Thursday, March 15, 2007

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

The Unforgettable Epic Ride @ Cameron Highlands

Mountain bikers who have never been on an epic ride are missing the greatest experience that can be had on two wheels. The scenery that unfolds before your handlebars as you pedal your way around a 30 to 40 mile loop give the sense that you are watching a 360-degree motion picture in slow motion. It is an adventure that can only be experienced on a mountain bike. With the possible exception of a hang glider, there is no other unmotorized mode of transportation that can get you farther into the woods and back in a single day.

It has been a 6-month since my first ride on a mountain bike after successfully bought it from a bike shop in Kepong. Since then, I have waited for a long time to have a one adventurous outstation ride for me to experiences it. On a 3rd May 2003, the day came in when my fellow club rider told me about the ride at Cameron Highlands. “It’s HOB 3 Jim Thompson this weekend. We’ll be up at Camerons for another siao siao ride.” Those words have made me jump to joy. To start the journey on an epic ride, I have traveled from Kuala Lumpur to Cameron Highlands with my fellow club rider, Razlan by car. It took us almost 2½ hours journey at that rainy evening on 2nd May 2003. We managed to arrived at the Telekom Apartment located somewhere in Tanah Rata on time. After we finished unload all the baggage and off course our bikes, without further delay we started our unofficial ride on tar from Tanah Rata towards Equatorial Hotel which was the highest peak so far in Cameron Highlands. Even though our ride is not so comfortable due to the drizzled all the way up but I have enjoyed much on the ride back to our apartment, downhill all the way. At least we have done some warm-up exercise before we burned-up the off-road ride tomorrow at Jim Thompson Trail.

As early as 6.30a.m on cold Saturday morning, Razlan and I started our epic ride from Tanah Rata going towards Habu on our mountain bike. Other fellow riders decided to load their bike in a car and drive all the way to Habu our meeting point, as it is quite cold to ride after a heavy downpour last night. Riding down from Tanah Rata to Habu that morning through thick fog made my muscles shake uncontrollably but we managed to arrive at the meeting point on time. It was past 8.15am when 30 of us cranked up to the Boh Tea House. Luckily I have done some riding this morning if not, riding up that morning is killing me. As expected, the break at the Tea House was fun. It was the best breakfast I ever had in my life. It made the ride uphill from Habu to Boh Tea House worthwhile. After some photography session was done, we begin our journey to the next pit stop at the Orang Asli Settlement. First 5km from the Tea House is a downhill section through the tea plantation. Sharp corners are everywhere and make it a challenge for everyone. Surprisingly, trail conditions, though wet, were perfect. Mud was only a problem at the unavoidable mud pools dotting the trail, as a result of which chain suck became the biggest headache for most of my fellow club riders. Imagine how frustrating it was, having to push up hills that could be ridden easily otherwise. Spills were aplenty as giant ruts swallowed some of us. Luckily my bike did not encounter such problems.

Our pit stop at the Orang Asli settlement was great. We have been surrounded by the children of the rainforest like a popular movie star at the concert. Some of us even let their bike being ridden by those children. Too bad we only had enough food supply for us to survive the ride. If not, most probably we would circulate some to the children of the rainforest. After enough break we have taken, the ride begin and this time after all the joy riding the downhill sections suddenly we see a steep wall in front of us welcoming us to conquer her. 3500ft above sea level was the highest peak of the hill. All of us have to raise a white flag by hiking and carrying our bike instead of riding because of that. Thankfully, where it matters most, which is the 5-km hike uphill, the mud was not too sticky. Otherwise I cannot imagine the nightmare. And God was kind. Instead of burning sun, we had an overcast sky. It even drizzled as we struggled up the last 5km. After we managed to conquer the highest peak of the hill, now come another challenge where we have to fight with flies. It is because most of the vegetable farm was located at the hill and due to the organic fertilizer they used had attracted a lot of flies. At this time, all I need is to keep pedaling and get away from the hill as fast as I can even though the eye-catching scenic views are all laid out for you to feast your eyes on.

After every peak it should come a downhill and this is the section I have waited since started the hill section a few hours ago. The downhill ride is awesome and it even makes my fingers numb due to the impact while riding down. The off-road section came to the end when I end the downhill section. From there, tar all the way back to Habu where our meeting point located. Suddenly I realized that I have missed something. Yes, it is Razlan whom I left behind after we conquered the peak. I hope he managed to get through all the challenged that I have gone through just now. At 3.30p.m most of us including me arrived at the meeting point and quickly run for a 100Plus and a fried noodles at the nearby restaurant. Around 4.30p.m most of us including Razlan arrived at the meeting point and have chitchat at the restaurant before going back to our apartment. That is the end of our epic ride with a total of 60km. For me, it is a most unforgettable epic ride I have ridden on my GT Zaskar mountain bike. Thanks to the great weather, I had a wonderful time in Cameron Highlands.

