The Bangkok Post | Pongpet Mekloy | 18 Sep 2014
I’d long heard stories about Bukit Kiara, the major playground for mountain bikers in Malaysia’s capital, but until a recent two-day visit to Kuala Lumpur had never actually seen it with my own two eyes….
It was absolutely well worth the trip. I’m now back in Bangkok but the euphoria I felt during the ride on the Malaysian hill has still to fade. I flew to Kuala Lumpur with a good friend from Chiang Mai…
I flew to Kuala Lumpur with a good friend from Chiang Mai who has quite a few mountain biker friends in KL. The local riders, some of whom have visited Chiang Mai and ridden on Doi Pui and Doi Suthep more than once, were kind enough to not only join us for the ride but also provide us and our bikes with transportation between the hotel and Bukit Kiara. You have to be a mountain biker to realise that the borderless brotherhood between bikers is not just incredibly strong, but also genuine.
On the first day, we arrived at Bukit Kiara late in the afternoon to try its downhill track. As an unfit rider from Thailand where downhillers are spoiled with the habit of taking a shuttle truck all the way up the mountain to the trailhead, I was intimidated by the thought of having to do the compulsory road climb on my heavy freeride bike. Thanks to the dropper seatpost, the double chainrings and the encouraging ride buddies, however, it turned out to be not that tough. In fact, it was enjoyable.
Somewhere high on the hill, we broke off from the paved road onto a narrow forest trail. It was only a short ride further up to the starting point of the DH track, but it was still pretty technical so I had to occasionally hop off the bike and push it up instead.
Gliding down the track gathering speed and momentum, we were soon greeted with a number of gap jumps. One of them, known as the Shaolin Gap, was too scary for me so I decided to save my bones and use the chicken run. (What you see in the main photo taken by Damian Gerard is one of Fakawi Banshee Team racers and one of Malaysia’s best, Aaron Chan Chow Hee, effortlessly clearing the Shaolin Gap.)
Further down along the winding trails with several banked turns was a good flow through an evergreen forest. After a while we emerged to an open hillside with a steep gradient and lots of exposed roots. Luckily for me, it was dry that day so I had no problem coming down that section. If there had been rain, it would have been a different story.
After that the trail snakes into the shady woods again. Just as we were nearing the end of the track I was warned to stop and check out what lay ahead.
It was something that made the Shaolin Gap look tame: a series of drops (the first one over 2m tall) down a steep slope followed by a jump with a gap wide enough to park three cars side by side.
Of course, I had no shame opting for a detour. Even if I had time to do another run down the trail that evening, I don’t think I would try it.
The next day we went back to Bukit Kiara to try some of its many cross country trails. Again, I was impressed. Too bad the Malaysian authorities don’t seem to realise that this place is a gem KL and Malaysia should be proud of. The sad fact is that this green area is constantly being nibbled away by “development” projects. Thanks to an NGO called TRAKS and the local biking community that have been strongly campaigning for the preservation of the hill’s forest and its trails, much of Bukit Kiara still remain in good natural condition. Let’s hope that their effort and dream to convince the government to keep this precious place permanently the way it is will soon come true.
There is no kiddies ride/ short ride!
Yes folks, it’s back … the Epic. This is special extra long ride which is meant to test your skills in both mountain biking and endurance, give you bragging rights if you finish it, and make you wish you never came out and rode with us that day! It also coincides with the KLMBH turning 20, so we are celebrating it in style by bringing you some pain.
Even though it’s a special ride, there are no handouts (shirts, stickers etc), no catering, or such… just a pure and simple bash going back to the grass roots days. There will also be no sweeping, no spoon feeding you if you forget to bring enough water or energy supplements, and no coming to rescue you if you’re lost. Stay on paper and you “will” make it out! The only reason we will go back to assist is if you manage to get injured and really can’t get back to the cars on your own.
The ride will be two loops in a figure of eight, with our cars parked at the middle section. Regardless of whether you opt to ride both loops or do only one, you “will” bring three liters of water in a hydration pack and supplements to get you through the ride. Since we come back to the cars near the halfway point, leave extra supplements and water in your vehicle to top up your hydration pack before setting off on the second loop.
Do ya think you know the place? Nah… the map won’t help.
Loop 1 Description
This will take you into palm for a short bit whereby you will cross (or traverse) a road that sometimes has cars flying by on it. After that you will drop onto a single track and fjord a river. If you’re afraid of water, bring inflatable arm bands! Or fins and snorkel… Our shortest Hare made it across with the water around stomach deep at the worst spot, which is only once small section. After you crawl out of the river, you will be in jungle, rubber, orchards, single and double track. There is only one more small section of paved road later in this loop.
If you don’t like adventure racing, this terrain is not for you! This is because you will have some hike-a-bike in a lovely bamboo copse; a vertical climb dodging trees and bamboo which will lead to a single track on the ridgeline which will eventually take you to a beautiful double track.
