Din is one chilled cookie who enjoys his morning cycling sessions. He’s an Airborne & Satellite Radar Specialist who is now semi-retired and has taken a serious liking to recreational cycling. Making the most of his now (plenty of!) free time, he rides as often as he can and partakes in grueling triathlons. Photobook had a chat with him on cycling and other things.
1. So tell us all about yourself. What should our readers know about you?
My Name is Sallehudin Mokhtar (Din for short). I am 60 years old, born in Melaka, Malaysia and am now residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I live on the planet Earth and because my father was in the Diplomatic Corp, I spent a lot of time outside of Malaysia since I was a weee small thing. Been in Indonesia, India, Australia, Canada, US as so on, but I lived in Ottawa, Canada the longest. 13 years – did my high school there and then University.
My Father is Malay and my mother is Chinese from Melaka. I have four other siblings and I am number two on the totem pole. I am married to a wonderful woman for 30 years now and we have several cats. They’re the Commander in Chief of the house… when they meow we listen.
Other than that I think I am pretty boring person. I am funny and pretty calm most of the time, and you really need to put in some effort to really get me all riled up.
I am an Airborne and Satellite Radar Specialist and most of my work is installing training and maintaining airborne radar systems around the world. That’s pretty much the extent of what I can say tho because I’m tied to a non-disclosure agreement. Plus it sounds more clandestine and way cooler too!
2. You’re very enthusiastic (I guess that’s mildly putting it) about cycling. Talk to us about it. How did you get into it anyway?
My absolute favourite sport is Cycling. I have been doing this since I was young, but because of work I had stopped cycling for quite a long time. I only picked it up again oh maybe 4 years ago, mainly to keep fit. I would wake up as early as 5:30am and head out around 7am. Depending on how great I feel, I will do an average of 80 to 120km a day. I have several types of bikes that I use to compete – Road Bike, Cyclocross and a TT bike (Time Trial Bike).
I love watching bike races on TV like the Tour De France, Le Tour De Langkawi, Giro d’Italia and so forth. Man those guys can go down hill at speeds of up to 70-80km an hour. Amazing riders.
Well I look at cycling this way, it’s a lot like life. You’ve got to balance yourself on a bicycle. You have to be focused and at the same time, enjoy the breeze. Neglect either one and you will fall.
Life’s a lot like that don’t you think so?
3. How many bicycles do you currently own?
I have 5 bikes. A Cervelo TT carbon bike, a cyclocross bike, and three road race bikes.
4. Where have you gone cycling? Share some stories with us!
Well in Malaysia I have cycled from Petaling Jaya to several places like Port Klang and even to the Genting Highlands. I also frequent Ottawa and Nova Scotia in Canada. Am yet to try out cycling in the International Space Station though… hahahaha!
But I would love to cycle in Belgium. I hear the scenery there is simply awesome.
5. We bet you meet a lot of interesting people along the way.
I have met plenty of people. Malaysians are pretty good and decent people. I even befriended a guy in a motorised wheelchair heading for breakfast.
I’m used to being greeted by curious students who would be interested in my bikes during my early morning rounds. We’d get to talking and most of them would even buy me breakfast afterwards. Then there’s this one guy who I would frequently meet for breakfast as well. He’s in his 80’s and is one of the healthiest blokes I’ve ever met.
And gentlemen! Do not underestimate girl cyclists! There was this one girl who just zipped right past me. She cheekily greeted “Hello uncle” as she passed by and she was then gone as fast as lightning. Damn.
Of course there are some bad apples too. I’ve had water splashed on me by cars (deliberately mind you!) and even a half eaten hamburger at one time.
6. We also know you partake in Ironman competitions. That’s awesome. Talk to us about it!
Ironman and Powerman competitions is more like a personal challenge for myself. Being able to complete one for me is quite the accomplishment. For example, we’d swim 2.1km then cycle for 80km before having to run for 30km. A Pro Tri athlete can complete one in 3-4 hours, but regular joe’s like myself would probably need 12-14 hours. It’s the challenge to finish the race. Reaching the finish line is an amazing feeling. You feel you have accomplished something; but you also feel half dead too..! hahahaha!
7. We’re not really into asking questions about health and fitness here, but what sort of training do you do to prepare for something like that?
I’d prepare myself at least 1 to 2 months before the race. Simple common sense stuff y’know. Stretching, light working out and so forth… I don’t do the hardcore strenuous stuff. A lot of solid rest and sleep is good too.
8. After cycling for so long and having invested plenty in it, do you get that rolls-eye feeling when you see beginners riding on ill-fitted or straight up outlandish bikes?
Oo yes! A lot of people who get into cycling are in it to show off. They’ve got the best brands, best jerseys, best wheels, lightest frames and more! Looking cool is paramount. But they can’t even cycle up an ant hill. Haha! But they do have the top of the line pro stuff mind you.
9. What tips would you share with someone who wants to take up recreational cycling?
Start slow. Upgrade your bike as you get better. The bicycle and accessories are not cheap. A carbon bike frame can go as low as a few thousand bucks to tens of thousands. Then you’ve got the groupset such as brakes, railing, chain, brake levers etc, which is a few thousand too. Tires could go to a few hundred. Even the cycling shoes could cost half a grand. It’s quite the investment if you’re looking for a recreational activity so you better be wholeheartedly interested in it to start off with.
Commercial bicycles are quite different from what they used to. Back then you could just buy one and you’re good to go; but nowadays you’ll have to pick the right frame size and various other factors to give you a better cycling experience. I’d go on and on about it but it’d be just me prattling on… Haha!
10. Woah! Okay then… and what about other passions and interests? We’re sure you’re more than you’re letting on.
Ooh I would love to fly in a Sukhoi 30 or Mig 29. They’re Fighter Jets and the only place civilians can do this would be in Russia. You have to pay a pretty big fee though.
I also really like smooth jazz; chilling out to it on my hifi system. Some Bachman Turner Overdrive hits the spot quite well for me too.
11. This is something we always ask our features. What’s in your bag? What do you ALWAYS have with you whenever and wherever you go?
Well I don’t carry a bag, but it’s the usual I suppose. I have my mobile on me and my wallet. I have my credit cards and a million bucks, y’know – in case I want to buy a pack of gum. Haha!