A writer would like to thanks ‘Pedalphiles Cycling Club’ for the successful organized of Cameron Highlands Epic Ride. “Long Lives, Long Rides!”

The Best of Unfinished Epic @ Jim Thompson Cameron Highlands

Morning Fox: After the worst of the storm, riding down from Tanah Rata to Habu in that morning through thick fog make my muscles shaking uncontrollably.

Boh! Ada Umpph!: The best breakfast I ever had in my life. The rides up from Habu to Boh Tea Shop Uphill make it worthwhile.

The Rolling Stone: The downhill sections through the tea plantation were not for the faint of heart. Sharp corners are everywhere and make it a challenge for everyone.

Indah Water: The ‘stinko’ smells ever sniff. Wonder if anyone was stuck in it or even dive into it.
The Alienation: Two pit stop at Kampong Orang Asli, make you like an artist. Too bad we only have enough food supply for us to survived during the ride. If not, most probably we will circulate some to the children of the rainforest.

Mari Tolak Basikal (MTB): The best words to describe when suddenly after all the joy ride during the downhill section suddenly diminished when you saw a steep wall climb in front of you welcoming you to conquer her. 3500m above sea levels was the highest peak (According to James D Painmaster)

Screensaver: The eye-catching sceneries while you managed to conquer every peak are waiting for you. I love Malaysia.

The Fly zone: Oh! No. Flies are everywhere. Especially at the ‘vege’ farm and the Habu Restaurant.

H2O Donor: Thank you very much to the restaurant owner for your kindness of giving us unlimited water supply to clean our partner.

WWF Smack Down: After almost a day ride, this kind of news is very much disappointed. Anyway we managed to get back safely to KL. Uwaaaaa!

Misteri Nusantara: Until this story is written, I heard no body was able to find any skull with regard to Jim Thompson. The mysteries remain.

Whatever the outcomes are, it was the best epic ride for me.
Long Lives, Long Rides!

The Amazing Bird Race @ Fraser's Hill, Pahang

Shh! Look! I saw! I saw a bird. Where? There, resting on a wire. What size is it? Like robin. What color is it? I’m not sure but it has a spotted breast. Oh! No. I think it still not in our list yet. Quick get all the details first, we will look for the name later.

Guess what? All the questions and answers above are the most popular words that come out from all the birdwatcher for at least 24 hour period beginning 12th June 2004. My first thought about bird race was pretty funny. Bird Race? Do we actually line up all the Fraser’s Hill birds and with the blow of a whistle, get them to race against each other by flying as fast and as far as they can?. No! Actually, a bird race is a ‘fun race’ where teams of 3 birdwatchers compete against each other in sighting, identifying and recording as many species of birds (not the number of birds) within a stipulated time frame and location. In order to participate you don’t have to be an expert in birds to join the ‘fun race’. A bird guide book, a pair of binoculars (Petaling Street version also can) and a ton of enthusiasm is all you need.

To answer my queries about this ‘fun race’, a workshop entitled ‘An Introduction to Bird Watching – Beginners’ was conducted by WWF Malaysia Fraser’s Hill Nature Education Center (FHNEC) a day before the official flag off. This workshop was truly informative and full of laughter as it assist the beginners to learn the finer points of this fantastic hobby.

On Saturday afternoon 12th June 2004, all the birdwatcher gathered around the Fraser’s Hill Sport Center eagerly waiting for the official flag off by the Pahang State Assemblyman. While waiting, my eyes focusing to this Japanese Group. I’m admire their enthusiast about birds when they bring along with them a so called sophisticated binoculars and even some of it we used to see when an astrologist used when searching or looking for a moon or stars in the skies above. After quite a sometimes staring at their prestigious equipment, Zoolihsan the one whom responsible to introduce me about this fun race drag me and introduces ourselves to them. I am so proud when they mention about the vast variety of nature that Malaysia has that still untouched by the rough modern development. They cannot miss visiting Malaysia, at least once a year especially for the International Bird race events that Malaysia and Pahang Tourism Board jointly organized since its debut in 1988.

