Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Second Lou Hei Ride - 88.8 km (18 February 2018)

At Kukup
Resting at Pontian
At the 10km flats Strava segment
Road to Pontian
Arriving in Pontian
Arriving in Pontian

Traditionally, third day of Chinese New Year is set apart as a day to pay respects to the dead. As such, it is considered an ominous day and customary to stay at home. Some superstitions went on to forbid house cleaning, fire making and so on as well!

As non believers living in the current age of science and technology, we took advantage of the holiday to burn the excess calories consumed over the past few days. What more, the “Quack” amongst us revered the day, 18 February 2018 as an auspicious one, considering the sequence of the numerics 1 and 8 which denotes to prosper daily!

Coincidentally, our group of 8 riders started rolling out at 8 am this morning! We took the scenic kampung route, passing by the malay cemetery, the madrasah and the national school. Rolling across the narrow bridge that traverse the river, the tide was low, exposing a dirty river bed.

Once out of the kampung, we join the trunk road to Pekan Nanas. Catching up with VT as we were approaching Unc Lim’s durian farm, everyone’s speed dropped to an all time low, as we trailed after him respectfully. He had taken a head start earlier, knowing there is no way a 15 kg touring bike can ever outrun the roadies!

Arriving at Pekan Nanas, we skipped our usual Shell station but pushed on to Kampung Belokok. At their multi-purpose hall, we allowed a 10 minute grace for regrouping before pushing on again.

As we turned into the “cow lane”, we bumped into many cows left to graze by the side of the canal. Some of them were startled to see us BUT we were more afraid they will charge at us!

A little down the road, we met a group of young girls foraging for wild fern by the water edge. The young shoots are a delicacy, usually eaten raw with sambal belacan or sometimes stir fried with chilies.

As we ventured further down the narrow village road, another interesting sight entails. A group of older adults were crouched by the ditch to catch catfish! While 2 of the men were in knee deep water, the rest were just too happy to stay dry!

This morning, Paul was the designated lead rider to which he delegated the job to Hong Yun every now and then. Meanwhile, Hong Yun had taken Claudine’s caution a lot further than necessary. Instead of asking for his parent’s permission to ride with us, he had brought his whole family out with dad acting as photographer and support crew!!!

Out of the “cow lane”, we joined the main road to Kukup. With 5 km more to our next stop, we were only too happy to rev up the speed drafting behind Hong Yun. Some others though preferred a more leisurely ride as we were all not hungry but thirsty only.

Leaving our "Bollywood superstar" after a quick drink and banter, we headed for Pontian as we realized the short cut via the cow lane was not enough to clock the desired 88.8 km. As we rode down the noisy trunk road, Claudine began to realize why she had always preferred the quiet tranquility of the “cow lane”.

Traffic was high with the occasional heavy vehicles screaming past us. The asphalts on the road was almost stripped bare giving us a bone rattling time! With little greeneries to offer a cool respite, we were literally fried by the sun!

Close to the crossroads for JB and Pekan Nanas, we made another regrouping point by a bus stop. By this time, Alwin had downed 2 packets of power gel and sprayed muscle relaxant on his thigh. Yet, we could only admire his silent determination to finish the ride.

As we pushed on again, we bumped into 4 cyclists at the traffic lights ahead. Supposedly from WaCycles, they were powerful riders clocking 136 km today at a whopping average speed of 36 kph!

After a quick exchange, we went our separate ways as they headed to Pontian Kechil for a quick meal while we rushed for a rendezvous with VT at Pekan Nanas’ Petron. Having rode from home, he had easily belted the desired mileage and chose to take a more scenic route instead!

Pekan Nanas came soon enough but not before Hong Yun’s activity tracker flipped 88.8 km right before town. As Paul and Claudine had started their Strava from home, they were the nexts to capture the lucky numbers. Their luck turned right after they pushed off from Petron.

Indeed, it was a lucky day as nobody got hurt as we were approaching the major traffic lights after Shell. We were riding closely, on a single file when a bus came whizzing past. The irate bus driver had honked at us, perhaps to forewarn his impending approach.

Startled by the loud noise, Hong Yun turned to check. Little did he realize, Alwin had slowed down his speed to allow the bus to squeeze past!

It was an excellent reflex on Hong Yun’s side. As soon as he returned his gaze to the front, he jammed his brakes. It was enough to reduce the impact on Alwin’s rear wheel which in turn, allowed him to hold his ground.

The knock, however light had disengaged Hong Yun’s right shoe. Taking advantage of his freed leg, he swung it over while disengaging his left feet at same time. He literally jumped off his bike in a matter of seconds!!!

