Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Penang Charity Bike Ride 26/08/2012 : Pulau Tikus - George Town

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                          AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                       
Penang Charity Ride
Pulau Tikus to George Town : 26th August 2012
Charity Leisure Ride from Scott Road Field to  George Town Heritage Zone,  Penang & back.
Distance covered : 14.8km.
Starting Time : 8:30am
Time Taken : approx. 1-1/2 hrs.

Penang Charity Ride 26/08/12 Map  (click for Map Link)
During my ride with the Mini Velo group two days prior (see Penang Ride : 2012/08/24),  Alvin had mentioned to me that they would be having a Charity Ride in conjunction with the Penang Adventist Hospital ’88 Shining Heads’ Charity Go Bald and Food Fair event, and I would be most welcomed to join them.

I was a bit hesitant to commit myself as I had a planned ride from  Tanjong Tokong to Balik Pulau the day before and was worried that I would be too zonked out to attend this charity ride. But due to some unforeseen circumstances, that ride was canceled and I was left with a lot of pent up energy. So on that early Sunday morning I pedaled down to the Scott Road field to meet my new found friends and join them in the effort for charity.

 The Ride

I reached the Scott Road field and promptly registered myself, but in my haste, I had forgotten to bring my wallet and a kind Alvin allowed me to pay later. I was given a nice bright pink, souvenir T-shirt which I quickly and proudly donned.

The bikers were briefed on the safety aspects of the ride and advised not to overtake the leaders and to stay within the group. A couple of police outriders would be clearing traffic ahead of the cyclists and RELA members were also at hand to streamline the ride. The organizers themselves would have marshals along the way to help out. With that the bikers pushed their bikes to Scott Road to line up for the start.

And here we are bikers, male & female, old & young, from near & far - all with different bikes big & small, all united in support of charity - eager to start off, to show that we all care.

The route will take us from Scott Road>Bagan Jermal Road>Gurney Drive>Northam Road>Penang Heritage Zone>Magazine Road>McAlister Road>Anson Road>Perak Road>McAlister Road>Residency Road>Sepoy Lines Road>Western Road>Brown Road and back to Scott Road. But this isn't so much about riding but more on the event, so I won't go into details of the route but just to say that everyone shared a comradeship during the ride.

Going down Jalan Bagan Jermal.

Passing through Gurney Drive.

Along shady Northam Road.

Komtar towering above the riders
We rode from the suburban area down to the Heritage Zone and to the busy Central Business District of  Komtar.

At Lebuh McNair, adjacent to the 1st Avenure Mall, we stopped for a regrouping and a rest before continuing on.

These are the strong mountain bikers from Bukit Merajam, there were even a couple of tough ladies among them.

This was a short leisure ride, and soon we were back at the soothing greenery of the Scott Road field.

We were even given a Certificate of Appreciation as acknowledgement of our support.

While cooling off, I hung around and socialized with the people attending the event. Here I am with Penang State Assemblyman YB Teh Che Yu, an avid supporter of cycling. He cycles everywhere - to work, to market, etc.

And here with Thaitrackzone representative Meitharin; and Cycling Malaysia Executive Director, Joseph Seow.

Now that the ride is over, the charity stalls beckons. Time to generously buy some vouchers and do our bit too.

When I entered the giant tents, the Chief Minister was just about to give his speech. His eloquent speech captivated the audience.

After his speech, I requested for a picture to be taken with him. He is a humble person and sportingly posed with me. This is one picture that I will treasure, after all it's not everyday that the AhPek gets to pose with an "orang besar".

After his speech, the brave volunteers had their heads cut/shaved bald hence the term "Shining Heads". Of course they have got fair contributions to charity for their "sacrifice".

Even a young toddler did his part, wearing the same T-shirt and having his head shiny too. In future, when he is older, he will probably look back in posterity and be proud that he has contributed also.

The crowd in attendance would have made any Penangite proud; showing the rest that contrary to belief, Penangites have good hearts and are not stingy when it comes to giving to charity.

There were a food number of food stalls lining the perimeter of the huge tents, offering may different and delicious food to savor. With that many stalls, I will be running out of coupons soon - time to top up and buy more!

This lady volunteer has a unique quick way of mass-producing burgers; she deep fries the beef patties. You won't see a long queue here as they will be served pretty fast!

The Organizing Team of the Charity Ride.
My many thanks and appreciation to Ngo Thye Aun, Alvin Boo, Jaron Oon and the rest of the organizers of this ride for giving me this opportunity to do my part.

Some of the photos here are courtesy from Jaron Oon. Thanks buddy!

