Tuesday, January 5, 2010


31st Dec 2009

We expected the Karak highway to be jammed up on the evening of Friday 31st Dec 2009. We expected lots of cars to be heading out of KL for the extended weekend. We expected to crawl into Temerloh on the eve of 2010. All our expectations were wrong. We were happy we were wrong. We were 3 from a group of 16 who had made plans to celebrate 2010 somewhere in the interior of Pahang. We planned to get to the interior via the eco-friendly way - on pedal power and will park our non-eco friendly vehicles in Temerloh.

We are a mixed group of 1Malaysians, with a common love for burning calories on wheels while exploring the countrysides of Malaysia and neighboring countries. Here are some of us prior to the start on day 1.

While Malaysians in large cities celebrated 2010 with a bang, we did it on the quiet, at the Green Park hotel in Temerloh where we stayed. No fireworks, not even sparklers. We had a cake and candles. We forbid booze but had sparkling juices. And we had durians!! What a combo.

Almost all did not wait till the clock past midnight to welcome the new year. We turned in early to bed for we would have an early day to Tasek Chini on the first day of 2010. It would be a 130km ride.

1st Jan 2010

I posed for this shot for my cycling buddies from Bukit Jelutong Cycling Club. I promised to don the newly-acquired own-designed cycling jersey on Day 1 of my ride. The size L fitted just right, not restricting too much of my bulging biceps and no requirement to hold my breath in the middle anatomy.

We left the hotel minus breakfast. Ride leader Alauddin suggested we take our breakfast stop after about 10kms of cycling.

But within less than 5 kms, we came to a warong. We quickly forgot our 10km agreement. And I certainly have more reasons to stop at this particular warong.

Even our 1Malaysian buddies were happily ordering the Nasi Kerabu and Nasi Dagang. I justified myself for two helpings of Nasi Kerabu in the name of carbo-loading.

Fully satisfied with our breakfast, we began our ride and started tackling the corners and some gradients. There were not many vehicles so early on a weekend. Occasionally though, a lorry would pass us fully laden with rubber scrap and leaving foul-smelling trails. Moments like these, you try to take short light breaths and that would be fine on the flats when the cycling is light. It was a different story when foul-smelling lorries overtook you on the hills and you would be breathing heavily to conquer the terrain.

For the first half of the day, the road hugged the river and we passed several scenic spots.

Temerloh is a town famous for Ikan Patin. At intervals on the road, we noticed signboards offering fresh ikan patin and tilapia. These fishes are reared in cages in the river. As a group, we silently knew that Ikan Patin would be on the menu at one of the night stops in our journey. We would not do justice for this ride if we go home without savoring the delicacy of Ikan Patin gulai tempoyak. Don, one of the cyclists even had 1 sms in his mobile from a friend suggesting where to have the best ikan patin lunch in Temerloh.

It was also a canopy ride with trees lining up on both sides of the road which makes cycling a pleasure.

There was also a short detour off the main road, through a village where rambutans were for the picking. A few could not resist to stop and pluck and forgot that permission was not obtained for free sampling.

A packet of keropok and a container of butter cookies accompanied one cyclist. One wonders whether this would be a ride for a picnic.

"AWAS", We even had 1 lone durian on one bike.

I was very sure this Durian would be safe on the owner's bike rack if he had purchased it from this kampong that we passed through on our way to Tasek Chini.

In addition, I should tell friends of mine who are diabetics to buy their durians here if they cannot resist the king of fruits. It is the least I can do for them!!

There was also a prominent political presence along the road that caught my attention.

Towards noon, the nasi kerabu and nasi dagang began to wear off. The heat and heavy sweating added on to the need for rest and to recuperate. The durian man however was still strong and helped one other cyclist with a rather ingenious towing technique.

To recuperate, we need to go for carbo loading. We passed by one lone eatery before the group stopped for shade under a highway bridge.

A pillar greeted us with a Selamat Hari Raya. For today, I took it to mean Selamat Tahun Baru.

