Sunday, 31 July 2016

Fishy Foldies to Kukup - Asia Cycling Network's first initiative on Bridging the Gaps! (30 July 2016)

Bicycles galore at Kukup
Riders at Horizon Hills

Impian Riding Club at Shell Pekan Nanas
At the multipurpose hall at Kampung Belokok
Enjoying breakfast at Kukup
Enjoying breakfast at Kukup
Enjoying breakfast at Kukup
Enjoying breakfast at Kukup
The stars of the day
Our support car

The sky was heavily shrouded by thick cottony clouds when we rolled out of Horizon Hills this morning. Andy led us out through the Southgate of Horizon Hills and onto the butterfly interchange. Thereafter, we cruised along the Iskandar Coastal Highway before taking the left exit for Pontian.

While, the faster group climbed up the flyover, Claudine decided to wait for the back riders. She waved everyone along. Where the road forks, she watched with bated breath as Anderson parked his Brompton in the middle of the highway, walked on foot to the speeding lane, bent over to retrieve a dropped water bottle!!! It was hard to will the parental instincts in her not to ground him for his stupid brazen act!

Exiting Iskandar Coastal Highway, we cruised along Lebuh Kota Iskandar, past the Eco Botanics roundabout and started our climb up another flyover that spanned the Second Link Highway. As everyone has different climbing speed, our group was widely spaced out. Thankfully, Andy allowed a short regrouping at the traffic lights just before SILC. Ronan, Kevin and Jun Yan who were late, caught up with us here.

When the lights did turn green, it took quite a while to stream 26 riders to the next intersection. Resulting from their chivalrous act, Claudine and VT were caught as the lights turned! They did what they could to catch breaking some traffic laws!

Catching up with the group on the next lights, Claudine's bike started to make a clucking noise. Upon checking, VT found a 4 inch wire embedded in the front tyre. Not punctured through, the bike rolled the rest of the way without any further hiccups, merits to Schwalbe's Marathon Supreme!

Crossing the second traffic lights, Ronan's bike chain dropped. VT stopped to help the boy but they soon realized there was another issue at hand. The magnet for the speedometer, attached to his wheel spoke had fallen off. Together, they back tracked in search but that proved futile.

Meanwhile, as Yeo is still very new to riding, it was pre arranged for Chng TH and her to meet us at Taman Nusantara. While they met us promptly, VT and Ronan took quite awhile to arrive at the waiting entourage.

We went via the scenic kampung route, passing by the malay cemetery, the school and the madrasah. Then, we crossed the small stream that was decked with a few sampans. Where the kampung road intersects with the main trunk road to Kukup, we made a short headcount before riding out for Pekan Nanas.

Everyone stopped for a proper water break at Shell petrol station. Andy came out from the Select Store holding a bag filled with large 1.5 liters bottles of mineral water for every one to refill. While some snacked, Kai Weng was down on all fours trying to fix his handlebar. Helping him was Anderson. Matt though was working out his arm muscles, pumping Ronan's tyres!

Heading out again, Anderson dropped his water bottle.........again! Frustrated, he removed them from the holders and stuffed them in his T Bag instead. A small 16 inch wheeler, he had added 5 rear lights, an extra side stand on top of his rear rack which doubles as a stand, a portable radio, another top peak water bottle holder..... Such are his eccentricities!!

Enroute to Kukup, we had to pass through the main artery of Pekan Nanas. There was the usual Saturday morning traffic, aggravated by the few traffic lights along the road, made worst by the 3 goose necked trailers that were loaded with huge water pipes. These heavy vehicles were parked carelessly on the 4 lane road, obstructing traffic.

In a separate paceline, Yeo was leading, followed by Chng TH, Chi and Anderson. As Yeo edged gingerly past the monstrosity, she suddenly braked which caused Chng to jam his' too! Chi following behind tipped Chng's rear wheel. If not for the dexterity of the men, there would have been a pile up!

Leaving the town, we turned left for Kukup. Here is the famed 10km Strava Segment popular among roadies. A considerably well paved road, a terrain as flat as prata with long strips of tarmac that could possibly land a small plane, everyone disappeared quickly!

Mashing one's pedals is one thing, knowing one's limits is another. 3.4 km later, we soon found Jun Yan sitting by the edge of the road suffering from cramps. Keeping him company was Ronan and Saikit! He soon recovered with crampz spray and was happily riding again with a Gardenia cream bun in one hand!

