Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cahaya SPK - A Solitary Cyclist

When I came back from the tour, there was a small window to train for the next century ride. I know that I didn’t gather any fitness advantage from the tour considering the easy pace and ‘threshold’ eating habit.

As a backup, I signed up for the Shah Alam Endurance Ride, about two weeks after my tour. I have one weekend prior to the event to test out the route and my bike and my stamina. Hence, this event should be my gauge stick to the bigger Kuantan Century Ride on 1st June.

As I jotted down millions of time before, the route on this part of Selangor was never easy. I guess the climate played the most factor. Hence, it is an ideal place for us cyclist that wish to torture oneself to the heat, terrain and boredom.

The climax of this route is the Cahaya SPK climb. Cyclists frequent here find it spine chilling like we used to listen to legend folklores about haunted road or something like that. The place would simply give you the ‘stars and chill’.

The loops can be altered to suit ones level of stamina. However, opting to finish with the Cahaya SPK climb is the best alternative.

The week after my tour, we did the small loop, excluding Kuala Selangor flat and straight death road. Still, the Cahaya SPK was in the menu. And I misread the pace from the earlier Jalan Puncak Alam. My last ride here was a few years back and it didn’t quite safely kept in my good memories bank.

A total of five magical climbs and the slightest miscalculation of energy regulated means doom.

My training ride that particular weekend taught me that attacking the first two climbs after 80 km in your legs is not smart. I paid the toll, witnessing the front riders fade away into the afternoon glare. The churning of the crank was heavy as I dragged the bike and myself to the top.

During the Shah Alam Endurance Ride, we had 120 km already in our legs after making a huge loop from Batang Berjuntai to Kuala Selangor and back via Asam Jawa. Both are straight as an arrow road and flat as a pancake. There’s not a chance of coasting on flat route like this. Gauging your cadence and heart rate is the smartest way to survive the rest of the ride.

Come Cahaya SPK, most of us were scattered along the Jalan Batu Arang 16 km stretch. We were blessed with good weather that afternoon, right exactly at the climb itself. It drizzled with cool breeze against our half-awake legs and fatigue bodies. We were solitary riders by then. We completed the 149 km challenge. Alhamdulillah.

A week before Kuantan Century Ride, it was taper week. Now these legs are itchy twitchy to get it spinning after the good outcome of Shah Alam Endurance Ride. And the spirit is also itchy to have Cahaya SPK in the menu again. And this time, though we made a smaller loop, we managed to churn our way up together finishing with huge grins on our faces as we scattered on the floor of Bukit Jelutong 7-Eleven.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Tour Perspective

Every trip comes with perspectives, especially for new places with new people. I can't help to ponder that there are too many differences between us and them. And they have more good things than us. These are perhaps my surface observation of things that may seemed premature considering the short time spent, but nice places with good scenes bring good hear within.

Some points from my perspective:

1.     Thailand is a country of Boleh! There's so many things can be done in Thailand. No, not Malaysia. Definitely not. In Malaysia, there are too many things “Tak Boleh!”.

2.    I think Thai people grow together with the pace of their country’s growth. That’s why we can see people in their most coolness behaviour. At least in the areas that I toured. Unlike Malaysia, our country’s evolution is too drastic for the people to catch up. We had to compete, producing competitive society. Hence we produce failures and loads more cheaters. Creating abundance of offensive minded population. And one of the common species are the 'kiasu's'.

We are being spoon fed instead of educated. We cry out loud when the feeding portion became less or the spoons taken away. We become panic and angry when we lost our comfort zone. We cannot accept losing and losers. Instead of finding alternatives to survive, we chose to demonstrate our dislikes.

3.   Why there’s no toll collection throughout the road that I travelled in Thailand? Why Malaysia need highways and collect tolls (like forever) from end to end? Why Thailand can build good wide roads without needing to privatize it? Why?

What makes Malaysia and Thailand different in this manner? Road building have the same engineering standard all over the world. Malaysia adopts the Malaysian Highway Standard Guideline.

4.    The streets of Thailand are clean, though it is not newly constructed. Not a single cigarette bud, candy wrap nor accumulation of street debris and sands clogging drain inlets. Is it because their street design is perfected with self-cleaning mechanism? These are non-tourist spots like here in KLCC or Bukit Bintang. We are referring to old streets like Chow Kit and Ampang. 

