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Sunday September 26, 2010

Up the Extreme in Shah Alam

From go-karting and skateboarding to wall-climbing, there’s a whole load of fun waiting for outdoor sports enthusiasts at the Shah Alam Sports Complex.

THE Shah Alam Stadium, or rather its immediate vicinity, looks to be a happening place these days as it becomes a venue for extreme sports. On weekends, and sometimes even on weekdays, it is a hive of activity as outdoor sports enthusiasts converge on what is known as the Shah Alam Sports Complex, a 5.2ha ground in Section 13 that incorporates the Shah Alam Stadium, Malawati Indoor Stadium, Shah Alam Kart Circuit, the Extreme Park and Lawn Bowls Complex.

Brothers Dr Megat Shiraz and Megat Joha, who both live in Shah Alam, have been making a beeline for the Kart Circuit when they feel the need for speed during the weekends.

Thrills aloft: Fizal Saimon (left) and Muhd Hakim compete to see who goes the highest.

While it cannot compare to flying fighter planes like Maverick and Goose in the film Top Gun, go-karting “is a great way to spend a few hours seeking some thrills,” says Dr Megat Shiraz, 40.

His brother agrees, saying that while go-karting may not be a cheap hobby, “it is fun and a good way to spend time with family.”

“Even our sons occasionally participate with us,” adds Megat Joha, 47, an accountant.

Age is not a barrier for Mike Siva, 61.

The price of an average fire-proof racing outfit is around RM370 and rental for the karts starts from RM35 for a 10-minute ride. Nevertheless, it is considered relatively cheap when compared to other forms of motorsports racing and it is common to see fathers competing against their children at the 1.1km Shah Alam Kart Circuit.

Zainuddin Radzi, fondly known as Pak Din, who manages the karting circuit says sometimes there are 500 customers on a single weekend.

“The motorsports industry is still growing in Malaysia. Look back 10 years ago and compare that with what we have now with the Formula One race. Kart racing itself has developed into a huge market now,” he says.

The karts here are available in three capacities: 80cc, 100cc and 125cc. The cost of rental for 10 minutes is RM35 and RM80 respectively for the 80cc and the 100cc. The 125cc karts are not available for rental as they are privately owned.

“We do offer discounts for regular patrons,” says Zainuddin, who explains that 80% of the spare parts, including the engine, chassis and side ports, have to be sourced from Italy, hence the high rental price. “They can be very costly. Even the tyres are imported from Taiwan.”

How fast can each kart go? The 80cc can reach 70kph; the 100cc can soar from 90kph to 100kph; and the 125cc can go 100kph to 105kph.

Enthusiasts at the Shah Alam Kart Circuit range in age from the over 60s to children as young as seven years old.

Karen Tan donning her racing gear

A retiree from the Malaysian Air Force and now a businessman, Mike Siva, 61, who hails from Klang, Selangor, says he has been go-karting every week for the past three years.

“It’s one way to keep myself fit because I definitely work up a sweat after a few laps. I prefer this as a form of exercise rather than the conventional methods such as jogging. Also, you learn a lot of skills in kart racing,” he says.

As in other motorsport racing, there is the risk of injury but, says Zainuddin: “The percentage of anything serious happening is quite minimal, unlike in the F1. If you happen to hit the tyre barrier while making a turn, the kart might flip over. Other than that, you are all right if you know how to control the kart.”

Karen Tan, 13, believes that if the drivers take the right precautions, racing is quite safe. “My mum is a bit scared that I might get hurt but so far it has been all right,” she says, adding that her father encourages her to enter racing competitions.

“My brother also takes part in motor racing events in Sepang. This is my second year and I do intend to join in the international racing tournaments soon.”

Mitchell Cheah started go-karting when he was just seven years old with his father at the Shah Alam Karting Circuit. “I stopped for a while but continued again. I love anything to do with motorsports. I especially love to watch the F1 races,” says Mitchell, now 12.

The circuit is open every day from 11am to 7pm on weekdays and 9am to 7pm on public holidays.

Businessman Abu Bakar Yahaya, a Shah Alam resident, says his 10-year-old son Muhd Khir expressed his interest in go-karting about a year ago. “Other than football, badminton and bowling, he loves go-karting. I think it is a good thing that he has an interest in sports. At least it is a good use of his time,” says Abu Bakar.

Tenacious: Ezad Amer honing his skateboarding skills at the Extreme Park.

Less than one kilometre away from the karting circuit is the Shah Alam Extreme Park where another group of sports enthusiasts converge for wall climbing, skateboarding, biking and paintball contests.

Operated by the Hikers Climber Adventure Team, the best part about this Extreme Park is that it is free for use by all, unless you rent the equipment. Rental for skateboarding and biking as well as the harness and belay set for wall climbing is RM5 per hour.

You will never go hungry after all that extreme exercise as Burger King, Pizza Hut and KFC are all there.

Muhd Hakim Azmi and Fizal Saimon Mohd Fauzi, both 14, and Ezad Amer Hamzah, 13, from Klang, practise their skateboarding skills on weekends there.

“On school holidays, we are here at least three times a week,” says Ezad, adding that their parents don’t mind them being at the park for the whole day. “We are all related so as long as we stick together our parents are fine with it,” he says.

Fizal, who is Ezad’s uncle, says this is a productive way to spend time on weekends.

Even the blazing heat of the afternoon sun doesn’t deter these boys from honing their skateboarding techniques. If the weather gets too harsh, the park will be quite deserted. But come 5pm, it will be crawling with expert skateboarders and wall climbers.

Surain Victor, 32, and his friend Hazman Hazizan are regulars at the wall climbing section. “I don’t live in Shah Alam but I have relatives here. There are so many things to do here and not a lot of people know that. Around 9pm on most nights, the real expert wall climbers can be seen,” he says.

For some adults, the extreme park is a place to recapture one’s childhood. Computer programmer Sam Singh, 38, from Setia Alam, goes to the biking section once a week with his four-year-old son. “I had one of those BMX bikes when I was a kid and used to do all sorts of stunts on it,” he recalls. “Now I can relive those stunts again while my son rides his mini scooter. My wife always reminds me to not break any bones, though,” jokes Sam.

The park is a great place for children and adults to make new friends, he adds. “It is a nice and convenient place to spend time on weekends if you like extreme sports. You can see people in their 40s skateboarding here at night. Also, the staff here are friendly and will help you with anything.”

The park operations director Ahmad Nazri says they also organise team building programmes and other outdoor adventure activities such as white water rafting, kayaking and treasure hunts, to name a few.

So the next time you find yourself in Shah Alam for whatever reason, you can try out go-karting or the Extreme Park for some adventure. Visit www.hikersclimber.com to find out more. The park is located on Jalan Lompat Pagar 13/37, Seksyen 13, Shah Alam.

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