this was the time and place for it.  Some of the best cardiac surgeons in the country are serious cyclists.

Team IJN

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Team NATO Bicycle Club were well represented.

Team NATO Drive

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

And there were five R@SKLs.

Team R@SKLKs

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Everyone squeezed together for a final photograph.

Ready to roll 01

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Tiffany and Louis dropped the TopGear Malaysia flag.

Tiffany Tan GM & Louis Foo GM

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

And we were away.  The stars of the show were, of course, the cars.


Infiniti Q50

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Infiniti Q50 02

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine


Infiniti Q60

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Infiniti Q60 02

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

And the INFINITI QX70.

Infiniti QX70

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Infiniti QX70 02

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Inside each car was a walkie talkie for incoming instructions from the convoy leader.  Each car also had a pre-loaded Touch & Go card for the toll booths on the North-South Highway.  We also found ziploc bags full of bananas and munchies.  We were in no risk of being short of calories on this ride.

Sustenance We made a quick stop at the Rawang R&R to use the toilets, and to switch drivers.  It wasn’t long before the instruction came over the walkie-talkie to restart our engines, and to head back out onto the North-South Highway.

As you can see, it was a misty morning.  We all hoped that the weather would be on our side, and we would have an overcast and cool ride.


Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

We got to the car park outside Restoran Fazlina Maju in KKB safely, albeit behind schedule.  It is always difficult to get a large group to stick to a schedule.

As the support crew were pulling bikes off the Thule racks, some of us had a last minute teh tarik before putting on our cycling shoes and helmets.

Restoran Fazlina Maju

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

It wasn’t long before we all had our bikes, and were ready to start riding.

Time to ride

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Let's ride

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Team IJN led the way.

Team IJN setting the pace

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Then came the NATO Cycling Club.

Team Nato Up

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Team ACT were riding with us too.

Team ACT Up

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

The R@SKLs were in our customary position toward the rear.

Team Rascals Up

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

It is a 38km / 24mi climb from KKB to the clock tower at Fraser’s Hill.  We had a number of support vehicles, and an ambulance, accompanying us as we made our way to The Gap.  Water and bananas were available for anyone who wanted them at the halfway point.  Many of us took a breather at The Gap, which marks the start of the one-way section of road to Fraser’s Hill.

It is 7km / 4.4mi from The Gap to the clock tower.  The steepest slopes of the climb are within those 7km.  The lighter-bodied amongst us shot up those slopes.  The more well-padded weren’t as rapid.

After getting to the clock tower – the de facto finish of the climb to Fraser’s Hill – we headed 200 meters up the road to the Shahzan Inn for brunch.


Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

There was a nice spread of fruit, pancakes with honey, scones with jam, roti jala with chicken curry, juice, coffee, and tea.

I hid my teh tarik from the guys at the IJN table.  I don’t think teh tarik, with all its condensed milk, counts as heart-healthy.

No teh tarik here

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

The NATO Cycling Club riders got to the Shahzan Inn well ahead of the R@SKLs.  So they had time to relax in the garden.

Tean Nato Shahzan Inn

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

The support crew deserves a huge round of applause from all the riders.  They made us feel like professional cyclists.  All we had to do was ride our bikes.  Everything else – food, drinks, mechanical help, etc. – was taken care of by the support crew.  They were outstanding.

Support Staff

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

There were three or four photographers amongst the support crew.  Hence all the excellent shots in this blog.  They pulled out their cameras for another series of group photographs at the clock tower, before we headed back down the hill.

Team NATO Top

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Team IJN Top

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Team R@SKLs Top

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

We weren’t photographed just with hand-held cameras.  This was shot from a drone.

Everyone Top

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Then it was time for the fun part of the ride.  Woohoo!!

This is the fun part

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

All 32 of us, and the support vehicles, got to the Restoran Fazlina Maju car park without incident.  Well, almost without incident.  One of the IJN riders had a crank arm come loose early in the descent, which sadly put an end to his ride.  But I believe that was it for mechanicals.  I don’t think anyone had a puncture.

Everyone had an excellent time.  There wasn’t much traffic on the roads.  And as you can see from the photographs, the weather was kind to us.  It was overcast and cool the entire time we were on our bikes.

