Biker Boy: A race in Malaysia just for 'the Griffalo'
It may seem like they’re bruising for a fight, armed with parangs, shovels and chain saws.
But this is not a scene from a post-apocalyptic gangster movie.
In tribute to an avid rider who is leaving Singapore after 16 years, a legion of offroad riders came together to re-design a dirt track and clear forest trails in Ulu Choh in Gelang Patah, Johor for an endurance race this Sunday (April 12).
Called “One for the Griffalo”, the race, which is supported by the Motorcycle Safety and Sports Club (MSSC), has already attracted 74 competitors from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and other parts of the world.
One of the organisers, Mr Ben Crookenden, told The New Paper: “The event title is a way of saying ‘thank you’ to Gareth Williams (Griff), who after 16 years in Singapore is heading off with the family for new adventures.
Mr Gareth "Griff" Williams, seen here in a photo from 2012. Mr Willams said he was honoured when he learnt on Monday (April 6) that a group of friends had been labouring behind the scenes to re-design and clear a forest in Johor so that an enduro race can be organised. Photo: Mr Gareth Williams.
“Gareth has made a big impact in off-road riding and works tirelessly to open trails and find new places for us to ride.”
Mr Williams, or Griff, as he is known to his friends, only found out about the race when he had returned from the US on Monday (April 6).
Said Griff, a 47-year-old Briton working in the chemical tanker industry: “I actually had no idea it was in my honour and greatly appreciate the gesture that the organisers have been quietly scheming while I have been abroad.
“... Dirt bikes have brought me in touch with a great group of friends united by a love of the great outdoors, laughter and a will to tackle that next enduro challenge, before retiring to the local restaurant in Gelang Patah for sweet and sour crab and a cold Tiger.”
Over many weekends in the last few months, the volunteers quietly traded their offroad apparel for rugged bush-whacking clothes.
They have now cleared a route in the uncharted parts of Ulu Choh forest, about 15 minutes drive from the Second Link, so that competitors will not get lost.
Each loop is between six and 20 minutes depending on the rider’s skill level.
Photo: Mr Ben Crookenden
Another volunteer and race organiser, Mr Craig Govans, described the work done as “blood, sweat and tears, broken chain saws, blunted parangs, ripped clothes, leeches”.
But big grins appeared with a huge feeling of satisfaction when the track took shape.
Said Mr Govans, who has raced dirtbikes in the region since the mid 1990s: “A number of us have put money in to help with the development of Ulu Choh Dirt Park but the biggest input is from having many hands to help with clearing and marking trails, opening up existing ones and keeping the place clean and tidy.”
Ideas for the track layout were culled from both local and foreign riders. It was not easy to find the balance between length and level of difficulty, particularly when working with wild jungle and ever-changing weather.
But the team has managed to meet their deadline under busy personal work schedules.
Said Mr Crookenden: “The race has tied in nicely with some recent development of the Ulu Choh Dirt Park so we are lucky to be able to incorporate the newly designed and built MX track into the three race loops, which will make for some great spectating and an exciting addition.”
The dirt track at Ulu Choh is broken into three categories for Novice, Intermediate and Expert.
The length of the race, which starts at 9.30am, varies from 45 minutes for riders in the Novice class to 90 minutes for the Expert class.
An ambulance will be present and marshals will be placed on the race route to help at critical points and check points.
Said Mr Ong Kim Hua from MSSC: “We have organised enduro races in Johor for the last 10 years, and this weekend’s race will promise the same action-packed drama. We hope more riders will be encouraged to participate in the future as offroad riding is a healthy and safe sport.”
For more details, visit www.facebook.com/events/761492303920186/