Monday, February 27, 2006

Pedalling across Borneo

SANDAKAN: Englishman Cliff Sore is set to complete a 1,700km cycling journey across Borneo.

The 59-year-old Sore from Newcastle arrived in this east coast Sabah town for his final leg of his journey to Tawau, that saw him cycle all the way from Kuching in Sarawak to Brunei and to Labuan and Sabah over the past three weeks.

“I just love to cycle. I picked Borneo because it was a good challenge to cover the island,” said Sore.

Starting off in Kuching on February 1, Sore cycled to Sibu then to Brunei, Labuan, Menumbok, Beaufort, Tenom, Tambunan, Ranau and arrived here on Feb 21 where he spent time visiting the Sepilok Orang Utan Rehabilitation Centre.

He will end his journey today.

For Sore, who served with the Royal Air Force (RAF) at the Labuan Air Base in 1966, it was his first visit back to Borneo after 40 years.

“My stopover in Labuan is sort of a trip down memory lane.

“It is remarkable. It has changed incredibly due to the development that has taken place over the years,” he said.

Sore said he cycled around a spot on the island where it used to be a sandy track in 1966 but now it is a dual carriageway.

He said the scene of the beautiful Mount Kinabalu was simply breathtaking.

His only disappointment during the journey was losing his bag that contained three rolls of films and spare parts for his bicycle.

“The bag fell off from my bicycle along a stretch of the collapsed Tambunan - Ranau Road without me being aware of it.

“By the time I found out, I cycled back for nearly 16 KM but couldn’t find it,” Sore said.

Asked if he had problems communicating with the locals in countries that he has been to, Sore said he was amazed to find that most people he met while cycling from Sarawak to Sabah spoke English.

“This is unlike certain places in Eastern Europe, the Himalayas and Thailand where communicating with the local people is sometimes done using sign language because they don’t speak English,” Cliff said.

The retired father of two children, passes time taking up long cycling trips, photographs and camping.

Sore retired from the RAF in 1969 and joined a US based company before retiring in 2002.

He now works part time with a bicycle shop in his hometown.

Sore, who owns five bicycles, said that he covers about 1,600kms a year in trips to various countries, with his next trip to the Himalayas.

Source: The Star

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