Sunday, 22 July 2007

FRIM - Part 3 - The Rubber Tube, The Stars and A Birthday

With a tire puncture, I could not cycle out of the "range rover" trail. Azril and Joe were kind enough to walked out with me. I told them that if we can fix the bike, we will go back in again... as I was reluctant to finish the day like that.

However, Azril the Ranger said that normally in a forest, if something like this happens, it could mean that something was telling us not to continue on the trip any more... LOL. Man... I wish he hadn't said that. Pantang!!! Now no one wants to go back to the trail...even if we can fix the puncture... LOL

After walking for about 1.5 km, we came back to the FRIM entrance. I asked the guard if he knew where I could fix a puncture. He told us to turn right pointing to the nearest junction, that there was a motorbike repair shop. We thank him and continued about 100 meters out to the junction.

We searched for quite a bit before finding the repair shop on the main street next to the stalls where we had breakfast in the morning. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here. You will not believe what happened next.

What was supposed to be a simple fix for a puncture turned out to be an education in Astronomy.... LOL.



As it turn out, Mr. Pang of Pang Motor, is the current president of the Star Finder Astronomical Society. What started out as a simple question of, "Who built that Hubble Telescope model hanging in front of his shop?" turns out to be a lecture in Astronomy... LOL.

Mr. Pang, who owns 3 huge telescopes, was eager to explain to us, the uninitiated, the ins and the outs of star gazing with a telescope and reading the star charts. He would also like to extend an invitation to all who are interested in Astronomy to visit their society website and all are welcomed to join as members.

Between fixing my puncture and tending to his other customers, he explained about the alignment of the planets and how long we have to wait to view some of the stellar phenomenon.

He also had an interest to build and fire water powered rockets, which he and his friends made.



We had an opportunity to try out the telescope.



Mr. Pang fixing the puncture using sanding, patch and glue.



Mr Pang also wrote for an Astronomy Magazine... now tell me you all expected this all along... that we would meet up with an Astronomer while fixing a puncture... HAhahah... Even Joe the Oracle could not have foretold this... LOL...



Finally, the hole in the rubber tube was patched and ready to be inserted back into the tire.



Another look at the telescope showing the hollow inside the telescope body.



I told Mr. Pang that I will be putting all these videos I took on the Wide Geeks's blog. He requested that I took some photo and video of his shop front with a banner promoting the society, of which I gladly obliged... :-)



Azril told us that he will not be joining us when we get back to FRIM for a second hash. Since this was his birthday and the time was just after noon, he had to spend some quality time with the wife and family. Joe and I completely agreed but just before we could leave, Mr, Pang took out some stereoscopic photos to show to us... :-) I could see that Azril was in a hurry, but he politely stayed to view the photos... LOL. The photos were cool!

After Azril had left, Joe and I decided that we would cycle on the tarmac roads, due to the "pantang" of the land rover trails... LOL.



When we headed into FRIM the second time, seems all the cyclist are leaving. Check out that Kancil with the bike racks lah... cool or not??? LOL...



We continued down the road and practically cycled to all the available tarmac roads. We came upon some nice places and FRIM staff quarters. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



More tarmacs... :-)



At this point we climbed a slope and ended up somewhere around the Malaysia Nature Society. There was no more tarmac road ahead. So, I took a chance and cycled to a dirt path next to some camp ground while Joe consulted the GPS.



Joe came up and we decided to risk the "pantang" and go in search of a trail heading to Sungai Buloh... throwing caution to the wind... LOL. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



We rode along the trail among the lush greeneries. The feeling of excitement was back. Riding into the unknown... LOL... We came across a nice waterfall cutting below the trail into the ravine next to us.



Easy ride as we moved along...



It was a easy ride... until we reached this stretch, which was downhill and the trail was filled with crevices made by water gushing down during a heavy rain.



Continuing along the downhill, we came across some caretakers of the forest cutting and trimming the grass and vegetation along the side of the trail.



