Monday, January 31, 2011

Cameron Highlands

We rode up from Ipoh on the bus, this being highly recommended by Jeff, with our bikes being stowed down below. Up we went through the amazing forest and curving roads to Tanah Rata, the main hub town. It would have been a 40km climb. Luckily, we skipped doing it under the rain.
Settled down in a little hotel just off the main street to work and enjoy the area for a few days. We got to see the exciting end of stage 4 of Tour de Langkawi with some new friends from England.
Met Jeff at our favorite restaurant in town while he had a coffee break and also met more organizers of the LTdL, they were so welcoming and happy to have us following the race.
On our last day, we went on a hike through unbelievably green tea plantations, up Mount Brinchang, through the mystical Mossy Forest and back down a jungle trail.
The Cameron Highlands was first developed by the British in the 1920´s, as a cool mountain getaway. (We understood why the British liked it so much because it rained on and off the four days we were there) The non-riders options of jungle trekking, visiting tea plantations, strawberry farms, and the ¨native¨ people who still live in the hillsides and villages, all make it a special place to spend a few days and discover this different part of Malaysia.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Le Tour of Langkawi 2011

Le Tour de Langkawi starts Sunday, and during these days we’ve seen the teams training and getting ready. Today was the Team Presentation and we were invited. The set up was impressive and they had an amazing opening ceremony with traditional dance. In fact, LTdL is the biggest Asian race, and the media covers every detail.

We are excited to see the start as the island gets ready with events and flags everywhere.

Riding in Langkawi

We are spending 5 days riding on the island before Le Tour of Langkawi starts next Sunday.
It’s been a great spot for cycling and we’ve covered almost every single road. The loop around the island is about 100km. Of course, we’ve been trying to look for some back roads where often we ended up riding on paths. But that is what makes Bikecat riding

Most of the riding is flat with roller costers along the coast, beautiful views and not much traffic. And then, there is the climb to Gunung Raya, similar to Rocacorba in Girona, so it´s also challenging.


Ooh Langkawi. The waterfalls you can swim at the base of, the clear beautiful beaches, jungle vegetation, seafood, that idea of paradise comes to mind. The possibilities for non-riders: boat rides to private islands, a bat cave, an island tour, hikes in tropical forest, cable car to the top of the second highest mountain on the island (the tallest the riders have to climb). The night markets are kind of like doing tapas in Spain, but of course more exotic with things like mango salad, coconut pastries, local rice specialities, and juice drinks of all kinds. We are planning a tour but also having such a good time imagining how much fun people would have if they came here.

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Georgetown, Penang

A fast ride from Taiping led us to Butterworth where we took a ferry to the island of Penang. On the way we met the first cyclotourists, they were on their way to Kuala Lumpur from London! Off the ferry, we were launched into the bustling city of Georgetown which is a fascinating mix of old and new. It is the oldest of the British Straits colonies and many of the beautiful colonial buildings are being renovated since Georgetown was named to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2008.
We went to see some really beautiful hotels, thinking this would be an excellent place to bring a group of riders.

Penang Hill
This morning I decided to check out Penang Hill. I had read about it before and knew it was going to be hard. I started my way out of the city, after 7km I was warmed up to face the climb. Wow it really started kicking from the beginning, 20%!! I was fresh, and the compact helped. Kept a good cadence, but after a few turns, I was all sweaty, and… a sharp turn I saw a wall in front. 31 % according to the gps. My speed was now about 7km/h and I started to zig zag on this tiny one lane road trying to keep my equilibrium. 170 bpm.1km done, I didn’t know how long it was, and was already thinking of being at the top.
The easier section at 10% gave me a leg rest. Ahead I saw another steep section,it really looked like a wall. I had to stand,4k an hour,leaning all my weight on the front wheel, struggling. Tried to look at the gps, 42%, oooooh, that was painful. I had to keep up. Reached 185. Only with 1.5km covered.
I took a break, and stopped next to a bench. Caught some air before starting again. Well, I did the same process for 4km more. Stopping two more times. My legs in pain. I had done it!
On the way back, I tightened the brake cables and did the descent more like I was mountainbiking. On a turn, my front wheel started to slip away, I thought it was gravel, I was falling down. I realized I had a flat, and went straight to stop the bike. The rims where boiling. Probably that caused the flat. Changed it and made my way safe to the bottom and back to the hotel. 30km total and the job done. I had enough. I was exhausted.
Pels que coneixeu Aiguafreda, doncs, res igual. He patit pujant com mai, casi no em podía mantener sobre la bici. Parat. La mitja de 14.4%. Vamos, que ha sigut la pujada mes dura que he fet mai.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


The people next to us said that we had to eat the real Indian way, with our hands.
Imagine going up a hill all loaded up
We were very impressed with the market in Taiping. It seemed like it hadn´t changed in a very long time.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ipoh to Taiping - 95km

