Thursday, 30 November 2017

Fight 4 Cyclist Road Safety (29 November 2017)

Concerned cyclists with police officers

Recently, the cycling fraternity in Malaysia were shocked over news of Kimura Shunsuke’s passing. Involved in a car and bicycle accident, he suffered broken ribs from no. 2-9 on his right side, haemothorax and intraventricular bleed. In a coma for 2 days, he finally succumbed to his injuries.

Kimura’s death was a wake up call that more has to be done to ensure road safety for all cyclists in Malaysia. Following this, an action group was set up and a meeting was called for, a day after his passing. Held at Starbucks, Eco Botanics, it was attended by 31 concerned cyclists and 3 police officers from Iskandar Puteri.

Those who attended the meeting were given an insight into the accident. As all present were in the opinion that this interchange pose a danger to many cyclists, ASP Irwan agreed speed strips should be placed on the road to alert drivers. He agreed to bring this matter up with JKR, assuring that this will be brought up at his monthly meeting with them. On the suggestion to turn the emergency lane into a bike lane with proper signposts, ASP Irwan acknowledged that bicycles should be able to share the emergency lane with stranded vehicles as well.

Meanwhile, cyclists were advised to ride in groups with escort cars though admittedly, numerous accidents have happened even with such presence. They were further advised to avoid highways and trunk roads as vehicles are known to travel on high speed on such roads. This again is unrealistic as not all riders are social riders as represented in meeting. Another suggestion was to only ride in dedicated bike paths that are segregated from the main road but they are non-existent for the time being.

Further to this, the cheapest measure of drawing a simple line to indicate a lane for bicycles was also brought up. Reaffirming that bike lanes and signposts will alert motorists; leading them to subconsciously avoid bike lanes, this received further nods from all present.

Cyclists were urged to keep an emergency card with them at all times. This should depict their name, emergency contact details, blood type and any known allergies.

Finally, a call was made to organize a tribute ride for Kimura. This will be further discussed on a later date.



A report lodged by the driver revealed that Kimura was riding on the dotted line, going straight. There was another lane to the left for vehicles to enter or exit the interchange.

The driver claimed he was travelling on the third lane but soon swerved to the left to take the exit. As he was doing so, Kimura veered to the left as well, getting into the path of the car!

Further to this, the police were in the opinion that the driver’s story matches the scene of the accident. This conclusion is made after looking at the scene of the accident and making extensive measurements.

According to the first and second rider, they did not see what happened as they were travelling in front. All they could hear was a loud screeching sound followed by the sound of a crash. They deduce that the car was travelling fast but were amazed there were no skid marks on the road.

The first rider went on to share that directly after the crash, he felt a huge impact on him. His helmet broke, he lost his balance and almost fell. When he returned home, he found bruises on his back. He deduce something big, possible a bicycle could have hit him. He also said driver had made a remark, “saya ingat sudah pass tapi tak pass!”

An avid cyclist shared that as a cyclist going 30 kph on this interchange that spanned 300 m, it doesn’t make sense for Kimura to veer to the left (as claimed by driver) then to the right again. Unless, he was going to use the exit as in the car’s case, it would pose a bigger danger to him. In this case, he had intended to go straight, following the path of his riding partners.

A fellow cyclist who was not at the scene of the accident but saw the aftermath protested the driver’s story. He claimed if the driver had knocked the cyclist as he veered to the left, the bicycle would have fallen to the left but in this case, it flew forward. Also the cyclist would have fallen on his side but in this case, on his back. He went on further to explain the collapse of the carbon wheels was at the diameter ring!
The wrangled bicycle

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

ACN’s JB to Kluang (11-12 November), Day 2 : Musang King

Some of the team members photographed here...
Morning exercise before we start our journey
Ailang Hotel
Kluang Rail Coffee
Kluang Rail Coffee
Kluang Rail Coffee
Kluang Rail Coffee
Kluang Railway Station
Kluang Railway Station
Kluang Railway Station
Kluang Railway Station
Leaving Kluang
Turning into J262, waiting for some who overshot the junction
On Federal Road, waiting to regroup with the fast team just before our lunch stop
One for the road!

We started the day at Kluang Rail Coffee. Located right at the local railway station and only 500 m away from Ailang Hotel, the cafe still maintains its old world charms from 1938. Coffee and tea are still brewed in tall stainless steel teapots and filtered with sackcloth bags, fondly referred to as panty hose as they resembled one!