5.    The petrol and diesel price is so high due to non-subsidy by the government, but the food is cheap and tasty. I take it that they prepare the food with passion. It is not over commercialized or over rated like here in Kuala Lumpur. Especially during the soon to be Ramadhan. It is just so insincere.

6.    South Thailand have an abundance of rubber plantations. So I heard that rubber yields more than oil palm in south Thailand. Malaysia used to have rubber as commodity but we were too arrogant to keep it as our honoured product though we have been given with good soil for rubber. We were driven by greed to chase the oil palm market demand, converting all rubber estates to oil palm.

As a result, we lost our natural environment. Pristine forest were raped for the more so called yielding oil palm. Leaving behind polluted water catchment and rivers from over fertilized crops due to impatient estates owners. Lesser green leaves from oil palm trees raise surface temperature and denying wind flow compared to cooler rubber plantations. The more compact soil in an oil palm estates permits faster surface run-off, accumulating sediments in water ways creating flash floods downstream.

Now I may sound more like writing an environmental engineering report!

Though I might point out all the above that in physical scene, our country may seemed like moving fast ahead through rapid modernization, but the calmer and progress growth of the people is something more we need to look at. A healthy population in mind, heart and soul should be the key to a healthier development of the country. We need to be listened at heart instead of over giving the necessary.

We need to be thought the intermediate approach, about living in a mediocre life but pushing for the afterlife, not the other way round. The soul require more feeds for this. Insyaa Allah.

p/s. One other thing! Did I mention that all hotels that we stayed have high speed wi-fi? They really do. From chalet style to multi storey kind of hotels, the wi-fi coverage was simply amazing. Can we have those in Malaysia's public area for free?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Day 4: Trang to Satun and the end

It was complete rest and eat and sleep in Trang. We had to move back to the main agenda of finishing the tour. It was time to pedal back down south towards Satun. We don't have much options to make the distance shorter since there was no nice place to stay in between these two towns. Hence, it was a gruesome 150 km ride.

The ethic of riding in a tour group is preferably...in a group. You'll be noticeable by other road users. And the most important part is patience especially pacing with the slowest member. You can opt to breakaway on your own or invite another or two, but the possibility of you missing the group fuel stop is high. Tour rides do not have proper planned stops. It can be a judgemental one or depends on other various factors such as weather or mechanical issues. Unless you don't mind eating lunch on your own at whatever places that might deemed to have uncertainties.

The speed of the group will depend on the slowest rider. Throughout this tour, majority of our members aged 60 above, hence we kept an average speed of 20 kph or slower. The key is to enjoy the ride and the sceneries and be creative on bike. If you are the kind that can't survive slow pace, which might bore you to death, then, tour might not be your style. 

Now back to the ride plan. We started superbly early. 6.30 a.m. local time equivalent to 7.30 a.m. Malaysia time. We got it right this time. The chilling morning should provide us with more ground to cover before the skies open up.

We left Trang empty streets. Most probably it was a week end. Some perspectives appeared to be similar to the stretch of road leaving Hatyai as it opens up to wider two carriageway. Now, this group stops for breakfast after an hour ride. It suits me. I don't take breakfast early. We stopped at a superb breakfast spot. A Muslim restaurant somewhere across a Tesco Hypermarket. The food was awesome. Rice with mutton in curry and some veggies. Simply formulated for big distance. We indulge without hesitance. We smiled for the road to come.

It was the same way we came from Pak Bara. The route was to go back to La-ngu via those smaller towns in between we've passed earlier. From La-ngu, we shall then decide whether to finish the ride or opt to take transportation. Some of the familiar names of the districts that I can still remember were Yan Ta Khao, Palian and Thung Wa (in southward sequence).

We had another short break at Amazon Cafe. This cafe provide praying facility and that's cool. The next stop was for lunch at Thung Wa and it was already blazing hot. We seek refuge at the market. It was too hot and thirsty, I can't barely swallow too much lunch. We waited out for the peak temperature rise while performing our solat and continued our ride after 2.00 p.m. when it was a little bit forgiving. 

