Friday, March 27, 2015

Spyderco FB-01 Bill Moran Featherweight: A camp knife ahead of its time..

The one knife a camper must have...

Back in the late 90s, I made an enquiry with a local distributor about a little camp knife. It was and still is produced by Spyderco, one of the leading knife manufacturers from the US.
The blade in question was the FB-01 Bill Moran Featherweight.
The 1998 rendition of this knife was way ahead of its time. It was the era before most knife companies went ape over using kydex as a knife sheath.
It was a sheer genius that a piece of plastic can be shaped into a knife sheath, impervious to the elements.
The Moran fixed blade is a small knife with an upswept point.
Even the edge that was put on it was something you won't find on knives of the era.
As a matter of fact, a batch of the FB-01, Spyderco's first fixed blade were given serial numbers (on the riscasso) and I believe that these were for the first 100 pieces. It came with a handsome leather sheath.


A heavily-used Moran featherweight and the collector's piece
William F Moran (1925-2006), a legendary bladesmith..




Bill was a highly-respected knifemaker and an expert on the forge. He founded the American Bladesmith Society and also taught the art of knifemaking to students of the ABS.
He passed away in 2006 after suffering from cancer.
Moran's knives are highly collectible and well-sought after. One of Bill's legacy, is the custom-collaborated design which he imparted to Spyderco: the FB01 Bill Moran Featherweight.

Keeping it affordable

Spyderco made the FB-01 affordable by replacing the leather sheath with kydex. Through knife outlets in the US, one can get it below USD$100. 
Well, that was back in the days. 
I got mine through Spyderco's head of marketing Joyce Laithuri who sent one over to Malaysia for review.
My article on the knife was published in The Malay Mail.
The present retail price for the FB-01 (latest generation) is roughly about USD$150 a piece.


The collector's edition has a gold signature, the knife was made in Japan


The serial number on the knife's riscasso

A later version of the Moran in Kydex and the original knife
Hair-popping sharpness..

There's no doubt that the Spyderco Moran is one of the sharpest fixed blade knife around.
Straight out of the box, it's shaving sharp.
This is also high-quality knife with exceptional edge retention.
But, it's corrosion resistant qualities are not as good. The VG-10 steel (uses Vanadium as part of it's element) can pit and rust if you do not take care of it.
As a "lightweight" knife, the blade is excellent for food preparation and light cutting chores.
You can't pry with the knife or baton it with a stick.
The fine edge can chip with hard usage, so, if you intend to chop hard materials with it, you may damage the knife.

Performance

The Moran Featherweight has a plastic handle with a pair of rubberized inlays. It's very comfortable to hold and in the hands of seasoned knife users, this knife can be used for many camp chores.
The VG-10 steel is easy to maintain and sharpen (I recommend the Spyderco 204 sharpmaker) in the field.
What's interesting with the present version of the knife, is the Kydex sheath with its "Teklock".
You can wear this in any imaginable way on your belt. Since Kydex is hard plastic, used in fabrication of airplane seats and panels, you can expect the sheath to be tough. But if you are afraid of scuffing the satin finish on the blade, then you may want to clean the knife thoroughly before sheathing it.
The last time I loaned someone my Moran for cutting fish, the results were catastrophic. The idiot did not clean my knife and sheathed it with some fish guts. This caused the fine edge of the knife to literally fall apart. After reprofiling it, the knife was back in use.
So, moral of the story, if you get this knife, NEVER lend it to people no matter how hard they beg.

Tech specs

Blade material: VG-10
Overall length: 20.5cm
Blade length: 10cm
Handle material: Plastic with Kraton inserts

Conclusion

The Moran Featherweight is still being produced by Spyderco and is one of their flagship knives. It carries a retail price of USD$159.95 (RM590 excluding tax and freight) and be purchased directly from Spyderco's on-line shop. Yes, they ship to Malaysia. But you pay the duty and tax and if need be, apply for an owner's permit as per requirement by the Home Ministry.
It's one of the best small knives I have ever owned (I am still keeping collector's #014) and the sharpest Spydie I have come across. Those who are interested can find out more about the Moran Featherweight from Sypderco's official website

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Tern Malaysia's (unofficial) Ambassadors

And now, for some fresh faces on the scene.. 