In fact the weather did give us a bit of a scare, just as we headed down the hill after brunch.  It started to drizzle, right where the steepest slopes and tightest corners are.  Fortunately it lasted just a few minutes.  There were some damp patches further down the road, so care was required.  Happily the conditions weren’t so poor that they took the fun out of the descent.

The rain may have held off while we were riding, but it was waiting for us as we drove into KL.  It poured as we passed through the Jalan Duta toll plaza and onto Jalan Tuanku Abdul Halim.  At least our bikes got a wash!

The rain had stopped by the time we got to the INFINITI Center.

Back in KL

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

The festivities didn’t stop though.  While the support crew – they were amazing – took our bikes off the Thule racks, we were served more food inside the INFINITI showroom.

More food

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Perhaps to ensure that we had enough energy to jump up if our name was called in the lucky draw.

Thule donated a hiking pack and a laptop pack as lucky draw prizes.

Lucky Draw 02

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

Lucky Draw 01

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

The lucky draw marked the end of a wonderful event.  Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Azhari Yakub, the CEO of IJN, stepped forward to say some words of appreciation on behalf of all the participants.

Datuk Seri Dr. Mohd Azhari Yakub CEO IJN

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine

I am sure I speak for all the participants when I echo Datuk Seri’s sentiments.  A very big and sincere “Thank You” to Louis Foo, Tiffany Tan, Adam Aubrey, who is the editor of Cycling Plus Malaysia magazine, Eugene Wong from Thule, and not least, to all the support crew.

We all thoroughly enjoyed the INFINITI Drive & Ride.

Closing Eugene Wong

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Plus Magazine


How To Join a Bicycle To a Car

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Bike and Car

This meme promoting cycling over driving pops up in various guises on the internet.  At least one blogger recently checked to see if the sentiment holds water.  Your results will vary.

I was able to keep bike and car separate.  Well, in the beginning anyway.  When I started cycling in Houston I was able to roll out of the Commerce Towers car park onto Travis Street and pedal away.  Everywhere I wanted to get to was within cycling distance.  That is until I decided to commission a custom built bicycle from Alchemy Bicycle Company, located at that time in Austin.  As part of the process of deciding what frame material and geometry would best suit me, James Flatman wanted to see what I was riding at the time (see Jumping Into The Deep End for more).

It is possible to ride a bicycle from Houston to Austin (See Austin Or Bust, 2011 BP MS150, 2013 BP MS150 Day One and 2013 BP MS150 Day Two).  But not there and back in a day, and certainly not together with my biker chick.  The hybrid bike made the trip in the trunk of the car.  Which was only possible because the car had fold-down rear seats.  The resulting space was deep enough to accommodate the bike as long as the front wheel was removed.  Most importantly the trunk lid closed without squashing anything.

C Class Boot

I mulled over the idea of getting a bike rack on that first trip to Austin with the Trek in the trunk.  There would be a custom road bike to transport to Houston in a month or so. I decided to get a Saris Bones 2.  It looked simple enough to attach and remove, and would fold down into a relatively compact form for storage.

Saris Bones 2 Bike Rack

This rack attaches to the rear of the car via a series of hooks and straps.  Once the rubber feet are properly positioned and the buckle straps tightened the rack sits very securely on the car.  Ratcheting straps lock bikes to the adjustable arms.  An unexpected bonus was that the buckle straps are long enough so that the ends can be used to tie down the wheels and handle bars to stop them spinning and swaying.

Saris Bones 2 on Car

Once I linked up with the West End Six Thirty cycling group the Saris Bones 2 got more and more use.  We had to drive to get to any sort of hill, and to get to the start of some of the organized rides we signed up for.

The Saris, and the car, came with us to the Netherlands.  The rack sat unused for a year.  All my rides started at the entrance of our apartment building.  Even the starting points of the first few organized events I did were within riding distance of home.  Then I did the Ronde van Vlaanderen with Eugene (see I’ll See Your JZC and Raise You an RvV!).  That involved a drive to Sint-Denijs-Westrem in Belgium.

