Pasir Gudang Circuit Race

Category 2 | Ian Burton

The chance to race on closed roads and be home by lunchtime? This seemed like too good a chance to turn down, even if I had never done a criterium in my life and sprinting wasn’t my thing. As I had done the time trial at Changi the week before- and to my surprise really enjoyed it- the time trial bars would have to come off.

On Sunday morning the thing not coming off was the plan to be home by lunchtime after the race, a worry for both me and my car companion John Versfeld. The first worry was that we couldn’t race as I had mysteriously misplaced the race numbers I had collected from Kent at Bike Plus on Friday. The second worry was not being able to fit the road bikes on the car bike rack as I hadn’t used this bike rack for years.

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John’s speed dial to Kent sorted out spare race numbers and we squeezed the bikes on. One smooth border crossing and easy car journey (courtesy of GPS) later we arrived at the Pasir Gudang circuit. It was dry and not hot, so that was good; the road surface looked a bit rough and hillier than expected, which didn’t appeal to my pampered red dot cyclist outlook. Anyway no time to worry, time to gather some intelligence from Nico, who had scouted the track, chat last minute tactics with our other cat 2 team mates Steven and Danny, cheer on the cat 3 race already on the circuit and warm up.

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The field was apparently about 30 strong and we gathered for a pre race briefing from Kent. 1 hour, 2 extra laps, an intermediate sprint and KOM to keep us interested. Bearing in mind our racing team experience at B6B, the plan initially was to stick together near the front to enable us to talk and respond. Easier said than done as the other main teams- Mavericks, Joyriders, Team Integrated Riding and Saxo- pushed up the initial pace and there were a few efforts off the front, which all got pulled back by various teams including us.

Nico had been pretty active and when he went away and a Mav bridged across to him and beyond I tagged along. To my surprise I looked around as we headed around the hilly bit of the lap and we had a gap, although soon a Joyrider, TIR and 2 Saxo guys joined and off our breakaway went. The KOM bell had gone that lap, so my thought next time around was of imminent fame and the glory of winning what i later learned was a bottle of Muck Off. The Mav, Matt Lodge, said he wasn’t interested in the sprint, only working together in a break. Dazzled by the prize I didn’t believe him and kicked up the rise with no contest. As he joined me, I considered he really meant it and, with James Low (TIR) and Michael Naert (JRT) coming back, our breakaway was established.

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At this point there was about 40 minutes to go and it felt ambitious. However, since Mike Swell encouraged me early this year to set my alarm for stupid o’clock and join the ranks of the Hunted on the fast 530 Rats ride, most other rides have felt survivable in comparison. With our team mates doing a great job riding slowly at the front of the peloton, our lead steadily grew to a minute or so and, despite some breeze, this break felt not too bad. As the laps ticked by we kept steadily working together, even ignoring the prime sprint. (Well, almost.) Eventually, with some feedback from the ‘crowd’ along the pit building, we realised it would stick and I started trying to gauge the strength of my fellow breakaways. The next milestone was the 2 lap bell (at 56 Minutes??) And we continued as before. At the next and final bell, partly as result of some confusion due to a non-functioning race loud hailer, we slowed to a crawl. Sense prevailed and we restarted working together to guarantee our top 4 placings. After a light training week, I felt confident to contest the finish. At the first incline I pushed a bit to test the Joyrider, who had shown signs of slowing on the climbs. Then TIR and i got a gap before the short steep hill, but he wouldn’t commit. So we went up and over all together until I kicked up the next incline. No response and a clear Gap! Down the chicane and uphill to the final bend and finish sprint to go, but the Mav had bridged across. I took a poor line into the final corner and I lost the sprint. At least I remembered to get on the drops and give it a good go this time. I have got a good grimace in the Photo!

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Afterwards we congratulated each other and had a cursory warm down, cheering off the cat 1 and Women’s race as well as the obligatory post race discussion with our ANZ cat 3 team mates and others. Sod’s law when i wanted to hang around for prize giving, John and I both had to be home punctually, so after a quick drink, shower and change, off we went. Apart from the threat of a gloved examination at the border (guess which side was the quick and easy One?) It was another easy journey and we were back by 1245. (Still no news of those missing numbers. )

The Strava data shows a 38 average but it didn’t feel that fast. Maybe i was kidding myself. Looking back, what could I have done differently to get a win. I had some idea. Would it have worked? Who knows… at least 2nd was on the podium to reward my efforts and those of my team mates who worked as a team to help me stay away. I had some luck to make the right break and others could have done the same. I hope the cat 2 group can take some confidence into the next races – let’s be in that final sprint or breakaway group!

