Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Kulimus Alumnus Cyclus -KLMBH July Hash - Kemensah

Pardon my latin...This write-up is a tribute to the alumnus of MRSM Kulim (now defunct, the MRSM, not the alumnus) who braved themselves riding their mountain bike in the trails of Kemensah during the recent KLMBH July Hash. Isn't it great to be able to ride with your secondary school schoolmates after all these years?

Words spread weeks before d-day of the KLMBH hash. It attracted the attention of NanKillers, Rezlan (Gen2) Mad Jaws (also Gen2). We also tried to get Epit (Marsbatch) and Nan'Ad to join in. Epit nearly committed. Nan'Ad kept a safe distance from the bait. He new the potency of NanKillers' hypnotic words. As for me, it was still a 50-50. I had to drive my daughter back to her school in Sabak Bernam. But...in honor of fellow alumnus who'd be experiencing their debut hash, I tried to squeeze in...And fortunately, I managed.

Sunday, July 27th. My trusty Unser loaded with my rig, Nan's rig, which just got a Sram X-9 shifter and RD transplant, and all my riding gears. A swift cursory check to ensure I got all the stuff, then I drove on. 0800 hrs. Destination - Rezlan's house in Taman Melawati.

Arrival greeted by Rezlan who had taken the trouble to prepare a breakfast of nasi lemak. Syukran ya akhi. Nan was on his way. I had to make a quick breakfast as I was required to be at the registration. Thanked Rezlan for the breakfast and made a quick dash. Bumped into Nan at the doorway when he arrived. Just a quick exchange of greeting since I had to rush. I geared up and pedaled to the hash RV site.

Tweaking Nan's brake.
On the way, my HP rang. I was too busy pedaling to take the call, so just let it rang. On arrival, I checked my HP and it was Nan..."Hmmm...what happened?" I wonder. The usual crowd of 100 odd MTBers mingled around. The registration counter was already manned by 3 women led by Pak Agus' wife. So I was free after all. Rezlan and Nan only appeared at 0920. Couple of minutes before briefing started. Nan complained about his brakes and his disappointment of not being able to use his Ritchey wheelset because of the stuck brake. I took a quick look and discovered that the engineer had loosened his caliper in his attempt to free the brake. So, that was the reason for the phone call just now. A quick twists and turns of the bolt and the brake was back in good commission.

In the true spirit of AnsaraKu, we appeared in our AnsaraKu Futsal jersey. Flashing the colors of our batches proudly. The embroidered KULIM wording and the aptly chosen XTR logo attracted few attentions. Some other Kulimites approached and exclaimed that they are also from Kulim. Conversations in pure Kedah dialect exchanged. Never thought there would be many Kulimites amongst MTBers.

Pak Agus giving the ride briefing..."stay on paper, stay on paper.."

Pak Agus (Augustine Coppey, a French married to a malay lady, fondly known as Pak Agus to Kemensah riders) gave his snappy briefing shortly thereafter. Trails was divided into two - the long and scenic. The long was about 15km and short was around 12km. The long went into 2 loops in the figure of eight. They also added in an additional technical section for the front runner...We decided to take on the challenge of the long loop..Long not in terms of distance but long in terms of duration to ride the scenic trail. Ha...ha...ha. Md Jaws was nowhere in sight. He decided to join the front runners because he wanted to get a good head start. He was pretty sure that we would eventually catch up with him. He was darn right.

Here's our plan...When we climb we pedal, when we descend, we go on foot...That way, we can prolong our ride time tremendously...

To avoid congestion, riders we flagged off in two waves led by the long riders...We waited until almost all the other riders went off then only we started ours. Did that on purpose so that we can chase after them just to get more fun out of it...0945 and they were off. I spent a coupla minutes discussing our ride strategies with Nan and Rezlan before joining the crowd into the fun and frolics of Kemensah trails.

