Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Gigi Terbenam di Lembah Bertam : Ride Report by Doc Hisyam

Gigi terbenam di Lembah Bertam

Jim Thompson loop
Riders:Azman, Adilah,Azmar, Steve, Zabil and me(doc)

Hi everyone. Last Saturday the above gang members once again proved that waking up at 3 am in the morning can at times be fun. As usual, the number of those present didn't exactly match the number that had earlier expressed their desire to come along. Last minute cancellations and broken promises are the norm in our life nowadays. It has just gone slightly high tech with sms. Its easy! Send one at 12 midnight saying whatever excuse you could muster and you dont even have to say your sorry. It wasnt going to dampen our spirits though.
After the initial hiccup of Azmar not finding Steve's condo and adilah getting a bit lost on her way to the RV point and doc being stopped by police for probable drunk driving (I was later waved on after the cop saw me in my lycra with the bike on the roof: Nobody goes out drinking with tight lycra anyway), we all managed to rendezvous at Sg Buloh R and R at 420am. Zabil came with the whole family, fast asleep in his truck. Steve ferried both azman and Azmar from Taman Tun and Adilah came alone. A quick get together chat and reorganised and we were off. Entertainment was provided by 70's music.....Alleycats lagi!...with not so good Karaoke singing by doc and Azman. Stopped for toilet break at Tapah R and R and met a couple of motorbikers from Singapore on their way to Thailand. In the loo, it was kind of funny with me the skinny guy in tight lycra standing next to the leather clad big guy at the urinals."You goin mountain biking?" the biker puffed asking me." I used to mountain bike....not anymore....". Without washing his hands he went, no doubt polluting the air with his motorised bike. Duhh! Macam la aku peduli.....suddenly it reminded me of my dear friend amir....the ex mountain biker now motorbiker.
No more dramas after that. we reached Ringlet at 715am. My first impression was that our favourite mamak stall was open. Restoran Lethumey....Roti telur, tosay and a couple of coffees later we were gettting ready. Aiman,Zabil's daughter wanted to follow pakcik uncle doc on the bike but mum didnt give permission. Instead they were going to see butterflies and orchids. The pre ride ritual was almost sacred. With the constant bantering by Steve, the last minute tweaking of the bike in the midst of a beautiful early misty morning. Adilah grew apprehensive when I asked Steve whether to bring my parang.........."its good for cutting open durians"...phew. Left the parang behind and after a quick group photo we were off! 0820hrs.
The initial ride into Bertam Valley was pleasant enough until we came to the TNB power house and was barked down by a cranky old dog. Could it be the same dog that nearly bit Bacin during the last visit? Anyhow, noone got hurt and we were awakened by the early morning chill factor. It was cold going downhill into Bertam as the wind bit into your face. Only steve the Canadian bear was immune to the cold. Pekan Bertam was alive with activity. Farmers trading their vegetables. Lorries getting ready to transport vegetables. Zabil was impressed by some kids playing basketball early in the morning. The town looked a bit ike Kundasang at the foothills of Kinabalu with the weather and the many 4WDs around. From Pekan Bertam we began the ascent along a north westerly direction along the Bertam valley. As per the last visit, the view was splendid. The only difference was probably there were more farming on the high hill slopes. The river was heavily polluted with agricultural waste, fertilizer bags, drums strewn everywhere. The road was dusty and we ate dust and diesel fumes whenever a truck passed by. The drivers though were generally corteous, giving friendly honks and waves and letting us way. So very unlike KL!
5 or 6 km in, the road became steep. A lot of puffing and sweating on the tarmac. As we progressed, the farms were getting less in number along the main road. The locals call the road "the new highway". No its not like the LDP! Its just a dusty tarmac road that winds and bends endlessly. As we ascended, the valley looked more clearer. With new farming at the top of the hills and the endless terraced farms, we realised that development does screw nature. I just hope things dont get out of control.
At the top of the valley, we came to the T junction marking the start of off road territory. The 'highway' continued right (but was blocked by a stalled lorry) and the JT loop brings you left into more farming communities down another small valley. I asked everyone whether they want light and easy (right) or the 'long and hard' option of turnng left down the valley. "Long and hard please!" was Azman's reply. Adilah didnt seem pleased,(maybe with my subtle choice of words) but we continued on. The descent was fun! Along mixture of muddy 4WD tracks and some hard rocky surface we sped down past cabbages, tomatoes and smelly baja tahi ayam. The bikes that were clean was now thrown into muddy pools. Adilah was worried about getting muddy while Zabil was protecting his 'specialised' baby from the no avail. Azman was as usual gung ho going fast. Azmar, despite not doing mountain biking for some time showed some decent skills. At the top of a ridge between two farms where we remembered it getting slippery from continuous running water and moss and algae formation, we stopped and warned everyone to be careful to avoid falling and doing an 'endo'. "whats an endo? asked Adilah. Steve wanted to be a hero in going in for the 'demo' in avoiding the endo and without even reaching 5 metres slipped and skidded. He was able to dismount without any harm. Doc had to show the gang how to really do it, and I sped down. I was immediately called back by Steve. Someone fell! I could see Steve gesturing to me a crash with him pointing to his face. "gigi! adilah!" I could barely hear him. Raced back up around the corner to see everyone gathering around Adilah and some looking down on the ground for something. Apparently she slipped and did an endo herself and smashed her face resulting in a broken tooth! Expected her to cry but she didnt. Strong gutsy girl. She had a minor gum bleed which was controlled spontaneously; The tooth is somewhere on the ground. Tak jumpa.
Diagnosis:1) Chip fracture of the left upper incisor (enamel with dentine spared)
2)Abrasion of the left shoulder with no skeletal defect.
3)Contusion over the left wrist wit full range of movements
The correct one: Stop riding and go home.
The chosen wrong one: Dust oneself off, check the bike, apply some antiseptic ointment, smile and carry on!

