Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Penang Ride

We were back in Penang recently. After two years. The last visit was back in 2012 for Kayuh Lasak. After the traffic turmoil we faced during our short stay, Penang was never in my getaway list. 

But this time around the persuasion by fellow riders and food lovers managed to convince me for another trip. It was planned earlier during the year but the dates just kept on went astray. Other commitments were prioritized of course.

We planned for a road ride around the island instead of the usual off road cycling up the Penang Hill and all other hills available. Truth is, the roads were hilly as well. We just can't avoid the island's terrain.

The route we rode started off from Tanjung Bungah where the floating mosque is. It was Saturday morning and traffic was descend. A quick roti canai banjir with mix curry and dalca beforehand at Restoran Barakath for fuel. We met up with 2 Penangites buddies that were supposed to guide us should there be any re-routing required.

We rode through Batu Feringghi winding coastal road towards Teluk Bahang for another coffee break. Though it was only less than 10 km, that particular coffee stop was essential. It was a thumbs up.

Teluk Bahang essentials
The hilly course started right away up the Teluk Bahang dam. Surprisingly I started witnessing the cycling culture have bloomed immensely in Penang. Throughout Batu Feringghi I thought it was only sporadic scenes, but later into Teluk Bahang climb, it was almost similar to Genting Sempah weekend cyclists' getaway. From the look of it, majorities just took up cycling and it is a good sign.

Teluk Bahang climb was shorter than Genting Sempah or Genting Peres but probably steeper. The morning temperature and covered road simply made it a casual one. We stood at the top admiring the vast scenery of Balik Pulau. Another famous spot along this climb is the Titi Kerawang trail, known among mountain bikers for it's super elevation climbs in view of the splendid sceneries and of course the luxury of acres of durian orchards.

There were too many Cats in this route
We rolled down towards Balik Pulau for some leg loosening through peaceful kampung roads. Almost like the old Gombak Road from UIA to HOA only with lesser traffic.

The bigger challenge for the day was the legendary Tun Sardon climb. Most famous every year in Pesta Penang Road Race where it is the venue for the finish line. Every racer have been serving legendary stories of it and I have not the slightest idea of how cruel is the incline.

The imagination came to reality once we rode out of Balik Pulau passing by the Kolej Kemahiran Teknologi MARA. The giant awaits, not mistakenly similar to the gruelling Bukit Tangga climb in Negeri Sembilan, the Broga Loop. But Tun Sardon climb is neat with cooler temperature from the near tree lines.

Almost reaching 6 km, this Cat 2 Climb serves the needed pain in the quads and calves. Not just that, my heart rate was banging so hard after almost a month hibernating from weekend rides. However the tough the climb was, descending was almost similar. It was too steep and short, the straight section caught up speed in mere seconds. It was horrific especially for me.

As a reward, we rode in for lunch at Cargas Cafe in Bayan Lepas, known among locals for it's special fried chicken with nasi kandar. We bumped into a group of local friends whom were digging after their ride as well. And the chit chat carried on over lunch till the sore legs recovered.

Completing the loop back to Balik Pulau, we rode through Teluk Kumbar where a new road with another massive climb awaits. It was another view of Balik Pulau coastline from the top.

The plan was to ride back up Teluk Bahang dam from Balik Pulau and back to Tanjung Bungah. Surpassing Bayan Lepas and into Air Hitam route towards Tanjung Bungah would only add risks from the busier afternoon traffic.

The hilly course back was getting more difficult due from the heat and fatigue legs. The climb back up Teluk Bahang dam almost taxed me. I attempted the descending part slowly building up my confidence. The round up back to Tanjung Bungah was clocked at 101 km. 

The post ride was also the better part of the trip. It was harvesting time. Since the ride only completed at 4.30 p.m., we had no chance for a nap. Instead we headed straight out after cleaning up for meals.

A few favourite eateries were closed around Tanjung Bungah. Too bad. We headed to Gurney Drive and hooked up with char kuew teow, pasembor and laksa. Followed by a short basking along the walkway before attempting for the 'real' dinner at Kapitan area. 

We were supposed to try out the nasi dalca near Tajuddin Hussein but too bad it was closed as well. Ended up having tosey and fresh milk blended with almonds. It was road side stall but the scene was awesome. We spent more time over a glass of milk chit chatting.

The planned Sunday short ride was a no go. We overslept. It was supposed to be an easy ride into town, perhaps stopping for more Penang delicacies. We suffered the torment of missing morning nasi kandar as well. Yes, I only knew that here, nasi kandar only serves in the morning. By 10.00 a.m., you'll be welcomed with empty trays.

We opted for nasi padang instead. It was at Kedai Kopi International Hotel. It was a thumbs up which also concluded our island trip. We took the second bridge on our back to mainland. It was super long and kind of having a boring scenery though.

Queue line was over rated

Kapitan area is nice for street walking

Fresh cow milk with blended almonds

Cendol queue

Nasi Padang