Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The 'reunion'

Some fogies are getting together for an ego trip in June
The last time I attended a so-called reunion party for ex-staff, it was a disaster.
It was held at the National Press Club in Jalan Tangsi, Kuala Lumpur.
My old friend KC Chai had invited me to attend the party which was organised by a few ex-staff from the Sunday Mail.
I did my internship there before I was hired by the New Straits Times where I served from 1995 - 2008.
Technically-speaking, I don't exist at this news organisation.
But speaking of training, I had some of the best mentors in the business.
The organisation didn't do much for me, but what kept me going was the people whom I worked with.
I had bad start with the New Straits Times because barely two weeks into the job as a cub reporter, I was thrown into the Supplements desk.
In the years that pursued, I kinda lost my bearings till I had my break in 1998.
As a lowly reporter, it was the best year in career.
A year later, I was chucked to the Malay Mail where I worked until late 2005.
This was the most trying time in my career as I had to deal with a narcisstic middle management guy who ruled with an iron fist.
I dealt with it and had worked in two outstation bureaus before rotating back to the world in late 2004.
A year later, I would return to the New Straits Times where I worked as a feature writer under a female editor.
Now, speaking of loyalty, my stint there was a classic case of betrayal.
After nearly 15 years in the organisation, I decided that it was best to move on.
I left the burden of bad memories behind with the New Straits Times.
And I scoff at any attempt to 're-unite' with the so-called big names and players in the industry.
Some of the names mentioned in the ex-NST google group are blood-sucking attention seeking leeches. That much I can say.
So, to the fogies who are attending this gathering of egos, have fun!

Canon EF8-15mm F4L

Canon's latest fisheye zoom lens would be a hit among landscape photographers
Photography giant Canon of Japan is expected to roll out their latest series of EF L lenses and this time, we are going to expect to see the EF8-15mm F4.0L.
To the landscape photographer, this would be a real nippy lens and since I have 1.6x cropped body, the 8mm would come in handy for taking shots in tight places.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A little brown jumper

At 1:1 magnification, the little jumper is seen here on a flower's stalk

To get the best out of the subject, here's a 3x or 3:1 magnification shot of the little brown jumper. At such high mag, the details are simply stunning
I've laid off macro photography for nearly half a year.
That was a good break as I am more focussed on cycling and planning long-haul trips.
As far as macro shots are concerned, jumping spiders are my favourite subjects.
I've have had a great time capturing them on camera.
They are not easy to spot and shooting these little critters - 5mm - 12mm on the average, are not easy.
With a 1:1 lens, you could only score a full body shot.
Anything closer, you would need to add an extension tube that would decrease your depth-of-field.
The solution to this: Canon's MPE-65 1x-5x lens.
For the beginner, this is not an easy lens to handle.
I learned from the gurus in the trade who shoots their subject handheld.
There are some recipes to maximise the full potential of the MPE and if you pair it with the Canon MT-24EX twin flash, the results can be stunning.
So, when I discovered the little jumper, I was really excited.
It moved a lot which made it difficult to score a decent shot.
After waiting for the exact moment, the subject entered focus and my immediate reaction was to press the shutter release button.
I knew that I had nailed it and out of four shots, only one came out sharp.
Well, with time in hand, I guess I'll have plenty of opportunities to capture more jumping spider images...

The preying mantis

The mantis having its lunch
Saturday was a day of rest.
No cycling, just chilling out at home.
It was also a time for me to catch up with some close-up photography around the neighbourhood.
I chanced upon a preying mantis nymph having its meal on a leaf.
This critter is about 15mm in length and it took a while for me to spot it as its exoskeleton colour had blended really well with its surroundings.
Mantids are found all over my housing estates as there is a small buffer area which is overgrown with foliage.
I learned that the nymphs are black in colour and turns green as they get bigger.
Most of the time, these predatory bugs are docile.
I managed to cap off three shots on the preying mantis and only one had came out sharp.
Since my lens has a shallow depth-of-field, I was happy to have nailed a decent shot of the mantis in action.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Perils of the Samo-cam