I had a chat with a buddy recently about who represents Tern Bicycles the best in Malaysia and as part of Tern's international outreach. 
Two names came in mind.
I nominated them because of their contribution to the folding bike community.
Not because they own flashy and expensive bicycles, but their effort to inspire a new generation of Tern owners around the country.
Doesn't matter if Tern don't recognize these guys for what they have done to promote awareness on cycling and folding bikes. But I think they deserve a mention. I think some old farts are going to be pissed off, but I don't give a fuck.

Adventurer extraordinaire: Hakim Bahar
Hakim Bahar

Photojournalism graduate Hakim Bahar utilizes his Tern Link D8 as his vehicle to explore the countryside.
He shares this with fellow cyclists and became and inspiration to bicycle enthusiasts to take up the sport.
Hakim loves touring with his bike and is currently planning to ride around Thailand with Farid, his brother.

The Verge Queen: Janeen Thong
Janeen Thong

She's petite and fast and is the only non-professional cyclist to come up second at the OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2014's folding bike criterium race in the women's category. An avid cyclist and runner, Janeen can be seen at most of the competitive running and cycling scene. 
He bike of choice is the Generation 1 Verge X10. 

There are no perks being a Tern Ambassador, just recognition and a little bit of fame! Hahahah!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Earth-roamer: Tern Verge S27h - First impressions

It's finally here and nobody knew it...

I picked up a brochure at a bicycle shop. It's Tern Bicycle Malaysia's 2015 catalog with a price list.
And down there, I spotted a familiar shape.
It's the Tern Verge S27h 20" folding bike.
This is one of my most anticipated bikes for 2015. Not that I need it, but it's just the right "weapon of choice" for the bicycle adventurer.
Personally-speaking, I don't give a fuck about the X-series Verge, bet it the X-10, X-18 or the X-20. 
But the S27h speaks to me. Why? Because straight out of the box, you just need to get it tuned and add panniers for your next big adventure!

Built like a tank: the Verge S27h


The bike, folded..
Who is it meant for? 

Well, put it this way: if you want something light and fast, this bike is not for you.
Those who know what they want, read on...
Okay, basically, the Verge S27h is a bike meant for the long-hauler who intend to port his or her own luggage to explore foreign lands and unfamiliar territories.
There are racks on the front and rear of the bike which is ready to haul panniers.
Slap-on an Ortlieb front and backroller including a rack-pack, you are in business!
So, if you've had enough of living in a pressure cooker and want to give it all up to hit the road, well, at least for a few good years, this bike has all it takes.
And to all you weight weenies out there, the Verge S27h weights about 16kgs. So, this is not a light bike. But it's compact enough to be packed in a suitcase for transport on land, sea and air.

The Andros stem 
Avid mechanical disk brake and the SRAM Dual-Drive III hub gear and cassette

These balloon tires are meant for comfort in any road conditions


The low-down.. 

The bike has a 27-speed drivetrain powered by SRAM. It's basically the Dual-Drive III system which is proven. Not like the failed NEOS Trinity 3x8 which is basically a Sturmey-Archer system.
What I like about the Dual-Drive is the fact that it's easy to service and it's also pretty hardy.
With a 27-speed drivetrain, you can tackle virtually any terrain.
The extra gear ratio also makes hauling all your gear an ease. With the extra weight, you can use a gear to match the momentum that you are lugging with the extra burden.
For control of your ride, there's the proven Andros stem and steering system. This is pretty heavy and we do have some experience with it. This is one of the few steering system where you can adjust the height of the handlebar to suite your riding style.
To illuminate your path in low-lighting condition, there's the Valo 2 headlight which is powered by the Joule III dynamo hub. This award-winning component ensures that you have enough juice to light up your bike and even rig up a Biologic Ree-charge system to power-up devices such as a Bicycle GPS, MP3 player or a smartphone.
Tern designed the Verge S27h with mechanical disk brakes. For the record, this is the only bike in the Verge platform to utilise such a system.
From experience, the Avid BB-7 mechanical disk brakes are reliable and hardy, but needs to be periodically maintained.
With a heavy load, you will appreciate the stopping power of the BB7 especially during downhill descends.
And like any touring-ready bikes, the wheels are fitted with a set of custom SKS mudguards.
So, if you ride in the rain, no splatter on your back.
To be totally self-reliant, Tern threw in the Biologic Seat Post Pump mk 2. This is a blessing as you need not carry a pump for your long journey.
It's capable of inflating your tires especially when you have a flat.

