Friday, 20 May 2016

A Ride through the Park with Joho Foldies (19 May 2016)

The riders and the drummers
Cheers to friendship
Sue and KM Lee came for the party too
Ma Mar Rahman
Susanna, Eva, Tan Choo and Jurinna
Hock Nim, Joseph and some riders
Eugene and his friends
Enjoying the drum performance
Getting ready to ride back

When Joho Foldies collaborated with Drums Cafe on a night ride with a special treat, it received overwhelming response from the small wheel community. Even though some laughed at the "ride in the park" distance, for those assimilated into the foldie mindset, it is time to stop and smell the roses. Only those in the fold will understand that not everything in life should be rushed.

On the night of the ride, we all met outside the grounds of Istana Bukit Serene hoping to catch a glimpse of our beloved Sultan. His majesty is known to leave his royal residence on random occasions to meet his subjects at the crown arch. However, last night was not such random nights. Instead we had to resigned ourselves to the impeccable appearance of the Royal guards and the beautiful fountain display.

We rolled off after taking a group photo with the crown arch as the backdrop. We travelled on Jalan Straits View, circling the palace grounds. It was a peaceful night and with Wesak Day in another 2 more days, the moon was almost full!

Lucas was leading the pack though Andy and Khan were giving him a hard time up the hill. Khan was testing out a borrowed foldie from Andy and was too eager to test out its performance. Joseph joined in the pump!

As guest riders, YL, Janet, VT and Claudine were just too happy to take it slow. Somewhere along the palace grounds they bumped into Susanna guiding her friend Eva. Tan Choo rode a little ahead while Hock Nim was sweeping the others from behind.

After a short climb, we left the palace grounds and continued on Jalan Straits View. It weaved through many rich man's bungalows. Passing by some backyards, we could hear the excited bark of guard dogs.

As we rolled further downhill and joined Jalan Tengku Puteri, houses began to lose its lustre. Here, we began to slow down as traffic was heavy at Medan Tepian Tebrau, a popular Malay food haunt. Lucas stopped at this junction to stand as marker but told the leading team to proceed to Dataran Bandaraya for the next regrouping.

When everyone arrived with Hock Nim, we moved on again to Jalan Mahmoodiah. This time, the climb is steeper! Andy, Khan and Joseph raced up the slope. Following behind, Claudine overtook Lucas and Eugene but the 2 young men quickly recovered their positions in no time. Perhaps they were assisted by spirits of the dead, for we were passing by the Malay cemetery!

Jalan Yahya Awal was more forgiving. It was a flat road. We passed Wisma Jotic and caught a whiff of grilled meat coming from TGI Friday's kitchen. We rolled past the High Court and the post office.

At Jalan Bukit Timbalan, everyone broke the law! Nobody wanted another steep climb up the hill to do a U-turn down again! We all came down our bikes and carried it across the foot ways between the street planters.

Arriving at Jalan Tan Hiok Nee, a night market was at its peak. Left and right were street peddlers displaying their wares from makeshift stalls. We pushed our bikes through the crowd and quickly arrived at Drums Cafe.

Mr Lee, the owner of Drums Cafe was quick to greet us. As the only place to park our bikes were at the five footway at the front of the shop, he allowed us to push our bikes through his cafe!

Settling down in his cosy cafe, we were thrilled to see the festive drums hanging from the ceiling. It was later that our good host explained the story behind the 24 festive drums. They are named after the 24 solar terms each suggesting the position of the sun as it travels 15 degrees on the ecliptic longitude. The most notable ones are Xia Zhi and Dong Zhi meaning Summer and Winter Solstice.

Khass Bicycles treated all riders to delightful Yong Tau Fu, one of the more popular dishes offered at Drums Cafe. Mr Lee told us he had procured them from the famous Ampang YTF and they are certified halal! Served with sweet and sour chili sauce, we could actually feel the bite of springy ikan tenggiri.

Some of us made our own side orders of millicrepe cakes. While Amri wolfed down his Oreo cake, the other more notable one is the Belgian chocolate although the cream can be tweaked to be a little more light. The iced chocolate was good and chocolatey as claimed by Janet and YL.

The highlight of our time at Drums Cafe was the splendid drum performance. The 5 young men dressed in Chinese costumes were beating the drums at high power, as if in a trance. They were in sync and their movements, almost dance like! We could feel ourselves drawn into the show and our heart beating to the rhythm. A little too loud and a little too short, it left us wanting for more!

