akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Thursday 28 August 2008

Pasir Gudang Nite Ride - the hiccup

Upon getting the call from Panjang last Friday, I was raring to go for the Nite Ride in Pasir Gudang on Wednesday night.

Just my luck, I have to attend a meeting in KL on Wednesday, the whole day. A PDMS Model Review for 3 FPSO topside modules (basically a design review with the help of 3D modelling) plus a Technical Bid Evaluation (TBE) Review for compressor. Scheduled to KL first flight (7.00am), and to board the last flight (9.05pm) the same day.
Okay, that is going to take the whole day. Looks like I have to forgo the ride, then.

Despair, despair… :(

Well, it was a mixed feeling - I could meet BC Kelolo and get me a set of night lights with infamous brackets (for future night rides) while in KL. At the same time, I felt quite frustrated - for not having the chance to ride along for the first mass night ride in Pasir Gudang. I don't know if there would be an offroad ride this Sunday - and that adds up to the frustration. What will be, will be. If Allah says I'm going to ride, then I would. I rest my feelings with that.

I woke up at 5.30am and went to Senai Airport after Fajr circa 6.00am. Traveling by air, rail and on foot, reached Menara Tan & Tan around 9.30am. The meeting had already started around 20 minutes before that. I couldn’t go out during lunch hour to meet BC – so, no night lights for me. The progress of the meeting was quite okay (for me) – the models were not quite up to the level we were looking for. Hence, upon reviewing the second model, we decided not to go further with the third. Yay!

From the outlook, there’s a glimmer of hope for joining the night ride – if I could catch the 7.20pm flight to Senai. However, I still have one more meeting to go – the TBE Review. It started at 4.55pm and ended at 5.15pm. I have to say that the meeting yesterday went very well (for me) indeed!

Off I went walking with a pace worthy for the Olympics, to Ampang Park LRT station. To my surprise, the queue line was not as long as the usual KL rush hour. I hopped on the train immediately upon reaching the platform. 6 stops later, I reached KL Sentral. Time check – 6.05pm. Good sign, so far.

Went off to ERL station (not forgetting to get some goodies for beloved wife, kids and mom-in-law), and embarked on the train. 30 minutes later, I was already at KLIA. I headed straight to the Standby counter, and hoping to get a seat on board the 7.20pm flight. I was in luck – immediately I was handed with a new boarding pass. Pasir Gudang seems nearer by then.

Not wasting any time, I dashed towards gate B5 and waited for the boarding call. Took a breather, and got myself up-to-date with the weather in PG – An SMS from Yad confirmed that the weather was favourable. Meanwhile, I ordered the night lights from BC through SMS. The flight was delayed for 10 minutes – I was not bothered with it. Pretty soon, I was in seat 14B (not a window seat – but it’s pretty darn good, anyway) of the Boeing 737-400 to Senai Airport. During the 45 minutes flight, it occurred to me that I haven’t had my dinner yet. Ah well, I settled for a pack of peanuts and a cup of orange juice courtesy of Malaysian Airlines – handed over by Ms. X the stewardess.

By 8.30pm I was already in the car heading back to Plentong. In my mind, I rehearsed the things to be done – in sequence – as soon I’m home. Also I made a call to Naza to acquire license for the night’s ride. She’s okay with it. I stopped at a Petronas station for solat jama’ & qasr. Hopped into the PLUS Highway at Kempas, and out at the Pasir Gudang/Kota Tinggi exit into Pasir Gudang Highway. It was max speed all the way from Senai to Plentong. Allowable speed, of course - 90 and 110 km/h. Traffic was quite smooth, although there were many cars. Time: 8.55pm. The night ride started to be a promising prospect for me. All the effort seemed to bear fruit.

After the Jalan Pandan intersection, my hope began to falter. Massive jam ahead. I saw Azizie’s pickup truck with 2 bikes inside, dashed in front of me. I know from Yad this morning that he managed to reach Pasir Gudang to join the ride. Me, I was stuck in the jam. Imagine the bottleneck, for nearly 3km. From 4 lanes to 2 lanes, then narrowed down to a single lane. Why? There was no police road block. There was no accident – be it on my lane or the other side of the highway.

Well, Bumi Masyhur Construction decided so to close one lane for roadbuilding/repair. I don’t know what it’s like during morning rush towards Pasir Gudang. That’s other people’s problem. For that moment, my problem was to get back home as soon as possible, pack my bike and things, then zoom off to Pasir Gudang. ASAP. And that plan gently blew away in the asap, as every minute passed away. It was a torture – being so near, yet so far.

