Going the full distance
LIKE Elena Shim, cycling is also very much a part of Hana Harun’s life. But she does not commute with the bicycle or earn a living on her two wheels.
For Hana, cycling is a weekend activity and a sport to challenge herself.
She never turns down an opportunity to ride.
Since she started cycling long distances seven years ago, the Sabahan has participated in numerous rides in Sabah as well as in Peninsular Malaysia, experiences which she says have been enriching.
“After about three rides on my brand new bicycle, I agreed to take on the challenge of riding from Tenom to Ranau in what is dubbed the “Tour de Interior” in Sabah. The distance was about 150km over three days and I rode up and down the hills in the interiors of Sabah.
“These are roads that I’d travel by car all my life and I never thought I would cover them on a bicycle. I got stares from the villagers who were curious to see a woman riding among the men,” shares Hana, who is Sabah Tourism Board’s communications manager.
The fit 40-year-old was introduced to cycling by a group of friends who were keen runners and cyclists.
“In Kota Kinabalu where I live, there weren’t many women runners or cyclists but I hung out with a group of crazy fast and furious cyclists who would cycle on Saturdays and run on Sundays. It was a ritual for them and soon it was a ritual for me too. For the past seven or eight years, this active lifestyle has become a part of my life,” says Hana.
Although she claims to be the slowest rider in her group, Hana isn’t fazed. She’s comfortable riding at her own pace and eager to test her limits.
“Even though I’m the slowest and stay behind the pack, I never turn down a good opportunity to ride far. I’ve joined a century ride in Ipoh in 2012 and competed in the Powerman Duathlon in Putrajaya in 2013. Hours of riding on my bike give me a nice sense of freedom and achievement. I feel like I really deserve the food reward after that,” she shares.
Having participated in a few races, Hana feels that women should be given the opportunity to ride the same distance as their male peers, which isn’t always the case in organised rides.
“Once I questioned the organisers of a race in Kota Kinabalu because they did not allow women to ride the full distance. There weren’t many women riders at the time. I had to settle for the 50km race while the men did 160km.
“I’m sure many women would agree with me that they should be given the same distance as men to compete,” says Hana who dreams of cycling from Kota Kinabalu to Kuching some day.
I’m sure many women would agree with me that they should be given the same distance as men to compete.
Hana enjoys the sense of freedom that cycling gives her.
Hana has never turned down an opportunity to go on a long ride since she started cycling.