akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Wednesday 31 December 2008

RTW 31.12.2008

By Allah's grace, yesterday's RTW was not the last for this year.
Today I did it again. hehe...

Well, I used to be anxious and prepared heavily for RTW on Sats. Now it could be second nature, but still with adequate preparation, and alertness on riding safety (always, top priority).

Stats today (to):
  • Riding to work, distance covered 12.81 km.
  • Average speed is at 20.6 km/h (improvement of 0.5 km/h over yesterday's)
  • Max speed 37.3 km/h
  • Travel time 37 min 15 sec (improvement of 1 minute and 15 seconds. Wuiyooo...)
This morning I inflated the tires to 40 psi. I guess that helped. The next, perhaps I'll change to faster rolling tires - Maxxis Larsen TT's that I have at home doing nothing.

Number of vehicles encountered: 61 (only the ones going past me, as a measure of how safe the route is). Hence, average of 5 vehicles per km rode.
Number of good doggies: 8


riders abundant

You can really run a conversation on mtb - with anyone, everywhere.
Riders are everywhere - of course you'll easily kill/fill a few hours by chatting with them on all sorts of topics related to mtb.
Or, anyone would know someone who rides mtb. You can chat with them also around the topic of your bike and your riding experiences. Perhaps, they'll be lured to join the mass too!

In my case, the washing machine repairman is a rider as well. Three days ago I called Mr. Choh to repair my washing machine. The last time he came was two years ago.
He took an hour at my house the other day when he came for the repair work. 20 minutes for the job, and the rest chatting with me about mtb.
:D

So Dino, you can add 'washing machine repair man' too.

Also, there are a few riders in my new neighbourhood too. Hairul and Amir are two of them. We went offroad together during x'mas day.


Tuesday 30 December 2008

RTW 30.12.2008

Perhaps the last RTW this year. And many more kilometers for next year!
InsyaAllah.

Stats today (to):
  • Riding to work, distance covered 12.9 km.
  • Average speed is at 20.1 km/h (improvement of 0.1 km/h)
  • Max speed 38.3 km/h
  • Travel time 38 min 23 sec (improvement of 8 seconds)
Overall the ride this morning is about the same as last Tuesday.

Also, I went out quite early this morning - 0648 hours.
I like the fact that I'm able to enjoy the scenic view of the cloud when dawn breaks, with the red/orange streaks along the horizon.

InsyaAllah, for the next RTW I'll try to count the number of cars/vehicles that I met along the journey - as a measure of how safe the route is. And the number of dogs as well. Sheeshh...

Ahh, yes... measured the highway part that I used - as reported last week, it is about 20 meters (hey, my distance estimation is quite good, eh).


Friday 26 December 2008

santai klos ride

25.12.2008 Thursday

Panjang organised a ride on christmas day.

Again, I pedaled to Café Ruza - very early in the morning. Started from Seri Alam at 7.05 am and rode 9.5 km to Taman Scientex in Pasir Gudang. Took me only 25 minutes to get there. I guess the forced uphill sprint before Taman Cendana traffic light helped with the time taken - chased by two dogs. Turned out that I was the only person there at 7.30 am (the rv time). Something that we riders need to improve on. Anyway, the thing with pedaling to a meeting point or to work is that I have to be more disciplined, time-wise. I guess if I were to get there by car, the story is all the same - lateness.


custom made stainless steel rear carrier. contact 661. eh, no... contact Ipin.


my Bianchi, pictured with Jai and his KHS XC604 beskal with saksoba.

There were 13 riders altogether gathered at CR. 12 who actually joined the ride and the other one is Jo who came by to get his b'fast before going to work. Ipin mentioned that there are two more riders waiting at Seri Alam. Turns out that they are from my housing area. Whaddaya know. You can find mountain bikers everywhere. That's a good sign.