We crossed the limestone crops again and eventually reached La-ngu. It was still hot. We had a short meeting and rest while deciding the next option. Some prefer to take a transportation but later decided just to ride it out to Satun since we still have time. But we didn't quite notice the weather change halfway into the ride later.

The two third of the day's ride turned out the opposite from what was anticipated. A little bit on the ugly side. From La-ngu District to Tha Pae, we invested more time and effort. The route was endless rolling and to add spices, it rained. It was a 40 km stretch that rolls forever. We stench and drenched ourselves creating public attraction among locals who passed by. We stopped for a hot tea and 'roti canai' stuffing our starving cold tummy.

Due to the rain clouds casting dark shadows endlessly, daylight didn't seem to be on our side. We reached a small town named Chalung at almost dusk and made the final turn towards Satun. It was dark and busy as we entered the town area. It was all favoured to Victor whom simplified our search for the night's stay with his GPS.

We checked in at DD Resort, a very cosy place. We placed our smelly apparel for laundry and cast ourselves for dinner at a nearby Muslim stall. They served Nasi Kombok, which happened to be similar to Nasi Bukhara in Malaysia.

We had to stay two nights in Satun since our train ride will only be on Monday night. The whole day in Satun was commuting around town looking for eateries, money changer and spectating a mountain bike jamboree. Satun is a nice place. Seemed peaceful with abundance of Muslims and Muslim foods. A side walk breakfast was laid back, just like they do it in Paris but nothing can beat the 'roti canai' and 'teh tarik'. And the locals talked better Malay language too. Maybe due to Satun's closest location to Malaysian border. If you ask me, Satun is almost similar to Kulai in Johor.

The next day we rode back to Wang Kelian bound for the 6.30 p.m. train. The climb back up to the border was less tormenting since it was still morning. The routine of disassembling the bike took place again at the train station. It rained in Padang Besar that evening, creating cool and humid climate preparing us for the long train journey back to Kuala Lumpur.

Two pinches from the album...

Gorgeous sky

Beautiful road
Thung Wa market for lunch

New contact
Penthim Resort 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Day 3: Trang & Pak Meng

It's rest day. We planned for an escape to indulgence. Sort of. The plan was to visit Pak Meng Beach and Pier. A nice secluded stretch of beach and also a gateway to many islands through its pier. Earlier plan was shelved to ride that 30 km route to Pak Meng and back. However, we just need something of a laid back stuff after yesterday's effort. Couldn't agree more.

We chartered a coaster, a huge 12 seater Toyota Hiace, most popular in Thailand for it's high top roof and super comfortable ride. The hotel have made arrangement with it's travel agent. 30 Thai Baht per pax, nothing to ask more.

The driver's nickname was Heck. I hope I spell it right, but it sounded like that. He's not too good with English but it was good enough for us to communicate without having to engage into war. He's friendly and willing to explain when asked. The best part was listening to his Thai songs, the best tracks picked for our trip. The perspective from inside a vehicle through Thailand's road was different from behind the bike handlebar. I witnessed a lot more characters of Thailand's motorist. 

Heck seemed to love honking. Especially when he's overtaking another vehicle and approaching a junction. It may sound irritating but the kind of his honking shows the friendly kind. Not the offensive or anger driven kind that we find from Malaysian motorists. It's a little more pleasant. The purpose is to communicate with the other road users of his existence and he's coming through. The other party will part away to let him pass without a glimpse of grouchy look. It is a driving culture in Thailand. I've been experiencing it for the last two days while we cycled along the road shoulder. 

The most respectable character that I find is the patience Thai motorist endure. If they find that the road is too narrow to overtake us slower cyclists or other slower road users, they will wait until it is clear for them to pass through. And they don't honk or accelerate in anger. And this is the most lacking in Malaysia when we don't find the respect for each other. I have encountered a few miss death occasions when passing arrogant drivers drove inches from me.

Leaving Trang into the suburb was similar to travel from Kuala Lumpur to Bagan Lalang via the interstates. More plantations and smaller towns in between. Quieter areas and lesser traffic. 

