Monday, September 10, 2007

Kong Kong Group Ride

A road ride through Johor Bahru to the fishing village of Kampong Kong Kong. Ahmad, Peter, Au, Yew Thiam, Mature Nic, Recruit Nic, and Arthur started from Cycle Craft at Still Road, Upper East Coast. John started from Bendemeer. I joined them as they rode along Upper Bukit Timah Road. Melissa and Kit jumped in at Woodlands.

At the Woodlands (Singapore) Checkpoint, the immigration officer asked a host of questions: where were we going; what were we going to do there ("Eat," I replied); is it a difficult ride; do we do this regularly? Hmm... Maybe she's a cyclist too?  :-D

** = Images with filenames appended with an "A" were taken by Arthur.

Outside the Johor Bahru (Malaysia) Immigration Checkpoint

Bicyclists are supposed to use the lanes for cars at the Singapore Immigration Checkpoint, but are required to use the motorcycle lanes at the Malaysia Immigration side.

"We are heading east, right?"
"No, west."
"Uh oh..."

"My Brooks saddle is so comfortable. You guys are gonna suffer!"

View Larger Map

Anyways, this is the road by the Straits of Johor; it passes by the Johor Sultan's palace, Istana Besar.

I'm taking "last man duty." The rest of the riders are in front. Over the course of the day, we would grow to envy John's spring-suspended Brooks saddle more and more.

We were lost for about 7.5 miles (12 km) in Johor Bahru, giving us plenty of opportunity to brush up our bike handling skills in traffic.


Straight ahead! (I think...)

Rest stop.

Arthur and the gals.

Behind the gas station, the Smokers' Corner.

Our steeds baking in the sun.

In Malaysian, their signs for toilets (restrooms) can be rather misleading.

IMHO, this is closer to the truth  :-D

Another rest stop, this time at a coffee shop in Masai. My hair hates my helmet, or my helmet hates my hair; one of the two.

Ahmad chillin'.

JOHN:  This is nothing! In my days, we used to cycle this every day, with one arm tied behind our backs; pedaling with one leg (the other, busying kicking off rabid dogs); on 22.7 kg (50 lb) Flying Pigeon, all-steel singlespeed bicycles; with wild boars chasing us...

Meanwhile, Mel bangs her head on the table, and the gentleman in the red and white jersey proceeds to throw up.

Here's John on his singlespeed Surly, with panniers too!

Peter on his very nice Ellsworth Truth.

Taking a break while Peter chases down the guys who overshot. Instead of heading west at one of the junctions, they continued north.

Please take your time to find them!
Please take your time to find them!
Please take your time to find them!

Aww rats! We didn't even get 10 minutes.

Leaving the madness of JB city traffic... (There are still heavy trucks though.) Filming with my right hand meant that I couldn't shift my rear derailleur. Now I know that John and Ahmad on their singlespeeds are truly mad.

Mel's gesture says everything.

Finally, quiet, village roads.

Mel and Arthur in front.

1% of the ride was like this. (I'm serious). The rest of time, we were busy dodging motorbikes, buses, trucks, potholes, dead/smashed/flattened/oozing animals, and, oh yes, cows.

Those lulled into a sense of peace and serenity by this downhill were brutally awakened by the 2 climbs round the bend.

After being brutally awakened...

JOHN:  This bench sucks. My Brooks saddle is more comfortable.
AU:  I think my legs are falling off.

At this point, Peter encouraged us by telling us that there is only 5 km (3.125 miles) more to Kampong Kong Kong.

True to his word...

...but he didn't say what the 5 km consist of  :-P

A closer look.

Lat 1.5167, Long 104.0000: Kong Kong Tai Son Seafood Resort. Time for grub.

Just in time too! Kit's about ready to throw herself into the sea.

PETER:  No need for that. Here, try this new version of CPR.

Next, Peter demonstrates the Vulcan death grip on Mel.

Bringing Falun Gong to Kong Kong.

100 Plus or Heineken?

I think the ratio of bottles of beer to cans of 100 Plus was 1:1.

The rest of the gang. By the way, Peter rode a full-suspension Ellsworth Truth with 2" slicks on this ride. And invincible Kit didn't sleep the night before.

Food! Food! Waitress, where's our food?

Mel wanders off and spots this pair of giant fish (Arapaima gigas).

MEL:  Hmm... How do they cook it?
AHMAD:  I'll go ask.

A very nice Zodiac.

A closer look. It is actually closer to Pulau Tekong from here than from Woodlands. Recruit Nick shouldn't have turned back at Woodlands  :-D

A little note about the restaurant: unless you truly believe in recycling everything, you may want to skip ordering the mollusks (molluscs for the tea-drinking crowd who lost the War of Independence). E.g. clams, mussels, gong gong, cockles, et cetera.

The toilets directly drop — yeah, drop — the "deposits" into the water. 20 meters (66 ft) away are nets holding mussels, gong gong, et cetera. These organisms are filter feeders. Al Gore will love you. Mmm...... extreme recycling. Ah, sedapnya!

After lunch. 40 km (25 miles) back to Johor Bahru.

As we surmounted yet another hill, these self-propelled chunks of steak thundered across the road, in front of us.

Oh yes, it's warm. 100 F (37.8 C).

Everyone got broiled.


Helmet Hair Dude.

When the tai-tais around here spot me in my trunks at the pool, their sunglasses are gonna crack  :-P

By 2 PM, we were pretty much done.

Even trooper Mel looked a little tired. On the plus side, I discovered a new flavor of 100 Plus: Aqtiv. It's clear, and tastes like 7-UP.

After a minor adventure at the Johor Bahru Immigration Check Point — where some of us had to play dodgeball (hantam bola) with buses and motorcycles in an alley — we crossed back into Woodlands around 4 PM. The group dispersed from there: Ahmad & Co. went east, while Arthur, Mel, Kit, and moi headed toward McDonalds to put back on the calories we so painstakingly burnt  :-P

Something else I discovered on this ride: Coke Float  :-)

Total distance:  cyclo-computer 80 miles (128 km) / GPS dead
Total elevation climbed:  Altimeter 2960 ft (902 m)
Temperature range:  82 F to 100 F (28 C to 37.8 C)


Anonymous said...

hey.... i know them guys from the 'Smoker's Corner' photo.

-ben said...

Small world!