RSS Feed

Tag Archives: BCG

Independence Day Ride

BCG Bentong Merdeka

Malaysia was born on 31st August 1957.  That day Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, read the official declaration granting the Federation of Malaya independence from the British Empire.

Most years friends and I have marked Merdeka Day (Independence Day) with a bicycle ride.  This year it was the BCG Merdeka Ride to Bentong.

About fifteen of us met at the Orang Asli Hospital for a 7.15am start.  I got there early, hoping to have a hot drink at the small restaurant near the hospital.  The restaurant was closed.

I had forgotten that it was a five-day weekend.  Thursday was Merdeka Day.  Friday and Saturday were public holidays for Hari Raya Haji (Eid al-Adha)  And Monday had been declared a public holiday to commemorate Malaysia winning 145 gold medals out of the 225 gold medals competed for at the 2017 SEA Games, which had come to an end on 30th August.

Traditionally Malays celebrate both Hari Raya Puasa (Eid al-Fitr) and Hari Raya Haji with family in their home towns and villages.

Which means a mass exodus from Kuala Lumpur the day before those festivals.  The Karak Highway is the main road link between Kuala Lumpur and the cities and towns on the east coast of the peninsula.

We stopped near the summit of the Genting Sempah to look at the traffic on the Karak Highway.

BCG Bentong Bridge Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

This was the view of the eastbound lanes of the Karak Highway from Genting Sempah.

BCG Bentong Jam Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

The volume of traffic on the Karak Highway prompted many to take the old road to Bentong.  Jalan Gombak is usually very quiet.  We cyclists typically share the road with the odd lorry, a few learner drivers, and some motorcycles.  On this day there was a steady stream of cars, vans and buses heading up the road with us.

We had a nice surprise at the Genting Sempah flyover.  The couple who, on weekends, set up a makeshift drinks and snacks stall out of the boot of their car, were there.  Hooray!

BCG Bentong Genting Sempah 2 Vince Chan

Photograph courtesy of Vincent Chan

If you are wondering, I couldn’t find a red hibiscus, which is the national flower of Malaysia.

BCG Bentong Genting Sempah 1 Vince Chan

Photograph courtesy of Vincent Chan

We continued to share the road with a stream of vehicles on the 35km / 22mi run from Genting Sempah to Bentong.  There is a section between Bukit Tinggi and Bentong where the road is badly potholed.  That caused traffic to be backed up for a few kilometers.

Once past the potholes, those vehicles that we had overtaken roared past us.  Only for us to overtake them again as they waited in a long queue for the traffic lights at the T-junction of Jalan Gombak and Jalan Lama Bentong – Karak.  It was definitely faster by bike over the last 25km / 15.5mi to Bentong.

We had planned to eat at Lemang To’ki, home of the best lemang in Bentong.  We weren’t surprised to find that Lemang To’ki was closed.  So we settled for the next-best option.  Roti canai, half-boiled eggs, and kaya toast.

And peanut ice cream at Kow Po Coffeeshop.

BCG Bentong Ice Cream Daniel Ng

Photograph courtesy of Daniel Ng

That was the easy part over and done with.  It was all uphill from Bentong back to Genting Sempah.  1,000 meters / 3,280 feet of elevation gain.

We were smiling as we rode through Bentong.

BCG Bentong Sign Danial Marzuki

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

The climbing, and the 34° to 36° C / 93° to 97° F temperatures, wiped those smiles off our faces.  By the time we got back to Genting Sempah we were gagging for cold drinks.

We gave the McDonald’s there a miss, assuming, no doubt correctly, that it would be packed with travelers taking a break from the traffic jams.  The roadside stall we stopped at had run out of canned drinks, but fortunately they still had lots of ice and Sunquick.

Then it was just Hamburger Hill between us and the 16km / 10mi descent to the Orang Asli Hospital.  We had to be careful.  The traffic was still streaming up the hill, with some drivers cutting corners.  The bus drivers were the worst culprits.

We all got down the hill safely.  Tired, but glad to have done the ride in great company.  I wonder where we will be riding to when Malaysia turns 61.