I crawled in the jam for 30 minutes. Ironically, the jam ended right before the exit towards my house. At 9.30pm, Panjang gave me a call saying that he’s sorry with my situation and that he was entrusted with starting the ride right on time. Well, I felt sorry too, with the circumstances. Not for another 20 minutes, then only I reached home. What to do, what to do.

We can only plan. Allah’s plan is much greater than ours. I know that there is a silver lining for this. What’s that? Well, as I was about to close the front gate, I caught up with my neighbour. Busy with our lives, we haven’t really got the time to meet each other. We had a long chat – he told me about his adventure to Haadyai last week on a Gold Wing with his wife, and I told him about my mountain biking adventure. Right after that, I suddenly felt hungry. Haven’t eaten anything since the filet-o-fish during lunch break, and the pack of peanuts high up in the Malaysian sky.

This morning, Yad greeted me with two thumbs up – he gave a brief narration about the ride last night. It was awesome. Basically, a 28km ride with about 50 riders, around Pasir Gudang housing area, and it ended at 11.30pm.

One consolation for me, though. This Saturday is a working Saturday. I’ll ride to work insyaAllah.

Tuesday 26 August 2008

Lance Armstrong and Dave Wiens' 100-Mile Duel in Leadville

it shows that you can push further with the help of a strong contender.


Monday 25 August 2008

Pasir Gudang Night Ride

Friday, 22nd August.
As I was driving on my way to KL, Panjang gave me a call with an info that gave me something to smile about.
There'll be a night ride (on road) on Wednesday 27th.
9.30pm start to ride from Masjid Taman Cendana in Pasir Gudang.
He mentioned that it is pre-Ramadhan ride. Yeah, I reckon it'll be an all-out ride before a 2-month hiatus (Ramadhan & Syawal).
I'm not sure about riding during Ramadhan. It seems doable. You know, ride on Saturday night right before sahur, have sahur together with fellow riders, then back home by Fajr. Atuk mentioned that he did ride with Panjang last year every night during Ramadhan, around Pasir Gudang.
I did a few times last year, around KL. Being a 'bachelor' for 5 days in a week, it was doable. For this year, I think it's best to be at home with the family. Anyway, I have to look and see how things goes.
For now, I'm looking forward for this Wednesday.

Sunday 24 August 2008

GLC Nite Ride 4 - 15 May 2008

GLC stands for Gombak Lame Cyclists - although from time to time, some of them do leave the rest of the group behind for a crack of extra adrenaline rush along the streets of Kuala Lumpur.
Following an invitation from BC Kelolo, I jumped on the chance to join the infamous GLC Nite Ride in KL.
It started from a humble request to meet him and have a chat over teh tarik. I'm attending a 2-day meeting in KL on Thursday and Friday, with no plans for Thursday night. Through emails, SMSes and even the chatbox in BBS, I was invited - as a guest of honor (fuhh!) - to ride along for the 4th GLC Nite Ride. An offer I just couldn't resist. Not because as a guest of honor, rather because I feel honored being invited to join the ride. Doubly honored? You bet.
BC offered me his gears for riding that night - gloves, helmet, and a bicycle. Well, I'm comfortable with my MET Crackerjack and pair of Bell 'replica' gloves. So I took only the bike - GTS Alfa 2. Oh, and even the water bottle was made ready for me by Kak Chik (KC) - but I used my own, though. Really thoughtful, eh? They were indeed.
BC and KC fetched me from the hotel I'm staying complete with red carpet (the red carpet was already laid by the hotel). We went straight to his home in Taman Melewar. Okay, not that straight. We went through nooks and crannies - short cuts - Bandar Baru Sentul, Taman Datuk Senu, Surau Tinggi, Kg. Padang Balang. Those were places I used to cycle to during my early teens. Being dark at night, and new development around those areas, I can't really recall those places as I used to know, though.
As we arrived, we were greeted by his kids. They are very friendly, especially Fadhlan, the youngest. I headed for solat jamak & qasar. Soon after, we had a nice dinner with the family. Right after that, BC tinkered with new sets of LED lights to put on the bikes. After everything was ready, BC, KC and I went with our complete night riding gears - helmet, gloves, tail light and headlight - to the parking lot opposite CIMB Seri Gombak.
Other riders that night were already there for some time. Among them was another guest of honor - Robert Croese from Holland, complete with full regalia of riding paraphernalia - camera, GPS, whistle, reflector stripes. I also see a few familiar faces from my new year ride in FRIM - Shaque, Dino and Jazlan.
We started a bit late. Took a left towards Taman Seri Gombak.
Childhood memories crawled bit by bit as I pedaled through. The memories of after-school trips to my friend's houses in TSG intertwined with the sweat and energy poured out while climbing the hill. Soon after going down the hill, we stopped for breath (and one of us putting in air for his tire).
Pretty much of the route was very alien for me, but I know that we went to Selayang. The initial intention was to stop by the Selayang Hot Spring. For all my life, I've never known that there is one in Selayang. The famous one is the Setapak Hot Spring - and I've never been there, either. Few of the faster riders went ahead and have been quite far away from the spot, so we had to cancel the plan. No toe dipping in the hot spring for me this time.
It was my first night ride through unlit road. It dawned on me first hand that lighting gears are very, very important. Safety First. Jazlan's DIY headlight is the testimony of that. Twin barrel of spotlights sitting on his helmet, powered by rechargeable battery complete with on/off switches. Another is Shaque's (or was it Dino's?) green alienhead attached on his rear tire valve tube. It lights up whenever there's a movement - cool, and very much serves the purpose.
Another thing that struck me immediately was that riding at night is much more relaxed - the air is cool without the blistering sun. It was quite surprising when someone hinted that we had gone 15km at one point - and I didn't break much sweat, or getting thirsty.
After the stop, on the way uphill (I've no idea where), the chain on Alfa 2 broke. My first. And no one had a tool chain available. Another lesson learnt: bring your tool chain, with spare links - and know how to use it. Well, this was advised by KLMBH, but I didn't actually take heed upon it. Luckily, a snap-on chain connector was available, and I'm saved. For much of the way from then on, I was practically on singlespeed - not wanting to risk a second chain disaster. With that also, the ride for the night was cut short.
We went up to MRR2, and headed to Batu Caves. A stop at a mamak restaurant to get acquainted with riders of that night, and to quench our thirst. For some, it's supper time. It was nearly midnight by then.
Time to go, and we headed back to BC's home. After a long chat over coffee, he sent me back to the hotel circa 2.30am. I had to decline his offer to spend the night at his house. I thought it was best to go back to the hotel. And yes, the red carpet was still there.
I thank BC and his family, also to the riders that night. It was truly a great experience. I learned many things, and made new friends. I am still thrilled by it until now. I took the experience for the night ride to Danga Bay in July, and hopefully for many more in the future.