Tern's frame locking system

Another first: the integrated lock *optional item
Prior to its debut in the Taipei Cycle 2015 show, the Verge S27h is also previewed with an integrated frame locking system. This resembles the older vintage bikes that you see in the 70s. But it's optional, so, more details can be sourced from Tern's official website.
To ensure a smooth ride, Tern also equipped the bike with a chain guide. This issue was apparent on the older Link P24 which suffered constant chaindrop. 

Some personal touch to make this bike rock even harder..

If I ever get this bike, I would throw away the crappy gel saddle. 
For long rides, there's the Selle Royal Ergogel plug-in saddle. Some purists swear by having a Brooks leather saddle, but that is purely their preference.
The next thing I would discard, are the pedals. 
My choice pedals are the MKS Exim Superior quick-release pedals. These are hardy and literally bomb-proof!

Conclusion

With a pricetag of RM6,800 a pop, this bike is definitely not for the beginner.
If you are looking at doing some long rides at least six times a year, then it would be a good consideration.
The Verge S27h would appeal to people who are looking for a hardy bike that is able to take all the rigors of hard riding.
With the racks removed, the Verge S27h can be a robust town bike. This means that during off-touring seasons, you can rig it for short runs to the grocery shop or engage in a multimodal commute, or go bikepacking around Malaysia.
It has a maximum rider weight of 110kgs and is perfect for small and medium-built people. For Godzilla-sized guys like me, there is another bike from the same stable. Those who are aware would know what I am talking about.
In short, there's very little fault on the Verge S27h. Only some minor things that one can solve to make the riding experience even better.

Where to buy? 

The Tern S27h is available from Rodalink stores around the Klang Valley Rodalink's Webstore with Tern Bikes and full pricing or call Johnny Ng of My Bicycle Shop in BU4, One Utama (016-632 2599) to order one (mention this blog for a special pricing).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Affordable performance: Shimano Symetre 1000FL spinning reel



The Symetre is a decently-priced freshwater spinning reel

The Shimano perfection

My first Shimano spinning reel was a Biomaster 1000.
I bought this from a tackle shop in Jalan Ipoh more than 20 years ago. It's still in my keeps and nothing beats a reel that is made in Japan.
As far as terminal tackle is concerned, Shimano is one of the leading producers of fishing reels for salt and freshwater angling.

Symetre: love at first sight

Shimano's symetre spinning reel was re-designed for release in 2014.
When I first saw this at Tacklebox Adventures in SS15, Subang Jaya, I jumped into the opportunity to purchase the symetre 2500FL.
This reel has 4+1 ball-bearings for smooth retrieval of lure and line and certain aspects of its design were tweaked and what I like about this reel: is it's classic design and looks.
The dark-green body certainly gets my approval as it is not flashy.

"Made in Malaysia"

As a Malaysian, I am proud to own a Shimano reel that is manufactured in Johor.
On the line-up, the symetre is a mid-range reel. 
So, the asking price is between RM290 - RM350, which is not expensive compared to the higher-end spinning reels with the Shimano Stella leading the pack.
On the hierarchy, the symetre ranks at number 18 out of 23. But do not underestimate this reel in terms of performance.
There are five sizes: 500, 1000, 2500, 4000 and 5000. All of these can be found in Malaysia.

Samo's pick: symetre 1000FL

I am a big fan of ultralight tackle.
Doesn't matter if I lose the fish, bust a line or even break a rod.
What's in for me: is the thrill of the fight and landing a fish on a light line.
My choice reel is the symetre 1000FL. It's just the right size and I paired it with a Storm Discovery 6'2" - 2piece (2-6lb line weight) spinning rod.