But food was very much on everyone's mind. The few leftover dishes at the lone eatery could not feed 16 hungry cyclists. The lady owner went to the kitchen to fry some fishes and eggs and they were all gone in a jiffy.

At this juncture, no one was exactly sure how far away was Tasek Chini. Worried that we might run out of water and tid-bits on the way, we asked the lady owner "ada lagi tak kedai-kedai di tengah jalan?". Smilingly she joked "Di tengah jalan memang tak ada, di tepi jalan ada!"

She found it very appropriate to joke with us. She must have noted our merriment and our continous laughters while having lunch, though the picture below showed full concentration on the food.

As the afternoon sun bore on us, the 16 cyclists were spread out quite far apart. The stronger ones were a few kilometres ahead and I was with Alauddin somewhere in the rear.

By now there were no more trees lining the road. The road was rolling and our cycling became heavy on the ups, followed by the joy of coasting downhill. This continued kilometers after kilometres and I was mindful to keep my average heart rate within acceptable limits.

Then I saw one killer hill up ahead. I readied myself with the granny (the lightest gears) and inched and zigzagged my way to the top, my eyes constantly on my Polar Heart Rate Monitor.
This is the altitude recording from my Polar Heart Rate Monitor. The highest altitude recorded on the right is this particular spot.

On a fully laden bike, it was pretty challenging but doable. Looking back from where we climbed, this is the view at the peak.

We rested here for a good 20 mins and took the opportunity to pose for some pics.

This is Rahim, a man nearing mid 60's and a very hardened cyclist. He rode with a bandaged left knee. It was a week earlier that he took a tumble on his racing bike and had hit the road heavily on his left knee. Mere mortals would have abandoned this trip. Not Rahim. Several more in this group are hard-core cyclists and it was a pleasure to ride alongside them.

This is the view from the top towards the direction we were going. When you have an uphill, you will have a downhill. And it is this reward that makes climbing acceptable.

Here I captured two from the group trying to minimize the wind drag while my own bike began to gather speed, reaching past 50kph.

We were closed to completing 100km when we came across this signboard. So, which of the 3 places were we supposed to end the ride today? Kompleks Pelancongan Kuala Chini would be fine. It would be only 10kms away but it would be a folly to tune the mind for that.

On my rides, I have learnt to break kilometres in palatable sections. I have always used 10km breaks as immediate goals. It worked all the time. This is especially so on my solo tours when the destination for the day cannot be established accurately.

For this ride, it turned out to be the furthest one, 34kms away. We cycled on in between drizzles and reached Kg Gumum at Tasek Chini as the sun was setting.

Our stay for the night would be at Rajan Jones hostel, a basic accomodation operated by who else if not Rajan Jones himself. RJ was there to welcome our group and he quickly pointed out that dinner would be served a short distance away from the hostel at the canteen operated by his wife. It would be about a 5 mins walk in the dark to the canteen.

Most of us took our bath prior to dinner. I welcomed the cold shower to refresh the mind and body and to ready ourself for dinner. Tonight, I look forward to the dinner, irrespective of the menu.

When we got back after dinner, the rain came. I tucked in for the night with my room-mate Don and somehow felt safe in the mosquito net, not from Don but from the huge mosquitoes. Don was harmless, he only do acceptable light snores...ha..ha..

And I look forward to capture the sight of Tasek Chini in the morning.


Al-Manar said...

Now you are back to your favourite pastime. Have another pleasant cycling year.

ARZ said...

Thank you Pak Chik. Indeed I look forward to another year of cycling tours and introducing this meaningful hobby to more friends

oops did I just say that? said...

Bah, got nurian on bike aah? so kleatip wan

June Malik said...

you are unsure if u can do marathons and i am unsure if i could ride, we shd trade places one day :) cant wait for the continuation of this !

ARZ said...


Yeah..kids are always creative kan? Dat's why must always remain as kids

ARZ said...

Ms June Bond,

Don't think I can switch places, but U surely can take up tour cycling. Your cardio is strong bcos of your running. So are your legs, cuma kena develop d right muscles for cycling which U dah ada pun!