Saturday, August 9, 2008

Marking 08.08.08 with a long bike ride

An article from The Star Metro by Sarina Khalid

A group of friends from Taman Melawati aims to make the date 08-08-08 extra special for themselves by starting on a cycling expedition to the East Coast today.

To add to the significance of their endeavour is the fact that most of them are more than 50 years old.

Sense of togetherness: Dr Hamdan (in red) and the rest of the group enjoying themselves during their regular training before the expedition recently.

They are group leader Wan Ahmad Sabri Wan Daud, his wife Wan Mariam Wan Mahmud, Kamat Norit and his wife Faridah Akmar Ibrahim, Dr Hamdan Salleh and Aliyah Mohd Salleh.

The youngest members of the group are Mohd Shuhaimi Ismail and Dr Maryam Chin, both 39.

Calling themselves Gedebe, which means strong in the Kelantanese dialect, the group will start off today on their five-day, four-night expedition to Kota Baru, Kelantan.

“We will leave Taman Melawati, Hulu Klang on Aug 8 and arrive in Kota Baru on Aug 11 and will be back in Kuala Lumpur on Aug 12.

“We will cover a total of 470km from Taman Melawati to Kota Baru,” said Wan Ahmad Sabri.

He said they would be taking the old trunk road from Taman Melawati to Sungai Pasu in Pahang via Bentong and Raub.

“The next day we will move to Kuala Lipis from Sungai Pasu and will stay overnight in Dabong. On the third day we will travel to Jeli until Tanah Merah and Wakaf Baru before crossing over to Kota Baru on the last day,” he said.

They will spend the last night of the expedition in Pengkalan Chepa before flying back.

Previously the group organised several expeditions, including a cycling trip to Port Dickson via the old road, from Bangi to Bagan Lalang, to Sungai Tekala, Janda Baik and Bentong.

To prepare for the trip, the group has been cycling from Taman Melawati to Putrajaya daily, a distance of about 50km.

“We ride on weekdays for safety reasons. There are usually more cars on the road on weekends and not safe for us,” he said.

Wan Ahmad Sabri said the trip was not a race but a feat against themselves. “We set the target and we have nothing to compete against except ourselves.

“It does not matter how long we take to get to our destination as long as we get there,” he said.

Group members have also been going for regular medical check-ups to ensure that they are fit for the trip. They have also made sure that their bicycles are in good condition for the long distance ride.

“We are travelling light so we are only taking the basic necessities like a few pairs of clothes, bike spare parts, sleeping bags and some first aid equipment for the trip,” said Wan Ahmad Sabri.

Most of the group members have taken up cycling as a form of exercise.

Kamat, who is 58 years old and the oldest member of the group, said he only started cycling seriously earlier this year. He has high blood pressure which he believes was brought on by his former job which was very stressful.

His wife, Faridah, has developed serious varicose veins on her legs.

Both had decided to take part in outdoor activities in the hope of improving their health conditions.

“We started with hiking and camping as they sounded fun and then tried cycling. Then we met this group of people and the rest is history,” said Kamat.

Kamat and his 53-year-old wife do not think that their age hampers them from joining the activities.

“We know what our body can do and the rest is proper training,” he said.

He said he was glad that he could join the group as it helped him meet new people.

Come to know Pak Kamat and wife (Kak Faridah) after few months of my cycling life. They are better known as the Romeo & Juliet of Taman Melawati, regularly visit Sofea Jane (google keyword: "sofea jane" kemensah) and some other trail in Kemensah. Do not underestimate them as they can make some young cyclists blush with their climbing skill (in cycling, climbing means pedal up hilly section)! Some of us had a taste of Kak Faridah's homemade power bar, delicious!

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