Sunday, August 9, 2015

Pahang : Cycling Genting Highlands - The Climb!!!

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Cycling Genting Highlands - The Climb!!!
Batang Kali to Gohtong Jaya : 1st August 2015
Distance covered : approx. 47.22 km.
Time : 8:30 am - 4:00 pm
Time Taken : 7 hrs. 30 mins (Including stops for lunch, visiting strawberry farm, regroup, lots of rest and photograpy, etc.)

Route Recommendations :
1. The route is quite busy with traffic especially during the weekends, it's best not to cycle there as the vehicles zoom by very fast. We only did it as there were police escorts to clear the traffic for us.
2. The ride up is a continuous climb of more than twenty-three kilometres. With a average gradient of ten degrees, it's not super steep . Even then it's not an easy ride, taking us more than three hours cycle up at an average speed of six kph only.
3. The ride down can be fast and exhilarating, especially the first part which is cooler being higher up in the hills. Speeds can hit up to seventy kilometres per hour. I would advise not to ride at that top speed and to slow down to about fifty kph or even less as there are many bends. It's best to ensure that your brakes and bikes are in good condition, and that you are alert to dangers at all the time.
4. The police from the Batang Kali & Gohtong Jaya stations were most helpful in assisting and supporting this ride.
5. The route is quite scenic and the upper stretches has that temperate look with pine trees around. Places of interest to visit would include:
    - The Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm.

    - Springs and waterfalls along the way (like the one at Kedongdong Waterfalls which was one of our regroup and rest stop).

Liliana Lee & SC Chin
Liliana Lee & SC Chin are retired teachers who love cycling. And on top of that they are great at organising cycling events. They take meticulous steps to reconnaissance the route, look out for interesting spots to stop at, etc. In the event Facebook pages they will advise on these and also on the safety measures to be taken, very often these include photos.
Because of these, cyclists have confidence in their events and many are eager to take part. For example their past the Serendah Waterfalls event and the Sekinchan Padi Fields event were each attended by more than fifty participants.
This time round, they have planned an unique event, one of cycling up to Gohtong Jaya. It's a rare event as at the last stretch near the top, no cycling is actually allowed. To be able to make this event a reality, they had to visit and request for permission from the Ketua Polis, Hulu Selangor District (which is in Selangor) and the Ketua Balai Polis Gohtong Jaya (which is in Pahang). So one can appreciate the effort, time and lengths that they went to. As it turned out, the police were most encouraging and on event day itself gave the necessary physical and moral support to ensure all could enjoy the ride safely.


Ride Route : Batang Kali>Gohtong JayaGenting Highlands.
The route is a straight forward one, starting at Batang Kali railway station we headed for the road that leads to Genting Highlands. We won't be cycling all the way up to Genting Highlands but will reach up till Gohtong Jaya before turning back.
It was only a short ride of twenty-three kilometres, but it was an excruciating continuous climb.

8:15am - After individually having breakfast, we unfolded our bikes and gathered in front of the Batang Kali KTM station for this memorable photo.
Participants were from the My Cyclists Friends and Happy Cycling groups. Even those who were not regular riders with the groups came and this was an opportunity to make new friends. A few from members of the Police Di Raja Malaysia (PDRM) joined us for the ride too.

The support vehicles provided by the police - a patrol car, a Land Rover 4-wheel drive, an ambulance and a large truck. These are the support vehicles at the rear; up in front another patrol car cleared the way for us. Fortunately, the ambulance was not called to use.

This truck for the bicycles of those who cannot make it to the end would probably come to good use. At the beginning it was empty; I wonder how full it would be towards the end.

Joining us for the ride is Swiss world-touring cyclist Sabine Greuter, who was staying with one of our buddies under the Warmshowers program. She took the slopes with ease, probably cycling around the world has built up her endurance and will-power. More likely, Switzerland has even more hills to cycle around in!

8:30am - Superintendent Supramaniam Ramasamy, Chief of Police for the Hulu Selangor District flagged us off at the start point, the road in front of the Batang Kali railway station.

We rode out of the station onto the roads of Batang Kali town.

From there we rode out onto the Batang Kali-Ulu Yam Bharu road. Traffic is still light at this time and we were still all smiles as the road slopes gently and is fairly shady. The grimacing would come later.

First regroup and a quick rest near the Shell Batang Kali. We were still all ok, but now the anticipation is building up; after this we will turning into the Batang Kali-Genting Highlands road. That is where the hard climb would begin.