Nasi Lemak Telanjang

While the cafe's kahwin toast was good with generous amounts of kaya and butter, the nasi lemak bungkus will probably be condemned by Chef Wan as “Naked” following his Instagram post in 2014. Back then, he had complained his in-flight meal with Malaysia Airlines had felt naked without peanuts, Ikan Bilis and cucumber slices. Today, our naked version comes with no eggs, ikan bilis and cucumber slices!

Not quite satisfied with breakfast, Bernie took us on yet another food hunt. Following him, we rode along Jalan Station’s Little India....

Flower shops and newsstands were already opened for business past 8 am. Besides those, we spotted Indian Jewelers, saree traders, a clinic and the standard barber shop with their shutters still down. Jasmine incense filled the air while the smell of curries and spices wafted to the road.

Leaving Jalan Station, we joined Jalan Lambak. Here is a wide road with a good blend of old and new. While the right side of the road is decked with pre-war shophouses, the left side sees taller and newer buildings, some even occupied by government agencies.

Stopping at Kedai Makanan Leong Kee, Bernie treated us to yummy yong tau foo. Taking up the space of 2 shop lots, the place churns out a good variation of stuffed fish and pork paste. Everyone gave their thumbs up to the white tofu which comes silky soft and smooth. 

On the move once more, we headed for the roundabout just up the road. Circling it, we took the 12 o’clock exit, catching a quick glimpse of Kluang’s Coffee Factory at one corner.

Roundabouts, a popular British road system, brought in during the colonial days are fast replaced by traffic lights these days. Usually found in small towns and more so in the malay federated states, they will become symbols from the past one day!

Once out of the roundabout and onto Jalan Yap Tau Sah, we started a slow climb past homes with a 1950’s architecture. Mostly built in half brick, half wood structures these homes were part of Briggs’ Plan to curb communist insurgency back then! A nationwide attempt on resettling the country’s 500,000 populations into new villages, it successfully cuts off support to the Malayan Communist Party.

Hitting Route 91, the real climbs began. Once we rolled past Kluang’s general hospital, we were subjected to a continuous, mind numbing, monotony of sweeping palm oil estates that went on for 70 km! The term “counting sheep” takes on a new meaning here!!!

The first 20 km down the road, we managed a drink stop by a ramshackle stall, so poor, they don’t even have a fridge not to mention, canned drinks!

Another 20 km later, the sight of Ayamas chicken factory piqued our senses. Not far from there, we rolled to a stop at Bandar Tenggara’s Petronas.

Turning right onto J262 later, we crossed 3 rivers, passed a dusty section of a road which was going through some drilling, cursed the road and the weather...

After clocking 67 km and with another 5 km more to the Kulai junction, Claudine could not help but call for a stop when she spotted an estate road to her left. Joining her, everyone had a real surprise when they spotted Bernie, taking a rest there as well!!!

The group did not stop for long. Just a short water break with enough time for Billy to take a leak and the smokers to take a fag. By then, Susanna’s Crocs had bitten her so many times, both her feet were covered with bandaid!

Shortly after, we hit the road again as KC had shot ahead on his own. We found him later, up on a hill, less than a kilometer away.

Not far from the junction to Kulai town, we rolled over a set of railway tracks. Thereafter, we arrived to cheers from the rest of the team who were resting at the corner coffee shop, right across the road.

Once united, we started on Hakka Thunder Tea Rice, located not far away. A blended concoction of tea, mint and peanuts, the green soup is served with rice and generous helpings of mixed vegetables, tofu, peanuts and pickled vegetables. An acquired taste, those who finds it queer were served a backup dish of Hakka Yong Tau Foo instead.

Kulai marks the end of the journey for Bernie. Bidding him farewell, we were eternally grateful to him for playing host and leading us this far! Once on our own, the torch was passed to Claudine again.

Rolling on the Federal Road was like playing a game of Russian Roulette. The road was filled with whizzing cars while its road shoulders were narrow and filled with potholes. It was a lethal game of chance.

Approaching Kulai Centrepoint, the road shoulder disappeared completely and the battle for space began. Where the slip road joins Jalan Besar, the 2 lane traffic heading for the city squeezed to accommodate 4-5 rows of cars!!!

Taking the inner most lane with potholes as big as a car wheel, Billy’s tyre exploded. The sidewall had a cut! As most bicycle shops are closed on Sundays, he had no choice but to replace the tube with a silent prayer. 