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Penang / Ride 26th August 2012
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Penang Mini-Velor Ride

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                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                   
Penang Mini-Velor Ride
Pulau Tikus via Youth Park to George Town : 24th August 2012
Group Ride from Midlands 1-Stop via Youth Park to George Town  & back.
Distance covered : 21.1 km.
Time Taken : approx. 2 hrs (inclg. stops)
Start Time : 9:30pm


Ride Map  (click for Map Link)
I was on my regular monthly trip to visit my parents in Penang and decided to join the Mini Velo Group Ride, the group that I saw during my previous trip up (see Penang Ride : 2012/07/22).

I had again loaded my bike into the hold of the 5-Star bus that I was boarding at the  1-Utama Transportation Hub and disembarked at the Komtar in Penang. En route, I called up Alvin of the Mini Velo Group and he invited me into their weekly Friday ride.

The Ride

The ride starts of from the Shell Station next to the 1-Stop Midlands Park Shopping Mall. After having dinner with my parents, I quickly pedalled down to the station, I had to cycle fast as dinner took longer than anticipated and I was running late.

When I reached the station, I was relieved to see that the group had not started their ride yet. There were about forty bikers getting ready to start off. The previous time I saw them, there were about 60-70 riders, I guess the lesser number must be due to the taboo of the Hungry Ghost Month.
The group consisted of foldies, mountan bikes, road bikes, racers, and cute Mini Velours. Surprisingly unlike most of the rides I have attended, I saw that there were a fair number of ladies. Seems like in Penang the fairer sex is more active in cycling.

We started off heading towards and turning into Brown Road, a rich suburb with fairly large mansions. From there, we skimmed Western Road and quickly turned into Jesselton Heights. 

Sweeper Chew (in yellow helmet)
Along the way, I observed that the group is well organised, with a couple of leaders, several marshals and also a couple of sweepers. They even had walkie-talkies to communicate with each other to ensure that the group is safe and nobody goes missing. The leaders had strong headlamps while the sweepers had good tail-lamps and also a couple of laser lights shining a short distance backwards.

We made a couple of loops  here, with a two stretches having gentle slopes. My previous rides with steeper slopes helped, and I took on those slopes easily. Jesselton Heights, is also a rich suburb but much newer than the Brown Road area. But it has the dual advantage of being located on a hill slope and also overlooking the Penang Turf Club track.(wll at least a portion of it does overlook the track).

From Jesselton Heights, we turned into Jalan Kuari, the road leading to the adjoining Youth Park. The road here is steeper, but still not a problem for me. This area holds fond and also not so fond memories for me. During my younger scouting days, we chopped bamboo here and transported them to the Coronation Camp to build our camp site.
The bamboo were long and we had to tie them to our bicycle, and push all the way to the camp about 3km away. Jalan Kuari skirts the rear of the Western Road Cemetery, so one can imaging what goes through our minds then when we had to traverse this road during the night, after gathering the bamboo. Any shadow or smoke would make us jump with our hair standing on ends.

The Youth Park hold that not-so-fond memory for me. It was here that I was bitten by a snake when I was a young teen (see Snake Bite Pt.1 for this tale). That snake bite landed me in a nightmarish one night stay at the Penang General Hospital (for this tale see Snake Bite Pt.2)

We stopped for a short rest and to regroup at the car-park at the junction of Jalan Kuari and Western Road. This car-park is just opposite the Nattukottai Chettiar Indian Temple used for the Thaipusam Festieval. It is also adjacent to the steps leading up to the  Sri Meenakshi Sundraeswar Indian Temple.

Ride Leader Thomas looking to stop traffic for safe crossing of the group.
After the short rest, we proceeded down Gottlieb Road, a main road with heavier traffic. At junctions, the leaders and marshals will stop traffic for the riders to cross. An inconvenience to other vehicles perhaps, but better that than to have an accident.

From here we proceeded to Gurney Drive where the traffic was slow, literally crawling traffic. Even the bicycles had trouble maneuvering in between the vehicles. Along the way, I got to know some bikers riding their mountain bikes. One fellow Ah Loy was quite chatty and we got along pretty well.

We had a quick regroup again just before Northam Road, after which we proceeded to Farquhar Street and there on to Light Street and had a rest stop at the Dewan Sri Pinang where there was a convenient fruit & drinks stall for refreshment. I guess this must be a regular respite for these riders.

AhPek Biker with Ah Loy & friends
I managed to take a group picture with Ah Loy and his friends before we got on our bike and proceeded on pass the Esplanade. The place was full of people as usual, and they were curious to see a large group of bikers cycling these small bicycles. Also there was a group of people practicing parading on the field, probably for the coming Merdeka Day.

We proceeded to Beach Street, the banking row of Penang. This is a normally busy road during the day, but is usually quiet in at night. 

Passing through Campbell Street
From there we did a quick loop through Pitt Street, Chulia Street, Penang Road and Campbell Street.

