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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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!

[Updated*] How To Install MalFreeMap + Topo Contour Lines On Garmin GPS 705 / Edge 800/810

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There’s two ways of doing it.

Either you go to MFM-Garmin Map (cGPSmapper) Installation Step-by-Step Guide and follow the procedure - which can be a bit tricky for the non IT-savvy, especially if you want to add the topo contour lines, such as described in Free West Malaysia Topo GPS Map: MFM-SRTMWM 090918

Or, since we are very nice here at KLMBH and we just love our members, we did compile the MFM road and topo maps. Just download the all stuff from this link (162.8MB) and follow this simple procedure to install it on a Garmin Edge 800:

1. Insert a SD card of 2GB in the GPS

2. Replicate the Garmin internal file structure on the SD Card as follows:

  • root/Garmin
  • root/Garmin/Activities
  • root/Garmin/Courses
  • root/Garmin/NewFiles
  • root/Garmin/Workouts

3. Drag & drop the “gmapsupp.img” file in ‘root/Garmin’ location

4. Reboot the GPS; in Settings choose “malfreemaps” and uncheck “POI” unless  you do mind about every McDonalds and Petronas POI being displayed, which makes the map very confusing on a small screen

5. You have now the topo map for Malaysia including contours. For free he he.

You may want to use some .gpx files created by others or downloaded from the Net? Just drag & drop them in the folder root/Garmin/NewFiles. They will appear in “Courses” once the device is rebooted.

And stay on paper !!!

[*14 Aug. 2014 update] MFM map update as of 18 Aug. 2014:

  • Singapore - New!
  • Perlis, Kedah & Penang - New!
  • Perak - New!
  • Pahang, Terengganu & Kelantan - New!
  • KL & Selangor - New!
  • Negeri Sembilan - New!
  • Melaka - New!
  • Johor - New!
  • Sabah - New!
  • Sarawak - New!
  • Brunei
  • Thailand

Bukit Kiara: Letter To Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan

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The 4K trail in Bukit Kiara, 30th June 2014

Gazette Status of Bukit Kiara and Rectification Works

On 27th January 2014, there was a meeting at the KPKT office in Putrajaya where both TRAKS and KPKT representatives shared their individual organization’s concerns and opinions with regards to Bukit Kiara.

Five months have passed since this meeting and TRAKS is expecting detailed updates with regards to the following issues, which were raised on 27th January 2014:

1. Firstly, what is the status of the proposed Bukit Kiara gazette?

  • KPKT representatives highlighted that one of the bottlenecks for the Bukit Kiara gazette was because Lot 54268, measuring 100.1 acres (Measat) had yet to be reverted back to Federal Government ownership; it was highlighted that an agreement was in the final stages of negotiation and post which, official paperwork would be submitted to the Federal Land Commissioner for rubber-stamping.
  • The Cabinet mooted the proposed gazette in 2007. It goes without saying that the Rakyat’s patience has long since worn out, whilst every other day we see more encroachment and wanton destruction of the surrounding environment.

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2. Secondly, KPKT representatives highlighted that the soil which was removed on the left-hand side of the tarmac jogger’s loop and dumped over the right-hand side ridge was a reactive measure to ensure the down slope would not erode unsustainably as surveyors had come to the conclusion that the earth was being displaced. 

  • This reactive measure resulted in burying an original hand-built trail called 4K located at the bottom of the valley.
  • TRAKS were given assurances that the National Landscape Department’s contractors are aware of the soil build-up at the bottom of the valley and that rectification work would be carried out to return the trail to its original state.
  • As of today, no visible rectification work whatsoever has been conducted by any National Landscape Department appointed contractor. The rainy season has stopped – therefore, the question on top of everyone’s mind is whether this has been put on the backburner and if so, why?
  • If rectification work is planned, TRAKS demands to know the following:

a. Who are the contractors?
b. How will it be rectified?
c. When will work commence?

  • In the spirit of transparency, it is strongly suggested that a detailed rectification works plan be uploaded on the official Ministry’s website for public review and consultation.
  • Additionally, the next public briefing held on the 3rd Saturday of each month should clearly elucidate on the rectification plans and this briefing should be held at the 2nd guard house at the top of the hill where there is a higher concentration of Bukit Kiara users.
  • TRAKS has made it abundantly clear that we are 100% against any form of heavy machinery work within the trail network – therefore, all work must be performed by manual labor only.

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3. Thirdly, along the jogger’s tarmac loop where National Landscape Department contractors attempted to fix a minor soil erosion issue, all sorts of building material has been left scattered on the right hand side of the road. This includes cement bags, blue tarpaulin and construction beams.

  • How long will this eyesore be kept in its current state? Please make it clear to your appointed contractors that work should be conducted in a professional and civic-minded manner.

p/s. no answer from Abdul Rahman Dalan nor Jabatan Landskap Negara since June 30th 2014.

www.traks.org.my

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