PETALING JAYA: In the beginning, cycling for Ng Chor Guan was pretty much a tame affair – pedalling around the neighbourhood, sometimes venturing a little further. Nothing too fancy or beyond a 20km ride.
But all that changed when he was awarded a scholarship for a one-month residency in Germany in 2011.
With finances stretched to the limit, the multi-disciplinary artist/musician booked himself on the cheapest flight from Kuala Lumpur to London, purchased his first foldable bike, and then cycled over 600km to Bonn, Germany, in just about a week (including a one-day break to visit a friend along the way).
Having to contend with subzero temperatures on that cross-country adventure, the avid cyclist, who sees the benefits of an event like Ride for Malaysia, shrugs it off when people insist that it is “much too hot to cycle” in our tropical climate.
Ng, 36, gets around town on that same bicycle he bought in London all those years ago, and also takes it with him when he travels abroad for work.
“I have travelled to over 50 cities on this bike, clocking up more than 33,000km in total since 2011,” he says.
“A bike makes sounds when you ride it, it is like a tempo, a pulse, a rhythm, that keeps you company ... especially on those long trips when it is just me and my bike. It is what drives me,” he says.
In 2011, Ng, the artistic director of Petaling Jaya-based Toccata Studio, came up with a performance piece that combined two of his great loves – cycling and music.
His “bicycle performance”, which he tweaks each time to fit the location, space and various other factors, comprises an interactive element (with the audience); and pre-recorded soundscapes and videography from his cycling through different locales.
There is always a live music segment created by making sounds with everyday objects such as chopsticks, cardboard or a plastic fork on his upturned bicycle.
“The sounds are fed into a computer, processed and amplified for different effects,” he says.
It is a curious sight indeed, the sarong-clad Ng making music on an upturned bike, as mesmerising on stage as it is during a street performance.
“People approach me after the performance with a lot of questions. Sometimes they tell me that watching the show has rekindled their interest in cycling, or rather, in rediscovering the joys of cycling and the feeling of freedom and independence that comes with it,” he says.
During performances abroad, Ng finds numerous opportunities to put Malaysia on the map.
“Not everyone knows what or where we are, but I am happy to talk to people about where I am from when I travel around the world.
“I am proud to be from this multi-cultural country, proud to be Malaysian. What I have come to realise is that the love for cycling and music are a universal language.
“It doesn’t matter where you are from or what your background is, this is a language that we all understand,” says Ng.
On July 30, the Star Media Group and property developer Sunsuria Bhd will host the cycling event to inspire national unity and patriotism in the run-up to National Day. The event, to be flagged off at 6.30am at Sunsuria City, is a timely opportunity for people of all ages and cultures to come together and enjoy the outdoors. For more information and to register, go to sites.thestar.com.my/rideformalaysia/. For group bookings, call 03-7967 1388 and ask for Events.