Monthly Archives: June 2015

Trifactor Club Invitational & Open Race

“every morning there’s a halo hanging
from the corner of my girlfriends 4 poster bed”

Sugar Ray’s upbeat pop rock wakes me from my all too short slumber. It’s 3.15 – possibly the earliest that I’ve ever purposely woken up – and there is no halo hanging from the bed. Instead, there is a big bag of doom with a side of cannot-be-arsed. 3.15am FFS.

Whats the rationale for this torturously early start? Trifactor. One of the few companies that seem able to get a road closed in Singapore and so we need to get along and support a local Organiser. This years race looked interesting – with aero bars finally being banned and a new course round Nicholl Highway – so a few lost hours of sleep seems a fair price for a race on home soil. I’ve also been invited on a ride with the Australian Prime Minister today but priorities! Racing > Politics any day!

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The Club Invitational race kicked off at 4.45am – with around 25 riders from all the major clubs in Singapore. Pierre is riding for Anza and Will representing Direct Asia. The Open race is due to start 10 minutes later with riders being sent off in 7 waves. Due to a time slippage, the 1st wave gets sent off with the Club Race which proves decisive later in the rankings.

Will put the hammer down early in the club race and soloed off the front for the first 45 minutes – building a gap of upto 25 seconds at one point. Pierre marshaled the pack behind and then launched the decisive attack when Will got caught – splitting the group in 2. With 2 great sprinters in the group (Elyas Cycleworx and SEA Games selfie king Vincent Ang), PA was always going to have challenges and so attacked again at 1km to go. Sadly it wasn’t to be and Elyas came home 1st (although he was in the Open race) with Vincent Ang winning the Club Invitational. PA came 6th and Will 7th.

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Back in the Open race, I was due to go in wave 3 along with about 100 others. A scan of the group showed a few decent riders and I suggested that we hammer the start to try and get rid off the rest as early as possible. The horn went and I immediately gunned it. By the first u-turn at 1km, the pack was already down to 6 riders and we’d reduced this to just 4 riders by the 3km point. We had 2 from Geylang Racing, 1 from Integrated Racing and myself. A good group and one that worked well together to build a decent lead over the peleton.

We lost the Integrated Racing guy at a uturn on the 2nd lap when he almost got taken out by a back marker from a slower group. It felt like a much safer race this year with the aero bars gone but a lot of shouting was still necessary to get people to keep left.

With him gone, it was just myself and the Geylang boys for the rest of the race and we rolled along at a 39 average. A couple of guys from other waves jumped on the back off the group but for most of it, there was just the 3 of us working. The course was an out and back on Nichol Highway with a brief excursion into Republic Avenue. Total of 7km and we did 8 laps.

On the 2nd last lap, I ramped it up on the Nichol Highway bridge to determine who still had legs and could see 1 Geylang was stronger than the other. I went again on the bridge full gas on the final lap to try and split the group but then got caught in traffic before a turn which enabled the stronger Geylang to get back on my wheel. I went again on the uphill around 500m before the end but couldn’t shake him and he blew past me about 10m before the line. Still, I was happy with 2nd in the wave. In the overall, Elyas and the riders that started alongside the Club Race had an advantage of a much stronger peleton to pull them and so my time was good enough for 4th overall only.

Still it was a great event. The new course was a bit of a cracker and hopefully others can start using the same for future events. Organization was efficient and it was much safer than previous years. We’ll worth that 3.15 start!

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FRANZA is dead, long live FRANZA

AGMAs is all too often the case on this sunny island that we inhabit, another ANZA friend is departing and so this week we have the tales of Nico’s farewell ride that he nearly didn’t make it too in KL.  Don’t worry though FRANZA, just like buses, there’ll be another Frenchman along sometime soon.

We also have an account of epic mountains from Bruce Swales. Not bad for a man that had a heart attack just a few weeks back.

Apart from those, the only real news this week was the AGM.  A great turnout spurred on by the offer of free wine beer and pizza I’m sure, but there were presentations, questions, and giveaways from our sponsors at Focus Pilates and Allied World Assurance.  But most of all there was camaraderie, banter and good company.

