Thursday, May 6, 2010

Fraser Hill > Kuala Lipis > Fraser's Hill

It wasn’t meant to be this hard. Sitting in yet another Petronas petrol station, trying to force down yet more water and eat some crisps to get some salt in the system I was trying to remember why on earth I’d checked out of my executive suite in KL, traveled 3hrs to get up a hill to another nice hotel, only to trade it all in for a petrol station. But right at that moment I knew it was the only place I could be. An overheating core and a seemingly unending afternoon on a road that was getting busier and busier in the baking equatorial sun with 30+C heat and 90% humidity had finally taken its toll. I felt spent, not sure what I was doing here or how I was going to go on but for that moment A/C was the only solution. Maybe by the time I left it would have cooled down. I’m not sure how long I spent there but by the time I left it certainly hadn’t got any cooler and the road was busier still.

The morning had been good- I’d made my turning point of Kuala Lipis 102km in with plenty of time for lunch at a nice steady 32kph average, enjoying the ride. Kuala Lipis had been sold to me by the taxi driver from KL (some know him as Ronnie) on the basis of a clean river where they have a fresh fish festival each year. This spurned me on, which visions of a tropical Seine like environment with some fine food to accompany. The river was in fact the usual Asian shade of brown and the waterside bistro I hankered after turned into a Chinese hawker stall in a shaded alley off the back of the train station. Surprisingly a Euro backpacker had also found his way to this unremarkable town and I joined him for lunch. He was just passing though waiting for a train. Not much else to do in Kuala Lipis.

The afternoon was a different story. My speed was fine and I didn’t feel like I was pushing it but my heart rate just kept on going a zone too high compared with where I thought it should be. This is where the A/C induced petrol station breaks started- out of a need to cool down. I discovered some interested things about Malaysian petrol stations, like the prayer room out back by the toilets. And where else could you find some windscreen wiper bottles arranged on the floor in the shape of the company logo?

Am I hallucinating? No, I have photographic evidence! God it's hot, why don’t I ride in normal places like the Alpes? Why would anyone ride a bike in Malaysia??? After all the petrol station breaks, including the rather prolonged one with the crisps, I eventually turned off the main road and found my answer.

The village was evidently somewhere tourists don't go- being at the bottom of the back way up Frasers there is no reason to go there- so I was greated with lots more funny looks than usual. My requests for water were met with much hilarity in the bar where I stopped, but they did serve me 100+, a sort of Malaysian Sprite, which did the trick also. 

I like this quick photo of a little girl checking out my Garmin- obviously so different to her village life, quite the contrast. She didn't understand when I tried to explain “look-170km and still the big hill to go”. I don’t think any of them understood how much water I’d need to carry to make it up the last 35km climb without any more places to buy such luxuries.

The climb back up Frasers was actually remarkably pleasant and quite enjoyable. I'd expected this to be the hardest part of the ride but in actual fact as the temperature dropped and I took advantage of the shade from the trees I got into a rhythm and just started to enjoy the sound of the birds, the steady gradient and the sheer beauty of the place. I hadn't realised quite how much the traffic on the flats had worn me mentally and how much the heat had taken out of me pyhsically. Given the distances involved the legs felt reasonable and I was pleased not to cramp but at the end of the epic climb and after 205km I was pleased to see 'Ye Olde Smokehouse'. I made it at least 12litres of water / coke / 100+ consumed and a 10.5hr ride, but only 7.5 of that ride time.

Looking in the mirror was a sorry sight, but nothing some tea & scones couldn't fix!

Turns out this is the highest scoring TRIMP ride I’ve done since recording these efforts. The 2nd highest being, yes, Fraser’s Hill earlier this year! In terms of lessons learned I won't be doing another unsupported ride of that distance without any modern day hydration / energy foods and relying on petrol stations alone! Much as I dislike all that cr*p it does kind of work in these situations. I also decided that there was no need to ride Genting again the next day…

Full photo album for Fraser's Hill below:

Fraser 10


  1. Hard core!

    100Plus is actually an isotonic / electrolyte replacement drink, so you lucked out there.