At the end of this 10 km stretch is our favourite regrouping point. Today though, the multipurpose hall was hosting a wedding reception hence we were all displaced to the side of the road.

Next, we rode through the kampung road which is mostly decked by Palm Oil trees, canals, long grass and cows. While we spotted a lone man casting his net into Anak Sungai Jeram Batu which is nothing more than a 5 feet wide brook with tepid brown water, we now see 2 anglers by the canal.

Exiting the kampung road, we join the main road to Kukup. Arriving at the town, our favourite Bollywood waiter was still waiting for us at Norsiah Restaurant. He continues to don his "No Hard Feelings" t-shirt!!!

After a long breakfast, we left Kukup. We took the same route back, passing the multipurpose hall at Kampung Belokok. This time, Hasanuddin and Aida's family greeted us. They invited us in and served us cold cordial drinks in which Honghao greedily took 6 refills!!!

Meanwhile, Saikit who returned to Kukup in search of Anderson, finally found him safe and sound. He was delayed helping Kai Weng with malfunctioned rear brakes. Apparently, the hydraulic brake fluids had caused the brakes to clamp. Kai Weng's expedition was called off and his bike hauled into the plush interiors of the Mitsubishi Grandis.

Looking on, Chi was also calling it quits. The light refreshments at the malay wedding failed to light up his spirits. He too hauled his bike up the car!

The rest of the team rode up to a stall just before the junction turn off to Pekan Nanas. This unplanned regrouping was meant to better steer the riders to the fruit stall later on. However well conceived the idea was, we were greeted by an intense traffic congestion as another malay wedding was taking place. Half the team mainly led by Saikit's Impian Riding Club missed the stall. Reluctant to make the ride back, they made their own stop further down at a durian and coconut stall.

As for the rest of us, we split our group so as not to delay everyone further. Andy led most of the strong riders back to Horizon Hills while Zoe took the young boys back to Bukit Indah. Claudine and VT swept Chng TH and Yeo back to V3 Hotel at Gelang Patah before riding home.

Back at Horizon Hills, Matt decided to up everyone's record with an additional 5 clicks. He continued riding to the D Suites condominium before returning home!!!

At Pan Kobo Cafe, there was a small celebration of sorts. This ride will prove the longest for Yeo while Christina was ecstatic she finally made it to Kukup and home on her second attempt. Kudos to the 2 determined ladies!!!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

JCI JBE Charity Ride (23 July 2016)

Riders heading out, all with proper laminated bibs and cable ties

RELA escorts to ensure a safe ride

Note the father and son team on detachable tandem bikes

Taking a break at Rider's Corner

Ad Hocs, no worries, just ride!

Early birds at McDonald's


Local support

New styled riding

Durian hopping

.......Durian hopping!

Washing with the shell will remove the offensive smell

Junior Chamber International, JB Entrepreneur recently held a charity ride to raise funds for several causes. Among the beneficiaries are Care Heaven, PDK Johor Jaya, Persatuan Kebajikan Amal Lexin and United Nations' Nothing but Nets program. Kicking off from Austin Heights Private & International School, the 21 km fun ride received some strong support from several local riding clubs.

Leading the convoy of riders out of the school was a Mercedes Benz C-class. Meanwhile, Rela guards were commissioned to see to the safety of the riders. A fully equipped ambulance with a team of paramedics from Regency Hospital were present to offer emergency evacuation and first aid.

Rolling out after a short briefing, we turned the corner to SJKC Foon Yew 5 before turning left to the busy road of Jalan Mutiara Emas Puteh. Immediately hitting this road, Ivan and his son on detachable tandem bikes suffered a dropped chain. A fellow Tasek team rider was quick to offer his help while a Rela officer on motorcycle directed traffic.

All sorts of bikes were spotted on this funride. There were an abundance of Roadbikes, Mountain bikes and Foldies of various makes. Then there were the 2 detachable tandem bikes pulled by the Ang family. Most notable are the couple on Strida, an "A" shaped collapsible bike. Folded to the size of a baby stroller for easy storage, it is primarily aimed at city dwellers and commuters. Strida's are driven by Gates Carbon Drive, reputable to be maintenance free and able to run up a 20,000 km mileage.