Pak Meng beach was beautiful. We may have came on a weekday when the beach was empty and had it to ourselves. The beach was clean. White sand belt covers the 2 km coast with awesome views of those small islands in close proximity. The local restaurants provided beach chairs and tables with umbrellas for visitors. We just need to order our drinks and special Kerabu menu. The fried seafood sold from mobile hawkers were so cheap. Fried squids, crabs, prawns and fish at only 150 Thai Baht per item. And they give free sauce in a cute disposable small bowl. And the feast in the gorgeous seaside escape was indescribable. 

We took a short dip. Water was great. It rained for a while but we don't mind. 

The bigger plan was to go back to Trang and venture the town, hoping to find a good bike shop. A cyclist 's oath whenever reaching a new place is to search for a local bike shop. It is mandatory. Arriving back in Trang, we had a short meeting trying to locate the local bike shops. Trang have two. I have visited one near to the train station earlier but nothing was cool. Not the kind for enthusiast cyclists. The other was better. More bikes and more bike stuff. And we were also welcome by a cyclist whom was spinning on her bike trainer in front of the shop.

We spent the remaining daylight clobbering the bike shop for bike maintenance and bike stuff. The bike shop was super friendly to assist us with our demeanour. Until it was time for dinner, we had to say goodbye and in search for a nice good diner. The best choice was back to the train station where a night market awaits.

Trang is a nice town for a night stay or two. Easy Muslim food, nice streets to have a stroll. Good hotel. It may come in handy as a transit town for those travelling further up towards Krabi or Phuket.  

And did I tell you, 80% of Trang residence don't wear helmets while they wheeze through the traffic on their motorbike?  

Typical geological & geographical sceneries of Thailand's west coast



Clean streets. I am in awe

Too much to handle the lucrativeness 

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Day 2: Pak Bara to Trang

The start time for second day was probably misread. By right, we should have rolled away at 6.30 a.m. local time, but we set it an hour late. Hence, we had to waste an hour of daylight. The plan was to ride all the way northward to Trang, all 110 km of it. 

But first we have to fuel up with a good fuel which was actually indulging out taste buds with local servings. We rode out of Pak Bara towards Lamgu where we should find better variety of breakfast,  Langu is a town with surrounding villages, which mostly Muslim settlers. Finding a good spot is hassle free, you just need to pick one. The town area is totally commercial.

Already we were mesmerised by the food table out on the counter. Cakes and rice with loads of options. We were not hesitant with the bill since we trust that it won't be killers. I had rice with a fried chicken and curry and tea worth 400 Thai Baht. That would be equivalent to a lunch portion. Not forgetting, we were again stuck with language crisis. I took the initiative to learn a few basic words like ordering ice tea, hot tea, coffee, sugar, no sugar and something similar.

Key Plan (click to enlarge) - Still a long way of Segenting Kra
As soon as we hit the road, the sun have already brighten up welcoming the journey. The road leading to Trang opens up right after leaving Langu town. It was wide with ample road shoulder for cyclists, smooth asphalt without any evidence of pot holes and manholes. The sky opens up as well when the tree line lay a distance away from the road. It will be a very long day on the saddle.

Leaving Langu, we were lead into a quieter zone with local homes started to scatter wider apart. As the sun grew stronger, so was the discreet feeling engulfed in each of us. We attempted an hour ride before each stop for water refill and regrouping. The next town in the middle of the way was Thung Wa, the last town before entering Trang District.

Crossing this district border, we had to succumb a huge climb. A very large limestone outcrop that provided a beautiful view across the navigating inclining road. The surrounding flat terrain of padi fields add significant contrast to this geological scene. It was simply awesome.

I was still blind of what awaits ahead of us after crossing the pinnacle. I have no idea of how Trang would look like. Will it be like Hatyai? Google images from my earlier homework won't do justice since the actual scenes and climate would be totally different. I don't even bother to check on the distance counter as I was busy observing the vast sceneries. It was basically the rurals. 

We had another stop at Yan Ta Kao. A pertrol station attached with 7E and Amazon Cafe. The smell of fresh brewed caffeine in the middle of a sleepy noon was tantalizing. I never had second thought about coffee. It's always a punch for me. And the price for a cooling ice blended is half we paid in KL. With the air-conditioned room, it was temporary heaven. Allah most merciful.

