Building The Dream (Trail @ FRIM, Malaysia) by Pat Brunsdon
Bukit Kiara Trails © Joe Adnan 2002
[This post is now 10 years old, some information may be inaccurate, some trails have disappeared, news ones have been built but considering the amount of work Joe put in Kiara, we can’t just let this down… The map has been updated though]
The trails of Kiara have attained a somewhat exalted status among the mountain biking cognoscenti in KL. But let’s have a little perspective, North Shore it ain’t. Nevertheless, within the comfortable confines of our very own tempurung, Bukit Kiara is da bomb. The trails comprise mainly of singletrack. Technical singletrack. Well, as technical as it gets without 7 inches of suspension and 5 kgs of body armour, that is.
There’s at least 25 kilometres’ worth of trails in Bukit Kiara, but they’re disappearing by the minute. The most distressing loss was that of the wonderful river valley, a victim of the Sprint Highway Tunnel. Encouragingly, Sprint cites its use of bored tunnelling technology to minimise the impact on the ecology.
Pat’ Brunsdon’s map of Bukit Kiara trails for 2011 - click to download
As usual there is continuing encroachment by “those who think Wawasan 2020 means flatten every hill and chop down every tree in site”. However, as old trails fall victim to the bulldozers, new ones are lovingly being, built, raked, packed and bermed, by Pat ‘Pigpen’ Brunsdon and a goodly number of other enthusiastic trailblazers.
A big thanks to few who continually maintain and improve Kiara’s luscious mountain biking attributes.
From Jalan Damansara, turn onto Jalan Bukit Kiara. Continue on this road past the Securitites Commission and Science Centre on your right and the Bukit Kiara Equestian Centre on your left. Watch for a pedestrian overbridge adjacent to Desa Sri Hartamas School. Turn left here and park along the street. Follow the sidewalk back to past the school, under the Pedestrian Overbridge and down Jalan Bukit Kiara towards the Equestrian Centre. (Watch out for the storm drain about 50 meters along. Pinch flat calling!) At 300 meters from the overbridge the school wall ends, take a hard right. The Plan C trail head is here.
Access may also be gained from the Joggers’ Track near the IBM building in Taman Tun Dr Ismail or from within Taman Lembah Kiara.
Amy, on Snakes & Ladders
The route listed below is the best biking route for your first time in Kiara. You can also join any one of the regular groups that ride here every Saturday and Sunday mornings. Rendezvous at Devi’s Corner in Desa Sri Hartamas at 07:30am sharp.
Start from the back of the Desa Sri Hartamas (“Pat’s Egress”). Steep climb. At the top of the climb, turn left (
"Rumpy Pumpy"). Note that turning right will take you to the upper pump house and the tarmac road (“the Pump House road”).
Rumpy Pumpy, past the back of the upper pump house. The trail runs parallel to the road. At one point, the trail rises to meet the Pump House road. Take the left fork immediately before the short rise.
This trail (also
Rumpy Pumpy) follows the contours, and goes steeply up 2 switchbacks and comes down again in a madly rutted and rooty descent to the construction kongsi, before exiting on the Pump house road at the lower pump house.
Turn right to go uphill on the Pump House road. After the road crests, look out for the left turn to the dusun. There are 2 turnings; I prefer the second which is singletrack. The first left is a gravel road. You’ll come to a very steep section of trail; look out for the left fork. This trail will meet the top of the gravel road. Be careful, the log bridge is down. Continue along contours along “Boulder”, downhill of the dusun. (The dusun will be on your right.) You’ll come to several large boulders and a steep drop known as Concussion Corner.
Hike up and past the boulders, where you can resume cycling. Continue along the contours until you come to a junction. Turn left and you will exit at the Jogger’s Track, or go straight along the contours (the trail may be difficult to spot) on “Snakes and Ladders”. This next section is very tight and technical and the flyover and bridge are down. If you survive this section, you’ll come to a junction with “Twin Peaks”. Turn right, uphill.