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We found a good way out of the busy city of Ipoh. Not long after, we took a very nice road with a motorbike lane that was perfect to cycle on. At an intersection we saw a little van with a woman and her three children that went by waving at us. A little after, the same car came back and they waved at us again and later on were stopped waiting for us to go by again. It seemed we were the attraction for them for the day to see two foreigners on a bike. It was a good feeling to be so welcomed by them.
An exotic lunch in Kuala Kangsar and then we headed on to our destination. To our surprise, near the end we hopped onto a tiny road, just one car wide, through little villages (called Kampungs) and a sensation of being in the real country.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Teluk Intan to Ipoh – 81km

Debbie had the first flat out on a country road just after passing a rice paddy vehicle. For this repair we had a nice shady spot. This was the first day we had an all sunny day and we had a much appreciated stop for coconut water along the road.

Near the end we saw mountains ahead of us but we wouldn´t be climbing them yet, we´ll wait for a week or so more of training with the bags before we attempt to reach the Cameron Highlands on top.

Ipoh has over 600,000 people and so we were a little nervous as we made our approach. It turned out not to be a problem and the gps was a great help and brought us right to our hotel.

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Kuala Selangor to Teluk Intan - 101km

Waking up to the sound of a tropical rain this morning gave us some time to work and catch up on email until the rain stopped around 11am.
Finally packing everything on the bike and setting out at 11:30, we had a long way to go.
We try to sample as many dishes as we can

Seeing all the people that wave at us when we go by, the cars and trucks that honk and greet us happily and motorbikes riding with us, I can just imagine how it would be riding with a group here. It would be show time and the local’s attraction.

KL to Kuala Selangor - 81km

After having received our bikes and successfully packing all our stuff in the bags, stopping by a gas station to fill our tires, we were on our way out, being guided by Jeff´s suggestions and a handy gps (thank God!!!). We got a little turned around in places but made it out on a pretty green road. Riding on the left side of the road takes a little taking use to as well as carrying lots of weight on the bike. About 20kg extra each.

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After 25km, the darrellieur cable on Debbie´s bike broke while heading down the highway. The breakdown took us an hour of work. The tip of the cable broke in the handle and was quite a job removing it without proper tools. Luckily Jaume knew how to and fixed it with a new cable under the tropical heat.
Cars seemed to respect us pretty well and from time to time there was a motorbike lane that we could get some rest in. We stopped for Indian food along the road and made our way near the coast to Taman Alam Kuala Salangor nature park.
At the desk they told us there were too many mosquitoes now, (as they were saying that, we were being bitten up…) but we were so tired and sweaty after 80k that we stayed anyway.
We had a little A-frame cabin and were the only ones staying there. We went for a fantastic seafood dinner along the river and the next day for a walk through the park. We saw lots of birds, crabs, monkies, walking fish, and monitor lizards!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Kuala Lumpur

Our bikes arrived to our hostel a day and a half later while we discovered KL in the same clothes as we had on who knows how many hours earlier. KL is disorienting and colorful, hard to navigate as a pedestrian, yet laid back, friendly and good food to be had almost everywhere.

Though the official language is Bahasa Malay and Muslim the official religion, the mixture of Malay, Chinese, and Indian, and indigenous ethnic groups and religions: Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu and others all seem to harmoniously live alongside each other. Fortunately for travelers, English is widely spoken as a second language, which is left from colonial days when the British set up trade in the late 1800´s.

In KL we got over our jet lag while trying all the different types of cuisine, the bird park, butterfly park, while waiting for our bikes and clothing to make it to the hotel.

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On Saturday morning we finally got to meet Jeff. He picked us up in his car and drove to Lake Gardens for a real Nasi Lemak, the typical malay breakfast dish. Turned out Jeff is an organizer for the Tour de Langkawi! We talked about the upcoming Tour, which starts in Langkawi on the 23rd of January, and finishes in KL the 1st of February. I mentioned our interest in organizing a cycling tour in Malaysia and discussed several possibilities.

Later on we moved to a more relaxed place to have a copi (the malay coffee with condensed milk). Unfolded the map, Jeff gave us tips about the places to go, rest stops and so helped us plan the whole trip. Very helpful! Now we have an idea of what’s coming in the next few days and we’ll see how riding goes. Time flew by, we ordered lunch, and by the time we realized it was after 5. As the race is coming soon, Jeff was super busy and had work to do.
His help has been unvaluable! Terima Kasih!

Cycling in Malaysia

Well, it’s been 10 years since that first trip with Bernat, we started in New Zealand and I later continued in Borneo alone. The experience was so unforgettable and enriching that we committed to do something related with cycling and traveling for work.
A few years later, Bikecat started to share cycling in Girona and our next move might be traveling somewhere else, Malaysia? We’ll see after these 6 weeks.
Cycling around Peninsular Malaysia had been on my mind for a while. Especially after Lucas Euser (ex-Garmin pro) mentioned he had a cyclist friend in Malaysia I could get in touch with.
More to come….