Thursday, January 23, 2014

OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2014 - Part 2

Flag off!

We slowly moved our bikes to the main starting line.
The Sports and Youth Minister waved a flag with a loud burst from the airhorn, signalling for everyone to roll out.
By the time we rode past the VIP stage, at least a thousand cyclists had made their way to the hills in Lake Gardens and Bukit Tunku.
As we were moving, remnants of the 48km challenge participants can be seen either resting by the roadside, or had completely given up.
If you don't train for such an event, you will never be able to complete four laps in the 12km loop.

Radzi and Me at the rider's pen
At the starting line
An interesting combined route...

If you have done the first OCBC Cycle Malaysia Ride back in 2011, you will notice that the climb and descent from Bukit Tunku would lead to Jalan Putra and straight towards Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman.
This time round the organizers avoided Jalan TAR completely. 
Instead, the riders went straight towards Jalan Kuching and up the ramp towards Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Campbell.
This is a combination of the 2011 and 2013 (There were no Cycle Malaysia event in 2012) where the ride was done at the KLCC.
Even with such a short route with a distance of 12km a loop, cyclists tend to fumble.
The first casualty was spotted near the JKR complex in Jalan Hishamuddin. A lady fell and injured her face.
Other than that, we saw a few novice cyclists suffering cramps along the way.
The climb to Bukit Tunku was taxing on them.

Radzi on his Joe P24

Rolling downhill towards Bukit Tunku
Motorists and pedestrians aren't too happy when the roads are closed...
Meeting people along the way..

As we rode towards Jalan Campbell, I met a few cyclist friends.
And right there in front of Yut Kee restaurant, stood a dude with his arms folded.
Radzi told me who he was and I was kind of freaked out at first at the sight of a psycho cyclist who advocates 'no-helmet because it's a choice thing'.
But seeing as it is, we rode off our fear.
At KLCC, I saw Fei Lee of GW Cycles setting up his camera to capture his clients in action.
We slowly made our way back to the Dataran and completed our first round.
With the prospect of riding back to Subang Jaya, my strategy was to conserve energy by riding at a leisurely pace.
After clearing the hills, we made a pit-stop in front of the KLCC and refilled our water bottles.
The Dataran was not far away and as we slowly rode back to the event area, I can see and old dude lifting both his hands.
To me, its fulfilling the ride for the third time.
Radzi and I collected our medals and moved on to the large helmet where we took snapshots.
I met up with the kids whom I had advised earlier and talked to them.
They wanted to take a photo with me which I happily obliged.
After the snapshots were taken, we rode towards Kg Baru for a taste of Nasi Padang..

A snapshot with the kids

Mission accomplished!

The scene at Dataran

Our Terns

The best nasi padang in Kg Baru

A rewarding meal
The journey home...

It was all over for the rest of the people at Dataran.
I had to make my way to Brickfields to enter the Federal Highway bike lane.
Took me about 30-minutes to clear the city centre and made my way to Angkasapuri.
This was a non-stop ride averaging at 20km/h. 
The pace was a relaxed one as I slowly rode towards the Subang Jaya exit.
Once I got into the the USJ1 interchange, it was home-run.
Slowly, I rode towards Persiaran Kewajipan and with every stroke on the crank drawing me closer to USJ 20, it was clear that I made good time.
When I reached the gate at my home, the GPS read 82.3km. That was the total mileage clocked from Subang Jaya to the Dataran and back.


Having ridden in two OCBC rides, this was one of the best event ever and sadly, its also my last. So, that said, I hope the organizers would look into the participant's needs and I think the OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2015 is going to rock harder if they've maintained the good work.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2014 - Part 1

An early ride...

The alarm was buzzing and it was 05:00am in the morning.
On the previous night, I rode in the city with my team and the Mayor.
I was pretty stoked about cycling into the city alone. That's roughly about 30km one-way and all I have was my trusty Ay-Up headlights and my new Moon Meteor helmet light. All 400 and 200 Lumens of lighting on hand.
Michelle my wife had offered me a lift to Petaling Jaya, but I had declined.
The plan was to ride all the way from USJ 26 in Subang Jaya to Dataran Merdeka, do the 24km community ride.

Paid before it began..

I paid for this event on January last year.
Having cycled in two previous events, the OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2014 which is the third in a succession, will be my last.
I also paid for Michelle who couldn't make it because she had to attend a wedding.
That was a boring affair which was infested with yuppies and wannabes and I was really glad to have stayed out of it.
So, to sum it up, we've paid for three events since 2011 (there were no ride in 2012 because it was postponed to 2013).

All eyes on the cockpit!

It's really no joke riding out on your own to the city from Subang Jaya via the Federal Highway bike lane.
There's a kind of chilling eerie in the air and when you are riding with your headlights on full-blast, all that matters was arriving safely at the destination.

