Southeastern Johor beckons with its low-traffic roads and is a cycling destination for Singaporeans seeking a change from a concrete landscape.
My cycling kakis, Zendogs, have cycled Pengerang on road and off road trips. After talking about it for a year, we finally set out to Desaru over two days. All the photos are at Kevin Lim’s Flickr album and my Flickr album.
We took a bum boat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal to Tanjung Pelipih in Pengerang, Johor on Good Friday. There early Friday morning, we were caught by surprise – the Qing Ming crowds were swarming the terminal. A lesson about booking our boat a month early next time!
Despite that four hour wait and a problematic puncture at Sungei Rengit adding another hour at lunch time, our generous time budget meant we were in time for dinner at Desaru. All that time was spent chatting anyway.
The 55km ride (one-way) is a mostly coastal (flat) ride except for the last 15km of some 15 gradual hills towards Desaru. At our pace this was a comfortable ride, even for the newbies. To understand the roadies’ agonising stories, you must realise they make the ride in a single morning – they are back to Sg. Rengit for lunch!
This time, we stayed at Pulai Desaru which welcomed us and our bikes when we rolled in – “you can put your bikes here, here and here”. We were certainly made welcome there.
Much of the ride takes place amidst a deforested landscape, which was depressing for me. This also means it gets very hot, and that makes all the difference. We were prepared though, with plenty of sunblock (on the back of the neck and legs as well), UV-reflective arm warmers, plenty of water with electrolytes, and bandanas and sunglasses.
Despite our late start the first day, the haze dissipated the strong rays of the sun. And the weather was mostly forgiving the second day. It was only during the last 10km did the heat beat down on us – a reminder that the ride could have been a real scorcher and we had not experienced the worst!
So the toughest part of the day was really the 70 minute ride back in hot bumboat amidst very still air. The antidote to that was “Neslo” (Nescafe and Milo) at Bala’s back in Changi Village.
With the upcoming oil refinery and several other developments, traffic conditions will change and will affect some of the village detours too. So go soon to enjoy the 110km ride of relatively traffic-free roads.