The phrase, “Every journey starts with a single step”, certainly applies to our current situation. Today, our motley crew of just 5 tandem riders met at HTCC bike shop in SS14 Subang Jaya. This was only our second outing, but what we lacked in numbers & experience, we surely made-up for it in our dedication & commitment to chase our dreams, same or different, come rain or shine.
A few weeks back, I had never imagined in my wildest dream that one day, I would be riding a tandem bicycle. But that is exactly what I am doing! Certainly, if you had told me a month ago that I would be navigating a blind pillion rider, I would have told you, “You must be nuts!”
But that was exactly what I was doing today! It kind of remind me of the movie, “Sliding Doors” where this guy’s life changed drastically based on a seemingly harmless action of missing a subway train by seconds. Without sounding too philosophical, we can only be certain of the past and present when we go to sleep, but we have no idea what awaits us the following day. To some people, life’s unpredictability is a curse against which they have to protect themselves by trying to control all the facets of their lives by not taking any risks. To others, life’s uncertainty offers them hope for something better or the excitement of new discoveries and adventures. Which stand do you take?
My “Sliding Doors” moment occurred when seasoned tandem riders, Eddy & Jeffrey, invited me to try navigating their blind friend, Steven, on a tandem. Given my zero knowledge of riding tandem bicycle plus the fact that Steven is twice my size and weight, I cannot reason why they chose me. So, I accepted their invitation with an open mind, and in the worst case scenario, I could find-out how easy or difficult it was to ride a tandem.
OUR FIRST TANDEM OUTING
On 11th April, we met-up at USJ 2 near Jeffrey’s home because he had kept 2 tandem bikes there. There were 2 navigators, Jeffrey & I, plus 2 first-time blind cyclists, Steven and Siow Ling. Eddy would wait for us at the coffee shop nearby, while we rode around, because we did not have a navigator for Eddy. Siow Ling & Jeffrey immediately started riding like they have been riding together for years. Steven and I took 3 attempts to get our bike going.
The bike itself was brand new, and this was the first time, its tyres touched tarmac. Admittedly, it was a little frightening, at first, to be navigating a blind pillion rider because his life is literally in my hands. Thankfully, we completed our short 5km without any incident. My initial anxiety were erased when I saw the happy faces of Steven and Siow Ling after our ride.
Steven even managed to boldly name his tandem, The Black Puma. I could see the excitement etched in Steven’s face as he eagerly discussed plans to buy a speedometer, safety lights and water bottle cages for The Black Puma.
OUR SECOND WET OUTING
Today, we waited one hour for the heavy thunderstorm to cease before Jeffrey, Siow Ling, Steven & myself hopped on our bikes. We cycled a good 8km around SS14 & SS17. Unlike the previous ride, this time, there were a couple of inclines to test our resolve, and we did conquer them without any fuss. After only two sessions on the tandems, we all made terrific progress. Again, Eddy waited patiently for us to finish. It was very important to him that more blind people should get the opportunity to experience the joys of cycling in the same way which he derives much pleasure from cycling himself. Yes, cycling is the means to the end – to give the blind equal opportunity and a sense of freedom to escape from their daily hardships which we take so much for granted. It is heart-warming to see how unassuming and cheerful my blind friends are. I recall the other day, when I helped this elderly lady to carry her heavy bags of groceries to a taxi stand, and it took us a long time for us to find her a taxi driver who was not going to overcharge her. I remembered her words, “Nowadays, it is very difficult to find someone with a kind heart. Everyone could not care less for each other these days!” At the time that she uttered those words, I brushed them aside frivolously as another complaining victim of injustice. Only today, did I realise why she said those words to ME. It was life’s way of reminding me that genuine friends are hard to come by in an increasing cut-throat world. So, what! I already know that! Back to the present, I realised that I was sitting in the company of rare friends who all have a good heart – Eddy, Jeffrey, Steven and Siow Ling. Then and there, I unanimously decided that I will be their tandem navigator as long as they still want me around.
About The Author: Gus Ghani is an internationally certified Senior High-Intensity Interval Training Coach. His ambition is to promote an active & healthy lifestyle in order to help people live life to the fullest. In his spare time, he likes to participate in endurance sports and play with his pet cats.
If you like this story, you may also like his Facebook Page called, Exercise Without Borders