Not long into the ride, Rina had a mishap rolling over a speed bump. She lost control of her small 16 inched wheeler which sent her reeling down on her hands and knees. Her riding pants still intact, she suffered friction burn on her knees and some cuts on her palm.

Frankie was quick to administer first aid while Yew Loong directed traffic and some offered moral support! Nothing serious though, Rina was still accorded the proper treatment of a distressed damsel! When the ambulance finally arrived, Frankie rode with Rina to our waiting group at Rider's Corner, Seri Austin while their Bromptons were hauled up the accompanying pick up truck.

Rider's Corner at Seri Austin is one of the four recreational pitstops mooted by Happy Riders Connect. It offers basic amenities such as restrooms and a prayer room for Muslims. Pre-arrangements can be made with the persons in charge to offer light snacks and drinks. The other Rider's Corner in Johor Bahru are located at Regency Hospital, M Suites Hotel and Rumah Iskandar.

After enjoying a good get together over icy cold, rose syrup drinks and banana cakes, we continued our ride. Today, The Cycling Owls were spotted in their team jerseys and mean machines. Obviously, this group is known for their good heart, supporting the charity ride and speed, riding on aero bikes with high profile wheels!

Alvin, FR Rider's Team Captain was notably missing though his team too had strongly supported this charity drive. Instead they had gone on for a mud and dirt time, riding off-road on another event organized by IGCC.

Much to everyone's surprise, we made a stop at Bandar Baru Dato Onn's Police Station. The chief in charge came out to give us a short talk on safety. Thereafter, we made the ride back to Austin Heights to receive our finisher medals.

Running concurrently with this charity ride is a small scaled fun fair. Thrown into our goodie bags are RM20 coupons, credits to spend at the fair. While most bought food with long shelf life such as biscuits and cake rolls, Maggie the coffee connieuseur could not resist a cuppa! Andy threw some lollies into his bag and another bunch into Claudine's!! Ollie was seen with a year long supply of pens while Thomas bought some nyonya kueh for sharing.

The ride finished, the Ad Hocs proceeded to The Toast for their second round of breakfast before dispersing for the day. Some greedy ones though, lagged behind for durian hopping!!! It is, after all the art of of checking and trying out durians from stalls to stalls!!!!

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Ride Hard, Chow Lard - Asia Cycling Network Inaugural Ride (10 July 2016)

The Big 55!!!
Ollie, Matt, Hea, YL
HK Yew and Janette
4 Foldies and a Roadbike
Another Tern D16
Bromptons, 6 speed and 2 speed
Kevin Lin and his MTB friends
Ollie with KTM's crossing guard. He never saw the train coz he rode too fast on his Foldie!

On the inaugural launch of Asia Cycling Network, we all met again at Huo Guo Shan, fondly known as the residing cave of the Monkey God. This event was hosted by Saikit's group of friends. Even though the Ad Hocs co-hosted the ride, the torch was clearly passed to them for their great organizational skills!

We started the ride with a group photo which was quite a feat considering there were 55 of us! Never mind that, Chng TH even came with a tripod!

When the shutterbugs were satisfied, we were given a briefing and introduced to our marshals for the day. Then we were loosely separated into groups and the roll out began!

While the roadbikes were first to head out, the MTBs and Foldies dutifully waited for their turns. The Choongs had gathered themselves with Frankie, Rina, Casper, Eva and Pang, meaning to ride out together. But when they started to roll, it was obvious that Pang, had had some secret training before his first debut. He raced ahead keeping a few hundred meters behind Eva and Casper. Frankie and Rina on Bromptons though were soon left behind to ride with the sweepers.

After quite a few hills that left Pang breathless, Eva and Casper soon broke away. Caught with adrenalin rush and other speeding RBs, they left their head of the family behind. Demotivated, though still averaging at a decent 22 kph, Pang started to wonder about pit stops.

Claudine was sent ahead to signal Eva and Casper on an unofficial water stop. Chasing a RB and a MTB rider half her age, using Cupcake, a Tern D16 was no easy feat. Everytime, when she was almost within "shout" distance, they would hit a hill and "small wheels" will be left behind.

She finally caught up when Casper stopped to check his bike. There wasn't anything wrong with the bike but he was convinced there was some mechanical error. The fastest it would go is 28kph no matter how hard he spinned. Message disseminated, the chase was for nought, for we never see the mother and son team until Layang-Layang later on!