At 2.00pm the whistle blows off to mark the beginning of the amazing race. All the birdwatcher started to look around with their binoculars focusing towards the tree, make an elephant ear to hear the sound of birds. My group ‘Serindit’ name after a beautiful sound of famous bird started to walk around and our mission is to complete at least 2 out of 4 checkpoint that all the birdwatcher need to visit during the race in order to come out with a long list of bird species. Our first checkpoint was at the gap. At certain point, we can see a variety of birds flying and lying on top and between the branches. All of them look the same sometimes with naked eyes. The only way to carefully identified them are to scan the treetops using our ‘Petaling Street’ binoculars and listen for the telltale calls. With a pair of a Bird Guide Book that we bought yesterday during the workshop, some of the bird we managed to identified. As a Malaysian, we used to called pipit, gagak, helang, burung hantu, belatuk and many more but during the race we have a difficulties to match and name the birds with their English name that somewhat or rather appear to be so nicely name. Little Cuckoo Dove, White Bellied Swiftlet, Green Magpie and many scientific names that seldom heard by us in order to fully specify in what species do they come.

After end of the 24 hour period that was allocated for all the birdwatchers to find and identify as many species as they can, our group managed to identified at least 70 species that we have found from the timid and tiny highland species to the bright and resplendent lowland varieties. Although winning the prize is not the sole intention of most birders participating in this ‘fun race’, honesty is also an important element to be subscribed in each team. As sighting or identifying of birds are left to sheer immersion of each team in the race to record as many species of birds. At least our team has contributed something for the World Wide Fund (WWF) as the records will be submitted and vetted by arbitrators appointed by the organizer. During the prize giving ceremony that show the appearance of Sultanah of Pahang, the Japanese team was announced a winner when they come out with the longest bird’s species found. The story I have heard from one of the committee member, the Japanese team even camp in the jungle just for the sake of the birds hunting.

My amazing bird race experiences end later that evening when everybody started to drive down the Fraser’s Hill and the situation back to normal again. No more people gathered around with their binoculars and looking at the skies. As what the state assemblyman was said, by promoting the race, we will be supporting an event, which aims at promoting bird’s conservation and raising public awareness on the diversity, beauty and fascinating of birds, and lastly making Malaysia a better known destination for birds and nature lovers.I would like to thank En. Zoolihsan Ahmad and En. Shaani from Felda Agricultures Resort for their sponsorship for my accommodation and introduce to me this avian extravaganza race. Here birdie-birdie!

Monster Climb Madness @ Kajang Busy Body Trail Ride

We parked the car just in front the Nirvana Memorial Park Entrance. After all only 9 of us willing to do the so-called PCC MOAB Hunting. After everyone is ready, we started our journey in searching for a nice hill spot that will offer absolute 180° sceneries of break to heaven.

Yong lead us to the most of the trail just because of he is the only one that fully equipped with GPS and have an experienced riding this trail before. First 5km was a killer climb for me. If it is not a group riding, most probably I will turn back to my car. The climb previously used to be a downhill trail when PCC & D&P doing the ride together somewhere in early March 2003 now become a lung buster action for everyone. The base of chairlift goes straight up a cement strewn face that give every rider an ample time to reach the first peak inside rubber estate.

After everyone successfully managed the first climb, we started the pedal again towards the second peak and this time we has been rewarded with a short descent after being threaten by a group of ‘Bull Doggie Kwan’. (Stay in group and don’t ever think to turn your ass in front of them in order not to letting them give you a memorable morning kiss on your butt or leg).

The second climb up still lung buster to me but not as killer as the first climb. But climb still climb until you reach the peak. At last our hard work on pedaling come to an end when we reach the open entrance of Nirvana Aerial View. The sceneries from here can be recorded as one of the loving scenes in MTT Hindi Movie in future.

While we were being treated with a spectacular view in front of our eyes, a called for a UN Safety Meeting with regard to the Iraq situation was announced. The outcome is still the same as all Malaysian. Every member agreed that war is not a solution and we are all the peace lover anyway.

Now, it’s come to the great part of the journey when we started our adrenalin downhill after a lot of hard work has been poured into climb. It was an extraordinary descent that makes me ate all the mud flying over my face. The descent end until we reach the tarmac road just beside the Nirvana entrance and where we park our car. The initial enjoyment never seemed to wear off. We will come back again.

Climbing Motivation: Once you reach the top of any extended climb, you’re treated to a spectacular view unique to Nirvana/Semenyih. It is a simple and just reward for your hard effort. Is this a great sport or what? Next episode! Get ready for an Epic Ride.

Double Trouble in Batu Dam

Too fast, too curious, too many or too careless. Those are all the words that spinning inside my head when suddenly I am totally out of the official trail last Sunday ride with PCC. Where the hell am I riding through when suddenly the needle eye trail became the rocky blasted downhill. It is out of my imagination when suddenly after the uphill my bike came to the rocky section with steep downhill in front of me. No body behind me and I think they should came anyway. Too 'shiok' until I end-up to the road. Then only I realized that I have been out of the trail.

