Saturday, 5 August 2017

Get Out and Ride (5 August 2017)

With our friends from Singapore!
With  KC
With Malcolm Chen, the man of the hour
Malcolm welcoming Asia Cycling Network representatives
Thank you, G Bikes for sponsoring the event!
Booked for Asia Cycling Network!!!
Test ride, by the harbour
Test ride by the harbour
Medic on wheels
Under the tent...
I shoot you and you shoot me!!
Finally met Benny Chua of CYC Link in person!
Getting a good explanation of Buddy Bike
Tricycle with an additional handlebar behind
2 wheeled recumbent bike!!!
4 wheeled park bikes!!!

This morning, we drove across the border to attend a special ride in support of children with special abilities. 7 of us packed into a car and endured both countries' immigration checkpoints. On a Saturday; still a working day for some commerce, the start of a weekend for Singapore and the end of a weekend for Malaysia; we bore the worst brunt of traffic congestion!

Going into Singapore, we joined the morning office, rush hour traffic. It took us 1.5 hours to arrive at our destination.

Returning was worse! We queued at lengths at both countries' immigration. The Singaporeans were leaving the Republic for the start of their weekend while the Malaysians were returning home, in preparation of the new work day, a Sunday! We sat in the car for 2.5 hours!!!

Activities at pit stop
Pit stop
 It was all well worth the sacrifice as we witnessed the joy and pride of the children as they struggled to keep their balance. Towards the end, they finished the whole 5 km route and were presented with medals and certificate of achievements. Not an easy feat for able persons; made more difficult for those with marked difficulties in gross motor skills.

Malcolm and his crew
Principal of Grace Orchard School

Kudos are given to Malcolm Chen of Ageless Bicyclists, Grace Orchard School, teachers and volunteers for their dedication in spearheading this special program, implemented since 2015.


Instigated by Chief to break the rules
The good and the bad!
Non conformist!

Photo Credits :
1. Anna
2. KC
3. William

Monday, 24 July 2017

Abang Adik Foldie Ride (23 July 2017)

In Pekan Nanas
On the way into CSA Recreation Center
Gunung Pulai
Gunung Pulai
Gunung Pulai
Gunung Pulai
Coming down from Sangkar Ayam
On our way back
Little blue bridge in the background
Just before we picked up our durians
Fruit Stall in Pekan Nanas
Our sweet guardian angel 

We began our ride with a customary group photo setting the iconic pineapple statue as our background. Having taken numerous shots of this mascot that represents the town, today was the first time Claudine noticed its strategic location; right in front of Public Bank Berhad! Commonly known as 黃梨: huang li(Mandarin) or wong lai (Cantonese) or ong lai(Hokkien), this must be good feng shui, if not planned or donated by the bank itself!!!

Traveling along Jalan Sawah, a morning Market was taking place. Traffic was murderous, if not dangerous! Errant drivers stopped their cars in the middle of the road to let off passengers and with us weaving past, a swinging of a car door could be fatal! Besides, we have to be watchful of cars reversing from the parking lots!!

Right after VT fixed Maggie's cable

Turning into the kampung route, Maggie started complaining that she couldn't switch gears on her new Brompton. When Claudine followed her closely behind, she noticed the cable had disconnected! Calling for a stop, VT reattached it for her after a bit of a struggle.

We found CSA Recreation Center, a Mongolian tented homestay not far off from our main route. Getting to it was a bit tough as some section of the roads are on loose gravels. It was almost deserted except for 2 Malay men at the canteen and a Pakcik that spoke excellent English. He told us later that he is a Singaporean but we did not venture further to find out if he is the owner.

The homestay consists mainly of 5-6 yurt homes. Each yurt is air conditioned and could accommodate up to 4 persons. Toilets and bathrooms though, are located outside, just next to the units with a barbecue pit and garden stools. It also sports a water park, fish pond and herbal spa although with no guests, they are all not in operation.

Riding on we visited Gunung Pulai and its waterfalls. We were lucky as the Rangers were just unlocking the gates when we arrived. Short of manpower, it is sometimes not opened to public.