Watching everything as it happened, Claudine was screaming SHIT in her brain! Jamming her brakes and disengaging her left feet at the same time, she was expecting the worst as her front wheel went over the fallen bike. Grappling to get back the center of gravity while balancing bike and body on a moving wheel, she was amazed she qualified for the circus minus the grace!!!

Relieved, we rode on to the scenic kampung route without Paul, who had gone missing in search for water after feeling overheated. When we came into contact with him again, he gave us the go ahead while he opted to return via the main trunk road.

Speed does not matter as Hong Yun circled Taman Nusantara to clock the 88.8km mileage!

Arriving at Amin’s, it wasn’t the end of the road for Sibyl, Hong Yun, Philip, Alwin and Stanley. They had a few more to clicks to go for the 88.8 km chase. Watching them from the comfort of the mamak shop, VT and Claudine cheered as one by one, they returned after a successful score!

Huat Huat.Huat!!!! May the Year of the Dog brings us good health and lasting prosperity!!!

Huat Huat.Huat!!!

Photo Credits :
1. Hong Yun
2. Alwin
3. Stanley
4. Sibyl

Friday, 16 February 2018

Lou Hei Ride 88.8 km with Uncle KC (13 February 2018)

The team at Pontian
Rolling out on Iskandar Coastal Highway
A bowl of cendol to cool down the body


Cold drinks at Auntie's Fruit Stall in Pekan Nanas

The idea of capturing 88.8 km on Strava or any activity trackers was first introduced to Claudine in 2017. Back then, Philip had initiated this drive which received good response from his buddies. It was a fun idea to usher in the Chinese New Year and tops all virtual challenges as it is really not easy to capture this desired number. One has to be consciously alert to stop the meter at the right moment!

Hoping to recapture these auspicious numbers to usher in the Year of the Dog, we embarked on our first Lou Hei Ride today. Armed with the best excuse...to escort Uncle KC on his pilgrimage to Melaka, we moved our schedules to cash in on these lucky numbers!

Meeting at Restoran Jia Qin at Taman Perling, we rode out on a bright and cloudless morning. As it was a working day, cars were screaming past us, all the way to Gelang Patah. Traffic only quietened down a wee bit along the old trunk road to Pekan Nanas.

Uncle KC's score of the day!

As Uncle KC had come all the way from Singapore, he clocked his auspicious numbers way before us. Determined to cash in on the lucky digits, he slowed to a crawl as we were approaching Uncle Lim’s durian farm. Giving us the go ahead, he soon caught up with us again at Pekan Nanas’ Shell station, beaming from ear to ear!

Continuing on to Pontian, the next 20 km ride was dull and flat with no interesting sights. Thankfully, Uncle KC was always ready to break the monotony, taking our photos and striking small chats with us.

At Pontian, Uncle KC brought us to an eatery that was supposed to serve specialty fish balls but NOT! Either mistaken or the stall has since moved, we found the noodles to be better than expected!

Brotherhood of the clan...this cendol shop claims close relations to the one from Taiping!
Ban Chan Kueh from the stall nextdoor
Once done with our meals, we broke all imaginable traffic rules to get to the famous cendol in Pontian. Unfazed by oncoming cars, Uncle KC led us on one way streets; going against traffic, all because he thought the way via the fish market was more interesting! Surprisingly, motorists in Pontian are very tolerant and forgiving.
Too excited for cendol, Claudine fell meters away from the stall. Her wheel went into the metal gratings!
Our thirsts quenched, we bid Uncle KC a safe journey ahead before heading back ourselves. Midway home, we stopped for a drink at Pekan Nanas’ fruit shop on a pretext to send our well wishes to sweet Auntie as well.

It was already mid day when we hit the saddles again. Adamant to get out of the sun as much as possible, Susanna voted to return via the scenic kampung route despite Claudine’s counsel.

The scenic route is, BUT a longer and more treacherous one. The hills are steep!!!

Arriving at the kampung, we tackled the first slope easily...

Rolling down the second slope, everyone took advantage of the momentum to propel themselves us up the third slope. Yet, it was not enough to reach the top! This was a long climb which winded everyone!!!

Turning her back to check on the others, Claudine spotted Susanna climbing with Colin behind her. Almost at the peak, VT overtook her before both rolled out of the kampung together.

Expecting to see the rest following closely behind, the duo were surprised there were no signs of them. Too tired to climb back up in search of them, they hand signaled a pakcik in a kancil who assured them their friends were on the way.....slooooooooowly!

As the wait prolonged, they hand signaled a makcik on a motorbike instead. She told them one of their friends were playing with the handphone!!!

