akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Sunday 13 June 2021

Super Randonneur 2020

With the road bike I’ve found something interesting and at the same time quite challenging: Audax rides. It is a self-support non-competitive endurance riding, over scneic routes (including hilly ones) throughout the country. Many of these rides are crossing multiple states along small towns, usually off the beaten path. In Malaysia the awesome folks of Audax Randonneurs Malaysia (ARM) are the authorised organisers of Brevet rides, sanctioned by Audax Club Parisien (ACP).

There are 200, 300, 400 and 600km rides organised throughout the Brevet calendar year. These are timed rides, meaning that there are cutoff time that the participants (Randonneurs) need to observe. The routes are predetermined with a few checkpoints scattered throughout, including perhaps a secret checkpoint just to make sure no one is skipping some part of the course*. The rides are roughly timed with an average pace of 15km/h. As an example, for a 200km Brevet the time limit is 200/15 = 13.33 hours, simplified to be 13.5 hours. 

With SR Adnan at Morib for our BRM600

For the brave and courageous souls who complete each of the distances of 200, 300, 400 and 600km in the Brevet calendar year, there is an accolade bestowed upon them - the coveted Super Randonneur Award. As I am writing this, those numbers appear not as unattainable as I would have thought a few years ago. I still remember how intimidating it was to ride a 200km Brevet. The rides are all by no means easy, even after having finished them multiple times now. What I’m saying is that they are now less terrifying as it used to be. Some experience and lots of preparation play big roles in that, I suppose.

Together with Adnan, a fellow Perpatih member, we did all 4 rides to earn the title for 2020 season. It was an awesome journey along the 1,500km that we rode. The roads were scattered with our stories full of drama, hardship, camaraderie as well as fun times amid the adversaries; with breathtaking sceneries and weather spells, both favourable and discouraging, as the backdrop. I’ll recollect and put in this blog later the stories for keepsake, insyaAllah.

The rides I completed for SR2020 award:

eventtime, hourscutoff time, hourscourse distance, kmroute
BRM400Nov 201927:0027:00408.7Muar - Tanjung Piai - Muar
BRM300Dec 201918:0520:00288.6Sitiawan - Taiping - Kuala Sepetang
BRM200Jan 202011:2013:30198.6Nilai - Morib - Nilai
BRM600Aug 202039:3040:00599.7Morib - Bahau - Segamat - Batu Pahat - Merlimau - Morib

*full rules of riding in here: https://audaxmalaysia.com/the-rules/

Images are owned by ARM

Monday 7 June 2021


I switched to road bike riding since January 2017. Not exclusively, but significantly more of riding on tarmac with a road bike and close to zero offroad riding. I do still have my Surly Troll for occasional offroad rides, but sold off my Trance X4 to my neighbour.

Since moving to Seremban, I’ve been riding with the awesome people of Perpatih Cycling Club. They ride both offroad and on road. And most of them own proper bikes for both types of riding. While riding on the road for night rides, they’d take out their road bikes and zip along the tarmac and LEKAS highway (while it was still okay) and I’m on a 26er with slicks. Sluggish due to the weight, and my fitness of course.

It took me quite some time to come to terms with an undeniable truth: the best experiences are with using proper tools. I have been subscribing to the notion of MTBs are do-it-all machines. Yes, they are. But do-it-alls are jack of all trades, master of none. Except for this case, they are excellent offroad machines. While they can be converted to a touring rig or for riding on tarmac, there are trade-offs. With trade-offs, the full capacity is not being realised to be enjoyed. And that’s what I think I’ve been missing out on. 

So with this, I decided to get myself a road bike. With a decent budget, I set out to get a full carbon fibre road bike. After visiting many shops, I stepped into Cyclomotion Wangsa Maju and asked for a CF road bike. They told me that they’ve sold out during their recent sale. One of the guys in the shop suggested another bike that they’re clearing out if I’m interested in. The other guy mentioned that that one is with a titanium frame, not CF as what I wanted. My eyebrows lifted up and my sloppy shoulders were upright and I asked for the bike details. Long story short, a few weeks later I got myself a Charge Skewer Ti bike with 11 speed Ultegra 6800 groupset from them. I’m not going to reveal the price I paid, but its retail was RM11.8k.
Charge Skewer Ti - with stock parts, Jan 2017

It has been more than 4 years now. At the time of writing, data from Strava shows that I’ve been clocking 17,880km on the road bike while the Troll has only seen 995km of riding. Granted, the Troll is an offroad rig, of course it wouldn’t go as far. Both are fun bikes, but I guess the Skewer makes cycling more accessible for me. Plus the fact that cycling on tarmac doesn’t require much time for post ride cleaning, even after riding in the rain.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take in one and ditch another. I do still enjoy offroad outings, but most of time (at least for now) I enjoy riding on road much more. Again, it is more accessible. I had once taken Troll riding up Bukit Putus just for the fun of it. It turns out that it is no fun at all. Its place is not on the tarmac, I learned. A mountain bike shines offroad covered in mud splatters and whatnots. Cycling on the road is best experienced on a road bike. It is that simple.

Of course, just like mountain bikes, there are different types of road bikes for different disciplines of cycling on the tarmac (touring, Audax/randonneuring, TT, racing, etc.). We’ll talk about that later if I’m up for it.
Jan 2021, with some upgrades

Ride on!