Thursday, 27 January 2011

Riding to Genting Highlands

We ran this a while back - but being as the Tour de Langkawi goes up here today we thought we'd show it again...

Great Asian Rides - Genting Highlands, Malaysia

The evil climb to Genting Highlands is about as tough as climbs come - and is a challenge you really should try if ever you find yourself anywhere near to Kuala Lumpur. The climb lies just to the north of the capital city, and is basically a service and access road for the huge casino and theme park at it's summit.
The climb is long, hot and tough - and became famous thanks to the Tour de Langkawi, which is usually decided on this road to hell. It's feared by most cyclist, and adored by those tiny climbers who like to dance away from their rivals on it's slopes.
The climb

Distance- 23 kilometres
Altitude – from just above sea level to 1629 meters
Gradient – damn steep, up to 20% in places
Category – hors – the toughest there is!

There are 2 ways to tackle the first half of the climb; the traditional old road from Rawang, to the west, and the highway from Genting Sempah. The Rawang route is the normal Tour de Langkawi approach, and traffic can be very heavy until you turn on to the Genting road. The other approach can be reached from Gombak, north of KL this is via a really sweet and winding 10 kilometre climb through the jungle to Genting Sempah, the main highway junction for the Highlands, which is occasionally used in the LtDL.
The two approaches are equally as tough (although my preference is to hit from Rawang direction), and both merge into one at the halfway point, by the Awana Hotel. From here it’s a multi lane highway right to the top. The race usually turns left before hitting the main resort, which you cannot do as it’s a one-way system, so keep right and follow the road through the resort to First World, where you can loop around for the descent. The other option makes for an easier approach from KL - via Genting Sempah, but then the first part of the climb isn't so quiet.
In recent times the commercial angle on Genting has prevented the race form finishing their, or restricted it to finishing half way – so as not to disrupt the profitable gambling traffic heading up there for the weekend.
We've also heard of riders being stopped from climbing the full way to the summit - so we can't guarantee you'll be able to go all the way - but from Rawang is the best option.
First thing you need to be sure of is having enough low gears to make the climb – even the pro riders here use gears like 39 x 27, which is almost unheard of in pro bike racing – and very few of us are pro’s. Bravado is no way to get you up this beast. If you have a road bike then you would be well advised to get a triple/compact front crankset – and the lowest rear gears you can get – maybe 28 sprockets. If you are on a mountain bike then the whole thing is much easier from a gearing point, and you don’t need to worry too much.