No excuse not to go riding, real riding that is. Something I have been putting off for awhile Not the usual monotony that the flat landscape and hiker crowded trails in Singapore has to offer..... 8 hours of smooth driving to Penang lull me into thinking "its just another trail, another ride"
Looking at the elevation of the hills and jungle from the hotel snap me back to reality. Though from afar but knowing the inside of jungles well told me what to expect under humid tropical canopy that may however be intruded by human activities.
Better safe than sorry, so it was all suited up with guards, FF helmet and body armor on the first day. Bad idea in 100% humidity and having sections to portage up before its a one way ticket down.
Made up of different trails it takes a bit of local knowledge to meander from one to the other. Chwee must have been eking out a living in these green patches...snaking around to the right spot...oh I just happily followed cutting from one trail to another or simply meandering through the longer ones.
Most of these are actually hiking trails, usage, weathering and erosion have taken their tolls. But biking around in topical climates, one of the thing is always about cutting a path of travel to circumnavigate what nature has washed away. Except for Line 3, Youth Park which is carved out and shaped for DH races, the rest actually looks more like technical downhill sections of more difficult XC trails.
Apart from the first day of riding, rain was a constant companion which no doubt made the riding a tad more difficult than if it was dry. Steep sections smoothened and slick from all the rain has more slick roots at every pedal stroke; ready to get you. Some sections felt more like skiing rather than biking.
.......More roots and jutting rocks at the bottom
.......Not all is gnarly... nice and flowy stuff too
Even the most brainless maniacs that hurls themselves off into tangled mass of vegetations need to do a rain check at some point :)
......Just too wet. Carbing up on the "free" coffee and biscuits on a detour on the way down Pt 84.
Sure glad to be having 6 inches of travel front and back and wishing for more at some points. On others, it doesnt seem too DH oriented at all
Getting up there?
Well one can push-- but up 850 meters on roads that inclines up to 45 degrees! Thanks but no thanks.
Knowing locals there who would pick u and bike up for a few ringgit a pop is one.
Failing which, there is always the tram service (but we heard that this will be taken down and replaced with something modern in the near future)
Though there is lesser pedaling unless one choose to take some other more XC oriented trails, still a base level of fitness and bike handling skill is required. The mental concentration needed when the brain is cooked under a helmet, especially a full face one and willing the hands and legs to coordinate the bike movement is not something that can be easily achieved if the fitness is not there.
Start off with the ability to ride 2-3 consecutive laps at Bukit Timah or Ubin and followed by a couple of rides at Kent Ridge to hone handling skills are highly recommended for those that has little experience before attempting the Penang Hill trails
The Bike ?
Full fledge DH rigs like what Chwee and Line7 used sure has a fun factor over mine.
But a properly setup AM, not some weenie crap rig will suffice. Moreover I was the one smiling when having to portage some sections. I wish I had a little more travel up front though... a RS Totem would probably feel about just perfect but otherwise no complaints with the EG
In summary.... Once back, riding local trails in Singapore was almost done with a yawn, a very big one. Going to Penang again? Sure.
Besides... where to find food like this around our little island