Monday, September 30, 2013

Ride For Rations 2013 (14 to 15 Sep 2013)

Our 'Ride For Rations 2013' (14 to 15 Sep 2013) may have ended on the high following our recent 'post-ride thank you' dinner get-together at Aranda Country Club.  While our adrenalin rush has yet to fade away anytime soon, ambitious plan is already underway for 2014.  This is our third consecutive year organised by Bike-Aid Singapore where 'Ride For Rations' remains symbolic and indeed, I am honoured to be part of the organising committee for this year.  This fund raising cycling project attracted some 140 participants with more than 100 cyclists and the rest providing vital support along the cycling route.  Thanks to many supporters, the event received overwhelming support from many private organisations.  Many cyclists who joined in the last two years signed up again and there were even more who joined for the first time when they heard about the event through word-of-mouth and social media platforms.  This year recorded the highest number of cyclists and supporters.    

All cyclists were required to cycle from Malacca to Singapore with a night stopover in Batu Pahat covering a distance of some 250 km.  Cyclists and supporters needed to pay S$250 each to cover 2 nights accommodation (Malacca and Batu Pahat), one way coach transfer to Malacca, meals, isotonic drinks & mineral water and fruits.  Above that, each cyclist had to raise a minimum sum of S$500 from friends, relatives and colleagues.  All proceeds are meant for Sunlove Home.  Following our successes in 2011 & 2012, our organising committee was quiet confident that 2013 should do much better and therefore, gamely upped the ante to S$220,000 in raised funds for Sunlove Home.                

Video Montage of Ride For Rations 2014, courtesy of my buddy, Kevin Soh

On 13 Sep, Friday we were ready to set off by coaches for Malacca.  There were two pick up venues, two coaches leaving from Pasir Ris near Aranda Country Club at 1000 hrs & one at 1200 hrs and one coach lws by me leaving at West Coast Plaza at 1000 hrs.  Support crew and some advance party drove up on own.  Our first night in Malacca was spent at Hatten Hotel.  

Almost all my regular cycling kakis from GP Riders including my regular run kakis participated and we were joined by other social cycling groups such as Hougang Super Slow Riders and EZY Riders, among others.  Shoeb, our Bike-Aid President and organising committee Chairman who had been providing support in the last two years joined as cyclist this time around.  I believe he had the permission to ride from his equally spirited and supportive wife, Shireen.      

Day one ride from Malacca to Batu Pahat covered a distance of a little over 100 km but everyone had to contend with the hot weather.  After a short speech by Shoeb at the entrance of Hatten Hotel, we were flagged off in batches at about 0800 hrs.  By 1600 hrs, the last group of cyclists made it to Pine Hotel in Batu Pahat where we were to spend a night.  Everyone made it safely and that was key.  Dinner was then arranged at the hotel and a surprise birthday celebration was thrown in for those who are born in the month of September.  

On day two ride, it was raining quite heavily early in the morning in Batu Pahat followed by some flashes of lightning which somewhat marred our plan to set-off early.  Finally, we started more than half an hour late under the rain.  Some part of the roads were quickly flooded which made cycling quite a treacherous affair.  Second day of ride is always more challenging, given the longer distance of more than 140 km to be covered.  The rain was a blessing and it began to fizzle down as we cycled south.  The weather was fairly cool throughout.  No one suffered from heat exhaustion saved for day one.    

As always, the most challenging part was the crossing from Pekan Nanas town to Singapore after our lunch.  We had to cycle alongside the heavy traffic which can filter from either side at some points especially in Skudai.  Therefore, we had to group the cyclists before despatching them off.  I led a group of 21 of cyclists and with my buddy, Chua providing the vehicle support in front, I felt assured.  Admittedly, I heaved a big sigh of relief when we finally touched home in Marsiling.  

The two days ride ended with everyone safely accounted for, no major hiccups along the way and best of all, we received a total contribution of more than S$225,000 from the combined effort of everyone and contributions continue to pour in to these days.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

My Form Teacher, Generous To a Fault

Mr Samuel was my form teacher when I was in secondary three and he taught us English and Commerce for two years.  That year was 1977.  He was a big man who sported a thick moustache that curled on both ends.  To start with, we were not brilliant students and most of us come from dialect speaking families.  Half the time during his lesson I had some difficulty understanding him.  He hailed from Sri Lanka but educated in Malaysia.  He spoke quite fast and with some Indian slang.  Sheepishly, his lesson was quite boring.

What was unique of Mr Samuel?  He was the most generous of teacher that I have ever met.  Many of us were poor.  Our parents cannot afford any form of luxury other than sending us to school.  We had just formed our class football team to compete in the school championship and we were excited about it.  I used to idolise the legendary Kevin Keegan and so much so I earned a nickname from my classmates who called me 'Ah Gan' (Keegan for short).  We wanted to get jerseys for our team but alas, the school did not have any budget for that.  We had to foot it ourselves.  When Mr Samuel knew that we wanted jerseys for our football team, he did not hesitate to pay for us from his own pocket.  The design of our jerseys mimicked one of the English Division One football teams (before it was re-named to Premier League many years later).  If I remember well, it was the QPR team design.  Our jersey colour was bright orange which had black and white stripess running on both sides in front.  We held our heads high when we paraded our jerseys on the field.  We had the best jerseys on the field.  We were one of the favourite teams as we had few school players with us but nice jerseys aside, we were knocked out early.  Hurt pride was all we had.  If any, I was just an average football player with big dream though.

Mr Samuel passed away early last year.  He was always too careless with his money.  The friends around him knew him too well.  He was once cheated of his hard earned pension monies by a teaching friend of his which left him struggling with his daily life.  Immediately after his sudden passing, some scheming friends even took advantage of the situation.  Mr Samuel was never married and he had an aged elder sister (who died some months after him) leaving in Kuala Lumpur.  His sister was a widow and childless.  They only had each other.  One in Singapore and another in Kuala Lumpur.  She was unable to care for herself and was suffering from severe dementia.  While she was barely alive, his scheming friends seized the opportunity to sell her house in Kuala Lumpur by forcing her to appoint one of them as trustee.  One I was told was his former teacher in his 80s.  The house was quickly sold, proceeds went to them and subsequently she died too.  I guess such thing will only happen in Malaysia when one who was never related can manage to doctor some documents and then got the house sold without the consent of the rightful owner.  I will talk more about this sad event separately.

His big generosity has proven to be his Achilles heel, sad to say.