Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bikepacking - Rawang - Sekinchan Expedition, Part 1

The much anticipated mail-call..
My last bikepacking trip with Master TT Siang, one of the country's leading bikepacker, was late last year when we traced the Kinta River route from Batu Gajah to Ipoh, Perak.
It was a magnificent ride and from that point, I had always looked forward to any incoming trips that were planned by Siang.
Earlier this year, he led a small group to Northern Thailand. 
Unfortunately, Michelle, my wife and I were unable to join the group.
Last month, Siang had sent out an email about the Rawang - Sekinchan bikepacking route.
I was very excited about it and both Michelle and I had jumped at the opportunity to cycle with Siang and his wife Angela.

Re-united
Two of my Batu Gajah expedition kakis were also riding in the route. 
I met Chris Wong sometime back at a bike shop and linked him to Siang while Tan Kim Hwa joined us at the Kinta River route ride. 

The new guy
We had Uncle Yeoh Chee Weng, Kim Hwa's touring buddy and The Star's Chief Reporter Andrew Sia with us.
A total of eight cyclists - six foldies and two MTBs took part in the ride.

The route
The plan was to assemble at Bandar Country Homes and ride out to the backroads off Jalan Batu Arang and link-up to the Batang Berjuntai tin mines. 

Setting up at Bandar Country Homes
 A gloomy start
It rained on a Saturday morning as we waited for the rest to arrive. 
Since we set out rather early, the first person we met was Chris Wong. Andrew Sia came next followed by Siang and Angela. 
We were told that Yeoh and Tan were already at a designated parking area in a housing scheme where we left our vehicles overnight. 
For this ride, we brought our Dahon Jetstream EX and P8. Our stuff were carried on a backpack. Michelle used her trusty Mountainsmith daypack while I opted to carry an Ortlieb Flight 27 waterproof backpack. 
I lugged 20kgs of equipment and clothing including a spare bottle of water, comms set, recovery tool, team First Aid Kit and some personal medication.
From Bandar Country Homes, we set out towards Jalan Batu Arang.
There was a slip-road leading to a drain factory and the rest were dirt tracks.

Breakfast and preparing the packed lunch
On the trail

The gang

Michelle and her JSP8
 We made a stop at the shoplots in Bandar Country Homes to pack our lunch as well as a late breakfast before proceeding to the first checkpoint which is further down the road towards Batu Arang.
At this point, the cyclists were in good spirit.
Once we hit the trail, about five kilometres off Jalan Batu Arang, Andrew Sia was complaining of stomach upset.
He went to ease himself in the bush while Siang took a map reading via Google Earth on his Nokia N8 smartphone.
Then, Andrew made a surprise announcement.
"Hey, you guys go ahead la, I want to turn back, not feeling well..."
Chris Wong did the right thing by coercing Andrew to continue riding towards Batang Berjuntai.
At least there, he could board a taxi and head back to the starting point...
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