Long before cycling becomes a fashion that it is today with expensive bikes with multiple gears and suspensions, cycling was a way of life for everybody, young and old.
During those days, it was the Raleigh. It was the Merc of the bicycle world. You would want to be seen in one. Then came the chopper with the U shape handle. Every kids would want to be seen in one.
I guess most of the bikes we owned were practically hands me down. I remember during those days in Lenggong, we must have gotten our bikes from Kuala Kangsar - may be hands-me-down from our uncle.
No, no chopper, but for us kids in the early 70s, it was like having a car of our own. With it, our legs became longer, so to speak. We can cover more distance in shorter time and effort, and the whole town and the surrounding kampungs became our play ground.
We were no longer confined to Lenggong town itself.
I don't exactly remember how it began, but I do remember Lokman and I scheming it at school. We tried to get buy in from Eddy (Ridzwan), but he was not interested for some reasons - he was a good kid then unlike us. ;-)
So I guess it was left to the two of us.
I must have gone to Lokman's house first in an attempt to camouflage our our plan and we made our moves from there on, in a convoluted way back to the Jalan Teluk Batu heading to Labit, and further even though it added up more miles to our journey.
Of course we could not tell our parents as the answer would be an empathic no, and hence I had to scheme my way towards Lokman's house eventhough it made the distance further away.
Kids on bicycles! What else you would expect them to do? We would race each other of course along the way. No wheelie and the likes during those days as the term rempit was unknown then. In sport, there was no way I could get the better of Lokman - he was the school runner and yours truly was practically the last kid out of the block during Std 1's Merebut Gula-gula.
As Lokman had stated when he related this story, "Aku dgn Rahman banyak nostalgia... . Antaranya jatuh basikal kat jalan Teluk Batu hala ke Labit.... Kalau lawan lari, Rahman memang ketinggalan coz dia masa tu montel...."
So to cut the story short, I decided to race Lokman thinking that we are equal on the bike, unlike on the track. As we were going downhill - and I am sure it was Lokman ahead, either I hit a stone on the road or a pothole and lost control of the bicycle and I had a close and personal introduction to the bitumen and the wonders of the hard modern road as designed by McAdams but as built by Malaysian contractors.
Kata Lokman, "Kau jatuh basikal masa tu kita tengah training utk racing tour d labit....Masa tu kau kan montel, kononnya nak overtake aku, tapi ada batu tengah jalan, apa lagi terguling le..."
(It reminded me of a Sudir's song Ding A Ding Gale - Nasib saya kurang baik, sudah langgar sama batu. In Sudir's case, polis mari tangkap baju; for me well...terguling)
Bleeding profusely on my knees and elbow, I picked up the bicycle which was still in one piece. I guess I was too, though the cut on the elbow looks really bad.
But then I guess I was 9 years old and I was a superman (even if Lokman may not agree since I was unable to overtake him). We did not abandon our mission and we went to Sg Perak and had our day swimming in it. The hurt and pain had gone and the joy of swimming in the real river of Sg Perak must have acted like a painkiller.
Mind you this was not some small river at the back of someone's house. This was the mighty Perak River, which two dams were built to generate electricity.
When this story was retold in the school forum, Saaya reminded us that we dropped by at his house that day and Lokman being the Mat Menyemat that he was, would still maintain his 'remos' by using the mirror at his house after we had our fun in the river.
Kata Saaya to Lokman, "Aku ingat lagi Lokman, hang dgn Rahman jatuh basikal tu, kalu tak silap aku mika gi Labit lepas tu kelik kot Temelong. Mika singgah kat rumah aku. Masa tu darjah 3. Hang nak tumpang sikat rambut. Hang ni masa darjah 3 dah pandai menyemat."
I guess to complete the story, we cycled back to Lenggong and eventhough we passed by my house first, I did not go back and instead went to Lokman's house. We managed to find some cottons and iodine to clean up the cuts and if I remember it correctly use a blue masking tape to cover the cuts on the elbow.
Upon reaching home, Mak saw the elbow with a big plaster and interrogated me.
Mak: Tangan tu kena apa?
Me: Jatuh pokok rambutan kat rumah Lokman. (yes, rumah Lokman, behind the clinic, has a rambutan tree).
Mak: Habih, mana rambutannya?
Me: Dah habih makan.
She did not ask further. But later that night, bapak saw the cut and thought it was quite bad. The clinic has already closed, and I guess the 'dressar' was already asleep, but Bapak woke him up and asked him to do dress up the wound on my elbow properly.
Until his death, he did not know the real story but I guess I must have told Mak recently.
Back at school the next day, of course Eddy had a field day mocking us for doing what we did. "Ha, tulah, orang dah cakap jangan pegi, nak pegi jugak. Tuh baru jatuh basikal," he said, matter-of-factly.
He was of course right. Had anything happened, I would not be floating as my degree of 'montel-ness' would have taken me deep into the river bed of Sg Perak. I am not sure Lokman would have been able to rescue his big-sized friend, even if he was a swimmer.
Luckily, nothing untoward happened and we lived to tell our tales.
But as Lokman had pointed out, he remembers our Labit tour very well and it became central to our memory of our childhood in Lenggong. Even friends like Saaya would remember it eventhough he didn't partake in our stupidity that day.
(Caption: Me when I was in Std 3 in front of our house in Pokok Jerai next to Simpang Labit. Innocent then, but mischievous nonetheless. What do expect of kids in a small remote town called Lenggong in the early 70s? But look at those trousers. I am sure the trousers was starched before they were ironed! It is shiny and crisp.)
The scars remains, as it was quite a bad cut. It serves as a reminder too; not much of our sense of stupidity but more of our sense of adventure back then.
Seperti kata Lokman tadi, "Itulah kenangan yg tak dapat aku lupakan dgn kau Rah(Man). Tapi malangnya kita terpaksa berpisah coz kau pindah ke Kuala tak silap aku.."
"The feeling is mutual, I can assure you of that, Lokman." [sambil kesat airmata]
Kids from the 70s Lenggong. Now of course bapak budak or hmmm, may be tok budak pun possible dah kut?
The pix shows yours truly with his best friends from those days at his office in Kuala Lumpur scheming and planning the 2009 reunion. Lokman is next to him, second from left, followed by Aboy, Joe (the friend from the Little Red Corvette), Zamri and Jie.
Thirty seven years on.