Words & Photos: Nadiah Aziz
If you’re often out and about at the local cycling haunts like Hulu Langat and other popular routes around the Klang Valley, chances are you’ve probably bumped into more than one amateur or pro team going for a social or training ride, depending on their chosen route and average speed for the day.
You might also have come across a group of strong riders, clad in eye catching black and white kit with the brand Thule emblazoned on one sleeve and Pirelli on the other. Look closer and you will see ACT on both the front and back of their jerseys.
These are the men and women who make up the Ampang Cycling Team, whose members number more than 40 people in total. The outfit was set up four years ago by Desmond Foong in partnership with his friend Yim Wai Soon, who set up Velocity Cafe in Ampang. Their aim at the time was to encourage cycling in the area they reside in, Ampang - hence the name of the team.
Only six of their riders are cyclists at the elite level, while the remaining 36 are normal social riders. Either elite or social, the ACT riders are a regular feature at local events, with the elite riders targeting to either win first place or at least bag a podium finish.
One of their main highlights in the local cycling calendar is the RHB Shimano Lekas Highway Challenge, which is an annual not-to-be-missed event for the team. Because of this, they are quite well known within the local cycling community.
The ACT has made such a mark over the past four years, that the team has a range of sponsors that support the elite riders, as evident on their cycling kit. The team is heavily sponsored by Giro, which provides them with helmets, shoes, gloves, and even socks, while they are also supplied with NRC sunglasses.
The riders run on Pirelli’s P Zero Velo tyres fitted to Venfort wheelsets. But perhaps the most prominent is Thule, one of their main sponsors, thanks to a relationship that Desmond says has continued for three years.
“It happened when I approached Eugene Wong, Thule South East Asia marketing manager, when we were participating in the first edition of the Pulau Indah 180km race years ago. We needed a support car with bicycle racks in case of any emergencies during the race. He actually lent us one of their company cars. With a bit of luck, our elite cyclist Amir Mustafa Rusli won the race.”
This begs the question, is there a criteria to join the team or is it open to anyone?
According to Desmond, they’re pretty easy. “Everyone is welcome to join the social team,” he explains. “But for the elite team, the interested individual needs to send in their race portfolio to our management team to decide.”
And there’s a good reason for this.
Besides Malaysian events, the ACT also competes abroad. Last year, they participated in the 2018 TOUR of Yellow River in Dong Ying, Shandong Province China, as well as the 2018 SilkRoad HuaShan International Race in Weinan, China. They claimed 2nd place in the team category in the latter, despite having to go head-to-head with other strong international riders.
But that doesn’t mean that the ACT is purely a results driven outfit. After all, they also enjoy social rides. One of their favourite spots is Hulu Langat, where the riders can really be seen stretching their legs. That’s not to say that they treat it as a santai weekend either.
Photographing them on their ride was somewhat tough, since they did the classic Genting Peras climb and back to Batu 18 in good time, often showing up at our photo op locations barely in time for us to get a shot.
Even their annual social ride was a fairly performance-oriented trip to Bangkok, Thailand. “We just had our annual social ride there,” admits Desmond. “The cyclists who participated in this ride got to experience the cycling lane called Skylane Bangkok and some epic climbs at Khao Yai National Park.”
For the uninitiated, Skylane is a 23.5 km cycle track that loops around Suvarnabhumi Airport on the outskirts of the city, and is used by many pro and semi-pro cyclists for training. Khao Yai isn’t for the fainthearted either, featuring elevation gains of more than 1,000ms.
Despite all this, Desmond insists the ACT’s mission isn’t an endless pursuit of race victories.
It all boils down to the fact that the original founders have a great love of road cycling. Ultimately, setting up the outfit allowed all their members to ride together as a group in relative peace.
“Our long term goal is always promoting the sport (cycling) and trying to share the positive message to all cyclists to share the road with other road users, so they can enjoy cycling safely and have fun together.
Of course we would love to have more people to join our social club too!”