Apt that this race took place on the same day as Tour of Flanders. I felt and looked decidedly Flandrian when I finally made it to the sanctuary of my shower at 4pm. Covered in muck, soaking wet and freezing cold. The race was a real departure from our usual fair of local dignitaries, catamarans and dodgy karaoke award ceremonies.
The day started well. A small group of 8 – Mavs, Direct Asia & Lapierre- rode up to the border in fine weather. Pete, Will and myself represented TDA. Things went smoother than my newly shaved forearms until we got within about 1km of the circuit. We accidentally took a turn one junction early at that point – resulting in 45 mins and 20km of searching till we finally found the circuit. Pasir Gudang is clearly a hot bed of sooper seekret research as it failed to show on any of the GPS in the group.
The extra km allowed my bowels to fully ferment my pre-race blessing to the toilet gods and I was proud of managing to drop another 2kg of my body weight just prior to the start. The toilet cleaner was likely less impressed as I just happened to visit the cubicle with the broken flusher 😞
My joy was short lived as the sky suddenly let loose with an apocalyptic dump of its own – and a full on monsoon lightning storm quickly ensued. They let us do a quick warm up to try the circuit and it was dodgy but ridable. The rain increased again and they started taking down the finish flag whilst we were out.
Another half hour and much discussion with Cycosports and a few brave souls ventured out to try another test lap. Visibility was little more than a blur at this point and there were literally waves rolling across the track. However, we;d made the long trek up & decided to push ahead. Another 20 mins and then jointly agreed to go for it (at our own risk) with a rolling start to the race.
I rode the 1st lap but the combination of the water, oil on the track and my dubious descending skills was like giving a firebomb to a baby. I played it safe and got off to watch the race from the pit building rooftop. In a fit of Alanis Morrisette styled irony, the rain slowed and it got slightly brighter as soon as I stopped…
The race itself was super exciting with new boy Will in a break with Bastian for the first half of the race. He continued marshaling the chase until being robbed off potential glory by a puncture with 2 to go. Great first appearance for the team.
Pete finished safely in the pack but also had some rare stints on the front for a lap. Noel Mav took the sprint by an inch over one of the Lapierres – although the initial results controversially said different.
Ladies cat also proved interesting after a mix-up on the number of laps due to some dodgy mid- race communication. Lizzie Hodges took the sprint on lap 7 – despite the Organiser trying to say there were actually 10 laps! Full marks to the girls as they then refused to race further.
The ride back home was where things got especially epic. A three way of Malaysian highways, heavy rain and 20 tired cyclists was always going to have some dodgyness and so it proved very quickly.
One of the CTA riders was the first victim with a double puncture – he was then ceremonially ditched in enemy country at the side of the road by his teammates. Thankfully the Mavs, DA and later (in a car) the joyriders also pulled up to help. Great camaraderie was shown in a frankly shitty situation but you simply couldn’t leave someone stranded in such bad conditions in their own.
Pete Bennett was next when his tub managed to pick up 6 different holes in a 2 inch patch. Tyre Weld foam tried to regain some much needed credibility by saving the day but again fluffed it. It did provide some amusement though when a bukkake spray of foam hit one of the party in the face! We soldiered on and eventually made it back home about 3 hours after leaving the circuit.
Another great job by the Cycosports boys. Almost single-handedly keeping racing alive – support them!