Being hard core, she progressed on, this time steve pushed her bike down the dangerous bit. Zabil and Azman had no problems speeding down. We were all waiting for Azmar when out of a sudden, he sped down towards me and Steve! Oh Shit! No way he was going to brake with this slippery algae covered track. Preparing to be hit like bowling pins, me and Steve cursed aloud hoping for the best. With great skill, Azmar swerved and avoided us. I was really impressed....cekapnya brader ni....until a few feet down his front wheel got trapped in a small crack on the road and he fell with a thud sideways on his right shoulder. Not expected to cry, he stood up, brushed himself down, checked his bike and smiled. Precisely what the doctor ordered. Tough guy really considering the hard surface and the speed and the associated thump in the way he landed. If it was me, I would probably have cried.........another story.
No more dramas after that. We managed to find the tecnical turn off after a few km down. Me and Steve was weary to the fact we took the wrong turning last time around and ended up becoming adventurer cum explorer going down a ravine along a mud slide. no such disaster this time. I memorised the place photographically and Steve also did his part by placing an old tyre during our last visit near the juntion. It was still there.
On into the the track down another small valley. The track was apparently the old track for the locals connecting Bertam valley and the next valley of Kuala Boh and into Orang asli settlements deeper in. Because of the new highway, the track has remained abandoned. Before entering, a land rover full of tahi ayam slowed past me. The Indian dude driving asked me where we were heading and I told him to Kuala Boh. "Salah jalan la!" Ikut la highway baru. I told him we were following the old trail and reassured him that I've done it before. With a wave he was off......I could barely hear him saying to his passenger "gila punya budak" as the landrover passed on.
To say abandoned is an understatement. The trail was covered in some sections with thick overgrowth at places and thick grass covering at places making it impossible to gauge where to put your wheels on. Some amount of jungle bashing was needed. I should have brought the parang. The trail was initially flat and semi tecnical with us slowing down to avoid and pass trough the thick shrub. Zabil got himself caught in some thorny vines and tore his 'favourite MTB shirt'. We saw some soil disruption pattern which looked like wild boar markings. Azman said he could smell them. Oh dear...At that time Steve was leading the ride and suddenly he was way ahead."Steve! Slow down dude!" I called ahead. The rest was following closely behind no doubt afraid after the wild boar story. Azman heard some movements in the bush and suddenly i heard him saying "faster faster!" with some urgency in his voice. More movements and followed by adilah screaming. Zabil was almost dismounted from his bike. Fearing the worst....wild boar? or worse pak belang? I turned back towards the gang and found them laughing their guts out. What was supposed to be a wild boar turned to be a 'tame canadian boar'. Steve had hidden in the shrubs to scare us all. HA HA! it was a good laugh all round. Following that, no one wanted to be in the rear anymore.
The downhill part when it came was sweet. Azmar and Zabil treated it with disdain. Since I remembered my fall during our previous visit, i was a bit more cautious. Azman looked after Adilah during the downhill part and both made it after some minor falls here and there. Apparently azmar took a tumble too. In the end my hand hurt from the braking and I was the only one who didnt fall.The 4km descent was superb! Fast and furious. Some soft mud made us to skid along but it was fun. At the bottom, we encounterd the 'highway' again as it made its way around the hill and ravine that we went down into. Im afraid that perhaps the trail will be overgrown completely in time from disuse. More reason for us to come again I suppose....
On to Orangasli territory....Kampung Kuala Boh hasnt changed a bit since the last visit. What striked me most was the friendly kids running around. They all looked scruffy with their afro hairdo's and most were bare footed. reminded of Papua New Guinea as seen on National Geographic. From Kuala Boh, the ascent started. Bacin would say. The climbing was endless, though we were helped by the fact that the weather was nice. Cool breeze and cloud cover. We were now generally heading northwards crossing a ridge to Boh valley. The track was cemented cum tarmac which was wide enough for a 4WD to pass trough. Traffic was nil though and we were the only ones slogging it out. We managed to ride on most parts though. This was a mark contrast to our previous visit where pushing was the order of the day. Even Adilah whom by now had recovered fully, rode most ways. Steve, Zabil and azman jangan cakap la.. No problems for them. Azmar had to push a bit, partly due to 'engine factor' , but also his rear derailler wasnt working well. That got fixed later on. We stopped at a small river and as usual for the urban doctor, he had to go for his spa there and then. Along with Zabil, steve and Azman, we managed to pollute the river.
