Trails: Mount Kiara (Bukit Kiara) Ride – Kampong

I was in KL again this week and I had 2 rides. Somehow I didn’t really enjoy both of the rides this time. This blog I am writing about is Kampong Trail.

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Today was a wet ride as it was raining for the whole night and part of the morning but we continued with the ride. Right from the starts I had a few skids already and eventually fell. Well, I wish I can solely blame on my tires which I had Maxxis Crossmark on and it is not meant for wet condition. Also, the rear tire is getting bald. Actually, the #1 reason is I wasn’t mentally prepared for it as I was not concentrating. #2, I have not ridden on technical off road for quite some time so I am a bit out of touch. Lastly, I have not ridden on the wet since long ago.

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Kampong Trail

A new route was added into our riding today and it was Kampong Trail but we didn’t really manage to complete it. We managed to get it to half way and we got lost after that. So, at 1 point we were carrying our bike down the slope (not ride able) and back up again. Then back down again until we hit a service road. From there, we rode down to the main road where we see a kampong (small villages). And, now I know why they name it Kampong Trail. The place still has those Malay traditional houses right in the heart of KL city and it is a prime area.

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After we got lost and back into civilization. 🙂

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Trails: Penang Hill Jeep Track

Penang Hill jeep track is famous for morning and evening hikers and cyclists. You can refer to my previous blog about this trail – Penang Hill.

Well, this blog is to warn all the cyclists and hikers that use the jeep track to Penang Hill. Yesterday, I was nearly knocked down by an inconsiderate BMW X5 going downhill. He was speeding his way down and here I am pedaling hard at 15-20 degree gradient going up. I had to ditch to the side curb/shallow drain to avoid a head on collision. Luckily it was not a bad fall as I just happened to be able to jump off from my bike.

Lately there are more pickup trucks going up and down as they used that to ferry tourists which is illegal and lots of construction works happen in Penang Hill. I probably need to write to my councilman to complain about it.

My fellow friends do watch out for Toyota Hilux that ferry tourists and a blue BMW X5!

Travel: Kuala Kangsar Exploration Ride

I guessed all of my friends had waited for this blog for a lonnnggg time. Well, I have been busy and lazy at a same time. This is a continuation from my previous Kuala Kangsar Exploration blog. This ride was planned out in a way that we get to enjoy the countryside, great food, taking lots of photos, cover enough cycling mileage and visit some of the Kuala Kangsar landmarks. And… not to forget to have a great time with cycling buddies.

This route we took is approximately 115km in total and we did it on a MTB with knobby tires. Yup, we didn’t use road bike or touring bike. In fact, some of my friends were using heavy MTB (~15kg). Some of them didn’t complete the route but at least 1/3 of it. The route was so long that my phone ran out of battery and my Strava app didn’t manage to capture everything.

Kickoff from Kuala Kangsar Perak River food court ->> Sultan Abdul Jalil Bridge ->> Jambatan Iskandar ->> Kampung Chorak ->> Victoria Bridge ->> Karai Town ->> Goh’s Family Farm (offroad ride) ->> Chenderoh Power Plant ->> Sauk village for lunch ->> Tasik Raban ->> Muzium Arkologi Lenggong (UNESCO site for Orang Perak).

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We started off early for breakfast and start pedaling before 8 in the morning (and together with our support car). Somehow the weather here is cooler than my usual route in Penang or Kuala Lumpur. Probably this place is still underdeveloped.

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1st off was to cross the Sultan Abdul Jalil Bridge with overlooking at the Perak River. A great view in the morning.

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I would say cycling over here is quite safe as they have a bike lane (motorize or non-motorize) pretty much all the way. Also, I hardly see any heavy vehicles and cars too. At least not until we reached the highway from Kuala Kangsar to Gerik, where there were speeding cars.

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The weather that day was exceptionally great as it was not very hot throughout the whole day. The hottest time was probably from 10.30am to about 3pm. Then it started to cool off. But not to worry so much as most part of the roads were covered with trees.

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I have done a few routes with more than 100km before and I would say this was one of the best routes I have ever ridden. The road was very smooth with no holes or patching which reduced weariness. And, it was not a boring route as we had endless rolling, twists and turns. Most importantly, hardly encounter any cars.

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Along the route we stopped by for scenic view.

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Jambatan Iskandar

From Jambatan Iskandar to Victoria Bridge, we took a kampong (Chorak) route to enjoy the traditional Malay houses and cooling sensation. All the roads here were nicely paved.