(Had you turned left at the end of Boulder instead of continuing on Snakes and Ladders, you’ll come to the Joggers Track. Turn right onto the tarred section, and proceed until you reach the cross-junction. Look right at the cross junction and you’ll see a trail heading uphill. This is the bottom of Twin Peaks. Go up Twin Peaks. You’ll shortly pass the junction with Snakes and Ladders on your right.)
Twin Peaks is a huge climb, about 15-20 minutes for most people who ride it all the way. You’ll pass a shrine on your left, slightly more than halfway up. About 20 metres past the shrine, there’s a left turn. This trail, Rock Gardens, is a little disused. It leads to the park in Taman Tun (which incidentally is closed to bicycles). Do NOT turn into Rock Gardens.
Proceed uphill on Twin Peaks until you see another trail on your left, which drops steeply onto a saddle before climbing again. (The junction is in a wooded section, about 15 metres past a bamboo grove.) Turn left, into Janie’s Addiction. Incidentally, if you carried straight on, you’ll reach the top of Peak 1, from which there’s a good view of KL, PJ and Lim Goh Tong’s palace, smog permitting. It’s 260 metres above sea level at this point.
Doc Leigh powering up Rumpy-Pumpy
Janie’s Addiction marks the transition between the old rubber estate and what appears to be montane forest. I’ve seen blue birds scurrying in the undergrowth that I’ve not yet been able to identify. This particular section of trail is also west-facing, and is excellent if ridden at dusk because the trail glows red from the light of the setting sun that is reflected from the leaves. Continue along Janie’s. There are no junctions. The trail is mostly fun and mostly rideable. There’re a couple of steep descents. It will finally take you to a pondok (“Upper Pondok”).
At the Upper Pondok, turn left, onto “Boner”. After a short rise in the trail, there’ll be a left turn into “Clenched Sphincter”. As the name suggests, it’s a little hairy, and you’ll need to master off-camber descents and last-minute swerves to ride it without putting your foot down.
At the bottom of Clenched Sphincter, turn right onto “Penchala”. Be careful, as the junction is potentially confusing. This trail leads all the way downhill to Kg Segambut Dalam, and follows the course of a river. Very scenic and exciting.
You’ll come out behind a few houses in the Kampung. Turn right on the road, heading all the way back to Sri Hartamas.
Total distance is about 10km. There are lots of trails missed out, including the 2k loop, the 4k loop, and my favourites,
Mondo Cool and Pondok-to-Pondok, so there’s lots more potential out there. Have fun, and happy trails.
Bill, riding the old drop-off on Janies Addiction
The following is information that I’ve included for posterity, which I expect only the anally retentive will find interesting.
Extinct or partially extinct trails
- Banana Ridge. First existed as an overgrown walking trail, before Pat took his parang to it, ably assisted by Karen. Then the bulldozers moved in, in mid-2001.
- The Creek. Now, a highway runs through it. One of the first trails that I rode in Kiara, though it was hardly rideable. On a memorable occasion, I fell some 12-15 feet from the bank into the creek. “At least it’s a soft landing,” I remember thinking to myself, as the water broke my fall. Moments later, the bike fell on my chest, leaving an imprint of Panaracer Smokes. (Remember them?)
- Bebola Rosak. Now exists only until the high-tension pylon. No exit possible at the time of writing. Again, first existed as an overgrown ridge trail. Pat built a masterpiece exit with an off-camber behind-the-saddle descent. A top tube impact while attempting this descent led Pat to name the trail Bebola Rosak (Broken Balls).
- Dogs. This was one of the first trails to go. The trail started at the upper pump house (the top of what is now Pat’s Egress), and descends to the oxidation pond in Sri Hartamas, through two excellent switchbacks and some lovely rubber trees. The bulldozers came in (circa 1993) to build what is now the school and Desa Sri Hartamas. Near the top of the hill there used to be a hut belonging to an old Indian man who also had a pack of vicious dogs that would chase you as you rode past. Having to ride fast, downhill, to avoid getting bitten made us better riders. Quickly.
