Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Killing 3 birds with 1 stone!!!! (21 January 2017)

With JB Riders at the kampung
With Singapore Riders at Marlborough College
Verrene's maiden ride, supported by Kenneth and friends
Finally met Basil and JM Lew
It was Jancy's birthday!!!
One helluva team!

As day breaks, a huge crowd had gathered outside Khass Bicycles. Jolin and Matt were observing the spinning of their bike wheels when Claudine arrived with blinking front and rear lights having started from home when it was pitch dark. While she started a long discussion with Jolin over some career moves, Kevin and Ronan rolled in to greet their ex-teacher.

It was a long time before we started rolling with the ball being passed around on who is to lead the ride. With Capt Leo on sitter duty, the helm was passed to Voon, his first officer who reluctantly assumed responsibility!

Everyone adhered to the stipulated average speed of 25kph, no overtaking and no surging rules for the first 5 km. While Dr Chu, Andy and BG were on mtbs, self-enforcing rolling limitations on themselves, today's speed was not enough to sustain them!!! Turning off to Lebuh Kota Iskandar, they pumped the pedals hard, overtaking Voon, who also gave chase!!!

At Marlborough College, Voon ushered everyone to enter the kampung while he remained as marker. This time, Claudine took the lead but in just two strides, Basil was up beside her! Realizing she was no match for him, they chatted all the way to the jetty only to see See Chiang, Jeff, Loh and a few friends on their way out!

Thomas showing off his CO2 cannister

The stop at Kg Sg Melayu was longer than usual as Thomas Moy had a puncture to attend to. But then again, we had an equally long stop at Puteri Harbour which sees Basil's new S Works crashing to the ground over a case of physics and imbalance.

With CNY just around the corner, everyone were in a festive mood. Nobody really wanted to train and thus it was decided that while the rest will ride back to base, Claudine will return to Kg Sg Melayu on her own to meet Philip Sim and his Singapore entourage.

As the team escorted her out, it became apparent that Verrene badly needed a lesson on Bicycle 101!!! By then, her right calf was coated with grease from the chainring!!! Eager to ride, she had bought riding gears BUT had no bike. Thankfully, her buddy Kenneth managed to borrow one for her on the eleventh hour!

Entering the kampung once again, Claudine saw the same familiar faces she met earlier. Some were waiting by the labourer's quarters for their friends who were seen pushing their bikes on the final climb. The friendly folks exchanged greetings with Claudine while affirming her friends' entry into the labyrinth.

Coincidentally, she bumped into Lucas, Thomas Tai and their 2 other friends just before she came into contact with Philip's team. Both groups were to go on the same route later, meeting again at Sunway Iskandar!

Time was running out for Philip after Sunway's show office. While Kai was eager to introduce Pendas Hill to everyone, Philip wanted to feed the hungry group before riding back to the city. He made a U-turn just before the knoll ordering everyone to head for Puteri Harbour.

Crestfallen, Robert's request for a 5 minute detour was denied. Taking note of his eagerness, Claudine offered to go with him knowing she could guide him to Puteri Harbour herself. Their disobedience was followed by Tony, Koh and Kai.

It was a brief detour, true to their words. As they rode to catch up with the lead team, they collected Jancy at the foot of the hill and some others along the Sunway stretch.

Waiting to regroup at the traffic lights, BJ and Ian were taking a long time to arrive. The sun was beginning to shine and everyone were worried about BJ. Doubting BJ's resilience, Kai decided to abandon Puteri Harbour.

Even with new world technology, some phones will still go unanswered. Unable to contact Philip, Kai's group made a last minute decision to slog on to Puteri Harbour.

They left Medini One with drinks and beer only to arrive at the marina to receive a long lecture by the Commander! It seems Jon was the only one smiling happily while Philip berated. After all, he was cradling a beer in one hand!!!

Heading back, we said goodbye to Kai at Horizon Hills. By then, Claudine had decided to assume sweeper duty.

Philip led everyone to Yong Yong Desserts for a quick recharge and to sit out the scorching sun. Little did we know, we will actually sit out the sun!!! It rained from noon onwards and continued to do so for the next 2 days bringing floods to Thomson Road, Singapore and many parts of Malaysia!!!