Nan's kampung buddy - Fakeron Anuar aka Ron
From RV, we crossed the road, hitting the tarmac towards Kemensah Heights. Several tarmac climbs decorated the path to warm the leg muscles up. Out from Kemensah Heights, there was a left into the depth of Kemensah. Still on tarmac, still undulating. More on climbing actually. Our discussed strategies were implemented. Midway, we met Nan's kampung buddy, Fakeron Anwar, who was a Kemensah local. Our small group was made merrier with his presence. Though on continuous climbing, ride was fun because we were riding alongside the stream. Sound of rushing water gave cool soothing feeling.

Minutes before turning into JinBara. Cool flowing stream on our right. Suitable for family picnicking.

Rezlan and Nan.

Getting ready for the change of pace.
From the main tarmac, we turned left into JinBara Resort. A resort-in-the-forest style escapade. Ideal for running away from the hustle and bustle of city life. Route was still paved for another 200 meters or so. Then the rhythm changed abruptly. From paved tarmac to doubletrack dirt road. And the gradient was enough to make the knee wobble. We took a fiver to prep ourselves for the climb.

So far, our strategy was working fine. We got a bit concerned because we overtook few riders. To compensate that, Nan decided to make amend by breaching the strategy. He pushed his bike up the slope instead of pedaling it. After the lung busting climb, the trail leveled momentarily then another mild climb before we coming to a junction. Route went right and gradually turned more hostile. A moderate climb with pebbles as big as the fist bulging on its surface. As if that was not enough, a stretch of very muddy path added, courtesy of the 4WD vehicles. Bike portaging assured. Shoes covered in mud unavoidable.

Thereafter, climb after climb after climb until I lost count. Damp, steep doubletrack dirt road all the way. Perfect formula to drain you out very fast. Damp clay clung on the tires turning it into a huge donut, adding more resistance. Pedaling felt heavier and heavier. Like as if the tires were held by the ground. Fortunately, most of its length were under shades. At least we were spared from the searing sun ray. A bit of consolation though, for the scenic view all along the trails. Green panorama of hilly areas soothed the eye. Weary, sweat drenched body had high tendency of falling asleep...

Nan signalling a dire craving for a pillow

And I was infected too...

On the slope. The rider in the far back is the sweeper...

So effective our strategy was, we managed to let the sweeper (the last person of the ride to ensure everybody got out safely) to ride with us. Pity him for his lonesome ride at the back of the pack. At that point also, one of us were showing signs of oxygen deficiency. In a near delirious state, somebody muttered "cendollll....". The sweeper consoled that rider that there would be a cendol stall up front. Upon hearing that, he quickly mounted the bike and sped off up the hill at unbelievable speed. The power of cendol! For fear of being sued, the identity of that rider will be kept anonymous. The sweeper happened to be a northerner. From Guar Chempedak, to be precise. Hmmm...Nan'Ad should've been there!

The terrain remained uphill. We continued on gracefully till we came to a crossroads. There were 2 obvious junctions showing a very promising and relieving descending path. At last...we thought. Our chance to go in favor of gravity. Little did we know that the crafty hares had sneakily chosen a small, concealed upward path. Bloody hares!!! Our joy shortlived. We decided to prolong our recovery in anticipation of more climb ahead. A decision we did not regret at all.

A quick climb into a small singletrack which offered a very short downhill before winding back up on a steep slope. A tricky section as we had to negotiate an off camber trail before converging with a doubletrack trail. Trail went right into an exposed area known as "The Beach" because of its sandy feature. It was circa 11.30 a.m. The sun threw its sharp rays of light, pinching the skin and everywhere it could touch. Passing the beach, we were confronted with another moderate climb. I knew that slope well...because that would be the last ascent for the day. I started yelling to everybody to announce the last climb for the day. But nobody seemed to care. Perhaps because they have been told so many times of "last climb" every time a climb was encountered...Let them. I din't lose anything if they didnt' believe me.

Cycling (finally) under the cool shade of bamboo groove.