Still needs tweaking - the Samo-cam, a handlebar mounted rig for the G12

It works!
The much-anticipated Samo-cam MK1 was tested today at the MPSJ health ride.
I rigged it with a remote shutter release cable fastened to my right hand grip and tried it with flash and the results were disastrous.
Vibration from the ground and lateral force yielded some blur shots.
This was not as bad as shooting it handheld. All I need to do, is to stretch out the neck strap with one hand and fire away.
Previous results with this technique were acceptable.
The Samo-cam MK1 however, did perform well in broad daylight.
Some of the chase shots I made was quite decent, yielding crispy clear and sharp images of the ride.
What I found flawed, was the threaded base.
Due to vibration and lateral force, the medium hygrofriction arm was loosened.
I think the solution is to thread-lock it and I have just the tool for the job.
Two parts on the Samo-cam needs to be tweaked.
First is the base thread and the micro ballhead.
Hopefully, with the problems at bay, I can test it again in Broga next week!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kayuhan Kesihatan MPSJ series 2 - May 28, 2011 part 2

Fernando (left) and his mountain bike at the event

Riding towards SS15, Subang Jaya

New blood: The new foldie gang having dim-sum in USJ 21
Continuing my story about the health ride - The MPSJ ride was rather rushed today.
We cycled for 13km around several sections of the township and as far as the hype was concerned, I think the fire had died down a bit.
With the first MPSJ ride as a benchmark, I think there's a lot of room for improvement.
Why? Some folks were expecting former national cyclist M. Kumaresan to turn up, but it was a no-show.
That aside, from the neighbourhood unity perspective, cycling event as such is useful to break the ice. 
For the first time, I met people from USJ3, 4, 9 and even as far as Bandar Botanic in Klang at this event.
While Michelle and I were preparing for the ride, a guy walked over and asked about our long-distance rides.
He was actually following my web-log.
I was quite embarassed when another cyclist had attributed his decision to jump into the folding bike bandwagon after he had read about my exploits in the The Star.
Back to the ride: today affair was a short one.
We finished by 9:15am and at the MPSJ HQ, I met a couple who rode their Dahon Speed P8s.
They were looking for experienced riders to share about touring in Malaysia.
I later suggested a late breakfast session in USJ21 and learned that a new group of foldies were formed with some great plans in the offering.
Its comforting to know that the folding bike following is growing and now that the new riders are actually showing up, its up to the experienced ones to lead the way..
As for the MPSJ rides, well, next month's event will be on June 26.
Unfortunately, it clashes with the Putrajaya interparks ride which is the mutha of all family-oriented cycling events.

Kayuhan Kesihatan MPSJ series 2 - May 28, 2011 part 1

A scene from our home at dusk

Cruising along Persiaran Subang

The early birds
I guess that this morning's Champion's League soccer match and a sackload of other weekend functions around the Klang Valley had made MPSJ's Kayuhan Sihat a miserable affair.
Fewer than 100 people turned up, some were even late and joined in the ride half way.
As usual, Michelle and I got up early, rigged our bicycles and headed out to USJ 5 where the event was held.
There, I met cyclist SK Yeong for the first time.
This man is one of the organisers for the 'Urban Cowboy cari-cari makan' night ride in Kuala Lumpur's city centre.
Yeong was riding his Lamborghini foldie and lives in Bandar Sunway.
We chatted a bit and later, another Dahon rider came up to me and introduced himself.
It was no other than Fernando Gallardo himself.
I read his blog about his Dahon Speed P8 adventures and was truly inspired by his outings around Malaysia.
Fer, as he is known on the Dahon Forums, was riding his mountain bike at the event.
During this ride, I met no less than a half a-dozen of folding bike cyclists...

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Mo better gadgets

Getting some flak - the massively souped-up Curve SL

The right stuff: Manfrotto's nano-clamp, medium hygrofriction arm and 492 micro ballhead
I drew some flak for showing my new camera rigs.
First, some dude was poking fun. Said that I better pack in an M-16, AK-47, bla-bla-bla, ding-dong-ding-dong.. 
That was okay.
The practical guys (whose ideas and advice I truly appreciate) said the ball-joint may not be steady.
True. No arguments about that.
But can we improvise? Of course.
What I showed, was how a super clamp, magic arm and quick release plate can be mounted on the bike.
There's no way that I would ride it without attaching a safety wire on it.
On the other hand, the medium hygrofriction arm, nano clamp and micro ballhead on my Dahon Curve SL's handle would seem like a viable option.
All I need to add for remote capture, is a remote control..