Good luck to any racing in the Tri-Factor Bike race this weekend, and we hope it doesn’t get cancelled at the last minute again. I hear it may not be worth going to bed for since you have to get up so early 😉

Ok, enough from me, on to the stories!

Let’s be careful out there
Andrew

 

Out With a BANG [bang, hiss, bang, bang]!

bangBANG!  That was the sound of the first tube going in the foyer of the Park Royal hotel.

Nico had announced that he was leaving singapore and after arranging his leaving ride in KL, he left us guessing as to whether he was actually going to join us.  It was only with the help of car load of Mick, Macca and Hoops that he actually made it to the Park Royal hotel and the start of his farewell ride.NIK_1534

BANG! That was the sound of the second tube exploding as Mark Losi pumped away to the requisite 110psi.

At this point we decided to take the tyre off (For those Aussies out there, Tyre is english for tire).  Closer inspection revealed that the puncture I’d received riding back from Tanah Merah last week was in fact a slit in the sidewall, and those two tubes had served to prove that once the tyre is dead, its dead.

New tyre on (a tip for the less well travelled, always carry a spare tyre, you just never know) and I delve to the bottom of my bag for my last tube, always good to have a clean out anyway.  And we’re off for the quick climb to the summit of Frasers.

NIK_1536clunk, clunk, clunk! 15 minutes down the road my rear is flat again, but we’re getting pretty good at this now.  with some assistance from the blue hippo and the track pump retrieved from the team support car and much pontificating about what fatal flaw there must be in the manufacture of my Zipps we’re away again.

Now at this point I have a confession.  Back in the early days of being in Singapore when I was poor and it was hard to scrape the pennies together for my next s-works and entry to ku de ta, I used to repair my tubes.  Now I have just the slightest inkling that that last tube may have been pre-punctured, but don’t tell anybody…. shhh I said.

So the plan was that Raoul “wall climber” wanted the KOM on “The Wall” so after the warm up through KL, Craig set off to lead Raoul out for the climb.  Rumour has it, he beat his personal best but has some more improvement before he can claim the KOM, oh well, if that isn’t an excuse for a return trip then I don’t know what is.

NIK_1554Onwards to Evian and I have no idea who won that one – sorry guys, shout louder if you want recognition!

Water stops and the first of the manic descents.  Now I know Gravity is unstoppable, but I do think that blue hippo has some sort of unidentified advantage and I may hang weights on my bike for the next descent, now the simple stats are that I maxed out at 80.6km/h and I still couldn’t catch him, no matter how hard I peddled.  I wanted to cry foul but could hardly breathe.

NIK_1656At this point I’m starting to slip into survival mode “Do not overdo it! big climb coming!” going through my head so when the fast boys keep pushing the pace towards the KKB water stop I let the break happen and a few of us form the grupetto, and a very civilised bunch it was, until the desire to perform a rendition of the Full Monty overtook us.

Now for those of you who have climbed Frasers, you know that it is a climb that just keeps giving.  You would have to estimate that once it starts you are on an upward trajectory for 45km with the best saved to last.

WOOF! WOOF! SNARL!

SQUIRT! SQUIRT! TAKE THAT DOG!

OH SHIT THERE ARE 2 OF THEM!

SQUIRT! SQUIRT!

PHEW THEY ARE GONE!

With that little unwanted piece of excitement over we’re ready to climb the last 8km from The Gap to the clock tower. “Will I make it without cramp this time” I’m thinking but the legs are feeling ok, I took it easy, yep, did you hear that Mick, I took the first part easy 😉 the last section is maybe 6%-9% but it has km markers so you know you’re nearly there.

Yay! the legs made it, but it’s Ramadan and the restaurant isn’t open “What’s that? Another restaurant? Further up the hill?” Ok just a little further

AARRGGHHH!

CRAMP STRIKES

BUGGER BUGGER BUGGER

Ride on through to the top.  Higher than we’ve been before, but what about the clock tower photo I hear you say.  Don’t worry, we came back down for that.  Now, whose leaving ride was it again?  And damn that kit looks good even if I do say so myself!