From the open area up the climb into the shades of arching bamboo groove. Majestic view. That also marked the end of agony for the scenic riders...Well, almost. The trail leveled off, then dwindled down before forking out. The right fork was meant for the masochistic long riders longing for more torture and suffering. The left fork will take you down a long swooping downhill and home. HOME!

I courteously let Nan and Rezlan went first. Up till that point, Mad Jaws was never in sight. That guy was fast. From the fork, there was a close pact with gravity. No point opposing it. Small ruts in the mid section of the trail shouldn't hamper the fun of downhilling. After ensuring that Nan and Rezlan was way in front of me, I rolled. Saddle lowered to the max to lower the center of gravity. Buttock stretched all the way back to shift the weight to the rear. I let gravity took over. Occasional tap on the brake lever to ease the speed when negotiating turns. The front and rear shock worked hard to soak the humps and bumps. Wooo hoooo...Pity that those moments didn't last forever...

Nan still reluctant to cycle even on a level trail. Hard to understand why...

Still contemplating whether to cycle or...

Trail leveled off in a rubber plot. Then into a tight singletrack carved on a slope. One false move and you'd be thrown off into a ravine on the left. Must tread carefully. Nan decided to pamper his Trek again. I overtook him. Then bumped into Mad Jaws who actually took the wrong turn and had to detour, losing precious time doing so. The trail turned into gradual climb, holding back few riders. Trail came to a tight switchback section which happened to be on a ridge. Very small V shaped space to maneuver. Rezlan was taking a break there. I told him I had to rush as I passed him. Gotta rush to perform my fatherly duties. From the tight switchback, trail rolled down and took you to the open doubletrack. Distinctive markers were 2 shacks built on the left and right of the road.

A surprise bump into Mad Jaws.

Nan pampering his Trek. Scared of scratching it perhaps...

From the shacks, trail veered left onto a rutted downhill then right into another plot of rubber trees. Leveled for a while before dashing into a tight lefthander that marked the opening for another round of adrenaline pumping downhill section. All I had to do was hang on tight, watch the lines and enjoy the ride. A glide was more like it. A few occasional lift offs when the green ogre hit the humps and bumps at speed. Another round of woo hooo and this time it was more intense than before. It was all the way out glide till it met with the tarmac that took us to Kemensah. My wife and kids greeted me at the exit of that exhilirating downhill.

Rezlan still looking cool after all the agony and torture. Thanks to a regular dose of tongkat ali everyday perhaps?

Tongkat ali overdose?

I made a quick checkout not knowing what happened to the rest of AnsaraKus still in the trail. Then pedaled to Rezlan's house to get my Unser. Wife and kids in tow behind in our Viva. It was unfortunate that Nan's Citra was parked in front of my car blocking its way. In a hurry, I decided to leave the Unser there and collect it later. Meanwhile, Nan and Rezlan headed back to the RV area for checkouts. Riders had to surrender the tag to indicate safe return. Else a rescue squad will be mounted to search and rescue lost riders. The carwash at the petrol station came in handy for cleaning Kemensah's dirt. Rezlan's T-Bolt and Nan's Trek was given a good shower after the ride. I don't know for certain how and what Rezlan and Nan thought of the hash. I hope they can drop by and leave some comments...and I sincerely hope that Kemensah won't be their last hash...Looking forward to see more hash participations and looking forward to more cyclists from AnsaraKu. Anybody else dare to take on the challenge??? Epit? Nan'Ad? Trails beckoning...

Soiled Trek

Bike mandi timeeeee...
Pics by Rezlan


Matt Marzuki said...

Woo dah lama tak cycle. I need to get back into MTB soon! Been bz working for my early retirement. Now that I'm gonna be free soon, I look forward to it. Articles like these really make my mouth water (and my legs aching to go).

KeLoLo said...

Hey Matt,

Nice of you to drop by. Ya laaa...lama tak nampak you in action. Come...come...come (to read in hypnotic tone...)

Anonymous said...

hi kelolo.
You mentioned turning left into jinbara resort from the tarmac road in the klmbh july hash, Is there any sign board?
I intend to do the trail in 2 days time