Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yielding On A Single Track, Who Gets Priority?

Last month on 10th November 2012, Tay KC and me together with our families attended KLMBH annual dinner. It was a fun event as it was held at a venue with a pool and what do you expect when you get a bunch of mountain bikers who has good sense of humour and camaraderie? Wet! Well, at least the outgoing and incoming committee members, some guests and winners of the lucky draw including Tay KC who won a free bicycle.

The following day was more interesting as we got to cycle Kota Damansara community forest reserve led by Winston and some friends from KLMBH. 
After we finished cycling and chatting while waiting for the rest to come out, an individual rider came up to us and blew his top that he almost crashed into another cyclist coming from the opposite side. The trail in Kota Damansara are all single tracks (sweet) and this rider was going on a downhill gradient when he crossed path with another rider cycling uphill. He claims that as a rider going down in faster speed, the other rider should yield and give way.

I believe many of you including me have never crossed our minds on this subject as who is to give way on this matter. Winston shared with the rider what is the universal understanding practised in US. I looked up Google "yielding on a single track" and got the same answer as what Winston told this rider.

The rider cycling down yields. Why? It sounds dangerous right? Well, the reasoning behind this is that it is harder to get going again on a climb than on a downhill.

So, there you have it. No more quarreling over who gets the right of way. If you are in a cycling group or club, please share this news to everyone.

Since we are on this subject of Trail Etiquette, I might as well add that as a cyclist, it is our duty to yield to hikers, people walking on the trail and animals such as horses, cows, etc.

Last photo is a note to myself. Never inspect one's fork on while moving on a tarmac road going downwards. Makes one look stupid doing the front endo before hitting the off road trail.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kayuh Lasak 2012

By now those of you who went for Kayuh Lasak last Sunday are probably licking your wounds or massaging the over strained leg and other muscles/areas that you'll never think that will get cramps :). (ask Ah Sin)

This year's Kayuh Lasak is one of the best in terms of distance and difficulty. I am disappointed for not being able to get all 10 CP stickers - The only Kayuh Lasak without complete stickers (except for 2003 which is a long story). Missed out CP8 NOT because not fit but rather didn't reach the cut off time in time due to the spirit of brotherhood and keeping company to our friends who were experiencing cramps. I feel it is worth giving up the trophy of feel good over friendship. That inspires me to want to try to complete the whole trail of KL12 one day as I heard the trail from CP8 to CP9 is fantastic.

Thanks to my fellow members who went as your friendship counts a lot and the memories will last a lifetime.

To KOTRTies, it's been great knowing you guys since the very first, The 1 Hill Ride and going every year since then. I think it was a good move to have the last 2 previous rides start at Balik Pulau and the finale (hopefully not) back to where it started, Youth Park.
Thank you for: initiating the idea of a properly organised mtb jamboree in 2002 when one would think it's crazy to drive all the way to Penang just to cycle, the meaning of hardship of pushing up and going over obstacles, to learn what is fear when the moment comes, the indescribable exhilarating thrill when bombing down what is seemingly endless single track downhill, etc and the most important, the opportunity to get to know all of you. Thank you!

Some photos of yesteryears to share with everyone.

When it all started, year 2002. Didn't even have a proper jersey, used something of t shirt material that looked like one. Now the cupboard is full of jerseys! Notice the smaller group of riders which made cycling much much more enjoyable then.

Meticulously hand drawn map of the ride, year 2003

 It took a lot of persuasion to get friends to go.
2002 - 3 from Malacca took part (Thierry, his son and me)
2003 - 2 (Tan Kwang Meng and me)
2004 - 6 (Loi Wen Chong, Kristin, Siew Pheng, Jeff Wong, me and another young rider)
After that year, Loi being the bike shop technician, spread the news of Kayuh Lasak and 2005 onwards saw a big leap in numbers going from Malacca.

The initial 2 years had pre event ride that was on Saturday. From 2004 and the next few years saw interesting activities such as treasure hunt as the photo above. 

I am still searching for the old photos of 2005 onwards. Till then, it's a jump in time to 2012

Thank you Azmi and all the lauchiow of KOTRT for 10 good years of mountain biking in Penang. Only 1 hill right? That's what you said the very first time!


Friday, April 13, 2012

Chiang Mai Cycling Adventure

This will be my first cycling expedition overseas that we will need to take a flight.
The furthest so far that I have have ever been on a cycling trip is to Hatyai and much nearer but still in Thailand, Betong and down south, Singapore.

My cycling members from ECC have traveled a number of countries and some even cycled from Bangkok to China. I have always envied about joining them on their adventures and finally decided to go to Chiang Mai with 5 friends on a 5 day cycling trip. Why Chiang Mai, well, it's supposed to be the mountain bike heaven with the mountains and hilly terrain. Well, if all goes well, this may be the first of many more overseas cycling expedition to come.

