He rolled in his bike to our usual meeting place in the early morning last Sunday. He was clad in a white t-shirt, a black short, donned a helmet and wore gloves. An antique Raleigh was his bicycle.
He said he was looking for a group of cyclists and was on a look-out for his friend. He could not find his friend and asked Zaba whether he could join our ride. BJCC (Bkt Jelutong Cycling Club) is a friendly club. We welcome anyone who wish to join us. I overheard Zaba calling him "uncle". I too approached this "uncle" and introduced myself. He introduced himself as Ng.
This Sunday ride was planned for a U-turn stop at Mok Su Nasi Dagang. We rode off with Uncle Ng in tow. On group rides, I usually stationed myself at the rear, especially when a new cyclist is in the group. I therefore took it upon myself to ride at the rear with Uncle Ng, on a LSD mode. No, I don't do drug. LSD stands for Long Steady Distance, quite similar to FM Radio's Light & Easy!
I noticed Uncle Ng loves to spin, i.e. cycling on light gears. I would correctly guess his cadence to be in excess of 100 revolutions per minute at those times when he was spinning fast. That's pretty fast for a new cycling Uncle. I could hear his heavy breathing at times when I cycled by his side. I was a little concern that he could be trying to catch up with the group in front.
The front group waited for both of us at the exit to Paya Jaras and we stopped for a breather. Continuing on, we headed for Nasi Dagang Mok Su, 7 kms away in Kuang. Again I stationed myself together with Uncle Ng at the rear. A surprise came my way. 3 kms before our stop, a small lorry passed us and Uncle Ng bolted behind the lorry and kept pace with the lorry. In cycling term, he was "drafting" behind the lorry. He overtook everyone and I was concerned that he may overshoot the traffic-light junction to Mok Su. We caught up with him at the traffic light and proceeded for our breakfast.
On the return journey, we both remained at the rear and I chatted him up. In bits and pieces, he was narrating his past. As his story unfold kilometre by kilometre, I realized that I was cycling with an Olympiad!
His full name is NG JOO PONG, older by 1 year to Ng Joo Ngan, the Malaysian cyclist of yesteryears. Somehow, Joo Pong did not ring a bell to me.
At 17 years of age in 1964, he represented Malaya in cycling at the Tokyo Olympic! I did a quick arithmetic. In 1964, I was 14 and Joo Pong was 17. How could I call him Uncle?? He was only 3 years my senior. He is therefore 62 now. And he was a top cyclist. And here I was, chaperoning "abang" Ng!
In 1968, he was again representing the country at the Mexico Olympic.
So, Mr Ng Joo Pong, that was why your spinning was very fast. That was why you drafted behing a lorry.
It was therefore my pleasure cycling alongside a legend.
None of the BJCC cyclists knew who they had in their cycling group last Sunday.
This surely is one of my very favorite quotes from a motivational guru, Jim Rohn:
"What we ponder and what we think about sets the course of our life. Any day we wish; we can discipline ourselves to change it all. Any day we wish, we can open the book that will open our mind to new knowledge. Any day we wish, we can start a new activity. Any day we wish, we can start the process of life change. We can do it immediately, or next week, or next month, or next year.
"We can also do nothing. We can pretend rather than perform. And if the idea of having to change ourselves makes us uncomfortable, we can remain as we are. We can choose rest over labor, entertainment over education, delusion over truth, and doubt over confidence. The choices are ours to make"
So friends, any day you wish, you can always start a new activity.
It all started in May 2008. I converted one gentleman from Bukit Jelutong into cycling. He wanted to shed kilograms from his physique. He discovered his new self. He was enthralled. He spread his newfound love to his neighbors, and it spreads like fire. He is now the President. He is MAHMUD ABAS. BJCC is the club - Bukit Jelutong Cycling Club. The membership have grown, the enthusiasm from its members spread exceeding original expectation.
Weekend rides used to be just making the loop of the Guthrie Corridor Expressway (GCE) covering a distance of 40kms. It was a feat at the beginning. Of late, the GCE rides of 40kms are only warm-up rides. BJCC started venturing to Kuala Selangor. They have done Morib. They have reached Port Dickson.
On a typical weekend in Bkt Jelutong, we would have a great number of cyclists burning their calories on the GCE.
Four of them recently joined PCC on their 2009 Annual Inter-state Ride. Featured here are the 4. The red jersey is Afendi Goh who took cycling like duck to water. Zaba in black and white, also now a "duck to water" kid upgraded himself to a Pinarello within a short span of taking up cycling. Such are these 2 BJ residents' enthusiasm. Sham, a veteran cyclist (not a veteran in age) and Razak Bakar on extreme right had been responsible for the rapid "high" of cycling amongst the BJCC group. Both of them are now on Brooks saddles, a symbol of their veteran status!
This is Zaba's Pinarello I was referring to. Its worth equates my yellow Kelisa. With that investment, I wonder whether Zaba will now delegate his golf bag permanently in the store!
On this 2009 inter-state, Sham was reported to have puncture problems which cut short his day 1 ride to Gemas. The punctures must have taken a toll even to his cycling attire, turning them black from the yellow featured in the first picture. I wonder.
Minus Sham attending to his punctures, Zaba, Afendi and Razak are seen here enjoying their carbo-loading in the company of a lady cyclist.
The 2009 Inter State ride will only be the beginning for the BJCC. 2009 is only half-way through with another 6 months to wrap up for other rides.
Welcome to the wonderful world of cycling.
Well done BJCC. Well done, Mahmud Abas the President
I have been asked this question by well meaning friends who had noticed my silence. One answer I gave was, "I have not been anywhere" and that explains my silence. Nothing to blog about.
Another well meaning elder e-mailed to enquire whether I am okay. In his words, it is so not like me to be keeping quiet. He had even suggested me to write in "small plates" on my travels, provide more details like places to stay, the hotel rates, the distance I travelled daily, etc. Great suggestion of course, one which I will surely set a goal to do.
Today, I'm off to Jakarta for the weekend. While Malaysians and the rest of the world celebrate Labor Day today, I plan to take it easy for a few days in bustling Jakarta. It will be minus my bicycle. It is a family trip, wife and one son (I have 2 sons you know plus 2 daughters too), my eldest sister and her hubby, and a nephew and his wife plus mother-in-law.
I plan to discover Jakarta on foot. More realistically, I plan to discover a small part of Jakarta. As usual, I will travel light and my trusty digital will be ready to capture scenes to upload and re-activate my long overdue blogging activities.
On my cycling front, I have a few options in the pipeline, at least two more touring trips for 2009. One is to do Solo - Semarang - Magelan - Jogjakarta. This will be a revisit of sort. Another is to do Mount Bromo in Surabaya or perhaps a Surabaya - Bali route. I am also eyeing Thailand, cycling to visit a friend who now lives in Hua Hin, just South of Bangkok.