Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Friday, August 05, 2005
After the recent experiences in London's Tube, many Britons opt to move about on bicycles. There are other cities in Europe where bicycles are the preferred mode of transport. Not so long ago, bicycles rule China's streets. Now that they have gotten rich, the Cherrys, Wulings, Dadis and other marques are taking over. China is getting car crazy and they have begun exporting cars even to Europe.
The escalating oil price makes cycling to work or to market a very wise choice under certain circumstances.
If you live in Seremban and work in Kuala Lumpur, it is not wise to cycle to work. Same goes for people who live in Kelana Jaya but work in, say Wangsa Maju. You have to be fit to cycle. You also must know the safe way to go. Most important, you have to know how to ride a bicycle.
Riding a bicycle is a skill that you cannot forget even if you want to. Once you have learnt how to ride, you can begin riding a bicycle even after a hiatus of many years. Do you remember when you learned how to ride a bicycle? I don't remember when but I vaguely remember how.
We learned how to ride a bicycle long before we owned one. In my time, there was no kid's bicycles. So if we want to learn how to ride a bicycle, we have to rent a regular-sized one. Long before AVIS or Hertz came, there were already rent-a bicycle shops in Terengganu. The rate was 20 sen an hour I think. There was a shop across the road from Mansor Press next to the mosque. It had a collection of Raleighs and Robin Hoods. We paid 20 sen and pushed the bicycle to Padang Malaya, the nearest open field. There your preferred "instructor" will hold the bicycle for you until you are firmly in the saddle. If you are short, you just stand on the paddle, hanging on to your dear life to the handle bar. Short boys preferred to rent ladies bicycles (see picture). They can paddle standing up better. If they use men's bicycles, they have to paddle with the bicycle at an angle which makes falling down much easier.
There is nothing much the instructor can teach you. You have to learn how to balance and pedal (preferably at the same time) yourself. The instructor is there to hold the bicycle upright and when you are ready, launch (or lacor in Terengganuspeak) the bicycle and you paddle, either furiously or wobbly. Once you fall less, you bicycle on the metalled road around Padang Malaya.
The lacor (pushing the bicycle forward, fast) came handy when you clocked more than an hour on the rented bicycle. You do not hand in the bicycle to the towkay lest he ask you for another 20 sen for the extra hour (or part thereof.) You try your best to be as far possible from the towkay. So how to return the bicycle? You just lacor the bicycle so it goes zooming, riderless towards the shop. Some agitated relatives of the towkay will attempt to catch the runaway bicycle, muttering curses under their breath. The next day they will pretend not to recognize you and accept your 20 sen again.
After I mastered the bicycle, I got my own Raleigh. I built up the muscles of my lower legs by cycling the miles to school in Padang Negara. Later, when I was in the scouts, we cycled all the way to Dungun. We wanted to cycle all the way to Bukit Besi but we took the train instead because we never took the kereta lipang before.