9.15 am and we started rolling. Out towards Nusa Damai and through a palm oil plantation to get to Seri Alam. My neighbours Hairul and Amir have been waiting for quite some time. After a brief introduction, we went offroad.


start rolling 0915 hrs


cut through towards Seri Alam, and greeted by an uphill


Seri Alam. Hairul and Amir (sponsored by Celcom) joined the group.


the downhill reward after the Bukit Anjing uphill


one for the album. neighbours in the woods - Akmal, Amir, Hairul.


at a crossroad - go up and enjoy the downhill, or just go down halfway instead?


downhill at the crossroad


mountain biking is healthy. we ride, socialize, enjoy fresh air of nature and...


...we play badminton too!


Mashi Maro stop


yard well kept, neat and tidy




clearing




Jai's big fat muddy tires - 3.3 front, 2.7 rear


Atuk and his Kona Coilair with Fox Float R saksoba.
EG in eksen.



wonder what they are doing...




Some of the places we went through:
Seri Alam
Bukit Anjing
Rock Garden
Indon hut with badminton court
Mashi Maro - my favourite place for its neatness. Jai's favourite place for a completely different reason.
Flora Heights - exit, and on road back home to Seri Alam.

The weather was nice, overcast all throughout the ride. Not that tiring, and very enjoyable for me.

Distance: 20 km (another 15.5 km on road total for me)


Tuesday 23 December 2008

RTW 23.12.2008

There are a few differences for today's Ride To Work, compared to my previous ones:
  1. Route is from Seri Alam to MMHE.
  2. Not using the Pasir Gudang Highway (except for technically 20 meters or so).
  3. Explored new route, thus no. 2 above.
  4. On a Tuesday morning.
This time, I went along a much safer route, whereby not riding along many vehicles except for a few places (short distances only, even so).
  • Riding to work, distance covered 12.9 km.
  • Average speed is at 20 km/h
  • Max speed 36.4 km/h
  • Travel time 38 min 31 sec
I'm quite happy with this morning's ride. Particularly because I managed to explore a safe route. Another plus is that it has been some time since I did my last RTW. I needed the adrenaline, endorphin and sweat that goes along with it, especially during this week - to ease of the stress (I think I'm suffering a bit of it).

While riding, I thought to myself,
"This is good. People may jog a few km a day before or after going to work. RTW is different - I'm sweating out while getting to the workplace, and enjoying the evening ride going back home".
I'm planning to do it at least once in a week. Twice if it's a working Saturday week. Soon my odometer would hit a millennium, insyaAllah. And, if I couple it with proper healthy food, I'll get my sixpack in a few months.

How about you? Ride with me?


Monday 15 December 2008

14.12.2008 wet offroad

The initial plan of riding up Gunung Pulai with Panjang and his brothers Salleh (from Perlis) and Putut on Sunday was scrapped (much to my delight). Instead, we went into Seri Alam/Plentong, to track the hash trail.

Early Sunday morning as I was getting ready, it drizzled. Texts exchanged with Panjang, and we agreed to ride on. I decided not to use a car to get to the meeting point at Ruza Café. So 0715 hrs after practically gulping down 2 half boiled eggs with sweet soy sauce I pedaled out towards Taman Scientex. It took me 37 minutes to get there, some 13.5 kilometers away - in the drizzle. Quite fast for my standard. I'm not sure whether it's the rain, the eggs or plainly the need to be at the rendezvous place before 0800 hrs (we agreed to be punctual and roll out at 0800 sharp).

I reached Ruza at 0750 (whew!). The café was closed, and I saw only Amat with his bike perched atop his Matrix roof. I checked my phone and there's a message from Panjang informing to meet at Ruza Restaurant. Another message from Yad enquiring whether we are going to ride, considering the wet weather. When I reached the new meeting point, Panjang and his brothers were there, with Mulyano. I gave a call to Yad and eased his anxiousness - already 6 riders in Ruza, so there’ll be a ride definitely despite the foreseeable wet condition throughout.

The planned route for the ride is simple: to track the Plentong hash trail. I just love the initial climb and the payback long rodeo downhill right after. Another thing is riding offroad in the rain. I’ve never experienced it so far. As I experienced during night rides, pedalling without the sun in sight is always a plus – less dehydration, less taxing, and much more fun. I could go more kilometres with lesser feeling of exhaustion. However, I constantly sipped 100 Plus for replenishing fluid and mineral loss.