Stepping in, we were disappointed the recreation area was in dire straits. The children playground was overtaken by weeds; the man made pool, siphoning water from the brook was choked with leaves and mud; and the signboards, half falling off the poles! The Rangers even said their post were burglarized just last week!!!

Next to the entrance was another campsite that has since been abandoned as well. Another irresponsible act in the expense of taxpayers!!!

Rolling out, we climbed the hills all the way to Sangkar Ayam before enjoying a downward slide back the way we came from. Thereon, we began to head back.

As we cruised along, the blue Shimano streamers that seemed to be shadowing us throughout our ride became more and more dense! Just then, we bumped into the culprits responsible for the shoddy decor!! The mtb riders from Claudine's morning breakfast hideout were busy at work setting out the markers for next week's charity ride in aid of SJK (C) Yu Ming 1. This was the same group that pointed out the Mongolian homestay to her!!!

After a short exchange, we bid each other farewell and parted ways. Cruising along a shallow river, Claudine decided on a last detour across a narrow bridge. The path led to a few kampung houses with beautiful lawns and the entrance to a palm oil estate.

As we did not have time to venture further, we headed out. It was at this juncture that Sasee shared his thorny encounter. Lying beside the road, camouflaged by grass was a small durian waiting to be picked up. Our group had passed it earlier on our way to Gunung Pulai! It was till waiting for us one and a half hours later!!!

Unable to risk the durian going to waste, we thanked our lucky stars. Picking it up, we found a clean KFC plastic bag conveniently lying across the road! This convinced us further that today's cosmic alignment was in our favour!!!

Leaving in glee, we returned to Pekan Nanas fruit shop. Uncle did not mind a wee bit when we asked him to open the durian for us. When it was finally pried open, everyone stared at in anticipation. We could not be sure if there was enough for everyone.

Claudine was the first person to dive in saying she will share her's with VT. While everyone took a seed, it was suddenly apparent that Joseph had none!!! Someone offered to share his' with him but looking on, we were hopeful again as we tried opening another locule!

VT carrying the fruit

Lo and behold there were 2 more seeds inside!7 seeds for 7 riders although one person actually had a second helping while another had none!!! Well, it's a pity some don't get to enjoy the fruits of their labour!!!
Photo Credits :
1. Joseph
2. Anna

Sunday, 23 July 2017

LTF Melaka Cendol Ride (8-9 July 2017), Day 2 : Meeting of Giants

At Crystal Inn, Batu Pahat
Leaving Batu Pahat
Leaving Batu Pahat
Sungai Balang
Parit Jawa
The legends and their disciples
Acid sending us off!
Muar's famous roundabout
Leaving Muar
Leaving Muar
Scaling the Muar bridge
Goodbye Muar
Mutiny at Merlimau!!!
KC's support vehicle met us 12 km into the city!
Bam, Bam....then Klonk!!!
Breaking all traffic rules in Melaka
KC and Siew Yung hosting us in Melaka
Melaka river
River side cafes aplenty
Celebrating the end of our journey

The order of the morning was to break fast at 7 am, followed by a flag off half an hour later. We should have no issue keeping to the agenda considering the simple breakfast provided by Crystal Inn but then, we started clowning around...

We were further delayed when 3 men had to share a bathroom. The queue time for "after breakfast deposits" was a lot longer...

It was also not helpful when 2 out of 3 men did not get enough sleep. While one was happily packing away, the other 2 wished they had had an extra cup of coffee!

Gathering outside, a chirpy KC, having escaped George's night long sermon, got us into a "warm up" exercise. Filming and photography pushed us back further but sets us off in the right track as we rode the first 20 km towards Muar. We were all in a good mood!

While we started off in hot and humid weather, rain clouds started closing in on us midway to our first coffee stop. The tree covered canopy along Jalan Rabok was totally unnecessary as we had good cloud cover.

Spinning fast behind lead rider Alvin, Claudine began to worry when all ahead turned dark. We were heading towards rainfall!!!

