Mountain Biking @ Batu Pahat
IN THE LAST ISSUE OF SPIN ASIA VOL.49, WE WERE THE GUEST OF KATERINA HOTEL THAT OFFERED US AN EXCITING AND DELICIOUS INSIGHT INTO THE FOOD PARADISE SURROUNDING THE KATERINA HOTEL IN THE QUAINT TOWN OF BATU PAHAT. THE FOOD TRAIL WAS COMFORTABLE AND CONVENIENT TO GET TO WITH OUR FOLDING BIKES AND THE SIGHTS ALONG THE WAY AND THE FOOD ON OFFER WAS A PALATABLE EXPERIENCE AND VERY WALLET FRIENDLY.
ONCE AGAIN, WE WERE INVITED BY KATERINA HOTEL BUT THIS TIME ON A MORE ADVENTUROUS JOURNEY AS WE DISCOVER WHY THIS TOWN AND ITS SURROUNDING IS A FAVOURITE DESTINATION FOR MANY MOUNTAIN BIKERS.
We were surprised to discover that Batu Pahat offers not only a few but more than a hundred mountain biking trails! These trails can be categorised into three different levels; Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. After having a restful, comfortable night and a sumptuous buffet breakfast at the Hotel, we were brought to experience one of the many mountain bike competitions that is held in Batu Pahat all year round because of its mountain bike trail reputation.
We were excited to be invited to the Annual Sri Geding Mountain Bike Challenge which took place on 25th November 2016. This annual race not only raises charity for the needy but also provides an exciting challenge for mountain bikers of all categories. The event is graced by VIPs and to enhance the competitiveness of the event, the Malaysian National Anthem was played before the flag-off, and heralded by foghorns activated by the VIPs.
The well-planned event started off in different stages with the Elites having the initial start and a few minutes later, the rest of the field which consisted of the Intermediates and Beginners. This year, a record number of almost 800 riders took part in the competition as they weaved and powered their way through a mainly palm oil plantation course. The challenge of this course lies in the unexpected conditions of the trail as governed by Mother Nature. As it rained heavily the previous night, bikers were given an extra challenge by the slippery and muddy conditions coupled with the bumps and thrills of the uneven ground.
The second part of our journey was a very personal one as it involved the best and most enthusiastic mountain bikers in Batu Pahat. We were invited by cyclists from the TR team in Batu Pahat and they duly introduced the Bumi Hijal mountain bike trail to SPIN. One of the best kept secrets, and located near the foothills of the beautiful mountains of Batu Pahat, lies a trail that offers all sorts of challenges.
The locals like to call this the Vegetable Farm trail as it is a trail surrounding a hilly farming area. Bumi Hijal trail provides for an exciting and exhilarating ride as the hilly course tests the cyclists to the limit through its various uphill and downhill slopes. The ridges on the hilly course will also provide for some airtime for the faster and more adventurous riders. Some of the areas have steep descent slopes of around 30-40 degrees which can prove daunting and challenging even to the most seasoned riders.
The beautiful sight at the top of a knoll is reward enough for every biker that can conquer its slopes, providing a breathtaking view of the Batu Pahat Mountains and even catch a glimpse of the glistening ocean and its coastline. It is truly a sight to behold as would the achievement felt by the conquering cyclist.
Our guides were very patient in guiding us up the most difficult slopes and advising us on the different gear changes required for different segments of the trail. They also explained that this is one of the most scenic rides in Batu Pahat and is a very popular trail for cyclists who want to train hard for their stamina and endurance due to its undulating slopes. They also stated that there are even more challenging trails in Batu Pahat available with slopes of up to more than 50-degree inclinations. Try climbing that ascent for more than 3 kilometres!
However, the helpful guides also stated that for the more leisurely mountain bikers, there are also plenty of choices with beautiful sceneries along the way. There is a leisurely river run where cyclists can take in the beautiful lakeside views and also a coastal run on the breathtaking coastlines of Batu Pahat.
According to The Katerina Hotel’s business unit manager, Ms Shirley Lee, hundreds of races like these are conducted all year round in Batu Pahat. The Katerina Hotel has wide experience in the cycling events that are being organised as the Hotel has sufficient space for bike storage and ample space for flag-offs. She also added that The Katerina Hotel hosts large cycling communities that book up the hotel as they are able to accommodate big groups with sufficient rooms and function halls.
Bike events such as Le Tour Langkawi, Bike-Aid Singapore, Pedaholics Cycling Club, American Embassy Malaysia and Harmony of Wheels had their cycling pitstop at The Katerina Hotel. The hotel’s strategic location, features and capabilities make it an ideal choice for all types of cycling events as it is able to accommodate up to 500 cyclists at any one time.
Stay tuned for more cycling action in the coming issue as we comb this amazing cycling-crazed town to bring you more cycling related action and events!