It was also at this moment that Miki Sam spotted our group in distress. Driving past, she rolled down the windows to send her greetings!!!

Once on the move again, we travelled slowly past Saleng and Senai. Somewhere along this route a tree branch fell right in front of Claudine. She was thankful her Schwalbe Marathon Plus tyres rolled over the branch without any problems!

First regrouping at Senai town
Second regrouping at Skudai Parade

Outside Skudai Parade, we made a regrouping point before leaving the crazy highway. Turning into Taman Ungku Tun Aminah, we joined Sutera Utama before taking a pit stop at Tea Garden for drinks and snacks.

Resting and enjoying each other’s company, the idea of durians began to crop up! Yesterday’s indulgence at Layang-Layang was not enough to stave everyone’s hunger. 

Besides, with an in-house durian connoisseur amongst us, Lionel's talent was to be honed and not wasted! Thus, he was put on yet another quest. At Giant’s Nusa Bestari, the musang king priced at RM60 per kilo went through careful selections and negotiations.

Finally, we paid RM400 for 4 fruits to which each person handed out RM40 for the durian buffet. Claudine can only remember eating 3 seeds but they were the best durians she had ever had... and so claimed the King of Durians himself!!!

We parted ways after the durian pig-out. The Singapore team clocked an additional 18 km to the Causeway with extra legs to reach their respective homes. As for the JB team, Zoe was first to reach home followed by VT, Susanna and Claudine.

Driving home from Horizon Hills, even the band aids had started peeling off from Susanna’s feet. Such was the ferocity of the “crocodile”! A real sufferfest for Susanna, it was amazing to see her quiet determination, ploughing her way for the last 2 days, on her first ever touring experience!

Photo Credits :
1. Lionel
2. KC
3. Philip Sim
4. Billy

Monday, 20 November 2017

ACN’s JB to Kluang Tour (11-12 November 2017), Day 1 : Damsel in Distress

The team with "Bernie"
The Lone Ranger
Team Singapore
Team JB
At Taman Nusantara
At Gunung Pulai foothills
On the way to Kulai
Cow dungs and watergates
At Sedenak
Farm vehicles
Just a drizzle
At Guang Fatt Wantan Mee
At Guang Fatt Wantan Mee
At Guang Fatt Wantan Mee
At Guang Fatt Wantan Mee
At Guang Fatt Wantan Mee
Renggam Hills
Best photo of the year!
Leaving Renggam

The chatroom was abuzz a day before the ride. Claudine’s phone was lighting up like a Christmas tree with each text coming in at steady intervals. Besides packing issues, a more pressing matter is the possibility of rain! With the north easterly winds blowing, the year end monsoon has begun, bringing its first deluge to Penang. More than 80% of the islanders woke up to watery scenes on November 6, after a 15 hour downpour!

Here in JB, the rain started pouring heavily at 6 am on the morning of the ride. KC who was midway to Amin’s was caught in the middle of the passing storm. He got to the mamak shop all drenched BUT with plenty of time to dry up as well!!!

As for the Singapore crew that started late because Philip had overslept, it was a blessing in disguise. By the time they got to JB, the roads were already washed and cleaned.

Meanwhile, on home ground, the JB team met promptly at Horizon Hills. Hitting the road for Amin’s, even the sun could sense their enthusiasm, warming up their paths as they went along.

Arriving at the mamak shop, they were greeted by their friendly neighbours instead! Such was the irony that those who had to cross the Tebrau Straits in wee darkness made it to meet up point earlier than the hosts themselves! The tall order of the morning was to have a light breakfast of pratas before a fuller breakfast of Bak Kut Teh at Pekan Nanas to fuel the rest of the morning. 

After our first carbo loading, we took the scenic kampung route of Kg Ulu Pulai, passing the malay cemetery, the madrasah and the primary school. At the end of the hamlet, the narrow river tributary of Pulai, was full from this morning’s downpour. Crossing its narrow bridge, we soon joined the main trunk road to Pekan Nanas.

Arriving at Pekan Nanas less than an hour later, we started a hearty breakfast of Bak Kut Teh. Popular with the locals and usually sold out by 9.30 am, the place was already quite full when we stepped in. While some said the soup was weak, everyone slurped up the food all the same as our next meal is; and when; we arrive at Layang-Layang.