Chamang waterfalls

With Farmer Wong at Chamang

Bentong's natural attraction - the Chamang falls
I'm back on the road, fresh from my century ride.
This time - its a recce trip to the Chamang falls in Bentong, Pahang.
Prior to this, I've made some arrangements with Ah Pan, my buddy.
In Bentong, I met up with Farmer Wong, Ah Pan's boss and ride 10km with him to the falls.
It was an easy ride for the first 4km and things got a little tougher when the road leads to a series of hills with a steady incline.
The climb towards Chamang falls was a killer as I lugged some 12kgs of photographic equipement.
Here's a tip: ditch the backpack and load up your panniers.
I was already bonked by the time I reached km 8 on the route.
The rest was an easy roll towards the park area at the falls.
At Chamang, we rested and I took the opportunity to snap some shots of the rapids there.
After chilling out there for nearly an hour, we rode back to Bentong.
Farmer Wong treated me to a meal at Karak before we headed out to his farm in Sertik.
I called it a day after doing some work at the farm...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mission: Impossible

Next up: Klang - Lumut
I've had one of those inspiring moments day-dreaming about cycling from Klang to Lumut.
A group of guys had proven it by riding from Klang to Sekinchan two weeks ago and they had some really cool photos posted all over Facebook.
This is roughly about 150km round-trip and had me motivated to plan a 'serious shit' route from Klang to Lumut and do a two-day round-island tour of Pulau Pangkor.
Now, Klang - Sekinchan is within the limit of my capabilities and staging the ride is the most important thing there.
This is so that I won't get bonked on the road.
At Sekinchan, I can bunk out at Harbour View hotel for the night and take off the next day.
And when it comes to meeting the time factor on distance, I would have to wake up really early.
No sweat if I train and condition myself.

The next leg of the journey would be from Sekinchan to Lumut and this is estimated at 118km.
That would bonk anyone who is hauling load on the front and back of their bicycle.
It would be cool to have a break either in Manjung or Sitiawan before the final push to Lumut and board a ferry to Pangkor.
I anticipate a sore ass and raw legs by the time I get to Lumut.
In Pangkor, there are some cool places to cover for at least three days.
Now, the best part is this - getting back...
The distance from Lumut to Tapah Road is 93km.
From there, I would hop onto a KTM ETS service back to KL Sentral.
Can this be achieved? Well, I can't say anything for sure. Yet.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kuala Selangor - Sabak Bernam - Kuala Selangor ride part 4

Tropical fruits galore: A scene from Sekinchan

Lights mounted: Preparing for the dark

From dawn till dusk, a scene at Kuala Selangor
We made it!
I checked my watch and it was already 5:30pm.
The only way we could make it back to Kuala Selangor from Sekinchan, which is 28.6km away, is to hit the road straight.
We had a light meal of fried noodles and Michelle suggested dinner at Pasir Penambang.
I was against the idea because this place would be packed with out of towners.
So, without hesitation, we hit the road.
At the outskirts of Tanjung Karang, we already feeling the effects of fatigue.
Our legs were pounded raw, at this point in time, it felt like the saddle was grafted onto my buttocks.
We stopped a few times to recover from muscle aces on our bottoms and proceeded to Tanjung Karang which was the last town before Kuala Selangor.
By the time we reached this part of the journey, it was getting dark.
Michelle signalled to pull over and told me to turn on my rear light and blinkers.
I slipped on my cateye twin lights and left it on as we cycled towards Kuala Selangor.
By 7pm, we could see Pasir Penambang.
Michelle flagged me down again, this time, at the town marker outside Kuala Selangor.
"Eh, ride so far, must take picture la.. ," she said.
I found an empty oil drum and placed my Canon Powershot G12 and took a few shots on self-timer.
After riding for 130km, our Dahons held up. No issues or any signs of breakdown.
We made it back to Kuala Selangor after spending 12 hours on the road.
The feeling was ecstatic! We did it!