A bit like trying to herd cats

Morib Banner jkstakent com

Graphic courtesy of

The Bangsar Cycling Group organised a Sunday ride from Kota Kemuning to Morib.  I suggested that they use the route that the R@SKLs ride to get to Morib.  It avoids the heavily-trafficked and poorly surfaced Jalan Klang Banting, except for  4.5km / 2.8mi stretch from Jenjarom to Jalan Bandar Lama.

None of the BCGers knew that route.  That is how I ended up leading the BCG ride.

Coincidentally, the R@SKLs were also riding from Kota Kemuning to Morib on Sunday.  They were starting from their usual meeting point, Restoran BR Maju.  The BCG were starting from their usual meeting point, McDonald’s.  So I arranged for both groups to meet at Bandar Rimbayu, so that we could all do the ride together.

Both groups got to Bandar Rimbayu, as planned, at 7.30am.  There were forty two riders in all, including the cameraman for this shot.

Morib 01 J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

From the left:

Morib 07f J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07e J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07d J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07c J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07b J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

Morib 07a J Sopiee

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

I set off at the head of this large group of riders, leading them through Bandar Rimbayu and onto the bridge over the SKVE.

Morib SKVE Bridge Up Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

As we rolled off the bridge I was still at the head of the group, riding at approximately the advertised moving speed of 29kph / 18mph.

Morib SKVE Bridge Down Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Just as I felt a sense of control over the group, my illusion was shattered.  Riders shot off ahead of me, clearly more interested in testing their legs than sticking to 29kph.  Oh well!

Morib 12 Winston Wong

Photograph courtesy of Winston Wong

To no one’s surprise, the faster riders missed the right turn at Kampung Seri Cheeding.  Mobile phones to the rescue.  A few back-and-forth calls, and Google map consultations, and everyone was reunited 15km / 9mi later at the junction of Jalan Bukit Jugra and Jalan Jeti.   Google maps didn’t warn of this road hazard though.

Morib Cows Wee Hwee Wang

Photograph courtesy of Wee Hwee Wang

As usually happens, there was some talk of climbing Bukit Jugra.  I thought that first getting some food and drink at Morib was the way to go.  And that was what we did.

It was about 10.30am, and getting hot, by the time we left Morib for the homeward leg.

Morib 03 Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

The R@SKLs left a bit before the BCGers, and they headed straight back to Kota Kemuning.  Some of the BCGers were determined to climb Bukit Jugra.  Which is why we ended up here.

Morib Jugra Climb Shahfiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Some, probably wisely, elected to wait at the bottom of the hill.  Those who braved the up to 17° gradients were rewarded with views of the Langat River from the lookout point.

Morib Jugra Viewing Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

And the added treat of watching a paraglider launch himself off the slope.

Morib Paragliding backpackerzmag com

Photograph courtesy of

We probably spent a bit too long up on the hill.  I had expected that we would be back at Kota Kemuning at about noon.  It was 11.30am by the time we all got going again from the base of Bukit Jugra.  There was 45km / 28mi, and a cendol stall, between us and Kota Kemuning.

Any thoughts of skipping the cendol stall were dispelled by the 34°C / 93°F temperature.  The heat, and the distance, were starting to affect some riders, so a stop for a cold drink and a rest was well worth it.

And then the punctures started.  First at the cendol stall, when a tube spontaneously popped.  Then 5km / 3mi later.  A further 5km and it was my turn.  I rode over a rock. Eight of us clustered in the shade under a tree in someone’s front garden to review the damage to my rear rim.

Morib Flat Shafiq Khairy

Photograph courtesy of Shafiq Khairy

Not good.  Fortunately the rim was still rideable.

We weren’t done yet.  We had only just got moving again when we had puncture number four.  All in the space of 13km / 8mi.

What with one thing or the other, it is no surprise that out of the total ride time of seven hours, we were stopped for three hours.  Which explains why we didn’t get back to the McDonald’s in Kota Kemuning until 2.00pm, when the temperature was pushing 37°C / 99°F.

A salted caramel sundae never tasted so good!

Morib Salted Caramel

We all got split up between Morib and Kota Kemuning.  I haven’t heard any reports of missing cyclists, so I can only assume that everyone got back safely.  Albeit some with minor scrapes, cramps and sore muscles.

I need to practice being a ride leader.  If nothing else, it makes a good excuse!