Where the hell am I missed the turn. Afraid that everybody is looking for me, I decided to push my bike uphill and started the trail hunting. After about 5-10 minutes I came across the T-Junctions and now it make me confused which turn should I go. (Even though there was a sign newly created which pointing to junction but then I’m still not sure which turn should I choose?). I take the left turn and went straight downhill until I met single rider who name I can’t recalled. After he said that he is going to joined the PCC group then only I feel relief from all those possibility that might happen to me. We take the T-junction again and heading straight to the river break while every rider are ready to make a move. I missed a turn that is my excused for came in late.

After 5 minutes break given to me, we started riding back towards trail that we have done the maintenance last week. It is a double ‘shiok’ one when the trail came into a downhill once again. A pay back time. Everyone seems excited about the downhill blast that they have gone through. Yong suggested we heading back to car park by using an alternative trail that he said would offer us more scenic view. After the junction discovered, we heading uphill and it is a great single track. A few branches seem blocking our trail but we managed to get through. But then after a few meter from the first blocking we encountered another blocking. This time it might require a lot of effort in order for us to get through.

Therefore we decided to head back and Yong quickly come out with a planning that we need another trail maintenance in the near future as we have missed this trail for a long time. “Turn back!” sound is all the way as we went down to the main trail. Not today, maybe next week or next month or next year whenever it is we will come back. It is a promised.

Finally the ride is a promising one. The outcome is great and guys please do join the PCC Trail Maintenance in the next episode because it might required a lot of crew in order for us to clear the blocking at the alternative trail. Thanks again to the single rider, for coming to the rescue and to all who kind and patient enough on waiting for me.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Le Tour De Langkawi 2007 (LTDL)

The much awaited bicycle event of the year. This year with a new event manager. Sadly no Blue Ride or TM Ride or Public Ride and I must say it is just not enough promotions and efforts by the organiser.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Malaysian Version of IMBA Trail Care Crew @ Batu Dam Trail

My first interface to the mountain bike trail care was trough International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) website, which is popular with their slogan ‘Long Live Long Rides’ which I hold till now. Since then, I am always imagined that one day I will do the same thing as what there are doing on making a new trail and the maintenance of the existing trail.

On 30th March 2003, the day I’m waited so long came when I joined 8 others PCC Trail Care Crew fully equipped with parangs, hand chain saws and even a gardening tool making their way towards Batu Dam for a mission of trail maintenance.

Most of MTBikers should know already about the single track trails that wind along the Batu Lake shore. Beautiful scenery, fast descents and challenging climbs under the canopy of primary forest that Batu Dam Off road trail has to offer. Therefore, I decided to write a simple report on Batu Dam Off road Trail to give a different view and as a reference to all the trail users on the importance of trail maintenance.

The followings are the Trail Maintenance & Condition Report for Empangan Batu (Batu Dam), Gombak, Selangor Darul Ehsan.

TRAIL SECTION NAME: Batu Dam Offroad Trail (Reverse) or Speedo’s Trail
TRAIL CARE CREW: 9 PCC Trail Care Crew

i) Trimming Done (Minimum 2m wide & 2.5m high)
Nothing much has been done. Maybe due to the frequently use by other trail user that make most of the trail can be seen through in front.

ii) Tree Debris & Trimmings Cleared Well Off Trail
Due to the rainy seasons lately, most of the trail section was covered by fallen branches, stick and bamboo stem.

iii) Fallen Trees Cleared
We have to make two major pit stop due to the fallen trees was found along the trail towards the second stream crossing. Maybe it is due to the rainy seasons lately that make a loose tree near the wall cannot fix to the soil anymore.

iv) Hazards Cleared (Dead Limbs, Leaning Trees, etc.)
Two sections along the trail after river break were found to have leaning trees. After taking into consideration that the leaning trees did not causes any harm to the trail user, we decided to leave it as it is. It shall make the trail more challenging and exciting.

v) Stiles and Bridges Safe, Abandoned Trails Very Well Blocked.
It is almost a year since PCC done the so-called bridge construction on wide gap slope near the river. It seems that the bridge cannot stand it anymore with some of the log already fallen. A suggestion was made to close the bridge and re-route the trail to the side.

Overall trail section still ride able except the terrain near the river where the old bridge has collapsed and need a re-routes. Maybe in the futures when the crew is large enough to support the trail maintenance then the new bridge can be build.

Maintenance shouldn’t substantially change the character of a trail or diminish user experience. Just as a good trail appears to have always been there, good maintenance should be almost invisible.

“The principle of trail maintenance is simple: Keep the user on the trail and the water off of it”. Taken from ‘Joey Klein, Subaru / IMBA Trail Care Crew’.
Pictures Report can be found at the following path:-