Soon we were at our destination, the George Town Heritage Zone. It was quiet, unlike the time when I was there during my Tanjong Tokong-George Town Ride, when I was there during the daytime.

We had a short rest and regrouping there before we continued on towards Carnavorn Street then Kimberley Street, a short stint along Penang Road and up to Burmah Road. Turning down Pangkor Road, we were soon back at Gurney Drive.

We stopped at Gurney Paragon, giving the group an option to stop for food and drinks there a the many new F&B outlets there. Many opted out of this, preferring to go to the Gurney Drive Hawker Center for cheaper local Penang Hawker fare.

So the group split up, and the rest continued on up through Jalan Bagan Jermal, into Jalan Midlands, before finishing at Persiaran Midlands at the rear of the 1-Stop Midlands Park.

It was an interesting ride, getting to know the group, making new friends and how well they managed their rides. Definitely the next time I am up in Penang again, I will join these riders.

Post-script : Alvin also mentioned that they would be having a Charity Ride that Sunday, and I was most welcomed to join them. I did & it was my first public event (... more)

Some of the photos here are courtesy from Jaron Oon. Thanks buddy!
You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Penang / Mini Velor Ride
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Selangor: Sungai Buloh to Batu Arang Bike Ride

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                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                   
Selangor : Sungai Buloh to Batu Arang
18th August 2012
Bike Group at the former Batu Arang brick factory
Group Ride from SMK Bukit Rahman Putra, Sungei Buloh to Batu Arang, Selangor & back.
Distance covered : 55.10 km.
Time Taken : approx. 2:56:50 (riding time excluding stops)
Started : 0745hrs  Ended : 1330hrs

1. Good, scenic ride, riding through rustic kampongs.
2. Some dragon-back slopes approaching Batu Arang town poses a bit of challenge.
3. Worthwhile visiting Batu Arang town which is still very laid back, and the old disused brick mill for photo opportunities.
4. Depending on the weather, the return route could be under scorching sun, shade up appropriately.
This is one ride that will always be memorable to me - because it was a ride that was a reunion of sorts and also one that had two first contacts.
I was itching for a good after the previous week's Genting Sempah Ride and Rivern, our group leader of My Cyclist Friends informed me of a pending ride posted by K.W. Mui at the  FaceBook group Malaysian Foldies. Mui had called this ride the Kampung Ride as it take the riders an estimated 47.3km from Sungei Buloh to Batu Arang passing through kampung roads, thus avoiding the busy main roads.

Ride Map  (click for Map Link)
The reunion will be with Chris Ng, whom I have not seen for more than thirty years. We were young men then, involved in the setting up of Kolej Damansara Utama's first campus in Damansara Jaya. Then, I found him to be a lively, energetic person full of ideas. He still is a lively, energetic person with great ideas - well, perhaps less energetic, age has caught up with us.

Meng on his recumbent
First meetings will be with Siew Yung and the legendary Meng Fook Cheun. Siew Yung had innocentyly caught me embracing nature while going through the photos posted of the Genting Sempah ride. While Meng is renown for his cyclo-travels to various parts of the world. He has even cycled from Beijing to Paris. His is definitely someone I have to meet and learn from. More ever, he will be joining us with his recumbent, a first for me to see.

The Ride

Andy & Daisy on their foldable tandem bike
The day of the ride came and we were all concerned about getting to the start point on time. This being the weekend before the Hari Raya holidays, the roads will be jammed with motorist rushing back to their hometown. To overcome this, my driving route to the start point was from Jalan Damansara>Persiaran Surian (in Kota Damansara)>Persiaran Mahogany >Jalan Sungei Buloh>Jalan Kuala Selangor>Bandar Baru Sungei Buloh>Rahman Putra. I managed to reach the starting point early. A little while later, I was surprised by the appearance of Daisy and Andy (They had not registered for the ride).

Another reunion and another first contact. I had met Andy while I was shopping around for my first bike (see Buying My First Foldable Bike). He and his Bike Fridays showed me that biking was not as difficult as I imagined it to be. With him was his wife Daisy, whom I have chatted through the net at a FB food group called Eat Out with Sam. Another face-to-face meet.

Mui was a conscientious organizer, just prior to the start he held a briefing. Passing out copies of the ride route, he explained to us what to expect to see en route and where the difficult parts of the ride will be. He also assured that along the way, stops will be made for regrouping. He will lead the ride while Kenny volunteered to be the sweeper.

Everyone was eager for the ride, Rivern took the customary group photo before the start - all smiling and happy.

And we took off, down Jalan BRP 7/1.

Taking a left at Jalan BRP 7/2, it seems like we were within kampong roads already. That was fast - but not yet; it is just a suburban connecting road to other housing estates.

