If you’ve read our interview with Robert Tan and friends, you’ll realise that this group of seniors have a wealth of experience to share about cycling in Malaysia (and in general). These 60 to 70 year olds have probably seen more roads, discovered cultures and fixed more flat tires than we have combined. We extracted some of the best advice we’ve heard, while chatting with them. Listen up!
1. Map out a tentative route that you will be taking and note down possible accommodation along the way. Do check with the accommodation whether they have a safe storage place for your bicycles or if you can keep them in your room.
2. Malaysia has quite an extensive homestay network as the country is promoting homestays as an alternative to hotels or hostels. Do consider homestays as a possible accommodation as it is affordable and also gives you a chance to interact with the friendly locals.
3. If you are still a new cycling enthusiast, do consider getting a support vehicle and bring spares including tyres, tubes and puncture repair kits. If you’re more experienced, then one tip when packing is to share items such as a bicycle pump so that only one pump needs to be brought along for the trip.
4. If you have never cycled long distances before, you must train beforehand to familiarise yourself with the intensity of the ride. Be aware of your own ability.
5. Try to maintain a steady pace throughout the ride to avoid burning yourself out. When climbing hills, maintaining a slow and steady pace helps to get you through it.
6. Depending on your ability, choose a route that is appropriate for you, For example, if you are less experienced, you may want to choose a route that has less hills and smoother roads so that it is more manageable.
7. For your own safety, do cycle in a group and do not stray away from the group to avoid being an easy victim of snatch theft.
8. In some smaller towns, the locals do not follow traffic rules strictly so always be sharp in looking out for vehicles as they may not give way.
9. Some useful items to bring along: rag, raincoat, water bottle, electrolytes, nutrition bars to provide energy and a first aid kit. There are usually many towns along the way so there is no need to bring along extra food.
10. The ideal number of people in a cycling group would be 6-8 members.
All photographs curtesy of Robert Tan