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.
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.
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.
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.