The Janamanjung Fellowship ride is one of my favorite cycling events in Malaysia. I rode in this event in 2014 and 2015. The staff of the Sultan Azlan Shah power plant in Manjung do a fabulous job of organizing this event, and of looking after all the participants during and after the ride.
I’ve said it before, and will continue to say it. Other event organizers can learn a lot about putting on a large ride from Dato’ Shamsul Ahmad (center below in the white cap) and his outstanding organizing committee and volunteers.
This tenth iteration of the JMFR was the first to start and finish away from the power plant. It did seem a bit anomalous that for previous JMFRs, the public were allowed access to a critical site that generates about 10% of Malaysia’s total energy requirement. I suspect that Tenaga Nasional Berhad is no longer willing to take that risk.
Teluk Batik is certainly a picturesque alternative to the power plant.
There was plenty of room for the big tents that housed the post-ride buffet and the prize-giving stage, as well as the smaller pointed tents for vendors selling everything from inner tubes to beach wear.
We riders’ first visit to Teluk Batik was to collect goodie bags. The very high level of organization was already evident. There were people directing traffic in the car park. Once at the collection point, it was a quick and simple process to find your rider number, and to collect your goodie bag.
There were multiple collection points, signage was clear, and everything had been pre-packed. And there were smiles all around. A smooth and hassle-free collection process was much appreciated after a longer-than-usual drive from Kuala Lumpur. It was a three-day weekend, and traffic was at a standstill at times.
The contents of the goodie bags were useful too. We all got a bottle of water, a pack of juice, a Snickers bar, a bun, and a t-shirt. And potentially the most useful item of all – a laminated emergency contact card for the police, hospitals, the power plant medical officer, and ride officials. (I have edited out the numbers of the individuals below).
I hoped I wouldn’t need it, but this card was comforting to have.
Lightning was flashing over the sea as I rode from the Hotel Sfera to Teluk Batik. It had rained during the night, the lightning suggested more rain was to come. Let me tell you now that it didn’t rain. There was little cloud cover all morning, and it got very hot.
I met Danial, Ozairi and Shahnon, resplendent in their new BCG kit, outside their hotel, and we rode together to the start. Diyana and Matt joined us for this groupie.
We grumbled a bit about having to wait until 7.30am for what we thought would be a 7.00am start. There was little else that went wrong all morning, so we really didn’t have much else to complain about.
The pace for almost all of the ride was strictly controlled. Riders who wanted to show off their turns of speed could do so with 10km / 6mi to go. Until we got to that point on the route, everyone had to stay behind the lead vehicle, which lead us along at around at an average of about 32kph / 20mph.
We found that if we stayed about 100 meters behind the car, we didn’t get caught up in the sudden changes in speed as the car slowed for traffic, and then accelerated.
The route was superbly marshalled by a squad of volunteers on motorbikes. They did an excellent job of providing support to riders who had mechanical problems, or were in physical distress.
The police were out in force too, stopping traffic whenever the road narrowed, and at intersections. We didn’t have to stop for a single traffic light or stop sign. Wonderful!
The route was a clockwise one from Teluk Batik on the coast, up to Pantai Remis and Beruas, before heading down to Ayer Tawar and back to Teluk Batik. Just over 110km / 68mi.
Push me to come up with a complaint about the route, and I will say that the condition of the road surface is poor in some places. Heavy traffic has caused the macadam to crack along certain stretches of the route. Riders with stiff carbon frames were clattering over the rough surface. I was thankful for my more compliant titanium frame.
There were two mandatory stops of about thirty minutes each. This allowed the slower riders to catch up to the riders ahead of them. Which kept the 1,000 or so participants in a reasonably coherent and more easily marshaled group, rather than scattered over kilometers of road.
The organizers did well by putting the rest stops at large community halls, which provided much-appreciated shade. Bottles of cold water and cans of 100 Plus isotonic drink were plentiful. Bananas and watermelon was also freely available. One of the major failings at other events is that rest stops run out of water, let alone fruit, before all the participants have come through. Kudos to the JMFR organizers for ensuring that there was enough drink and food for everyone. And for providing shade to boot.
The route was very flat, with only about 275 meters / 900 feet of climbing. The short but steep hill about 1km / 0.6mi from the start / finish accounted for about one third of those climbing meters. The 10% grade was easy at the start, but it was more challenging on the way back, with 110km / 68mi in the legs.
One way or the other, everyone got to the finish line.
The first thing I did was to take off my shoes and socks, empty my jersey pockets, and take a shower. Courtesy of the local fire brigade. I should have kept my shoes on. The road and pavements were very hot!
Once I had cooled down it was time to join the rest of the BCGers under the big tent for the buffet lunch. Where once again the JMFR organizers outdid other cycling events. At other rides you are lucky to get a styrofoam container of cold rice and a bit of fried chicken or fish. Here we got multiple buffet lines of hot food, including curried eggs and a delicious beef rendang. You can’t help but leave the JMFR happy.
The Janamanjung Fellowship Ride is definitely one of the best, if not the best, organised rides in Malaysia. The only thing the organisers can do better is to guarantee me a prize in the lucky draw!
See you in 2018 JMFR.