Riding a Road Bike

Riding a road bike is completely a different feeling that you have for your MTB. MTB is pretty much getting on and pedal. On the other hand, road bike is all about geometry, setting and precision! It is like driving a Ferrari and a pickup truck.

Mine 1st road bike ride was awful. The 1st 30mins of the ride was pleasant but remaining 1.5 hrs was like in a torturing chamber. I had severe backache, hands were numbed, shoulder pained, stiffed neck, etc… Since I built the bike on my own, I didn’t have proper fitting as I was doing the measuring and fitting all by myself (without anyone held the bike for me while making adjustment).

A few lessons learnt here.

1)   Make sure you have a proper bike fitting. Even 0.5cm saddle height different, angle of your stem, spacing use for the stem and the fork will make the ride differently. This is not like MTB and precision is everything. All does matters!

2)   Take a shorter ride to try out the bike before going long (my 1st ride was 60km). Then, you can come back and make any necessary adjustment needed.

3)   Switching from MTB to road bike you will need to get some time use to. The riding positions are different and need to toughen up the muscle in your body. You will probably need a massage for every ride you made during the 1st few times.

Once you have a proper fitting, you will enjoy it more. You will probably start doing quarter century then half century and eventually doing century ride. Heck!!! Probably you can do double metric century ride.

Always remember to have fun and safe ride.

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Trails: Biking in Langkawi Island

Tired of biking at the same place where you stay? Wanna try something new and exciting? Then, how about Langkawi Island (or known as Pulau Langkawi to the locals)? You can get good food, nice beach resorts and international jamboree tracks.

IMG_1367 Pantai Tengah

Where is Pulau Langkawi? It is located ~120km north of Penang. There are many ways to get there.

  1. Flight (Langkawi International Airport)
  2. Boat services thru Penang, Kuala Perlis or Kuala Kedah

The flight time from Penang to Langkawi is 30mins or by boat is ~3hrs. The boat ride is quite comfortable with air-con and TV to kill time. Priced we paid was $115 returned and $10 extra (1 way) for the bike.

IMG_1276  Our boat to Langkawi

IMG_1469 IMG_1470 Bikes storage

I did a 3 days tour with 1st day immediately off to off road trails and 2nd day was Gunung Raya ride. On the last day, I took some time off for sightseeing and finding good food. We engaged a local bike shop – JMB Cycle for the off road trails. You may look them up at Facebook for contacts and arrange for the off road tour, bike repair services or homestay.

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Day 1. On the same day we arrived, we took off to off road trails. We were told parts of the trails were used by the Langkawi International MTB Challenge. The trails covers about 20-30km with ~80% off road and ~20% tarred. I would say this trail is easy to moderate hard with no steep climb, jump or drop. Just a few swallow stream that you can pedal thru or carry your bikes over. There were 2-3 areas you need carry your bike over fallen trees or fences. The only thing you may not enjoy this trail are leeches… Lots of it! But, don’t let that stop you. Once you reach the top of the hill, you have a nice greenery view.

Langkawi1 Langkawi2 The route

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IMG_1303  IMG_1294The trails

IMG_1282 Langkawi5 The bike carrying 🙂

IMG_1291 IMG_1289 Our guides

IMG_1293 IMG_1287 Finally the view

Day 2. Gunung Raya ride is 100% on a tarred road and it is about 55km (returned) from where we stayed (Taman Seri Berlian). It is recommended to start your ride early in the morning to avoid a scorching afternoon sun and traffics. To get there we have to go thru a few small hills before reaching the foothill of Gunung Raya. From the foothill to the top is about 13km with an elevation of 881m. It is not a difficult climb with most part of the trail is <4 degree gradient. Things you will need to prepare before going up are water and probably some Snickers bars. The road is so deserted that you can hear birds singing and crickets chirping. So, there is no store for you to buy food or water. The temperature is started to drop as you go up and it can be cold if your shirt is wet. At the top of the hill, there is a restaurant (D’coconut Hill Resort) you can refuel stomach and water before continue with your journey.

