The Bangkok Post: Cycling in the Malaysian playground | Bukit Kiara

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The Bangkok Post | Pongpet Mekloy | 18 Sep 2014

I’d long heard stories about Bukit Kiara, the major playground for mountain bikers in Malaysia’s capital, but until a recent two-day visit to Kuala Lumpur had never actually seen it with my own two eyes….

It was absolutely well worth the trip. I’m now back in Bangkok but the euphoria I felt during the ride on the Malaysian hill has still to fade. I flew to Kuala Lumpur with a good friend from Chiang Mai…

I flew to Kuala Lumpur with a good friend from Chiang Mai who has quite a few mountain biker friends in KL. The local riders, some of whom have visited Chiang Mai and ridden on Doi Pui and Doi Suthep more than once, were kind enough to not only join us for the ride but also provide us and our bikes with transportation between the hotel and Bukit Kiara. You have to be a mountain biker to realise that the borderless brotherhood between bikers is not just incredibly strong, but also genuine.

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On the first day, we arrived at Bukit Kiara late in the afternoon to try its downhill track. As an unfit rider from Thailand where downhillers are spoiled with the habit of taking a shuttle truck all the way up the mountain to the trailhead, I was intimidated by the thought of having to do the compulsory road climb on my heavy freeride bike. Thanks to the dropper seatpost, the double chainrings and the encouraging ride buddies, however, it turned out to be not that tough. In fact, it was enjoyable.

Somewhere high on the hill, we broke off from the paved road onto a narrow forest trail. It was only a short ride further up to the starting point of the DH track, but it was still pretty technical so I had to occasionally hop off the bike and push it up instead.

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Gliding down the track gathering speed and momentum, we were soon greeted with a number of gap jumps. One of them, known as the Shaolin Gap, was too scary for me so I decided to save my bones and use the chicken run. (What you see in the main photo taken by Damian Gerard is one of Fakawi Banshee Team racers and one of Malaysia’s best, Aaron Chan Chow Hee, effortlessly clearing the Shaolin Gap.)

Further down along the winding trails with several banked turns was a good flow through an evergreen forest. After a while we emerged to an open hillside with a steep gradient and lots of exposed roots. Luckily for me, it was dry that day so I had no problem coming down that section. If there had been rain, it would have been a different story.

After that the trail snakes into the shady woods again. Just as we were nearing the end of the track I was warned to stop and check out what lay ahead.

It was something that made the Shaolin Gap look tame: a series of drops (the first one over 2m tall) down a steep slope followed by a jump with a gap wide enough to park three cars side by side.

Of course, I had no shame opting for a detour. Even if I had time to do another run down the trail that evening, I don’t think I would try it.

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The next day we went back to Bukit Kiara to try some of its many cross country trails. Again, I was impressed. Too bad the Malaysian authorities don’t seem to realise that this place is a gem KL and Malaysia should be proud of. The sad fact is that this green area is constantly being nibbled away by “development” projects. Thanks to an NGO called TRAKS and the local biking community that have been strongly campaigning for the preservation of the hill’s forest and its trails, much of Bukit Kiara still remain in good natural condition. Let’s hope that their effort and dream to convince the government to keep this precious place permanently the way it is will soon come true.

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Bukit Kiara: Destruction On Boner Trail Resumes To The Benefit Of The Happy Few
Back in October 2013, we did alert the public about the Boner trail starting from Kiaramas Ayuria being destroyed in spite of the battle led by TRAKS, FoBK, MNS and others to - See The Battle To Save Bukit Kiara, A National Treasure - By Chui Lim.

After the works being halted for a year, destructions have resumed on both sides of the ridgeline facing Kiaramas Aruya and Kiaramas Danai condos, on the North-East part of Bukit Kiara. A massive clearing has been done lately. And we mean it, massive!
To the benefit of the happy few… If you wonder who, see video on Youtube…

See previous coverage

Bukit Kiara: Destruction On Boner Trail Resumes To The Benefit Of The Happy Few

Back in October 2013, we did alert the public about the Boner trail starting from Kiaramas Ayuria being destroyed in spite of the battle led by TRAKS, FoBK, MNS and others to - See The Battle To Save Bukit Kiara, A National Treasure - By Chui Lim.

After the works being halted for a year, destructions have resumed on both sides of the ridgeline facing Kiaramas Aruya and Kiaramas Danai condos, on the North-East part of Bukit Kiara. A massive clearing has been done lately. And we mean it, massive!

To the benefit of the happy few… If you wonder who, see video on Youtube

See previous coverage

Join KDCF Trail Day @ Kota Damansara Community Forest, Sat. 27 Sep. 2014

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Come join KDCF Trail Day #3 to continue building the next leg of the T5 trail.

It’s a bit of a challenge, we have to be honest. Reasonable fitness levels are required! As the trail work site is now deeper in the forest - it is a hike of about 2 plus km just to get to the head of the trail. Tools will be provided for those without, but if you have your own please bring them. No experience necessary.

