Cycling: The golf club challenge


First time ever: The event route will use part of the buggy trail around the golf greens.

First time ever: The event route will use part of the buggy trail around the golf greens.

Here’s a chance for you to try cycling a course laid out through a golf club — and help boost awareness of how to overcome dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

CAN a mountain bike (MTB) challenge be held on a golf course? This is what the Black Forest Golf and Country Club in Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah, aims to do on March 21.

The bikers will not be grinding up the actual greens themselves, of course, but there are lots of places where they can suitably exert themselves, including the buggy trails as well as the secondary forest and oil palm plantations surrounding the golf greens.

“This will be the first time ever an MTB challenge is hosted on a golf course,” says Datin Azreen Abu Noh, the managing director of the club. “As far as we know, it has never been done before.”

The competition has four routes that cover a total of about 50km – and participants should bear in mind that they will be competing with some very fit athletes from the armed forces and the police.

The MTB challenge aims to promote the awareness of dyslexia, a learning disability that can be overcome.

“Many of us fail to realise that sports can turn our children into champions, and that their disabilities can be overcome, through grit and hard work,” says Azreen.

Laterite roads will provide some challenge.
Laterite roads will provide some challenge.

“Sports can be instrumental towards helping children’s learning disabilities. It should be considered as a holistic investment in a child’s future, whether disabled or not.”

She notes that children with learning disabilities, which can include dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, and language disabilities, may struggle in school, but find success in the world of sports.

Azreen believes that the playing fields offer them a chance to equal or best their peers, strengthening self-esteem (which can take a hit in the classroom) while teaching teamwork and social skills as well.

The biking route will go through nearby oil palm plantations.
The biking route will go through nearby oil palm plantations.

“Sports offers such children the chance to learn skills, such as problem-solving, sequencing, and focus in a new way, which can in turn help them with their academic work,” she explains.

”Children who have learning and behavioural challenges can profit from the physical release of exercise too. It reduces stress and helps redirect energy positively, this can help improve behaviour in the classroom.”

Apart from being a golfing enthusiast, Azreen, 46, is also a lawyer, wife and mother. She recently took on the role as managing director of the club. At her direction, this public golf club will see a first in history: a mountain bike challenge.

One of the adventurous trails awaiting the participants.
One of the adventurous trails awaiting the participants.

Azreen is a tireless advocate of empowerment for children with learning disabilities. Her youngest son is dyslexic, and through sheer will, both she and her husband have now helped their son to achieve a creditable 17th position at the Special Olympics Golf Masters 2013 in Macau.

He has also been selected to represent Malaysia at the Special Olympics World Summer Games Los Angeles in July 2015.

“Children with learning disabilities can thrive and succeed,” she underlines, “They need tremendous support, encouragement, and the correct environment in order for them to gain confidence.”

The Black Forest Golf and Country Club is holding the MTB challenge in association with Persatuan Dyslexia Malaysia (PDM) and Special Olympics Kuala Lumpur (SOKL).

PDM advances the education and general welfare of children and others who are affected by dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities, and promotes a general awareness and understanding of the problems and needs of children and others with specific learning disabilities.

SOKL is a global movement led by athletes with intellectual disabilities, who use sports as a stage to demonstrate the capabilities of all people, inspire change and to build inclusive and tolerant communities.

The Black Forest Series Mountain Bike Challenge 2015 will be held on March 21; participants must register; go to blackforestseries.com for more information and to register. A grand prize and lucky draw amounting to RM50,000 in total await winners.

There are various categories for the challenge including for men, women, and juniors. The participation fees include an official jersey, goodies bag, finisher medal, and buffet meal.