In my humble opinion, a proper roadtrip isn’t supposed to go fully to plan. Or at least that’s what I tell myself. If things are running smoothly and itineraries are being followed then somewhere along the line you might not have grasped the opportunities and experiences that were passing you by.
Back in March when the European winter was still in force I made my escape. I’d jumped on a plane and headed to the warmer climes of Malaysia to cover their premier road race: the Tour de Langkawi. The week-long stage race is named after a Malaysian island that only sees a single stage of the event while the majority of the stages loop around the Malaysian mainland.
In the weeks prior to the race the idea of a road trip was planted in my head by a friend I’d made while suffering at the savage Taiwan KOM back in November. Danial Hakim is a photographer with a passion for Asian racing and he had been waxing lyrical about areas that were begging to be investigated by bike. No excuses were required — we got our plans in motion. After all, it’s crazy to travel for close to 25 hours from my home in Europe to Malaysia to just cover a stage race.
Soon enough word got out, people got interested and before long we gathered a small Roadtripping team. Local legend and ex-Giant-Shimano WorldTour rider Sea Keong Loh would be the man to show us his training roads. Joining us would be Danial’s best mate and partner at their cycling site Peloton Images Asia, Zie Haqqin, a man who’s a dab hand when it comes to shooting video.
Let’s fast forward a little here, skip past the Tour de Langkawi and jump straight to the Monday after the race; a day we’d put aside for recovering from the race and recharging bodies as well as batteries. Danial, Zie and I had all worked covering the race while Sea Keong had been racing for the Malaysian national team. We took a necessary trip to the local bike store, Jami’s Bike Shop on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, to pick up a Pinarello they’d generously offered for the trip.
You start to wonder when the owner says to pop around at 10:30pm to pick up a bike. In the UK, turning up at that hour would see you standing in font of a closed shop; in Malaysia it results in eating street food with the owner across the road while watching the world drift by.
The high-end Italian kit and bright lights of Jami’s stands out among the small family businesses selling everyday mundane items, attached to their proprietors’ homes. Once the food was polished off and a quick bike fit was sorted we hit the road, ready for bed and eager in the knowledge that the following days’ adventure was just a car ride away.