Jayson helping out with the tyre change

The day was not without bike troubles. Jon needed a tyre change in the morning while Koh had a puncture right after Yong Yong. BJ, Ian and Claudine who needed a headstart, rode to Crown Istana while everyone waited for the tube change. The trio seeked refuge at Tadika Kastil when the sky decided to break!

Finally regrouped, Philip's promise of a sumptuous lunch was fulfilled. We ate at one of the oldest duck restaurants in JB which also served good Assam Fish.

It was still drizzling when our friends continued on with ice-creams. By then, Claudine had clocked 93 km and knowing home is an additional 18 km, she decided to circle Kota Iskandar until she hit 140 km, a feat meant for the day with Andy which both eventually cancelled. Little did she know, she will be riding in rain for 3 hours, making brief stops under the Bukit Indah flyover and at Sunway Iskandar to check on her Strava. She returned home triumphing at 156 km, her 3rd bird to kill!!!

Monday, 23 January 2017

Ride 4 a Lane - Johor Bahru's Car Free Day (14 January 2017)

Friends of Asia Cycling Network
ACN's senior advisor handing a letter of appreciation to MBJB's Tuan Haji Farizal Ismail.
Tuan Haji Farizal Ismail enjoying his ride
Rolling...with the founder of Happy-Riders Connect
Getting a helping hand
Getting a helping hand
Getting a helping hand

Every second Saturday of the month, Johor Bahru's municipal council organizes a car free day. While the international event is held to encourage motorists to give up their cars for a day, MBJB's efforts are seen to promote healthy living. Besides, encouraging motorists and commuterists alike to travel to the city on a car free day gives them an idea of the local city, in an environment with fewer cars. Given the time, a paradigm shift to a lower dependency on cars may just be possible!

Encouraging as it is, Johor Bahru's car free route was extended to a 4 km route today. Incorporating the new 1 km bike lane at Jalan Wong Ah Fook, it drew many curious cyclists to the city.

The official event started with the Bangsa Johor song, followed by Negaraku. Then, a short morning stretching exercise commenced before before riders were finally flagged off by MBJB's Tuan Haji Farizal Ismail.

Everyone were encouraged to make full use of the car free route. A Zumba event was running concurrently on the otherwise busy Jalan Dato Onn. Avid runners took the opportune to run in a city otherwise flooded with vehicles. While previous events sees many skateboarders and motorized scooters, their absence were strangely missed today!

Today's car free route took riders through Jalan Ibrahim before turning left to Jalan Wong Ah Fook. While both these roads are usually choked with traffic, today's vehicle count was visibly reduced.

Riders rode alongside traffic on Jalan Wong Ah Fook, this time on a dedicated bike lane. In fact, the missing metal gratings from last Thursday's night ride has been replaced and the road was still going through the final touch ups. Kudos to the improvement efforts being made!

Riding past Persada, on Jalan Trus and Jalan Abdullah Ibrahim, traffic starts to build up. This is unavoidable as many cars were already parked on the city parking lots since the previous nights. Motorists were moving their parked vehicles! The city was waking up and the day has just begun!!

The route became peaceful again on Jalan Ayer Molek. This time, Car Free Day assumes its rightful identity. But before long, we had arrived back at MBJB's base where we had started, feeling cheated and wanting more!

It would have been more interesting if the car free route had not concentrated so much on distance. Taking riders up on the steep climb to glimpse the State Secretariat Building on Jalan Bukit Timbalan would have been the cherry on the cake. A glimpse of the old world charms of Jalan Tan Hiok Nee and Jalan Dhoby where old trades used to thrive, would have been a walk down memory lane. Until, the next Car Free Day, we hope to see more improvements for the riding community!

Bike lane getting the thumbs up
Bike lane foster love....
.....stronger family ties....
Photo Credits :
Daniel Wng
Wong CK


Bike lane and car free day encourages city folks to get out and about, explore the city in an environment with lesser cars. It moves the economy while reducing carbon footprints. 

On today's car free day, we explored Onn's Kitchen at Kg Tarom .... a quaint warong, built around a shady tree and oddly situated at the fork of the road. It serves authentic nasi lemak bungkus, roti pratas, lontong, soto and a uniquely must try lontong kering served with beef rendang.