After the drum performance, there was a little surprise in wait for Claudine and VT. The couple were toasted on their 19 years' union. Irene from Khass Bicycles brought out a cake to help the couple commemorate their wedding anniversary!

The get together created a good camaraderie amongst the foldie group. We soon embarked on our ride home, each rider taking more time to look out for others. Climbing back up Jalan Mahmoodiah, VT lost a sandal and Eugene was the one who helped pick it up.

At most turning points, we left a person standing as a marker with the biggest regrouping point at McDonald's, Jalan Kolam Ayer. While some riders made the steep perpetual climb on Jalan Tengku Puteri, Andy led most riders on the flatter road of Jalan Mohd Amin. For those who took the latter route, an inevitable steep climb awaits to get back onto Jalan Straits View and the palace grounds.

Back on the perimeters of the palace grounds, Andy, Khan and Joseph started their race uphill. YL tried to chase, standing up on his Tern and pumping the pedals like a school boy. As the four slowed down in good humour, VT saw his opportunity to triumph. He overtook Claudine, then Janet, then YL. Andy was thrown back by his sudden approach and gave a good fight.

The five men behaving like school kids made Janet and Claudine laughed so loud. Janet coined them as Mat Rempits.

Peering through the semi darkened road, a blue and red flashing light was approaching. It was a police car on patrol! The men slowed down their rides but as the car passes, Janet cleverly overtook everyone to the finish line!!! Such was the tricks up the sleeves of our conniving little friend!!!

It was a good ride and everyone soon returned back to base in their own time. While some packed quickly to leave, others were just to happy to continue loafing around outside the palace grounds.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Pontian Food Expedition (15 May 2016)

The team without Michael
The girls with the monkey
The Brawns
Babysitting Dominic
Thomas photo bombed the loving couple
The fishball eater and the girls
"When I was young, cendol means the green stuff coming out of your nose!!" Quote by TH

Oakley event is coming up and training is underway. Seasoned century riders have little to worry as the event sponsored by the famous eyewear company is only 108 km. However, it can be a bit unnerving for newbies, not used to high speed endurance tests with little to zero breaks.

Our own localized training received much hype. We considered tweaking the original route for slower riders, we debated on taking in minors with signed parental consent and we agreed to disagree on the roll out time...

Thomas threw in the towel when he saw the flagged off time was 6.45 am. Andy was sure he will be late as he had to send his children to school before driving to our meet up point. When we finally agreed to keep our usual roll out time, life threw us a lemon...

Claudine realized a little too late that her Ultegra Di2 gear shifters were not working. It was only 2.5 months ago that the battery went flat. Pure coincidence or not, it happened on the very same route as today's!

Heeding Jolin's suggestion, she rushed home to get a powerbank and cable to charge her battery. Everything secured inside a pouch on her top tube, she decided to take the shortest unchartered route back. This requires rolling down a grassy slope.

The grass was wet from the morning dew and her hesitation gave her a complimentary view of the grass at eye level!!! Stunned, she quickly picked herself up. A minor soreness on her Thoracic 10 or 11, she shrugged it off and pedalled as fast as she could to the waiting group.

Slain grass and mud were still on her elbow when a group photo was taken. Then, everyone quickly rolled out as we were 15 minutes off our usual schedule!

Within 5 minutes, the electronics shifters were clicking again. Claudine and TH raced out through Horizon Hill's Southgate and onto the butterfly interchange. Here, the front runners disturbed some flying insects. They did a kamikaze, smashing themselves onto their faces!

Once on Iskandar Coastal Highway, Khan took the lead. Agnes followed closely. We all shifted lanes in synchrony.

We turned off to Lebuh Kota Iskandar. Climbing up the interchange at top speed was Wei Lun on his mtb. Just the day before, he rode to Batu Pahat on a day trip. Today will be his recovery ride though he was still revving at top speed.

Arriving at Jalan Ulu Choh, Khan, Agnes, TH, Claudine and Wei Lun waited for everyone to arrive. Soon, we saw CK's broad shoulders rolling down the hill, creating drag! The rest followed behind.

We went through a series of traffic lights before taking the left turn just before the power station near Eco Gardens. We passed our usual turn off to the scenic kampung route but CK must have had a deja vu afterthought for he turned in. TH's baritone voice travelled through the noise of the passing cars to alert him of his error.