For Asian market: the Storm Discovery rod
I spooled-in reel with a Maxima gray 4lb tournament line and my target specie is the Asian Grass Carp.

Straight out of the box, the symetre is an attractive spinning reel.
And when put to test, the ultralight rig was able to handle a 3kg grass carp.
The drag was really strong and smooth and reeling action on the symetre is as good as other higher-end reels of its class.
It's lightweight body made casting the line easy without much worry about fatigue.

This table-sized Asian Grass Carp was landed with the symetre 1000FL
For its compact size and lightweight body, this reel is perfect for cyclofishing. It's easy to stash in your pack or bike pannier. What you need, is a good four-piece pack rod (2-6lb, fast action) and you are in business!


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Leaders, posers and losers...

It was a normal day at the range till...

I made some arrangements to show Cikgu Lau, my ex-schoolmate and fellow archery buff the MSN archery range in the fringe of the KL city area.
We took nearly an hour to get to the place and found that it was nearly deserted. Or that's what I thought it was.
While making my way to the men's room, I heard my name being yelled out loud. It was an elder from an archery club who is one of the most helpful person I have ever met.
He was supervising two kids who were training at the backlot of the complex. 
I introduced him to Cikgu Lau who showed his Kassai Mongol Bow. From what I understood, traditional bow can be shot at the range. Well, that was what I was made to know from the club's senior archers.

A Mongol bow, similar to what my buddy owns..
We moved a target stand and a bud from the backlot to the field. The elder was so kind, he actually pinned down a target paper on the bud.
Cikgu Lau showed his bow to the elder who then made his way back to supervise the kids at the back.
My friend and I took turns to plink the 20-meter target bud with our bows.
I was using my Primal Gear Unlimited Folding Bow. 
We shot five ends and noticed that the crowd was slowly trickling in..

Enter Kolonel Sanders...

Lau took all his six shots while I was emptying my arrows on the bud.
I rested my bow and all of the sudden, an old guy yelled out: "Hello! This is the MSN, traditional bows are not allowed.."
I put my bow down while the Cikgu holstered his Mongol bow on his hip quiver.
The man then went on about the "rules". 
"Are you a member of a club?", he asked.
I told him that we were guests of a certain club which prompted an aggressive reaction from the guy.
I've seen the man a few times at the range. He usually arrives with a compound bow case in a camouflaged fabric wrap and a shitload of gear. He is chirpy at all times and had mostly likely recognised me because I have been to the range regularly.
"The said club is now defunct. You need to register with our club, which is the official one," he explained.

The new pariahs..

After throwing the book, he went on rambling about instinctive shooting and ran down traditional archers. 
"Here, only modern bows with sights are allowed.
"Archery is about aiming."
Intrigued, Lau asked for his contact. He introduced himself as a Kolonel. Retired serviceman perhaps. The man began his sarcastic rant about traditional archers shooting foam animals and their spiritual quests.
The conversation went from some loonies running around with a bow in the jungle to which is the best bow brand.
And he went on bragging about how good his PSE compound bow is and it being cheaper than dirt. 

And finally, the Kolonel pulls out a piece of day old fried chicken from his bucket..

Okay, the one part I didn't expect was this: after running down traditional archery, instinctive shooting and other brands of compound bows, the Kolonel said: "I tune compound bows, I make sure the cams are aligned or it's useless.."
Then he said this: "I offer six-hour coaching for compound bows. I make sure that my students are ready to compete at tournaments after they attend my coaching classes.."

So, after a nice lecture, the guy sold his services.
I read his body language and mannerism. Matters as such can be handled amicably. You can tell a person off about the rules of the house, and I don't think there is a need to talk down to a complete stranger about what you think is bad about traditional bows and archery and the people who engage in this form of archery.
That said and done, I don't think I will join his club. The guy is an asshole.
But don't get me wrong, I met some of the nicest people through archery. Today just wasn't our day. But we did get a few rounds off. Later, I conveyed this message to the elder who apologized profusely. I actually felt bad, but this story has to be told. And I leave it as it is.. 

Friday, March 20, 2015

"There can be only one..." : Tern Verge X-20 - First impressions..

Plastic piped dreams...