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And we’re off, Noel, aka the blue hippo (we’ll make it stick I promise you Noel) has stated he wants the KOM for the descent.  We all agree he is missing a few marbles and take a more leisurely approach to the first 8km, having lost skin on this section of road before.

Now at The Gap we regrouped and set off again and after a while I have the usual thought going through my head.

“Bit slow this, come on guys we can do better than this”  So I come around the outside to up the pace just a little.

BANG!

You are kidding me, right! puncture number 4, but really getting pretty slick at this tube change thingy now and we’re off again.

“Bit slow this, come on guys we can do better than this”  So I come around the outside to up the pace just a little.

 

BANG!

Ok now I’ve had enough it’s all very well taking one for the team but I’m on 5 now and I content myself with rolling down behind the rest of the gang to the bottom where all I can do is thank Raoul for one of the best tows I’ve ever had all the way to KKB.

NIK_1812Now I confess at this point I got in the car as the thought of climbing up the steep side of Evian was not appealing and it isn’t as though I haven’t done it before afteral.

So I sat in the car laughing at Noel as every time he tried to get in position to take a photo he cramped up and abusing those fools who had decided to ride back up the hill.

Eventually the 4 man steam train started to break as Craig and Hoops were shelled off the back leaving Phil and Raoul to fight it out for Evian honors.

NIK_1858The photographer was going mad and it’s taken me hours to choose these, but as we took yet another of Raoul leading Phil, Phil finally snaps “You’re only taking photos when Raoul is in front”.  To which, Phil, I’m afraid there was only one possible response “Well you’d better F&*^!ng overtake him them” which seems to be the right level of intellectual stimulation as the result was impressive.  Phil went for it, NIK_1864and opened a gap that was never to be closed.  The top of evian was not a pretty sight.  Exhausted hot cyclists everywhere and I think this picture of Craig pretty much sums it up.  And that, my friends, pretty much brought to an end another great Frasers trip.  we hammered down Evian, with enough momentum that The Wall was hardly noticeable and stormed through KL back to The Park Royal where one or two cold beers might have been waiting for us.

NIK_1896With thanks to Mark for his usual outstanding level of hospitality, The Park Royal for looking after and putting up with us, and to all the guys for waiting for me 5 times.

NICO YOU WILL BE MISSED BUT WE SENT YOU OUT WITH A BANG!

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Riding the Pyrenees

Bruce Swales

Early this year a mate of mine in NZ suggested we meet up in France in June and ride several of the Cols in the Pyrenees. As our respective non-cycling wives would be coming along we decided to keep the rides to two with a day in between to stave off the risk of them saying no to the trip.  Frank had climbed alp d’Huez last year so suggested we did col d’Tourmalet on one day and the cols Soulor and Aubisque on the other day. Who was I to argue with that?

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As these were all HC climbs I thought I better do some serious training in the lead up. All was going well until 6 weeks out and I had [another] heart attack. At around the same time my mate Frank had given himself a hernia.  How was a couple of sick old farts now going to tackle 3 of the top LeTour climbs?  Never say you can’t do anything so instead of canceling the trip it was full steam ahead. My cardiologist reluctantly agreed so long as I promised to keep my heart rate below 80% of my HRmax. I resumed very light training initially and only managed to get in a couple of Fabers and Rifle Range Roads before departing.

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My wife and I were having a week in London beforehand, and a week in Barcelona afterwards so I decided not to bring my bike. Frank was also not bringing his bike and had sourced a good bike rental shop in Luz-Saint Sauver, which is at the bottom of Tourmalet.  Here we could rent 2015 Scott Solace disc brake models for around 50 euro for a day.

We flew into Toulouse and were met by Frank and his wife in a rental car and went on to the old city of Pau, where we would base ourselves (mainly so the wives could find interesting things to do when we were out riding). After a carbo loading pasta dinner it was time to sort out clothing for the next day Tourmalet climb.   As these are alpine rides the weather could be fantastic or it could be wet and very cold, so I had brought along my ANZA kit plus a thermal undershirt, arm warmers and a light rainproof jacket. The forecast was for a 6C start, warming up to 18C during the day.