Thankfully, just as we hit our first 20km, we rolled into Sungai Balang, a small village flanked by a handful of old, wooden shophouses. Slowing down and on the look out for a coffee stop, we past a Chinese family in bereavement. The village was so small, we spun past its epicenter in seconds!

We were relieved when we spotted a malay foodcourt by the edge of the village. Taking our drinks, we sat out the rain which never came to Sungai Balang at all! Instead it poured 1 km away, cooling down the journey ahead!!

The route from Batu Pahat to Muar is very flat. The never ending straight road passing by scattered kampung homes does get a bit dull after awhile.

Thankfully, Parit Jawa came soon enough, offering a brief respite. By then, Freddie was having a magnum and Sue was sucking on a packet of power gel! Californian dates, just brought in by Sally the day before was distributed to those who wanted a more natural pick me up.

Continuing our journey to Muar, we were amazed we had gone this far without getting wet. We enjoyed the same tree covered canopies but unlike Jalan Rabok, Jalan Abdul Rahman was filled with pools of water!

Approaching Muar, the weather started to heat up. Cruising into Jalan Sultan Ibrahim, Claudine was reminded of one sad morning when she joined a funeral procession on foot, along this route. At the end of the road, an old corner coffee shop by the intersection with Jalan Suleiman brought back fond memories.

Non smoking section
Smoking and slumber section

Stopping at Restoran OG right behind the TNB office, we met up with Johor's legend, Acid Mustafa. While most of today's LTF team had met him in Thailand early this year; it was Sue, VT and Claudine's first encounter with the maestro.

He was as friendly and encouraging in person as he was in social media but he certainly doesn't look as formidable as his profile photo which is .... non smiling at all!!! He even offered to contribute RM50 into our kitty even though he was not part of our tour. Of course, we had to refuse his nice gestures!

It seems, Acid hold the titular distinction for a good reason....he owns a total of 23 bicycles!!! But then again, not many can follow his footsteps of riding and camping at the same time!!!

After an early lunch which saw nasi beriani coming out from the kitchen as we were about to leave, we rolled not more than 50 meters when Alvin discovered he had a puncture! But Chief is always blessed with willing hands...George, YC and KC got down and dirtied, while the rest of us gave moral support!

Continuing on to Melaka, it was hot and boring. The landscape was similar to the previous 60 km.

Gliding past Merlimau, we sighted our first durian stall. Calling out to Chief, he chose to ignore our cries!!!

As we spun further, more and more of us became demoralized. Freddie and Alvin were ahead but Claudine started to lag behind...

A mutiny was beginning to form.... Mike who had wanted to stop at the first durian stall, suggested a stop if we spot another one. This gave George a boost who rode up right behind Claudine.

Durians or no durians, we were quite game for a water stop after clocking close to 20 km. We began to wonder when Chief will make a stop. Peering into the cool, shady palm oil estates, the heat from the road became more unbearable.

Just then, we saw our oasis! Under the cool shades of a tree was a durian stall. Everyone agreed to stop. Calling out to Chief, we were lucky he heard us from afar!

He had no choice but to agree with the Collective Mind! Turning back with Freddie, he even bought water from a stall for us!!!

The durians were RM15 per kilo. Initially, we bought 4 fruits to sample. When one was not ripe, the Chinese lady reimbursed us with a smaller one.

Later, George requested for grade 101, a huge fruit that was stashed away in the house. It costs a hefty RM100, RM25 more than the 4 initial fruits we had!!! Pleased with the day's takings, our lady seller threw in an additional small kampung durian, for FREE!!!

Approaching Melaka, the landscapes started to incline mildly. Powered by durians we glided through the countryside easily.

Coming down one slope, Claudine was surprised we were making a pitstop by a mini market, having clocked not more than 15 km only. She soon found out the reason for the stop as a Toyota Wellfire cruised into the parking bay. Getting off the vehicle were Siew Yung and KC with water supplies!!!

With not more than 12 km more to the city, nobody wanted to get in the support vehicle. It was then, arranged for Siew Yung and KC to meet us at our homestay after procuring bus tickets for those heading home the same day.