After a 10 km distance, Claudine called for a waterstop. While Pang, VT and TH stopped too, we saw Miki, Saikit, Mei Hiong, Wee Cin and BL Chea rolled past. 

After the stop, VT rolled down the hill and disappeared into the horizon. The remaining trio rode on to the chicken farm from which point, TH sped ahead to escape the stench. He disappeared too!

When Claudine and Pang finally reached Layang-Layang, Pang's wantan mee was already waiting for him. Claudine though had to order for VT and TH, then pay for Yew Loong's meal over a challenge of who was the first to spot the Ad Hoc logo on the JCI JBE charity t-shirt! Wong Kyuan, CK, Janet,YL, Ollie and Matt were already half way through their meal! The health conscious, Zoe and Chiam stayed away from the lard but instead called for drinks only.

At the breakfast table, Saikit proudly introduced his ex teacher, Mr Choo to us. Mr Choo had recently finished a 38 day round trip around Peninsula Malaysia to raise funds for Pei Chun school. A journey of 2000 km, he rides an average of 60-70 km a day, only resting for 8 out of the 38 days.

While most riders headed for Renggam, some of us cheated and decided to return to base. Yeoh, her younger son, Christina and Janette stayed behind to wait for the returning group from Renggam.

Gearing up to return to base, a member from Defi Cycling Team from Kluang approached us. Another local cyclist residing in Sydney shared the same curiosity over our big group.

Heading out, YL led us to the Layang-Layang train station for a sightseeing trip. After, we headed home. 

We chanced upon Delta, Yik Chun, Wong Andrew and their MTB kakis on the opposite direction. We all waved and cheered each other on. It is nice to know that for cyclists, we all speaks the same languange...A world without borders!

On the return journey, Claudine diverted her attention on Rina instead. She was convinced that Pang doesn't need her help. Moreover, he was in the good hands of Eva and Casper.

Rina, instead was being punished by natural elements.....the rolling hills of Sedenak! Mechanically, a 2 speeded Brompton has its disadvantages. Physically, she was not strong yet, considering that she had only started riding 3 months ago. After awhile, Rina had to push up some hills.

Frankie and Claudine though were enjoying the ride. With so many stops, they even went off road to watch some migrant workers at work. Using a long pole with a sharp end, they transferred palm oil fruits from the small motorized vehicle to the dump body of a tipper truck. The Bangladeshis were so kind hearted they even offered their bottled water to them!

Hitting the tarmac again, the trio saw CK whizzed past. They rode on, half pushing, half riding their bikes. They saw their shadows grew shorter, a sign that midday was approaching!

With another 5km more to base, a rescue vehicle pulled over. It was TH!!! Rina and bike were bundled up into his car while Frankie, VT and Claudine continued their journey home.

One kilometer after, a monitor lizard was crossing the road. Claudine and VT zipped past the creature but 10 seconds later, they heard a thud as an oncoming vehicle rumbled past.

Two kilometers after, they came upon a line up of stalled cars. It was the railway crossing and they had closed the boom gates for the train to cross. Everyone were excited! Even TH wound down his window to give instructions...."take more photos!"

It was a long wait! The crossing guard was tickled by our excitement. We exchanged greetings. Finally, the Diesel engine trundled along, slowly. Flags were passed between driver and guard, then it slowly picked up speed and left with its long line of carriages.

When the gates reopened, it was a mad rush back to base. The Pang's were already all packed and ready to leave. YL and Janet were enjoying cold drinks on the temple grounds. Hea and CK had left the crossings earlier, thus they got back safe. Thomas and Zoe arrived on time to load their bikes into their cars before the first rain came! But for the others who went to Renggam...Chiam, Steven, Wong Kyuan, Saikit and his friends.....they were all drenched from top to toe and perhaps even their underpants! Some waited out the rain, some rode back while some returned with rescue vehicles!

Their rides completed, Claudine and VT spotted Kevin Lin by the roadside on the way to Tesco Kulai. He had a tyre puncture! Poor boy and his MTB mates were seen huddled by the side of a container, seeking respite from the hot sun while they changed the inner tubes.

It was an eventful and memorable ride for all. Everyone had a really good time Riding Hard and Chowing Lard....and Getting Soaked! Everyone have good reasons to return to the hills, especially Pang who left his shades somewhere between Layang-Layang and Sedenak!!!