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Victoria Bridge is one of the iconic bridges in Perak as it was built in 1897 by the Perak Government Railway to transport tin over the Perak River. You can climb on to the track to take photos but just be careful as it is ~15m (50ft) drop to the river. Those of you who are afraid of height are not recommended to do so. Also, you can cycle over to the other end of the bridge to Karai town to have a chit chat with the locals. Or have a bowl of nice curry noodles.

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Since I requested for some off road ride, 2 of my friends (Goh’s Families Plantation) opened up their huge of plantation land for us to ride. We had a great ~3.5km ride. Follow by coconut drinks.

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The route to Chenderoh Power Plant was a great ride. There were not many cars as it was a dead end road unless the cars were going to power plant only. I would say it was the coolest part of our ride as there were trees covered on both side of the road, and lots of turns and rolling. Sadly said, this route covered 10% only of our total distance for the day.

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Time for lunch… we turned back the same way came in to Sauk. Sauk town is famous for its fresh water fish and fish balls.

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After lunched we headed back to open road and that was the hottest time of the day and there were no tree cover for us. The road was as straight as a stick yet with many rolling. It was a torturous time for all of us.

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We had to take refuge at a bus stop and to regroup with other cyclists.

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By now we had passed by our 4th bridge. This is Jambatan Raja Muda Nazrin. Over here, we got a panorama view of Raban Lake (Tasik Raban).

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Our final destination was Muzium Arkologi Lenggong. By now we have covered about 68km.

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It was a burnt out ride for many of us but it was a memorable one. If you ask me I want to do it again? I would say… YES but this time with a road bike.

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Trails: Putrajaya Challenge Park (PCP)

This is another bike park around Kuala Lumpur but it is father out from the city center. To get there from city center will take about 30-40 mins drive or 30km. PCP is open to public with no admission fee. Comparing with Mount Kiara trails, here are lesser people probably due to the travel distance or the course layout. We were there on Sunday morning and I would say 10-15 bikes only.

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PCP is another well planned tracks but the only problem is the length of the trails. It is only 3.7km and we have taken the largest loop :). So, we did 2.5 loops around that place and it can be quite boring afterwards.

This place is also very suitable for all ages, family activities, skateboarders, trail running or even hikers. I would bring my daughter here if she has a bike in Kuala Lumpur. From the picture below, you can see a big cemented path (or tar road at some areas) for cyclists who do not want to get into off road. So, foldies and kiddies bikes are very suitable here.

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The trails are all marked with the difficulty of the trail and I believe they use International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) color coding except the term. PCP graded Green being easy, Blue easy, red moderate and black is difficult. Is it because of English proficiency?

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I would say almost all the trails are clearly marked except for 1.   Both these signs show turns right but the routes tell differently.

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The trails are manageable and quite a number of tight switchbacks and drops. Not many tree roots comparing with Mount Kiara.

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There are sections of the trails have these rocks. Just be careful not to get caught by your wheels. My friend fell down and broke his spoke.

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Have a little fun from these table tops jump.

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The reward is having this magnificent view from the top of the hill.

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Well, if you are to ask me to choose in between Mount Kiara trails and this, I will still pick Mount Kiara over this anytime.

Trails: Mount Kiara (Bukit Kiara) Ride

Mount Kiara Trails were actually started off with this person called Patrick Brunsdon. There is video clip about how he started off with this trail in YouTube. I am just giving some quick introduction here. He was in Malaysia during economy boom in 90s and looked for a bike trail to ride but there was none. So, he started to build his own trails and maintained them. Because of him, we have awesome trails to ride.

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For those of you who follow my blog will know that most of the trails in Penang are cemented single track. Which I think has no technical challenges at all. Physical challenge, definitely yes. Also, it is completely a different feeling riding here and in Penang. These trails were designed for mountain biking whereas Penang trails were meant for bringing their produces down to the city. The only pure off road we can find in Penang is Mount Erskine trail but that trail was designed in a way for downhillers. There is no switchback, not many drops, short but quite a number of bumps and table tops.

I really have to thank 2 friends of mine, Michelle and Yew, who has shown and thought me a lot about off road riding. I started off mainly riding on the road for more than a year until exposed to cemented single track. I still remembered I had difficult time coming down. Without them, I may not able to write this blog.