Riding in wet has its toll, though. Hunger struck quite early (too bad I didn’t pack a 50 sen bun in my pack). Safety also is a concern, particularly regarding your brake pads. When we made a stop at Plentong, I saw blackish deposits on the surface of my rotors. Panjang hinted me with this: “kau pernah asah pisau pakai batu asah tak?”. Aahhh… I get it. Added with water, my brake pads would be diminishing very fast. In the second half of the trail, I really felt the effect to my brakes – very loose, and the levers reach very close to my handlebar grips. During that time, I was very concerned about safety riding the bike especially on steep slopes. And now, after the ride, I’m concerned about the $ I’m going have to burn for a fresh sets of pads – front and rear.

Panjang and Salleh also suffered the same fatality with their brakes. Because of that, and as a few of us cannot tahan anymore stamina-wise, we decided to exit the trail at Seri Alam. While Panjang was assisting Salleh on the brakes, Putut pointed out that he has a pair of spare pads in his bag. Much, much later than they were really needed. Haha… I left them with that and parted with the pack – on road towards Plentong.

Much early, actually I had the option of going back home when we reached Plentong, but we were only halfway through and it was 11ish. So I decided to move on and only split when we get out at Seri Alam. Probably due to the coldness, I felt the onset of a cramp a few times during the ride to Seri Alam and once on road going back. Alhamdulillah, nothing happened.

The ride was enjoyable, with 8 riders of about average stamina and skills. For the sake of having it, I’ll pack something to eat in my bag next time. Thanks Panjang for a bite of your yogurt bar. It was the most delicious thing I ate yesterday afternoon (my lunch was at 3pm).

Fully soaking wet, I sprayed clean my bike as soon as I entered the house gate. The shortest period of my bike being in a dirty condition after an offroad ride so far. A good thing, with the expense of brake pads! Well, I went further with cleaning the rest of the gears as well – shoes, shirt, shorts, socks, and the hydration bag too!

My ride yesterday:
13.5 km on road towards Ruza
29 km offroad
8 km on road going back to Plentong.
Total 50.5 km combined.

No wonder I was a bit tired than usual yesterday when I got back home…


Friday 5 December 2008

night ride Wednesday 3.12.2008

The weather was very nice that night.
I texted potential riders, only Panjang and Dafi replied positively.
The rest were busy with international work affairs - dinner with Japanese boss, overseas exhibition (albeit in Singapore), standby for a ship to call-a-port (is that the right term?).
Alright then, three riders would suffice.

8:35 pm and I saw Dafi's car outside the gate with him sorting his bike out. Time for me to get ready, after done with Isya'. Earlier on I have got the riding accessories ready, and only need to lube the bike's chain (never mind about riding a clean bike).

As I opened the gate for Dafi, Mizi greeted me. What a surprise. Four riders would be good. He's been pedaling quite frequently recently. Wouldn't want to miss any ride, I guess. Soon afterwards, Panjang came - with two more riders: Atuk and Putut. Least expected, but I'm glad they came along. Atuk has a new frame! Kona Coilair Deluxe. Must be a thrill for him to ride it long distance first time,

Everyone got their gears ready, and we started rolling at 5 past 9.

We pedaled practically non-stop until we reached Jalan Selat Tebrau. Of course, we obeyed the red lights along the way. Took a breather while enjoying the view of lights glimmering from Woodlands across the Straits of Johor. Hmm.. perhaps one day we could cycle to Woodlands and back some day, just for the fun of it. It is doable. Why not? It'll be our first 'Cross Country Night Ride'.

Headed on to Danga Bay and we stood amazed with one of the fun rides - the one with a big ring and you have to pedal (that's why the amazement) to move along the elevated track. Panjang was also busy looking for tandem bikes for hire. At one point, we were even contemplating on renting those tandems just for the fun of it.

Only a brief stop, then moved on towards Jalan Tampoi beside Angsana. Panjang suddenly stopped and backtracked nearby a car dealership. Whoa! A Hummer H3. And a Porsche Cayenne S. Suddenly BMW X5, Harrier, Wish and other cars on display looked ordinary. We drooled for a while over there and continued on.

