It was always on my bucket list to ride from Kuching to Kota Kinabalu as I believed that this above all else with be South East Asia’s epic bike ride. Many who have done Bangkok to Phuket would argue that that ride is indeed epic which it is.
Nevertheless when my AWOL buddy Anslem Tan said that there would be a ride from Sandakan, Sabah to Sibu, Sarawak to raise money for cancer awareness, I immediately jumped at the chance to ride 1200km over 10 days as it was good enough to satisfy something which I always wanted to do. It did not take much convincing to get my fellow AWOL buddy Low Huoi Seong on board and soon Vincent Lee followed suit for the event.
We started the journey in Sandakan which was a baptism of fire where for the first 3 days the hills were relentless, some going up to as much as 14 percent at the end of it we had climbed almost 3500 meters. Notwithstanding the physical challenge, we also had to deal with the mental challenge on focusing on extremely poor road conditions and riding on uncompleted sections of the Pan-Borneo highway, which really took a toll on the body. Leaving Kota Kinabalu and heading to Sarawak, our next challenge would be getting to Miri as the Brunei borders remained closed hence we were airlifted to Miri Sarawak.
The contrast of Malaysia’s 2 states on the Borneo Island is telling. Road conditions improved tremendously but the riding remained a challenge as roads remained desolate and with no petrol stations or food stalls on the side of the road. We had to trust our volunteers to find strategic locations on the road to ‘set up stall’ so we could replenish and re-hydrate ourselves. We owe a great deal of credit to our volunteers who woke up early to prepare breakfast for us and work through the night to prepare snacks which were unique to Sarawak. In addition to that Sarawak police and the medical teams from Sabah and Sarawak did follow us all the way, with the former making sure the roads were clear of traffic and ensuring we got to our destination on time.
When I signed up for this ride and while seeking donations, much of my request was met with trepidation as people were of the opinion in respect of the integrity of MAKNA, however when you speak to Danny Goh and Zaidi bin Salim who respectively were a Volunteer and a Rider, you realised how MAKNA had given them a second chance at life and had been there for them in their darkest hour. Despite their own current challenges they came and they contributed towards the success of the Tour.
Yes, we all have our misgivings about certain foundations and NGO’s and I am no exception, but from what I see the good MAKNA does, does outweigh the purported misgivings. Why give to the Government by way of your taxes knowing fully well that it is going to be misused whereas you can still donate to the cause and get your tax deductible receipt.
I sincerely want to thank all those who contributed to the cause through my effort. But my effort over the 1,042km over 8 days is nothing in comparison to every cancer survivor/patient out there.
My thoughts on the Cycle for cancer was also featured in the Ipoh Echo.
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