Finally, they came; descending the hill slowly. Reunited, we rode on to Amin’s where Susanna decided to take a rest. As it was a working day for Colin, we sent him packing off first before settling down with our orders.

Huat Ahhhhh!!!

The last leg was easy especially after a cold drink at Amin’s. Arriving at Pan Kobo’s Horizon Hills, Claudine’s Strava finally clocked the desired 88.8km.

Looks like only Uncle KC and herself managed to capture this auspicious number today as Colin had forgotten the purpose of the ride altogether, arriving home at 103 km! As for Susanna, her Strava had gone haywired after Pekan Nanas. She flew as the crow flies all the way to Pontian!!!

Sunday, 11 February 2018

A Taste of Johor Ride XIII - Pendas and Edible Garden (3 February 2018)

Team Singapore
Team JB got tired of waiting. Some decided to sit down...
...while others prefer a nap!
Down the rickety bridge
Out from the palm oil estate
Warong Poyot
Happy faces at Warong Poyot
Rolling out at Warong Poyot

The “Best Laid Plans” will sometimes turn awry. Throughout history, men had witnessed countless backfires, such as in the case of the Maginot Line and the opulent Titanic. The bestseller novel of the same name by renowned writer, Sidney Sheldon further affirms this; or otherwise words like “backup plan” and “give and take” along with their synonyms will never appear in today’s dictionaries!

We learn it time and again, and we relearn it today with the the first puncture on Philip’s group as they were crossing into Malaysia. The rider had to turn back and skip the ride altogether!

As the day broke and the clock ticked past roll out time, we found out our planned rendezvous with Team Singapore at Pan Kobo Cafe was never to be. With newbies and Foldies, comprising today’s demographics, there was only so much they can do to keep up. So, while we moved our rendezvous to the next pitstop, Team Singapore were again delayed when Philip had a puncture at Sunway Iskandar.

The idiom “Don’t cross the bridge till you come to it” is another example of putting too much thoughts over an issue. Many of us did cross a bridge of sorts this morning, in anticipation of a muddy 20 m off road trail. Following a series of wet days, VT had somehow, found a discarded door the day before and thrown it across a meter wide drain for cleaner passage. Thinking he had saved the day, many of us traipsed gladly over the rickety planks when all along Pendas was high and dry!!! Those that brought their MTBs for a fun in the mud time were clearly disappointed.

In the story of the 3 little pigs, the big bad wolf had blown their houses down. The villagers went through a similar plight when 3 of their homes came tumbling down to make way for the highway. Sadly, their compensation was a mere RM10,000.

“Not enough to build even a chicken coop,” said the lady who occupies the corner house next to the highway. Hers was one of the 5 gazetted to be floored but thankfully saved!

Finished with our obstacle course, we made our way out from the little hamlet. Riding out, we passed the stuffed tiger with its stone glazed stare, a decoy that keeps the monkeys at bay.

As for monkeys, Frances saw a troop of them, much later as we were approaching Warong Poyot. Delighted but yet fearful, she sounded her bell just to make sure they kept their distances!

Arriving at Warong Poyot, pre ordered food and drinks were already laid out on the table. The tricky bit was the obvious lack of seats. So while those who finished tactfully stood up to make room for others, they too became restless and left.

While some managed a more leisurely breakfast, Ivan had to address a slow leak on his tyres. He was assisted by Adrian and Ban Pang in the tube change department. The latter was spotted, pushing the food down his throat later on!!!

Cast away near the CIQ quarters, Andy had waited for VT not knowing he had used a different route! Meanwhile, Desmond who stood as sentry at the last junction to Warong Poyot, decided to wait for Andy’s arrival. Both men were the lasts to sit down for breakfast this morning!

Riding back after breakfast, we bumped into some IRC members who had to leave earlier for some engagements. By the time we arrived, Hooi Leong had had his puncture addressed but lost the conical spring on the quick release!!!

Unusually strong headwinds greeted us when we hit the Sunway Iskandar Highway. Claudine and Philip Woo were riding slowly; sweeping Ban Pang, Jason and Laurence, all the time assuming they were the lasts..... but NOT!

Somehow, Frances was left behind. Tired out from fighting the winds, her legs stiffened out. She came down with extreme cramps! Paul Eddie, Desmond and a few others trailing behind, helped to hail a lorry that brought her to Mydin. Thereon, Desmond returned with his truck to send her and her partner to the JB CIQ.