While going back, most of us were famished and were looking for a proper stop to get a bite. The initial plan was to go to 24 hour McD outlet beside Carrefour. Plan had to be scrapped for when we reached the place, the outdoor seatings were full to the brim. To Johor Jaya mamak joint we headed instead.

Tummies full, we continued the journey back to Plentong. Reached the starting/finish point at about 1:00 am, after 47 kilometers of night riding. I guess the longest distance so far the most of us had ever done.

Route (to):
Jalan Bunga Seroja (Plentong) - Permas Jaya - Pasir Pelangi - Stulang Laut - Jalan Storey - Jalan Tun Abdul Razak - Jalan Stesen - Jalan Wong Ah Fook - Jalan Trus (no belok-belok) - Jalan Duke - Jalan Sultan Ibrahim - Jalan Selat Tebrau - Jalan Abu Bakar - Jalan Skudai - Danga Bay.

going back:
Jalan Skudai - Jalan Tampoi - Taman Sri Bahagia - Jalan Kempas - Pasir Gudang Highway - Jalan Firma - Jalan Firma 2 - Jalan Kangkar Tebrau - Jalan Pandan - Jalan Masai Baru - Johor Jaya (Rosmerah) - Jalan Rosmerah Besar - Jalan Rosmerah 4 - Jalan Masai Baru - Jalan Masai Lama - Jalan Bunga Matahari - Jalan Bunga Seroja.

Stats:
Riders: 6
Distance: 47 km
Riding time: 2h 45m


Monday 1 December 2008

akmal's biking - his story and history

After your first day of cycling, one dream is inevitable. A memory of motion lingers in the muscles of your legs, and round and round they seem to go. You ride through Dreamland on wonderful dream bicycles that change and grow.
H.G. Wells, The Wheels of Chance

This is a narrative that spans a period of more than 20 years and more than five bikes (with a lot of people named - try to find yours). If you do get bored after the third paragraph, you may resort to something else much more active (like chess, for instance) and resume reading afterwards.

I started learning how to ride a bicycle quite late – when I was 9 years old - without training wheels, and without my own bicycle. Jamsari my neighbour at Jalan Strachan lent me his blue Chopper bike, and taught me the art of balancing on two spinning wheels. It's quite amazing, how with a pair of wheels you could go far, and fast. Ayah had a Chopper too, in red. That, I used with my elder brother Amri. Pretty soon Ayah bought a bike for Ibu for her to use commuting to Tabika Kemas. We used it too, for riding in the evening among our friends.

The rage back then was BMX. I frequently borrowed my friend's Skyway and Kuwahara while learning how to do the wheelie (which, until now, I still don't manage to execute). Every year on February 1st DBKL would hold a carnival at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa during Hari Wilayah. BMX races held on a purpose-built BMX race track.

During those years, I didn't have the luxury of owning a BMX. I remember my classmates and I drooling on the Katora (Ninja/Shogun/Samurai) BMX series advertisement laid on the back page of Kuntum, each time we receive it in our class. Ayah promised me a gift of $100 if I could get 5As in my Penilaian Darjah Lima exam. I was short of one, getting a B instead. So, knowing my maths well (particularly on the chapter of ratio), I figured I could get $80 and save some more to get my dream BMX. Apparently that's not the deal. It was all or nothing - and I got nothing. So I continued borrowing my friends' bikes as and when the opportunity arose.

(feel like playing chess now?)

My parents released me to the 'wilderness' quite early. Form 1, I was allowed to join the Rukun Tetangga camp held in Taman Rimba Kanching (minimum age was 15, but they made an exception). After that, my friends and I were introduced to various outdoor activities organized by Jabatan Belia dan Sukan Wilayah Persekutuan - including bicycle expeditions.

It was my high time. I joined several cycling expeditions - mostly to Sungai Bil and Peretak in Kuala Kubu Bharu. The farthest I went was to Pulau Pangkor. On an expedition to Pulau Lumut (in Klang), I was unofficially the youngest rider in the pack. Those were during my early teens - 13 to 15 years of age. I used my cousin Azizi's Raleigh 18 speed metallic red steel road bike on all expeditions. I lose weight quite dramatically, many of my friends couldn't recognise me. I got darker from the sunburn. Only then I know that they used to think that I was a chubby boy, when they said "you look thinner now, not a fatty anymore". Duhh...