photos with narration - from BC Kelolo's album:
link put up with permission.

Wednesday 13 August 2008

Tuesday 12 August 2008

New Year Ride - FRIM Dream Trail

[ from left to right: jazlani, riyadh, shaque, dino, wafi, atuk, akmal, hairi, reza @ red ]
1st January 2008
With the tenure with Technip in KL ending soon, I had my T-Bolt ready to take on the long steep hill in FRIM.
Both Zulhisham and Shah couldn't make it with me that morning, so I went solo. Well, I wouldn't know if it would be the last, so I couldn't let the chance go by.
I went out quite late from Jalan Tun Razak - 8.30am. Reached FRIM and got ready around 9.15am. Hey, I've got plenty of time.
In the parking lot, there were a few more riders getting ready to start their day. I went to them and get acquainted, tell them my story - how this would be my last visit to FRIM before I'm going back to JB, got my new T-Bolt to take on the long steep hill, yada yada yada.
The folks are from Gombak, and they hang around JomKayuh online.
In the true spirit of Biking Brotherhood, they invited me to ride along with them - to the Dream Trail.
Wow! I've heard about how people rave about that trail in online forums and BBS chatbox. And I'm riding it with people I've met only for a couple of minutes. That, is an illustration of how friendly the biking community is - provided that you're friendly too, I guess.
Dream Trail is indeed - as Atuk puts it - like being in a state of dream. Before entering the trailhead, there's a tarmac uphill. The trailhead itself is an abrupt change in scenery. I awed and took a deep breath of fresh air. There are tall trees and fallen leaves - much like a welcoming gantry with red carpet inviting us in.
Simply breathtaking.
The trail starts with a climb, and soon after - the real deal. Singletrack with roots, rocks (big ones) and a few switchbacks.
I've read about singletracks and switchbacks, but never got the chance to ride on one. With Atuk's guidance, I tackled a couple of switchbacks. I have to say that after each successful attempt, my confidence grew.
We met with a fallen tree on the trail, and together we lifted it aside for the safety of other riders.
Soon after, we came to the trail end - a short technical downhill with big rocks, and a gap (a safety feature), before joining another wide trail.
Dream is quite technical, but a very good trail for a beginner. It offers a lot of challenge for you to test your riding skill. It has everything - uphill, downhill singletrack, switchbacks, roots, rocks, bridge. You name it. It spans only about 2.5km, but the adrenaline rush (and sweat) that you'll get is awesome.
We took a breather at the trailend, and exchanged stories. They went on towards Steroid Hill. Steroid? That was the moment when I eventually got the 'official' name of 'the long steep hill in FRIM'. I had to end my riding - enough adrenaline and sweat for the day, and I had the satisfaction, which I felt was much better than I would get from conquering Steroid.
To friends from JomKayuh, I thank you very much - for the friendship and fellowship in biking. Keep it up bros!
Visit BC Kelolo's site for more photos and excellent narration of FRIM Dream Trail:

Monday 11 August 2008

frame swap, bike spec, octalink special plug tool

I've decided to have the Schwinn Mesa for myself, and build a new hardtail for Naza.
I've got hold of a white (nice) 17" GT Avalanche frame. It is quite big for her. So I swapped that frame with an electric blue/black 15" Diamondback Apex SL from Angah. I had to top-up a bit more cash for that, but I think it's worth it. The DB frame is lighter and suits Naza.

