Thursday, May 3, 2012

gerik to pulau banding

photo: at banding island public jetty

was planning to cycle the stretch from kupang to pulau banding last sunday, but woke up late (stop snoozing the alarm, dammit!), and then in the rush of things, forgot to bring along the helmet and only realized it after setting up the bike at kupang. not feeling confident bombing the hilly descents on the route without anything between my head and the hard tarmac in case shit happens, and considering the sun was already up quite high, plan cancelled and i did only a short stretch up till a little past r&r bintang hijau on the baling-gerik route before turning back...

tuesday, labor day holiday. having cycled the baling-gerik road twice now, this is my first time driving through this road. sometimes i wonder why i choose to torture myself on the bike when i can easily drive around with the car instead? err.. anyway, today i chose to start from hentian perah r&r in gerik instead for a little variety...

it was around 12km from hentian perah before the start of the climb. and i saw another r&r area closer to the climb (don't remember the name), but it's smaller and seems like not much people are stopping there, so i guess the perah r&r is a safer place to leave the car due to the relatively higher traffic there.

photo: a small truck lost control on the downhill towards gerik

a short while later, a tow truck passed me, then a police car, followed by an ambulance and fire engine. further ahead, a small truck had apparently lost control and crashed into a tree at the roadside. not sure what happened to the driver, didn't linger around to find out. the truck was still there when i passed by again later on the return journey.

photo: the occassional many-wheelers truck plying the route.

generally the climbs up until banding are broken into short stretches with easy areas in-between, so no crazy long steep climbing here. in fact i think none of the stretches are really any steeper than 3% average? definitely easier than the baling-gerik route.

photo: on the bridge heading onto banding island.

finally arrived at banding island after around 37km into the ride. banding lakeside inn is perched on higher ground on the right side before the bridge onto banding island, while the entrance to belum rainforest resort lies on the other end of the bridge. the room rates for both are pretty expensive though for the average malaysians... so much for trying to encourage malaysians to visit local holiday destinations. for a cheaper option, there appear to be a floating chalet on the end of the second bridge leaving the island towards jeli - not sure what is the room rates and conditions though, didn't went down to check.

photo: signboard on the titiwangsa range side before the bridge heading onto banding island.

the public jetty is on the island side of the bridge heading towards jeli, where the police jetty is also located. there are toilet and a small eatery here, and you can buy bottled water from here as well.

banding island is actually a man-made island, created when the surrounding area was flooded after the construction of the temenggor dam there.

photo: at banding island public jetty

compared to the baling-gerik route, the road surface of the east-west highway stretch between gerik and banding feels much rougher, which makes for a lot of rough vibrations transmitted to the handlebar, making high-speed descents here less enjoyable comparatively. and at a bridge not far from hentian perah, the road condition is so bad with potholes everywhere. i realized that i got a bad ~1 inch cut on the rear tire when cleaning the bike later, which i strongly suspect happened at this bridge. the cut appeared to be past the fabric layer already, but suprisingly the inner tube didn't puncture. sigh... there goes more money for a new tire, when this one had barely done less than 2k mileage.

photo: a brief 'picnic' at the roadside to cool down from the afternoon heat.

actually, i had wanted to climb up until the titiwangsa r&r further ahead, but today, laziness triumphed... the hot weather is also another excuse to not go further - at just 10am, i can already feel the sun's heat burning on my skin. the next time i'm here, i'll be sure to make it up to there...

and btw, no other cyclists was seen along the way here today.

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gerik (hentian perah) - pulau banding - gerik, via federal route 4 a.k.a. the east-west highway.
total distance cycled: 80km

elevation profile (from gps tracking):

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