Not to further discourage you [insert evil grin here], sometime over the past few weeks, a freak storm (looks like a tornado) ripped through one section and felled a lot of trees and bamboo. We pondered not taking you this way, but screw it… hopefully the estate workers clear the trails for us, but if not, suffer!!!
There will be three checks on the first loop that will be tough enough to hold you back five to ten minutes each. For the person that breaks the checks, you “will” wait until the checks are closed by your fellow Front Riders On Paper (FROPS) aka Front Riding Bastards (FRBs). Failure to do so will mean you will be ridiculed on our FB page!
Prior to reaching the end of Loop 1, signs will be posted to make sure you turn in the correct directions to the cars and that you don’t turn and follow people onto Loop 2. Make sure you go back to the cars first to get more water/ supplements.
Approximate statistics for Loop 1: 20km and 600m of climbing.
Loop 2 Description
You will back-track on paper from Loop 1 for about 150m, and then you will be properly on Loop 2. At the split between Loop 1/ 2, there will be signposts to ensure you go in the correct direction.
This loop have a bit of open riding under a hot sun until you get into palm, rubber, orchards and a few other lovely sections that makes us keep coming back to Ulu Renning. There will be another three checks in this section to keep you entertained for roughly five minutes each, and we’re still pondering whether or not they should be in full regulation (paper continuing within 150m of the check!).
Stay tuned to this page!!!
Be forewarned as well that we may have you crossing more rivers in here! We’re still toying with the final route, so again, stay tuned!!!
Distance for Loop 2: +/-25km with an unknown amount of elevation gain!
Recommended Directions from Jalan Kuching/ Batu Caves
Alternative Direction via Rawang/ Serendah
Lead Hare with Protégés in tow… Another great job Mr Shine.
So I’ve been in and out of Malaysia for the last 15 odd years. I’ve been riding the bashes on and off for almost all of that time and this is the first time I have ridden in Putrajaya and the first time I have been roped into being the scribe. Working on those stats it’ll be another 15-20yrs till you hear from me again so listen up! J
Putrajaya is not the first thing that comes to mind when you talk about mountain biking, or mountains for that matter. It’s a relatively flat part of the Klang Valley and most of the jungle has been cleared for offices, roads, palm oil plantations and more roads. However as you arrive at the Putrajaya Challenge Park it is immediately clear that there is something out of the ordinary in this little corner of Malaysia.
Before I get on to the bash route itself I have to say how awesome (the most over used word in the English language today) that complex is. I grew up on skateboards and BMXs and if we had a park like that where I grew up I would have spent every single available second there….and may not have made it through school as a result. Anyway, I’ll be back at a later date to bring the inner-juvenile out and jump around a little.
So to the bash!
We started in the shadows of the pump track/skate park complex with one of Shiney’s regular stand-up routines where this time we all got to wish Lloyd a happy 40th birthday before heading off into the PCP course and out into the wilds of Putrajaya. On-on.
Up the driveway and immediately into some nice single track that has been lovingly built and maintained with some nice technical ups and downs, lefts and rights. A credit to whoever takes care of it. I must admit I made a point of getting out near the front because I had heard there were some punchy little climbs with switchbacks and knew that would lead to some traffic very quickly. I know it’s not a race, but none of us like standing around waiting for the track to clear….so a handful of us pushed on at a pretty decent pace. If I recall it was Barbie, Roberto, Carlo, Scott (not Roberts) myself and two or three others that I had not met before.
There was a little loop in and out and back in and back out again in the PCP course and I figured there would be plenty of people skipping some of the single track as they saw others riding up the hill across the road. I hope not too many cut the course short by mistake simply because that stuff is too much fun J
Out onto the tarmac and up towards the Putrajaya Convention Centre….and you had to have your wits about you to spot the markers. The paper had already been cleaned up so we had to look for flour on the road. Spotted some, turned right, down to the lights….looking, looking….spotted some paper and on straight into some dirt road, over the pipe bridge and on for about 3-4km along the bank. Somewhere around here we came across the first of the short riders and would be bumping into riders for the rest of the day. At this stage Carlo and I had gone into XC race mode for no particular reason and were out in front on our own.
A few turns and road changes and we were at the first check. Now I’m not one to complain (actually I am J) but the guidelines state 200m from the check to the paper….I checked the road for 250m but no paper and we were stuck there for 15mins trying to find the paper. 450m later we found it (with some gentle guidance from Barbie). It gave us all a chance to regroup and now we were back in a group of about 10 riders. Then came the hike-a-bike
The notes for this ride suggested “less than 500m of climbing” but they forgot to mention that all 500 of those metres would be in the space of the next 3kms and almost all of it was hike-a-bike. I’m sure plenty of people took it easy up that hill but the weather was very gentle on us for the day and it really wasn’t too hot for that climb or any of the ride for that matter.
After a challenging 500m climb and a good spew, the view from the top and the sweet downhill to follow was worth it.
