Cycle Singapore weekend started early. 7.30 Thursday to be precise. I’m at the Conrad, name dropping that I’m having dinner with Phil Liggett, Ed Clancy, Robbie McEwan, GreenEdge’s Shane Bannan & best of all, British legend Malcolm Elliott. Top notch food, some good cycling war stories and a very small select gathering. It’s like a brief glimpse into the everyday of Bjorn Engelhardt’s life…
The real riding begins Friday afternoon in 35 degree heat with the Masters Crit. I’m frankly shit at Crits and would get dropped on a corner by Stevie Wonder but the bank give me a ticket & it counts as work hours! My alternative is a 3 hours business performance review so I don the OCBC jersey and head down for a few spins round the pit lane.
Following a miserable 2 lap warm up from the marshals, the race is on & I find myself immediately near the back of what remains of the 45 man pack. My cornering again proves my achilles heel as I’m constantly sprinting out of corners to get back onto the bunch. After 4 laps of this, I’m off the back & wisely sit up and head to the bar to watch the race unfold on the big screen with a cold beer. Ben Arnott of the Mavs ends up romping home after schooling the field with a 20 minute solo breakaway effort. A well deserved win for him & a good learning experience for me.
Aiyana represents & does a fine job and takes 2nd in the ladies crit.
Sunday 3.20am. My alarm starts its sad, sad song & I suddenly wish I had a more sensible hobby. I get to the pit building at 4.10am and find that I’m nowhere near the 1st person there. Some smart positioning and somehow we have 5 ANZA guys on the front row when the 60km Super Challenge pens open. At one point the DJ plays Chris DeBurgh’s Lady In Red – surely the most bizarre choice to hype up a pre-race crowd. Crit girls and a nagging need to visit the bathroom to literally ease out the pre-race nerves keep me focused until the 5.15 flagoff.
With 1,300 people in the
race “challenge”, a good starting position is essential for timing and safety reasons. John Versfield, Vaibhav and myself nail the start to drop some of the fun riders & don’t let up until we’re on the ECP. A survey of the damage shows we reduced the lead group down to about 35 riders – but still too many…
The rest of the race is mostly on ECP & East Coast Service Road. Despite having 35 riders, only about 8 were really ever on the front – with Rowdie & The Cambodian Direct Asia guy, ANZA’s Versfield, James Cole, Vaibhav and myself, 2 ThugLifers and a couple of others contributing. The pace was ramped up a few times to whittle the group down further but the only real damage was done on the Sheares bridge about 3km out from the end where we dropped about 10-15 riders.
The final 1km was a bit of a mess with shabby signage & 3 sharp turns which really limited any proper attacks. We ended in a bunch sprint where I came in around 10th. (1:31). A filipino pro MTB took the win, Rowdie (Team Direct Asia) was rewarded for a combatitive race with 2nd and John Versfield (ANZA) took 3rd. With 5 ANZA-TDA in the top 12, it was a well deserved result for the team.
Overall, the race felt safer than previous years and ,apart from the last km and a few coned sections, was a good course. I heard dramatically different accounts from later groups but my experience was largely great as we had clear roads for most of the race.
Within 15 minutes of finishing, I’d stuffed myself with muffins, got a triple espresso and was on the massage table in the OCBC tent. The crit girls flitted around whilst I pulled my best Tommy Voekler gurning faces as the guy inflicted immense suffering on my glutes. It seemed to work & infused me with the courage to head up to Longhouse for the Crazies ride.
A fine day and well worth that 3.20am kickoff! Lets hope that one year, we can get a proper race organised before the main event so that the overall day becomes safer for racers and recreational cyclists alike.
Post-script: we’ve all heard the tragic news of the passing of the cyclist from the Super Challenge race. My race account was written before I’d heard the news. Our sincere condolences go out to the riders family. A tragedy to be killed at such a young age doing something he enjoyed so much. RIP.