Morib Banner north florida bicycle club

Graphic courtesy of North Florida Bicycle Club

Janamanjung Fellowship Ride 2017

Posted on
JMFR 2017 Banner

Banner courtesy of TNB Janamanjung Sdn Bhd

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.

JMFR 2017 Dato' Shamsul ahmad and crew

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.

JMFR 2017 start finish tents

All photographs courtesy of TNB Janamanjung Sdn Bhd, unless explicitly attributed otherwise

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.

JMFR 2017 Goody Bag Collection 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.

JMFR 2017 Emergency Card

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.

JMFR 2017 BCG at the start Danial

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

JMFR 2017 Behind Car

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

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.

JMFR 2017 Lead car

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.

JMFR 2017 Marshals

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!

JMFR 2017 Police traffic control

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.

JMFR 2017 Route

Map courtesy of Strava and Google

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.

JMFR 2017 BCG water stop Danial

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

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.

JMFR 2017 Final Hill

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!

JMFR 2017 Shower

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine


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.

JMFR 2017 Buffet

JMFR 2017 JM and Shahnon

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!

JMFR 2017 Medals

See you in 2018 JMFR.

BCG Tuesday Night Fun Rides

The Bangsar Cycling Group organises fun rides on Tuesday nights.  Starting, naturally enough, in Bangsar.  Residents of Bangsar will be amused that CNN once described the neighbourhood as “gritty.”  Bangsar may be a lot of things, but gritty isn’t one of them.

As an aside, I was born in Bangsar, at what was then known as the European Hospital.  That hospital was demolished to make way for the Public Health Institute, which stands to this day on Jalan Rumah Sakit Bangsar (Bangsar Hospital Road).

BCG Bangsar Hospital

Photograph courtesy of the National Archives of Malaysia

This ride takes in all sorts of bicycles.  Wheels roll at 8pm from in front of the Bangsar Post Office on Jalan Telawi.

The route varies slightly from week to week, but invariably runs from Bangsar in the southwest to the KLCC in the northeast, and back to Bangsar.

BCG Bangsar Route

Map courtesy of Strava

Taking in along the way some of the sights of the city.

There are regular stops to ensure that the group stays together.  A couple of individuals take the responsibility to manage the group, which can number up to 20 or so.  One person leads, and another makes sure no one gets separated from the group.

BCG Bangsar 9 DAM

Photograph courtesy of Danial Marzuki

A highlight of every ride is the pit stop at Le’Park Nasi Lemak on Jalan Raja Uda in Kampung Baru.  Conveniently at the halfway point of the roughly 32km / 20mi long route.

BCG Bangsar Le Park @megatzhafir

Photograph courtesy of @megatzhafir

It is a fun group of people, and the pace is convivial.  There is a lot of fun to be had on a Tuesday evening with the BCG.

BCG Putrajaya Ride

22 of us met at the crack of dawn outside the Rasa Seri Alamanda restaurant in Putrajaya to ride a 45km / 28mi or so circuit around Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia.

We rode a smaller anti-clockwise loop followed by a second anti-clockwise loop that took us through Cyberjaya.

BCG Putrajaya Loop Route

Map courtesy of Ride with GPS

The early part of the ride was under overcast skies.  So there was no real need for the arm screens.

BCG Putrajaya Loop 1 2

Photograph courtesy of Danial Anis Marzuki

The pace was relaxed, and we all made sure the group stayed together.

By the time we got back to the Rasa Seri Alamanda restaurant, the sun was out.

BCG Putrajaya Loop 1 Finish

Photograph courtesy of Danial Anis Marzuki

We filled up with drinks before half the group headed out to do a second circuit.

BCG Putrajaya Loop 1 1

Photograph courtesy of Danial Anis Marzuki

Arm screens were much more of a necessity on the second circuit.  As were regular breaks to allow everyone to regroup.

BCG Putrajaya 01

Photograph courtesy of Johan Sopiee

BCG Putrajaya Loop 2 1

Photograph courtesy of Danial Anis Marzuki

Our last stop was at Shaftsbury Square in Cyberjaya, where we had our pick between a 7-Eleven and a couple of 99 Speedmarts.  Or a Chatime, as was the choice for some.

Safwan Siddiq produced an excellent video of the ride:

Everyone had a good time.  I’ll definitely be doing this ride with BCG again.