In a nutshell: roasty toasty, hot & sweaty, hills, barking dogs, single tracks, palms, rubber, sunburns, challenging, thirsty, scenic, fun!
It’s always nice to get out of busy KL and to step into the slower pace of the Malaysian countryside for a taste of Kampung life. After an hour drive we arrived in Bentong, the Malaysian Hollywood. Not as glamourous maybe, but where else would you be on a hot Sunday morning, eh?
With Scott & co in charge of the Bash, I think we all knew what we were signing up for: climbs, more climbs and a few technical descents on the way back. Bingo! No surprise there.
After some late arrivals and a briefing by Scott, we were all good to go and Mr. Panzer himself led the pack into the jungle up to check #1. The first section of the ride was a fast & flowy single track through rubber plants.
Check #1 was situated at the end of a cul-de-sac, which created a bit of chaos as all the hungry wolves (still all pumped up at this stage of the Bash) had do a U-turn and go back on themselves, bumping into incoming riders.
Next was a falsie going forward from the main intersection, which everyone started to follow, then the real paper was found up the hill on the first major slog of the day.
Mark and Lloyd were the front runners at this point and it was not long before check #2 was found at the top of the valley on a switchback. Lots of options there, 1 uphill (which seems the obvious choice), a couple of dead ends which I tried in vain, and a huge long downhill.
What would you do? Well, logically you’d go up, because that ‘s where we were heading to… but Mark AKA Balls of Steel braved the long & steep + slippery down without thinking about the climb he might have to face if he was wrong and guess what? He found the paper trail 300 meters down (Scott assured me that it was 150 meters - as the crow flies perhaps).
After a long and steady series of exposed climbs on a gravel road we reached check #3 on the other side of the Chemang waterfall road. At this stage I was riding with Andreas, Laurent, Strappy, Roberto and Mark. Check #3 was right in the middle of a five way intersection with lots of options for the paper. It took us a while to find it, seeing as we didn’t check the one place it actually was. Classic!
More climbing was on the menu, so I had to take a break at the top of a climb and almost got my bike nicked by some American punk while I was having a piss! Is one bike not enough Mr. Roberts?
Then I recall crossing a wood, a real puncture heaven. Panzer right in front of me was cursing “putain” every five seconds, saying he wasn’t in the mood for that kinda bullsh*t… in the meantime, Strappy was having a domestic with his rear mech, neither happy bunnies at that stage.
Check #4 was on top of the hill above the Orang Asli village (Kampong Gabong). Roberto “La Bomba” freshly back from a trip to the Ecuadorian heights was charging at the front followed by a group of us. A falsie up ahead was found by Strappy and it took us a while to get back. The check was back on a single track leading to a long weaving trail in the shade (for a change!).
After a long jungle section and a beautiful downhill bombing run to blow your sox off we reached check #5. Panzer, Strappy and I looked in all the wrong directions possible and imaginable, but thankfully Laurent found the right path.
This is when I think I ran out of water, 3 litres in 2h15min…ooops! I remember then crossing a few huts with a horde of barking stray dogs outside before heading down a sketchy downhill.
Last check, but not least, was at the top of a hill overlooking a valley of palm trees. I checked all the possible avenues along the right, making sure I rode 250 metres in all directions just in case… Fey checked down, Strappy did f*** all, being knackered as he was! Scott assisted us in closing the check since it was close to the end. 250-metres back was our trail.
About 10 of us regrouped and we headed down the valley and then up again for the last climb of the day. I rode with Scott and Laurent for a while and then Fey joined us. Once the last climb was over we bombed it, head down, thirst on, thinking about that beer at the end of the tunnel.
Most of the ride was scenic, but the end bit was particularly stunning. Crossing the bridge over the dam was a highlight of the ride - truly beautiful views!
The last section was a fast rolling gravel road and Andreas led the pack at a fast pace on that last leg, then onto the tarmac, which seemed never ending. Strappy dared everyone to start sprinting and there we were bombing it up to the end! Fey won the green jersey and finished first, which he celebrated with a ciggie as soon as he got off the bike.
Time then was to reTigerite! Happy days, I think we all made it back in one piece, and even Flange who lost his Garmin on the way got it back, thanks to Steve. You gotta love a happy ending…
Thanks to all the Hares for putting together such a great ride! Clearly a lot of effort went into organising the event.
See you in a few weeks for more!