Malaysia, Motosikals & MotoGP
Malaysia Tourism asked RoadRUNNER if we'd like to come and see what this booming Asian country has to offer. The roots of this tour really began back in 2008 when I rode a Borneo expedition with the "Bumi Bikers," a large group of prominent motorcyclists active in promoting tourism in Malaysia - so I was pleasantly surprised at the opportunity to go back. Arriving at Kuala Lumpur (KL) International Airport in late October, I'm whisked to the downtown Seri Pacific Hotel and greeted by hosts Ina and Hisham, co-owners of Wheel Technik, Malaysia's largest-selling motosikal (motorcycle) magazine. Harris Andria — route captain from the Borneo ride — is there to join the tour, as well as my South African friend and Bike SA moto-journalist, Howard Stafford and his wife June.
Arriving at Kuala Lumpur (KL) International Airport in late October, I’m whisked to the downtown Seri Pacific Hotel and greeted by hosts Ina and Hisham, co-owners of Wheel Technik, Malaysia’s largest-selling motosikal (motorcycle) magazine. Harris Andria — route captain from the Borneo ride — is there to join the tour, as well as my South African friend and Bike SA moto-journalist, Howard Stafford and his wife June.
Saturday: High Towers, High Tea, and BASE Jumpers
Our first stop is Modenas, a local motorcycle manufacturer. Bastamam, CEO of the company, loans us new Modenas GT128cc motorbikes for our first two days. We convoy back to Kuala Lumpur using special cycle lanes that allow motorbikers to bypass the clogged traffic and legally pass tollgates. Oddly, many local riders wear their jackets backwards, open at the back and nobody can really explain why!
Merdeka (Freedom) Square is our first stop in KL and from the vast lawn area we can see two main landmarks: the 1,482-feet tall Petronas Twin Towers (the world's tallest buildings during 1998 to 2004) and the KL Tower, which has a roof that’s 1,099 feet high. Howard yells “Someone just fell off the tower” and soon we see more “victims” dropping. Harris calms us down immediately when he tells us there’s a BASE jumping competition taking place. After a visit to the massive Petronas Twin Towers, we ride to KL Tower for lunch in the revolving restaurant. The meal is typical Malaysian fare that’s spicy and plentiful, and after high tea (literally), we watch more BASE jumpers fly off the tower. Their chutes open so low that we expect to see some auger in, but fortunately everyone survives.
Sunday: MotoGP Racing and the First Intense Thunderstorm
In the morning, we ride the GT128s to the Sepang MotoGP race. Plodding along at 60 mph on the main highway, we’re passed by hundreds of sportbikes doing twice that speed. Our ride to Sepang takes nearly an hour. When we pull into a rest stop, we meet up with a couple of hundred riders from the Modenas club, who are anxiously awaiting our arrival. We’re honored to flag them off for the ride to the track and continue on. Sepang is a madhouse, but we’re quickly directed into Modenas’ reserved parking and a shuttle takes us to a VIP suite near the starting line. Sweet.
Valentino Rossi is the local favorite and the place is a sea of yellow number 46 paraphernalia. The 125cc and 250cc races are exciting, but just before the big MotoGP starts, an intense thunderstorm floods the track and sends fans scurrying. The race is delayed an hour and when it finally begins, Casey Stoner grabs and holds the lead. But Rossi’s third spot on the podium garners him the championship, his ninth world title!
We turn in the Modenas at the track and ride back in a van to Harley-Davidson of KL. It’s the dealership’s first birthday bash and we’re guests of honor. After a heaping buffet, revelry, and ceremonies, we return to the hotel.