Further up the trail, we met up with Henry and Jason. I asked them for direction to get an idea of where we were. Also, I told them that we were newbies to MTB and invited them to join us in our next hashing trip if they were interested. We exchanged contacts and I promised to email them the information to the next Wild Geeks hashing adventure. COol!



We continued cycling and were surprised to find a fantastic view of FRIM, some lakes in a park and the surrounding residential area. We cycled for a short while and found the clearing that Henry had told us about. If we take the right, we will be heading towards Sungai Buloh and if we turn left, it was supposed to take us back to the main road, which we passed by that morning on our way to FRIM in my pick-up.

So we turned left and found out that the road lead to some construction site. While Joe consulted his GPS, I rode up the slope to get a better view. When I reached the top, I could see the lakes, and the road seemed to be leading down to them. Unless I rode down, I could not see if the road was actually connected to the lakes were or not.

So I rode back down and told Joe about what I saw. Meanwhile, Joe had consulted the GPS and discovered that we had passed the turning to the lakes earlier. So we doubled back until we found the small tiny trail leading steeply downhill to the lakes!!! And from the lakes to the main road!!! Wah liao eh! Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



We made it safely down that steep slope. Phew! To a certain extent, it was more treacherous than the ones in Batu Dam. Imagine there are trees in the middle of the path??? Hehehe... and I was pumping my brakes and trying to sit as far back in the seat as possible, but my child seat kept getting in the way... LOL. I could not take any video nor photo of that stretch as I was too excited to be thinking about it. In any case, my pants was torn and we all arrive safely. Maybe Joe can comment on his part of the ride here later... LOL.



After circumventing the lake we got back out on the main road leading back to the main entrance of FRIM. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.

This marked the end of our FRIM hashing. It is definitely a place to revisit.

Bike Review - Malaysia's very own hybrid 3 seaters

We have heard of tandem bikes and its problem, but a Malaysian inventor have just came out with a hybrid 3 seater bike! This bike only requires 1 person to pedal and control the bike while the rest (one in front and one at the back) are purely passenger.

To make riding easy, its designed to be a single speed bike, plus an additional modern design carriage basket in front. It features 2 saddles for comfort riding will the third seat is a smart 2-in-1 concept seat, meaning it can be used as a seat, as well as additional storage.

As the bike is meant for 3 passengers, it is not expected to travel at high speed, therefore no disc brakes are required and this will definitely help make the bike available to family of all levels in world. Wheel size have also been reduced to make it more economical to replace and maintain.

The head of R&D, Mr.Tang tells us that this bike model will be marketed as J3000 and will be available sometime next year as the prototype are still being tested at its R&D facilities in an undisclosed location somewhere in Jinjang, Kuala Lumpur.

Below is a pix of the current prototype and we can't wait to see it on the road.

FRIM - Part 2 - The Rubber Tube, The Stars and A Birthday

Saturday 21st of July 2007, the alarm woke me up at 6:15am to tell me that it was time for great a hashing day. The early morning air was crisp and fresh after a heavy downpour the night before. I had spent the night updating the Wild Geeks blog on our last trip to Batu Dam. Man... Google video needs some major usability upgrade! In the admin screen, a simple thumbnail of the video would be nice.

Anyway, the day started off with me forgetting to bring my brand new helmet, which I was really anticipating to wear on this FRIM hash. The next thing I forgot was my speedometer cum odometer, which was a bummer as I needed it to keep to keep track of our distance cycled. Luckily I did not forget to pick up Joe or all hell would break loose... LOL...

And so I picked up Joe from Sri Petaling and we arrived at FRIM at about 8:25am via Jalan Kuching. There were plenty of parking spaces in a chinese temple across the street from the road turning into the FRIM emtrance gate. There we met up with Azril and we all had "roti chanai" for breakfast. Btw, we had never been to FRIM before so we did not know where the trails were and had no idea where to start. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



As soon as Joe paid for entrance fee of RM 1.00 each (if you drive your car in, it will cost you RM 5.00), we rode through the gate with Azril leading the way, Joe capturing our trails using his GPS and as usual, I was shooting video and taking GPS embedded photos to mark our location in Google Earth later... LOL...



