Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Reflections #1 : First Experience In Ride Organizing

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Reflections / Reflections #1 : First Experience In Ride Organizing
                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                  

Hah! One would have thought that my first article on Reflections would be something along the line of Joys of Cycling or Advantage of Cycling!

But I can't help it, I am just so excited from having organized a ride with a few friends that the feeling of euphoria of organizing a successful ride that I just have to pen it down first. We posted the event on FaceBook and was hoping to have around ten participants, in the end 23 bikers took part.
So let's get down to it, firstly.....

1. 5-10 pax = Mini Ride Group
2. 10-30 pax = Small Ride Group
3. 30-50 pax = Medium Ride Group
4. More than 50 pax = Large Ride Group

Majestic at top of Desa Parkcity
In organizing rides we have to take into consideration the type of cyclists participating and cater for their needs in terms of route difficulty and distances.
1. Power Riders - those who go for speed and endurance; no stops for sightseeing, photos or even food, until end of ride.
2. Leisure Riders - those who go cycling as a leisure and some exercise thrown in. Normally the routes are easy with little slopes & distance 10-15km.
3. Medium Riders - Those who fall some where in between the above two. A fair bit of challenge in their rides but without extremes. Stops for photography and food/drinks.
4. Newbies - Those who have ridden for less 6 months, normally during weekends.
Hey! I am still a newbie!

Mast-head of FB ride event by Kookkeong with strong emphasis on team work.
L-R Sin, Wee Kiat, Nash, Kookkeong, Jotaro Zen
1. Sin Tai Lim
2. Jotaro Zen (The AhPek Biker)
3. Nash Abraham
4. Kookkeong Fong

Sin was the pusher. It started with him sending out WhatsApp messages on a midweek day to see who was free to join him for rides. This was rather impromptu but exciting at the same time. Me & Nash would join him in the earlier of these rides.

Nash, Sin & me during one of the exploratory ride
Soon we were joined regularly by Wee Kiat and sometimes by Kookkeong, Siew Yung and even a Singaporean friend, going by the unique name of KarTak Chia Tan.
Most of these rides started from the Royal Selangor Club Bukit Kiara Annexe and went on to the Bukit Kiara-Sg Pencala area. The more we rode around the area, the more our curiousity were tickled. We wanted to find out if our ride route could connect to Desa Parkcity and it did! (see Sg. Pencala Exploratory Ride).

We found the ride route enjoyable and wanted to share it with our other biking friends.
So we said to ourselves "Hey why not organize a ride!"
And that was that.


Riding the Sg Pencala route was fine and interesting, but would it pose a good challenge for the participants? It was a nice shady, kampong area with some medium steep slopes.
We needed steeper slopes to stretch the more experienced riders and keen their interests!

So Sin pushed for a ride up Kiara Hills to be thrown in. And we did a ride up there one week prior to the ride with Wee Kiat and Kookkeong joining us. It was a tough climb and should definitely interest the more seasoned riders. I suspect Sin must have rode this route a few days prior!
The Proposed Kiara Hills Ride Map  (click for Map Link)
Even with this, it was not good enough! As it would entail riding the same route back.
And again Sin pushed for and extension from Desa Parkcity into the Segambut area and back to the Royal Selangor Club coming in from the other direction.

I was more the Ride secretary. Sin sketched out the route and I plotted it out on Google Maps and created the Event at My Cyclist Friends FaceBook Group (a group created by Rivern Yong), inviting all in the Group to the event.
The ride route was posted in the event too, so that participants will know what they can expect. And the ride was captioned "a good climb up Kiara Hills and a scenic ride through Kampong Sg. Pencala". Locations for breakfast, lunch and photo ops spots were also included in the ride map.

As it was I who created the event, I was the Host (rather embarrassing that) , I put Sin, Nash and Kookkeong as co-hosts. So I had to make sure that the participants knew that Sin was the ride leader and made a comment thus. Kookkeong and Nash would be the marshals and I would be the sweeper. Kookkeong even designed the ride masthead for the FaceBook event.
Initially, the response was a bit cool with about 7 riders registering their participation, but as the ride date got nearer more registered and on the day itself 23 (including ourselves) took part.

Final Recce Team - Siew Yung, Sin, Nash, Norman & me
Just to be clear of the route ourselves, a few days prior to the ride we rode a reverse recce loop of the Segambut Dalam Area. We ended that recce with a good dinner and chat at Subak in Sg Pencala.

Emphasis On Safety & Team Spirit
At all times we stressed that this was not a race or a speed ride. Although certain stretches were challenging, we assured the riders that safety and teamwork were the key points of the ride.
Teamwork - helping the rest.
A few newbie riders posted about their worries of being left behind in case they could not ride as fast as the rest. They were promptly assured by many of the other riders that they would be well taken care of - which indeed there were.
In fact, additional unplanned regroup points were added during the ride to ensure this. And the good thing is that none of the participants complained about waiting for the slow ones. That's the SPIRIT!