Distance covered: 132.32km
Average speed: 16.5km
Top Speed: 32km
Total flat tires: 0
Total stops: 20
Time spent on the road: 7hours 25minutes

Kuala Selangor - Sabak Bernam - Kuala Selangor ride part 3

It took us three and a-half hours to get to Sabak Bernam from Kuala Selangor

A row of wooden shops at the fringe of town

Time to hit the road..
It took a while to comprehend that Sabak Bernam is only 32km away from Teluk Intan.
Our intention was to ride from Subang Jaya to Teluk Intan which is an achievable feat.
By the time we got to Sabak Bernam, we had rode for 62km one-way.
What surprised me was a short bicycle lane in this town.
Michelle and I had decided to take a short detour into town where we spent less than 30 minutes circling the area.
If we pushed for an hour or more, we would be in the fringe of Teluk Intan.
After riding for 60km, the effects of fatigue and pain was already seeping in, slowly.
At 2.30pm, we decided that it was best to head back towards Kuala Selangor.
The ride from Sabak Bernam to Sekinchan was 33.4km and this was the killer stretch.
As far as it comes to touring rides, I told Michelle to brace herself for three things - bad road, mad drivers and insane people.
This was apparent when some heavy vehicle was speeding down the road.
Some drivers were courteous enough to avoid hitting us while a few drove really close to the white line.
On three occassions, some shithead actually shouted from their vehicles.
We hit the 90km mark near Sg Haji Dorani and by the time we were getting near Sekinchan, our butts were already sore.
This was the crucial point where the mind and body would just break down.
Michelle said she was getting hungry and split-second decision made here - was to have a light meal in Sekinchan..

Kuala Selangor - Sabak Bernam - Kuala Selangor ride part 2

Migrating birds nesting at Sekinchan

Crossing a water gate

The inner roads towards Sungai Besar

Towards Sungai Besar
The distance from Sekinchan to Sungai Besar is much further that we thought.
We took an inner road and had a great time cycling around the parit area.
There are fewer vehicles here as the roads are narrow and poorly maintained.
By the time we were reaching Sungai Besar, our water supply was already running low.
We made a turn back to the main road and bought a bottle to refill.
With Sungai Besar in the distance, we decided to take the inner road and made it all the way to Sungai Besar town.
Traffic was really heavy in this area.
Michelle and I decided to take a break and see if the weather would hold.
The sky was already dark and checks on our mobile internet link indicated that there is a probability of rain.
But after the weather had improved, we decided to push on.
We rode past a landfill in Sungai Besar and turned back towards the Kuala Selangor - Teluk Intan road.
The distance to cover is about 12.6km to Sabak Bernam.

Kuala Selangor - Sabak Bernam - Kuala Selangor ride part 1

At Tanjung Karang before the rain
I had to call off a ride two weeks earlier from Tanjung Karang to Sungai Besar.
Citing exhaustion as the main cause, my wife was not in a shape for a long-haul ride.
Barely days into the weekend, I came up with a diabolical plan.
A surefire way of hitting the magical '100' on your bicycle's trip meter.
The plan was to cycle from Kuala Selangor to Sabak Bernam and back.
So, with adequate rest, we did just that on Saturday.
Why Kuala Selangor?
There's ample parking on a weekend and its also easier to get supplies like water and food in this town.
We worked our way to Kuala Selangor from our home in Subang Jaya and arrived there at 7am.
After we set up our bikes, we hit the road and the first landmark was the Kuala Selangor bridge leading towards Pasir Penambang.
The journey to Tanjung Karang is roughly about 14.3km (50-minutes ride) away from Kuala Selangor.
We stopped at a tire shop when it started to rain and spend nearly an hour stranded there.
When the weather was much better, we proceeded to Sekinchan.
A newly paved section of the road from Kuala Selangor to Sekinchan
Add another 15km, we are in Sekinchan.
The first thing we did, was to get something to eat.
Michelle was hungry and when we reached Sungai Burung, I asked her to pull over to bus stop.
There, we had a piece of Vanilla crunch Powerbar.
And this never tasted so good!
It took us about 20 minutes to get to the Bagan Sekinchan.
Even with the sun shining, it was drizzling. We found Guan Huat restaurant and had a late breakfast.
The house dish here is the spicy hot pot with fish fillet. I don't know why the lady owner of this makan place had recommended fried fish in spicy tau choo which is similar to the hotpot, but we were too hungry to argue.
At Sekinchan, I noticed a flock of sea birds nesting on a tree line.
They looked like those "Angry Birds" from Rovio's game apps on my LG Optimux 2X.
I snapped some shots before moving on to Sungai Besar...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Riding hard!