We all arrived at Pekan Nanas Shell station in no time. Dominic was seen coming out from the store with 2 bottles of 100 plus and stuffing his mouth with a cream bun. Observing his 2 filled bottles of water, Claudine was wondering where he will be storing the excess liquid!

We shot Dominic a 5 minutes break which sees him chewing and gulping faster! Then he was off to the toilet to dispose off the excess liquid in his bladder!!!

We rolled out again as soon as Dominic was ready. Passing by the factories, we had to weave our way through quite a few foreign workers travelling counter flow to the traffic.

We had quite a few law breakers on our team too! TH was influencing a few riders to run the red lights. He did it at SILC, at Pekan Nanas' Econsave and yet again at the iconic pineapple in the town itself. We saw Thomas, Dominic, CK, YL and Janet following suit!!!

Mumbling her disapproval to Khan was like casting a spell to ensure their obedience. They stopped right after that!

Heading towards Pontian Kecil, we faced a few mild rolling hills. Claudine found herself riding alone along this segment. Before long a figure in red overtook her. It was our Lady Captain!

Agnes led Claudine to catch up with Jolin, YL and Janet. Soon, TH overtook the paceline, drafting behind a motorcycle for the longest time!!!

Irked by the unfairness of the game, Agnes tried to catch up, leaving the group. As usual, Claudine was there for the free ride. The two girls overtook TH, who gave up on the 2T exhaust fumes after awhile.

Arriving in Pontian, we saw Aaron in JEC suit leading Team W Cycle. Wai, Wayne and few others in blazing red jerseys were tailing the black!

When Zoe arrived together with Wei Lun who had assumed sweeper role, we turned to our breakfast stop at Restoran 933. While most of us went for pork noodles served with fishballs, meatballs, pig liver, minced meat and meat slices, Andy downed 10 fishballs!!! YL and CK had chicken rice while Thomas had a western dish of roast chicken, braised egg and tofu!!! Jolin though, just drank Milo!!!

Kueh teow which is basically flat rice noodles, is usually processed together with tapioca flour to give it a smooth and springy feel. At 933 though, they still upheld the old kueh teow recipe leaving out the tapioca flour. It is broader, less translucent and sadly breaks easily.

The soup stock is pork based, garnished with fried shallots which lents a distinct taste. Best is the pig liver which is cooked just right, retaining the springy, almost crunchy texture! Livers, once overcooked will taste like rubber.

Hot soup and hot chillies warming up our bellies, we took the short walk across the Pontian bridge, then rode counter traffic to the cendol stall. At 9 am in the morning, we were the only customers there besides the pesky flies. Even at 933, the restaurateur had to resort to glue paper to control the colony. A joint product of the durian season, with the onset of the smelly fruit comes the flies.

When we were about to take leave, Michael made an unceremonious stop. He had come from Gunung Pulai to meet us. Together we escorted him back.

We rode through Kampung Kayu Ara Pasong. Throughout this route, Khan and Andy took turns to lead Michael and Claudine. The 2 men work in perfect coordination, breaking the wind for the other 2 behind.

Sometimes exhausted, the torch is passed to Michael. When he does tank, our speedometer reduces significantly.

At Parit Sikom, we made an unplanned pitstop as this was a major right turn. We stood as markers for the rest to follow.

When the rest finally arrived, we took off again. This time, Thomas joined the paceline. He made a comment on a certain snake head which made Claudine laugh. Winded followed by a slight climb over a bridge, she lost momentum and fell behind.

Peering backwards, Khan was attacking. She called out for help. Gallantly, Khan pulled her along.

She kept up the pace. Together they closed the gap. By the time they finally caught up, Claudine was totally winded. It became a struggle to keep up. After awhile she gave up the chase.

Khan, Andy and Thomas were like school boys playing with speed. Their composure was one of joy.

Soon, however Andy realized Claudine was no longer in the paceline. She was trailing a few hundred meters behind. He fell back for her to catch up but she never did. Thus, they rode within sights of each other for the next kilometer until they hit Jalan Sawah.

Right after the turn off, Elaine was there. She had joined us for breakfast, skipped the cendol and yet made it to the pitstop to hand us cold 100 plus from a cooler box stored in the trunk of the car. It must not have been easy to haul the box filled with ice and drinks!

Some of us were already riding with empty bottles by then. The support car with 100 plus was a thoughtful gesture from The Liew's! We were really grateful.