Pat Brunsdon aka The Penghulu, our TRAKS trail experts will ease you into trail work with guidance along the way! Bring your own water, gloves, insect repellent.

We will meet at the entrance to Denai Harmoni at 08:20 am sharp, only 10 mn waiting around for stragglers unless you call us on 012 3520215 to get us to wait for you.

(Note that the start point has been amended from my original email as this is a better place for a large group to start. The new spot isa few hundred meters down the road.)

Bukit Kiara: Chipping Away At Our Green Lungs

Bukit Kiara is a vibrant green lung in the heart of an urban jungle, but many are afraid that this pristine getaway is in danger of being lost.

This beautiful nature park has still yet to be gazetted after the Government agreed to do so in 2006, and over the years regular joggers and cyclists have seen heavy machinery rolling up into the park and slowly changing their nature retreat.

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Trees have been felled, slopes and trails dug up, concrete drains built, tarmac roads paved, and high wire fences built; bringing up several concerns of the park’s animals and surrounding environment.

“There is no communication whatsoever about what is going on. There are no notices being put up to tell people what’s going on or what they’re doing to the land,” said Rebecca Thomason, the assistant secretary of TRAKS.

TRAKS is an non-governmental organisation (NGO) that builds and maintains mountain bike trails along Bukit Kiara and other jungles in Selangor. The NGO is one of the many advocates who want Bukit Kiara gazetted and safe from developers and government bodies.

If you have been to Bukit Kiara recently, you would have noticed bulldozers digging up parts of the slopes and some of the trails, and I asked what was going on.

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Thomason said that they learnt that Jabatan Landskap Negara (JLN) have been attempting to “rectify” the slopes in the area because they were starting to slip and were concerned about the safety of the joggers and cyclists.

“I am glad that they are concerned about our safety,” she said, but questions their methods of “rectifying” the slopes.

“They cleared all the trees and used mesh and grass instead, and in the process the soil they dug up buried a trail called 4K and still have not restored it,” said Thomason.

With JLN digging up the slopes and leaving the area in a huge mess with the soil piled to the side of the tarmac road, it not only creates a huge eyesore, but it is also dangerous for joggers and cyclists.

“I wonder if they even realised that there was a trail right next to where they were digging. What if there were people down there, what if the soil buried them? But thankfully, that didn’t happen and nobody was hurt,” said Thomason.

I have personally experienced the terribly slippery and muddy state the road becomes after it rains and I have been close to slipping a couple of times.

I just hope that in future, more notice and warning will be given to the visitors of Bukit Kiara in preparation of such potentially hazardous work.

I am aware that the minister of housing, urban wellbeing, and local government Datuk Adbul Rahman Dahlan has met with several organisations including TRAKS and Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK) earlier in the year and that he listened to their grievances and concerns regarding Bukit Kiara.

Some of the issues raised were the widening of trails with heavy equipment, which is not sustainable, and the 3.5m fence that surrounds the park that acts as a barrier to animals trying to cross the fence.

Thomason said that since that meeting, nothing much has been done to improve the situation.

“The minister agreed to restore the trail that was buried. But nothing has happened yet,” said Thomason.

“There is also no move on the gazettement,” she said, but adds that she understands that there are many stakeholders involved and that such things take time.

“There is just no sense of security. We could lose Bukit Kiara next week,” she said.

I hope that people realise how much we need that patch of nature and greenery within our busy city, and that we shouldn’t waste it to build yet another shopping mall or hotel to add another block of concrete to Kuala Lumpur.

Thousands of people flock to Bukit Kiara to exercise and keep fit surrounded by mother nature, surely that brings more value than having another commercial building within our midst.

We all have to remember that once you cut down all those trees and tear away the hill, you will never get it back.

So let us protect the treasure that is Bukit Kiara and preserve what’s left of it’s natural beauty.

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Atlas Moth by Phil Bee

Source: Victoria Brown | The Star Online

The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

 Other pictures by TRAKS

Never heard of Setia Alam Community Trails?
A passionate group of MTB riders has been working over the past 4 years to build a 15km network of MTB trails.
Here’s a GPS route on Garmin suggested by Riza Shaharudin. As he puts it:

The route is 100% rideable if you have the skills, stamina and at times the b$lls for it - except for the last section near Alam Budiman where you might need to push up some sections.

Time to give it a try!
Setia Alam Community Trail on Facebook
Setia Alam Community Blog

Never heard of Setia Alam Community Trails?

A passionate group of MTB riders has been working over the past 4 years to build a 15km network of MTB trails.

Here’s a GPS route on Garmin suggested by Riza Shaharudin. As he puts it:

The route is 100% rideable if you have the skills, stamina and at times the b$lls for it - except for the last section near Alam Budiman where you might need to push up some sections.

Time to give it a try!