Since none of us had ever been to FRIM, we needed to find out where the trails were.



From these videos, you can see that there were a lot of traffic going in and out of the road leading into the institute.



After cycling for a short while, Azril spotted an information map and decided to refer to it for directions. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.




With much analysis and consultation with the stars, we had a direction... LOL. We decided to go find the "land rover trail".



When we finally found the trail, it turned out to be a hiking trail, but we went for it anyway. After a stretch, with Joe fending the mosquitoes, the trails ended abruptly. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



Azril proposed that we started climbing. He believed that the land rover trail was just up the climb! And he was right at that... except for the fact that it was another hiking trail... LOL.



The land rover trail seemed elusive! After Joe's battle with some mosquitoes we took off again.



The surface of this trail was "rooted" with slippery and damp tree roots criss-crossing the route, which makes a smooth ride impossible. There was no grip when the tires went over the uneven root, causing the tires to slide along the exposed roots. I was quite concern about damaging the roots with the pedal of my bike, so I walked by bike through.



You can see that walking the bike through the trail with one hand holding my Dopod shooting video was not exactly a breeze... :-) So pardon me for the shaky video footage... LOL...



The videos also showed the trees growing straight upwards. The wet and damp leaves should had been a paradise for leeches. Surprisingly, there were none that I could find. Believe me, I was on a look out for leeches... :-)



After a short while, we came crossed a bridge spanning across a steep gorge. On the other side, we could either turn left or right. This time, the decision was made for us... we could only turn left as there were some people cutting trees on the other side.



Our friend Joe was too busy fending off mosquitoes again. After Joe and Azril's comparison of their "smoking" bodies, we went on our quest for the land rover trails again. This trail was uphill and hardly visible as a trail. There was a big fallen branch blocking the way and we had to go round it. Before we knew it... we had to carry our bikes and climbed a steep slope to a road, which we hoped was the elusive land rover trail.



Success at last. It is the land rover trail. Another decision time, left or right? After Joe's consultation with the stars, we decided to head right.



It was pretty easy from here on as the trail was a dirt road used by land rovers... LOL... What's better than a nice downhill to ward off mosquitoes and cool ourselves? LOL... I could think of a dozen reasons... HAhAHA...



And then all of s sudden, we ended up on a tarmac road. It seemed we had found the beginning of the land rover trail... LOL. There was a nice tarmac road leading up to this "elusive" trail... LOL. So, after a discussion and consultation with Joe the Oracle, we decided to ride back into the land rover trail.



With Azril leading the way, the geeks followed. Before long, we came to another fork in the trail. Joe the Oracle was consulted again to determine the location. He brought out his divination machina and the decision was made.... LOL. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



After the decision of which fork to take was made, the Oracle demanded a price for his professional services... the fee was to ensure that he was fully protected from mosquitoes. So Azril the Ranger had no choice but to perform a sacred ritual, the Baptism of Tobacco, on Joe the Oracle.



As we were ready to head out on the right fork of the land rover trail, I discovered that the stars alignment was not favourable to me... I had a puncture on my front tire. What a blow! As none of us have any equipment to fix a tire puncture, we had to turn back and forget the hash... it was indeed a sad day... :-(

To be continued in:
FRIM - Part 3 - The Rubber Tube, The Stars and A Birthday

FRIM - Part 1 - The Rubber Tube, The Stars and A Birthday

Location:
Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM) near Kepong and Batu Caves.

