In theory, B6B should have been a good race for me. It’s a hilly course & – as pointed out by Alan Grant – avoids my eternal nemesis in that it has no corners!
However, based on recent form I wasn’t going in with confidence. A rest week following ToF hadn’t had the desired results and I’d found myself unable to get close to recapturing my Thailand form again.
It didn’t go unnoticed that the cycling gods seemed to be smiling on me for the event. First, I was awarded the super auspicious bib #8 & more importantly Pacific Rim was the movie showing on the ferry to the race. Giant robots fighting giant monsters always hits the mark for mindless bubblegum violence to get me in the mood.
B6B is a 134km race out on the Berelang Highway which runs the length of Batam, Indonesia. 18km neutral zone followed by an out and back on continuously rolling terrain. As per all Indonesian racing, the extreme temperatures also play a large part in deciding the outcome.
For the 1st time in aeons, we arrived with a strong team and were feeling confident. Open consisted of 40 riders – 8 Direct Asia ANZA, 9 Mavs (+1 undercover on probation) and 4-5 each from Joyriders, Cannasia and local pros ISSI.
We split the DA team in 2 sections with 3 of us given duties to stir things up on the 1st half of the race to the u-turn.
Straight from the gun, Pete Bennett fulfilled his part of the plan and immediately went on the attack – to be joined by Mark Cook. This lasted about 5km before being reeled back in.
I got off the front a couple of times with first Ben Arnott and then later a Cannasia but nothing stuck more than a few minutes. Eventually Mark Cook went again & escaped with Chris Nyonyintono and an ISSI national team rider. The race agreed that this was a fine selection and we settled down to Gran Fondo pace for the next 30km. These were interesting times as the pressure was on Joyriders and Cannasia to chase and there was clearly some dispute as to the best way to achieve this… We sat on the front behind the chasers and enjoyed the armchair ride whilst it lasted.
The last 10km before and after the uturn are the hardest part of the race due to increasing size and frequency of the hills. I’d been feeling dodgy for around 30 mins with an upset stomach, thumping headache, first whispers of cramp & cold chills – brought on I’d guess by the sun and quickly started fading. On the last hill before the u-turn, I slipped out the back and the game quickly turned to one of survival rather than winning.
Along with a fellow Cannasia straggler, we started the long 60km grind back through the hills – managing a reasonable pace. My stomach was increasingly bad and I was nervously eyeing the ditch next to the road for a quick bowel break when we managed to pick up another rider. By the time, we’d picked up one of my DA teammates there was an air of optimism in the grupetto with the immortal “come on boys, we’ll win this yet!” uttered by a Cannasia. I would have laughed but was dangerously close to sharting my bibs!
Upfront in the break, Chris Nyonynintono popped and the Mavs went on a charge to pull the break back. Pierre & Dave Christenson tried to stir things up but were nullified through some heavy marking by the field. Hardcore mentalist Mark Cook went on another flyer – after having been in the last break for 70km but it was snuffed out.
About 20km out, an Indo SSI attacked and got a gap with a Mav. Despite the entire pack going full gas – including a massive death pull from PA – the ISSI seemed to maintain the gap. Absolutely nothing to do with the SUV team car that was 10m in front of him though….
Despite a superhuman chase effort, the ISSI stayed out and the day ended in a sprint. DA Paulo Caputo got 4th, Dave Christenson 8th and Mark Scoular 9th. The team rode well as a unit and we were happy with our performance – if not the final result and the way it was achieved.
The usual Cycosports excellent support was waiting at the end. We had some beers with the team whilst the Karaoke belted out some Skidrow and Bad English classics. The shame of the team missing the podium was then literally washed away when the heavens opened up and a biblical flood (ok – 2 inches of water) came along. Ceremony cancelled – we headed back to the ferry and our own version of the ark filled with carbon beasts.
A quick game of passport bingo ended the day up nicely. The Cycosports boys did another fine job!