There are quite a number of trails in Mount Kiara and they are mixture of XC and downhill trails. The not so technical trails are the Office, Mid-2k, 2k and TNT. These are my favorite trails too. 🙂 Since, these are XC trails, so not many climb but lots of rolling which is fun! Riding off road needs some balancing skills as the rear tire tends to skid during cornering or going thru wet tree roots. The fun parts of these trails are going thru tree roots, riding in between trees, a drop before or after switchback and lots of drops. Some drops may be as high as 2 feet or as low as 6 inches. The highest point we been to is only ~250m which can easily tackle and probably <5 degree gradient. This is a short course too as the total distance is only ~10km excluding those downhill tracks.

Office Trails

This trail is just next to the park entrance. This trail is suitable for beginner or for warm-up. Wide track, not many drops but just watch out for the cliff as some part of track is next it. But not to worry so much about the cliff as at max it is only 10-15 feet drop.

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Magic Carpet

It is another easy ride and some tight switchback with drops which I need to learn how to turn with my 29er.

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Mid-2k or 2k

This place is basically filled with drops, tree roots and switchback. And, it was not a difficult climb. Among all the trails, I loved this the most!

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(*** Correction on the pictures above. The jump and the double gap is at Shaolin near Twin Peak. I will note down the place again next time when I ride there)

Snake and Ladder

This was almost the end of our ride. They made the trails with lots of rocks and luckily we were going up instead of coming down. From the pictures, the rocks are filled with moss.

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Shriner

This was the last part of our ride and this trail was built for downhiller too.

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Look closely at a small bump then a jump follow by a gap.

Look closely at a small bump then a jump follow by a gap.

 

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A broken rim for remembrance…

You can opt for rocky road or soft path… Follow by a 1-2 feet drop and immediate turn.

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I will give 2 thumbs up for these trails and I believe it is the best off road in Malaysia. I couldn’t wait to get back there and ride again. Stay tune for my next expedition…

Trails: Sungai Ara Off Road

This is a very short off road trails in Sg. Ara. Normally, we will ride this place if we didn’t get enough from Carpet ride. This is like a cherry on top of the cake icing. The total trail is like 1.5km only which takes <10 mins to complete it.

To get there, move on the trail when you hit the MPPP hut then take a left turn or maintain at the larger path. You will see the Fig Tree Hill Resort on your left. Take a left turn immediately after the resort and follow the cemented path until you will hit a wooden house. Take a right path before reaching the wooden house. Just be careful over here as there are dogs around the wooden house. Once you hit the off road trails, you are safe from the dogs. Just follow the path and it will leads you back to MPPP trail.

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This is the exit of the off road trail and back into MPPP Trail.

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Ride: Lazy Sunday Afternoon Ride

Last Sunday ride was a laidback ride which I enjoy very much. And, the weather is on our side. It was cloudy afternoon and humidity was not that bad. Just a lot of mosquitoes which we can’t stopped for long. Again, this is another part of Sg. Ara trails. Some people call it SP Setia Home, Coconut Trail, Setia, etc…  It was 60-70% off road and some cemented trail. Most part of it was an easy inclination except the last part of our ride. There were some rocks here and there, and fallen trees. So, strength to carry the bike over the trees is a must unless the bike is very light. Overall, it was very ride able trail. At the end of the ride, there is a coconut farm which anyone can stop and get a refreshing coconut juice but we didn’t.

The view from the 1st hill 

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Penang 2nd bridge can clearly seen here

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2nd hill climb

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Ahh… final destination. Coconut or Durian, anyone?

Trails: Reverse Carpet

This is just a continued from the previous posting. As mentioned, there are just way too many branches off to Carpet. Today, I am going to show you how to get there through Reverse Carpet. Still the same elevation as before but this is an easier climbing than the tar road through Cherrie Blossom. I would say on average the gradient is around 3-7 degree only but certain stretch may be steeper.

The starting point is the same as before which is Indian Temple then the MPPP trail. You may refer to my Trails: Sungai Ara for refresher if you forgot how to get to the MPPP hut. Turn in the same way as before until you hit this junction. Don’t follow the RED arrow this time. Go straight instead. There are certain stretch you will need to have mighty strength to climb. It has about 10-15 degree gradient but very short distance.

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Along the path you will see a lot of Durian trees and right now is the season. Once you past the above junction, just ride along the path until you hit another junction as below pic. Just follow the red arrow and it will leads you to Reverse Carpet Trail.

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So, why is it called Reverse Carpet? It is actually consists of multiple switchback throughout the trail. To be exact, it has 10 switchback. Starting from 2 until 12. The hardest climb is from 8 to 10, so better to conserve your energy as you will need it later.