Part of my motivation for my SRP exams (apart of getting out of the school) was a gleaming pearl white Raleigh 'Rapide' 21 speed road bike displayed in the Singer showroom. It's located at the cross junction of Jalan Sentul and Jalan Kovil Hilir - just opposite my school. I would take a look at it every time walking back home. I made Ayah to promise me that bike as a gift if I get good results for my exams. He agreed, and long story short - my brother and I went to Singer a week after the results were out. Thank you, Ayah.

No more walking to school for the whole of my form 4. Every day with my bike, and I even frequented my cousin's house in Kampung Pandan to learn playing the guitar (and about DOS on his PC). I didn't have the chance for an expedition with JBSWP with the bike, though.

Then there was the turning point. I went to Jasin to continue my studies (and out of Sentul). I had to leave my bike. Knowing how I love to ride, my cousin Liza asked me "are you going to bring your bike along?”. I said I have to see how things go first. Back home something happened, and I knew about it only when I reached home for my first boarding school balik kampung outing ever. Ayah broke the news to me: "Your bike is gone". Indeed, a very memorable balik kampung outing ever. I spent most days sulking.

Apparently, it was an on-off affair with cycling. I didn’t join the cycling club while I was in Jasin. The same thing also when I was in Shah Alam during my A-Levels and NCUK – although I did borrow Hairul and Tuan Yusoff’s road bikes a couple of times. I guess I put cycling on the backbench during those years, giving way for other priorities. I was a bit envy, though, when Faizi & co went for cycling expedition - Peninsular Malaysia, including Borneo I think.

While in Manchester, my housemate Zulhilmi bought himself an orange (in colour) bike, and he rode to UMIST attending lectures. The same with Azizul. Trying to rekindle the dying flame of biking, I bought one steel road bike (K-Factor branded) for 20 pounds at a car boot sale. I went there by bus, and cycled back home. The next morning I found out that the rear tire punctured – and never attempted to repair it anyway. It still puzzled me why. I guess I was too lazy to maintain a bike and also do not have the funds for it. It is generally much cheaper to DIY than to send it out to the shop for service. But then again, I don’t have proper tools. Basically I just didn’t care much, really.

Anyway, I did bring the bike home with me. It was in August 1998. Again neglected, it was left hanging outside not being attended at all. I guess there wasn’t much left of my biking spirit during that time.

October 1998 I moved to Pasir Gudang and started working. It didn’t take long before love at first sight hit me. I was wandering in Masai and casually went into a bike shop. Took a look at a LeRun, and loved it. Exchanged a few hundred cash with the shop owner and he drove me and the purple 21 speed Grip Shift LeRun Krakaton hardtail home. I rode to the office a few times on Saturdays, and once impressed Naza by pedaling from Kota Masai to Plentong (although later on she drove me back to KM with the bike in the bonnet). I owned the bike for a few years, but done no serious riding on or off road. Rather casual rides around the house (and chased by dogs). The bike was more of being neglected. Perhaps because of that, I found out one morning the bike was gone – probably stolen.

August 2007, while working in KL, my colleague Zulhisham told me about the T-Bolt that he bought through Bicycle Buy & Sell. I was only partly interested, but visited the site quite often. I guess cycling has always been in my blood. Pretty much internalized. An offer came from Zul’s friend Shah. He bought a new bike for a few thousand Ringgit, and letting go his Polygon Xtrada – for an attractive price. I grabbed his offer without much thinking, for I know that a second hand bike priced way much cheaper than its market price (and a bit cheaper than the Krakaton that I used to own) is an offer a newbie couldn’t refuse. And so, my real mountain biking obsession began… although quite a slow start during the initial period.

(hey, you’re still reading this monologue. Found your name in here yet?)

