I opened up my mailbox at the start of the week to
see a message from Sandman about "...some race in JB..."
Turns out it was the JB sports festival or something and they had
scheduled a criterium and a road race into it. The crit was on Saturday,
23 March, and the road race was on 24 March.
I guess everybody in TA must have been too busy to go
up on Saturday - it would have been an experience for sure! But Sandman worked the phones on Saturday and rounded up
Young Man, Pain and myself for the road race on Sunday.
I admit that I was not prepared at all to take part
in a race that was "...about 100kms...". What if we get a flat or get dropped in the middle of
nowhere? How much water
should we bring? Are there
hills and mountains? Really,
we had no answer to those questions - literally racing into the unknown
with our passports in our back pockets, praying they don't drop out.
But curiosity won the day and so I opted to ride dry with just two
water bottles; although I brought my pump and tubes along - never tot I'd
race with that butt-ugly frame pump!
So Sunday came along and we all gathered at Jelita to
have a warm up ride to JB. As
we waited at the start site, we watched more and more people arrived, we
noticed that the usual fast guys in Singapore had all turned up! The usual Sunday ride must have been a breeze today!
The National Team, Shredder, Thommies, Gaylanders, and our very own
Team Moo-Moo, so Singapore Cycling was well represented.
I think the Open and Junior Race must have had about a 80 riders.
The Malaysian State Teams were out in force and there
were dozens of riders in their state colours.
You have to hand it to these Malaysian kids - they really have a
passion for cycling. We saw kids, who couldn't be more than 15 competing and
racing on the same course as the Open Cat - and get this - the same
DISTANCE. Their equipment was
not the best, but their passion and courage more than made up for it. There was this kid, with number 303, who must have been the
youngest and smallest rider in the peloton - he rode like a vet - drafting
off the BIGGEST guys like Nick. Impressive.
Now when the Malaysians hold a bike race, they pull
out all the stops. There was
free supply of water (SACA: take note!) despite no admission fee. And best
of all, the marshals were out in force.
You could see these guys on fluorescent green jackets racing ahead
on their scooters, keeping the traffic clear.
Well, done! That made
the racing more intense as the riders could watch each other instead of
The Mayor of JB led the peloton on one round of the
circuit and then we reassembled for the start.
I told Sandman and Young Man to expect attacks from
the beginning but I think they didn't believe me.
Ha! I think in the
first 5 km, the peloton averaged at 45kph!
The pace settled down once the first break was established.
For the whole race, that was the rhythm of the race.
Attack, break, break gets caught, then another break.
The breaks never got very far for the first half of the race.
In between the catching, some of the kids would get antsy and bored
and just attack for plain fun. Then,
you see the pack of riders, surging all over the road to keep up with
these jokers who, content at stirring the hornets nest sit up and get
The speed was constantly in the high 30s.
Road quality wasn't the best. It
was an obstacle course at times! Loose
water bottles would come flying off their cages and skitter across the
road into your path. I could
also tell you of the time the double lane road narrowed into one and we
went through the road construction at full speed.
Then there was the time more road works came up and the riders in
front of me swerved just in time for me to hit a pothole the size of a
wok. Thank God for 32 spoke
About the half-way point, the rolling terrain started
in earnest! For about the
next 30km, there would be a non-stop barrage of short, steep hills.
This was the part I enjoyed the best - sitting in the pack, you
could literally ride up the hills at 30-35kph w/o effort!
Using your momentum from the previous downhill and the draft
effect, it was like having a vacuum cleaner suck you up the hills.
Now, when the pack breaks up, and the draft is gone, its another
matter! Then you just want to
I only saw one crash - in the pack, someone must have
touched wheels or something, and this big ang moh guy fell down.
He was up cursing and swearing even before his bike had stopped
sliding. How's that for a
quick reaction. You just have
to be so careful, and sometimes, if you have squirrels riding with you,
all the caution is for naught.
Here, also, the attacks started to occur more
frequently and the breaks started to stay away.
I was now in the second pack chasing the first pack. But the chase
was not well organized. I
could tell we were not going to see the breakaway again.
The hills finally ended at about the two hour mark
and we turned back onto the highway leading into JB.
Here, I did something really stupid.
I went to the front and did a very long and hard pull - so hard
that I started getting cramps. Now,
why the heck did I do that for? Must
be the sun...
At about 2km from the finish, the cramps got worse
and I lost contact with the pack. I
came limping and grimacing into the finish line - probably the last rider
to be given a time - the marshall probably tot I was grinning and he waved
and smiled back - ouch, I was grimacing from a left leg that couldn't bend
Average Speed: 38kph
Although I came back, cramped and sore, I thoroughly
enjoyed the race. The race was a bit nervous at times, but man, it was a