Monday, May 5, 2014

KL Car Free Day Series 05

Ten thousand cyclists! Really???

Newspaper reports claimed there were 10,000 cyclists at KLCC yesterday.
I think they must have been seeing the same people cycling in loops.
We were at KLCC in the morning after a 30km ride from Subang Jaya and frankly, we didn't see that many cyclists on the road. 
What's for sure is that the Prime Minister actually cycled a short distance before melting away into the crowd.
The ride was so badly organised, cyclists were everywhere but at the starting line. We rode into KLCC barely minutes after the riders were flagged off.
Rubbing shoulders with the Premier was not our main agenda.
It was more of heading into the city to meet up with friends. And that's just what we did.

At Kuala Lumpur's famous landmark: the KLCC

Mrs Samo and her Road Warrior
Car-Free: Do you get the concept? 

If you are one of those in the thousands that cycle from your home to KLCC and back to honour the city's Car-Free Day, you have truly earned my respect.
We rode all the way from Subang Jaya to the city and this is nothing new to us.
I find it rather strange to see city folks driving their cars to the KLCC car park just to cycle a 6.5km loop on a Car Free Sunday.
Car Free means you take public transport, walk or cycle. I don't mean to be blunt, but after the road re-opens and you get back to car with the bikes to get home, you are just contributing to the Sunday traffic!
Riding around KL's city centre also gave us a chance to see up close how bad the road conditions were.
Before you hit the streets, you have to consider the fact that there are plenty of potholes, road debris and hidden hazards that awaits you.
And it didn't help that some selfish roadies were zipping down the road like bats out of hell. They overtook families with children. It would be sad if they crash into a young child who is just learning how to cycle. I don't know why these guys are taking things so seriously as if they were racing on a road criterium. They don't get the concept of a "Sunday leisure ride"..

Watching the world go by.. 

En Mazwir, me and Radzi

Meeting new friends...

After doing a loop around the city, Michelle said she wanted to pull over.
I found a bus stop opposite Maya Hotel and decided to park our bikes there.
While I was minding my own business, a guy pulled over with a baby chair on his bike
His kid was crying and I thought she was scared.
Somewhere down the line, she dropped her balloon and she was pretty upset about it.
"Hey! Are you Samson? You blog right? You inspired me to ride to work and I've been doing it twice a week!," exclaimed the excited guy.
At this point, I stood there bug-eyed.
"There's the bike right! Yeah, it's you!," he continued.
So, I went on a PR exercise, talked to him and complemented the guy on taking such a big effort by cycling to work. The least I can say is that he took a lot of effort to do so.
While I was talking to the dude, Khairul, The Star's IT techie rode past and shouted: "Sam Cheong!!".
"Dude, you are famous too!," said the guy.
After his wife had retrieved the balloon, the man excused himself and re-joined the ride.
Slowly, the people I knew started appearing in plain sight.
I took the opportunity to munch on a banana while rehydrating.
And before I knew it, an elderly gentleman came up to me and introduced himself as En Mazwir.
I was in the Facebook messenger with him and told the guy that he reminded me of Cikgu Helmi, my standard five teacher in primary school.
En Mazwir is 62-years-old, a happily retired man.
He rode a Dahon Boardwalk and said he has a Dahon Matrix in his keeps.
After indulging in a good conversation, En Mazwir parted ways with us and continued to cycle towards the downtown area.
In less than 30-minutes, the bus stop began to fill up with Tern bicycle owners.