1. Read more of the ride itself at Kiara HIlls Ride. But the following stresses some key points.

2. Although I carried out the briefing, I felt that arising from my perennial stage fright I missed out some key points.
3. Be prepared for some things to go awry. Luckily for us, ithe hiccup to our plan was a busy coffee shop that spoilt our breakfast plans - we had to split into smaller groups & eat at various other spots.
4. Judging from the jovial faces of the participants after the ride, we believe that the Ride was a success.

What makes a successful ride? From this first experience, I gather the following:

1. Post as clear a map of the ride route as possible.
2. Stressed what type of ride this is, eg. leisure ride, power ride, etc.
3. Indicate areas of interest of the ride route, eg. tough climb section, scenic section, etc.

4. Plan where to eat and WHEN to eat. We had breakfast after the tough hill climb, this allowed the riders a good break for rest too.
5. Plan for photo op areas, that is if the group is interested in photo shoots. Some rides minimize this.
6. Hold discussions to discuss in detail the route, safety and responsibilities.

1. Stress that safety is of ultimate importance. Enforce this by having enough marshals to guide the riders.
2.Ensure no one gets lost! This is a terrifying experience especially for newbies in an unfamiliar territory. The sweeper must make sure that he is always the last rider in.
2. The leader, marshalls and sweepers have to be familiar with the ride route OR they themselves would get lost too! They must always bear in mind that they are responsible for the riders.

Bikers doing Limbo Rock led by Nash
(It is the what we do that makes the ride memorable)
3. Allow the riders to express themselves as long as they do not jeopardise the safety to themselves or to other riders. REMEMBER it is the people and what they do that make the ride enjoyable and memorable.
4. Improvise! When necessary have more regroups - Teamwork helps make a safe ride.
5. Do detract from the ride route slightly if this makes the ride more interesting. We went up to the top of Desa Parkcity for a tough climb and a wonderful view!

1. Evaluate the strong and weak points of the ride in order to plan for a better ride in future.
2. Thank everyone for their contribution towards the teamwork & safety that has led to the success of the rid.

These are an old man's thoughts on this subject. If others have some other important points on ride organization, please do tell me as it would help us plan for better rides.

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Reflections / Reflections #1 : First Experience In Ride Organizing
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Kuala Lumpur : Kiara Hills Ride 2012/10/20

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Kuala Lumpur / Kiara Hills Ride 20th October 2012
                          AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                       
Kuala Lumpur - Kiara Hills Ride
Royal Selangor Club Bukit Kiara to Segambut & Sri Hartamas : 20th October 2012
Giant piers of the NKVE Duta Link
Medium-sized Group Ride from Royal Selangor Club, Bukit Kiara > Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club > Kiara Hills > Taman Tun Dr. Ismail > Kampong Sg Pencala > Desa Parkcity > Segambut > Desa Sri Hartamas > Royal Selangor Club.
Distance covered : 30 km.
Starting Time : 7:30am
Time Taken : approx. 4 hrs. (including stops)


Sin previously posted photos of his Eats at Million Cafe, Jalan Ipoh. Some biker buddies like Rivern also like the place and I thought why not ride around the Duta area and end the ride eating there.
I suggested this to Rivern and his reply was simple. "Organize a ride there!"
Me? Organize a ride? Hey! I have only taken up biking for two months. I am a newbie!
Since then, the thought of organizing a ride was always at the back of my mind.

Bike Explorers - me, Nash & Sin
Sin, the adventurer, pushed a few of us to recce-ride the Sg Pencala area. Together with Nash, Wee Kiat & me did a few adventuring rides around that area. A couple of times we were joined by Kook Keong & Siew Yung. We found the area captivating, and also that Sg Pencala CAN connect to Desa Parkcity (see Sg Pencala Exploratory Ride). The route was interesting and we wanted to share it with our other biking friends.
So what better way than to organize a ride!

Final Recce Team - Siew Yung, Sin, Nash, Norman & me
So Sin, Nash & me started planning one. We also roped in Kook Keong into the team as he has rode there with us previously, and more importantly he is a conscientious and caring person who will help look out for the bikers in the ride.
Just a few days prior to the ride we did a last recce ride to be sure of the kampong roads at the Segambut area. We also tried out the pavements near the Royal Selangor Club. Yes, we will be riding along pavements, but more on that later.