On with the slog then! From there it was another 3 to 4 km to kampung Penggen, the last Orang asli settlement before entering the tea plantations. The weather was superb. Winds with low lying clouds. We could see that the plantations were covered in thick dark clouds. Most probably raining there. As we entered the plantation, it did start to drizzle. But spirits were high by then. The beautiful forest country was being replaced by miles and miles of tea. enough tea to make you tea sick. The people changed too. A lot of Indian workers and kids running around. We were leaving Papua New Guinea and entering Kandy, Sri Lanka. The ride in the plantation was another long slog uphill. We assured everyone that this was the final ascent of the day. That probably helped lift some spirits. We were now getting wet from the rain. Out of a sudden Zabil shouted ahead."Look at that big white bird flying low ahead!" Everyone craned their necks to look for the 'birds'......Takde pun? "There! see that?" " besar burung tu..."
Everyone stopped and stuggled to get a better view. Then we saw it.....The big white birds were actualy sacks of tea leaves being transported down the hill slopes using 'flying fox' cable and pulley system. Ha ha ha! we all had a good laugh! Zabil's training and instinct as a pilot to spot flying objects made for a good laugh all round.
We pedalled on upwards. The moment we reached the sundry store, the rained poured! Just in the nick of time. Anyway the store keeper was slighly amused with the sight of 6 smelly,bloody bikers invading and ransacking his store. We cleared his fridge real quick and he had to get some more drinks from the store. Azmar wanted to lie down in the rain....."why?" was his exclaimation in his anguish pain. He had planned to do some road riding tomorrow with some friends....nampak macam tak larat je ni doc...he told me.
From the store, we continued on and after more tea leaves and some more 'flying big birds' we finally made it the summit where the Boh tea shop awaits us. 2 pots of steaming tea and 10 pieces of pies and cakes was gulped down in disdain. Best gila after knowing that we made it afer all the long hard pedalling. In the distance we could see the top of another hill where the plantation air strip was. Perhaps next time we should try it, suggested zabil. I reckon it was another 2 hours to climb that monster.
With tea(theophylline: similar chemical family as caffeine)running in our veins, we were now upbeat. even Azmar who was depressed earlier on the thought of missing the next day's road ride was now in a better mood. Adilah managed to smile with her newly shaped tooth and bruised face. Steve was as usual talking about next race and projects. Unlike adilah, we are not competent climbers but already plans were discussed regarding trip to Krabi, southern Thailand we could drive there, bring our bikes, do some riding, do some climbing and zabil can even go scuba diving.....hmm very ambitious really. The wonder what lots of tea visually and ingested can do to your minds.
I told the gang that tea (theophyline) acts as a bronchodilator and improves pulmonary funtion and helps athmatic breath better. Azman thought it was crap and tea only gets him constipated! Then the effects of tea intoxication got into him...."why dont we ride from here to Gua Musang and do rock climbing there?100k plus" Good idea Man, Steve began planning on logistics, Zabil was agreeable on the 'next epic' and everyone was bouyant. All set then lets go one day! Then suddenly Zabil asked, "Gua Musang tu kat mana?" Alamak...after all the talk, we thought he knew where we were heading! Anyway, Adilah brought us back down to earth by telling us we would enjoy gua musang and Krabi more if we could do more difficult climbs as it was more technical there. In other words....We average Joes better climb more and improve before even thinking of going great guns. Ouch!
We waited for Aiman and mummy to RV with us but they didnt turned up. Fearing miscommunication somewhere, we proceeded on. The trip down the Boh hill into Habu town was fast and sweet. 5km of fast twisting wet tarmac. The guys just raced down like there was no tomorow. Adilah waited for me to make the rear guard. In Habu we met up with Zabil's wife waiting in the pick up. The ride from Habu to Ringlet was plain boring dusty tarmac....habu, what do you expect.
Best Gila!

Azmar : "why!!!"
The next day, he recovered fully to join the PCC ride in doing 65km uphill from Simpang Pulai. Well done mate.
Zabil: "look at that bird!" Rode with the PCC next day and made it.The most improved among our gang.
Azman and Steve: Rode 65km up and followed with the journey down totalling 130km plus.....on their mountain bikes!
"teh buat berak keras la doc"
Adilah: Recovered and ran the Pace setters 15km run the next day.
Went to the dentist first thing Tuesday morning and got her enamel capped. Smile!!
"I couldnt believe i did that climb"
Doc:" Best gila".....unconcious the next day from tea intoxication.

Warm regards,

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