The incessant downpour on a gloomy Sunday morning did not dampen the fraternity spirit of Penang Free School (PFS) ex-students who turned up for the ‘Ride to PFS 200′ motorcycle convoy.
The convoy was to mark the famous school’s bicentenary this year.
About 80 participants joined the ride on 50 motorcycles that ranged from 70cc Kapchai, scooters, cruisers, superbikes and even an electric bike in the mini convoy with a jeep escort flying the Old Frees’ Association (OFA) flag.
PFS Bicentenary chairman Abdul Rafique Karim said that the turnout for the events leading to the bicentenary celebrations was very encouraging.
“With the Frees, the bond runs deep and the fraternity feeling is strong whenever we meet up,” he said.
The convoy was flagged off from OFA at 9.30am after the pre-ride safety briefing.
The weather cleared up and the group rode in the coolness of the day.
There were seven traffic marshals to coordinate and pace the group as they headed off to the first stop at their alma mater for some memento photo shoots.
The 80km ride weaves its way via the coastal highway to Teluk Kumbar and stopping at Balik Pulau for refuelling of the smaller capacity motorcycles.
Riders continued to Teluk Bahang Dam, going down to Batu Ferringhi, Gurney Drive and Esplanade to visit the Penang Museum at Lebuh Farquhar.
The museum building originally housed the Penang Free School until 1927 before it moved to its present premises along Jalan Masjid Negeri.
The riders reassembled at OFA to enjoy their lunch and remise the high spots of their ride and high school days.
The organising chairman of the ride, Loh Keng Jin, 45 was pleased with the good turnout.
Loh credits his education in PFS to honing his leadership skill in organising events.
“As Frees we learn to accept everyone regardless of creed or ethnicity at a young impressionable age. The PFS environment gave me that competitive edge which carried me through my tertiary education aboard now in my career with a multinational company,” said Loh.
For branch manager Eileen Lee Suan Phaik and lawyer Yuen Tim Mi both in their early forties, being a Frees girl meant being treated as an equal by the boys.
Lee said that the Frees boys were always respectful of the girls but treated them as younger brothers and the girls were never mollycoddled as six formers.
“There was no such thing as women being the weaker sex or that we didn’t measure up or couldn’t participate in certain activities because we are girls,” Lee shared.
Yuen recalled riding to school at sixteen when she obtained her motorcycle license.
Although she has stopped for many years, the boys’ egged her on whilst keeping pace with her for an enjoyable outing.
“Riding back to school brought back wonderful memories of the brotherhood. It’s strange to say this, but I feel like I am a brother to the boys and am able to roll with the punches with them. Our years as six formers were short sweet years which taught us that women are equal to men,” she said.
For Diljit Singh who stopped riding his motorcycle since 2000, it was a heady experience to ride again and enjoy the freedom with the Frees and reconnect though a round island ride.
“I used to ride a motorcycle in my younger days. For this event, I borrowed my brother’s motorcycle so I could join in the fun,” he said.