Thanks to Cycosport team and volunteers for another fun and safe day Out! And great photos online from Slow poke studio and Others.

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  • PS still haven’t found those numbers.
  • PPS i didn’t win the KOM after all that. Apparently there was a mix up in the communication.
  • PPPS my last ride on that bike ended in bits on the following Tuesday Morning! From high to low very Quickly!

Ladies Category | Lizzie Hodges

I’m much better at arm waving than writing so the main points from the women’s category are:

Vanessa (new, racing as Anza but in her old kit, various shades of pink head to toe) suggested a ‘gentlewomen’s agreement’ to which various nods were made, but not by all (as noted by Joyrider Wendy Yap in her write up). Mind you, some of us had English as first language and had come up on the bus several hours earlier, and so been listening to the stories of ‘oh it’s slippery on the corners’ from the cat 3 boys. Turns out starting 3 hours later means a course can warm up and dry out (even if black clouds roll over and onwards above).

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We did indeed line up the entire category across the start, all 9 of us, and proceed for a first exploratory lap. Sarah Jane (Eddie Holland Team) decides to go attack almost immediately, having hung at the back. Given that Wendy (Joyriders), Christina (trek), Veronica (new mav) and myself were sharing the front half of the pretendaton, this took us by surprise.

Fair play to her. The four of us worked steadily for a while, no sign of any bell for the KOM or SPRINT until Christina and I dropped Veronica, and Wendy dropped us. Last time we were in this position, Christina realised I was going through her, and I learnt what to do and not do in the last 50m the hard way. Photo finish says I just pipped her, this time though!

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Wasn’t expecting 50 minutes plus two laps to take 69 minutes, according to my trusty garmin, but can faithfully report that it WAS fun. Even the baby climbs (treated myself to a Pyrenean bike ride this summer, that may have something to do with my new enjoyment of climbing). I also find it deliciously rewarding to hear shouts of encouragement from the rest of the Anza mob (for, I do miss being in my racing teams from past lives). As I’m manning the flags and esky at ECP this weekend for Anza cycling triathletes, it would be great to have any support from anyone who fancies dropping by – thre will be an ice cold esky brimming with drinks and smart, sarcastic chat for anyone one keen. And my chants are like a bad GCSE project if I try and get them to rhyme… Come on by, there’ll be pie (no there won’t). P

P.S. The next race is Desaru, people should go!

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Category 1 | Pierre-Alain Scherwey

Sunday 10th August saw Team Direct Asia (Pierre-Alain Scherwey, Peter Bennett and Donald MacDonald) venture north and across the border into Malaysia for the inaugural Pasir Gudang circuit race. This was no ordinary crit as Pasir Gudang is a motor racing track in Johor Malaysia  comprising of a challenging 3.8km circuit with 70 m of climbing per lap.

The race itself was billed as a 70 minute circuit – at which point the bell would ring and 3 laps added.

The team were motivated and so decided to brave the border traffic and ride to the event and back – adding an extra 100km for the day.

jb3Open Category comprised of some 30 riders – including significant showings from Specialised Mavericks,  Lapierre, Cannasia and the notable presence of the 2 Team-Kenya national riders that had dominated the previous week’s Singapore time trial events. Calvin Sim from the local pro-continental OCBC Cycling team was also present but isolated without any team-mates to support.

Being outnumbered, Team Direct Asia strategy was to opt for a more defensive than offensive tactic – with a lot of our focus being on preventing any  breakaways with the right combination of teams forming without a TDA representative. Fortunately, the roads were kind and the long straights and wide roads made it hard for the few brave enough to try an escape.

The Kenyan Riders were perfectly organized. One pushed the pace whilst the other inflected sharp attacks in the bumps. After a few laps, the tactic of each became predictable and the bunch figured out where to be and when to counter.

Pierre & Peter made use of the tight S downhill chicane to launch attacks at the point the bunch was most stretched. However, the Km long straight false flat directly afterwards made it quite easy for the chasing bunch to catch us again. No luck and the race was destined to finish in a sprint.

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It eventually ended up with a massive bunch sprint with Samwel Ekiru of Team Kenyan Riders the winner. Pierre-Alain finishing 9th following by Peter a few meters back.

An interesting course and a good change in scenery. We’ll be back!
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