With a gradient between averaging about ten degrees, the roads are not very steep. But it climbed continuously with no leveling off. At this early point some still took it on well while others were starting to feel the strain, and we had only cycled about eight kilometres of these slopes. The only consolation is that the roads were shady.

Many stopped frequently at the grassy verge to take a rest, while others just TnT. The smiles are slowly fading away. (TnT is our favourite cycling term it's short for the Malay phrase Turun n Tolak, meaning Dismount and Push).

Traffic had also built up, we had to cycle with more care as frequently large trucks and buses zoomed by us.

A look down onto Sungai Batang Kali; thank goodness the area here is still undeveloped and the forest is still pristine. The clear waters looks cooling, and I was most tempted to just go for a swim; but we were still half way to our destination - still more torturing climbs to come.

The third regroup point at the nearby car-park for the Kedongdong Waterfalls was a most welcomed stop. Here there were stall selling food and drinks. Some ate, most had drinks to re-hydrate with many taking a double dose of 100+ isotonic drinks which were quickly sold out.

Beyond this most are down to TnT, even then doing that at a slow pace...

... and could only have wishful thinking of riding one of these super-bikers that went zooming by.

11:30am - Almost noon, the traffic now gets even heavier with the holiday crowd rushing up to Genting Highlands for the weekend. We had to be more careful when the buses pass by, as when they rush by they create a suction that can pull a cyclist towards them.

The strain takes it's toll on many of us. Here's Gan getting ready to board the support Land Rover, despite that she is all smiles, satisfied to have accomplished whatever she can. Fee Jin next to her decides to press on saying "Ride or push, Die.. die... must finish the event!" That's the spirit, girls!

Pretty soon, the police truck were filled up with bicycles and their riders, this is no easy ride; even many veteran riders found it tough!

Some of my buddies up in the Land Rover; still smiling, still happy.

11:55am - Almost three and a half hours after we started we reach the Gohtong Jaya Police Checkpoint.
The distanced cycled was only about twenty kilometres, meaning our average speed was about six kilometres an hour only!

It was really a slow pace, but an achievement nevertheless; and cause for a victory jump by me.
Oh...oh.... shouldn't have done that... twisted my old shoulder muscles after that.

The police checkpoint was a major stop where all of us regrouped as after this cyclists are not allowed without special entry permission.

The last climb was the steepest, it took us on a road passing by the Genting Cable Car Station. After the long climb earlier, it was here that my legs started cramping up. I had to punch on it and also used my hands to push my legs to get through this.

After all the strive, the struggle and the sweat; here we were rewarded by an almost temperate climate; one of cool temperatures amidst the pine trees.

12:15pm - At the Gohtong Jaya Police Station we were in for a treat. The police had prepared lunch for us, it was a real proper receptions with tents shading the tables with good nasi lemak among other things.
Speeches were given by both the police and our representative Cikgu Liliana. It was most kind of PDRM to end our ride with a feast at their station. Superintendent Supramaniam Ramasamy rightfully put it in his speech; this is community policing where the police force work together with the public to support their activities, and the public support the police by assisting in looking out for crime and alerting the police accordingly.

A group photo that many will treasure, taken with our police hosts.

We were in for another surprise, the police had arranged a free visit for us to the Genting Strawberry Leisure Farm. This is a nice place to visit when up in Genting Highlands, it has strawberries for the picking, lots of beautiful flowers, a bee farm, a mushroom farm and souvenir shops.

The girls were most happy to walk among the beautiful flowers.

A quick look at the farm:
Strawberries waiting to be plucked.

Bright enchanting flowers.

A close look at a stunning pink Gerbera.

A rare pastel blue Jade Vine.

2:50pm - Our tour of Gohtong Jaya over, we went whooshing down the slopes. Some more daring ones went down super fast; others being more careful applied their brakes often and pressing down hard until their hand became numb.
Our ride up took us close to four hours, but but our ride down took us slightly less than an hour..... WHOOOOOOOOSH!

It doesn't matter if we had to come down and push. It doesn't matter if we went up the support car. It doesn't matter if we slowly inched our way up. What mattered was that we gave our best to take part in this unique event.

Many thanks from all of us who took part to Superintendent Supramaniam Ramasamy, Senior Inspector Subramaniam a/l Veeriah (Ketua Balai Polis Gohtong Jaya), Cikgus SC Ching and Liliana Lee for making this event possible and a great success.

(To see more photos of the climb up, click here)
(To see more photos of the whooshing down, click here)

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  1. Awesome story. Cilmbing uphill is very tough.

    1. Thanks for the feedback, William.
      We do hope to try this route again.