Kiara Hills Ride Map  (click for Map Link)

About ten days prior to the ride, we posted the event in FaceBook. The initial response was lukewarm, with seven riders registering (AND that was including ourselves). We were hoping for a group of 10-12 participants. Sin, being more familiar with the route will be the ride leader and I will be the sweeper.
But as the ride date got nearer, many more joined in until the registered participants numbered around 23.
Concerned about the safety of a larger ride group, Nash and Kook Keong were going to be the marshalls. Trying to ensure that none got lost, copies of the ride route map together with a blow-up of the Segambut area were to be distributed to the riders.

The Ride
The BIG day arrived!
We met at the Royal Selangor Club Bukit Kiara Annexe. Parking on the service road outside the club and the adjacent Visitors Car Park outside (they do not allow visitors to park inside on the busy weekends), we unloaded our bikes and assembled at the front car-park.

After the taking of the group photo (what better timing than this as all was gathered already), I held a short briefing for the riders.
Firstly, Sin was introduced as the ride leader and me as the sweeper.
The printed ride maps were distributed and we advised them on the route, which are the areas with heavier traffic and also on the difficult climb up Kiara Hills.
Most importantly, they were told that this is not a race and not to worry if they are slow as the marshalls and the sweeper  will be there with them all the way.

Frankly, I felt that the briefing was too brief - I still have my perennial stage fright even after all these years and missed telling them some important points, like safety etc.
But the riders must have sensed my nervousness, listened attentively and asked a few questions.

With that short briefing over, we started off, riding into the Bukit Kiara area via Jalan Bukit Kiara 1. Passing by a large wall mural of Malaysia's past Prime Ministers, the thoughts of "Malaysia Boleh!" came to my mind...
and also "Bikers Boleh!"

Jalan Bukit Kiara 1 took us round the fringe of the Kuala Lumpur Golf & Country Club. It was a bit of climb....

..... and we reached the far edge of the golf course, happily rolling down the slope.
Whoooosh! That breeze in the face feeling - "Yipee!"
But that was to end soon.

That "freedom in the wind" feeling ended as just at the bottom of the slope, we started the ride up the parallel Changkat Abang Haji Openg to go up to Kiara Hills (Bukit Kiara).
The initial part of the climb was a bit haphazard, cars parked at the side and cars reversing out made the space so tight that riding pass them was even difficult.
The cars should not be allowed to park along this sloping roads, they should be parking at the bottom!
AND these cars belong to the strollers and joggers, I cannot understand their mentality! They are here to exercise and insist on parking as high up the slope as possible. Crazy!

At the top of the car park slope we reached the first guard-house of Kiara Hills.
Cars are not allowed beyond this point, Thank Goodness!
Kiara Hill is a favorite spot for people to come to exercise, and there were many around.
The center of the road is for cyclist, and the two sides for joggers & strollers.

Here, we stopped to take a memorable photo before we started the real climb.
The climb up and around the hill will take us a ride of 6 km., and most of it uphill with rather steep climbs! A couple of riders could not finish the climb, but it's alright as it is their first time.

We started to climb.....

..... and to climb

..... and climb ..... is there no end to this slope?

At top of Kiara Hills
We are at the top, the tired but satisfied faces can be seen in my co-riders.
But that's not the end of Kiara Hills!
There's still riding round the loops at the top.

So off we went again to ride round the loops at the top of Kiara Hills, more steep slopes!

Comradeship after finishing the loops - friends resting together.

After those loops, our tired but self-satisfied friends did a Gangnam dance led by Yong Sin.
That's what I like about these buddies, they are so full of spirit - panting and they still can dance!

Happily we rode down the slopes.
Time for breakfast!
That tough but invigorating climb has certainly built up our appetites.

Our rush to get breakfast was interrupted though. At the foot of the hill we met a lady having some difficulties with her bicycle. So we stopped to help her; nothing like helping a lady in distress and a fellow biker at that.
Haha! Biker knights in shining armor!

Disappointment Outside Yong Len - No Place To Sit
Reaching Yong Len coffee shop in TTDI, we faced some disappointment. (Yong Leng is renown for its Penang Hokkein Mee - see Penang Hokkein Mee @ Yong Len)
The place was packed! And definitely can't fit all twenty-three of us in.
On a fellow biker's suggestion, we split up to eat at various shops and met back again at this spot after half an hour.

Ok. Eats done, time to move on!
Riding through the Haji Openg and Dato Suleiman residential roads to avoid the heavier traffic of the main road, we soon reach the edge of Taman Tun Dr Ismail, i.e. the Pencala Link of the Sprint Highway.
Underneath the shady overpass, we stopped for an impromptu regroup.

Crossing that, we are now in the Kampong Sungei Pencala area.
From a modern township to a rustic kampong in the blink of an eye!
At the Jamek Mosque we made a right turn to head to the peripheral roads at the foothills.

And were soon riding into the shady roads at the foothills of Bukit Kiara. Cooling and exhilarating.