Component-wise, I decided to have full LX for Apex SL, and SRAMs for Mesa and T-Bolt.
For Apex SL (mostly Shimano):
  • RST Omega fork
  • LX crankset
  • Deore shifters
  • LX FD
  • LX RD
  • Tektro IO disc brakes
  • Tektro Sensir brake levers
For Mesa (mostly SRAM):
  • Rock Shox Judy TT fork
  • Truvativ FiveD crankset
  • X.5 shifters
  • X.5 RD
  • Alivio FD
  • LX v-brakes
  • Commencal brake levers
For T-Bolt (mostly SRAM):
  • Rock Shox Revelation 409 fork
  • Fox Float R rear shock
  • Truvativ Stylo crankset
  • X.9 shifters
  • X.9 RD
  • LX FD (e-type) - can't be helped, T-Bolt's frame limitation.
  • Avid BB7 brakes
  • XT brake levers (can't get Avid levers for now)
  • X.9 cassette
  • XT chain
All three are having WTB saddles: PureV for T-Bolt and RocketV (with reflector fabric) for Mesa and Apex SL.
First snag: I can't get the LX crankset out of T-Bolt. It's an octalink FC-M570 crankset. Need a special tool to get the crankset out of the BB.
From Shimano's site, it is listed as:
Special Plug Tool TL-FC15
for FC-5502/FC-5505/FC-M572
Code No. Y-130 09180
Okay, that's a lot of numbers and alphabets.
A quick call to Panjang, he directed me to Atuk. He's the only one who has the special tool in the whole Pasir Gudang. Turns out that Atuk machined the tool himself - custom made. Nice.
Yesterday Atuk lent me the tool, and at this point of time I've yet have the time to try it out.
Will do it soon, insyaAllah, and report about the adventure here.

Saturday 9 August 2008

it's a working saturday - so i ride

Today's a working Saturday.
So I rode to the office from Pasir Gudang to Plentong.
This is the second time so far, and this morning I took 10 minutes longer - mostly because of the traffic light.
And Google shares my passion today too.
I don't really know why it's a ram, though.

Friday 8 August 2008

bukit cermin DH challenge

Many months ago after finishing Dream trail in FRIM, Zulhisham and I went on to tackle Steroid hill.
At the base, there were bro Yazid and the gang from Putra Heights.
Bro Yazid was the one assembling my t-bolt few months earlier than that encounter. I was quite happy to see him again that day in FRIM, of course.
Looking at Zul and I with our blue t-bolts, he quickly said that someday he could organize a DH challenge, for t-bolts - in Bukit Cermin.
While that may be only an afterthought, I can understand his quip.
He's quite keen with t-bolt. And this is something, coming from a guy who owns a Santa Cruz DH rig.
Then, this poster came up as a link in BBS.
Instantly I know, when there's Bukit Cermin, and Proton T-Bolt category, there would be bro Yazid's name somewhere as well.
Indeed it has.
I don't know (and have no plans whatsoever for now) if I would make it to the challenge.
One thing for sure, I won't be taking part. But it sure will be a nice sight - gathering of T-Bolts amid other DH rigs.
To be there as a spectator would be awesome, I know.
For the organizers, I bid you good luck. And have fun.
You're doing the mtb community in Malaysia a big favour.
I'd like to buy a t-shirt if you sell one.

Tuesday 5 August 2008

GT Avalanche 3.0 17" Hardtail

Not yet completed, but I'm posting it anyhow for I'm sooooo happy with the outcome.
Haven't bought the FD yet (thinking of LX or Deore).
So until then, the chain is not fixed yet.
I like the colour scheme: white - black - grey - and a hint of gold.
Original plan was to have this hardtail for myself (thus the 17" frame).
I decided to build this bike for Naza, and I'll have the Schwinn Mesa instead.

Naza's Schwinn Mesa

Only this morning i managed to snap photos of Naza's Schwinn Mesa.
Currently I'm building another hardtail. When it's finished, I'll swap that with her Mesa.
Oh, and that's Johnny the cat. He accompanied me while I was busy over the nights building this bike.