Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Aug 09 Post-trip review

So 3 intrepid Singapore riders set out for Penang on Aug 20th, armed with 2 DH bikes (Glorious Giant + Chumbawumba F5) and 1 AM (El Cheapo with his 36 Talas). It was the smoothest drive up to Penang - EVER. No rain, no traffic, beautiful weather.... totally lulling us into complacency about the 'technical' horrors that await us on Penang Hill. The following is a short and sharp recap of the subsequent riding experiences.

(1) The first technical section, dropping in from Viaduct Road, is now a rooty slidefest. Kent Ridge has nothing on this, so it was an excellent wake-up call, albeit a bit of a jaw dropper one.

(2) The main runs from the top of Penang Hill to the base are anywhere from 10 to 14km, so there is a tremendous variety of terrain to cover. Erosion by mother nature has created numerous sections with their own special technical features, each requiring a different set of riding skills and ways of looking at possible lines. Gullys, rooty high speed, drops drops and more drops, rocky outposts both sizeable and ridiculous. Only a small sample is shown here.

(3) Any subsequent trips with new riders to Penang Hill will have at least 1 day of 'recce' riding, as there is just too much information/terrain to absorb. Ride leader will have to be extremely patient, so remember to tip him well.

(4) The level of technical difficulty cannot be understated, as this is not exactly a man-made DH course with proper entries and exits to technical features. One just has to up the standard of riding - or else portage quite a bit. Portaging downhill is such a waste of elevation.


  1. Penang was overall a fun experience. I always had this feeling of anxiety before every downhill trip. Penang was no different.

    Had a really long drive up. Had some r&r on the first night. Penang hill looming at the back of my head the whole time.

    So morning came. Had a long uplift. Okay, it was abit longer than the usual. But i remembered the thailand uplift was almost as long so i didn't feel quite worried.

    I remembered the elevation was quite massive. So we had to wait for chua to do his morning business. Waiting adds to anxiety man!

    We than started riding shortly afterwards. Starting was a series of cemented downslope. It was moderate speed. But it felt really sketchy without any warming up. i was abit out of shape.

    Than we hit the trail. My initial reaction was OMG! The trail is sketchy. It didn't look really ride-able. Roots were every, chutes with roots and switchbacks without berms.
    And that's just the first part of the trail. i was way out of form. The trail was actually quite ridable but i let the initial shock get to me. I was braking into the entries and making stupid mistakes because i wasn't keen of commmiting, I ended up pushing down stuff that i shouldn't be pushing.

    The rest of the ride was overshadowed by the pushing up rocks. It was push push and push. Unluckily as we were. It started to rain, so we followed down the "easy" trail.

    It wasn't that much of a trail thou, it was a route next to a series of stairs. Than there was a million cemented downhill switchbacks. That had demanded enough concentration for it to be fun.

    That rain ended the first day of riding.

    Than i got poisoned by somebody and had to shit the skin of my ass for the rest of the trip.

    I only managed to ride on the last day.

  2. Last day was more familiar to me as a downhill ride.

    We went to the "youth park" trail which was the DH race line on penang hill.

    The slow push, the checking out of lines on the way up and the mosquitoes kinda happen on most downhill rides i go.

    It was a good warm up too. But the trail had many long straights too. It made the push one of the longest. But i wasn't complaining. Got used to such pushing already.

    Again, the trail's scale managed to screw my state of mind. I was doing stuff wrongly, wasn't relaxed enough.

    Was also abit fatigue by the food poisoning. Ended up doing sections instead. Which was fun. Had limited time so one run down was all we did.

    i was pretty sure a few times down the youth park we could probably ride down full runs properly but i wasn't in the best of health and we had to leave for singapore!

    Overall it was quite fun. Didn't really improve my riding as i didn't allow myself(hehe) but its another trail experienced!