As with many of us, Pepper Lim, 55, has a bucket list featuring his lifelong dreams. He started compiling them in his early 40s and every year since then, he has been striking off a few.
Due to the 2020 pandemic, his bucket list progress stalled. However, the days and months confined to the house inspired him to seize the day once the pandemic eased.
Covid happened, and then I started to think about doing something crazy. I was thinking, after this lockdown, I’m out of here, I’m gonna go on an adventure. The plan started to happen in my head and the question I had was if I could go and do something crazy, what would it be? – Pepper Lim
After much thought, Pepper decided that his crazy adventure would involve cycling for many miles. Eventually, he was able to dive into the thrilling sport of cycling for the greater good.
Cycling For Good
Pepper may seem like an ardent cyclist who devotes his time to cycling, but in truth, he only took up the sport 8 years ago. It was beyond his imagination that one day he would cycle to fundraise for The Lions Club of Tropicana, a charitable organisation that serves the community through humanitarian work. Pepper has been volunteering at the organisation for the longest time and sought to heighten the impact they are currently making.
True to his words, once the lockdowns were lifted, he travelled as often as possible. In 2022, he cycled to the Northern states of Malaysia and ended his trip at the southern tip of Malaysia within 11 days under the Cycle For Life initiative.
Through the fundraiser, Lions Club managed to raise RM 30,000 to distribute to various charities including organisations serving Persons With Disabilities (PWDs). With the success of the previous initiative, Pepper and Lions Club sought to replicate it after months of planning.
We have been helping the PWD community for a long time. The previous cycling trip was the most successful fundraising we had. As I cycled, I would write about my journey every day on my blog and end with an appeal. – Pepper Lim
One Pedal At A Time
Even so, the start of his solo cycling trip to China was thorny with his biggest sponsor pulling out at the eleventh hour. However, he was grateful that he received a Malaysian-made e-bike from a sponsor that would reduce the heavy strain of cycling uphill.
My trick was to get an e-bike. With its battery and motor, you can ride uphill with ease. Of course, the battery would die if you used it too much, but for beginners who want to travel further or outside of their comfort zone – it’s perfect. – Pepper Lim
Despite the hiccup, Pepper started his journey on the 6th of December 2022, flagged off by his family and friends in Petaling Jaya carrying a limited amount of money. After crossing the Thailand border, he realised that he had impacted the tail of his spine and that sitting on the saddle for long hours wasn’t a very comfortable experience.
While championing this cause, there were mental and physical sacrifices along the way. Even to this day, there is incessant pain in his rear end.
It gave rise to his admiration for individuals who are paralysed and rely on wheelchairs daily.
I came to realise that many who are paralysed or immobile PWDs would have to sit in their wheelchairs for a whole day. It must not have been very easy for them. It wasn’t fun, they must have had sores. If they could do it, why can’t I do it?– Pepper Lim
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for him mentally. There have been times when quitting seemed easier than moving forward. He shared that it wasn’t so much the physical obstacles but rather the mental demons that would always catch him.
Despite the challenges hurled at him, Pepper never stopped cycling. He took strides in the challenges that came his way during his cycling trip, as documented on his blog. Moreover, it is a proven track record of staying accountable for the funds and trust it receives from donors.
Pepper animatedly narrated all the sights he had seen. The descriptions were nothing short of riveting as he took the less travelled roads, only fuelling wanderlust to pack their bags and take on their own adventure.
I saw mountains, plains, forests, fields, hills and paddy. I saw beautiful smiling people, unpretentious when they called out to me, “Sabaidi!” or “Hello! What’s your name?” I saw children waving shyly at me as I cycled by. I met hawkers who scratched their heads and laughed when I tried to order food or drinks. I saw amazing sunrises and sunsets that can only be seen on a bicycle. – Pepper Lim 
A Journey Of A Lifetime
The solo cycling trip to China proved how resilient he could be in the face of adversity. When he set out from Kuala Lumpur, the original plan was to cycle in 60 days – knowing how many days he would miss out on work as a private tutor.
But Pepper accomplished his mission in 39 days, allowing him to surprise his family with his return on the 13th of January before the Chinese New Year. He had also perfected the art of tricking his mind to push it to the limit.
It was a matter of tricking my brain into thinking that I could do just a bit more. I told myself that I’d cycle until lunchtime. After lunch, I would tell myself to cycle until 2pm, but 2 pm isn’t far from 3 pm. That’s how I ended up covering a longer distance daily. – Pepper Lim
Through this method, he managed to cycle from 7.30 am until 5.00 pm daily.
There were many times that I wanted to give up. The moment I knew I had impacted my spine, my brain would negatively chide me: you’re going to be paralysed for the rest of your life. You have small children. They need you. Hour after hour. – Pepper Lim
With the funds raised, Pepper and the Lions Club are also looking at channelling it to a government-linked organisation working with the PWD community.
The Finishing Line
After days of cycling under the scorching heat, unpredictable rain, and punctured tyres, Pepper arrived at the Vietnam-China border, officially completing his trip. Even today, he had run out of adjectives that could describe his accomplishment despite being a writer with four books under his belt.
Returning home however dampened his spirits slightly as their fundraising hadn’t reached its intended milestone of RM 100,000. He wasn’t as let down. He believes that trying is better than not trying at all. On the flip side, Pepper has been approached by other parties to collaborate on future cycling trips.
The response wasn’t as encouraging as it was the first time. Despite many reasons, we can’t say we failed without trying. If we didn’t try, the outcome would be zero. You have to try and with everything that you attempt, there is a possibility of you failing, no matter what you do. – Pepper Lim
Pepper, however, is content to be reunited with his family again. His children are proud of their father and eager to hear about the sights he has seen. Although passionate, Pepper has decided that it’s time to pump the brakes.
In the future, I will never do this again, and I do not recommend anyone to do it. It’s too long and too dangerous. – Pepper Lim
However, he didn’t close the books on cycling in shorter distances for charity.
I would go back to the usual charity work that I do for the Lions Club and organise community events on a quarterly basis. We have plans to organise a community fundraising event where everyone pays to cycle in PJ. Or maybe cycling down to Klang and back. That can be done.– Pepper Lim
Pepper did not regret embarking on this journey as he’s crossed another achievement off his bucket list. An analogy he shared with his children was that life should be lived to the fullest.
If you want to be a dragon slayer, you have to go out there and face the dragons. Find a dragon to slay. You might put yourself at risk, you may lose the battle. However, no amazing thing is accomplished without taking a big risk. The greater the glory, the bigger the risk. – Pepper Lim
It is almost impossible not to be inspired by Pepper’s determination and positivity in leading his life. The exuberant nature with which he continues to slay dragons while doing good for society through the Lions Club is truly remarkable.
To Pepper, life is all about grabbing the chances as they come and never putting them off.
Everybody would say, I want to travel to this place and I want to do this thing, or I want to accomplish this, and then they would say, but now isn’t a good time. There’ll never be a better time. Better just do it now.– Pepper Lim
The fundraising organised by Pepper and The Lions Club of Tropicana Petaling is still ongoing. The proceeds will go to PWD beneficiaries for jobs training, wheelchairs and seed to start an enterprise.
- The Lions Club of Tropicana Petaling
- Public Bank: 3231267936
Read and view Pepper’s journey:
Images are sourced from Pepper Lim’s personal blog.