The climb may have been tough but it was worth it once you got to the top. After we cleared the 2nd check near the peak we were then able to enjoy a glimpse of the 360 degree views. If I had stopped to really check it out I suspect I may have been able to see to KL and KLIA but at this stage I had just enough energy to pick my bike up and get going for the downhill section.
We had been given hints about this little downhill run that formed part of the Xterra route and it was (almost) worth the climb. Plenty of grass at eye height made visibility a little tough but what’s a good ride in the bush without some excitement I say! Some ruts, a bit of a missed turn, some more ruts, a tight left turn, some more ruts and we were back on tarmac at the bottom of the hill.
We had about another 1km or so on the road and then off to the left and into the palm oil again. Left, right, paper, more paper….suddenly no paper. Turned back and found the check bang in the middle of the road but had ridden past it and completely missed it 30secs earlier. Someone got lucky and closed the check very quickly and we were off again into the plantation and chasing each other through the dirt roads.
Now we were in semi-rural, heading into the back of Putrajaya and the front riders got a little lost under a highway bridge. I heard a local kid calling out to me and pointing to where the trails went but I took the one on the wrong side of the rather stinky “river” until the other boys found the little single track and we were off again.
More up, down, left right and a quick push up a little dirt hill and we were on tarmac….we all kinda knew this must be the road home (ie: no more dirt for the day). The roadie/XC rider in me came to the surface and Scott (met him on the day) and I took turns in a pace line of two riding the last 4kms back to the start/finish. I was fine on the flat section but we got to the last hill up the tarmac and I fell to bits. Scott dropped me like a bad habit and pedaled on over to take line honours (even though its not a race) and then we all started coming in dribs and drabs after that.
Without volunteers like Lloyd Laughlin we wouldn’t have a bash to ride each month. We need more committed contributors though, so get involved for next year so that we can keep this 20 year tradition alive.
All up Garmin tells me I did exactly 33kms and 442m elevation in just over 2hrs. Like I said at the start, I haven’t ridden out in Putrajaya before and I wasn’t sure what to expect. It was a great ride with a little bit of everything. Lots of very rideable trail that would challenge everyone. Add to that perfect weather and it was a great day out once again.
Chapeau to the hares as per usual!
Description From The Hares
Long Ride: This is a great introductory long ride. It’s 30km in total which includes a short loop in PCP, paved roads, double track, one short “hike a bike” section, a sweet downhill single track run, more nice scenery and palm oil plantations.
This one has it all. It’s reasonably flat (less than 500m of climbing) and in terms of the other hashes that have been set, it is one of the more forgiving long rides. If you ever wanted to do the long ride but were a little unsure of your ability this would be a good starter.
Short Ride : About 13km and for the most part flat, however there will be a number of sections that are on road getting from the Challenge Park to the start of the trails (about 3 km’s). If you have ever driven around Putrajaya on a Sunday the roads are deserted, but still make sure you ride with your kids if you intend to enter them into the short course. There is lots of double track, paved roads and great scenery, so it’s an easy ride suitable for almost everyone.
Note: Both the long and short ride will have similar paper strips laid along the ride, however there will be plenty of signage so no-one should get lost. Did I say ‘should’? We’ll see on the day…..
Read On: Word Of Cautions
Doesn’t every Mountain Bike Rider know where Putrajaya Challenge Park is? Here’s the directions from the Plaza Tol Putrajaya (Klpe).
Be safe and have fun!
On On !
There’s two ways of doing it.
Either you go to MFM-Garmin Map (cGPSmapper) Installation Step-by-Step Guide and follow the procedure - which can be a bit tricky for the non IT-savvy, especially if you want to add the topo contour lines, such as described in Free West Malaysia Topo GPS Map: MFM-SRTMWM 090918…
Or, since we are very nice here at KLMBH and we just love our members, we did compile the MFM road and topo maps. Just download the all stuff from this link (162.8MB) and follow this simple procedure to install it on a Garmin Edge 800:
1. Insert a SD card of 2GB in the GPS
2. Replicate the Garmin internal file structure on the SD Card as follows:
3. Drag & drop the “gmapsupp.img” file in ‘root/Garmin’ location
4. Reboot the GPS; in Settings choose “malfreemaps” and uncheck “POI” unless you do mind about every McDonalds and Petronas POI being displayed, which makes the map very confusing on a small screen
5. You have now the topo map for Malaysia including contours. For free he he.
You may want to use some .gpx files created by others or downloaded from the Net? Just drag & drop them in the folder root/Garmin/NewFiles. They will appear in “Courses” once the device is rebooted.
And stay on paper !!!
[*14 Aug. 2014 update] MFM map update as of 18 Aug. 2014:
Because these Hares are such a gang of w@nkers…
In order to fine-tune the route, the KLMBH #239 is postponed to Sunday 31 August. Watch this space for details.
On On !
A simple answer - you can’t cross the country using only trails. Most of the country is broken up by dense forest and hilly terrain, so there is no point to point network of trails that you can use.
Sites like www.everytrail.com will have a collection of trails spread out throughout the country, but most of them are not connected to each other.