This story is part of the Ride for Malaysia series.
When cyclist Jotaro Zen aka Ah Pek Biker takes Goofy out, it means he is going cycling. Goofy is the name of his bicycle. Jotaro gives his bicycle a name because he regards it as “my close companion”. Goofy, by the way, is the name of a Walt Disney cartoon character.
Jotaro, as he prefers to be called, used to cycle in his schooldays. Five years back, the 59-year-old contractor picked up cycling again as a form of exercise due to his knee problem.
“Cycling also gives me a chance to meet new friends and see more places,” says Jotaro, who proudly dons a T-shirt printed with Ah Pek Biker at the back and the cycling club’s name in front.
Jotaro belongs to three Facebook cycling groups – Happy Cycling Group, My Cyclist Friends and My Brompton Malaysia. He also blogs about his cycling tours and places to eat at AhPek Biker (http://ahpekbiker.blogspot.my).
“I wasn’t thinking of cycling for health until a friend brought out a foldie and showed me how convenient it is to have a bike in the car and use it during traffic jams,” he says.
Jotaro has three bicycles – he uses his Brompton regularly while Dahon Dash is for rugged terrains. He is discovering new places on two wheels.
“When you drive around, you don’t really see much … the small villages, nice waterfalls and undiscovered food stalls. I also cycle in my neighbourhood to run errands. Biking is a good blend of exercise and having fun,” he says, adding that “it’s more important to have like-minded friends”.
His Happy Cycling Group has 500 members, with 50 core active members.
Every Wednesday night and either on Saturday or Sunday, members
go biking together. The group organises riding events to take part in festivals like Wesak Day or Nine Emperor Gods, where they’d cycle in the processions. The cyclists also go riding during Car Free Day.
On weekends, they go on outstation trips; sometimes it’s a day trip, and sometimes a two-day outing.
Twice a year, they would go cycling overseas. So far, they have been to Japan, the Philippines, New Zealand and South Korea. But due to work, he can only take three weeks’ leave for such trips.
Jotaro loves cycling because he can “feel the wind and see lots of greenery, especially in the countryside”.
He also points out that bikers like to snap photos of their bicycles against memorable landmarks. Jotaro says it’s because every cyclist regards the bicycle as “an extension of himself!”