First running of the BLC and another cracking event from the Cycosports boys.
With most of the SG Cat 1 boys in training for next weeks Tour Of Friendship, the BLC was meant to be a good final warm-up to test the form and see who was flying. Sadly for some of us Direct Asia ANZA boys, the gentle warm-up edged more towards a serious melt-down..!
Things should have been apparent from the ferry over to Bintan. Pierre had his gameface on and was clearly motivated by the thrill of the race.
The wafer thin (32 riders) Cat 1 listing looked almost exactly like the contents of the Longhouse carpark for the Sunday Crazies ride & everyone pretty much knew each other. One face that was an unknown was Danny riding with us in TDA. He’s a sprinter with the Avanti MY team & needed someone to ride with – joining Pierre Alain, Pete Bennett and myself. Danny had legs like treetrunks which looked great in pictures but might be a hinderence on the big rollers that were coming 5km from the start.
With the Mavs fielding their A-team of 8 riders & the rest of us with dribs & drabs, it was looking like a tough day on paper. I seized my chance to cross the line with arms in the air early just in case it inexplicably failed to happen later.
After some acrobatics to get 200 bikes off the ferry, the masses started getting ready on the grass at the resort. Temperatures were already 37 and climbing and it was clearly going to be a dirty bomb of a day. PA managed to misplace his Garmin and spent 5 mins making us all look – only for him to mysteriously find it was down his pants!
The race kicked off and things immediately heated up – both figuratively and literally as we quickly hit 40 degress. The first rollers proved an quick breakpoint with at least 8 of the pack getting shelved out the back after some early pressure – with our sprinter being one. By checkpoint charlie I was still holding on comfortably and was starting to feel decidely cocky about the day.
Things started going tits up around 30km in when I felt some dodginess on a corner when on the front of the bunch. Thinking I’d punctured I dropped to the back of the bunch and got off to fix the wheel. It turned out to be a loose front skewer and the wheel had been shaking. Quick fix – but it meant a 3km chase back to the bunch which melted down a lot of the scarce supply of matches in the bag.
Soon after getting back, things went further south when Pierre broke a spoke.The bunch spent a few seconds debating how to treat this but slowly came to the realisation that it was a one day race & thats just part of racing. With that, the attacks started in earnest and the hammer was dropped. With a slow wheel change, PA stood no chance of getting back on despite Pete staying to help pull him back. I waited further up the road but he was 1 minute + behind the group by the time he got back to me. PA chased for another 10km alone before finally sitting up and waiting for the mere mortals in the team.
40km in and the entire team were now out of the race. That left us with an 80km ride home over some nasty rollers in a 40 degree furnace. Tough day ahead. Around 50km we passed CycleWorx Joel foo and he gave the wise suggestion just to treat it as a Gran Fondo and cruise home.
At about 100km, the police sirens raised the spirits and we had visions of the Cat 2 pack arriving with an armchair ride for us at the back of the bunch & copius amounts of much needed water support. Hopes were dashed when ANZA’s Stale and Mavs Richard Paine came flying past alone. Great ride by them but we really desperate for a water support bike to come along.
A few more Cat 1 stragglers were picked up or passed on the final road home. By then it had become a death march and we were just desperate to get it over with. Like a good Scotsman, I was as red as a baboons arse from sunburn and my guts just wanted to spend some quality time on a toilet as a result. We had a little sprint on the final hill to scare Pete that we were going to steal his Cycosports points and then it was done.
I think we ended up with 14,15 and 16 place but frankly didn’t care by the end. A jump in the pool and a cold beer was all any of us wanted. Tough tough day.
Absolute hats off to the Mavs for fielding a very strong team and dominating the day. As always, huge kudos to the CycoSports guys for putting on such great events and keeping the racing scene alive. Looking forward to Batam already & hoping that we can field a more respectably sized team.