Further along, the riders ahead had stopped for another impromptu regroup. We had several of these, but it was better this way than to have the newbies (and the sweeper) left far behind - it's more fun for everybody to be together too.
We are glad that everyone was patient and cooperative, and also these stops allowed riders to interact and get to know each other better!

At the far end, we hit the barrier separating Sg Pencala & Country Heights Damansara/Desa Parkcity.
A little bit of maneuvering needed here.

And a bit of off-road was required at the point between Country Heights Damansara. Some of us rode through, some of us pushed as the ground was soft & muddy.
UPDATE JANUARY 2021: This passage is not accessible anymore by bicycles, a long stretch of hoarding/fencing has blockade out the access. It is still possible to hike around the barrier via a narrow steep off-road trail to the right.

Other riders who plan to ride through here, BEWARE - the status at this place seem to change daily. There were boulders placed across now & looks like they could be putting up a fence too.

Shady & nicely landscaped roads of Desa Parkcity.

Group shot at the Waterfront Desa Parkcity.

And guess who we met there? None other than Lai Peng & Kai Nie, two powerful lady rider friends. They were having breakfast there during a ride.

Desa Parkcity is such a nice place to ride around, the environment so green and soothing.

Further along, I saw some riders waiting at the junction of Changkat Intisari.
"Hey! What's wrong?" I asked.
"Nothing, just that those crazy guys wants to climb up this steep slope. We are waiting for them to come down." This was not in the original route.
It was indeed a steep slope, a road sign even advised motorists to go "DEAD SLOW"!

The road led to an even narrower & steeper road leading up to the reservoir. Well, it was Sin's call, he being the leader of the ride can change the route to make the ride more interesting or challenging.
And challenging it was as we huffed & puffed our way up that steep slope!

It was a worthwhile effort. The view from the top was breathtaking!
And exhilarating.....
For Rivern, who likes slopes, the steeper the better it was a case of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"
Good call, Sin!

..... So exhilarating that Kwan carried up his bike for a pose.
"Careful now, don't take two steps backwards..."

We peered down at the rest of the team who did not take this climb.
Too bad brothers & sisters, you all missed a good amazing view!

Well, time to leave Desa Parkcity. We headed down Jalan Intisari, the road that will connect us to Bandar Menjalara and the Segambut area.
But ahead, beside the Kepong 3 Chinese Primary School, was a metal barrier.

Bicycle Limbo Rock
But no worries there!
Leave it to our comic-rider friend Nash to come up with an ingenious way to cross the barrier - Bicycle Limbo Rock!

This led us to the Segambut Dalam Kampong area. It was close to noon already and the weather was getting hotter.....

..... and the traffic getting heavier.

There was even a bit of traffic jam at one of the narrower roads, which was actually more like a side lane.

Maneuvering through those roads, we somehow reached Desa Sri Hartamas.
The traffic here was even worse, horrendous in fact!

Some took to riding on the pavements.

Aren't we glad to reach our lunch destination Gyuniku, most of our stomachs were already growling after that long ride.

 Where we had good beef noodles.

And delicious looking desserts; and many more (see Gyuniku).

Happy with a delicious & wonderful meal, we rode off heading back to the Royal Selangor Club via the residential roads of Desa Sri Hartamas.

In order to avoid the heavy traffic at the SPRIINT-Duta Link, at the Sri Hartamas Secondary School, we started riding onto the pavements.

One have to be careful riding on these pavements as they do get as narrow as one pavior tile wide, and at certain areas they are very uneven leading to a bumpy ride.
But it was worth it, as it meant avoiding riding on the busy highway.


It was a rewarding experience for us the organizers, to see the participants enjoying the ride, cooperating with each other and MOST of all having fun at the same time!


Abdul Rahim Anuar

Alex Msixr

Chong Yew Ming

Jason Lim & Friend

Jk Khoo

Kenny Wong

Kimmiskie Lim with her new Birdy

Kium Michael

Kwan Fah Mun

Lee Seng Yeap

Munchkins Nm & LYee Chang

Rachel Lim

Rivern Yong

Siang Wee

Toh CK

Yong Sin NG

Sin Tai Lim - Ride Leader

Kookkeong Fong - Ride Marshall

Nash Abraham - Ride Marshall

Jotaro Zen - Ride Sweeper
(the AhPek Biker)

Some of the photos here are by Sin, Kookkeong, Rivern & Siang Wee. Thanks buddies.

You are at - Jotaro's Blog / AhPek Biker / Cycling Malaysia / Kuala Lumpur / Kiara Hills Ride 20th October 2012
If you like this, view my other blogs at Jotaro's Blog
(comments most welcomed below. if you like this pls share via facebook or twitter)