Riding with the sun over our heads.. It was a hot morning!
I try to get the best out of our Sundays.
And this morning, we rode again around Putra Heights and parts of Subang Jaya.
We did the same loop and ended up in USJ 21 where we had breakfast.
I switched on my Endomondo training programme, but had the settings wrong.
Instead of cycling, the tracker gave running results.
Traffic was a breeze this morning as we worked our way to the usual routes - Section 2 - Giant Putra Heights - USJ 21.
My Dahon Curve SL held up pretty well after getting it tuned by the rodalink guys in Sri Hartamas.


Total distance: 21.16km
Duration : 1hr 20mins
Average speed: 18km/h
Max speed: 32km/h

Late breakfast at USJ 21

Chinese tea!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

You wanna long-haul, you've got to train!

The climb towards section 2, Putra Heights
We clocked 14.1km this evening - riding towards Putra Heights and back to our home in USJ 26.
With some training, Michelle and I were able to keep up with the undulating terrain in Bukit Lanchong, which is now a barely recogniseable landmark with plenty of hillslope clearing taking place. I guess this is what the rich buggers want in their neighbourhood.
We rode towards Giant and past Kampung Lanchong in Shah Alam before making a break for Section 2 in Putra Heights.


Distance: 14.16km
Duration: 45minutes
Average speed: 18km/h
Max speed: 42km/h
Elevation: 81m

Polishing up some rusty photographic skills

A friendly lynx spider photographed at our Jasmine tree
I was quite bummed with the postponement of our Tg Karang - Sabak Bernam ride today.
Michelle was suffering from exhaustion and could not make it for the long haul cycling trip.
So, with a real hot weather and a little diversion, I dug up my photographic equipment and rigged up my Canon EOS 7D D-SLR, MPE-65 F2.8 macro lens and MT-24EX twin flash and lugged it to my favourite bug shooting spot.
The place has been overgrown with shrubs and it took a while till I spot a jumping spider. This was a male Orange-Yellow jumper.
I snuck up to the sensitive arachnid and fired away a few shots. 
Managed to get a full body shot and a 2.5x close-up of the spider's head.

The Orange-Yellow jumper
I worked around the area and found another female spider. But since it was moving around a bunch of pandan leaves, getting a clear shot was out of the question. The hot and dry weather is ideal for bug photography and this is something that I had really missed over half a year.
I've been concentrating on cycling so much, I hardly have any time to go around and shoot my favourite subject: the jumping spider.
That said, there's plenty of catching up to do...

Friday, May 13, 2011

Bon Voyage Uncle Meng

Uncle Meng in Bentong, Pahang
You don't come across many people who are inspirational.
Uncle FC Meng is one of them.
I met him late last year when I was training in Hulu Langat and joined him on a light tour of Betong, in the Yala Province, Southern Thailand in February.
Fit as an Ox, Uncle Meng had proved it that there's more than just the rat race out there.
He's now in Paris, France on a three-month tour of the Alps.
Here's wishing him all the best!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A tune-up

I've been having some issues with my Dahon Curve SL's gearing of late.