Leaving Pekan Nanas town with a belly full of first class protein, we took the kampung route that circumvents the foothills of Gunung Pulai. It was a magical experience right out of an Enid Blyton book! Cruising past the quaint kampung houses, we saw rambutans, bananas, pulasans, jack fruits, and many other fruit trees. Lemon grass and pandan leaves grew wild.

Durians were hanging on branches with some by the side of the road, all ready for picking! At one point, the thorny fruits formed an arch over the road; a booby trap all ready to drop on the enemies!

Butterflies were chasing each other, somersaulting in mid air when they collide with each other...

Chickens were left on the lawn, free to pick on worms...

A flock of geese were calling out to a gosling from across the road. When Claudine stopped to look at them, the gander flapped it’s wings and started torpedoing towards her!

Up on a knoll, right after the Sangkar Ayam water tower, a pack of monkeys were playing on a road. When the first group approached, leaving the rest of the team members to attend to Jenny’s puncture, they scurried to the trees, swinging from branches to branches!

We met Bernie at Cendol Tepian Gerbang as pre-arranged. Coming from the pineapple factory where an MTB event was being held, he helped the organizers with the set up the previous day but sacrificed the ride in order to be our guide in Kluang!!!

Finally a full team, we left for Kluang via Jalan Kampung Melayu Raya. Travelling on this perpetually straight road that spanned more than 5 km, we only turned right when we approached a palm oil estate. Here on, was a 13 km flat road that saw us dodging swabs of cow dungs, so much, that it permeates the air!!! Along the way, we crossed yet another small stream, passed quite a few watergates, went under the busy North South highway before coming out at Scientex Kulai.

Once on the Federal Road, our ears buzzed with the noise of passing vehicles. At the right turn for Sedenak’s Hua Guo Shan temple, a confusion ensued! Peter, Philip and Lionel had shot ahead!!! Nobody’s shout could reach them as the noise from the passing trucks could go as high as 70-80 decibels.

The remaining group managed to contact Philip via WhatsApp call but by then, Peter had sped so far ahead, nobody could chase after him. Having no choice, the 2 men were ordered to turn back, abandoning him for good!

Not far from this junction is Hua Guo Shan Temple. Named after the residing cave of the Monkey God in the novel Journey to the West, it sits on a hill slope, overlooking the valley below. Sitting down for drinks and bean curd at the temple’s canteen, we bumped into Choon Huey, Chee Kiang and Thomas Moy. They had just finished their ride and were packing up to leave when we arrived.

While we were halfway through our drinks, we suddenly spotted Bernie and Philip Lee riding off. Pressed for time, they had left uninformed as the rain clouds were closing in fast. Not wanting to get drenched ourselves, we scurried after them.

The climb was almost immediate and the rolling hills was to go on for 23 km. Along the way, we rolled past the entrance to Legends Golf and Country Club, a mosque and a school. Here and there were small clusters of homes.

Crossing our first set of railway tracks, we could not resist stopping for a photo shoot. Soon after, we entered the dark, cold abyss of a palm oil estate. The matured palm trees offered a dense canopy over the road. Temperatures dropped drastically as rain clouds hovered heavily above, lightly misting the air.

Pummeling our pedals, hoping to get to Layang-Layang fast, the rain began to fall. Emerging out from the “Black Forest”, with no tree canopies to soften the blow, the rain pelted hard on us!

Rolling at high speed down a slope, Susanna had just passed the boom gate and security post of the estate when she began to turn her crank and changed gears to attempt the next climb. High tension on crossed chain, her chain broke!

Coming from behind, Claudine, Zoe, KC and Frankie could offer little help. KC who usually performs magic tricks with his hands was lost without his wand...this time, a chain cutter!

Hoping to take refuge in a religious school, they found its gates locked! They had no choice but to push further in heavy downpour until they found shelter in a village home still under construction. 

After securing the most important stage in Maslow’s 5 hierarchy of needs, their brains went into overdrive! Checking with the group on WhatsApp, Claudine received a reply that none on Philip’s side has a chain cutter. Zoe tried to get a Grab or Uber service but none popped up in an area so remote!

There was little choice left but to hail for help. Looking out from their little shelter, they saw a pick up truck and two cars coming out from a nearby junction but left unnoticed. A few cars rolled past as well but as they were far off from the road, no driver could see their flailing arms.

When hope was almost gone, a motorcycle approached, reducing its speed as it rumbled nearer. The girls’ call caught the motorcyclist’s attention but he was unsure of their needs. He slowed down further but veered off to his home just next to their shelter!

