Grand­pas in capes

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By AMELIA TAN

THEY donned masks, squeezed into tights and even strapped on capes to pro­mote the long­est ride of their lives: cy­cling over 2,000km from Bangkok to Sin­ga­pore.

Their mis­sion is to save the world, or at least a tiny sliver of it, by rais­ing S$300,000 (RM780,000) for Filipinos in Sin­ga­pore whose fam­i­lies were left des­ti­tute and home­less by Typhoon Haiyan.

But lean and mean th­ese su­per­heroes are not. The self-styled “Three Mus­ke­teers” have pot bel­lies, sil­ver hair and wrin­kled skin.

They are also far from fit. By their own ac­counts, th­ese re­tired grand­fa­thers are plagued with ail­ments such as clogged ar­ter­ies and hy­per­ten­sion.

“The jour­ney won’t be easy for three old men like us. But we hope that Sin­ga­pore­ans will be touched by us,” they say.

The trio want to be known only by the name of their bike brands, GT, Seven and Gi­ant, as they say the cy­cling trip is not for self-pro­mo­tion. But they prom­ise to re­veal their iden­ti­ties if they man­age to hit their fund-rais­ing tar­get.

They have handed out fliers to pro­mote their trip in churches and among friends.

Their jour­ney, which will start on Feb 17, will take at least three weeks and see them travers­ing the east coasts of Thai­land and Malaysia.

They will bear the costs for air­fare, food and ac­com­mo­da­tion, which will be around S$2,000 (RM5,200) each. But they wel­come spon­sors in kind for iso­tonic drinks and other items such as med­i­cated plas­ters.

They will also be trav­el­ling on their own with­out ve­hic­u­lar sup­port, us­ing Google maps on their mo­bile phones for nav­i­ga­tion.

Says “Seven”, 72: “We may get lost and the trip may take longer than three weeks. But I’m sure we will man­age.”

The big­gest chal­lenges, they pre­dict, would be the hot weather and over­com­ing phys­i­cal ex­er­tion. They are also aware that south­ern Thai­land may be un­safe be­cause of mil­i­tants in the area.

To pre­pare for the trip, they are cy­cling 30km to 50km ev­ery day, and will do cy­cling trips in Malaysia and on the In­done­sian is­lands of Batam and Bin­tan over the next few weeks. But they will not be rid­ing with their capes, they say, which they had put on for fes­tive pub­lic­ity.

The thought of help­ing needy Filipinos will keep the trio, who do long-haul cy­cling trips in Malaysia a few times a year, go­ing. Their in­ter­est was piqued af­ter read­ing in the Sin­ga­pore Straits Times that mi­grant work­ers group Hu­man­i­tar­ian Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Mi­gra­tion Eco­nom­ics (Home) was plan­ning to raise funds for Filipino maids in Sin­ga­pore whose fam­i­lies were af­fected by the typhoon last month.

“Gi­ant”, 73, says: “We were moved by the sto­ries of the dev­as­ta­tion and suf­fer­ing in the Philip­pines and wanted to do our part to help.”

Home’s chief ex­ec­u­tive Brid­get Tan says she is touched by their en­thu­si­asm and has even come up with a name for the char­ity drive: “Ride The Storm”.

“Th­ese are three el­derly gen­tle­men who are will­ing to put in their sweat and time to help those in need. I am truly touched by their lion hearts.”

Says “GT”, 65: “This is a big ad­ven­ture for us. We will do all it takes to make this trip a suc­cess.” — The Straits Times, Sin­ga­pore/Asia News Net­work

Life goes on: Moth­ers with their ba­bies and tod­dlers set­tling in at a tem­po­rary shel­ter — even dur­ing times of cri­sis, women do not stop be­com­ing preg­nant and giv­ing birth.

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