Seems that the chain is scraping the chainstay and I got the boys from Desa Sri Hartamas to fix the problem...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Full load endurance ride - Tg Karang - Sabak Bernam

The planned route - Tg Karang - Sabak Bernam, Selangor

My fully-loaded Dahon Speed P8
Do or die, I am ready to take on the road.
One of my planned rides was from Subang Jaya to Teluk Intan.
This did not materialise as my wife's working schedule was utterly fucked-up.
Our level of fitness is also not up to par as Michelle was struggling on her 24-speed bike in Bentong recently.
With a full load, the Dahon Speed P8 would easily weigh about 60kgs and both ends of the bike's pannier would be strapped up with my Ortlieb panniers.
With a flat terrain, I am confident of completing the ride in less than 10 hours.
This time, we won't be ploughing the paddy fields, instead, use the inner roads from Jln Kilang Padi in Tg Karang to Sabak Bernam.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Endomondo sports tracker

The programe console on a smartphone screen
IF you pack a smartphone, there are hundreds of fitness apps out there.
One of the most interesting Android OS apps that I've come across is the Endomondo sports tracker.
This software links your phone's GPS and a cellular network to track your sporting activity.
In my case, its cycling and I gave it a try on Sunday.
I found the accuracy to be amazing as it tracked my movement from Karak to Bentong - minute-by-minute.
The ride data is then uploaded onto Endomondo's website where the distance, elevation and calories burned are displayed.
You can then share this on Facebook or on a blog.
So, that said, its gonna be loads of fun with the Endomonodo on my LG Optimus 2X

The 'delete' key

One of the most useful implement on the computer keyboard is the 'delete' key.
Over the course of maintaining this weblog, there has been some nasty comments.
Mostly, posted by anonymous sources and the remedy for these messages that does not belong here is: Delete.
Some people take a lot of trouble signing up for emails using dubious names and once you delete them, there's no lasting effect.
I know for a fact that there are folks out there who hates my guts, so, if they take so much trouble to blast me anonymously, fuck them!

Karak - Sg Ulu ride route

The 81.2km route from Kg Cinta Manis to Sg Ulu in Pahang
I'm pretty upbeat with the prospect of cycling from Kg Cinta Manis in Karak, Pahang to Sg Ulu near Raub.
This is a long-haul cutting across some kampung route which is shy of heavy traffic which I think is plausible for a short tour with a fully loaded bike.
The plan is to start from Farmer Wong's place.
So, here's the low-down.

May 20 - Depart KL, spend a night at Farmer Wong's.
May 21 - Ride from Karak town to Kg Cinta Manis and towards Raub, hook up with Ng Chee Keat and stay at his jungle retreat.
May 22 - Cycle back to Karak and head back to KL.

Its a straight-forward ride and way I see it, we should encounter some undulating terrain along the way, especially to Sg Ulu. Another option is to stay in Raub and then, head to Sg Ulu.

