Going the full dis­tance

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Women -

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.

— Photos: HANA HARUN

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.

Hana Harun

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