We had another 18 km through undulating hills to Pekan Nanas. Janet was already suffering from her 1 pint of Hoegarden from last night. Jolin's one week in Sarawak playing "tourist" at the state elections left him drained until now. YL's cleats broke, giving him blisters from too much movements.

At Pekan Nanas fruit stall, Wei Lun's "recovery ride" was not doing what it was supposed to do. He was still stiff!!! Perhaps riding on an mtb and racing earlier was doing a reverse to his body!

Auntie gave YL a band aid for free! That reduces the rubbing between skin, socks and shoes.

After a good refueling, we left. Khan, Andy, CK and Thomas made an unceremonious stop at Uncle Lim's durian farm. However, they did not get any durians when Claudine overtook them with stern warnings on discipline! They retaliated by overtaking and racing all the way home!

Meanwhile, Dominic who was having a close race with Claudine fell back. He had a tyre puncture! YL and TH stopped to help but the Transit of Mercury on May 9 had caused an interstellar reaction to space relativity! The space in Dominic's and TH's rubber tubes refused to inflate!!! Khan was called to the rescue!

Oblivious to the panic she may incite, Janet overtook the 3 men by the roadside. Riding alone, she then made a stop for drinks at a sundry shop. YL arrived back at Pan Kobo, horrified that his dearly beloved was not there!
Somehow, everyone arrived home safely with no further drama. Johor had won the FA Cup and our good bomoh foresees good days ahead till Ramadhan. That extends to this Saturday's Oakley Ride! May every participant be gunning ahead!!

Sunday, 8 May 2016

Blue Lake Exploration (7 May 2016)

Pristine Blue
Some of the riders at Blue Lake
After Regency Hospital
Hold tight and don't fall over!
At Yoyo Rakit
At Yoyo Rakit
Down by the reservoir...look who just took a happy pill!
Chew, slogging
Wong, working hard
Maggie, slaving away
But, YL sitting down like the big boss
Cupcake and Colnago
Maggie finally met 007
The road to the reservoir
At the riverside
Monkey on a foldie
Interesting toolset
Chunky satay
Non irradiated nasi lemak
Roti telur bawang

As early as March 2015, photos of the Blue Lake started popping up in Facebook and chatrooms. The mysterious turquoise blue waters beckons Claudine. She started lobbying for a ride but at that time, not many people knew the location. Eventually, with google maps and one curious scout, a route plan was drawn.

Today's ride to the Blue Lake will not be the first for many. Quite a few riders made it there on May 2015, led by TH, our curious scout who had plotted the route. Some others though, found their way there on their own merits.

We left Starbucks Seri Alam promptly at 7.15am. Cruising out from the adjacent Shell station, a pick up truck was coming in our direction. As we slowed down to give way to the truck, we noticed Tom and Siew Ling inside! Late comers from Kulai, we quickly forgave them.

Our first destination was the Blue Lake. TH had forewarned us that it is an ex quarry mine, that was eventually filled with rain water. As a social responsibility to reduce potential hazards to the public, the land owner had cordoned off the area.

Today, we made an illegal entry into someone's private land! TH was first to push his bike under the railings, then crawled through. Andy and YL followed suit. Then, they helped Maggie to haul her bike over the railings.

While, the 4 were in action, Thomas Ridley saved the day! He will look after our bikes while we go on our exploration of the Blue Lake. This is not his first time there! Thomas Moy and Wong will keep him company.

Leaving our guards behind, we trooped in. TH led us to a high vantage point. From where we stood, it was a sheer drop all the way down. The lake was big but not very blue in the early morning sun.

Down below, there was a lorry path and a power generator that have just been started up. The sound travelled up to where we stood. Hearing the noise, we soon left. The workers are starting their day and we didn't want to be caught for trespassing!

While getting to the Blue Lake was a perpetual slow climb, now we enjoyed the slide. Passing by Pegasus International school, there was a hazard up ahead. At the traffic lights, a crumbled motorcycle and its rider lay motionless on the ground. A couple sat on the curb looking stunned. An ambulance was already there but the paramedics did not look likely to swing into action anytime.

We rolled down to Regency Hospital and headed towards Masai town. We passed the Muslim cemetery with its Quranic engravings. Next to it, lies the Buddhist bones and the concrete lotus flowers. All along this route is gentle sweeping hills.

