Ekovest Berhad supported as one of the sponsors of a cycling expedition from Kuala Lumpur to Taman Negara, Pahang, organised by the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in conjunction with the International Day for the Blind, held on the 3rd of December.
Blind cyclists, were led by sighted cyclists on tandem bikes throughout the expedition which covered a distance of 260 km. A total of 40 participants, consisting of 20 sighted and 20 blind cyclists, together with an additional 15 non cycling volunteers assisted in the expedition. Not only did Ekovest co-sponsor the event, but even our own employees participated in the journey. The expedition aimed at fostering social interaction and increasing the propensity for healthy living and sporting activities amongst the blind.
One of Ekovest’s employees, Timothy Pang, Project Engineer, was one of the cycling volunteers of the event and gives an insight into his passion and hobby, and further recalls the expedition experience as follows:
Through my 6 years of studies living in Germany, I have developed cycling to be a passion of mine. I used my bicycle as my main mode of transport in the city. Upon returning to Malaysia, I continued to cycle, despite it being against the norm of the society. Personally, I see cycling as a way to reduce my carbon footprint and to maintain a healthy lifestyle at the same time.
I discovered that The Malaysian Association for the Blind was in the midst of organising a cycling expedition from Kuala Lumpur to Taman Negara. What attracted me -the most about this expedition was that it involved blind cyclists.
I wrote a proposal for Ekovest to be one of the sponsors for the event. Our Managing Director, Datuk Lim Keng Cheng was very supportive and had no hesitation to sponsor. The support given by Ekovest Berhad was very meaningful for me and it gave me extra motivation to prepare myself physically and mentally. This sponsorship made me realise that Ekovest is genuine in giving back to the community and also support their employees in making such initiatives.
In tandem bike terminology, the cyclist in front that steers and pedals the bike is called a captain. The cyclist behind that only pedals is called the stocker. Prior to the expedition, 16 training sessions were held to build up the captains’ and stockers’ strength, endurance and cycling techniques. Communication and chemistry between each tandem’s captain and stocker is of utmost importance. The expedition itself covers a mileage of 265 Kilometres, spread out into 2 days of cycling. With a total of 20 tandem bikes, 40 cyclist took up the challenge to ride up the hill of Genting Sempah and ride through the undulating terrain of the Titiwangsa Mountain Range.
I was paired up with a blind partner named Hafiz, a student learning information communication technology. Throughout the training, his sense of direction and whereabouts amazed me. He had a great sense of understanding and memory of where he was, despite not being able to see. As we cycle, he would confirm with me if the place we are currently crossing is where he thinks it is. I also learned to understand visually impaired people’s needs and leaned ways to assist them.
I arrived at the flag off location at 6:15. Everyone was donning their brand new jerseys, courtesy of Ekovest and was busy, doing their last minute fine tuning to the bicycles.
As Datuk Lim arrived, we were ready for flag off. All 40 cyclist were flagged off and our journey began. With the escort by the police, we took Lebuhraya Mahameru and Jalan Gombak to get out of KL. At 10:33, we arrived at our first pit stop at Genting Sempah Rest and Service area. We all knew that the toughest climb for the day was over. We had a good rest there with supplies of bananas, apples and isotonic drinks to replenish ourselves. Soon after, we continued our way to Karak for our lunch break and arrived at Karak town center at 13:25. 1 hour later with our stomachs refuelled, we continued the rest of the journey to Temerloh. We were faced with yet another challenge from Mother Nature, the scorching mid-day sun. After a total of 11 hours since flag off, we finally arrived at our destination at Taman Harapan, Temerloh which was a training center for the blind. Reaching Temerloh for me was already a personal achievement as I have never covered such distance (145 km) by bicycle in a day before, what more on a tandem bicycle. For dinner, we were treated to a local delicacy of Pahang, Ikan Patin Masak Tempoyak to everybody’s delight.
At 7:00 sharp, everybody gathered at the café at Hotel Sri Malaysia, Temerloh for our breakfast. By 7:30, we were all on standby for the 2nd day flag off. My legs sore a bit from yesterday but I was determined to continue. We headed straight up to Jerantut and arrived at 11:20. We had to have lunch early as there were no more places to eat after leaving Jerantut to Kuala Tahan. After lunch at 12:20, we continued our expedition. Soon after we hit the road to Kuala Tahan, the landscape consisted mostly of palm oil plantations. Soon, we started to encounter terrifyingly steep climbs, following with steep drops continuously. Cyclists describe these sort of terrain as the dragon back terrain. The terrain was mostly like that for the rest of the journey. We felt like the downhill slopes where we could roll away, were such teasers, as it will be followed with a very steep climb where we would almost go breathless climbing to the top of it. At 16:00, we managed to conquer each peak of the gruelling ‘dragon’s back’ and arrived safely at Xcape Resort, Kuala Tahan. To sum the whole expedition up in numbers, 40 cyclist, inclusive of 20 visually impaired cyclist cycled 265 km in 2 days and climbed a total of 4274 m of elevation, with an average speed of 20 km/h. It took us 14 hours of saddle time and we each burned 9000 calories on average.
I would like to sincerely thank the captains for their dedication, the stockers for their willpower, the organisers, the sponsors, the police escort and the paramedics. Without each of them, this expedition would not have been such a success.