I have done a rough itinerary for the 5 days but since this is a free and easy trip, we might change the plan as the days go by. Hope we can do as much cycling as we possibly can for the next 5 days.

Chiang Mai, here we come!

Sunday

After checking in hotel and setting up our bikes.
i. Visit an ancient temple, Wat Prasing
ii. Visit another temple which is also a museum, Wat Ket Karam Museum
iii. Visit Tribal Museum

Monday

i. Cycle towards Hmong Village, distance 21km. Along the way, visit Umbrella Village and another temple Wat Phra Doi Suthep which is side by side.
ii. Have lunch or bring packed food along and eat at Hmong Village.
ii. After lunch and going around the Hmong Village, we start off road (Yippee!) Smuggler's Trail. 20km of downhill and pure XC trails towards Huai Tueng Thao Reservoir.
Then it's cycling back 13.5km on road to our hotel. This should take all day and estimate to finish around evening. Total cycling distance about 60km.
iv. Cycle and look for good makan and then do some night cycling around town.


Tuesday
Plan A (if we are going to spend all the time cycling and exploring around Chiang Mai town)
i. Cycle north along the river and do a loop coming back on the other side. Distance 60km.
ii. Check out the local bike shops.
iii. Free and easy after dinner. Maybe do some more night cycling.

Plan B (if we are going full cycling expedition)
i. Wake up early for breakfast.
ii. Cycle up north to Chiang Dao town. Distance 71km. All on road.
iii. Stay for the night.
iv. From Chiang Dao, cycle a bit more north and then turn East towards a small town called Phrao. Distance 42km.
v. Eat light lunch at Phrao (if can find because it is a very small town), then continue cycle East for another 24km. From my GPS map, the road looks interesting because of lots of zigzag. Hopefully going downhill!
vi. Cycle into off road trail. From the GPS map, it says 4x4 mountain track. Distance before we reach tarmac road. 61km! I have to highlight the distance because we would have cycled 85km already by now and there is still another 64km before we reach Chiang Mai town again. Total estimate distance would be 150km for the day.


Wednesday
Plan A (continue from Tuesday Plan A)
i. Cycle East 1 big loop. Distance 100km.
ii. or Cycle South and do a loop back.
iii. Finish early and relax the for the day.
iv. Maybe go to Night Baazar to see if there is anything interesting.


Thursday.
i. Shopping and pack bicycles.
ii. Arrange for transport to airport.
iii. Bye-bye Chiang Mai.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Of Mtb Jamborees and Races

There is an event that caught my attention and I have been following the progress of it.

Why? It is held in Melaka. So what's the big deal? It's organised by an event company and they are charging a really unreasonable fee of RM90. Then, the unveiling of the track, ....*drum roll*...
it's none other than our 2011 Burung Hantu track. We should be be feeling great that someone is using our trail but re-using the same trail and charging so much registration fee? Something is not right. Come on, don't you have any shame? We know you want to cari makan but not this way. Do your own reccee of the trails and better still, reduce the unreasonable registration fee.
A probe further revealed that although the event date is fixed and the starting venue is at a university, the university administrators have not received any application to use their facilities on that day. Well my fellow riders, think twice if you are thinking of taking part.
By the way, if any groups wants to cycle the Burung Hantu trail daytime on a weekend, do contact the Environment Cycling Club. I am sure they will be more than willing to lead the way.

Lately we have noticed the influx of mtb jamborees and races throughout the country. This is a good sign that shows the cycling community is growing. So much so that even if there are 2 events on the same weekend, both events can almost boast more of 1000 registrations.

The general registration fee of most event is RM50 with some exception where the organisers provide actual cycling jersey for additional RM20 - RM30. I think it is fair considering the number of manpower needed to organise and manned the events. However some clubs have seemed to have tasted the blood, so to speak and want more by charging so much more with little giving back to the participants in the form of goodies.

Last year I heard of 1 club which charged RM50 for their event and many seasoned riders felt shortchanged when the initial 40+km ride was shortened to only 37 km with mainly flats throughout the ride and made worse with a goody bag that contained 1 T-shirt and a packet of maggi mee. Ok, we also heard from new riders who showered praises of a good ride. Is it possible for future events to state "Suitable for new riders" so that we won't waste time traveling all the way and money with hotel stay?

Another thing that came to my attention is a coming event that charges RM80. It is a mtb race but why need to charge so high? There is nothing mentioned in their blog on what will be given for such an unreasonable amount of registration fee. From my understanding, the majority of us who are recreational riders will be subsidizing the prize money that professional riders will easily earn on the race day. Well, since I am not a professional rider or those that cari makan on events that has prize money, I will ride my usual playground and give a RM80 makan treat to my family.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Plentong Ride 13.11.11

I wrote this article and kept it in draft, waiting for a more relaxed moment to properly edit it but after coming across another cycling blog that wasn't in favour of the event, I thought I better not wait any longer or else the story will be cold. So, I am going to publish it from my point of view.