- River valley, Mondo Cool. From the lower pondok at the end of Mondo Cool and Pondok-to-Pondok, to the junction of the Creek and Banana Ridge, this trail has been decimated. Close to the pondok is the start of the tunnel. A few years ago, before they cut the pilot road into the valley, you could still see the river rocks piled into neat embankments at the side of the creek. These were the foundations of the houses that existed prior to the Emergency in the 1950s. The pakcik who tends to the durian trees in the valley was born in this village.
- Lower Short. There used to be a trail dissecting the Joggers’ track loop from the bottom of the Upper Short. This trail, not seeing heavy traffic after the cows were herded away, is now overgrown. (Yes, there were cows once in Kiara. The pen was located near the start of the 2k loop.)
Some of the stories behind the existing trails:
- Janie’s Addiction. Janie Ravenhurst was obsessed with the idea of finding a link from Summit 1 to the upper pondok on Pondok-to-Pondok, to avoid risking the parting of body and soul by riding down Mondo Cool. After many reconnoitres and with the help of several GPSs, Pat finally found the link sometime in late 1999 or early 2000. The trail was named after Janie, and with a nod to the punk rock group Jamies Addiction.
- Boner. Originally you could ride this trail all the way downhill at speeds in excess of 35km/h to exit at what is now the Garden International School. Now it’s interrupted by the construction for the Sprint Highway. Contrary to what some might think, it was not named after the excited state of the rider after having successfully negotiated this twisting, high-speed descent, but for the fact that it was a bone-rattling descent. I don’t notice the bumps anymore, either because they’ve have gone away or my bike now has front suspension.
- Snakes & Ladders. Masterminded by Jake and assisted by Pat who’d come back from Melbourne and was on his way to Canada. Built in early 2002.
Rumpy-Pumpy. Built by the horse folks, so maybe we can tolerate a little bit of trail sharing… Pat’s Egress. Pat foresaw that the original entry point used by most riders to enter into the Kiara trails (at the abandoned construction kongsi at the end of Rumpy Pumpy) would be blocked once the Sprint highway was completed. So he spruced up what was then a downhill-only or hiking trail and built the excellent switchbacks that allowed you to ride up as well as down Pat’s Egress. Should really be called Pat’s Ingress, but I didn’t think that it had quite the same ring. Mondo Cool. This was named during an age of too much Mountain Bike Action.
- Clenched Sphincter. At first, there was a walking trail that followed the ridge then descended the west face of the hill to join the Penchala trail. This trail was built, if I am not mistaken, by Scott “Two Dogs Fucking” Roberts and some teachers from the international school for the school’s cross-country run. Then Pat built the second part of the existing trail by following along the ridge. The looping, off-camber S-bend around the large boulder is a masterpiece.
I’ve been riding and running in Kiara since the time I bought my first mountain bike in 1988. During that time, I’ve been lucky enough to see the following wildlife:
- Snakes. Big black ones. Medium sized gray-brown ones. And small ones with orange tips.
- Brahminy kites. There used to be one at the top of Peak 1, and I’ve also seen one at the pond that used to exist at the end of the Creek.
- Tortoises. I’ve seen them several times, but it could have been the same individual. According to the excellent book Turtles of Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia by Lim and Das (ISBN 983-812-039-1) it could either be an adult Spiny Hill turtle (Heosemys spinosa, no spiny edges at the carapace) or a sub-adult Asian Brown tortoise (Manouria emys). It was about 8-9 inches long, with a orangey-brown carapace. I once saw one that was feeding on durian fruit pulp from a fruit that had prematurely fallen. On another occasion, I had unwittingly walked too close to it, and it gave a hiss, like a snake. Needless to say I jumped about 4 feet into the air.
- Scorpion. Pat and I saw a dead scorpion on Pondok-to-pondok. It was large, and had greenish-purplish-black sheen. Much like a Klein Mantra paintjob.
- Porcupine. Or at least a quill that was once attached to a porcupine. There was a cage-like apparatus at the end of Janie’s Addiction that, according to someone who knows these things, could have been a trap for porcupines. Mighty good eatin’, them porcupines!
- Gray macaques
- Big black dog. Answers to the name of “Speedy”.