Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Desaru Loop Ride

It's back to the southern tip of West Malaysia, this time with company.

Trying to hail a cab when you have a bicycle with you really cultivates patience; it's like chess without brains. I stood by Upper Bukit Timah Road for 45 minutes, watching cabs with clearly-lit, "For Hire," signs fly by. For some reason, the moment taxi drivers spot the bicycle, they go catatonic, ignoring everything that exist on either side of the road. However, the moment you decide to cough up the $4 booking surcharge, they flock to you as if you are giving out free samples, NDP tickets, Hello Kitty vibrators, used textbooks, et cetera.

GPS Track of today's ride. Dotted line represents ferry travel (and is omitted from distance calculations).

On a previous ride — 3 days ago — my route headed south, in a clockwise manner, utilizing Highway 92 to get from Tanjong Belunkor to Sungai Rengit. Today, disembarking from Tanjong Pengelih, we eschew the lower half of that highway and head north via Highway 90, counter-clockwise.

After waiting for 2 hours for the bumboat boatman to make his minimum quota of 12 passengers, the 10 passengers (including Hong Shin and myself) decided to pony up the extra $2 each to get going. Fare:  SGD$8 (+$2). SGD$2 for the bicycle.

Here's the morning ferry coming in from Sebana Cove.

Some large scale marine construction going on; the length of the seawall is impressive.

Pill boxes by the road just after Tanjong Pengelih Jetty.

4 km on, Hong Shin noticed an odd vibration from my rear wheel. When I stopped to double-check, I discovered that my rear axle was not seated properly. It might have led to a broken axle later. Whew.

It was a pleasant 12.5 miles (20 km) to the town of Sungai Rengit. After a less than hearty lunch (the portions were small), we were off. Here's Hong Shin with two 1.5-liter bottles on the rear rack. If he suddenly shot backwards at Warp 9, I would know the two 100 Plus bottles blew off their caps   :-P

There is a dress code for cyclists?

All right, the chick is not wearing a helmet. She's not wearing gloves. Closet sadomasochist or not, the seams on her pants will make her scream bloody murder after an hour or two on the saddle. The right leg of her white pants will eventually get greasy and/or get snagged by the chain. As for the shoes: laces do get sucked into the chain too.

There goes my chances of meeting cyclists like the Kenda NeveGals on my rides around here. Thank you, Johor Tourism Action Council. No, really.

Here's a new word for your edification:  dhimmitude.

A couple miles on, whilst passing Teluk Rumania, Hong Shin decides that being blasted forward (should the bottles of 100 Plus explode) is a preferable fate.

For the rest of the day, signs such as this would taunt us; while they are meant to be instructions to drivers, in my heat-addled noggin' (more about this later), they came across as comments on our pace.

Highway 90, the coastal road which runs from Sungai Rengit to Desaru, is a pleasant route for cyclists.

Quiet, picturesque resorts are found off the highway.

A view from one of the units at Sea View Resort. RM220 per night (sleeps 4). RM290 on weekends. Cheapskates may elect to keep their helmets on and sleep under a coconut tree for free.

The 21.9 miles (35 km) of quiet, level roads so far meant Hong Shin had plenty of time to practice riding handsfree.

Not bad for a shot in motion. No image stabilizer too!

A view from the cockpit.

The flat, quiet roads also left one wishing for an aerobar. Here, we are zipping along at 24 mph (38.4 km/h).

Speedfreaks only: imagine if you are on a 175 HP Suzuki Hayabusa, on a full tank doped with a flask (or two) of toulene. For those with a death wish, here's a 500 HP Turbo Hayabusa (video) popping wheelies at 188+ mph (300+ km/h).

Taking a rear shot blind.

As noon approached, temperatures steadily climbed from a pleasant 84 F (28.9 C) this morning, to an uncomfortable 93 F (33.9 C).

The flat, dreamy section ends; road quality also declines.

The heat (35 C) increased in tandem to render the hills more challenging.

Hong Shin having fun on a gravity climb. It was during the attempt to follow and film him that I discovered that right-handed individuals have a distinct disadvantage whilst filming from bicycles — it is quite impossible to shoot a video with your right master hand and shift the rear derailleur.

A sweltering 98 F (36.7 C) now.

Hong Shin climbing up one of the rolling hills in the heat.

100 F (37.8 C).

Almost there.

Like I said, Hong Shin had a lot of time to practice riding handsfree on the flats.

2 miles (3 km) on, Ivy finds some respite in a cozy clubhouse. The restrooms here are air-conditioned and they have nice and clean shower facilities too.

Dude, where's my towel?

Hong Shin and his steed relish the break too.

Mmm... cold towels. Terima kaseh!

Cendol for Hong Shin, ice kachang for me, and a club sandwich between us. Meanwhile, the skies let loose with a brief shower. We watched golfers run.

