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Janamanjung Fellowship Ride 2017

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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.

Janamanjung Fellowship Ride 2014

JMFR 2014 Logo

My riding buddies and I, now collectively known as team Flipside, have signed up for a number of 100 km or longer rides this year.  The first was the Janamanjung Fellowship ride.  This ride has been on the cycling event calendar since 2008.  The ride starts and ends on the grounds of the Sultan Azlan Shah power plant, a 2,100MW facility that will bring a fourth 1,000MW unit on stream in 2015.

The power plant is on the Perak coast, 250 km from Kuala Lumpur.  We convoyed to the town of Manjung on Saturday morning.  As is always the case, the drive was punctuated by stops for food.  Marco, Keat and I are enjoying a mid-morning snack of wanton mee in the town of Bidor.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

On the way back to his truck, Keat gave in to temptation and bought some jambu air, or rose apples.

JMFR 2014 Bidor Fruit

Our next stop was at a well-known tourist spot in the town of Teluk Intan.  The Leaning Tower.

JMFR 2014 Teluk Intan Tower

We didn’t stay very long as it was an exceptionally hot day.  At least 33° C.

The power plant was our next destination.  We collected our ride numbers, and collectively hoped that it would be cooler the next day.

JMFR 2014 Power Station

We met up with Shahfiq and his wife at the power plant.  Shahfiq is from Manjung, so we depended on him to take us to a good place for lunch.  Which he did.

We had dessert at an institution in Perak.  James cendol.  This roadside stall opened for business in 1974.  Since then it has spawned a host of imitators around the country, but I wager that none are the equal of the original.  The stall operator is resplendent in an ever-present red bow tie.  The large photograph in the background is of this lady’s husband, with the Sultan of Perak seated on the right.

JMFR 2014 James Cendol 1

The reputation is well-deserved.  The cendol is old-school good.  Thick coconut milk, slightly salty pandan-flavoured noodles, palm sugar, and shaved ice.  No other ingredients required.  There is nothing better on a hot afternoon than an ice-cold bowl of cendol.  Except two bowls of ice-cold cendol.

JMFR 2014 James Cendol 2

The plan was to go for a bike ride in the evening, but the hot weather deterred everyone.  We were probably better off  napping in our air-conditioned rooms.

Other Flipsiders arrived throughout the afternoon.  The three in a VW combi had a scare when their van decided to take an unanticipated rest.

Photograph courtesy of Jason Chan

Photograph courtesy of Jason Chan

Fortunately the combi got going again once it had cooled down.  So we had the whole group carbo-loading together that evening.

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Photograph courtesy of Mark Lim

Our hotel was 5 km from the power station, so we all rode to the start.  There were sixteen of us in our brand-new Flipside kit.

JMFR 2014 Shahfiq Abdul Manap

Photograph courtesy of Shahfiq Abdul Manap

About 1,380 of us rode under this arch, through the power plant gates, and out onto the route.

JMFR 2014 Start


The route was a clock-wise 115 km loop.  The power plant sits on an artificial island, which explains why the map shows the route extending out to sea.

JMFR 2014 Route

The organization for this ride was excellent.  Especially the marshalling along the route.  There was a large group of marshalls on motorbikes to keep the riders safe through intersections and on the open roads.

JMFR 2014 Marshalls

We got going a little bit late, which would translate into spending more time in the heat of midday.  The early going was relatively comfortable.  This is one of the nicest cycling event photographs that I have ever been in.  Along with Cedric at the front, and Jason.

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia magazine

The three stops along the route were well stocked with chilled bottles of water and cans of 100PLUS isotonic drink.  Which made for a happy group of Flipsiders.

JMFR 2014 First Stop

Not long after that first break we had an unscheduled stop.  I made the schoolboy error of taking my eyes off the rider in front of me as we were slowing down for some reason.  I went from 31.5 kph to 20 kph over 60 metres. Then very rapidly to 0 kph.

I have the good fortune to ride with a great group of guys.  They all pitched in to free the jammed chain, and straighten the bar, right shifter and front derailleur on my bike, while a couple of marshals patched me up.  I’ll do a full crash post in a day or so.

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Photograph courtesy of Keat Wong

Thanks to the efforts of the Flipsiders I got going again.  By then we were the very last of the riders on the road.  Accompanied by some marshals who must have wondered if we would finish in a reasonable time.

By the second water stop at 70 km we had caught up with some riders.  We were well within the pack by the third stop.  Fortunately there was plenty of chilled water at that third stop.  It was not as hot as the day before, but the mercury was nonetheless pushing 30° C when we arrived at the stop.

We were all very very pleased to see a fire truck sending out a steady spray of cool water at the finish.  We need this at all our organized rides.

JMFR 2014 Finish Shower

Every Flipsider rode under the finishing arch.  We all had a good time, despite the heat, and the cramps, and in my case scrapes and bruises.

We all left Manjung with one of these.

JMFR 2014 Medal


And more than a few of us started the trip home with a bowl or two of James’ cendol in our bellies.