JBAF solo cyclist

JBAF solo cyclist, Sahid Selamat
arriving at Dataran Bandaraya JB
The recently concluded 11th Johor Baru Arts Festival (JBAF) held from Sept 5 to Oct 4 can add another feather to its cap with the successful completion of a grueling 43-day solo cycling ride throughout East and West Malaysia to spread awareness of the JBAF throughout the country.  

Solo cyclist, Sahid Selamat, 51, a member from the Happy Riders cycling community in Johor Baru, was flagged off from Bukit Timbalan on Aug 21 for a targeted 44-day journey but he pushed himself to complete a total of 4437km in just 43-days.  On Oct 3, Sahid arrived at Dataran Bandaraya to a rousing welcome from JB City Council chief whip, Datuk Yahya Haji Jaafar, Johor Police Chief, Datuk Mohd Mokhtar Haji Mohd Shariff, JBAF organizers, the public and Happy Riders supporters.

Accompanied by his family, Sahid joined the group including VIPs gathered there to play several percussion instruments with the Tugu Drum Circle, one of the events in the JBAF calendar, before he graciously posed for photos with his fans and supporters.  As the drumming reached a crescendo, the stage backdrop at Dataran Bandaraya screened a video clip of Sahid’s flag-off at Bukit Timbalan on Aug 21 and a Welcome Home message to him.  The spirit of camaraderie was palpable as Sahid’s supporters swarmed around him to congratulate, quiz and commend him for successfully completing his solo ride.

Sahid Selamat with his trusted Araya bicycle
On Aug 22, Sahid took a flight from JB to Tawau where he rode through East Malaysia for 22 days.  He paced himself to ride up to 120km a day on his Araya brand bicycle and even though some of the roads were narrow and dangerous, his was pleased that his bicycle never failed him.  

From Tawau, Sahid rode through towns like Semporna, Lahad Datu, Kinabatangan, Rawas, Brunei, Miri, Sandakan, Telupid, Ranau, Kundasang, Kota Kinabalu, Beauford, Bintulu, Sibu, Sri Aman and Serian before leaving for Johor Baru from Kuching.  On Sept 12, he continued his solo ride from JB to Benut all the way to Perlis and back in the next 21 days to complete his solo ride in 43 days.

“The most challenging sector of my journey was the hilly terrain between Telupid and Ranau which was compounded by a downpour,” said Sahid who went on to describe the challenges he experienced when he rode from 6.30am to 8pm that day.  He said the weather was hot and it rained only 3 times throughout his 43-day journey.  “As a cyclist I’m exposed to many dangers but my bicycle’s side mirror was very helpful as it gave me a good view, especially of those trucks that were usually laden with timber or oil palm fruits,” he added.

Supporters of the JBAF solo cyclist include VIPs,
MBJB's Dato Yahya and Johor Police Chief, Dato Mokhtar
“Words cannot express the deep satisfaction I feel with the safe and successful completion of this solo ride,” said Sahid, a Customs officer who is attached to the JB Customs department in the Sultan Iskandar Building.  

Deeply tanned and weighing just 65kg, the wiry father of two who hails from Batu Pahat, said he ate very small meals but drank plenty of isotonic drinks throughout his journey.  “I just want to thank the JBAF organizers and Araya, my family and the Customs department, for their support and encouragement,” he added.

Wreathed in smiles and clad in a JBAF T-shirt, Sahid said that as people were curious about the print on his T-shirt, he had the opportunity to tell them about the JBAF which has just completed its 11th year in JB.  He was simply proud to be able to spread the message of arts and culture in JB to others throughout the nation by his solo ride.  Sahid, who has riding experience through Southern Thailand and Bali in Indonesia, is looking forward to a new riding challenge but as a committed civil servant, he was back at work as usual the next Monday.

A version of this article was published in The New Straits Times, Streets Johor on 8 Oct 2014

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