Monday, October 11, 2004

Sg Dua Epic Ride

Sg Dua Trail
Lentang Forest Reserve.
Sg Dua, Pahang


By Doc. Hisham...

Reconnaissance Ride

Azman(special forces)
Nik(Kor Agama )
Fendi (Kor Armor/kereta kebal)
Stupe(Kor Angkut/ transport/mechanic)
Bacin(Sjn Bacin / Kor Renjer/ orang asli)

Well what can you say, we finally did it. So much talk of the big ride and we finally did it! It started well enough. Everyone was on time. 0730hrs at the Projet. Barring a few minor adjustments, toilet visit, breakfast and filling up of petrol...we were on the road by 0745. The going was steady, with speeds within the limits. Radio communication was on and the usual macho chat got into full gear. Nik and Azman brought up the rear and we all had to wait for them at the Bentong toll gate. Hopefully nothing fishy went on in that silver Kembara...Entertainment was free, courtesy of some Alleycats wannabe. Somehow my karaoke singing doesn't sound right so early on the morning.

As usual, the theme of the morning was" bash your doctor day" The doc was pre blamed for everything." KAlau kita sesat, memang salah doc la, etc etc." Thankfully, he was competent enough to lead the pack to the trailhead. It took us an hour to reach the trailhead. It was easy enough to find, thanks to a well written trail guide by Joe adnan. No thanks to Nik.

The tail head and also our parking space is located in a flat open plateau (260ft A.S.L) just off the exit to Kg Sertik Mempaga where we had to make a u turn under the highway back towards KL..Located nearby was Pusat Serenti Sg Dua.(Stupes Alumni)

After the usual prep action, we were off. 0900hrs. the initial phase of the track was slow gentle ride on narrow tarmac road. We passed trough some orchards (dusun) on the way and even passed trough a small orang asli village. Sjn Bacin wanted to stop and meet his relatives and Nik wanted to check on his illegal offspring there, but we had a long ride ahead. Familial matters had to wait.

The tarmac road changed into double tracked 4 WD track immediately after the village. The track was dry and firm with only a few ruts. Maybe the loggers have had their day in Sg Dua and now have abandoned logging there. At Km 2.5, the climbing started. Technically it was not very difficult. However the climb was quite steep at places and was sustained at a steep angle, unlike the more gentle slopes of Teratak. As we got further, the ruts appeared. Perhaps the heavy rain fall coupled with the steep incline contributed to the deep ruts. It was painfully slow and frustrating, especially when you had to restart from stopping or falling into the ruts. The only person who was able to ride almost the whole extent was Man. The rest, well what do you expect from a couple of over the hill, weekend warriors? Pushed and cursed laa...Somehow, Doc's vocabulary of not so good words just got better on that Sunday morning uphill torture.

Whatever motivated this group of buggers to wake up at 6 and endure such torture was soon rewarded with some wonderfully beautiful breath taking views. The early morning cloud cover and mist made the backdrop of mountains stunningly pretty. Somewhat difficult to imagine that we were only an hour's drive from KL and away from that thick polluted air. At this height, the air temperature dropped. It felt like the lower 20s (C), and of course the air was clean. Unfortunately it had to be polluted by nicotine tainted Dunhill (KATAKAN TAKNAK!)

At Km 6.8 we had our first river crossing. (Sg Dua Olak). Even at this point the view of the river was superb. As we ascended, the river was on our right side following our course (south westerly). Met a couple of small but impressive waterfalls on the way. A few too many Kodak moments here and there made the climb less torturing and more rewarding. The climb finally ended at the highest point on the trail (1360ft A.S.L). The apex of the climb was situated at a ridge (genting) which overlooked the confluence of 2 valleys. According to the trail guide, it marked the watershed between the two river systems of Sg Dua Olak and Sg Kurau, of which we were attempting to follow upstream. (The end point of the trail is the Kurau waterfalls)

From here onwards it was more or less undulating downhill for the next 4-5 km. The track was becoming more technical with deep ruts and slippery rocky terrain as we followed a more southerly course this time. You can sense that not many people come here by the sheer overgrowth and fallen logs. At most of the river crossings, the log bridges had fallen over and left in a state of neglect. The journey here onward was getting more demanding and tiring.

We reached the 15km mark at around 1230hrs, and at this point spirits were high as we were confident in being able to reach Kurau water fall by the pre planned cutoff point of 1400hrs.4 Km in 90mins? Sounded simple even for Sjn Bacin and the already semi comatose doc! We proceeded on crossing quite a big river. In fact it was the confluent of the Kurau and the depressingly named Sg Rogol. Off course, the view here was magnificent. Large boulders and what I reckon to be grade 3 to 4 rapids. Haiya...kalau boleh kayak ni sure best! After crossing, we immediately lost the trail! What heavy overgrowth!

The team had to spend almost 20 minutes trying to figure out where the trail was. Finally after much hacking of the jungle with our bare hands, we finally found it. Damn me if I may, but the thick bush was almost like virgin jungle! Couple with the fact that nobody remembered to bring any machetes or axe (yes, you can blame the doc) forward movement was very slow. The Kurau River was now on our left as we began to climb to reach its waterfalls. Those of us wearing short sleeves and fancy Lycra got a hell of a beating from the thorns. By 1315 we only managed to reach 16.5km! It was getting late, morale was low and some limbs were bruised and itched like mad. Ahead was the proposed river crossing at 17.5km and another 2 km till the water fall. No mention was made in the trail guide about the terrain and we were not sure what kind of forest growth awaits us.