The Saris came out of storage to carry our bikes.  As we drove south I noticed that I was the only one with a Saris or similar bike rack.  All the other cars had either a rack on the roof or a tow-hitch mounted rack on the back.  Complete with a turn signal and brake light bar and number plate.   It turned out that my bike rack was illegal because the bicycles obscured the car’s turn signals, brake lights and number plate.  I was also told not to worry too much about it.  This being the bicycle-crazy Netherlands, the police would likely turn a blind eye.  Which may have been the case as I got back to Den Haag without being stopped.  I didn’t test my luck any further.  I went back to putting my bike in the trunk.

I did consider a tow hitch mounted rack like this one.  I had taken the car to the local dealership for a routine service.  They had a rack and light bar on sale for something like €200.  Which was a great price.  The catch was that our car didn’t have a tow hitch and ball mount.  The dealership was of course happy to install the required hardware.   I was not happy to pay the €1,500 for that to be done.  My bikes would continue to make do with being hauled around in the trunk.

C CLass Tow Hitch Bike Rack

The following year I made a return trip to the Ronde van Vlaanderen, this time with Richard.  He had a Thule roof rack.  We decided his compact car might be a bit small for both of us and our stuff.  Which meant moving his roof rack onto my car.

A clever part of the Thule design is the huge number of fitting kits available.  The racks, load bars and feet are standard.  The fitting kits contain custom pads and brackets that fit the specific contours of a vehicle’s roof, or attach to an existing roof rail.  The standard feet attach to the brackets.

Thule feet

Naturally the fitting kit for Richard’s car didn’t fit my car.  A quick trip to Richard’s local Thule dealer solved that problem.  Thule makes fitting kits for vehicles from over eighty manufacturers.  A Thule 3049 Fixpoint Fit Kit was all I needed to attach Richard’s roof rack to my car.

I was so impressed with Richard’s Thule roof rack that I decided to get one.  That led to the “Het is niet mogelijk” moment that I retell whenever I can.  I went to a shop, which shall remain nameless to protect the guilty, that sells Thule products.  I told the salesperson what I wanted:  two Thule Outride 561 bike carriers, a pair of Thule 960 Wingbars, and four Thule Rapid System 753 feet.  He asked me what car I had, and consulted his computer.  A few seconds later he uttered that most-frustrating of Dutch phrases.  “That is not possible.”

“But it is,” I protested.  “I had that exact configuration on my car a few weeks ago.”

“Nee.  Het is niet mogelijk.”

There is no point arguing when faced with that phrase.  All you can do is admit defeat and move on to plan B.  In my case that was to go to the second Thule dealer on my list, A & P Verhuur Service, where it was possible to purchase what I wanted.

Thule 561 Outride with Bike

The roof rack and I made a few more road trips in the company of the Not Possibles cycling group (you can probably guess the origin of the group name).  The Thule system is easy to install and remove.  The feet and front fork attachment are lockable.  Bikes sit rock solidly  on the carriers, all the way up to the maximum rated driving speed of 130 kph / 80 mph.  The only downside is the wind noise.

The Saris and the Thule racks came with us to Kuala Lumpur.  The car stayed in the Netherlands with its new owner, together with the Thule Fit Kit.  The racks haven’t seen any use in Malaysia.  Even though I have to drive to rides in Kuala Lumpur.

My biker chick kept her car here while we were away.  I could have hung the Saris off the back of her car.  I see a few trunk-mounted racks around.  I also see too many rear-end collisions to be comfortable driving around with my bike between the rear of my car and the front of the car behind me.  So it was back to the bicycle in the trunk routine.  In the meantime I was on the lookout for a car for myself.

We live in an apartment building in Kuala Lumpur.  The apartment came with two indoor car park spots on an upper floor of the parking garage.  All very convenient, except that the headroom clearance on the ramps between floors is insufficient for bicycles on a roof rack.  That narrowed my choice of vehicle down to a hatchback with enough trunk space to fit a bicycle or two.

Which is why I drive a Perodua Myvi.  Among its most important attributes . . .

Myvi Boot Area Seats Folded

Plenty of room for bicycles.  I’ve transported two bikes with no problem.  I could pack in three or four.  This weekend I will find out if I can get the Ritchey Break-Away in the trunk without having to fold down the rear seats.

S&S Case