IMG_1316 So deserted that no cars coming

IMG_1321 IMG_1320  The ViewIMG_1322 IMG_1360 Starting to be cold rideIMG_1323  IMG_1330Langkawi4 Finally at top view

Day 3. This was our last day in Langkawi and I took a rest from another off road ride which my friends did. Instead I went for the Langkawi Cable Car ride which I have not been to. Then follow by a nice meal at The Loaf at Telaga Harbor Park Langkawi. I would recommend their pastries and bowl of soup which are delicious.

IMG_1401 IMG_1424 Cable car rideIMG_1413  The suspension bridge (suspended for >1yr)IMG_5713IMG_5695 The Loaf

If you are not a MTB person, you can bring your road bike to do Gunung Raya and go around the island. The estimate distance is about 77km for round island but you can extend it to 115km by going into Tanjung Rhu Beach and The Datai Bay. Or you can do half island which is 34km if you do the east part and 62km on the west side of the island. During the low season (not Nov-Dec and major public holidays), there were not many traffics.

There are few beaches you can go to while you are not pedaling such as Pantai Cenang, Pantai Tengah and Tanjung Rhu Beach. Langkawi is a duty free port, so you can get the imported chocolate, beer and cigarette at <1/2 of what you paid in Peninsula Malaysia.

IMG_1373 IMG_5837  Pantai Tengah

Other interesting things for your family to do while you are out pedaling. The kids can enjoy the Bird Paradise, Underwater World Langkawi, take a boat ride out to feed eagles, visit rice padi field (Laman Padi) and Pantai Pasir Hitam (Black Sand Beach).

IMG_5947IMG_5893 Bird Park

Well, enjoy your ride and vacation…

Trails: Mount Erskine Bike Trail – Penang

I would say this is one of the best off road in Penang and well maintained by the downhillers. There aren’t many pure off road here as many of them you will have to go thru fruit orchards or farms which they are either cemented or tarred. Bukit Papan and Bukit Gambir is one of the closest to pure off road (some cemented) but nothing is compare to this. This trail is located at behind the Mount Erskine wet market.

IMG_3071 The trail begins here

The trail is 3.52km long from gate to the circle up in the trails (you can continue onwards to Penang Hill #47) and it will probably take you about 15-25mins depending on your stamina.

Beginning of the trail

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The end of trail

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I am not sure if I can say this trail is suitable for everyone. It is relative easy to ride up as there aren’t many steep climb but lots of loose soil especially during dry season. There are few sections filled with rocks but not difficult. Coming down you may need some basic off road skills as there are rocks, uneven grounds and loose soil which the tires can be easily slide off. All these will change during the monsoon season.

IMG_3053 IMG_3060

Throughout the trails, there are a lot of berms for fast cornering, jumps, double jump, etc. And, of course, those who are beginners there are “chicken route” for you to maneuver thru the jumps. The best part of trail is the Rollercoaster jump which it can get your adrenaline pump up to the max by making the double jump. Just be careful at some jumps as there is a cut out in between and some as wide as 1 MTB length or deep hole. So, don’t hesitate when making the jump. If you are not confident, take the chicken route.

Some of the jumps

IMG_3050 IMG_3049 IMG_3058IMG_3046IMG_3047  Hole in between

IMG_3052 A dug hole

Famous Roller-coaster (this is partially taken only – not a full jump)

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Berms

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This place is normally filled with downhiller on Tuesday evening, Saturday and Sunday Morning till about noon. Don’t worry, you can ride this trail at any time of the day and still stay cool. This place fully covered by trees, birds, butterfly and riders. 🙂

This is what you have throughout the trail

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For trail users’ safety, please always ride on your LEFT. Those downhillers will keep LEFT also when making any jumps or coming down. By the way, please get a full suspension bike before doing the BIG jump (unless you are super good). And enjoy your ride…

Review: Bike Chain Measurement Tool

Bike chain is one of the most important component in your bike too. Without it, you can’t ride your bike except for straight downhill.

Make sure you regularly check your chain with the chain tool like the picture below (there are many types out there but this one I find this very useful). It is recommended to change your chain when the reading is above 0.75 and below 1. Some may even do it before that to avoid damaging your bike chainrings or cassette.

photo 1photo 3

So, don’t repeat the same mistake I did which I had 4000km (mostly are road mileage) on my bike and I have completely forgot to replace. Ends up it damaged my chainring which I have to replace the chainring. Fortunately, it didn’t damage the cassette.