Radzi, capturing the scene
There were no major issues riding along the Federal Highway at 06:00am.
As a matter of fact, there were very few vehicles on the road during this hour.
I made my way to the rendezvous area in front of the KL Gallery where my cycling buddy Mohd Radzi Mohd Noor was already waiting with his brand new Tern Joe P24 folding bike.
The plan was to ride out, have an early lunch and bug out.

Radzi and his ride

This bike came a looong way..
Bernard @ Bird 

A participant with her Tern Verge X-10
"Ah Bird"..

I was chilling out with Radzi and a cyclist came forth and introduced himself as "Bird".
"Hello Mr Samo, I am Bird," he said.
"Ahhh.. Bird! So, you that troublemaker on the Malaysian Foldies Forums.. ," I joked.
We chat a bit and I learned that my newfound friend was working in Bangkok, Thailand.
He contemplated buying a Brompton folding bike and ended up with a Tern.
The guy later excused himself to join the Foldie Community ride. These guys were herded into a special rider's pen.
Radzi and I made our way to the end of of the lane and waited patiently for the flag off by Sports and Youth Minister Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin...

The crowd at the Community Ride

A guy fixing his girlfriend's Tern Link D8 while a curious spectator watches on..
A huge turnout..

This year, the OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2014 has attracted a record number of participants. 
Some came from as far as Singapore.
I was told later that the Ternout SG gang had also participated in the ride.
While waiting with the rest of the people, I noticed a group of kids with their mountain bikes.
The girls in the group had their seatpost really low.
I explained to them that it would hurt their legs -- especially during the climb at Jalan Kinabalu and Bukit Tunku.
My friend Jones Yuen helped to explain this in Mandarin as they happily readjusted their seatposts..

The Mayor's Night Ride

Here's the catch..

I received a mailer from OCBC Cycle Malaysia. Spectrum, the event organizer has invited cyclists who are registered with the event to ride with the Mayor on Jan 18.
Then, my colleague Fitri Majid from the Sports Desk had forwarded an invite by Naim Mohamad of the MNCF to join Datuk Seri Phesal Ahmad, the KL Mayor on a short night ride.
I told Fitri to fix it and that we would join him in the ride.
The main event was on the next day, so, we don't really have much time to rest.
I planned to ride from the KTM KL station to Dataran Merdeka with Kevin Tan, my colleague and the plan was to fill up with a simple dinner in town.
Leaving for Dataran after setting up in KTM KL station
An early dinner at Soong Kee
We rode off from the KTM Station towards the city centre.
It was a breezy ride as it took us less than 10 minutes to reach Soong Kee noodle shop to have our dinner.
While we were at it, a patron there came up to me and greeted: "Hello Mr Samo, I read your blog a lot!".
I wished the guy well and told him to have a safe ride the next day at the OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2014.
From Jalan Silang where we had our dinner, we proceeded to Dataran Merdeka.
By the time we got there, the crowd was just filling up.
Fitri had informed us that he couldn't make it because his daughter was sick and hospitalised.
So, there were just the few of us at Dataran who eagerly awaited for the ride to take place.

Kevin and Ehfan

At the bike parking area...
A last-minute affair..

To take part in the Mayor night ride, participants of the OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2014 had to pay an extra RM20.
For this, they get a special tee shirt and a wrist band.
Access to the starting grid is given to those with the special tee shirt and wristband.

The long and short of things...

While waiting for the rest to group-up, I overheard Kevin yelling "Boss!".
I looked over my shoulder and noticed a little man coming forth.
It was the event sponsor's head honcho and his henchman, the PR guy.
We shook hands, exchanged in a light conversation and moved on.
After two rounds with the OCBC Cycle Malaysia event, I found the PR guy to be real phony and insincere dude and later, the consulting PR team greeted Kevin.
These people are only bothered to get publicity mileage for their client on the newspaper and for this year, they tried to pitch an interview with a former national cyclist and his daugther for the ultimate Foldie challenge. Which fell through..
And since we were invited by Naim on behalf of the Mayor, well, there isn't much to say..

At the starting line..

With the gang 

A short ride...

We set out towards Jalan Kinabalu and did a short loop towards the Lake Gardens and then exited Masjid Negara and headed back to Dataran Merdeka.
In a zip, everything was over.
At the fairgrounds, cyclists were given supper courtesy of the KL City Hall.
We hung around for a chat and later headed back to the KTM station where we parted.
It was a short 6-km loop and I guess that everyone was happy to be able to rub shoulders with the Mayor and get on with their business..

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Radzi's new bike..

Lending a helping hand...

