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Published: Monday December 23, 2013 MYT 11:28:00 AM
Updated: Monday December 23, 2013 MYT 12:09:52 PM

To Istanbul on a cycle, to promote a healthy lifestyle

Faizal all set for his 16,009 km journey

Faizal all set for his 16,009 km journey

PETALING JAYA: Come Friday, a former IT manager who quit his job, and sold off his house and car to pursue a life-long passion for cycling, will embark on a year-long 16,000km trek across Asia to promote a health awareness campaign.

Faizal Tarihuddin, 35, will help spread the message as he makes his way from Malaysia, across Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, China and Iran to Istanbul, a city that has served as a capital of four empires.

The Malaysian Integrated Medical Professionals Association (Mimpa) is working in collaboration with Faizal to promote the healthy lifestyle message via the solo cycling expedition.

The journey, titled "Bike to work, bike to play, bike for a healthy day", will begin at The Basikal, Universiti Putra Malaysia and a ceremonial flag-off for the event was held on Sunday.

Mimpa president Dr S. Dhesi Baha Raja said activities like the cross-country cycling event were among the efforts by the non-governmental organisation (NGO) to raise awareness on health issues.

"Previously, Mimpa worked on disaster management but this is also an essential step to encourage health education. It is not enough to just talk about it but actual activities are also necessary," he said.

"It is important to be proactive when it comes to nurturing a healthy lifestyle. Most cycling events focus on getting from point A to point B within Malaysia but this event is specifically a cross-country journey to show that being healthy is something everyone across the world can aspire for," Dhesi said of the expedition.

Mimpa is Faizal's main sponsor and will be highlighting his routes through daily updates on its official Facebook page.

When asked what inspired him to set out on this challenge, Faizal, who used to work as an IT manager in a private hospital, said he wanted to do something different and exciting with his life.

"I did not want to just sit in a cubicle for years on end. I wanted to leave a legacy. For my friends, my family and myself," he said.

"Istanbul is the first phase for me. If I manage to secure more sponsors, and if my health permits, I plan to continue to Africa, cross into South America and go up to North America to continue the journey,” he said.

The cycling veteran, who has a list of tours under his belt including the Malaysian Loop, the Siem Reap Loop, and the Kuala Lumpur-Krabi and Kuala Lumpur-Singapore trails, prepared for his longest-ever route by eating healthy and cycling 30-60km thrice a week.

At first, Faizal's family was apprehensive about letting the bachelor cycle alone for such a long duration.

"In the beginning, they were not too keen on it but after a few short regional tours, I managed to convince them and they warmed up to the idea," he said.

When it comes to safety, Faizal said he was convinced that the best precaution was to have a friendly demeanor.

"Safety also involves social engineering. The best way to avoid being robbed is to smile a lot and start talking to the locals. Often, this helps to diffuse tension," he said.

However, if situations became tense, Faizal said he would rely on his 12 years of Muay Thai experience to help him get out of a pickle!

You can follow Faizal's adventures on his Facebook page or blog.

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Tags / Keywords: Health, Lifestyle, cycling, Malaysia, Turkey, Istanbul

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