At the Scientex roundabout, we made a short regrouping. Then we hit Jalan Kong Kong, aptly named for it almost "konged" us with its narrow road, heavy traffic and ruthless bus driver!

Maggie was nearly pushed off road by a factory bus which later rammed its way through a corner without much thoughts of other road users. Leo was almost nicked by its rear. When it made an abrupt stop, Leo had to jam his brakes missing it's rear end by 6 inches!

Thankfully, we left Jalan Kong Kong at its height, avoiding further fiascoes. We travelled along a rubber estate, passed through some quiet land before stopping by a silver carriage drawn by at least 130 horsepower. An angel with long flowing hair was handing out gold to us. It was not a mirage but all real!!! Elaine had come out to deliver icy cold 100 plus in gold cans to us!!!

After a quick respite, we climbed up the steep slope to see the reservoir. The floodgates were majestic but at this current dry spell, there was no water to release! There were some acts of liberation though. While Thomas Moy dropped his Allen key on the way to the reservoir, Tom's plush toy monkey tried the big escape on the way out!

Next, we went off road for a few hundred meters before coming out into a palm oil estate. The road to serenpidity begins....Undulating rolling hills, wild yellow flowers growing in clusters along the road....

Towards the end was Yoyo Rakit, the river mouth and a huge watergate. Taking a boat ride to the floating platform in the middle of the river for a short sightseeing tour costs only RM10. It sits 10 persons. An overnight stay with a simple bed for avid anglers costs RM20 per person.

Soon we were eager to leave for breakfast. The ride back was getting a bit stressful for Maggie. Tom tried lowering her seat post by 5 mm but it didn't help much. Climbing the last steep slope, she came down to push instead.

We found TH waiting faithfully at the gravel road to lead us out again. At the end of the rubber plantation, Frankie was waiting out too! 

Together, we reached the breakfast stop at the junction to Jalan Kong Kong. Everyone were there, although already half way through their breakfasts!

Thanks to their good chums, Claudine and VT found their pre-ordered drinks waiting for them. They enjoyed a decent nasi lemak turned green by colouring and not radiation! The roti telur bawang was delicious with side condiments of dhall and sambal. The satay, skewered with chunky meats was satisfyingly good with peanut sauce.

Everyone clambered to foot the bill. Leo treated the satay, Thomas Moy picked up the food and drinks bill while Andy wandered off and came back with bottled mineral water.

On our way home, Maggie crumbled after the first kilometer. She stopped, VT tipped her wheels and Claudine following behind tipped VT's wheels instead. Thomas Moy managed to avoid the pile up but nobody fell and there was no damage as we were all going slowly, climbing up a slope. For the next few kilometers Maggie pulled out her cramps spray a few times.

We saw a lone rider on a foldie waiting for us at the junction to Scientex. It was Andy, waiting in the hot sun!

He led us back to Scientex before disappearing for good. We were to receive a text from him later apologizing profusely as he was late for an appointment.

We got to McDonald's Kota Masai, albeit lost! By which time, Maggie had threw her bike down twice to rest on the grass and use her cramps spray countless times.

An SOS text was sent to the group chat to pick Maggie up. As the drop pin of Maggie's location was was sent out, we received another drop pin from TH! He was also suffering from bad cramps and had called for Elaine.

Claudine and VT left Maggie at McDonald's. They turned on Waze for the directions home.

Passing the cemeteries, Waze said, "Turn right." They rode straight ahead. Waze rerouted.

Passing by Kota Masai, Waze said, "Turn right". Yet, they still rode straight ahead. Again, Waze had to reroute.

After Kota Masai, Waze again asked them to "Turn Right".  Again they persisted, quite sure of where they were going. If Waze was an Artificial Intelligence, it would have screamed at them!!! Waze was programmed to plot a route with the least traffic. It did not realize they were on 2 wheelers and able to weave through traffic jams!

At a petrol station, they stopped a truck driver for directions to Regency Hospital. He gave them very clear landmarks to look out for. He must be wondering what was their urgency to get to the hospital!!!

Arriving at Regency Hospital, they saw Chee Kiang drive past! He did not see them.

Arriving at Starbucks, a car was driving out. YL flashed at them.

Getting back to the carpark, Thomas was reversing his car. He was amused to see the hot sweaty couple. Thomas assured them Frankie was on his way to pick Maggie up. With that ends a dramatic ride through 46 degrees C temperature!!!