I bought the necessary accessories, and with the big help of internet (Kevin Han’s BBS site in particular) I learned a lot about mountain biking. Albeit, my rides were on tarmac around KL, after 10pm during weekdays. Being a weekend hubby/daddy, weekends were reserved for family in JB. I did an offroad ride in FRIM with Zul and Shah – my first. Later I had another opportunity to return to FRIM and tackle Steroid – alone. Then it was time when my tenure in KL was about to end. Thinking that it would be a hassle to bring back the bike along with a truckload of my personal effects by car, I sold the bike off in November 2007 – through BBS, of course.

A few weeks later Zul and I found out that there are mtb enthusiasts in the same office building as ours. I guess the excitement drew me to a hunt of a new bike, while at the same I didn’t feel so bad about the one that I’ve sold. The hunt led me to a used 18” Proton T-Bolt, offered with Fox Float R rear shock at a very attractive price. I went back and forth to Putra Heights in the process of building the bike with the help of Hood and Bro Yazid. The T-Bolt was finally ready in December, and I rode it first time off road in FRIM. New bike, new year, new friends, and a new trail – Dream in FRIM. It was not solely about the bike. It’s the whole experience and the people that I get acquainted with while building it. That’s why I have quite a sentimental attachment with the T-Bolt.

Shortly before going back working in Pasir Gudang for good, I enquired in BBS if there are mtb riders in Pasir Gudang – Panjang and Melaka shouted back, welcoming me to their trails. In PG, I was welcomed right from the first time at Restoran Ruza in Nusa Damai – by the local riders, and also a cramp nearing the end of the ride.

Now it has been close to a year since then. Pretty much obsessed with mtb, I have learnt quite a lot (from a lot of new friends), met many fellow cyclists and made more friends (virtually and in-person), build (and dismantled) a few bikes, countless offroad riding (although my odometer shows only a bit more than 500km), lost a few kilograms, and a few thousand ringgit – all on mountain bikes.

I also learnt an important thing about my wife – she loves me dearly. Once I fell off the bike downhill and onto a rubber tree (felt not so rubbery!). Hospitalised and underwent a tracheotomy. She took care of me, and during that time I know how deep her love is. That was also the time when I learnt about the spirit of brotherhood among fellow bikers. Jamaluddin took care of me from that rubber tree back to my car in Nusa Damai, slowly riding beside me and assisted with whatever he could – and that was during the first time ever we rode together.

(if you copy this entire entry up until this point, it would make a 4 page Word document easily)

I am still making more friends in the mountain biking circle. It surprised me how effortless it was to have a friend anywhere as long as you’re a mountain biker. It’s much like an affiliated program. Show up with a mountain bike, and you’re accepted in the club. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. A good friend BC Kelolo once offered me to ride with him and GLC when I asked for a casual teh tarik session on a Thursday (GLC were riding on Thursday nights back then). Not just that, he even offered me his bike complete with helmet and gloves. How can I ever pass such opportunity? And so I made friends and get re-acquainted with a few that I met at FRIM on New Year.

From that single night ride, I learnt and experienced a lot. One: It’s a small world, particularly if you’re on a mountain bike. Two: Night riding requires extra safety precautions. Three: Night riding is more relaxing and doesn’t tax your energy as much as during the day. Four: Friends are abundant, and friendship transgresses boundaries. Five: You better bring along a chain tool, and know how to use it.

From this point on, my mountain biking story continues in the bits and pieces of this blog. On and off the road, on and off the saddle.

Thanks for reading, dear friends.

Just curious:
Did you print this out and read it during your leisure time – in the toilet, while in the train, etc.?
Did you bookmark this blog entry and re-visit in between chess games?
Did you spend your lunch hour over a few days reading this entry? How many days?


Saturday stats

29.11.2008 | Saturday

Cycled to work.
This time I went out very early - 6:30 am.
The road was not busy - partly because it is early in the morning, partly because it's a Saturday, but more so because it's school holiday.
A lovely morning, less cars, less fume, and I love seeing the yellow streaks on the sky.

Stats from my Velo8 (to):
Time: 00:40:37
Dist: 14.52 km
Avg : 21.40 km/h
Max : 38.50 km/h

Stats for going back home unavailable (deleted).
But I can say this: exhausting. Mostly uphill and pedaled under scorching sun.
Whew!