Sometime back, my cycling kaki Mohd Radzi Mohd Noor had stated his interest on getting a Tern Joe P24.
This is basically a 26" folding bike from Tern and its what he wanted.
So, being the responsible foldie and a friend, I placed an order from K2 Asia.
It was a long and disappointing wait.
After six months, I was told by the company's rep that the bike is currently not being produced.
It would have been easier for the K2 guy to break the bad news so that I could search for an alternative dealer to get the bike.
K2 left me in a lurch and as expected, they just laughed it off while we breath in mud.

No worries, Singapore to the rescue!

I told Radzi that if he really wants the bike, I am willing to make a day-run to Singapore to get it.
He agreed and asked around.
This led to My Bike Shop in the West Coast area.
I never had a good experience with this bike shop.
Last time I was there, some long-haired Baboon gave me the shit face.
So, that said, I had to swallow my pride and bear the shitty treatment Singaporeans would usually give us Malaysians.
But I was wrong. 
The situation was otherwise.
We drove down to Singapore and right to the shop, found a place to park and went down to business.
A guy by the name of Denis who manages the place had greeted Radzi.
Compared to Mr Baboon, he was rather polite.
And speaking of product knowledge, this guy is prepared to take on any questions. Pretty impressive.

Radzi, sealing the deal with the Denis dude..
Mission accomplished..

I guess that the K2 Asia people were scared shit about selling Terns in Malaysia. 
They just want to play safe by selling what they think is suitable for the local cyclists.
I don't blame them because the last monkey who ordered the bikes ended up with a container load of low-end models.
At the Singapore bike shop, the guys know exactly what they want to sell.
In fact, the Denis dude wanted to push his Tyrell bikes, citing that they are the best bikes in the Galaxy.
He even cited the winner of the OCBC Foldie Challenge, a Singapore national cyclist who clocked in more than 50km/h on the sprint the finish line.
"Aiyaaa.. If the winner is an Ah Soh from a HDB Flat, I will throw all my bikes into the sea and get Tyrell, you have my word!," I told the Denis dude.
Jokes aside, this guy is professional. He even tried to sell saddles to Radzi and recommended a Wellgo quick release pedal. Wellgo? What!!!!!
Anyway, the nice thing here is seeing the guy preparing all the paperwork and trying to get a GST refund for Radzi, which I knew, won't happen because it's meant for airline passengers.

The store's mechanic setting up Radzi's bike
Happy camper: Radzi and his new Tern
The deal sweetener..

I must say that I am amazed at the good PR at this bicycle shop.
We traveled all the way to the island, spent more than eight hours on the road and when Radzi paid for the bike, the Denis dude threw in some freebies.
He gave a bottle cage, bell and a set of blinkers.
At the end of it, the guy pulled out a rabbit out of his hat.
He gave him an "ass saver".
This is some sort of fender and when I asked him how much it costs, he said "12 Singapore Dollars.." 
Well, FUCK THAT! I am not going to pay 12 bucks for a piece of flimsy plastic. 
Anyway, it was good gesture and I can't fault the Denis dude for being courteous.
Only thing I observed that he was being absolutely nice to Radzi all the time because the cash was coming out of his pocket.
As soon as we've loaded up the bike, I began the four-hour drive back to KL.
To Radzi, it was a befitting birthday present.
Way I see it, I had fulfilled my vow for a friend. I would have done it for him anyway. 

Ultralight Tackle Fun

A grudge match..

I was told by Ah Pan that Sin Poh Farm's Wan Yee (grass carp) would feed only after 5pm.
And based on previous experience, I would concur.
My personal record was a 6kg Wan Yee on a 6lb line. That was more than 20 years ago when I started fishing seriously.
So, to verify what Ah Pan had told me, I took a trip to Sin Poh Farm and stayed a night there.
The plan was to set out from Subang Jaya to the farm after lunch. 
This means, a real slow drive on a relaxed pace.

With Ah Pan at Sin Poh Farm

After driving for an hour, I reached the farm. 
Ah Pan was tending to some orders and had to make a delivery run.
I chilled out with his dog Bobby and waited a bit until it was time to head down to the pond.

My ultralight rig
The Shimano Nasci Ultralight spinning reel

Checking out the scene...
Clearing out the large tilapias

It seems that the larger tilapias in the pond would feed only later in the day.
This is roughly about twilight where the sun is over the horizon. They hate feeding in mid day or on a hot afternoon.
We tried out the small pond at the pumphouse and almost instantly, Ah Pan landed a good sized fish, about one kilogramme in weight.
On a 2lb line, the fight was tremendous. 
One must be really careful not to burst the line and the larger the tilapia gets, the harder the surge..

Rain over the horizon..

Ah Pan with a sizable catch
Strike! And a 20-minute straight fight...