We are on fringe suburban roads, skirting the housing area in this vincinity. Hopefully we will be hitting the kampong roads soon.

And we did, just another couple of turns and we were riding the kampong roads. The kampong folks being curious rural people would stop to look at us, wondering what this bunch of city folks were doing, riding miniature bicycles!

In a short while, we stopped for a first regrouping. Kenny, our sweeper, reported that a couple of newbies - on their first real ride - were far behing. Mui contacted them and was informed that they would be turning back. A smart move by them, better to have a go at it another day than be discouraged by their first ride.

Within half and hour we were in Kundang. I never knew that Kundang was so close to Sungei Buloh, while cycling we get to realise new things that we never get to learn while driving.

We were getting into the momentum of the ride, enjoying the rustic view while cycling in the shade afforded by tree canopies. But Mui had warned us of a series of dragon-back slopes as we get nearer to Batu Arang, our smooth ride was about to end.

And soon we were hitting the slopes, many of us starting to huff and puff. But it was a cinch for Rivern, who seems to like riding the slopes.

For some, it was harder up the slopes. Especially for Andy & Daisy who were riding the tandem which required well coordinated pedaling - AND Andy was a huge fella who towered over most of us.

A little more and we reached Batu Arang town. It is still a laid-back down, seemingly physically unchanged from its colonial past.

We went further into the town and reached the roadside market, again our bikes arousing curious stares from the locals. The recumbent got the most stares, most seeing this type of bike for the first time. One lady was so intrigue by it, and asked many questions of Meng. He sportingly took a couple of spins to show her how it is done. 

And soon we were eagerly eating our food - tosai, wantan mee, keow teow soup, etc.; wolfing them down in fact - the dragon backs had built up our appetites.

After that invigorating meal, Mui took us over to the disused brick mill, where we took another group photo. At the front it looked just like a derelict building. But Mui took us round to the back, and the place struck us in awe.

The place was naturally overgrown, with strangler vines creeping up the run-down walls. We imagined ourselves to be in the Tomb Raider movie, where Lara Croft was rummaging through the Temple Ruins of Cambodia.

Meng being the sporting chap, climbed the vines and posed for us.

Leaving the ruins, and on the way out, this beautiful and colorful Indian temple (the Sri Balar Ganesar Temple) caught my eyes. I stopped to take photos of it from various angles. I took too long in my photography and when I looked up, the rest of the group was out of sight.

I pedaled furiously to try to catch up but when I hit a road fork, I was a bit lost. I was about to head in one direction when a local lady told me that she saw bikers heading the other way. Thank God for her, otherwise I would have had a lonely ride back. Further down the road, there was Rivern waiting for me. Thank you, my friend.

It was time to clear the dragon-backs again, sweating and puffing up and down the slopes. Once over it, a relieved Andy sung in his strong baritone voice "Climb Every Mountain", the song from the movie "Sound of Music".

At one of the junctions we took a right, heading down Jalan Kampung Baru Sri Kundang, making our return trip slightly different from our journey out.

At a way-by Mamak stall, we stopped for some refreshments. Some of us took off our shoes to massage our aching feet.

 Continuing on, we rode pass the Kundang Lakes Golf & Country Club.

And further down, we admired the beauty of Tasik Biru (the Blue Lake).

 We are back again within the kampong area, The "No Cows" signage indicated that clearly.

The weather was getting hotter, with the sun shining brightly through the clouds, scorching our skin. When we stopped for a last regroup, most of us huddle into the small shade of a tree to escape the heat.

All too soon, we were back at the start point - the end of a nice ride. Folding our bike and packing them into our cars, some of us drove off for lunch together.

Lunch was at the nearby Hong Chicken Rice Shop in Rahman Putra.

Their chicken rice was very nice, superb with delicious, tender Pak Cham Kai. The chilli that came with the rice is also one of the best we have tasted.

It had been a wonderful ride, cycling through rustic kampongs, up & down dragon-back slopes, to a quaint old town that seems lost in time, to some beautiful ruins, and then back under the scorching sun. Meeting up with old friends and making new ones were the best part of it all.
I just cannot thank you enough, Mr. Mui.

Another happy ending for me was earning my first stripe, a nice tan that is differentiated from the rest of the covered arm. More experience bikers can show off more stripes, each one of different tone and each one representing different rides.

The Riders
K.W. Mui (Leader)
Kenny Wong (Sweeper)
Rivern Yong
Meng Fook Cheun
Andy Ng & Daisy Lee
Siew Yung
Chung Tze Yang
Chris Ng
Yeoh Chee Weng
Samuel Mui
Jotaro Zen 
(the AhPek Biker)
Some of the photos here are courtesy from Rivern & Chris Ng. Thanks buddies!
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