Leaving Satun District means we had to leave the vast variety of Muslim food. Here in Yan Ta Kao, we had a some difficulties in finding a lunch spot. A stall near an alley served the only Muslim food. Chicken noodle soup was perfect. It was hot, exhausted, dry and thirsty. The best menu to swallow.

In the middle of our food digging, the sky turned dark. Originated from Satun, strong cold wind and thunder lead the sudden climate change. I was playing the guessing game whether they would wait the storm out or push through. Most came prepared with rain jackets and all other waterproof stuff.

Tour Tips:
  1. Shower cap from hotels are used to cover your head under the helmet.
  2. Those with leather saddles e.g. leading brand Brooks need to cover them to protect the leather.
  3. Those without mud fenders, opted to a more natural Bear Grylls survival skill by using tree branches fixed to the rear rack.
  4. The location of your rain jacket in the most accessible pannier pocket at this point is crucial.
They lead out into the starting rain. The idea was to push through the distance is too unbearable and there's no place to spend the night around this area. I knew that riding with the rain jacket will eventually become hot since the body produces heat from the cycling movement. The rain jacket prohibits heat and moisture in and out. Thus, the released body heat accumulate and you become uncomfortable. After 10 minutes, I decided to ditch the rain jacket and just enjoyed the pecking rain.

Village houses and plots of rubber plantations. There was a stretch of road where we passed by under cooling rubber trees for almost 15 km.

It didn't rain heavily but it was enough to make me shiver upon stopping for breaks and regrouping. Eventually it stopped and the road dried up creating a film of warm humidity. The sun was nowhere to be seen once the rain clouds passed away, indicating that daylight is nearing end. We continued on towards Trang suburbs as more signs appear on both sides of the road that a town is coming our way. Roads become wider, more lively commercial plots and the most obvious is the traffic volume.

More and more food joints appear along the way, and Trang population just about to start their dinner feast. The roads were mostly busy. We had a few detours due to mistaken direction finding our hotel. I just followed the trail of bikes while enjoying myself to this new setting. Not as much motorcycles as Hatyai but enough to drove us outsiders some chills when they passed by in speed. Easily from my first observant, Trang is almost similar to Muar. However, my perspective may differ when daylight come.

Nightlife in Trang is kicking. Dinner was uncomplicated as we just need to walk across to the restaurant. Best Tom Yam Seafood Fried Rice I have ever tasted. We went for a stroll after dinner to Trang train station for night market.

Queen Hotel was perfect for the best rate and location, easily accessible to many nearby attractions.

Pinch from the lens...

The only super climb indicates Trang-Satun border

My 400 Thai Baht breakfast...this is labour's day

Will never miss this food joint if I ever come again

Now on full belly, we need to move before I fall asleep...wuuuaaaargh!

Trang - one of those monument at a roundabout

Trang population are busy at night market

Yan Ta Khao one of many breaks

Not too shabby for a good rate & location

Monday, May 12, 2014

Day 1: Padang Besar, Malaysia to Pak Bara, Thailand

The train arrived at Padang Besar station half past nine a.m. The most labouring part about touring is when portaging the bikes. Though it is wrapped inside the bike bags, the one huge chunk is heavier than the complete bike assembled. Carrying one bag from one end of the platform to another is OK, but repeating a couple more have proven to strain ones shoulder muscles. Plus you sweat a lot easily in the humid morning. I can sense that humidity and heat is a great mixture up here in the north.

The next part is assembling the bike. We had the whole boarding hall for us, all twelve bikes all over the floor. For bigger bags we just need to remove the front wheel, loosen the stem to fold the fork and remove the handlebar. For smaller bags, you need to remove both wheels. The trickiest part is when you have fenders. These parts appear to have too many screws to attach itself to the bike. That's tidiest. We took almost an hour to complete.

Then we have the panniers. Panniers reminds me of my old mountaineering days. You have that one big bag for everything and managing the storage is one big challenge as well. You just need to know which stuff for super quick access like tools, camera, which for easy access like rain jackets, passport, wallet, which to be securely waterproof like clothes and those electronic gadgets. Dedicating the right pocket and remembering is another challenge.

