New to Malaysia, Cyclocamping is a trend to watch.
HELLO Foldies! In this issue, we examine Cyclocamping.
As the term dictates, cyclists in Western countries are doing just more than taking a ride in the park. Those who tour without the need for accommodation can be considered as Cyclocampers.
To begin with, you must be adept with camping and have a certain willingness to rough it out. Packing all the basic essentials into your backpack or touring panniers means making room for your shelter, food and camping gear.
So, that said, is cyclocamping practical in our neck of the woods?
SAMO’s CYCLOCAMPING TRYOUT
Roger Teoh, a cycling buddy of mine had suggested a Bikecamping trip to Kampung Orang Asli Pertak near Kuala Kubu Baru in Selangor. I jumped at the chance to give it a try and the first thing I did, was to plan the content of my gear.
For shelter, I had a set of lightweight waterproof tarps. In our hot and humid climate, tarp shelters are ideal for the job. Its also easy to pack in a pannier.
The only improvement I did, was getting a set of Mountain Safety Research collapsible tarp poles. To secure the tarp, I had a coil of parachute cords and a set of tent pegs. This took care of the roof over my head and for a little bit of comfort, I packed an insulated sleeping mat and a ‘Thinsulate’ sleeping bag (tropical weather protection for temperatures 20C and above).
When it comes to preparing food, I had my trusty Optimus SVEA 123 hikers stove. This enables me to heat up my food and boil water for consumption. To chow down food, I had a ‘Camp-a-box’ meal kit that came complete with two cups, a condiment container, cutting board and a dish server.
Since we are camping near a river, I took no chances by utilising my Mountain Safety Research Hyperflow filter kit. This way, I don’t have to worry about consuming water straight from the source as the filter is able to remove harmful microbes as well as viruses.
I also packed enough food for dinner. Unlike Roger who packed his meal from Kuala Kubu Town, I had the chance to experiment with a pre-cooked rice from Japan.
To get some taste out of it, I used the Alif ‘Daging masak kicap’ that came foil-packed. All I need to do, is to boil the processed meat in the foil and dump it into the rice. Instant coffee and teabags made the rest of the menu.
DESTINATION: KUALA KUBU BARU
The get the most out of it, I designed the Cyclocamping trip as a bikepacking tour from KL Sentral to the Kuala Kubu Baru station via the KTM intercity train.
Roger, who has never been on such a trip – especially with the intercity train, was amazed by the convenience of transporting his Tern Joe D24 folding bike.
Since he had a 26″ foldie, moving the bike in and out of the train was not an issue. He also took the trouble to bag his ride for this outing. We boarded the 9:30am ride to Kuala Kubu Baru and since there was a delay, we only reached the town by noon. Ticket price for a single-journey was RM11.40.
Being an experienced bikepacker, I told Roger that the best seats are the ones at the entrance of the train. Why? Because there’s ample room for the bikes and baggage. I loaded my gear into a set of Ortlieb Backroller panniers and it weighed at 30kgs. My choice bike for the job was my 2009 Dahon Speed P8.
This included food, clothing, cooking utensils, a stove, fuel, water treatment equipment, the tarp shelters and personal toiletry.
HAULING THE LOAD
We got off at Kuala Kubu Baru station and started to move the bikes to the platform’s exit. While we were setting up, a curious man came up and asked: “Eh boss, how much is your bike ah?”
Roger was honest. He gave the man the entire low-down. I told him that it was not wise to tell a stranger how much the bike costs.
After setting up the bikes, we rode off to Kuala Kubu Baru town, which is about three kilometres away for an early lunch. My Cyclocamping buddy also took this opportunity to pack his dinner.
From town, its a straight forward 12km ride to Kg orang asli Pertak. This is a non-stop climb towards the Selangor Dam and the scene was breathtaking. With 30kgs of equipment, we crunched our gears. And I am not ashamed to admit that at a certain stretch on the road, I had to jump down from my bike and push.
The gradient was a real killer!
As soon as we cleared the Selangor Dam, it was a smooth ride to the campsite. Roger chose a site which is about 5km away from the RPS (Rancangan Penempatan Semula) village and through a light offroad course, we found a suitable place to set up shop.
Timing in this sense, was impeccable.
Our shelters were up before nightfall and by the time we sat around the fireplace, dinner was ready. For security, I packed along two LED lanterns to brighten up the place. I had a Black Diamond Apollo and Orbit lamps to add some illumination to the campsite.
As the night progresses, we hunkered down in the hot and humid jungle. Pertak, as it seems, is heavily frequented by people over the weekend. And it has some issues like waste management.
Irresponsible campers litter here and when a campsite is dirty, pests like the agas (gnats) pose a huge problem. These insects feed on you and causes skin irritation. I had whelts forming on my arms and found it hard to sleep. But by 2am, the insects are gone. So, I seized this opportunity to catch some ‘zzzzs’.
ROCK ‘N ROLL!
With daybreak in the horizon, I counted my blessings as it didn’t rain the night before. We’ve had a great run and were looking forward to a good breakfast in Kuala Kubu Baru. It took me less than 20 minutes to pack up and break camp.
By the time we loaded the panniers onto our bikes, we were on the move. The ride to Kuala Kubu Baru was a smooth downhill roll.
We were aiming for a ride out of this town before noon and managed to get a KTM Komuter to KL Sentral. I parted ways with Roger after an LRT ride to the Universiti station and started cycling towards Subang Jaya where I live.
In all the excitement, I had an inner tube blowout on my rear tire.
On the Federal Highway motorcycle lane, nobody stops for you. This is reality. The faster I recover the bike, the better chance of riding home safely.
After fixing the problem, I was on the move again and well, apart from gnats and a tube blowout, I had a blast on my first Cyclocamping trip.
With everything working out as planned, I think there are plenty of opportunities to explore other campsites in the country.
If you are keen to take up the challenge, there are some good on-line resources. Try www.cyclocampingforum.com or the Cyclecamper’s group on Facebook which is hosted by a group of Malaysians.