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!
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