E3 Performance Sports race is my first time on the MTB since their last event 15 months back in Lorong Ampang. I finally got round to giving the bike a proper clean from that race this week – probably shouldn’t have bothered given the state it ended up after today’s event!
From the profile and the event pics, this looked like a good roadies race with the whole course seemingly on gravel roads. Given my lack of use, I still hadn’t got round to putting some proper MTB cleats and pedals on but I gambled the road ones would suffice for such a course. Noting other roadies at the start line in aero helmets, I figured that I was in good company in my assessment of the course. 20 minutes later, we were knee deep in mud and regretting our respective apparel choices…
The race started well – there was a decent turnout of maybe 90 riders for the main event including 7 from Anza/Direct Asia. The course briefing sounded a bit random but I felt sure that we’d figure it out on the road.
The group took off at a healthy clip and the peleton was quickly reduced to about 30 riders with Pierre and the Mavs mostly setting the pace. The convoluted route took its first casualty on lap 1 when some confusion led to a couple of the Mavs hitting the deck at the front. Thankfully both were ok and quickly got back on.
The roads were initially as expected – flat, gravely and only mildly bumpy. We then got directed off road into what can only be described as a swamp and we had to endure about 100m of mud pits with calf deep water. This was borderline rideable on lap 1 but a treacherous quagmire thereafter. I hit the deck like clockwork each time we came through this section but it was super soft and probably like jello-wrestling. It’s the only bike race I’ve ever done where those crashing were responding with laughter rather than screams of pain!
The mud did give me some serious problems with my twattish choice of pedal and cleats which I’d scavenged from my TT bike the night before. After each mud section, I was unable to click into the pedals and found that I had to drag my foot through puddles when riding and then use my fingers to gouge out the Orange muck to enable a click-in. Not the best way to win a race.
My bike also needed some serious talking to with the front deraullier changing at random and the chain coming off 3 times during the event. Had it been a road race, I’d have been pissed but MTB seems a shed load more laid back and so I didn’t stress it.
In addition to the mud, we had to navigate 3 drainage ditches in quick succession on the circuit. These involved jumping across a 5 foot deep ditch whilst carrying the bike. A bit of a pain but a clear point where an ambitious individual could get a breakaway if they wanted.
By lap 2, I was sitting in the chasing group and there were 7 off the front – including Pierre. The mud pits and the ditches gradually increased the gap between me and the group and I dropped off the back. A group of chasing dogs then forced me to HTFU and sprint for my life which got me back to the group pretty quick sharp.
I kept yoyoing off the back of the 2nd group and eventually ended up alone and lost for a while. Directions on the course were borderline shambolic in places and some junctions were a pure coin flip for the riders as to the correct route – I ended up getting lost on lap 3 and ended up crossing the line in 15th as a result – real result should have been a few places further back…
After 4 laps and 65 hard km’s, I eventually rolled in to the finish. 6 minutes behind the winners Bastian and Pierre but exhausted and happy.
The bike was minging like never before and it was borderline if the taxi would even take us in this state. In a classic bit of OTT opulence, we then washed our bikes in mineral water to allow us to get home!
Overall, a great day with good atmosphere and a challenging, hard workout. I’ll be there with the appropriate shoes for the next one!
Good job E3 Sports in putting on these grass roots events.