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Coming down on this trail is always fun. So, have fun and enjoy…

Scenic Ride: Penang Heritage

Well, I have been blogging lots of Penang single or off-roads trails. So, I am going to write something that is different this time. It is going to be light and easy.

Penang is also known as The Pearl of the Orient and it is also my beautiful hometown. You can talk to any Penangites and they will proudly tell you about the city. In 2008, UNESCO has named Penang in the World Heritage lists together with Malacca. The site is located at northeast of Penang or Georgetown.

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The best to tour around the city center is by bike. There are many areas you can rent a bike for RM 10 whole day. Just don’t expect you will have Specialized, Trek or Cannondale bikes. If you are lucky, you can get a decent foldable bike. Or you can hire a trishaw to ferry you around. But, we used our own bikes.

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A lot of these buildings were built during the British Colonial time, so they have their architecture resemblances. During the ruling, there were lots of migrants from China and Middle Eastern too. Therefore, different part of Georgetown has its own uniqueness.

The Brits… 

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The Chinese

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Original Wooden Doors

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Original Tiles

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During the changed of government in 2008, Penang State has tried to attract tourists from locals or surrounding regions by promoting street arts and murals (murals drawn by Ernest Zacharevic). And… they succeeded.

The Murals

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The Street Arts

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With the influx of tourists came also the hotels. Nowadays, you can find a lot of these boutique hotels which were converted from abandon old bungalows or houses. They are not cheap! Some of them costing about RM 500/night but in very quiet neighborhood.

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There are a few restored mansions like Cheong Fatt Tze and Pinang Peranakan Mansion are open to public but there is an minimal admission fee. I believe it is worth for the visit.

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When you are tired of cycling or walking, you can stop over these types of café for cup of coffee, tea or cakes. Generally, they are pretty good and pricing around RM5-10 for cup of coffee and RM 8-14 for a piece of cake.

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Enjoy your riding… Just make sure to put on a lot sun screen as it can be very hot by 10-11am.

Trails: Penang Hill

 

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The name of Penang Hill is already given out the hint that it is located in Penang Island. This place was developed by the British during the late 18th century and it was a place for them to escape the heat. The highest point of this hill is 833m (2723ft) above sea level. There are many ways to reach Penang Hill but normally people will use the funicular railway like the one in Hong Kong. Others will use the Jeep Trail through Penang Botanical Garden.

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For biking, there are at least 2 ways to get there also. 1 that is through IronX (pronounce as Iron-Cross) and Jeep Trail. IronX is a mixture of cemented and off road where else the Jeep Trail is completely tar road.

IMG_3472 Entrance is just beside Botanical Garden

For this blog, I am going to write about the Jeep Trail. It is 5km long with 20-30 degree gradient for most parts. Only a certain stretch that is pretty flat. This place is famous for hikers and cyclist during morning and evening. I would say you will need to have at least an average physical and mental fitness before conquering this hill. Else, just take stops when needed.

Many years back, they used to mark the floor with numbering from 1 to 168. #1 is the foothill and #168 is the top of the hill. Now they are replaced with the actual distance.

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This is marked 1.6km

There are 2 numbers that are well known to hikers and cyclists are #47 and #84. #47 is like a 1/3 (or more) of the hill and #84 is half way thru. And, back in those days, #84 was where everyone gathers to have a cup of coffee, tea or biscuit. But, gone are the days.

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#47 Rest House

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#84 Rest House

The toughest part of cycling in this trail is from #1 to #47 and then you will have easiest part from #47 to #84 which I can say pretty much flat. After reaching #84, you can take a breath here or continue to push on. If you choose to push on, then from here to Grace Home it has like 15-30 degree gradient uphill. After Grace Home, it is pretty much easy pedaling for remaining. Do keep left all the time as there are cyclist, motorbikes and jeep coming down the trail. Always stay alert.

Road before #47

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Road from #47 to #84

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Road after #84

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Wah-lah, finally reach Penang Hill. You can stop here for a nice bowl of Ice-Kacang or fruit juice at the foot court.

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Or you can continue to cycle and enjoy the panoramic view of Penang plus the cool air. You can push on until the end of the road which is the military base. Over here you have reached the highest point that one can pedal thru and it is 771m (2529ft) above sea level. Along the road, you will see some nice old colonial houses and very quiet trail.

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An old abandon train cart

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Going straight is to military base

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Turning left is to IronX

The reward that I am always looking forward is the downhill part. If you choose to go fast, always shout out at blind spots for hikers, cyclists, motorbikes and jeep to alert them that you are coming. Or, please go slow.

Have fun and stay safe!