Have bi­cy­cle, will tour

These cy­clists re­veal why they love bi­cy­cle tour­ing.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Travel - By MING TEOH star2@thes­tar.com.my

TO avid cy­clist and tourer Faizal Tar­i­h­hud­din, 38, bike tour­ing is the best way to go on an ad­ven­ture.

“Two wheels un­der me, pow­ered by my legs, the world goes by at my own pace – fast enough to get some­where and slow enough to ad­mire the flow­ers along the way,” says the IT pro­fes­sional based in Kuala Lumpur.

Faizal ac­tu­ally started with moun­tain bik­ing in 2009 but when he crashed and in­jured him­self in a down­hill moun­tain bike race in 2011, he started bi­cy­cle tour­ing to keep fit while re­cov­er­ing from his ac­ci­dent. It led to his big­gest ad­ven­ture: cy­cle tour­ing from Malaysia to China!

Faizal firmly be­lieves that cycling and bike tour­ing can bring peo­ple from var­i­ous walks of life and so­cial and cul­tural back­grounds to­gether.

“There’s noth­ing like a com­mon in­ter­est in cycling and bi­cy­cle tour­ing to bridge dif­fer­ences and tran­scend skin colour, na­tion­al­ity, and even lan­guage. It builds a bond among bike tour­ing ad­ven­tur­ers from all back­grounds and ages, tak­ing you to new un­ex­plored places and open­ing up your eyes and de­vel­op­ing em­pa­thy for oth­ers,” he says.

What’s more, bi­cy­cle tour­ing gives one a bet­ter ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the world around you.

“Imagine this ev­ery day and all day: the feel­ing of ped­alling along to a se­ries of con­stantly chang­ing sen­sa­tions and scener­ies – one mo­ment, you’re day­dream­ing and watch­ing the world go by, the next mo­ment, you’re in full con­cen­tra­tion as you cadence fu­ri­ously for a big hill climb; and later, you’re fly­ing fast down­hill with a huge grin on your face, stop­ping only for a well-de­served dessert.

“That is the most won­der­ful thing about bi­cy­cle tour­ing – its flex­i­bil­ity – it can be what­ever you want it to be,” he en­thuses.

“It can be go­ing for a mi­cro next town ad­ven­ture, or a year away on the bi­cy­cle, high-fiv­ing the lo­cals through sev­eral con­ti­nents. It can be tak­ing the whole fam­ily along or go­ing solo; pack­ing the min­i­mal or tak­ing ev­ery­thing you need; splurg­ing on a ho­tel or stealth camp­ing in the woods; hav­ing a plan or zero plan,” he says, the en­thu­si­asm ev­i­dent in his voice.

Faizal, who met his wife Siti Ha­jar A. Bakar, 30, when cycling, says that they re­cently com­pleted a 500km cy­cle-camp­ing trip from Ky­oto to Tokyo, Ja­pan.

They run Doowar­oda.com (the name is a play on “dua roda”, Malay for “two wheels”), which pro­motes moun­tain bik­ing through so­cial net­work­ing, events, and de­vel­op­ment of moun­tain bike fa­cil­i­ties, and pro­vides guided tours and moun­tain bike rentals.

Some of his most mem­o­rable bike tour­ing routes in Malaysia in­clude KL-Morib, KL-Port Dick­son-Me­laka, KL-Sin­ga­pore, his first big solo bike trip from Shah Alam to Krabi, Thai­land, which cov­ered 700km, in 2012, and his big­gest Malaysian trip in 2013, which took 30 days to cover 2,240km in a Penin­su­lar Malaysia loop.

He says that when bike tour­ing, it’s good to have a plan, itin­er­ary, some cycling ex­pe­ri­ence, and equip­ment, but it’s not com­pul­sory.

Faizal be­lieves that cycling and bike tour­ing is good for the coun­try.

“Most Malaysians lead a seden­tary life­style and Malaysia is very mo­torised and ve­hi­cle-cen­tric. Our work­places, schools, homes and pub­lic places have been en­gi­neered to lessen move­ment and mus­cu­lar ac­tiv­ity. Peo­ple move less and sit more.

“We also don’t spend a lot of time ex­plor­ing, or go­ing out for un­ex­pected ad­ven­tures,” he says, adding that cycling im­proves one’s health and broad­ens one’s out­look on life.