Cosy settings
Shady tree
Eggs cooked for hours in spices
No dogs .... bikes allowed???
Fork of the road

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Tour de Kukup (7 January 2017)

In the village, Kukup
Petronas, Kukup
Iskandar Coastal Highway
Officially dubbed "Cow Lane" by Amoi
Breakfast at Kukup
Breakfast at Kukup
Breakfast at Kukup
Breakfast at Kukup
Breakfast at Kukup

This morning, we started with 36 riders. By push off time, there were only 29! Thanks to one of the junior riders who decided to check out his weight on a water pipe, we lost 7 of them. His wrong judgment created a 3 feet geyser in the parking lot which caught the attention of the security guards. Henceforth, the whole junior team were held back, not allowed to ride out, until their parents were called in to settle the misdemeanor.

We left Horizon Hills with Captain Leo of JEC taking the lead. As promised he held on to his word and kept the speed at "yawn" rate for some but a relief for many. Even the weaker links managed to keep up with the pace until Gelang Patah before the peloton broke up into 2 groups.

Approaching Uncle Lim's Durian Farm, William from Singapore finally caught up! Crossing the causeway at 5.18 am, he did not make it to meet up point, circling Bukit Indah's roundabout 3 times at a loss. Giving up finally, he rode to Gelang Patah for breakfast with hopes of catching up with us along the way. Thankfully, he did!

After regrouping at Pekan Nanas' Shell, we pushed off again for Kukup. As usual, the 10 km flats warrants a heart pumping ride. Andy came up to the girls, rescuing them from a tough ride. Initially, he pulled Claudine and Zoe. Soon, Sibyl got in the line while Zoe dropped back a few times. When she could no longer keep up, the trio went ahead to Thomas, Chiam and SK Wong. Together, they sped ahead to the end of the finish line, only to see the lead group already waiting. Nonetheless, finishing any ride receives the highest honours in this sport!

Kukup came soon enough for many. Our Bollywood superstar was still around, eager to wait upon us. We had the standard roti's which can be decent but don't try to be adventurous as the mee hoon will turn out stale and dry while the assumed nasi lemak in banana leaf is actually tapai ubi, fermented sweet potatoes!

As we had another guest rider with us besides William and Kai Weng; Lee Lee, hailing from KL, was given a brief tour of Kukup. We rode into one part of the village with elevated concrete slabs as access road. The heydays of wooden boardwalk on stilts had long since been replaced but travelling on the narrow pathway with the sea below waiting to eat us up, can be just as harrowing. 3

We had a heartwarming time, witnessing a wedding procession. The bride in standard white and the groom in baby blue strolled down, NOT the red carpet, NOR the runway, BUT the elevated pathway!!! It must be very warm for the whole entourage to be underneath their liveries in today's hot scorching weather. 

Out of the village, we made a quick stop at Petronas for a quick refill before heading back. Just before the Indian temple which is the landmark to the "cow lane" and palm oil estate, William's front wheel hub broke, marking the end of his ride. Chiam assisted him to board a bus heading for Pontian where he was lucky to get a private taxi willing to take him back to Singapore.This comes with a heavy price tag of RM300.

Back at Pekan Nanas, we stopped at our usual stall for fruit juice. It seems, the weaker riders were not the last to arrive, as Chiam having sorted out William's predicament had followed the likes of Voon and Ryan Low on the longer route to Pekan Nanas. They streamed in one by one slightly later.

Here on, we parted ways. Leo led the stronger team on the longer route home. Thomas, Chiam and SK were caught unaware of their departure. They had no choice but to leave with the second group.

When Eva started to suffer cramps just after Uncle Lim's Durian Farm, the group was further divided. Zoe left with the trio while VT and Claudine stayed back with Eva. Meanwhile, Mr Lim who rode ahead with Jason and Siew Hong had a fall at the traffic lights near to Eco Gardens. He suffered cuts around the fingers, a swollen hand and a bruised knee. It was a matter of losing one's balance weaving through the line of cars at the lights.

With Eva still suffering from cramps, the last group decided to take a lunch break at Gelang Patah's Restoran Kulai Yun Nan Bao Dian. Sadly, tried as she might, she could not finish her ride. Riding out, a few kilometers later, she boarded her support car, called in to the rescue. Thereon, it was rather reassuring to have Mr Pang tailing the last group all the way back, making sure everyone got back safely without anymore hiccups.

Photo Credits :