Enjoying ginger ale at Farmer's Market

Alex Kee manning his stall at Farmer's Market
As the strong winds blew the riders further apart, more problems arose. Some JB riders were already heading for base while Team Singapore had one more goal to score. They wanted to visit the Farmer’s Market at Medini 9’s Edible Garden.

Totally unaware of their plans, Matthew decided to “go after” a lady twice his age!!! Obviously, Susanna wasn’t interested in a toy boy and sent him packing....back to the group in her car!

The “Best Laid Plans”....will sometimes turn into a fiasco!!!

Photo Credits :
1. Adrian Sim
2. Matthew
3. Paul Eddie
4. Andy Chan
5. Philip Sim

Thursday, 1 February 2018

Elusive Shortcut to Pendas (27 January 2018)

Goofing around
Stepping into the time capsule
Organically fed wild boar meat gone to waste!
Roadies and their precious!
Returning to the highway
On the highway
Medini 9's Edible Garden

Ever since the Sunway Iskandar link that connects Iskandar Puteri to the Second Link Expressway was opened, scores of riders have explored this alternative route to Pendas. Not exactly a shortcut but at the moment, a low traffic highway with wide road shoulders, it beats traversing along the narrow trunk road of J4. Besides, J4 passing by the entrance of Leisure Farm Resort was the infamous road where our sweet senior citizen, Auntie Siew Guay was robbed off her Cannondale roadbike!

Riding out this morning, we avoided the butterfly interchange where Kimura met his fate. Instead, we went through the internal roads of Horizon Hills, making full use of its cycling infrastructures, all the way to the new shop lots. Crédit must be given to this developer for its well planned, well maintained bike lanes that spanned a whole 13 km or more!

Rolling downhill from Horizon Avenue’s shoplot, TH was the first to overtake Mr Lim, the designated lead rider. An unofficial race began all along this quiet new road, all the way to the Eco Botanics roundabout.

Here on, TH took over the lead, taking the 12 o’clock exit; a shorter but more congested route. As, Mr Lim had planned a longer but safer route that avoided the Mydin roundabout, the group was split momentarily! However, we soon caught up with TH who must have been wondering why nobody had read the route he had plotted before hand!!!

The only threats we faced were along the Anjung and Mydin stretch. Once we tackled the Mydin roundabout, we were very much playing on the road all the way to Pendas with only a handful of cars passing us.

At Sunway’s futuristic archway, Jagjit and Mr Lim explored the possibility of a career change. Astronauts or service maintenance crew depends on how childish is one’s mentality!!!

It's a female!

Further down the road, VT’s keen sense of observation found us a stuffed toy to bring home to bed with!!! As none of us were trained taxidermist, we had to leave the game meat behind only to see it dragged to the bushes on our return.

According to TH, the Sunway link ends at the Gelang Patah Rest & Recreation area. Beyond, is the toll plaza.

As we do not wish to be picked up by traffic police for encroaching onto the tolled Highway, we made a detour via a palm oil estate. Observing the muddy path, this 20 m off road stretch must be a popular route amongst the villagers.

Once we overcame this short obstacle, the route beyond was so beautiful and serene. Pet chickens were allowed to roost in the open while monkeys frolicked in the nearby forest, all the while wary of the stuffed toy tiger that “watches” over them!!! Trees branches grew over the road, forming an arch that offers a natural canopy.

Coming out at the back end of SMK Kompleks Abu Bakar, some teenagers were practicing a dance routine at the school’s compound. As we circled the school’s perimeters, we soon joined the old route to Pendas, familiarizing ourselves with the government flats and the customs and immigration complex.

As there are 2 ways to Warung Poyot, we chose the longer but quieter route. This turned out to be a treat as the road has since been widened and tarred in anticipation of the coming general elections. The vegetations, however, were still left undisturbed.

Coming close to the ecofish farm, a troop of monkeys were enjoying a healthy breakfast of freshly plucked cempedak. While we marveled at their agility, the alpha male wasn’t too pleased with us. It probably sensed Claudine’s disapproval as they were really wasteful, throwing away the unripened fruits!

At Warung Poyot, the greedy few ate nasi lemak with rendang daging and lontong kering while the rest patiently waited for their roti canai. When we were done, we headed back, stopping by Medini’s Edible Garden which Philip had earmarked for next week’s farmer’s market ride.

Farewell, Jagjit

We parted ways at Horizon Hills’ Southgate. While the ride ends there for TH, Mr Lim, VT and Claudine, Philip still have a long way before reaching Singapore. We bid farewell to Zoe and Jagjit as they headed for Bukit Indah but sadly this is the last farewell for Jagjit as he heads back to his hometown in Gopeng in a few days’ time!