Mustering their courage and calling on Lady Charm, Claudine and Susanna stepped across the whole nine yards to his doorstep. Explaining to him their needs, he confirmed there were no bicycle but only motorcycle shops in the area. Besides, they may not be opened for business.

Throwing their last card on the table, they finally convinced him to ferry Susanna to Layang-Layang where the rest of the team will be waiting. Thus, our damsel was whisked off her feet together with her bike in no time at all. Her baggage though, was loaded onto Claudine’s and KC’s mules.

Billy took this photo from his shelter !

Finally on the move again, the “Emergency Evacuation Team” bumped into Philip’s group taking refuge nearly 200 m away! They cheered for Susanna and the EET team; assuming the roles of Cheerleaders!!! Lost and found, everyone rode in light drizzle through the rolling hills of Layang-Layang.

Midway through the climbs, Claudine bumped into our "Pahlawan Melayu". He was on his way back after dropping Susanna off at Layang-Layang. Passing her, his caring nature prompted him to make a U Turn to inform her on Susanna’s exact location.

Within 1 km radius to Lew Peng Chicken Farm, the nauseating stench of chicken droppings filled the air. While those unfamiliar with the route finds it disgusting, the handful few knew lunch will be served soon!

Even though the swallow condominium was the next thing that caught our eye, bird’s nest was not on our menu. Instead, we walloped the glistening Wantan mee at Guang Fatt, fully loaded with crispy bits of lard!!

As the last crew members rolled in cold and hungry, the earlier few who had fed, went down on their hands and knees to tinker on Susanna’s bike. The Pit Crew, led by Bernie finished the job with hands smothered in grease, not from lard but chain lubricants!!!

One group photo before we leave Frankie and TH behind

After lunch, we left Frankie and TH at Layang-Layang. Frankie who had returned to sport after a spinal operation found the pain returning to hound him. A pick up was then arranged between TH and his wife.

On the move again, we climbed our next set of hills to Renggam. A hilly route through well managed palm oil estates, the road was well paved with a generous buffer zone of greens before the trees. Away from the cool shades, we were subjected to the full onslaught of the afternoon sun. By then, the rain had stopped and humidity was high.

Ploughing her way slowly up one hill after another, Claudine was enjoying her sturdy new bike when a loud beeping sound startled her. The siren, coming from Billy made her wonder if she was going too slow! Perhaps he had decided to be Drill Sargent for the day!!!

Shrill and loud, his phone had gone bonkers in the rain! The incessantly loud tone went on for 6 km, all the way to Renggam!!!

Arriving at Renggam, the old goods train was waiting at the station in full ceremony. It got everyone really excited and this helped us forget about the promised iced cendol which was not selling today. Instead we had fried banana fritters and curry puffs to fuel our last leg to Kluang.

The journey to Kluang was again, another set of hills. Pressed for time, we decided to split the group into 2. The fast group were ordered to speed ahead and not to miss the coffee factory which closes its doors at 5 pm. However, towards the end, none of us managed a tour as the factory was undergoing renovations and they close early on Saturdays.

Thus, while the fast group arrived at Ailang Hotel half an hour ahead of Zoe, Susanna, VT and Claudine, the latter 4 were the only ones that took the detour to “smell coffee”! The former were just too tired for any tours!

Checked in and on WhatsApp, we were relieved Peter had arrived safely. An invitation was made to check out the cultural street art of Kluang. While Claudine had initially planned to join the rest on the street art immersion, she was caught off guard when she opened her Ortlieb pannier. 

Unaware, her bag of clothes placed at the base of the pannier had been subjected to a thorough wash cycle since Layang-Layang, minus a spin dry cycle!!!! Carrying Susanna's water bottle, it had burrowed deep into Claudine’s clothes and cried buckets when she ran off with our "Pahlawan Melayu"!

Restoran 128

Thank goodness for hot irons and hair dryers! Towel dried, pressed and blow dried, Claudine was again in dry clothes when Bernie came to take everyone out for dinner. Driving us to the restaurant in 2 separate groups, we were really grateful we did not have to hit the saddle again. No doubt, our hineys were beginning to protest!

After dinner, while many turned in early, Philip, Peter, VT and Claudine checked out the nearby food court. Nothing much to eat there, the sweet desserts were commendable...traditional red bean soup is nutritious BUT(T) .... exploding!!!!

Photo Credits :
1. KC
2. Billy
3. Lionel
4. Philip Sim