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The morning duly arrived and we were off to pick up the bikes. The climb basically started at the bike rental place and we were straight into an 8% climb, which never really let’s up.  The climb to the top of Tourmalet is 20km and averages 8-9%. There are several switchbacks nearing the top and a final albeit short climb of well over 10%. The scenery is fantastic and we were  periodically serenaded by sheep bells (yes, cow bells on sheep).  We made it (at an embarrassingly slow pace for reasons earlier explained) and after a high-5 and obligatory photographs we had a double espresso at the cafeteria at the top, which had only opened for the summer season a day prior.  The descent back down was nothing short of exhilarating (and very cold) with my average heart rate over the decent being almost the same as during the ascent. Total climbing for the day was 1401 metres.

The next day was a rest day with the wives so we planned a picnic in the alpine lake area, which involved a drive over the Col d’Aspin (next time I will ride this).  At the top of Aspin we stopped to take photographs along with about 20 cyclists who were being eyed up by a herd of cows.  One of the cows didn’t like me, probably as I wasn’t wearing lycra, and at very short notice attacked me leaving a rather large red mark on my stomach from its rather large horns.  We drove down Aspin into the valley where we chanced upon the Route du Sud (TdF warm up race) coming through a village. The police stopped us well beforehand so we had time to get cameras ready whilst figuring out what race this was (we didn’t know it was Route du Sud at that time and only later that night learned it was and that Contador and Quintana were both in it).  So I now have a video taken on my HP of Contador and Quintana riding near the front of the peloton! Contador won that stage and went on to win the Route.

The following day was the day for Soulor and Aubisque.  We drove with the bikes to the village of Saint-Savin, to start the climb up Col d’Soulor.  The weather was perfect with a forecast of 30C.  From Saint-Sauvin the ride starts with about 3 km of rolling hills before commencing the 18km (approx) climb up Soulor. Again, the average was around an 8% but quite doable – you just need to find your own rhythm and pace and stick to it. We reached the top of Soulor, took the obligatory photographs and had a coffee and chat with 3 dutch riders. It was then on to the summit of Aubisque, which is a 10km ride along a stunning winding alpine road with sheer cliff drops.  This stretch starts with a descent for a kilometer or two, a relatively flat middle section and then a 3km or so climb up Aubisque at an average of 6-7%. About half way along the middle flat section is a tunnel, which had been partially blocked by a cattle truck full of sheep being offloaded for summer grazing on mountain slopes. Whilst cars could not pass we could – so, onwards and upwards.

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At the top of Aubisque it was time again for obligatory photographs – this time with the ‘3 big bikes’ we have seen on TV during LeTour, followed by a ham and cheese baguette lunch and coffee at one of the two cafés at the top. After some banter about the forthcoming rugby World Cup with a bunch of Irish cyclists it was time for the descent. The descent was even more exhilarating than Tourmalet as some repairs to the road had recently been made and there were patches of loose seal to keep one on his toes.  A total climb of 1509 metres. The weather was absolutely picture perfect all day, with no clouds.  It was warm enough that I did the whole day in just my ANZA kit with no inner or arm warmers, but plenty of sun screen was absolutely needed.

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We returned the bikes to Luz-Saint Sauveur and then back to Pau for a celebratory drink or 3, and dinner.  All good things come to an end and the next day we were on to Barcelona for the remaining leg of our holiday (with no riding).

Our goals were achieved but I will definitely go back for more in the future. These are mountains where Tours have been won and lost, and cycling history made!

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Bottling It

Another RTI & another chance to promote the upcoming ANZA AGM.

