IT was a cold day in January four years ago when Ali and I sat on a cold bench at the Leicester train station, eating cold mee goreng and an almost frozen nasi lemak that I had packed from Tuk Din restaurant in London.
It didn’t matter that the food was cold, because for solo motorcyclist Mohd Shahrul Zaim Jamil, better known as Ali Klasik Garero, it must have been his first Malaysian food since he started on his 24,000km journey from Palong, Negri Sembilan.
It was a journey along country roads that took him four months and two weeks, through more than 10 countries.
A few hours before that, I had seen Ali on his motorbike he called Merlin, roaring into the sprawling compound of the Triumph Motorcycles Factory in Hinckley.
That moment marked the end of his journey and a culmination of his dream that was nurtured since taking possession of the 650cc motorbike from his uncle at the age of 11.
He dreamt that he would one day ride the trusty 1956 Triumph T110 through the gates of the factory. It mattered not one bit that his arrival at the factory was without any pomp and ceremony.
After getting a welcome cup of coffee from the vending machine in the waiting room, he was given a private tour of the factory where Triumphs of all shapes and sizes are assembled — a moment he had been waiting most of his life.
Now, the father of a son he proudly named Muhammad Triumph Ziqri, had since continued his ride to Africa and according to the latest interview he gave, he is now harvesting jungle produce for a living.
As one of his thousands of online followers, I had travelled from London to Hinckley to meet him. I wondered how he managed to ride without GPS and with very little English.
People like Ali, especially those who chase their dreams against all odds, interests me. This shy, soft-spoken and unassuming man made friends and fans during his journey, sharing meals over their common love for motorbikes.
Not long after Ali came Anita Yusof, who was then a Physical Education lecturer at the Institute of Teachers Training, Ipoh Campus. The Givi Ambassador rode into London on her Yamaha FZ150i, after clocking up 38,000km riding across 17 countries since she left Malaysia on Sept 10 the year before.
It was a brief stopover on a journey that had taken her straight into the Asia Book of Records as the first solo Muslim woman biker to ride around the world.
Anita, who was then riding on her Global Dream Ride, rode with a mission to dispel the wrong perceptions many non-Muslims have about Muslims, especially Muslim women.
Currently riding somewhere in Tanzania, she proved that nothing could stop her — not even an Alaskan bear which she encountered during her earlier journey.
“Riding is addictive. You need to be on the motorbike to know the feeling — the wind on your face and the rush of adrenalin when you pick up speed,” said Anita, who had written a few books about her journeys.
The former backpacker turned rider had her first solo ride to the five central Asian countries and earned a spot in the Malaysia Book of Records.
Close on the heels of Anita were childhood friends Kim and Bijan, who left the comforts of their office to ride a bike to the Amazons.
The photographs and personal narrations along the way were so entertaining that soon found their way into their book, Mencari Utopia. Finding utopia, as they had shown, was a good enough reason to leave all the comforts of home behind.
Newlyweds Alfishahrin Zakaria and Diana Latief started their journey in life together two years ago on a Honda kapchai that took them through 24 countries.
It took them along some of the most dangerous terrains in the world, forcing them to sleep rough by the roadside and petrol stations.
However, they got to see some of the most magnificent sights in the world together, a honeymoon they could have never dreamt of due to budget constraints.
The couple had a dream — to arrive in London on the 60th anniversary of the independence of Malaysia.
And what an amazing feeling it was to be able to wave the Mal-aysian and Selangor flags in front of the Malaysian High Commission office in London on Aug 31.
The couple is currently on the road again, somewhere in Tur-key, now with a mission to help Syrian refugees.
In 2013, a family of six drove from their home in Seaham, Sunderland in the northeast of England to Malaysia, crossing 39 countries.
Engineer Jamalulail Ismail and his wife Sofinee Harun believe that travelling is the best “university” for their children who had been home-schooled.
The journey took them to some of the most interesting countries in the world, where they learnt so much about culture, geography and history of the places they drove through.
Through their popular “By Road to Malaysia” blogpost, the family shared their experience with other like-minded people.
Indeed, their horizon had been broadened by the motor caravan trip to Malaysia. When they returned, in 2015 they ventured on to feed refugees who flocked to Calais at the height of the exodus of refugees from troubled areas such as Syria, Afghanistan and Eritrea.
Meeting some of these amazing travellers taught me that you don’t take the lemons that life throw at you lying down.
Former Remy Ayoub, from Ulu Langat, Selangor, rode a bike across 20 countries from Malaysia following a tragic incident which almost cost him his life, when his diving apparatus had a puncture.
He took to cycling not just to see the world, but also as a means of getting rid of the nitrogen in his body. Treatment for what is known as Diver Decompression Sickness would have cost him RM16,000 which he could hardly afford. Along his journey, he endured health issues such as high fever, vomiting, nose bleeds, and muscle cramps.
With every pedal along the journey, he knew the nitrogen count was decreasing and that he was well on the way to win the challenge he had set for himself.
For Captain James Anthony Tan, the pilot who at the age of 21 had flown his single-engine Cessna 210 Silver Eagle aircraft around the world, the feat was spurred by his quest to conquer the skies.
“Find your dreams... when you have dreams you have your goals and focus. And when you have focus, you know what to do,” he said.
Being out there alone in the skies, braving some of the harshest weather conditions such as storms and typhoons, Tan said he learnt many things.
Tan, like other modern-day travellers, often return from their journeys with a renewed perspectives on life. As someone with dyslexia, Tan is now devoting his time in the field of education for children with special needs.
So, find your dreams and dare yourself to reach out for it.