Friday, January 2, 2009

Mountain Biking in Sg. Dua, Pahang

Our local T-Bolt Mutiara Damansara (T-Bolt MD) club organized an two-day event which includes both camping and cycling. The club is named T-Bolt MD because it's composed of 90% cyclists using new Proton T-Bolt mountain bikes which are sold cheap by a merchant among us. The other 10% did not use T-Bolt bikes, including me and Irfan, but you needn't a T-Bolt to join - it's all about the cycling, the fun, and the team spirit. The event is held at Sungai Dua, Pahang, off the highway near Karak. Half the event attendants came on the second day just to cycle (due to work) and the other half including me camped overnight.

30th December 2008

9:10 pm
After performing the Isha'a prayers, I followed Irfan and En. Aidit to the Myrasa restaurant across the street to sign up for the event, which is tomorrow. All you need to do is pay RM20 for your meals and etc. Cycled back home and finished packing my stuff. Could hardly sleep out of anticipation (which was a different kind of anticipation compared to the one I felt while taking my PMR results, which was on the same day too!)

31st December 2008

2:25 pm
I left home and cycled to
Teak 5 Furniture and Cafe, which belonged to Irfan's father Mr. Rosli. I cycled with one hand while the other was holding a tent. I am wearing 3 bags at a time! One was my Camelbak Rogue Hydration Pack, one was the bag which had my clothes and other necessities inside, and the other was a hiking waistpack. Not to mention the extra bolster-shaped bag which contains the tent.

2:27 pm
Reached Teak 5 and went to the back where Irfan (14) , Ilyas (13) and his brother Daniel (14) were waiting for me. They had already removed their front wheels and loaded their bikes into the back of Mr. Rosli's
Toyota Hilux, and then we dealt with my bicycle before being served late lunch which is a plate of spicy fried rice and fresh watermelon juice. Then Mr. Hassan, who is a Moroccan, came out of the cafe (we ate outside) with his two kids Adib and Omar, who were 10 and 9 respectively. His car, a Kia Rio is loaded to the brim with Tesco plastic bags filled with food.

3:13 pm
We were all wondering what took the other team so long. The other team, let's call them Team B, were given the task of loading cooking utensils and coolers and other items of importance in a proper camping event into En. Ajis's powerful and
Rainforest Challenge certified Mitsubishi Pajero. Irfan got tired of waiting and drove us the the mosque where they were loading the Pajero with equipment. They finished and both vehicles were driven back to Teak 5. We took some of the food in Mr. Hassan's car (the rest of them are for Mr. Hassan's refridgerator) and also chucked our bags and helmets into the Pajero.

3:30 pm
Mr. Rosli got into the driver seat of the Hilux while his son Irfan sat beside him, and Daniel, Ilyas and me got into the back seat. Meanwhile in the Pajero En. Ajis is driving while Mr. Hassan and his two kids will be passengers. We left Teak 5 and were soon cruising along the highway.

4:25 pm
We're on the highway and had passed a tunnel, a
McDonalds at the Genting Sempah R&R, and now heading towards Karak - but we went off the highway into a single-lane road into the green. We passed a small metal bridge, a cluster of messy wooden Orang Asli houses, and some good time later a collection of 4 Orang Asli houses - and this time it's a solid concrete structure, and it's new too, judged by the spotless paint and shining zinc roof and air ventilator.

We headed further and soon reached a dirt road connected to the main road we are on now. The dirt road slopes downhill, and only four wheel drives, motorcycles and mountain bikes could go down and back up. Both the drivers switched to a low gear and drove down the slope with a bend in the middle. We reached the bottom and was greeted by a waterfall with a large swimming area below it, in which a few Orang Asli youths which came in their
Kap Chai motorcycles were doing somersaults into the river. The bottom of the slope is directly into the river, with only a small beach where a few motorbikes could park. The camping/picnic area is on the other side, so En. Ajis beckoned Mr. Rosli to cross the river. En. Ajis drove his Pajero across the river to the other side, followed by the Hilux.

4:40 pm
We had finished unloading some of the stuff. The adults busied themselves with the planning of what should be set up where, etc. Adib and Omar donned life jackets. 80% of the swim area is very shallow, but the other 20% close to the waterfall and cliff walls are very deep. There are two logs bordering the deep area, and you could jump off it, but it didn't keep the kids off. So En. Ajis used a strong bungee cord to mark a border.

Us four young cyclists fumbled with our bikes, putting back on the front wheels. Daniel's rear tyre dropped out and after much trying from Irfan, Daniel just dumped his bike near the Hilux until the other teams arrived. My front brake weren't in a good shape, either. So only Irfan and Ilyas got the enjoy cycling back and forth across the river. But hey - I wasn't left out, I got to use Irfans's bike and boy, was cycling across rivers fun.

