Tilting at Windmills

Don Quixote on his trusty steed, 'Cannonfail',  with the well-fed Sancho standing by.
Don Quixote on his trusty steed, ‘Cannonfail’,
with the well-fed Sancho standing by.

by Dick Turpin

In which one Don Quixote, bereft of a KOM, attempts to right the Wongs of the world and restore his knightly honour to its rightful place

It was with more than just a passing interest that I logged onto last week’s edition of ‘Rumour, Trivia and Innuendo’ (RTI) having spent the best part of the previous weekend flailing myself along with a number of fellow sufferers on the hills around Kuala Lumpur and was keen to hear something of their experiences.

What I didn’t expect was a fictionalised, highly coloured and self-aggrandising tabloid version of my own day out, complete with references of dastardly deeds by Lance Armstrong, Ben Johnson and Diego Maradona.

The self-proclaimed “hero” of the piece…a.k.a. ‘Don Quixote’, accompanied with his side-kick, Sancho Panza, made it clear that his lofty ambition was to topple KOM windmills that day and nothing was going to get in his way.

As Sancho relates the story, being left behind at the P Royal Inn even before proceedings started, followed by a puncture on the way to the battleground did not bode well for our hapless knight.

call outAiming to make up for past slights – including one from eight-year old Neil McBryan[1] who once fouled our hero in a football game and was taunted for the next ten years for being heavier than the average schoolboy (more on him later) – Don Quixote was hungry for success and from the moment we left Kota Kubu Bahru, our gallant knight took off with a trail of aspirants in his wake.

By the time we had got through the reservoir area however, our merry band had been whittled down to four.  There was a bit of rotation off the front and I happened to be “in the wind” as we left the reservoir and went round a bend, only to be forced to a dead stop and with it, the others behind me as a bus straddled the width of the road while turning around.

‘Anonymous Rider’ “wheelsucking” at the Tour of Friendship

To be fair however, with the possessed look of someone who has filtered out all extraneous distractions to focus single-mindedly on an objective (the KOM), Don Quixote spent a good deal of the time at the head of the group, cranking out the pace.

There were one or two attempts to ride off the front for a while but none of them would stick including an effort by our “hero”.  When we passed a “Frasers Hill – 9km” marker, he took off on his own.  It occurred to me that as the Gap – which transitions into the final section of the climb – is 8km from the clock tower, the man from La Mancha must have been making his move.  He was soon 50-80m ahead of us but ride as we might, there was no sign of the Gap and after about 10 minutes, our hapless knight returned to the fold.

Imagine the words, “Fraser’s Hill” and then number “9” (but slightly offset to the right). That’s what I’m talkin’.

What had obviously happened was we’d passed the 19km point and someone has artfully removed the “1”…(it seems funny writing about it now, but it somehow seemed less so at the time when I was red-lining it, haha!).

With a couple of kilometres to the Gap left, I slipped back and Don Quixote, Trent Standen and Matt Locke continued as a tight group; around a couple of corners and I was by myself.

Fortunately, salvation was at hand just a few minutes later when I came across Mark Losi handing out refreshments from the boot of his car (what a lovely man!) and after a 5 minute break, the four of us set off for the final 8km.

If he had been keeping his powder dry, our hero was now going full bore, shedding riders from the already small group and with 2km to go, he was a good 30 – 40m ahead of me with the others further back.  We came into the last few hundred metres where the road flattens out and I image007thought I’d give it a whirl, or as our aggrieved hero so eloquently put it, he was about to suffer a “despicable act of sporting douchebaggery”.

Perhaps in a hazy, hypoxic state I mistakenly thought that one last all out effort ala Lim Chu Kang or Changi Coastal was fair game, especially when all I could see though the mist was our knight-like hero a dozen bike lengths away.

So much for a 40km draft.

Unfortunately, Don Quixote was very unamused for not only could he see the disappointment in the faces of the hundreds of adoring fans lining the last few metres to the finish line but when Strava added insult to injury by confirming that the once-upon-a-time sleek Pancho still held the Club KOM up Fraser’s, our hero’s honour was completely vanquished.

So delving (with some artistic licence) into the Velominati’s ‘Book of Rules’:

Rule #29 – Air resistance increases with the square of speed

In simple terms, the difference in air resistance between riding at 20kmh vs 40kmh is four times (i.e. 2x speed = 4x drag, 3x speed = 9x drag, etc).

For the mathematically inclined:


It’s no use crying, “We was robbed”, and then bleating that drafting saves up to 40% in energy output…yes in a 55kmh lead out train that may well be true but at the more pedestrian 16-18 kmh speeds experienced up the steeper parts of Fraser, it’s the retarding effects of weight that matter, not air resistance.

Get the science right!

Rule #46 – Who gives a …?

Getting all hot and bothered about a Saturday morning club ride up Fraser’s Hill is hardly becoming of a Gentleman Rider, especially when:

a) the only person who thinks it’s a race is you;
b) your KOM didn’t exactly set the world alight;
c) who gives a FF anyway?

To paraphrase Henry KIssinger’s observation about politics,

“KOM battles are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small”.

Mao Zedong telling Henry Kissinger that he’s gunning for his Mt Faber KOM. Mao’s lead-out man looks on.

Rule #62 – If you’ve got issues, leave them on your psychiatrist’s couch

With reference to:
Rule #6: “Free your mind and your legs will follow”
Rule #72: “Legs speak louder than words”;
Rule #99: “You can make up any rule you like as long as it sounds good”

Leave your baggage here
Leave your baggage here

Go on.

Get in touch with poor old Neil McBryan. Tell him it wasn’t his fault that his larger-than-life physique was the product of his genes (even if he was stuffing his face with jam butties)…isn’t it about how you make people feel?

Tell him you’re sorry for calling names. And you’ve forgiven him for depriving you of your 15 seconds of glory all those years ago. Bring a big handkerchief (you might need it).

Then get on your bike and smash the next KOM. You deserve it.

Touché. Or was that Douché?

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