NATIONAL paralympic cyclist Alvin Lim had a fun day out with his friends at Ride for Malaysia, the cycling event on Sunday at Sunsuria City, Putrajaya South.
Lim said: “The ride was good. I loved seeing so much participation ... the vibe early in the morning even before the sun’s up ... there were so many people around and it was good to feel that kind of energy. Finding the things that bind us, and having an event like this where people can gather, talk, make new friends, that’s the essence of what unity should be. You just need the setting to get people together and everything follows naturally.”
Lim was one among a number of athletes who had turned up.
Also spotted was former national badminton player Wong Choong Hann, who said: “The event was pitched nicely for communities and families to come out and enjoy themselves. It has been a few months since I biked, but the scenery was nice and I still enjoyed myself during the 5.5km ride. If there’s a Ride For Malaysia organised again, I might even join the 30km fun ride next time around.”
It had, in fact, been a great turn-out of people at the event organised by Star Media Group and Sunsuria Bhd. Even the light rain towards the end of the ride did not dampen the spirit of those who turned up. From public figures, influencers and celebrities, to avid cyclists and whole families on different types of bicycles, the air was thick with excitement.
While the 30km ride saw more able-bodied and pro cyclists competing, the 5.5km ride drew an enthusiastic large crowd of young and old, regular Malaysians and a bunch of sporting celebrities.
Malaysian model, actress, TV host and brand ambassador Amber Chia, who came for the event with her husband Adrian Wong and son, Ashton, said: “This is the first time that I’ve joined such a large group – 2,000 people! – for a ride, and I haven’t been cycling for a long time – about 20 years. The last time I cycled was during my school days. I’ve met so many friends who I didn’t even know cycled.”
Actress, fashion designer and producer Kavita Sidhu, who attended the event with her Italian husband, Roberto Guiati, said: “I’m really excited. We’ve been waiting for Ride for Malaysia for a few months now, and it’s a fantastic turnout. There’s such a great vibe, everyone is having fun and I’m glad my husband is here as well, and we’re here to show our support for unity for Malaysia.”
Guiati said: “It’s a good day to be outdoors. I’m very much a sports person. I love anything that’s outdoors, and cycling is good for everyone.”
The spirit of patriotism was high among the cyclists and some even came in themed costumes and decorated their bicycles.
Three cyclists – Ina Yusni Yusof, Nurul Najiha Nooradzlyn, and Nur Maheran Asma Muslim – wanted to make the Ride for Malaysia event even more memorable. “Since Merdeka is about one month away, we came up with this idea to decorate our head gear with the Jalur Gemilang. This is an event to celebrate unity and everyone is proud to be here,” Ina Yusni said.
It was a fun day out for the whole family as some participants cycled with young family members on tandem bicycles and also with carts hooked up to the back of their bicycles for children.
The Ride for Malaysia was not just supported by Malaysians but also international ambassadors and delegates from the European Union, Czech Republic, Spain, Philippines, and Argentina.
For Argentinian ambassador Manuel Balaguer and his family, being this close to the Equator here means that they usually get up very early to go cycling.
“Compared to Argentina, where there are four seasons, we need to get up early here to ride before the heat gets to us,” Balaguer joked.
However, the South American diplomat said his wife and son had also enjoyed taking part in the 30km ride, adding that it had made all their early morning rides worth it.
Balaguer’s wife, Guadalupe Cernosco, said the ride had been scenic, and the only slight worry had been along the highway. “You had cars coming, but luckily, there were the marshals. And another nice part was that you could overtake someone, then the same person would suddenly overtake you later, and both of you somehow encouraged each other to finish the race that way,” she laughed.
The Czech Ambassador to Malaysia Rudolf Hykl said he was not really into cycling, even though the diplomat had also finished the 30km fun ride in good time.
“I am more of a mountain person, downhill skiing and all that, but this was really well-organised, and my daughter and I enjoyed ourselves very much,” he said.
One cycling enthusiast from Thailand, Setthakorn Rattanachaiyaroj, took this opportunity to visit Malaysia.
“When my friends in Penang told me about this cycling event, I was very excited and planned my journey here. I reached Malaysia on Friday and I managed to try out my new Kimori bicycle from Japan.”
The 38-year-old Thai cyclist from Hatyai, who mans a store named Daake Bikes, said he always participates in biking events in Hatyai.
“We have a lot of similar events in Hatyai but this is the first time I am joining such an event in Kuala Lumpur.”
SUPPORTING Ride For Malaysia were 30 staff members from the National Heart Institute (IJN) comprising doctors, paramedics, technicians, nurses and even specialists.
IJN chief executive officer and senior consultant Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub, who is also a cardiothoracic surgeon, said IJN always supports events that promote a healthy lifestyle.
“At IJN, we have our own cycling group and we enjoy getting together for such events. We have seen enough heart patients and we urge the public to be more active in sports and exercising.
“Cycling is a cardio second only to swimming and it is never too late for the public to start a healthy lifestyle.
“It’s great that the Star Media Group and Sunsuria organised such a health-promoting event in conjunction with the National Day,” he said.
Datuk Dr Mohamed Ezani Md Taib, head and director of operations at its Private Healthcare Division, and Kelab IJN president, said that it was a great ride and in typical Malaysian fashion, it was fun all the way.
"The ride was testament to what Malaysia is all about, diverse backgrounds, different beliefs, one nation all coming together for one purpose.
"For me Ride for Malaysia was all about making two statements - promoting healthy living and promoting national unity ... it was great fun, great company and at the end of it, great food too. That's Malaysia."
"The ride was awesome and the chosen route at Sunsuria City was scenic, although it rained a little before the finish line. It was nice being part of Ride for Malaysia because it makes everyone equal, sharing the same interest in cycling and staying healthy. The plus point is we get to meet more friends. More of such events should be organised." – Kenneth Tan, avid cyclist
"It was exciting ... waking up early at 5am just to get here, but it’s all for a good cause. Cycling brings people together. You can see people from all races, and everyone has got different types of bikes as well. It’s great getting together and just riding, to explore this new area, Sunsuria City and coming together for one cause: unity." – Sharizan Borhan, singer, emcee, voiceover artist
"I signed up because I wanted to have the experience under my belt, and wanted to have the opportunity to participate in such a great event. I was excited to take part in the 30km ride with my friend. The Ride for Malaysia is a very meaningful one as we get to meet lots of people where we are united as one, regardless of race ... as we are a multi-racial country. Malaysia boleh!" – Sharen Hiew, avid cyclist
"It’s lovely to be with a group of people who just want to ride for fun. I can see here today people who come out to ride socially or with friends. Cycling is good because literally anybody can do this if they have a bicycle and you don’t need to have big bucks and spend a lot of cash on a nice bike. You can just use your dad’s bike, your brother’s bike, or you can build a bicycle up of parts for
less than RM500. You can even pick up a secondhand bike for RM150-RM200, and still have fun. Cycling and cycling events like this bring people together and that’s fantastic." – Peter Davis, model, actor,MMA fighter
"It was a great ride. We got to see various riders from different races joining together as Malaysian citizens and also participants from other countries. I’m glad to meet my cycling friends and look forward to joining such events again." – Mohd Radzi Mohd Nor, avid cyclist
" Even though I had a 1am show on Saturday night, that didn’t stop me from coming to support Ride for Malaysia because it’s an event that promotes unity among Malaysians. Here, we see participants regardless of creed and religion, come and exercise together as Malaysians. This is also to show the younger generation the aspirations of the older generation and what unity is to us. We should talk more about the similarities as Malaysians instead of the differences." – Datuk DJ Dave, singer and influencer