Map:

Compliments of Joe

Total Distance Traveled:
11.1 km

Cycling Time:
01:07 hours

Stop Time:
02:01 hours

Trail Information:
http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=3295

GPS Embedded Photos on Google Earth: http://www.panoramio.com/user/595543/tags/FRIM
(Unfortunately the satellite images provided by Google Earth is not very good.)

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Batu Dam - Part 4 - Leeches, Bikers and a Cold Hard Trail

Further into the trail, Azril and I arrived at a beautiful bamboo grove. The others had gone way ahead. We had to stop to take some photos and to record the GPS location. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



Finally, we got on our way and caught up with the others. The trail after the bamboo grove was a long steep uphill and at certain parts not ridable at all. As we continued, Azril's bike's rear wheel came off alignment and we needed to stop to fix the alignment.



We continued uphill and was rewarded with a nice downhill. Then we came upon some make-shift log bridge and decided to stop. But someone was missing... we were quite concern... not about the person... but more concern about the expensive bike... LOL...



After John and the rest caught up, we continued along the trail. The next incident was caused by a loose gear shifter on George's bike.



After fixing George's gear shifter problem, we continued downhill. The downhill was fast and furious... hard on the brakes and we had to really work the bike to make sure we made it through in one piece. But it was difficult as the path was full of crevices and rocks.

It was exhilarating! The trail opened up to a sandy road. But there was a VERY steep turn to reach the road. And that was where George lost control and plunged into the bushes... LOL. I am sorry... but it was hilarious! I think George deserve the name, "Iron Man" from here on... he is a "made" man... LOL... Luckily, George wore a helmet... in fact he was the only one that wore a helmet...



In any case, it served to remind us to get a helmet before our next hashing trip... LOL... After George recovered from the fall, he found himself bleeding... not because of the fall but because of leeches... :-)

After getting our bearings, we continued towards the northern tip of the dam. Just before reaching the main road, we came across a resort called Riverstone Eco Resort. Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



We chatted with some of the workers at the resort and decided to take a break.







After about 30 minutes break, we got onto the main road and rode along the highway circumventing the dam lake. We were now at three quarter way around the lake.



Riding on the road was no fun and rather dangerous with all the traffics!



Azril anc Daniel... cool only!



The interviews...



The gate to the dam, our final destination! The last guy have to close the gate... LOL... and it wasn't me... LOL...



Check out the view. Breathtaking!



Azril and Izaini taking photos of the fantastic view. Peace bro!



Our goal! Finally, we rode on top of the dam! What a sight to behold!



Finally, we made a circle around Batu Dam!!!! It was a great feeling... until... John was attacked by an Octopus!!!!



Everyone getting ready to pack up and go home... but not me... I had to check out some kampung chickens... LOL..



The final thing left to be done was to pack up and to make sure that nothing was left behind... not even a scrap of paper... :-) As you can see, packing three bikes in the back of George's pickup was no easy task... :-)



I believe all of us felt that the Batu Dam hash we just did, was extremely fun and enormously satisfying. We were and are still very new to Mountain Biking, and we have a lot of lessons to learn, especially about safety and first aids. We must give thanks that no one was injured or harmed in this trip.

Since this Batu Dam hash, a few of us have bought helmets and the club will be arranging for first aid kits. If nothing else, our next trip will be more prepared in terms of safety.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Batu Dam - Part 3 - Leeches, Bikers and a Cold Hard Trail

After riding through the Cempedak and Rambutan orchard, Azril and I caught up with the rest of the geeks.

We caught them frolicking in the sun along the "river".... LOL. Ok... ok... it was not exactly a river but one of the many mountain streams feeding the dam. In any case, we shall refer to it as the "river" for effect sake... :-) Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



The river was our second obstacle which would require any half ass mountain bikers worth their grain in salt to at least attempt to ride across. We were worth... less... hahahaha. It was kind of pathetic but this "river" crossing was a first for almost all of us newbies... LOL. And of course, that spelt FUN!!!



