Monday, October 12, 2009

2nd Penang trip on the DH Van

Locked in dates - Oct 22nd (Thu) to Oct 26th (Mon).

My wish for dry weather was answered! Omens were good as we went through customs at 7am with no waiting - an easy drive up with BK and GF, took a few leisurely breaks to punctuate the monotony of the drive, and we still managed to check in at the hotel before 4pm. The good weather and easy traffic on the drive up helped put us in good spirits - enough that we were psyched to get in a ride that very afternoon.

1st Day: So as per SOP when taking newcomers to Penang hill, we took the cable car up at 5pm (just missed the 4.30 tram), started riding at 5.30 and took the easiest way down (via the 39 switchbacks). It's still a very challenging ride for trail newbies, as it's still a decent variety of terrain. But not so much that it became overwhelming. That's for the next couple of days as new riders get used to the scale of Penang hill *evil laugh* By the time we got back to the van, dusk had fallen yet all in all, it had been an exhilarating start to our riding 'holiday'.

2nd Day: Friday the 23teenth. Time for BK to lose more trail virginity - Penang hill, the hill that keeps on giving.... ;) So for today we did 6 to 3 (from 84). 6 starts off with a sequence of 5!! 4 to 5 ft drops. A quick recce showed that the easiest route would be left/right/right/right/left. There are short runoffs of 1 bike length or less after each drop, where most of the effective braking is done. Your truly crashed upon completion of the 5th drop as the arms had turned to jello and there wasn't enough strenght left to muscle the bike through an off-camber turn right at the end. BK had an intimate encounter with a tree stump after the 2nd drop, resulting in a bloody gash on his upper chest. He may have done that on purpose, as he garnered a lot of sympathetic enquiries from female admirers over the next few days.... sneaky, eh? :)

After the drops, comes the steeps with tree roots and more tree roots. And yet more tree roots... never-ending tree roots. The purpose for this self-torture was two-fold - [1] in theory it should be easier riding down to No 3 rather than pushing up from Youth Park and [2] we need some tree root training for the "NEW TRAIL" from 84. Suffice to say, there were a lot of crashing, sliding and moaning.... but hey, just remember to tell yourself - no pain no gain.

Then on to No 3 - the official DH course for Penang hill. Fun fun fun. Every rider loves this trail, especially on weekdays when there's next to no hikers and it becomes a high-speed course with a few technical parts thrown in for good measure.

3rd Day: Today CK was able to be our 'tour guide' to the "New Trail" from 84. An easy pushup from 84 brought the riders to about 460m elevation... then over the course of just over 1km, we descended close to sea level. Saying that it's steep would be an understatement. We had actually started riding down from the usualy 703m elevation, so we became pretty exhausted we rode the "New Trail" for the first time. Super steep, tight, twisty and rooty - one had to really believe in his bike and tires (used 2.5 Stick-E Nevegals). An amazing riding experience, to put it mildly.

4th Day: 4th day of riding in a row, no need to be a hero. We dropped off at 84 instead of the top and started riding the "New Trail" immediately. Did much better than the day before but nonetheless, exhaustion still set in somewhere in the middle of the trail. Guess 40km of cumulative downhilling is A LOT of downhilling.... Anyways, the day was still young and yours truly then drove the riders to Mt Erskine - now a high speed course with lotsa jumps. Heck, even if you don't want to jump, once you go above 40kmh, even small dips will make you catch some air. We mostly watched the locals practice at a new jump site where you had to clear at least 2.5 bike lengths if you didn't want a flat landing.

So now the 'template' has been set for 'newbie' riders to Penang hill, if they are going to be as garung as BK. If not, then we will just have to do more of the easier trails to acclimatise new riders to the trail conditions.


  1. Was a fantastis riding trip, 4 days / 40km of downhilling. Conditions were slick from previous rain, but no serious rain to hamper riding activities while we were there.

  2. Should be 1 trip in Nov and another in Dec.