By: Beverly Chin
The last time I was on an Anza organised trip was the Bintan training ride last year. I had been waiting for such a trip to pop up, partly because I needed some hills training before going to France next month for the “6 cyclo du Vars”. Bukit Fraser, Cameron Highlands and Genting Highland are not new to me after having been out climbing those hills a number of times either on personal trips or with different groups of cyclists. So when this trip came along, Colin and I decided we would fly up as it is the preferred option for a short weekend. S$180 return with MH but if we have secured our bookings earlier we could have got away with less. Another thing we have learnt is never time your flight arrival to coincide with at peak time unless you want to spend hours in the KL traffic.
Mr Aru, the hotel driver came to fetch us, he knows us well and the journey into KL city was a breeze. By 6pm, was had checked in at Casa Losi and were enjoying the hospitality “par excellence” in the club lounge whilst some were either still on the way or still milling around at Lorong 8, Toa Payoh from picture posted in FB.
I didn’t get to see many of the ANZA riders until we met for breakfast the next morning. After mon petit-déjeuner, we quickly assembled outside the lobby. Don Losi gave us a short briefing of the ride and what we should look out for and the regrouping points. He gave instruction for Colin to lead the pack out and nominated himself to be tail end Charlie with van following behind him. I had been pre warned by Mr Aru that the weather had been really hot with temperature soaring to 37-38 deg C so I decided that I would stay close to the support van, not wanting to miss out on hydration.
The pack rode off through KL city in true ANZA fashion, calling/pointing out potholes (which are plentiful) and keeping an easy pace. Barely 7 km into the ride, I had the first puncture but thanks to tail end Charlie and another rider who quickly helped fix it we were on the road again in no time.
At 16km, we made a left turn and our “appetiser” was served. The Wall – steep @ 10% gradient but only 1km long. The pack got very excited especially those have not ridden the hills in Malaysia and not knowing what to expect. They blasted off and left moi and Mark gingerly poodling up together, keeping our form and in good rhythm, we got to the top and followed by a short descent and we headed on to the “first course“. Evian – 6km @ 5-6% gradient. We (Mark, Matt and I ) quickly form a pack and keep our rhythm. 2km up the climb, we could see from Matt’s body language that he need a push so the support van came to his rescue and he glued himself to the side of the van and made it up the top of “Evian” where we regrouped. Pretty busy up here, on the side of the road, there were a number of parked cars. The Malaysians drive up here, collecting water via a water pipe spouting out from the hills. Hence local cyclists named this hill “Evian”. A word of warning, a week before, I drank some of the “Evian” water and ended up having diarrhoea [too much information. Ed.]. A quick refuel and some banana cake and off the pack went again. A fast descent with some steep sections so the fast boys, showing off their descent skills, were seen racing against each other and never to be seen until Fraser clock tower. Whilst some were very cautious so riders were strung out immediately. I eventually caught up with 5 other riders at Kuala Kubu Bharu (KKB) the next regrouping point.
The 40km climb starts from KKB, Mark and I called it the “Main Course”. The first section of the climb was on big wide open road, no respite. Similar to “Red Road of Hell” of Bintan. Colin, Matt, Mark and moi were staying in a pack but not for long. Surprisingly, I was still feeling good and just wanted to get out of this heat asap. I pushed on, passed the reservoirs and entering into the 2nd section of the climb. The road lead us into the forested area, State of Pahang. Although the road became much narrower but it was a welcome sight as it was shady and much relieved to me. Then out of nowhere, Colin appeared right behind me[Just like at home? Ed.]. I was setting the pace and after 10 mins, I lost him. Not seeing any other ANZA riders ahead of me I was very much one with nature, onwards and upwards until I ran out of hydration. I Waited 10 mins, Matt, Mark, Colin and support van came. We kept each other within sight until we passed the place where vicious dog was which means we were almost at the “Gap”.
From “Gap” to Bukit Fraser is about 8km, avg 5% gradient. It was heavenly riding up this winding road, you could hear birds chirping, buzzing sound of the insects from tropical forests and occasional revving of engines passing me, with some giving me the thumbs up sign. It was completely a different world until I reached the clock tower.
Finally the last rider made it up, all accounted for. We had our hard earned lunch. Mugshots were taken in front of the famous landmark. By which time the fast boys were eager to do the 40km descent. Off the pack went. It was absolutely awesome, making the ascent so much more worth the effort.
We regrouped at KKB again and it seemed to be the last we seen of some of the “missing riders”. Here was where the fun began. As we were riding along with tail end Charlie, we had first rider needed to got on the van, that left 3 of us. As we approached “The Evian”, we picked up another tired body and soul. Over the “Evian”, we picked up another rider and pack him up the van. We continued on and 5 mins into the descent, we saw #Nicoinafrenzy #Nicolostkermitandmuppets #Nicorefusetocycleon. We started calling riders. #Noanswerlah #Cannotgetthrulah.
After some coaxing from Mark, Nico continued with his ride, we picked up 2 more riders. From then on as it was getting dark and some of us are without front or tail lights, we made a decision to stay together, with support van giving us a protection. We finally rolled in together.
I was ecstatic as this is my first round trip to Bukit Fraser, and longest distance ever clocked in. My garmin showed 198.7km. Most importantly, I could hear the music playing in my ear “I’m still standing”. Toro, you have set the bench mark!
“Chapeau bas” to all who had climbed up to Bukit Fraser. I hope this will be the start of many more Anza away rides to come. Until the next Fraser trip, to Mr Cherriman I shall say “Bev is bring her bike”. [You can say that but I have no idea what it means. Ed.]
I would like to say merci beaucoup to the ANZA Cycling committee for the generous support of van with ice cold beverages and cakes and especially Don Losi and his staff for their “par excellence” hospitality, in every aspect including extending the bar hours. To Nico for organising this trip. It would not have been possible without all of your hardwork.