At a time when the new cool states that we look for vodka when we're handed lemons, conventional kind of guy Dave Ern still makes lemonade.
But brewing his own beverage meant blazing his own trail, especially after a friend questioned Ern's fitness for a cycling excursion because of his seeming lack of vigour.
“Instead of being discouraged, my wife and I knew we needed to exercise regularly for our health,” says the 57-year-old. So, Ern and Jessica organised their own biking excursions, which not only improved his health but earned him a new company of friends.
Ern isn’t a cyclist who hopped onto bikes as a child. He got into it at age 50 following a physical exam, when his doctor said his blood pressure needed to be better managed. This same sagely medical practitioner then advised him to take up bicycling by extolling its health and social benefits.
While it's easy to be swayed by the swanky and pricey models from carbon fibre to titanium that are in vogue nowadays, Ern and Jessica embraced practicality by picking up foldable bikes for themselves.
“We felt that if we wanted to cycle beyond our neighbourhood, we could just fold the bikes, put them in the car, and drive out to those locations,” the retiree explains. “We wanted to see if cycling would be something we’d enjoy long-term. Folding bikes seemed to be the logical choice economically.”
What began as a health pursuit grew into an obsession. Twelve months from sitting on a saddle, he purchased a road bike. And on the second day of Chinese New Year, he traversed 126km from his home in Kuala Lumpur to his mother-in-law’s in Seremban.
“You should have been there upon my arrival,” he shares emphatically. “All my relatives were shocked as well as awed as I cycled all the way to greet them,”
Now a cycling expedition organiser along with his missus, Ern has taken groups of riding enthusiasts on highway trips (Kesas, Guthrie), island rounds (Pulau Ketam, Pulau Pangkor), and casual journeys taking in Ipoh, Port Dickson, Melaka and more.
Hardcore cyclists have opted for more uphill challenges, like scaling Fraser’s Hill, Genting Highlands and Cameron Highlands on their two wheels. Homage rides have also been part of the proceedings, including MH370 – The Ride Of Prayer and The Ride Of Silence, which honours fallen cyclists worldwide.
Ern views cycling as a communal activity that brings people together.
“Cycling is one of the platforms which can truly enhance a community and promote a sense of unity,” he says. “I have witnessed in the past six years at our events how people of every race, religion and background have come together and forged a great sense and spirit of camaraderie, biking as brothers and sisters.”
Ern lauds Ride For Malaysia, an event hosted by Star Media Group and property developer Sunsuria Bhd.
“This initiative is fantastic. We hope that organisations, corporate companies and relevant authorities will take this cycling phenomenon to the next level in a way which layman organisers like us can’t,” he stresses.
Ride For Malaysia flags off at 6.30am on Sunday, July 30 from Celebration Centre at Sunsuria City in Sepang. There's a Fun Ride spanning 30km and a Family Ride of 5.5km. There'll be lots of fun activities and goodies for grabs. For more details and to register, go to the official website.