Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Pahang : Cycling Genting Sempah to Bentong - Breakin' Bentong Ride

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Pahang : Genting Sempah to Bentong - Breakin' Bentong Ride
Genting Sempah to Bentong : 7th April 2013
Distance covered : approx. 90.00 km.
Time : 7:45 am - 5:15 pm
Time Taken : 9.5 hrs. (including stops for breakfast, lunch, photo shoots at waterfalls & dam, and many stops for rest!)
Route Recommendations :
1. Exhilarating coasting down the 30 km. of slope to Bentong in the cool morning.
2. If time permits take a short break or even a quick bath at the Bentong Hot Springs.
3. Don't miss the Special Coffee at Aik Hup Coffee Shop in Bentong.
4. If time permits, Chamang Waterfalls is a nice place to swim and picnic.
5. Go back to nature at Perting Dam, a serene and calming place to be at.
6. Pace yourself and make sure you have enough water for the 35 km. climb back up to Genting Sempah.

When Rita, invited me to her event to ride to Bentong  I was a bit skeptical. Not of her event, but more of my own ability to ride that long ride. Though i having been riding for almost a year, when it comes to long rides, I am basically a newbie. My previous long ride was a trip down to Malacca (see Peranakan Bike-packers).

Perting Dam
But then they started posting beautiful photos of the nice places that the ride will cover, my skepticism wavered. And then a close biking buddy of mine encouraged me - so it's a go!


Our ride will take us from Genting Sempah to Bentong town, from there we will head towards the Chamang Waterfalls and the Perting Dam. Then it's back to Bentong for lunch, after which we will start our ride back to Genting Sempah.
Looks like a good ride with nice places to visit. It was indeed, but as usual, there are always surprises in store for this AhPek.

We met in the early morning in front of the McDonald's at Genting Sempah  It was a chilly morning ,having rained the previous evening. Is that Rita's glasses fogging up?

The Magnificent 8 - all pumped up for the ride.
Princess Katak got a bit lost driving from her place, but all was good; she was only slightly late - in time for us to take a group photo before kicking off.

We did have a sending off committee of one - a friendly black dog. He was quite brave, not shying of from the camera's flash. Good doggie!

7:00 am : Roll off.

What a start! We were zooming down the down slopes towards Bentong  Easily cruising down without having to pedal much.

The cool, misty,morning air was made for cycling. It did get chilly with the air rushing pass us, but will make our 35 km. ride to Bentong easy.

Sreeeaaach! Whoops! The previous night thunderstorm had caused a tree to fall right smack across the road. Small matter, we just pushed some branches aside and was on our way again...

Further down, we stopped to take a group photo at a nice little waterfall.

And then passed under several road overpasses. These will come to be of good use later on.

Half-way on our journey we stopped at the Bentong Hot-spring. Many come here for a hot bath...
... and also a mud bath.

Help! Help! I am being attacked by the bogeyman!
Hey! I thought the hot spring and mud bath is suppose to be therapeutic?

8:35 am : At the outskirts of Bentong  town, the rolling cloud formation contrasting against the colorful shop-houses.

Further along, we stopped at the Shell petrol station for a quick re-grouping.

8:55 am - At the main street of the town, Kookkeong directing us to the right - it's breakfast time!

Breakfast was at the Aik Hup Coffee Shop at the main street of Bentong. They have good Vietnamese fare here. Unfortunately, that stall was closed for the day, so we opted for wantan noodles, which was ok only.
Here Foo - a resident of Bentong - joined us, making our group to nine riders.

The coffee here was not OK. It was superb!
Called the Special, it was thick, frothy with a good flavor and aroma.
Don't miss this if you are ever up in Bentong.

9:45 am - Breakfast was fulfilling, and we headed down village roads towards our next interesting destination, the Chamang Waterfalls.

It will be a 8km uphill ride. Foo led the way as this is his territory.

Ohoh.... a bit of a low tire pressure problem. But this time it's no knight in a shiny armor coming to the rescue. It's Princess Katak to his aid with a handy bicycle pump.

10:30 am - At the Chamang Waterfalls entrance; time to show off a bit carrying the Dahon Dash P18 up high with one hand.
Aren't I a strong fellow? No... the Dash is a light bicycle.

At the Chamang Waterfalls  - it's a cooling and beautiful place. The roar of the water brings one to terms with nature.
It's also a great place for picnicking and swimming.

Nearby, there are food and drinks stalls. So there are no worries of getting hungry or thirsty.

There is even a suspension bridge to get across to the other side.
I hope this couple is not contemplating doing some bungee diving here.

11:15 am - Chamang Waterfalls was nice but we had to pull ourselves away from its serene calm; and proceed to our next destination, coasting easily down slope.

Kookkeong doing some monkey business, seems like he's hovering on a bicycle.

Our free-wheeling sojourn ended when we hit the turn off to the Perting Dam. It's two kilometers of off-track cycling, for which many of our bicycles were not meant for.

At certain stretches, there were muddy puddles in the way, and we had to carry our precious bikes across.
Rita was like saying, "Hey! Watch out! There a leeches here.... Eeeew!"

12:00 noon - Perting Dam. What a site! Due to it's inaccessibility, the place is unspoiled by man's tempering. It's just nature here.

The cascading water of the dam brought a calming hum and the billowing breeze reached to our inner soul. It had a meditative effect on us, soothing us.

The are actually two dams, the larger upper one holds back most of the water to form a small lake behind. Its two stepped structure was designed to slow down the on-rushing water, to form a small pool below it.

At the lower end of the smaller pool, water rushed down over a smaller dam; falling much further down to the river below.

Mindful of not wanting to spoil the pristine nature of the place, we did not want to linger on. We quickly took a group photo and then left.

Our route out was much easier - only partly off-road and the rest along shady tarred roads.

Pretty soon, we were into the narrow lanes of the village housing on the edge of Bentong town.

1:00 pm - At the Bentong Coffee House along the town's main street. We were all happy to be fulfilling our tummy needs.

The ice-kacang with ice cream served here is very nice. We did have kueh teow soup and pork chops, but these were nothing spectacular.

With lunch done, we started our ride back. At one of the traffic lights a lorry came very, very close to Felix.
Hey! There's a cyclist here!

2:15 pm - Goodbye Bentong !

We are hitting the slopes on the ride back. They were gentle at the start but would get steeper further on. It will be a 35 km. ride back along these slopes.

2:40 pm - First rest stop below an overpass. Some of us took the hot weather and climb in stride, while for others it was a test of their endurance.

After that the weather got cooler but the road got steeper. It was a tough climb for me.
Well, what goes up must come down; or in this case - what goes down have to slowly huff and puff up.

3:00 pm - Five of us stopped for a second rest. EH Tan has sprinted ahead on his road bike, while Rita & Kookkeong were slightly behind. Christopher showing that he is still fine with the climb.

Princess Katak ahead of me, she was my pacer for most of the climb up. Our group has now split up with the stronger riders (EH Tan, Felix & SuiT) ahead. Christopher is some where behind. Rita & Kookkeong much further behind.

3:50 pm - Resting under another under-pass. It's just Princess Katak, Christopher & me now.

The climb was dehydrating us; like Christopher most of us have almost finished our water.

Further along, I checked the distance that we still have to cover.
Suffering Catfish! Another 15 kilometers of slopes more to ride up.
Does my face show my agony? Yes, Bentong  is really breaking my mettle.

4:35 pm - Overlooking Bukit Tinggi village. Another eight more kilometers, getting close. I am really counting the kilometers.

5:15 pm - Finally, the Genting Sempah complex is in sight. What a relief!


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