Do More To Make Cycling Popular And Enjoyable
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I AM pleased that there are attempts to encourage group cycling among Malaysians. This is a good move and it brings back memories of my cycling past.
Bicycles these days are so advanced, making cycling a pleasurable activity. In my time (late 40s), we had “speed gears” attached to our bicycles to help us to cycle uphill. It was a boost to the “old-fashioned” ordinary bicycle.
I still remember how we admired a newly-imported English Raleigh bicycle which was bought by one of our friends. We looked at it in the same way youths these days would admire a new and expensive foreign car.
I kept up cycling until I could no longer indulge in this enjoyable pastime. Someone suggested getting an electric bicycle but if you don’t pedal, then all the fun in cycling is gone.
When I was a student in Kampar, Teluk Anson, Taiping and Penang, I cycled (at times alone) for miles in the evening. I remember an incident when I first started to ride a bicycle. I still didn’t know how to apply the brakes properly and cycled over some bananas placed by the roadside. The owner screamed at me but I dared not stop. I had to return home by another longer route!
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My friends and I always enjoyed group cycling in the Taiping Lake Gardens. Sometimes we did more than 10 rounds of the Lake Gardens.
In Penang, we have organised round-the-island bicycle trips. During one of these trips, I took a corner too fast and crashed onto the side of a hill. We had no crash helmets then but I was none the worse for the mishap.
Most evenings when I was in Penang (1949 – 1952), I cycled from my house in Chow Thye Road to Tanjong Bungah. My favourite route was through the Mount Erskine Cemetery. Of course, I wouldn’t cycle there late in the evening for obvious reasons! On arrival at Tanjong Bungah, I refuelled with a cup of coffee and a bowl of mee for only 30 sen.
While in Singapore from 1950 to 1952, I cycled to the city from Paya Lebar at least once a week. It was a very healthy exercise and I memorised all the landmarks along the way.
In Sungei Pelek, Selangor where I worked as a teacher for a few years, I cycled in the evening to a river miles from the village as often as I could. While relaxing at the river bank, I noticed many passersby in cars staring at me curiously.
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Young people today can only visualise with envy our simple carefree lifestyle in the distant past. Today, with traffic congestion and restructuring of many roads, it is no longer possible to cycle without putting one’s life at risk.
Nevertheless, I continue to cycle albeit on a stationary bicycle that goes nowhere. If I had the means, I would put up a screen with moving images to give me the illusion of cycling past miles of roads in a rural setting.
So to all the cycling groups out there, please do more to bring cycling back to the glorious days when it was popular all over the country and was a vital part of a healthy lifestyle.
MONG YOON WENG
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