What we did next was quite remarkable. We had to plan and decide how we were going to shoot videos of the crossing instead of planning on how we wanted to overcome the crossing... LOL. In the end, we just did it!!!!

And what a sight to behold!!! You have to check out the next video to appreciate our ingenuity... LOL.



After everyone had crossed over, Azril, in the true spirit of mountain biking, decided to tackle the "river" again... Did he make it this time around? LOL...



While everyone was checking on their bike, there was something about the bamboo trees surrounding us that reminded us of someone... :-)



When we finally went on our way again, it was a grueling uphill ride through some house and orchards.



I had to stop to catch my breath, as well as to shoot some videos and take some GPS photos to document this part if the journey. What better place to stop than in an orchard surrounded by "cempedak" and durian trees.



As George arrived and while waiting for him to catch his breath, I showed him the "fruits" of my labour... LOL...



Our next stop was at a trail fork. We had to decide whether to take the left or the right trails. After referring to the GPS, we decided to take the right trails. (Later we found out that if we had taken the left trail, our journey would have been much more difficult and longer.)



This next segment of the trail was hilly, muddy and narrow. The surface of the trail was "groovy", as in lined with "longkang"... LOL. If you were to take a cross-section of the trail you will get multiple letters of "W". Looked like someone went through the trail with a dirt bike digging deep into the surface... :-)

In the end we were rewarded with a beautiful icy cold stream to wash our bike and chill out!



It was very tempting to stay on by the stream, but we had to move on. In this next video, we can see how strong man George carried his bike across and up the other side of the stream.. show off... hahaha...:-)



The third obstacle we came across was a tree that had fallen over and across the trail. It was no biggie, as we all made it through without any incident. That is if your mind don;t get carry away... :-)



By now we had climbed up quite a bit into the hilly part of the trail. We started to see leeches and giant ants... :-)



To be continued in:
Leeches, Bikers and a Cold Hard Trail - Part 4

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Batu Dam - Part 2 - Leeches, Bikers and a Cold Hard Trail

Batu Dam Trail, it was really an excellent trail for hiking and/or mountain biking. The trail was very scenic, beautiful and serene. So many times along our journey we had to stop and enjoy the view.... and of course to catch our breaths... LOL

Anyway, there were in total 7 of us; Azril, Izaini, George, Daniel, John, Ken Wei and me.

Aside from Azril and Izaini, the rest of us are all newbies to mountain biking. Well... George, Daniel and I have had some experience... if you can call it that... at the Rubber Research Institute... LOL Ok, ok... I am stretching it.

Everyone was very excited as this was our first visit to Batu Dam. The only information we had on Batu Dam was from reading the articles and viewing photos on the Internet.



As soon as everyone's bike was ready, we set off to climb the very first slope leading to the dam. Man... what a slope it was... Check out the location on Google Earth and photo here.



Since I was a self-designated video camera man, I had to do my duty by cycling ahead so as to be able to capture the geeks as they rode pass just like on Discovery Channel... LOL.



It was a pretty gentle climb that stretched on and on... at least that's what I felt. Finally we made it to the top. Lo and behold! The dam was really beautiful and calm.



Not quite getting over the sight of the dam, we continued and headed along the trail still beholding the view... LOL.



Then came the first obstacle... a puddle of muddy water... which made us realized that this ain't no sightseeing tour... there were obstacles to over come.... LOL. Anyway, this was a piece of cake for everyone to cross. Check out the location on Google Earth and the photo.



More Discovery Channel footage of the riders... Hahaha...



Around the next corner, I just had to stop to take in the sight and sound. Everyone was ahead of me. But what the heck man... it was serene!



Then I caught up with Azril. He had stopped to take some photographs. Man... I wish I had brought a better camera rather than depending on my Dopod D810. But I needed the GPS photos more, just so we can later refer to Google Earth for our locations through those GPS embedded photos.