I caught wind of some bikes that are arriving on our shores from Johnny Ng, my friend and bike shop owner.
He said some high-end Tern folding bicycles are inbound in a matter of days.
I didn't hear this from the non-existent product guy from the distributor's office, nor the regular guys whom I constantly kept in touch with. Hahahah! Salesmen! Can't kill them all and can't get enough of them!
It's just funny that they don't shout about their products. Where's the "passion" and "believe"??? Hahahha!

A pre-ordered 2015 Tern Verge X-20
Pride of the stable..

Since it's introduction in 2011, the Tern Verge X-20 remained as a flagship product, boasting of an award-winning design and high-end components. Practically, the best parts your money can buy fitted onto a folding bike.
The first-generation X-20 has everything it takes to satisfy the demands of a seasoned rider looking for the best folding bike off the shelf.
It has a 20-speed drivetrain with SRAM Red components. When the Verge X-20 was sold in Malaysia, it has an asking price of RM11,800, putting it as one of the most expensive folding bikes in the market.
This year sees the entry of the second-generation Verge X-20 with a lower pricetag of RM9,800.
Despite the gloomy economy and prediction of doom, some brave people are setting aside their moolah to own a piece of the action; putting them in the category of: "The proud and the few".

Matt finish, you can't ask for more

The best money can buy from Tern Bicycles
What to expect? 

I have ridden the first-gen Verge X-20 and felt that it's a bike that demands a physically-fit cyclist to unleash it's raw power.
This new bike is no different.
Apparent, are the cheaper components in place of the SRAM Red.
But don't be fooled by appearances.
The parts that stands out on the new Verge X-10 are the Kinetix-X high-profile rims and hubs. 
Now, compared to the other bikes from Tern's X-series, the X-20 is the only bike equipped with the hubs.
A short-cage SRAM XO rear-derailleur replaces the Red. It's definitely cost-saving to keep prices competitive.
To stay in the game, Tern must find the sweet spot, and that is the price-point. At RM9,800 (pre-GST prices), it will appeal to those who know what they want.

How does it stack-up?

This bike looks plain. 
It has a minimalist approach and is designed to perform. It has the gear ratio to take off like a jet fighter and purr like a kitten when you are coasting.
But seeing as it is, I doubt it very much that I would be able to take this bike out for a short, medium and long-distance assessment as quantities are limited.
Would I buy it? No. I don't suffer from mid-life crisis. Hahahha!

Where to buy? 

My Bicycle Shop (016-632 2599) in BU4, Bandar Utama is one of the official dealers for Tern bikes, 
give Johnny Ng a call if you are interested..

Forever young: Tern Verge X18 - First impressions

A folding bike to ride away your sorrows...

Succeeding the Tern Verge X30h folding bike -- is the Verge X-18.
This bike is also a winner of the Taipei Cycle 2015 best Design and Innovation award at the recently-concluded Taipei Cycle Show.
The X-18 is a no-frills design with an 18-speed drivetrain.
It's sleek lines and colour scheme makes it a highly desirable bike -- especially for younger cyclists who wants a bike that can keep up with larger 700cc road bikes.

The Verge X-18 has a pre-GST RM7,800 pricetag
What to expect? 

While the X-18 lacked the high-performance components found on the Verge X-20, it's a formidable machine.
What is apparent, is the award-winning 20" kinetix-X high-profile rims which is a standard feature on Tern's hallmark 20" X-series bikes.
It's also colour-coordinated with the frame which is a metallic-blue and brushed metal finish.
The riding geometry of this mike is more for sports riding position so, better get your lycras rather than slapping on your baggies.
A set of Shimano Sora road bike shifters complements the X-18, giving it the finesse it needs on the road.

Sora shifters

C-brakes that are usually found on road bikes

Brushed-metal finish

This bike appeals to the young
What's cool? And what's not? 