Carry the ba­sic ne­ces­si­ties

Pro­fes­sional chef Da­nial Marzuki, 33, started cycling with his moun­tain bike 17 years ago, go­ing both on and of­froad.

“I like the feel­ing of be­ing free when cycling and be­ing self-sup­ported while trav­el­ling around on a bi­cy­cle,” he says, re­fer­ring to his bi­cy­cle tour­ing ad­ven­tures. Some of the routes he has bike-toured on in Penin­su­lar Malaysia in­clude Sek­in­chan-Teluk Intan-Ipoh; around Port Dick­son; Serem­ban-Me­laka; and Tan­jung Malim-Teluk Intan-Sek­in­chan.

“All the routes were en­joy­able in dif­fer­ent ways. All were done with dif­fer­ent groups of friends and us­ing dif­fer­ent bikes, so ev­ery bike tour was a to­tally dif­fer­ent ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Da­nial, who has used a foldie, hy­brid, tour­ing bike, and road bike for his tours.

“The most im­por­tant thing to re­mem­ber when go­ing bike tour­ing is to have a good time and to re­mem­ber why you’re do­ing it ... es­pe­cially when you are do­ing a solo bike tour,” he says, adding that half the bat­tle to keep go­ing is in one’s own mind.

“An­other thing to re­mem­ber is to keep safe and ride safe.

“Be vis­i­ble so that ve­hi­cles can see you. And make sure you take the cor­rect stuff along, like a small first aid kit in case of any falls or ac­ci­dents, a mul­ti­tool, spare tubes, bi­cy­cle tyre pump, and lights,” he ad­vises.

“Al­ways have an emer­gency con­tact card or wrist­band that will let peo­ple know who to con­tact in case you’re in an emer­gency,” he adds.

“Money or an ATM card (if in Malaysia), a mo­bile phone and charger are also nec­es­sary,” he says.

“You can pack as heavy or as light as you wish, but just re­mem­ber ... if you bring un­nec­es­sary stuff along, you will have a heav­ier load,” he points out.

Da­nial, who hails from Ipoh, says he buys and sells his bi­cy­cles quite of­ten but he usu­ally keeps at least three on hand at a time.

“Each bike has a dif­fer­ent char­ac­ter­is­tic, and I like to use dif­fer­ent bikes for dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions. For ex­am­ple, for a fun ride, ei­ther a tour­ing or fold­ing bike is best. You don’t re­ally need a ly­cra cycling kit for this. For long and fast week­end rides, a road bike is ideal,” he ex­plains.

Da­nial be­lieves that cycling and bike tour­ing is good for Malaysia and Malaysians.

“It pro­motes a healthy life­style and cre­ates fan­tas­tic ex­pe­ri­ences. More of­ten than not, peo­ple tend to find out a lot more about our coun­try and tra­di­tions when cycling through ru­ral ar­eas and in­ter­act­ing with the lo­cals,” he says.

He also be­lieves that cycling does help to bring peo­ple to­gether and in­stil a spirit of har­mony and unity: “Cycling is more of­ten than not a happy and pos­i­tive ac­tiv­ity that is shared by all races at the same time. When the ob­jec­tive is to cy­cle and have fun, you tend to leave all the other is­sues be­hind and focus on the ride,” he says.

En­joy­ing the slower pace

For Joseph Tan, 59, cycling be­gan five years ago when “a friend showed me how he al­ways had a fold­ing bike in his car, ever ready to ride.” That in­spired him to pick up the sport.

The Kuala Lumpur-based con­struc­tion man­ager be­lieves that cycling and bi­cy­cle tour­ing celebrates the coun­try’s muhib­bah spirit.

“When we come to­gether to ride, we are blind to colour and creed. We see one an­other as friends with­out ques­tion­ing our dif­fer­ences. We learn about one an­other’s cul­tures and how in­ter­est­ing and unique these can be,” he says.

“Cy­clists don’t just come to­gether to get united, we al­ready are united. Cycling to­gether leads us to un­der­stand one an­other bet­ter and to share more of our cul­ture with one an­other.