Anyway, Azril the naturalist was showing me what a "Jambu Mewah" was. A non-edible fragrant fruit... LOL. Check out the location on Google Earth and a photo of "Jambu Mewah" here. Also, check out the panorama photo that Azril took! Magnificent!!!



As Azril and I continued down the trail, we came across some "cempedak" and "rambutan" trees. Seems there were some people planting a mini orchard.

To be continued in:
Leeches, Bikers and a Cold Hard Trail - Part 3

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Batu Dam - The Leechitimization of George and John

What's a cycling adventure without some casualties? George and John was "leeched" and did not know it.

George felt an itch around his crotch and on his thigh. When he scratched, he felt something rubbery and slimy, then he started bleeding.... LOL. Check out George's video:



John, on the other had, did not know about the "leechitization" until we were all back at our vehicles getting ready to pack up.

Check out John's video... :-)

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Batu Dam - Part 1 - Leeches, Bikers and a Cold Hard Trail

Location:
Batu Dam near Kampong Sungai Tua Baharu.

Map:
(George to put map here... :-)

George: Map as required below, sorry didn't keep my GPS on all the time, so no actual trail, just my estimates:










Top Speed:
41.4 km/h

Total Distance Traveled:
13.5 km up, down and around the lake.

GPS Embedded Photos on Google Earth: http://www.panoramio.com/user/595543/tags/Batu%20Dam
(Unfortunately the satellite images provided by Google Earth is not very good.)

More Photos From Daniel:
http://picasaweb.google.com/danielchoo/BatuDam

More Photos from Azril:
http://picasaweb.google.com/azril1971/BatuDam?authkey=FQCLSRsp-zo

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Bicycle Helmet - Necessary?

I remember the time first when I wore my bicycle helmet and cycle to a friend's house, the first reaction was laughter thinking how ridiculous I looked or sor chai in our terms. Then tonight when I tried to convince a cycling buddy to buy a helmet, he took it as a fashion statement and said "the helmet so small, protect what?"

Then I realiased that all this happening because there lack of bicycle safety education in Malaysia! We have laws that required everyone to wear motorcycle helmets and so so often we witnessed motorcyclist in our neighbourhood disregarding them. Even the security guard patrolling the streets in my neighbourhood ignore the helmet, breaking the law to enforce the law? What is wrong with Malaysians or are their lives just that cheap? If you have noticed the latest wear a helmet advertisements on the media, it mentioned that most accidents involving motorcyclist happened near their home.

In 2005, there are 1,679 accidents involving bicycles, that's 3.57% of the total statistics, bear in mind these are reported accidents, usually involving police report, meaning heavy casualties or death. I remembered when I was on a bicycle got knock down by a van when I was a kid, there were no report made cause I was ok, imagine how many of these is not included?

So back to bicycle helmet, do we really need it. From what I have read so far, no, a bicycle helmet does not give you the type of protection you from a motorcycle helmet, if a car runs over your head with the helmet, it will still becomes crushed watermelon. But I look at it from this angle, it may not give me 100% protection, but it increase my chances of survival. The inner foam is designed to cushion the impact on the brain while the outer plastic is to make it skid so it does not jerk your neck! Just make sure your strap is on otherwise don't bother wearing one.

Here's a good link I found on bicycle helmet http://www.helmets.org/

In many countries like Australia, part of US, its already a law for bicycle helmets and I am very sure they are not doing because they have nothing better to do. Its sad that the mentality of Malaysian is no helmet is ok. Education should start young, if a kid does not learn the importance of a bicycle helmet, I think they wouldn't think motorcycle helmet is important too when they grow up. This is sadly what we have no experience when we are a kid, a bicycle helmet, never even seen one when I was cycling as a kid!!! First chance we got when riding the motorcycle in kampung, we take the damn helmet off! Nothing beats the wind through the hair, but we forgot how fragile a human is to falling :P

Based on Jack's request, here's my helmet and bike, so if you see a fei chai wearing a red helmet on a red bike in KK-Rimau, that's me!