Monday, May 11, 2015

Tour of East Coast - Part 1

A trip long overdue.. 

Route map for stage 1 of the ride.. 
I have plans to ride along the East Coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Never got around doing it until recently.
Now that we have the bikes, well, be it a 20" (our trusted Dahon Speed P8 & TR) or the newer Tern Eclipse S18, the desire to ride in Kelantan and Terengganu grew much stronger than before.
We have the experience, the ability to plan the logistics and accommodation and with some recent developments in my career, I though it was best to take some time off to ride it out. On the road, everything seems clearer. No thoughts about work, all the shitty politics, crappy increment and lousy bosses. It's just between me, the bike and getting to the destination.

Putting a plan together.. 

Michelle my wife had picked a date and taken leave for the tour.
I too made similar arrangements to match the days needed to cover at least two East Coast states: Kelantan and Terengganu.
She proceeded by booking airline tickets from a budget carrier to Kota Bharu. Since our new bikes are built like a tank, she purchased extra baggage weight and declared them as "sports equipment".
The last time we flew to Thailand, it cost us dearly for paying overweight baggage. With the airfare sorted out, the next thing in mind, was to source for accommodation.
I researched about motels along the route and managed to book three places to stay. The rest of the places along our five stages remained "open".
Next, I drew the routing for the tour. 
Since I have been to most of the villages and small towns in the East Coast, it's just a matter of catching up with times.

Preparation

I had my Tern Eclipse S18 retrofitted with a new set of front derailleur. The original piece from Microshift was a crappy component.
This time round, the bike was upgraded with a SRAM Rival front derailleur and a pair of AVID quick-dial brake-levers.

Getting the bike retrofitted and serviced.. 

The new front derailleur
The quality of the SRAM Rival front derailleur is just miles apart from the original piece that came from the factory.
All this bike needs: is a couple of tweaks here and there to make it even more awesome. Since we had some boxes at home, transporting the bike was not an issue, packing it became a totally different story.. 

The Road Warrior: not a bike for everyone.. 

Tern's Eclipse S18
While I was waiting for Michelle's bike to be serviced and retrofitted with a SRAM Rival derailleur taken from my Eclipse X20, an old-timer tried to lift her bike.
"Fuah! I am a weight-watcher. This bike is definitely not for me..."
He went on preaching about weight and performance. 
I told him that if he could ride the Tern Road Warrior (name given for the Eclipse S18) for 50km with a full load, I will pay him RM10 for every kilometer. Sounds like a fair deal, but he backed off. 
Even when I was in Taiwan at the Taipei Cycle show back in 2014, I was told by the Tern guys that the Eclipse S18 is built for people who knew what they wanted. It was as simple as that.
And with a pricetag shooting up to RM8k for the bike, I doubt that it would sell very well here in Malaysia. People can't see the fine details on the bike.
I also made a commitment to use the Road Warrior as our main touring bikes. We retired our Dahons to enjoy riding a larger bike.
By saying "large" it's also by no means: heavy! So, during the Tour of the East Coast, the Road Warrior was put to its paces. For me, it was a great opportunity to test the bike to it's fullest.

Packing

To get the bikes into it's boxes (we had two large boxed for 24" bikes), I had to remove the front and rear wheel including the front fenders.
The first thing I did, was pack Michelle's bike. I took off the wheels, but the frame remained unfolded.
Exposed components such as the rear-derailleur was padded with foam and newspaper. It' also advisable to cover the chainring and other sensitive components.
Since this bike came complete with racks, it was a challenge to fit the frame and it's wheels into the box without putting too much stress on the frame and wheels. Since the Road Warrior is a big bike, there's just enough room to squeeze in everything.
I just made sure that the vital components are protected because baggage handlers can be very rough with bikes that are packed in oversized boxes.

The wheels are separated from the frame

Snug-fit into the box
The bike's seatpost was removed and placed onto the box with the pedals, front mudflaps and it's fastening wires. 
It wasn't hard to pack the bike because the box was large enough to swallow the entire bike. 
And with this taken care of, my next cause of action was to pack my panniers. 
For this light touring trip, I had my clothes on one pannier and the essential road gear on another.
I carried a trunk bag and used it to house my Canon EOS M camera including two Sony Action cameras.

Leaving the comfort of our homes.. 

Prior to our departure to the Subang Skypark, I have made transport arrangements with a cab company.
They assigned a driver on a Toyota Inova to pick us up from home to the airport. It came with a flat-rate of RM80 for the trip.
We had En Zul as our dedicated driver and this guy was really helpful.
The packed bikes fit like a glove in the vehicle and after saying goodbye to the dogs, we were well on our way.

Michelle giving Sir Naughty a pat.. 

Our gurl getting a pat on the head.. 
The bikes in the executive cab bound for Subang Skypark
We arrived at the airport with enough time to check-in our cargo.
After all the formalities are done, we took a walk to the nearest Starbucks cafe.
There, we sat down and helped ourselves to a mug of freshly brewed coffee..

Rolling the cargo

Checking-in the bikes
At the check-in counter, one of the staff asked: "Basikal?"
We told him what the contents were and a friendly supervisor said not many passengers would check-in their bicycles with the exception of some European cyclists who uses Firefly as one of their main mode of transport.
We chilled out at the lounge and when our flight was called, it was a slow crawl to the departure gate..
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