“When we’re on a bike tour through kam­pungs, we dis­cover that Malaysians, at the grass­roots, are straight­for­ward peo­ple who are warm and friendly, ever ready to greet one an­other and ex­tend a help­ing hand,” he adds.

Apart from its other ben­e­fits, Tan loves the free­dom that cycling brings: “Be­sides help­ing to keep one healthy, cycling at a slower pace helps us to take in more of the en­vi­ron­ment, peo­ple and cul­ture, and dis­cover less well­known places. Of­ten, peo­ple we meet will ask about our bi­cy­cles and des­ti­na­tions,” he ex­plains.

“Bi­cy­cle tour­ing has taken me to many places that I would not have dreamt of go­ing to if I had been driv­ing or was in a big­ger ve­hi­cle. It’s taken us to many towns, through a beau­ti­ful coun­try­side, amaz­ing sun­sets, beau­ti­ful is­lands ... and all at a slower pace. It has en­abled us to be part of cel­e­bra­tions, cul­tural events, and also the com­mu­ni­ties that we travel through,” he says.

Some of the in­ter­est­ing places and routes that Tan has toured by bi­cy­cle in­clude Sg Gadut-Serem­ban-Me­laka; Pa­hang-Ta­man Ne­gara; Perak fish­ing vil­lages; Taip­ing-Kuala Ku­rau-Tan­jung Pian­dang-Penang; Serem­banMe­laka for a Hari Raya cel­e­bra­tion and beau­ti­ful sun­set at Masjid Se­lat Me­laka; Kota Kinabalu-tip of Bor­neo (Tan­jung Sim­pang Men­gayau)-Pu­lau Banggi; and through Sarawak for the Gawai Fes­ti­val.

He highly rec­om­mends Sabah for its ex­otic cul­ture and chal­leng­ing trails, and Tereng­ganu for its beau­ti­ful beaches and fish­ing vil­lages. He has also gone on bi­cy­cle tours abroad in Cam­bo­dia, Laos, Philip­pines, Thai­land, Ja­pan, South Korea, New Zealand, Bri­tain, France, Ger­many, Bel­gium, and the Nether­lands.

Tan, who en­joys blog­ging about his bike tour­ing ex­pe­ri­ences at ah­pekbiker.blogspot. my, says that a cam­era and charger is a must on a bike tour­ing trip if one wants to record the best parts.

Healthy, ecofriendly ac­tiv­ity

Ja­son Leong, 40, started cycling when he was quite young and grow­ing up in Ipoh.

“As a kam­pung boy, I only had those clas­sic metal bikes meant for adults. I was barely a pri­mary school kid then, so to use the tall bike, I had to put one leg be­tween the bi­cy­cle frame and cy­cle with the body lean­ing in the op­po­site di­rec­tion.

“Most kids in the vil­lage cy­cled the same way.”

Although he hardly cy­cled when he went to se­condary school, he picked it up again six years ago.

“I bought a Ja­panese re­con­di­tioned fold­ing bi­cy­cle and kept it in my of­fice for com­mut­ing to lunch and run­ning er­rands,” Leong ex­plains, adding that the per­son who sold him the bike then in­vited him to join the Putrajaya Ur­ban Rid­ers to cy­cle in Putrajaya.

And he hasn’t looked back since. In fact, he’s even more in­volved in cycling since he set up Chain­story Stu­dio this year to de­sign, ser­vice, and cus­tomise projects for the iconic Bri­tish Bromp­ton bi­cy­cles.

The self-taught de­signer, who had started de­sign­ing as a hobby years ago and dis­cov­ered that he could use his tal­ents in var­i­ous fields, saw a niche to fill.

“As a cy­clist, I found that good de­signs and ma­te­ri­als for cycling cloth­ing were not eas­ily avail­able in the mar­ket, so I de­cided to make m ta to fr m

ve fr m ap al

lo n m ev

fr en li

h K K Se ti

A im to a

m bi th M

m n fo

pl ye th in sa

Faizal’s arty shot of his faith­ful tour­ing bi­cy­cle by the scenic padi fields of Yan, Kedah. — FAIZAL TAR­I­H­HUD­DIN

Faizal in front of Ge­orge Town’s Ghee Hiang store, which is fa­mous for its bis­cuits. — KAREN PUAH

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.