The team immediately stopped and reassessed the situation. A quick vote was made. The choice was easy a) continue onwards and bash through the hell and turn back at 1400hrs. Or b) turns back now and rest at the river confluent/crossing (15km). The risk with a) was we may not have enough time to rest before embarking on the long journey out of there. However, having got so close and yet so far, it was really frustrating! In the end the vote count was 4-2 in favour of turning back. The 2 opposition MPs were Azman and doc.

It was again jungle bashing, this time downhill to the river confluent. At this point everyone was dead tired and hungry. Lunch as usual was served.....burnt toast with peanut butter and raspberry(lovely), burnt toast with cheese spread, Nasi lemak bungkus(courtesy of Fendi), Tuna sandwich(Nik), and other stuff. I must say that the quality of the caterers has improved. Unlike most rides where people would talk rubbish and make fun of Stupe or Bacin depending on the mood, the team was a bit subdued. Maybe it's the breathtaking views of the rapids or the calm serenity of the moment. It looked more like that we were all half dead from the ordeal. Nobody wanted to talk about the upcoming 4 km uphill on the return journey. A matter to contemplate too was the long downhill. Maybe it was easy for some like Nik and Fendi, but for morons like me, Stupe and Bacin, it was scary enough to think that we had to endure it while we were already tired!

The river was steep enough to swim in with some guys taking the opportunity to do their laundry(Stupes), clean their gear, mandi wajib etc. Man said the fish was big there. I didn't see any though. Too tired laa.

At 1400hrs we headed back. And just like a porno movie with a bad ending, the first technical failure arose thanks to Nik's really crappy brake pads which decided to come off. Thankfully our brake pad expert was on hand to refix it which I'm sure no one else on the team knew how to. Nasib baik ada bawa cina murtad.

The 4 km ride to the highest point was HELL! No macho talk now. Fendi and Stupes were quietly pushing their bikes. Man was contemplating what went wrong and noting that we should have been more prepared for this kind of trip. Bacin was thinking of the next adventure race and how he was going to beat Stupes and doc. Nik was Busy checking his watch altimeter to gauge how far till the summit. Doc was comatose silent, maybe trying to get used to HELL, as at his current status, a one way ticket is already prebooked. The sun was already beating down hard and despite the altitude, was again drenched in sweat. Fear was of running out of water. Almost all had their water bags drained by now.

During one of the rest stops, we talked about taking on the Jill Thompson loop in the next biggie. Azman mentioned that his previous bike owner had already brought the bike up Cameron. Wow if that simple bike can make it? Surely our Scott Racing and Specialized Stumpjumper can make it! In the end the conclusion was that it wasn't Man who was fit and able, it was the bike...Haiya, we almost thought he was on performance enhancing drug or something....You never know these kelantanese tongkat ali stuff they have .

What a relief it was once we reached the 10.4 mark. A quick pit stop and some words of caution on how to tame this downhill section and we were off. It was as said earlier easy for some and damn frightening for others. Fendi had one tergolek episode...laju sangat tu. Meanwhile Man also took a tumble over his handle bar. Nasib baik ada helmet! Me and Stupe as usual on downhill sweeped the rear.

The gang reorganised past the river crossing (6.8km) and we all felt like we were home free! We were screaming trough the orchard like there's no tomorrow.... and just like any other cheap porno horror flick, something shitty had to happen. This time it was Fendi's chain which snapped! Thanks to overzealous hard shifting during a climb, the chain just gave up. Immediate call for assistance brought everyone together again except for Nik who was way ahead (radio battery was out) and probably thinking he was a hero to blaze us all behind! Once again the cina murtad came into action. The rest, well they just looked and talked cock. By the end of repairs, the sky was darkening and drizzling. Not sure whether the rain was starting or ending in that region. The track was getting muddier and slippery. We only got really dirty at this point onwards. Home stretch was at near full speed, no time to visit kampung people.

A welcome relief to reach the cars. Someone noticed some police crime scene -yellow no entry tapes around the parking space. Shit! We were on some kind of crime scene! No mood to talk. Everyone was trying to go home and get lectured from their spouses. Muka semua sedih je...Reached the cars at 1735hrs.

Total journey time: 7 hrs 35min
Actual bike rolling 4 hrs 17
Elevation gained 260ft to 1360 in aprrox 8km
Max HR: 196
Av HR : 148
Pleasure ratings: Hell freezes over!

Bacin: Best gilaa...!!!!
Stupes: Penat sial!!!
Man: Kita kena prepare lebih lain kali
Nik: Better than Pusu -kemensah

Lessons learned from this ride: we have to be more prepared. Always bring parang/kapak on unknown trails like this.
Perhaps an earlier flag off time instead of the usual 0730 is warranted for oncoming biggie rides. In open trails like this wear long sleeves!
So let's do the Jill Thompson in December after raya!

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