Checking out the Road Warrior
Classic bicycle owners doing their stuff

Having a chat with Darcy from Zero2Hero training company

While I was standing by the roadside watching people cycling past, I felt a gentle tap on my shoulder.
It was Darcy Steinhardt from Zero2Hero coaching. 
He brought his kid along for the ride and told me that he was amazed with the turnout and wanted to bring his wife along for the next ride.
Darcy's company specialises in coaching cyclists for offroad rides and he was also a participant at the Thule Bike Challenge produced by BaikBike.com
After a brief conversation, he went along as the road would be re-opened to traffic.
I sat at the bus stop and one of the guys nudged me, pointing at another guy riding a blue Bike Friday folding bike.
"Oh man, it's that asshole mechanic dude from that high-end bike shop!," I thought out aloud.
And when a couple of dudes rode past with their high-powered motorcycles announcing that the road would be re-opened to traffic, it's also our cue to leave.
I told Johnny Ng of My Bicycle Shop that we are headed to Jalan Pudu Ulu.
He led a group of Tern Verge owners at the ride.
We rode off to Jalan Raja Chulan before making a turn to Jalan Tun Razak.
This is a tricky route, similar to my Senior Scout Treasure Hunt days.
The plan was to ride to Peel Road and turn off at the beginning of Jalan Cheras.
Our destination was a makan shop in Jalan Pudu Ulu called Char Siew Yong.
To ride in this part of the city, you've got to have guts of steel.
Traffic is heavy and some motorists won't give way to cyclists.

Riding into the heart of the city
Braised Chicken Feet

Pork knuckles for the Soul..

Brunch is served..

A group of hungry cyclists...

With my mitts firmly planted on the handlebar and my eyes on the road, I had to make absolutely sure that my route is correct.
I had my Garmin EDGE800 bicycle GPS on map mode and the landmark that I was searching for was the PGRM building.
The makan place is nearby, but I led the group on a slightly longer route to reach Char Siew Yong, which was already opened for business. But at the time, they are only serving chicken rice.
It was 09:30 in the morning and the Char Siew won't be served until 10:00am. Some hungry folks took off to satisfy their hunger while we patiently wait.
A lady took our order and the first thing on my mind was the braised pork knuckle. We ordered a serving along with some chicken feet and braised pork belly with yam.
Lucky for me, the guys were pretty satisfied with their makan. It was worth risking it.


Waiting for the traffic to halt

Rolling back to the city centre from Cheras
Getting there and back..

Now, the next thing on my mind was how to lead some 15-odd cyclists back to the city centre safely?
That in mind, I've engaged the expertise of Master Urban Rider Sin Tai Lim who took us to a public park called Taman Pudu Ulu that links up with Jalan Cochrane.
Once we got there, its an easy ride towards Jalan Pasar and Jalan Pudu.
We made a brief stop to refill our water and rode up to the site of KL's oldest prison, the Pudu Jail which was demolished to facilitate urban development.
At this point in time, the roads are becoming barely recognizable.

I used to cycle from my old house in Setapak to Victoria Institution in Jalan Hang Tuah when I was in form four and five. 
The roads leading there are becoming laden with traffic and is no place for a bicycle.
Michelle and I rode with a newcomer by the name of Min who decided that she wants to cycle all the way to Kelana Jaya.
We had her along and took on the Federal Highway bike lane that starts at Brickfields.
From what I understood, Min is a friend of Anita Ahmad, Michelle's former schoolmate.
We took her as far as the University LRT station and told her that it's best to board the train towards Kelana Jaya.
She will save some time as well as avoid the hazards of cycling along the LDP highway.
After parting ways, we continued towards Subang Jaya.
With the blazing heat, Michelle decided to pull over at the Subang Jaya Medical Centre.
She wanted a cold drink and I spotted a man selling herbal tea from his van.
We were already in Subang Jaya and there just a little distance to push for a home run.
Slowly but surely, we made our way across the bridge over the KESAS Highway to USJ1.
There. we closed the ride by clocking in about 76.8km.
Having seen how the KL Car Free Sunday Rides were done, we are pretty sure that the organizers are doing their level best to please the cyclists, runners and roller skating folks to lend their continuous support to the cause. 
And I am pretty sure that in due time, some cyclists would be brave enough to leave their cars at home and cycle all the way to the city centre and back!

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