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October 2011 Club News

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Borneo Biking

By Raelene Blake (& Garry)

Garry was having a milestone birthday and decided he would like to do a biking holiday out of Oz... and we only had 2 weeks to spare. So I looked around and found a site for the above. What a find!

4 riders ready
          to roll
The venture is run by Terry & Rose Mills and Bryan Wade. They are located 35 minutes from Kota Kinabalu in Sabah, Borneo. Their home, Sinurambi, headquarters of Borneo Biking Adventures, perches 400m up on the side of the Crocker mountain range overlooking KK.

Our friends Colin and Linda had decided to come with us and we were met at the airport by Terry, identifying us as looking like “hairy bikers”... he has a Benny Hill sense of humour. Luggage thrown into the back of the vehicle, we quickly left the airport & Terry gave us a brief guided tour on the way to Sinurambi. What an amazing place.

A long, very rough road takes you up to the property which borders the jungle. We were going to be riding Aprilia Pegaso 650cc bikes. Totally different to anything I have ridden before! Bryan had all the gear for us to use, very light summer jackets, draggin jeans, helmets etc.

No money wasted
          on unnecessary road signs...
We spent the next few days riding through the mountain passes over the Crocker range, visiting local villages and riding some very twisting, steep and challenging roads. The roads were generally very good in most areas but could deteriorate very quickly with landslides and potholes from the torrential rain. As predicted it did rain heavily every afternoon which made the riding even more challenging as this sometimes reduced visibility to almost nil!

On the really steep hills it was 1st or 2nd gear stuff with the bikes and some of the small cars had to kick their passengers out to walk up otherwise they would not make it!

You also had to watch out for stray cattle, water buffalo & dogs! Fortunately for me but not Garry and Colin the heaviest downpour we experienced was a day I had chosen to opt for my bike to be on the trailer and me in the back-up vehicle. Sometimes you just get lucky...

Riding on the
          pegs in the bush
After we got Bryan sussed we made our plans to ride overland to Sandakan to visit the Orangutans at Sepilok Rehabilitation Centre. The first day was via Ranau & a visit to Kundasang War Memorial which was a very moving experience and some great work has been done restoring the Australian, British & Malay sections.

We stayed just below Mt Kinabalu in a Ceylin Resort 2,000 meters up the mountain. The scenery was amazing and we got some great photos.

Next day we left for Sandakan. Bryan had previously explained there are no road rules, double white lines mean nothing and if you need to pass vehicles just go for it. They will let you in and are very courteous to anyone on a large bike. (There aren’t a lot of large bikes in Sabah; they are all 125cc bikes and scooters.)

There were a lot of palm oil plantations on this road and consequently a lot of trucks going very slowly, usually with a line of at least 10 low-powered cars behind. There was a lot of passing on double white lines up hills and on bends etc.

After Sandakan we rode to Sukau to go by boat for an overnight stay at the Proboscis Lodge on the Kinabatangan River. Here we did a twilight cruise up a tributary off the main river to see the local wildlife which included proboscis and macaque monkeys, various brightly coloured birds, monitor lizards etc. Very interesting.

Mind the
          traffic, as my mum used to say...
Next morning was the trip back to Sinurambi of about 300K. This might not seem far but it took most of the day with a break for lunch at a roadside café in Keningau and a slow run through the mountains in a tropical thunderstorm.

The following day was a day of leisure on the water by boat out from KK. Next day we had another ride down “shitty road” as well as the “road to nowhere” with a coffee break on top of the mountains at a place called Kumanis pass. Both these roads must have been designed by bikers!

All the time we were riding we would stop at small eating places that would not rate a second look if you were on your own; however the food which was mostly Malay Indian or Malay Chinese was excellent and very inexpensive. One place it cost RM21.7 for five servings of curry, roti, rice drinks etc which is about AU$7.00; however the toilets were another story. Not for the faint hearted! 

A highly recommended way to have a biking holiday complete with luxurious accommodation at Sinurambi. We did plan to stay elsewhere after the bike riding but it was too hard to leave.

The cost of staying at Sinurambi with the riding was RM1200 per day which included all meals, wine & beer, washing & ironing, fuel for bikes etc and when we were on the road the same applied. We did not have to spend anything as this was also part of the package. They have twelve late model Aprilia Pegaso 650’s and can cater for up to 12 riders including off-road riding.

Bryan & Terry both do the bike runs but it was Bryan who looked after us. Bryan was born in Yorkshire in 1947 and became world famous as a motocross rider. He raced all over the world and won five British Motocross Championships. He was seen on British TV every Saturday afternoon in the 60’s and 70’s but, as Bryan will tell you, the most memorable moment in his international racing career was being taught to play pool in San Francisco by Steve McQueen.

Bryan was a works rider for Greeves, Husqvarna, Suzuki and Honda before going on to run the Honda Motocross Racing School. In later years his business ventures included night clubs, restaurants and retail shops and he later moved with his family to Florida where he eventually “retired”. That was until he received a call from his old buddy, Terry Mills, filled with enthusiasm for “this incredible place Kota Kinabalu”.

So that's where
          Sails Cafe went...
One long plane ride and a week riding along miles of deserted roads through spectacular Borneo was enough to convince him that this was a biking paradise the world should get to know. Terry also has two boats in share with a business partner and these are available to Sinurambi guests for day trips to the many islands off KK (some cost involved) which we took advantage of & did some swimming, snorkeling etc also visiting one of the island resorts for lunch.

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