The light was fading fast, I did a time-check and it was already past 06:30.
It didn't help as the day was really gloomy.
Ah Pan chummed the pond and I can see large water streaks heading to the pellets floating on the water surface.
I rigged up my line and hook with a piece of dog kibble and casted my line.
Slowly, the line became taut and when I held up my rod high, I had set the hook.
It was a solid strike and I began a fight with the fish at the end of the line.
With an ultralight tackle, I cannot afford to set the reel's drag tension too tight.
At the time I was fighting the fish, the drag setting was just right.
And I left the parabolic rod and the ultralight spinning reel to do the job of tiring the grass carp.
Ah Pan had estimate its weight to be around 3kgs.
With the rod on hand, I was controlling the grass carp, and each time I reeled it to the side of the pond, it made a surge.
This is when skill and patience meet.
If you are skittish, the line will snap.
But, throughout the 20-minutes, I had the upper hand.
And as the grass carp had shown signs of wear, I reeled it in slowly so that Ah Pan could scoop it up with both his hands.

Lifting the ultralight rod for extra leverage

The fight rages on.. 
Catch of the day..
Throughout the fight, I kept my rod straight and upright.
This is so that the hook remained on the fishes mouth and there's no slacking on the line.
My reel's drag did its job by providing enough tension to stop the fish from surging any further.
On the side of the pond, there are weeds. I need to keep the fish out of it and lead it around and all the grass carp did was surge and dive.
It's easy to lose the fish on a light line as it snaps off easily.
I held on as long as I could and by sunset, the fish was landed.
This was perhaps one of the best fight I had with a large fish on a 2lb line and I'm glad to have experienced it.
So, that said, I am geared for the larger 5kg carp that is still lurking in the pond...

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fishing with Zak..

Fulfilling a promise...

I told my buddy Zakri "Billy" Baharuddin that I will take him and his son Hidir to fish at my buddy's farm in Karak.
Our first outing was a flop as we failed to land any catch at a paypond in Rawang.
That's paying RM35 for a few hours wasted.
We learned that the modern way of pond fishing has evolved.
Reared fishes are no longer easily baited with the flour and dough.
Scented mixtures are used for "flavour" to attract the fish.
But at Sin Poh Farm, fishing is as basic as ever....

Having breakfast in Karak...
We drove from Jalan Duta in Kuala Lumpur to Karak town and had arrange to meet Ah Pan, my farmer friend at Sin Poh.
It was raining heavily and by the time things had settled down nicely, we found our way to the farm and started fishing.
At the main pond, the boys didn't have much luck.
It was my rod that hooked up two climbing perches where Hidir had helped in reeling in one.
The boy was very happy.

Father and son walking to the fishing pond
Zak and Hidir

Zak's catch

Hidir at work

Catch of the day!
Plan B

We didn't have much luck at the main ponds, so, we moved closer to Ah Pan's holding pond.
Here, there's at least six tonnes of Tilapias weighing at 400grammes on the average.
The guys had a blast fishing at the holding area and we called it a day after a few hours of good fishing.
The least I can say is that the boy is really happy with his catch as the earlier outing was a sheer disappointment..

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Sin Poh Farm Ride: Part 2

Looping back to Karak

After a good fishing time at the farm, we rode off towards the Pahang-Selangor raw water pipeline.
This is a relatively shorter route to town from Sin Poh.
We had to ride on a dirt track towards a suspension bridge and connect to a housing estate in town.
This is roughly about 8km offroad and the distance was shorter than we've expected.

Riding along the Pahang-Selangor raw water pipeline
One of the large water pipes along the route
The raw water transfer area

Crossing a suspension bridge
Mud everywhere!
We rode along the dirt track and found it to be amazing.
Michelle said that if we had invited other cyclists -- especially newcomers, we would have gotten a mouthful.
"They'd probably give you a fucking for leading them into a path with plenty of mud!," she said.
It didn't help when we took the wrong turning and rode around in a circle.
That's how people got lost in the trail.
With a little bit of patience, we found our way back to Karak town and linked up with Ah Pan and Farmer Wong.

Dirt everywhere!

Parking the bikes at Yik Kee restaurant
Prawn noodles: Farmer Wong's favourite dish

Cleaning up the bike before loading it into the car
We had lunch at Yik Kee restaurant, one of Karak's favourite makan places.
There, Farmer Wong treated us to his favourite dish: Prawn noodles.
The portions were large and I must say that Yik Kee is consistent in terms of quality.
We had large Giant River Prawns (macrobrachium rosenbergii) for lunch and it was a deeply satisfying treat.
The Sin Poh Farm route is quite a fun ride from Karak town and seeing as it is, we do have plans to do more exploration in the area..