Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Mission: Karak

The world is out there..
It was a long weekend and there has been a couple of inquiries about leading rides to routes outside the Klang Valley.
Initially, I suggested a ride from USJ 2 - Morib.
But I wasn't that keen as its been done before.
This is mainly to induct new folding bike cyclists to try out long-distance rides.
Based on experience, baby-sitting is no easy chore. So, I left it as it is.
A couple of more experienced ride leaders had offered rides outside KL, so, that's where most of the newcomers were headed.

A path less-traveled 
I've done a couple of rides in Bentong, Pahang.
And Karak has still remained at large: unexplored with a folding bike.
My plan was ride towards Kg Cinta Manis and cycle to Kg Sertik and Felda Mempaga.
This is a 50km detour from a straight-forward ride from Karak to Bentong.
It takes only 20km to and 20km fro to this town.

Scenic: The route towards Bentong from Kg Sertik
Into the unknown...
Well, the truth to be told, I have never cycled to Kg Cinta Manis.
So, to sum it up, Kg Sertik and Kg Mempaga remained much as an unknown destination.
When we set out, much of the route was pure guess work.
I lifted a map of Google and plotted a route.
To get things going, I made mention of this on the Malaysian Foldies Forums and its Facebook page.
It drew some attention and a friend actually questioned my decision on not taking any newbies for the ride.
I simply told him that its going to be tough and riders without experience would pose as a liability.
To sum it up, this ride is not for beginners. However, I did have plans to conduct an easier ride to cater for cyclists of all levels of experience.
So, I made it very clear on Facebook and it didn't bother me if some folks are pissed off with the conditions stated.
My intention is not to conduct this exploration ride wholesale, but rather, with a group of reliable people.

Old is gold! Ah Pan and his heavily modified Dahon Dash P18
The small team
On the ride day, I made arrangements with CK Toh to car pool towards Karak and meet Sin Tai Lim, a senior citizen who had been cycling his Dahon Speed P8. 
We left Subang Jaya rather early and experienced the Raya rush on the Karak Highway.
My plan is to meet up with Ah Pan, my old buddy who is now residing in Sin Poh farm in Mukim Sertik. 
We made it to town just 10 minutes late. The initial plan was to meet at 07:00am. Ah Pan brought along his employer's son Ah Wei and his buddy. This 10-year-old had grown so much, he is also pretty fast on the road.
After breakfast, we set out towards Kg Cinta Manis on the Karak Highway. This is roughly about 5km away.

I didn't sleep well the night before.
And it took a toll on my ride. Every stroke on the pedal was punishing and as we moved along the undulating and hilly terrain, I told Toh that we were lucky to have excluded the beginners from the ride.
Slowly, we cruised towards the Lurah Bilut junction and made a climb.
It was a 12km of torture as the gradient was between 3.5 - 7%.
On two occasions, my heart was thumping so hard, I had to get off the bike to catch my breath.
After the climb, it was a smooth roll towards Bentong town and the team re-group at Kedai Basikal Bentong.
We took a break there and rode towards Kow Po coffee shop where we had their air batu campur with their homemade ice-cream.

The road to Bentong 
An unforgettable treat: The ais kacang
 Completing the ride
We were done with dessert and was told that Farmer Wong is already in Karak town and will be hosting lunch at Yik Kee restaurant.
There's another 20km to complete and as we rode out to the Karak Highway, the weather became very hot.
Earlier, the sky was gloomy. But we were lucky enough to be out of the rain.
While cycling I saw a familiar car driving past. It was farmer Wong. He asked about Ah Wei who overtook us in his Polygon Helios 800.
We arrived in Karak town and proceeded to Yik Kee for a feast. Farmer Wong had thrown in a generous lunch for us and we were grateful.
Later, we drove to Sin Poh farm and chilled out with Wong and Ah Pan before heading back to KL.
The 70km ride was an eye opener. There's plenty of potential when it comes to planning cycling routes in this part of Pahang.
Next up, we will try out the Sertik - Lanchang route...

Mission accomplished

Lunch, hosted by the generous farmer Wong

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