I'd say that the overall pre-GST price package of RM7,800 is at par with the older Verge X-30h, which is not popular at all here in Malaysia.
Take out the dual-drive and slap a set of double chainring and cogwheels on the bike, you get a machine that is easy to maintain.
Colour-wise, it has an appeal for those who want something 'different' from what's available off the shelves.
This bike could rock even harder with better components.
I am not a fan of Shimano Sora and the only component that is befitting on a bike of such class would be the basic Shimano 105s. This is apparent on the Dahon Dash X-20 when it was first introduced in 2011. 
What kinda made my eye pop was the Shimano Capreo hub on the bike's rear wheel.
Seeing as it is, I bet it's hard to maintain a competitive price-point if a better hub is used in place of the Capreo.
But don't get me wrong, this component which is meant for small bikes is as fast as it sounds. The Dahon Curve SL (now discontinued) uses a Shimano Capreo groupset (shifter, cogwheels & hub).

Who should get the X-18?

On my Facebook page, I made fun of the bike as a break-up present. Yeah, it's beautiful and definitely something a guy with mid-life crisis would go for.
Way I see it, the X-18 is a perfect training bike. But, seriously, if you want something that you can transport anywhere without a roof rack, you should consider this bike. And last but not least, it doesn't fold as compact as other Tern bikes because of the VRO steering system and the drop-bar.

Where to get it? 

Head to My Bicycle Shop in BU4, Bandar Utama and call Johnny Ng 
016-632 2599 for an appointment to view the bike. (sorry, no test-rides!).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lata Lembik - Part 3

A place like no other.. 

After waiting for more than 90-minutes, the last of the cyclists had arrived at the entrance to Lata Lembik.
Little did we knew, there was a steep climb towards the campsite.
I cranked up my bike and overtook RJ and En Ghani who came down to push their bikes.
Their load was too heavy and became unbearable. They have a short distance to cover before reaching the reception counter where En Suzali had earlier booked a campsite near the Lata Lembik Park.
For visitors, there is a ticket collection booth at the entrance.

A view of the campsite

En Harun 
Carbo-load!

My stomach was rumbling as we rolled into mid-day. 
The breakfast that we had was burned out completely.
There was a makan stall outside the camping grounds, but it was closed.
Our only hope was a small canteen near Lata Lembik Park's administrative office.
We found a small convenient store that also offers food.
I asked what they serve and was told that there's fried rice and noodles.
So, I settled for the nasi goreng kampung and a piece of fried egg.
Harun and I were the lucky ones to have rice for lunch.
Over our meals, we had a conversation while the rest waited for their meals to be served.

Nasi goreng kampung for the soul..
During makan, I distributed my calling card to Suzali and company.
He said he was very interested to contribute to the Malaysian Foldie magazine.
"I want to write about my adventures in Malay," he said.
I told him that all forms of contribution is welcomed and it will be cool to have a bilingual edition that will benefit everybody.

Setting up camp..

After a good fill, the campers began to roll out to their campsite.

By this time of the day, the Lata Lembik Park was already packed with holiday makers.
Some came to take advantage of the school holidays.
Suzali and RJ had set up their tent and helped En Ghani to pitch his hiker's tent.
The other guys were hanging out at the makan place.
I wasted no time in getting some shots taken as part of my fact-finding mission.

Getting ready for the rest of the day.. 
Expedition leader: Suzali
Tranquil: a shot of the stream
Lata Lembik

An inhabitant of the river
Time is of essence...

After getting the information I needed, it was time to part ways with the campers.
I targeted a late arrival at Raub with an estimation of four hours or more on the road.
We have 45km to cover, making this a 90km round-trip.
There's the heat and plenty of hills to cover over that distance.
My goal is to reach Raub before 8pm.
I said goodbye to Suzali and gang and thanked them for hosting us as daytrippers.
Harun, Radzi and I began our ascend to the entrance of the park and rolled out towards Batu Malim.
Slowly, but steady

