Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sealngor: 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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  1. Wonderful blog! When I'm old and lonely @ 64 I'll look to your blog for these wonderful time. God willing I'm still cycling then and appearing in your blog!

    1. Thanks River. With the cycling & taking good care of ourselves shouldn't be a problem cycling at that age. While I was in an Australian ranch, the foreman came riding up in his horse to meet us, he was in his mid-sixties, all trim & strong from his life-style.

  2. Minor correction. Its Chung Tze Yang. Not Tze Yung. I nominate you as group docu-blogger.

    1. Chung, correction done! Sorry for the error.
      Thanks for the support, sort of my past-time to blog and am glad people like it.

  3. Jotaro Zen master :) Enjoyed reading your posts and riding adventures, hope I will have a chance to try cycling in Malaysia soon! We planned a trip to Pengarang,but was cancelled recently due to the haze. We will get there soon hopefully! :)

    1. Duval,
      Many thanks for reading my blogs.
      I write these blogs so that me & my buddies can come back and read about our riding adventures and the fun we had.
      It is good that it inspires other bikers, especially the newbies to be more adventurous.

      Wow! Pengarang, that sound like an interesting place to ride.
      Up here the rain has cleared the haze, we are lucky!
      I do hope that the haze clears down south so that you all can have a go at Pengarang.
      Do tell me about your adventure after that, I will be most eager to hear about it.

      Cheers Bro!