5:30 pm
We have just finished setting up three tents, and the third team - En. Aidit, Ustaz Suhaimi, and two more people which I haven't met before arrived. They came in a
Proton Persona, which is a sedan so it is left parked at the top of the slope, on the shoulder of the road. We greeted them and they dropped their load and started making a small makeshift multipurpose hall with a large canvas sheet, lots of rope and a few long bamboo poles as support. The hall would be used as a place to eat meals, perform mass prayers, and in the night, for sleeping in.

Us four youngsters (let's call us the Foursome for this post) tested the waters - it was slightly cold - but nevertheless we jumped in and splashed about. We played with Adib and Omar - or specifically, splashed them and pulled them around the water by the life jackets.

En. Ajis had made a simple fishing rod out of a long stick, with a string and a hook (with a small shrimp attached to it as bait) and made Daniel try his luck at the river part lower than the swimming area. Sure, there are some fishes, but they were very nimble and either got the hide below the large rocks that littered the rivers or got further downstream - the water flowed rapidly here. Omar walked into the water wearing his red
Crocs and the right one accidentally came off, and flowed downstream, while the Foursome and Omar dumbly watched it go away, before someone snapped us back into attention the Foursome quickly scrambled downstream in pursuit of the runaway shoe. The rapid waters eventually got it out of sight, and we were hampered by the slippery rocks, and we closed the case.

The Rest Of The Night
Mr. Rosli was the main cook while En. Ajis and En. Aidit did the barbeque. We ate hotdogs, French fries, lamb meat, and prawn fritters for dinner, and drank either tea, coffee, or
Capri-Sonne Alaska Ice Tea. There was brief laughter as some of the crowd that had not seen, heard of tasted any Capri-Sonne before tried to pronounce the brand in the most kampung-like manner ever. It was fun.

We had Maghrib and Isha'a prayers, and then adults went to clean up and discuss some stuff while the younger people - The Foursome and the Brothers Adib and Omar - played with fire. The purpose of the fire was supposed to keep mosquitoes (hates smoke) and other animals (hate fire) at bay - but in the end it made a good toy for us. Adib kept shoving newspaper into the flames. I took a small, long branch, covered one end with newspaper and torched it. I paraded towards the waterside holding the torch, when Adib made me make another fire, so I did. Soon enough, all the newspapers had been reduced to ash and Adib battered the dying flame.

10:20 pm
We got a call that the lorry and the van that carried the other 12 T-Bolt bikes for the bikers tomorrow got caught in a massive traffic jam and would be arriving in about 30 mins or so. The Foursome accompanied by En. Ajis walked up the slope and along the road towards the highway to wait for the truck. It was a good 3-kilometre walk, and at night we were more tired than we were in the day so it felt long to us, but since we kept talking it helped shorten the journey somehow.

10:45 pm
We arrived at the side of the highway, the entrance to the road, where En. Aidit and another man had already been waiting in his
Proton Persona. They got out of the car for a smoke and chatted with En. Ajis while the Foursome got into the car, turned on the AC and blasted out music from Hitz.FM. We listen to Flo Rida's In The Ayer, Gym Class Heroes's Cookie Jar, Katy Perry's Hot 'N Cold, and a few other songs that I didn't recognize - also a Happy New Year greeting from the deejays JJ and Rudy every now and then followed by a rock version of Auld Lang Syne. Then the truck and van arrived, and we all drove back to the top of the slope. The bikes were unloaded one by one, and the Foursome cycled every one of them down the slope, and pushed it slowly across the river while holding on to our pants (we didn't want to sleep wet later). The ones who got bikes with a CatEye bike torch on the handles were lucky - the ones that did not had to cycle down the slippery slope in the dark - but we all made it somehow.

12:10 am
Ilyas prepared to sleep in the hall, and Irfan, Daniel and me went into our tent. I went in first - and accidentally stepped on Mr. Rosli's stomach. I didn't expect him to sleep at the tent entrance - and his sleeping bag matches the floor color, so yeah. He let out a groan while I was apologizing. He later went back to sleep, while I was shifting about the floor trying to sleep, while Daniel had managed to fall asleep, and Irfan was concentrating on racing a
Chrysler 300C in the game Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition on my PSP.

1st January 2009

5:30 am
Hello, a new year! We woke up early for Fajr, or in Malaysia more known as Subuh prayers, and it was still dark at 6:30 am. Me and Irfan quietly crawled back into the tent, and Irfan resumed playing the PSP while I was resting. We only played for some time and as I poked my head out of the tent entrance it was already bright - sun's out!

7:30 am
We had breakfast and then we got Daniel's rear wheel reattached properly and En. Aidit fixed my front brakes. Then a few adults went into the really cold river (it's colder in the morning and night) and Irfan joined them too. Ilyas only waddled in the shallow part. The rest of us thought it was best to avoid getting wet and cold for the moment and did some work.