The slow ascend
Taking on the hills.. 
Tired with saddle sore!
Cycling through 22km of hills was a shock to the system.
From being dormant over the past few months, my body was subjected to stress. 
My legs felt like raw meat and with the 8% gradient during the last ascent, my thighs began to cease.
Fortunately, I brought along a can of Hisamitsu Cooling Spray.
This became a great help in preventing the muscles from being completely immobilized with cramps.
With the Raub - Kuala Lipis road in sight, it was a matter of mental endurance as the body began to slowly breakdown and succumb to lethargy.
Despite all that, we rode towards the Raub Golf Club which is about 10km away from town. We rode non-stop and passed Gesing junction and Cheroh, a small village.
I noticed that En Harun was slowly falling back and signaled to pull over at a shaded area.
As soon as he alighted from his bike, Harun's legs began to suffer cramps.
I took out the can of cooling spray from my Ortlieb trunk back and sprayed it on his legs.
This provided relief as he was able to continue with the last push.
We continued and got closer to our goal by reaching the outskirts of Raub town around 06:50pm.
By the time we entered the road leading towards the mosque where Harun had parked his vehicle, we progressed in a decent timing.
At the carpark, we wished each other well and began to part ways.
My next cause of action was to wash up at the Raub rest house and pack our bikes before we begin the drive back to KL.
With this, I bought an extra day to rest at home.
After an hour's drive, I dropped off Radzi at his house in Taman Ehsan and began my journey to Subang Jaya.
My dogs were waiting for their meals and I had the entire weekend ahead of me and it was just the perfect day off to recover from the long ride.
As for the trip, it was worth my time and informative.
I made new friends and have the option to join them in future adventures..

Lata Lembik - Part 2

Un morceau de la r├ęsistance...

To the uninitiated, the path leading in and out of Raub can be unforgiving.
There are lots and lots of slopes and rolling hills and if you are not used to maintaining a cadence on your bike, you most likely end up exhausted with muscle cramps.
Even on a 23-km ride from Raub to the Lata Lembik junction, the journey felt like its forever.
I observed as En Ghani struggled with his load.
He lashed a tent and some personal gear on a seatpost rack.
These are highly unsuitable for heavy loads as it would sway from left to right when you are cycling.
We made a couple of stops for Ghani to adjust his rack and proceeded along the Raub - Kuala Lipis road.
Heading towards Batu Malim
Lending a hand: Suzali (centre) and Harun (right) with Ghani (left)
Kinship and camaraderie..

Throughout the journey, Suzali was keeping an eye on first-timer Ghani as he struggles to maintain balance on his luggage rack.
The rest had progressed ahead of the pack.
On the average, I was doing around 9km/h with a constant gradient of 5%.
Our destination was Batu Malim, a small village along the Kuala Lipis road.
Radzi was ahead of the rest and as the day became hotter, progress was rather moderate..
Despite the shortcomings, Suzali had kept an eye on his childhood friend and his wife..

A friendly villager engaging in small talk with Suzali's wife RJ
Ghani, moving on his own pace
Radzi left us in a trail of dust.. 
RJ and Suzali on the move

Refreshment break at Batu Malim
And the real test of endurance begins..

Batu Malim is the last stop before we made a left-turn to Lata Lembik.
The guys gathered to rehydrate and filled their water bottles before the last push to the campsite.
The heat was already taking its toll and our entrance into Lata Lembik was greeted by a steep slope.
Crunching my low-gear, I slowly pedaled uphill as the others with heavier loads had gotten down from their bikes to push.

This slope can take you out if you are not prepared..
A nice view from the cockpit



Radzi had no problems reaching the last RV point
Made it! 
We rode into the trail head, some 23km away from the main road.
The stronger cyclists were way ahead as the bunch broke up. 
I was right in the middle and after riding past a technology park, I noticed that someone was riding behind me.
I said: "Okay?" and the respond was a grunt.
The guy was not from our group and as I peep onto my rear view mirror, I noticed that it was an orang asli on a single-speed bike.
He trailed me all the way to an orang asli settlement along the Sungai Lipis.
While riding, I engaged in a conversation with the man who was heading home after finishing some of his personal chores.

My orang asli companion..

After parting ways with the friendly aboriginal man, I slowly cruised towards Pos Buntu, an orang asli outpost at the outskirts of Lata Lembik.
Here, the scene was amazing.
Clear streams and blue skies literally dotted the view.
I rolled down a slope and saw some of the guys who were already hanging out at a shaded area.
As soon as I got off my bike, I began to take snapshots of the area. En Harun, who was ahead of the pack had entered Lata Lembik while we waited for Suzali, his wife RJ and En Ghani..