Excited to meet them in the city later, we raced ahead. Passing Al Khairiah Mosque, Claudine was taken aback by its Chinese influences. The main building had a sweeping roof that rises at the corners with decorative ornaments. Beside it was a strange tower mimicking a pagoda with small pigeon holes. Built in 1826, this century old mosque is a testimony to the harmonious living back then.

Scaling the bridge that traverse the river at Jalan Alai, we rolled past the concrete gaps that sent shock waves to our bruised bums.

"Bam" went our bikes!

"Ouch" we cursed!

First shock up the slope, second shock down the slope...

Alvin was leading and heading towards Qariah Mosque, another century old mosque with the same Chinese influences, built slightly later than the former. Freddie was trailing behind him when we heard a loud sound. It pierced through the noise of the cars like the sound of a hammer that struck an empty can. Amplify that by a hundred times!!!

Speeding down the slope, Claudine saw Freddie slowing down. Then, Alvin instinctively turned, curious as well....

Like a pro, Freddie brought his bike over the curb to rest on the concrete drain covers. There was a side wall tear on his tyre. With 8 km more into the city and our support car gone, a crippled road bike can be tough when trying to hail a taxi.

Freddie though was just cool, prepared for a situation like this to happen. His tyre was already bulging, since earlier. He claims a SGD 2 polymer note inserted between the tyre and tube should do the trick.

He did better! He called on the ghost of Tuanku Abdul Rahman to bless the rest of his journey!! It was a cheaper alternative as well !!!

It was one stress after another....Midway into the city, Mike received a text from Siew Yung that there were no bus tickets heading down south. Trying to use a shortcut on Jalan Parameswara we were stopped at the gates just outside Sacred Heart Convent. The guards only allow persons on foot to pass but refused us entry as our bikes were with us.

Meanwhile, those returning that same night wanted to go to the bus station to double check on tickets. However, Alvin was all smiling, all assuring. He suggested we all meet up with Siew Yung and KC as planned before rushing into any decision makings.

Following his leadership, we rode against traffic most of the time to 3 Little Birds, the homestay for those spending a night in Melaka. When we arrived, Siew Yung and KC were already there waiting. We soon found out, all bus tickets going down south has been sold out. However, Siew Yung managed to get 2 tickets for Larkin from an under table counter.

There were a few suggestions, one of which was to ride to Tampin for a train service. Mike's idea to wait at the bus station for last minute no shows was more realistic. Meanwhile, Claudine was thinking of getting a pricey private car service but nothing beats her mum's offer to get them home......she went crying to mummy instead!!!

That evening, we spent a relaxing time by the river. Freddie, Berenda and even Siew Yung had a simple dinner of tomato soup which looked more like fried eggs and tomatoes in weak broth. Thereafter, the south bound returned to 3 Little Birds for a shower before they were whisked to the bus station to board their 7.30 pm bus. 

Together with them was Siew Yung who had come all the way from KL this morning to meet us. It was so touching as Siew Yung who suffered a bad back had brought her Brompton all the way only to ride with us a mere 1 km distance!!! As for KC, he was such a darling, providing us with car support and giving us a treat...treasured LTF friends!

After the first send offs were made, we showered and head out to Restoran Lee Swee Meng in 2 Grab taxis. The restaurant, serves every dish in claypots! The food was delicious but in Melaka, nothing is cheap!!!

It was 9.30 pm when Claudine and VT finally head out to Ayer Keroh in yet another Grab taxi to meet Claudine's mum. She had arrived from KL much earlier but did not tell the couple, wanting to give them the opportunity to enjoy dinner. Not only did they had dinner but also appetizer and entrees at the coffee shop just opposite 3 Little Bird!

The remaining LTF team went on to paint the town red. As for the second returning party, they arrived in JB slightly past midnight.

Freddie and Berenda though had a tougher night. Their bus journey took 4 hours with no toilet breaks. Upon arrival in Larkin bus station, they had to ride all the way home, ending their journey at 2.30 am. On the hindsight, they were really lucky Freddie rolled an additional 30 plus km without further mishaps. Looks like the Malaysian Ringgit held its ground, despite attacks from external forces!!!

Photo Credits :
1. KC
2. Sue