About 9:30 am
The other group arrived, bringing with them alot of people. There was the more seasoned bikers, and also Ustaz Ikbal, as well as some other ustaz that I have not seen before. Also present were the younger kids (about Omar and Adib's age) that I knew from the mosque, they had come to swim 'n splash. Tarriq, a six-year old boy, also came with his father En. Syed Mazlan. Tarriq, who is my brother's good friend, asked me about my brother, and I replied
"He is at home playing games, he'd miss out all the fun!"

11:00 am
We got our water bottles refilled, changed into proper attire and everyone pushed their owned bikes up the slope to the road above, and we all had a group photo before started cycling further up the road, ascending. Some of us were already tired even thought the real mountain biking hadn't kicked in yet - hey we're still on a tar road. Halfway across we halted to a stop - some Orang Asli people were chopping a tree at the roadside, but so far only the branches had come down, covering the road so they pulled the branches off to let us pass. We cycled onwards and entered an oil palm plantation. We trudged on past countless oil palm trees and then the path started sloping upwards at a gradient of about 20%, which wasn't much but the uphill path was long and stretching about 2 kilometres or so - it was a total workout for most of us. Many of us gave in to the ache and pushed our bikes further. The Foursome and Ustaz Ikbal were the first to reach the fourth and final checkpoint. Did I mention that Ustaz Ikbal never pushed his bike up, but rather kept on cycling?

A few minutes later two cyclists arrived at the checkpoint. We had a short and laughy talk about why they showed up late. The last cyclist arrived about 10 minutes after Ustaz Ikbal and the Foursome arrived. We had a brief group photo here when the last cyclist to arrive voiced out -
"Baru sampai, dah nak turun dah ke?" (I just arrived, and now it's already time to come down?)

We cycled down one by one as Ustaz Suhaimi wanted to take a photo of each participant cycling down. I went after Irfan and on the way down we saw an Orang Asli elder on a motorcycle waving us past. We turned left at the fork (right would take us back to the main road) and stopped at a small hut where we took another group photo. We headed back downhill on the main road, and boy it was great! And again, we screeched to a halt - the Orang Asli at the roadside had managed to fell a great tree down across the road and En. Aidit and En. Ajis passed everyone's bikes across the stash of branches and log.

We headed back to the campsite - and was greeted by a giant crowd of people. Apparently about a collection of three Chinese families had got together for a picnic - so the place was abuzz with hubbub. They had also erected a large canvas hall as a shelter and eating place - tying the ropes around the nearest tree, and also, much to Mr. Rosli's dislike, on his Hilux's roll bars. The group had come in a
Mitsubishi Triton and a Honda CR-V, which managed down the slope and parked beside our Hilux and Pajero - and another car, a Perodua Myvi, was parked atop the slope. I was the first to cycle across the river - much to the Chinese group's amazement, while the rest didn't want to get their shoes wet to they parked it on the bank.

3:00 pm
We had eaten lunch, and most of the people that came today all had to go back, so we got the T-Bolts back up the slope and loaded it into the truck. This time, we managed to fit in Danial and Ilyas's T-Bolts into the truck as well, so the Hilux will have space to carry more load. We went back down and I took off the front wheels of Irfan's and my bike, and loaded the bike into the back of the Hilux. As I was lashing and securing the bikes with rope, a few of the Chinese group came to me and asked wether I was going back - and I said no, we had much more to pack. Some of them got friendly with me. A young lady in her twenties came to me and we chatted about the campsite, and I told her some of us spent the night there, and she had a 'Are You For Real?!' look on her face. A brief pause, and I told her there was nothing really, no wild animals, no ghosts, no nothin, just a peaceful night's sleep. Then I told her about the T-Bolts, and she was amazed at the price the guy sold the bikes for. She was even more amazed when I told her that my bike, a
2002 Giant XtC Team, had a hefty price tag. I dismissed her and got the rest of the Foursome to dismantle the tents.

3:37 pm
All the kids are still here, splashing about. We loaded our bags, floormats, helmets, a cooler with frozen nuggets, and a large carton with water bottles. Some of the Chinese group got up and untied their creative supports on the Hilux's roll bars, and moved away their foldable tables and chairs so that our Hilux and Pajero could get through and cross the river. Once across, we were met by a group of 15 or so young adults on 10
Kap Chais. They pushed their motorcycles out of the way and the Hilux steadily went up the slope, followed by the Pajero. En. Aidit got into his Persona with the kids and we all got into the highway.

About 4:00 pm
We stopped at Janda Baik for a drink. En. Aidit dropped off Mr. Hassan and they left for home. I ordered Iced Milo while the rest orded whatever they like. We also had fried rice. Then we left the restaurant and I slept for the rest of the journey, and soon we reached the mosque where offloaded the floormats, then to Ilyas and Daniel's house to drop them off, then to my house, where I unloaded my bike and bags.

I went inside and told my mother about the trip, and then I went upstairs to watch my
Lost Series 2 DVD's as I didn't manage to watch Season 2 and beyond on television.


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