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Malakoff Charity Ride 2009

7 April 2009

Scorching hot sun, strong coastal wind, heavy rain, long arduous inclines. These are just a few elements that the cyclists had to go through during the 3-day charity rides. So why do some cyclists keep on signing up every year when they know the challenges that they will face for the next 3 days?

Some called it pure stupidity, some called it the verge of insanity. But some simply call it pure torturing pleasure.

I could still remember the first Charity Ride that I joined 2 years ago. It was the Putrajaya-Kuala Pilah-Summerset Rompin-Kuantan ride. The distance was 404km, which to me at that time, was intimidating enough, adding to the fact that the cyclists would have to face Bukit Mandum just before Lenggeng, followed by Bukit Putus en route to Pilah, the rolling roads of the Feldas en route to Rompin on the second day, and of course the coastal winds en route to Kuantan on the third day.

Flag-off at Charity Ride 2008 in Gombak

As dark clouds gathered at Pantai(Negeri Sembilan) just before we continued our journey to Pilah after Friday prayers, I turned to ask Sharef, what are we going to do if it rains?

To that, Sharef answered simply, “Sorry, sis, this is a rain-or-shine event. Unless there’s thunder and lightnings, we will keep on pedaling to the next destination.” Tough luck!

I remembered that I was at the back of the pack, well actually the pack left me and a few other cyclists to survive the heavy rain up Bukit Putus. In front of me, I noticed a fellow cyclist by the name of Jack and I made it a point that I was never to leave this guy out of my sight, even if I had to cycle till I faint!

(Basically, the idea was if there were any pot holes on the roads, Jack would hit it first, and I would have time to swerve and avoid hitting my wheels in them.. Clever isn’t it? But don’t tell Jack, OK!)

Of course I received a thunderous applause from the guys at our regrouping area for conquering Bukit Putus in the rain. When I looked back and thought about going downhill in the pouring rain, my legs will always turn jello. What if I made a bad judgment and slid off the tarmac, into the ravine near Bukit Putus? What if! Thank God nothing bad happened to me and all the others, except for the usual cramps and dehydration.

Resting en route to Temerloh

When the MD/CEO suggested that we rode further for the 3rd edition of Charity Ride (in 2008), few of the cyclists were sceptical that we would even finish the whole distance. Charity Ride ‘numero tres’ featured an additional 76km from the previous year’s and proved to be harder with more climbs and longer riding hours.

The route was from Gombak to Temerloh (via Genting Sempah and the rock ‘n rollin’ Felda Mempaga), to Kemaman and ended on the third day in Kuala Terengganu. The distance was 140km, 180km and 160km. For those who are unfamiliar with cycling terms, 180km is equivalent to the cycling distance in the Ironman, and 160km is called a Century (i.e. 100 miles). Added to that, we faced the coastal winds from the South China Sea, from the front, sides and the back. Trust me, although the route was mostly flat on second and third day, the wind added the challenge as we had to hang on tight to the handlebars as we rode along the serene countryside, with the occasional kampung kids cycling alongside us, trying to outdo us on our roadbikes!

Somewhere near Marang

peloton on the second and third day. There were a mix of girls and boys as young as 11, and the best thing was their parents took turns to act as marshal in a support car to accompany the kids during their trainings! How cool is that! No wonder there are many top cyclists that came from Terengganu!

Apart from the long, hard rides, what touched me the most was the faces of the unfortunate kids and folks that were our special guests at the dinners that we normally have at our stops during the rides. There were HIV positive kids from Pernim, who were lovingly cared for by Puan Norlina Alawi, the founder of Pernim.

There were also the orphans from Persatuan Anak-anak Yatim Darul Izzah, Temerloh, who, behind the sweet smiles, must have longed to hear and hold their departed loved ones.

Kids at Darul Izzah

The dinner at Temerloh that was held at Darul Izzah gave us the opportunity to see the orphanage first hand. Halfway through the dinner, there was a blackout for nearly half an hour and we had to carefully eat our ikan patin masak tempoyak with inadequate lighting, to avoid choking on the patins’ fine bones. I was told later that blackouts were a norm at the orphanage as the electricity supply there was insufficient to cover the needs of the whole kampung.

Hence after the dinner, we did an adhoc donation drive and collected nearly RM500 from the cyclists and support crew to be given to the orphans of Darul Izzah. We hoped that the donations given to them, through Malakoff, were able to ease their burdens and help the charity institutions carry on with their day-to-day operations.

Besides having fun cyling alongside friends and enjoying the scenery throughout the event, we must also remember that we carry the task to deliver the donors’ ‘amanah’ to the less fortunate. I personally felt that by visiting them, we are able to appreciate what God has given to us, be more humble and praise God for the good well-being that He has bestowed upon us that enabled us to cycle and visit them to deliver the donations.

May all of us are given good health, good route, good weather and good companionship for this year’s journey.

Us in Temerloh
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