I stuffed my camera and wallet on the top pocket of my left pannier because I will dismount from the bike on my left, which is pretty much straight forward to reach the camera instead of moving around the back of the bike to the right side. It is just a matter of easiness and practicality since you'll be repeating these often. Accessing the wrong side and the wrong pocket appear to be frustrating when you are in a hurry.

They have good pannier brands and commonly used by many tourers. These buddies are using the Ortlieb brand. The material is already waterproof from the outside, hence you don't require plastic bags wrapping for your stuff. They have the rear and front panniers as well as the handlebar bags. It is a leading brand for bike bags. I only loaned a pair of Altura panniers from Azmar. 

OK back to the tour...

By the time we left the train station, we had no choice but to have 'brunch' (breakfast + lunch) since it was already 11.00 a.m., at a recommended stall near the Petronas. A variety of food choice, introduced by our local friend, Mr. Ron and his two buddies. The most preferable was 'roti bakar telur gedik', actually a toast with half fried egg on top where the yoke is still in liquid form.

It had started to become so hot by the time we sat on the saddle. The first checkpoint was Wang Kelian, and we had to endure the stabbing hot while climbing the popular 4 km incline from Kaki Bukit to Wang Kelian. It was 1.30 p.m. when we started from the foot. It was torment and horrific.

Though I was churning the granny, my heart was pounding heavily. That was red zone definitely. It was not good. The heat paid it's toll too much. Furthermore, the wind was missing. Plus the load that were were carrying, it was laborious. If it was still morning, it would have been easier. I had to take refuge under a shade. So were a couple of others.

We were 'crawling' and it took us almost two hours to complete the climb and continued on another 4 km to the border. By that time we passed the border, half the daylight have gone, and it may seemed impossible to continue pedalling to Pak Bara.

We had a another break at a stall in Wang Kelian upon settling with the immigration and a quick meeting for decision. It was still sizzling hot outside and becoming more and more uncomfortable. Pak Bara is another 80 km from Wang Prachan (the Thai side of Wang Kelian). The route and terrain is unknown, hence a good anticipation to cycle it is also unknown. That would only add up more uncertainties to our effort.

Ron, our local friend utilises his contact and managed an arrangement for a transport. We have two pickups to portage 12 of us and 12 bikes. Surprisingly we managed to squeeze everything without hassle and headed on to Pak Bara.

Pak Bara is a dead end place, merely meant for a pier for people to board ferries to island escapes. Something almost similar to Lumut but smaller. Pak Bara lies along a beach but not the one that we can swim and have seaside picnic. It's muddy and the coastline are forged with concrete walls like Gurney Drive where food stalls and small resorts were placed. Nice big streets and almost discreet with only local on motorbikes.

We had no booking here, hence we rode in to Pak Bara Resort, a nice place like a motel with clean and cosy chalet type rooms at superb price. 600 Thai Baht a room. Magnificent place. Recommended for travellers and families as well.

Our dinner was at a local stall. It's a Muslim stall and serves a variety of sumptuous menus. The first obstacle was to make an order. The locals seemed to know only Thai language. Hence the war started. The simplest order of ice tea can be frustrating after taking huge effort explaining. We were slightly accommodated with the picture menu. But the war was victorious with great delicious foods and drinks.

None time wasted after dinner. We hit the bunk early for tomorrow's journey will be a long one. Malaysia time is an hour faster that local time. I kept on getting confused with the time different. Night time may not felt significant but the Fajr time is something that one may loose to get dazed.

A pinch from the album...

Ortlieb panniers

Border check out and check in

Time for a quick meeting

The rescuers

Pak Bara Pier

Roti bakar teloq gedik, famous in Padang Besar

Kaki Bukit, literally named before the big one ahead

Our night cosy stay

Saturday, May 10, 2014

My First Tour - West Coast, South Thailand

The calendar have been made available for my first tour on the first week of May. There's the Labour Day break on Thursday and that would be perfect for a stretch of long leave including the weekend. I need to plan loads of stuffs, not just the tour stuff but also my family. I need to make sure that all routines faced minimum impact during my absence especially schooling, tuitions which will have to be dealt with by my other half. A week gone, out of the country is the least I need to spend in a year for my tour. Praised to Allah s.w.t for making it easy for all of us.