ECC members at the starting line

Tommy Nelson (left) and me by the trail description

Distributing ride plates to everyone

When I was about 9 or 10 years old, my grandparents had 4 plots of paddy field. Those days we did everything by hand. Paddy saplings were planted by hand and so was the harvesting. The best time was just after harvesting, the fields still filled with water and you could play in the mud. Later during bath time, no matter how you scrub and washed with soap, you have to live with the mud smell for quite some time.

The ride at Plentong brought back memories of my childhood. Why? Because it was a muddy muddy ride. But don’t be mistaken, not that it was not a pleasant ride, in fact it was a fantastic ride!

One of the areas made more rideable by the organisers

I think this is Cyclemotion’s 3rd time organizing this Epic ride and after last weekend ride, I know what I missed. I heard of Plentong ride from fellow ECC members who went last year and was told it was a gila track or crazy track. Then heard it again from fellow riders from Seremban and Pete from PCC that it has one of the best single tracks around and the lure of the sweet mention of single track is what made me go this year.

Sweet single track haven

Tackling a shape corner after exiting the single track trail

This event is held nearing year end where the monsoon season is starting and the trails are wet, slippery and muddy. There were so many river/stream crossings that I lost count. True to what I heard, the single tracks are awesome and fantastically long. Just as you exit a long single track trail, cross a road or an opening only to go into another long stretch of single track. Did I mention that we’re cycling under the canopy of trees most of the time. It’s a mountain bike heaven in Plentong! If only there weren’t so many stream crossing. The amount of energy used up to carry the bike over a slippery bank takes up every ounce of energy that you are saving for the next phase.

One of the stream crossing. As least this one you can easily push the bike up.

When you have only 1 area to cross and there is a bee line of riders behind you, this is what happens. Everyone starts looking for alternative way to cross.

Helping Mei with the help of Tim, to repair her broken chain

Finally when the single tracks ends and so are the nice cooling shade that the trees provided, we hit the open grounds and it was roasting time. Normally after a 45km mark, I am still in reasonable form but when I am almost approaching the last Check Point, CP5, it was past noon and every bit of energy seems to evaporate as the sun hits you full blast. It took a lot of will power and mental strength to finish the last bit of the trail.

The hardest portion of the ride, cycling under the hot sun

Looks pleasant with all the greenery right? But not when it is the last check point on top of the hill with hot blaring sun burning on the helmet and shoulders

I have been taking part in many jamboree & races throughout Malaysia and Plentong rates the best in my book. Toughest ride still goes to KLMBH Epic Ride in 2010.

My club riders were at the starting point early and we patiently waited at the starting arch only to be pushed back by late comers who conveniently took their place in front of us. Then a large group of riders formed their own starting point by the road beside the official one. The flag off was messy as both groups rushed into a bottle neck.

The organizers should also think of a better PA system. The speakers were placed at the wrong place (when it was working). Additional speakers pointing at the starting point would have been better. We couldn’t hear clearly the announcement and naturally will not pay any attention. Electrical failure that made the PA system stop during flag off stole the thunder that everyone was expecting. A contingency plan of a loud haler would have saved the day and best of all, an air horn will do a better job than any state of the art PA system that doesn’t work.

Other than the teething problems during flag off, the trail design is good. I cannot stop complimenting the single tracks that Plentong has. You guys are so lucky! The Check Point and Refuel stations are efficient and in my opinion, CP3 being the best, as the guys that manned it, brought the meaning of Check Point management to a higher level. They were enthusiastic, cheerful, helpful and welcomed every rider as if you are the Champion. As I was refueling my water bottle and had a banana, 1 guy will spray chain oil that my chains are crying for and one of them even quipped that massage is available. You guys rock!

The next few photos are dedicated to the guys of CP3. Never before a check point deserves so much write up.

The team that manned CP3

They will cheer up any tired riders with their energetic jumps and songs.

Me at the right hand corner getting my bottle refilled and not forgetting, bananas


See how attentive these guys are

Click on this link to see them in action

I wish the organizers would have put in more effort on the river and stream crossing. With so many participants taking part, it would have been helpful to put logs for us to walk across rather than making us go in. Maybe shave the banks to make it easier to go in and out. Last but not least, if all is not possible, put a rope where we can pull ourselves out of the river/stream banks. I heard a rider getting angry for missing the cutoff time as he wanted to finish the ride but was held up at most of the obstacles.

Overall, I would think the organizers did a good job. Minor hiccups are bound to happen and any complains or grouses should be looked into and taken as a lesson for improvement. Whatever it is, PLEASE organize another one next year. I am now a staunch supporter.

Note of thanks to the friends photos that I got from facebook.