Besides cheerfully keeping our water glasses filled with iced water (no trivial task, considering we are 2 males who just cycled 35.4 miles (56.7 km) from Tanjong Pengelih in the heat), the friendly staff at the clubhouse also kept the monkeys at bay. First, there were the usual textbook shoos and stamps of the feet, then, the slingshot came out. You should have seen how the critters ran  :-P

A brief visit to the beach on the way out, then we had to be back on the road to Tanjong Belungkor.

On the way out of Desaru, we passed by a couple of Singaporeans — in their national dress — frolicking amongst the verdant growth.


What Hong Shin doesn't know: the 18 miles (29 km) is not flat. By the time he reaches Tanjong Belungkor, he would have climbed another 980 feet (298.8 m).

What you don't know can't hurt you.

Junction with Highway 92. Right also leads to Mersing. We make a left.

Upon laying eyes on the hill before this junction, Hong Shin let loose an expletive; it was time to break out the energy gels   :-D

Following the rest of Highway 92 — what I did on a previous ride — leads to Sebana Cove and Sungai Rengit. We make a right onto Highway 89.

One of the rollers typical in this region; while never steep enough to stop you dead, they whittle away your determination through sheer numbers.

Another view.

Hong Shin after 24.9 miles (39.84 km) — and 980 feet (298.8 m) of climbing — from the clubhouse at Desaru.

Tanjong Belungkor Ferry Terminal. Fare:  RM34 one-way to Changi Ferry Terminal. RM11 for the bicycle.

Check out Hong Shin's tan lines. Look at his calf, methinks he's leaving the realm of the recreational cyclist   :-D

Mine's pretty obvious; you should see me in my swimming trucks — I look like I'm wearing stockings. I tell inquisitive nosy kids that my legs were grafted on from corpses by surgeons — i.e. "NewLimbs" — and watch them run screaming to their mommies. (No, I don't like kids. I think the brats should be muzzled and made to wear shock collars.)

I got some cool chainring brands.

The backdrop as our ferry, Water Front II, motored towards Singapore.

Leaving the rolling hills behind...

A light show at day's end.

Cotton candy in the sky

Distance from Tanjong Belungkor to Changi Ferry Terminal:  6.25 miles (10 km) — not included in distance calculations.

Changi Coastal Rd:  3.49 miles (5.58 km).

After running into "Masher" Dom at the Marine Crescent overpass, we bumped into Louis leaving for his (Changi) Coastal Road ride. Indulged in some past-closing-time-shopping at Cycle Craft (sorry, Viki!), and then it was time to refuel with some excellent beef noodles down the road.

After 84.4 miles (135 km), an Ah Beng, with a hairdo that looks like he got into a fight with his barber, tried to gain a jump on us by suddenly sprinting past on the uphill after Bukit Timah Community Center on Jalan Jurong Kechil. Bad idea, little man. Hong Shin and I taught him a thing or two about sportsmanship by downshifting and opening a can of whoopass on the tosser.

Not a bad day, we enjoyed 22 miles (35 km) of nice, scenic, and quiet flats; took on gravity climbs in 100 F (37.8 C) heat; enjoyed sinful deserts made from ice whilst watching golfers in plaid pants run for cover in the rain; climbed another 980 ft (298.8 m) in 95 F (35 C); rode 21 km to Cycle Craft; rode another 22 km; and still managed to blow the pants off an Ah Beng dreaming he is Lance Ah Strong. Not bad at all   :-P

Total distance:  cyclo-computer 86.1 miles (137.8 km) / GPS 86 miles (137.7 km)
Total elevation climbed:  Altimeter 2090 ft (298.8 m)
Temperature range:  84 F to 100 F (28.9 C to 37.8 C).
Calories expended (corrected for elevation and rider weight):  3908


SpeedDemon said...

So Cool!!! I wanna do something like that but my mother would disown me....maybe if we had a larger group...hmmmm


Li Hang said...

Hi I would like to know the distance of this trip excluding the Singapore segment. Is it 94 km if I deduct the 21km to Cycle Craft and 22km before the Ah Beng? I did this same route two months ago and ate at the same golf club but I do not have a cyclo computer. Thank you in advance.

-ben said...


I was wondering where is "Ah Beng," and thought if it's some new competitor to Ah Mei Cafe :-D

It's 25 km from Dairy Farm Estate to Cycle Craft.

The place where we ran into the Ah Beng would be at Bukit Timah Community Center (in front of Rodalink @ 110 Jalan Jurong Kechil). My rough guess is it is about 3 km from Dairy Farm Estate.

So, to answer your question, it would be 137.8 - 25 - 22 = 90.8 km

You're welcome :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, do you have the resort contact information at Pengerang, Sea View Resort? Thought of visiting the place.

-ben said...

Yes, I do.
Here you go:

Sea View Resort
Lot 1272, Kampung Sepang,
Telok Ramunia,
81620 Pengerang,
Tel / Fax: 07-827-0128

Person to contact:
Mr. Siva

NB: If you're calling from Singapore, you need a dial the prefix 02 first.