The planned tour was to take the west coast of southern Thailand. The rest of the tour buddies have probably toured these places but this is my second time crossing the Malaysian border into Thailand. 

The floor plan was to take the night train from KL to Padang Besar on 29th April (Tuesday) and start the tour straight from Padang Besar to Pak Bara the next morning, 30th April (Wednesday). That should cover a ride distance of approximately 90 km.

1st May (Thursday): A night stay in Pak Bara should be good for the legs before the second day long ride northward to Trang, 110 km.

2-3rd May (Friday and Saturday): We shall spend two nights in Trang, supposedly able to tour around the town and the popular Pak Meng Pier and beach.

3rd May (Saturday): The longest ride in the tour which shall cover 150 km from Trang to Satun (back down south). Two nights were arranged in Satun when we missed the train ticket back to KL for Sunday night.

5th May (Monday): We shall ride from Satun back to Wang Kelian and Padang Besar to catch the 6.30 p.m. train back to KL.

That should be the longest trip for me up north into neighbouring country. The whole week will be spent mostly on road. The floor plan is necessary as a guide. What's waiting for us on actual event are precious adventure.

Day 1 - Padang Besar to Pak Bara, Thailand

Day 2 - Pak Bara to Trang

Day 4 - Trang back to Satun

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bike Touring

Bike touring have been an evolution for most enthusiast cyclists. We started off from cycling for fun churning the cranks around the block, then goes to mountain biking, moving with style on road bikes and finally the leisure kind, exploring places in slower pace via bike touring. Most cyclists reached bike touring stage at the slower/older age, after realising that speed is no more in the book and events or races are just for masculine seekers. Or perhaps when there is more free time.

I arrived to that particular juncture a year ago, but budget was always the constraint, and of course time. I loved travelling especially when there are new scenes and perspectives. Be it local or abroad, it always brings a wider view about life. Travelling teaches me the relation between Allah and me, between me and other humans and His other creations like the floras and faunas, the mountains, the valleys, the rivers, seas, beach, sky & weather. Though I can't afford to travel all over the world, this should be a good stepping ground with hopes that Allah s.w.t. permits with His blessings for more to come.

A neighbour opened the way when he decided to sell off his abandoned mountain bike. It is a 26" Kona with the right frame size for me. I can't resist the offered price, hence last year's Ramadhan was the beginning of new project chapter.

We don't have the urge to chase our dream if not without any challenge awaits. By early 2014, I've arranged the calendar year looking for the best time for a bike tour. The waiting game ended when Azmar & his bike tour buddies tabled out a Thailand tour. And the dates are just perfect.

Hence the bike building process was engaged. It was kind of messy at first when I attempted to get rid of the suspension fork (rigid fork preferred due to lighter weight & we don't suspension fork on road cycling). Old grease, corrosion, and all those sticky stuff. Then I had to send it off to a bike shop for new cables and tune ups.

Azmar loaned me his rear rack & panniers. I fixed it to the bike and it's almost looked like the real touring bike. Almost at least. It turned out to be my favourite on evenings, mini tour around the neighbourhood.

I find that it need a bit of touch up. A neighbour's son is an enthusiast fixie rider. He raced every weekends and turned out on podiums once in a while. He was good with his hands on bike repairs and paint jobs. His bikes were his portfolio of course. I turned to him to give my bike a new facelift. Advised by Azmar, I just need a low profile colour to avoid attraction from theft. The bike was ready in two days. Awesome.

It needs a name. I ordered a customised frame decals, named after my long lost family blog. Add a used Fizik Aliante saddle found from bicyclebuysell at a descend price and raised the handle bar with a stem-up for more comfortable ride position.

Building this machine was passionate. Then came the love to ride. I don't mind it's cheap, but cheap is my key word for adventure. I don't need spending big funds to start off my tour, be it a brand new bike and tour stuff, it will just make me a poser. This new adventure will be epic, will take me back down those memory lanes on the wild side of life. Insyaa Allah with the right objectives and His redha, I hope it will benefit me in certain ways towards a better me.

I'am ready to graze the asphalt of Thailand.