The annual Campaign for a Lane (CFAL) ride on the island of Penang was coming up. My cycling group aka the R@SKLs has made a weekend trip out of CFAL for three or four years now. We usually fly or drive to Penang.
This time seven of us decided to cycle to Penang over three days. Penang is about 410km / 255mi from Kuala Lumpur.
That was a bit too far for a three-day ride so we cut about 80km / 50mi off by taking a train from Kuang to Tanjung Malim.
We started with a 28km / 17mi ride to the train station in Kuang. It is 5:00 am and we are ready to roll.
Staying true to the R@SKL raison d’etre there were two themes to this adventure. Riding and eating. Our first food stop was at a coffee shop across the road from Kuang station. Plates of fried noodles before the train ride to Tanjung Malim.
The 7:27 am train was on time so we didn’t spend much time striking poses on the platform.
We had most of the carriage to ourselves. Once settled in our seats the first order of business was checking mobile phones. I promise that we did converse with each other too.
Amy provided her truck as a support vehicle. That was very helpful because we could put bags in the truck instead of riding with saddle packs. Mark was the driver on the first day because school run duties prevented him from riding with us at 5:15 am.
We met Mark at a roadside stall about a kilometre from Tanjung Malim station. We had only ridden 30km / 19mi but were already into our second meal of the day. Roti canai for those who hadn’t eaten in Kuang.
I’ll include photographs of the food we ate along the way. Roti canai is a folded and fried flatbread that is popular for breakfast. A raw egg is often folded into the bread before it is fried. Roti is always served with a curry: dhal (lentil) or fish or chicken.
Teh tarik (pulled tea) is often the drink of choice with a roti. This is a hot milky tea which is cooled by pouring the tea from one mug to another. One mug is lifted up and away as the tea pours into the other mug. Hence the “pulled” in the name of the drink. The pouring back and forth also creates the foamy head to the tea.
The riding then started in earnest. Our final destination for Day 1 was Kampar. 88km / 55mi north on Federal Route 1.
Mark drove a few kilometres ahead of us and parked on the side of the road. After we went past him he would leapfrog us again.
We rode under clear blue skies. The temperature rose steadily. It was 25º C / 77º F when we left Kuala Lumpur at 5:15 am. It was 38º C / 97º F when we rolled into Bidor at noon.
We made lots of stops for drinks. We got to Kampar at about 3:00 pm.
After a shower and a short nap, we headed out to look for snacks. We found cendol, ais kacang and noodles.
Cendol is a sweet dessert that contains green rice flour strands flavoured with screwpine, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup served over shaved ice. Delicious on a hot day.
Ais kacang (bean ice) is another dessert. In ais kacang shaved ice is mixed with a variety of ingredients: red beans (hence the kacang), palm seed, sweet corn, grass jelly, roasted peanuts, fruit cocktail, nata de coco etc. All topped with evaporated milk and flavoured syrups, and nowadays often a scoop of ice cream.
It looks a mess, but cold, sweet and multi-textured. What’s not to like?
Dinner was at a so-so Chinese restaurant. The highlight of our time in that restaurant was deciding who would drive the truck the next day. In the week before the ride, everyone expressed a desire to drive as a way of getting some time off the saddle.
By the end of Day 1, that sentiment had changed. No one had needed a break from riding. And Mark made it clear that the stop and start driving was no fun. There were no volunteers to drive the next day so we had to draw straws. I didn’t draw the short straw 😄
You would have thought that dinner would be the end of eating for the day. You would have been wrong. Kampar is noted for its Claypot Chicken Rice. A couple of the guys ventured out later that night for some.