Bentong - Karak Ride part 2

Our old friend Ah Pan (left), Rita, Uncle Meng and Michelle

Farmer Wong trying out the full-suspension recumbent bike by Veloteknik

The heavy traffic leading to Karak

Our planned route
I put my foot in my mouth when I said I don't ride on highways.
Somehow, I was beaten flat and Michelle complained about riding some 16km of highway from Karak to Bentong..
The realistic route was from Sertik to Bentong. This is an additional 20km to the existing route and I don't think we would take it.
That aside, we managed to cycle all the way to the Bentong junction along the East Coast highway without a hitch.
I can see plenty of skid marks on the road. Some cars have actually swerved and crashed on a straight stretch. 
If fate would have things it's way, we were done for.
It just takes a drunk driver or some guy high on drugs to end our lives in a flash. 
That is the danger of cycling on a highway.
Even the road leading to Bentong was heavy with traffic.
I received a call from Ah Pan when I was about to reach town. He was already there with farmer Wong and wanted to meet me at a coffee shop opposite the town's central market.
As I made my way, a bunch of high-powered motorbikes whizzed through town. They acted as if they owned the road. I have little respect for super bikers because they have no courtesy.
Ah Pan wave and shouted as we made our way through the town square.
Bentong is small and our plan was to have a bowl of curry laksa there.
"Eh, no good la, there's a Vietnamese beef noodle shop here. Its really good!," said Ah Pan.
We took a bite at this and it was really good.
Half-way through, I saw two familiar shapes and they were none other than Uncle Meng, a recumbent bicyclist and his friend Rita.
We communicated on Facebook and were told that they would be plying the Bentong route from Gombak.
Uncle Meng is expected to shoot off to Europe next week for a three month tour.
His HP Veloteknik bike was fully loaded with gear and this, I guess, was a final run before he embarks on the long-haul.
We exchanged some notes at the coffee shop, the couple had their noodles and drinks and as the day grew hotter, it was time to hit the road.
While Ah Pan and I were examining the recumbent bike, a middle-aged man asked: "You are Sam Wong right? The guy who cycles and writes about food?"
Both Ah Pan and I were dumbfounded. "Sam Wong? Nah, never heard of him.. Sorry boss.." I said. I can see the confused look on the guy's face. And Ah Pan did the right thing by correcting him. 
"Sam Cheong is it? This is the guy la.. ", he jested.
So, there I was, caught in a catch 22 situation. I am no 'Sam Wong', because that namesake was a real prick back in art college.
Jokes aside, I chatted with the guy, obliging some questions. 
Our Dahons were 'overshadowed' by the HP Veloteknik recumbent.
Ah Pan suggested that we meet up with farmer Wong and his kid at 'Pusat Basikal Bentong', an authorised dealer for LE RUN products.
It was just a couple of minutes ride as we made our way through Bentong's busy street. 
The traffic seems to flow seamlessly till I flagged down a car and a motorcycle to allow us to cross over.
We caught up with farmer Wong and in the heat of the conversation, some mountain bikers rode past. 
They asked Michelle a lot of questions about her Dahon Speed TR.
With the sun above our heads, she hinted that it was time to scoot.
I wished Uncle Meng well for his long-haul and parted ways with Ah Pan and farmer Wong.
The next ride would be a trip from Karak to Raub. This would be interesting.
As for the fun, well getting back was all there is on my mind. 
We don't want to get killed and our main objective is to ride it all the way.
Certain parts of the road to Karak had proven to be truly overwhelming.
The heat and undulating terrain had forced us to pull over to cool off several times.
But with determination, we rode back to Karak town at half past twelve.
Getting home to Subang Jaya, well, that is another thing!


Total distance covered: 42.51km
Time utilised on the road: 3hr 02mins
Total of stops: 6
Number of flat tires: 0
Average Speed: 13.9km/h
Top Speed: 48km/h


Decent road, plenty of places you can pull over to rest, conduct repairs. The distance of 20km from Karak to Bentong is not bad. But you will have to be at least a level-2 rider (fit, with some training) to complete the course.


Plenty of road debris along the way, some parts of the route are really narrow and there were a couple of sections with long slopes, so, if you are a lousy climber, better work on the right technique


This is a route that is heavy with traffic. There are speeding trailers, trucks and cars. So, be on the defensive. I know this sounds crazy, a side mirror helps. If a car comes from the rear and is careening out of control, you have ample time to ditch the bike and jump for safety.

There are very few places along the route that offers water. Whether you buy or fetch it. So, plan your water supply, hydrate all the time..

Bentong - Karak Ride part 1

At the East Coast highway

The undulating terrain at Kg Sg Dua near Karak
Finally, after weeks of planning, we made it to Karak, Pahang.
Our plan was to ride from Karak town, which is located about 1hr 30mins away from Subang Jaya and head to Bentong, which about 20km in distance.
Seems like an easy ride, but Karak is actually a valley surrounded by mountains and if you are unfit, there's plenty of good workout here.
Riding in this part of Pahang also gave me the opportunity to try out the Endomondo training software which is optimised for smartphones.
With my LG Optimus 2X in my pouch, I lugged this baby for three hours, recording every detail of the ride including location tracking, altitude, distance and ride statistics.
That aside, we've had a good start from Karak.
The weather was good, timing was perfect.
We rode out of town at 08:15am after catching up with Ah Pan and farmer Wong - our contact person there.
The first 15 minutes was easy. But as we moved further away from Karak, the terrain began to yield its ugly face.
This time round, I rode my Dahon Speed P8 loaded with two Ortlieb frontroller panniers. 
These are small compared with the larger backrollers, but it'll do.
Both packs are loaded at half its capacity.
Even so, the sheer weight added to the rear of the bike can be felt when I was cycling on high gear.

To be continued....