The meeting takes place Wednesday 7pm at Picotin Bukit Timah. Whilst the election itself is a bit of a non-event due to lack of contested positions – there will be beer, new kit available and the launch of the new ANZA bottles. Committee members will likely also get up and do a song and dance to tell us whats been achieved in the past year & what’s coming.

bottlesTalking of what’s coming… this weeks RTI reveals more details on the upcoming ANZA Club Championship TT. We also have words from Max Nanni on riding up a volcano in Bali and some eloquence from self-declared non-member Liam Winston on Taiwan.

See you on Wednesday for the beers.

 

Road Tripping Taiwan

Liam Winston

Many people travel to France or Italy for classic cols and opportunity to test themselves against 2,000m+ of elevation. Yet tougher challenges do not require a 13 hour flight and are readily accessible a short distance from Singapore.

‘Gordon’s Getaways’ aka ANZA member Laura Gordon; banded together an intrepid group of 17 riders that were planning to put that to the test over the Vesak long weekend.

Following a smooth transfer from Taipei down to Sun Moon Lake our base for the three days, there was already much talk over the first evenings dinner on upcoming climbing conquests.

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Day 1 Wuling
Wuling and the mountain that it sits on Hehuanshan, provide fame for a number of reasons. It’s the highest motorable pass in Taiwan at 3275m, an elevation that puts European cols to shame. Of note to most cyclists around the region, it’s also the finishing point for the notorious Taiwan KOM, a one day classic that tests the mettle of any serious climber.

Although not tackling Wuling from the eastern town of Hualien, along the KOM route, the climb up from Sun Moon Lake and through Puli would be a formidable one nonethesame. ‘The side that is much tougher’ 🙂

The weather forecast didn’t bode well when enjoying the welcoming descent out of Puli, with it really being a question of when the skies would open.

On reaching Puli, the climbing begins, with best part of 55km and some 2,800m of climbing to get through.

Initially the climbing is quite steady, but after Renai it progressively picks up as riders witness countless mock English mansions, whilst the elevation passes 2,000m, the temperature falls and the cloud cover increases. Unfortunately it’s the banks of 10% that are the standout feature in the last 500m of ascent and it becomes a battle of mind over matter to enter Taroko Gorge National Park and finally hit the pass at Wuling.

Sadly the weather started to turn on reaching the pass, which meant it was not possible to really enjoy what is a great descent in the dry.

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The post ride regroup point was the very welcome Starbucks in Renai. A steady steam of cyclists gradually congregated back there, knowing that they had added one of the toughest climbs in the region to their palmares,

After warming up, there was fortunately more descending to enjoy, prior to taking on the sting in the tail of the final 10km climb back up to Sun Moon Lake.

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Day 2 Ri Yue Tan
The second day was slated as a recovery ride, sandwiched between the two serious days of climbing; composing of a loop around the lake itself, followed by an extended circum-navigation.

However, with the rain forecast looking bleaker than the day before, the initial ‘warm up’ lake loop was rescheduled to the end of the ride, so that the more interesting terrain could be tackled initially, whilst it was still hopefully dry.

The lake was soon left behind with a nasty little 11% climb up and over Route 63, but what a great descent ensued; hairpins, farmland and stunning scenery and oh so much better in the dry.

The next section of out and back along Route 16, via the township of Dili, was definitely the highlight of the day. It had been scoped from a previous trip, but never actually ridden. After hitting a significant wall of a climb when entering Dili, the road would hug the river for 10km, before reaching a halt where the previous bridge had been washed away.

Unfortunately and much to the dismay of the group, the route would prove far from flat. However the fantastic views took some of the bite out of the climbs.

On the way back the heavens finally opened, so the short cut back up to the lake was taken and the lake loop skipped. With tomorrow being the queen stage of the trip, there was no real need for unnecessary km’s in the rain, with 70km already in the bag.

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Day 3 Yushan
Unfortunately the harshness of the first day’s climb had put a few of the rider’s off tackling Yushan in it’s entirety. Although a longer day, the grades would not be as aggressive and with the alleged lure of chocolate coated M&S swiss rolls, for anyone that made it to the top, there was sufficient incentive.

The final day would prove to be the best for weather for what turned out to be quite a warm ride. As with Wuling, no climb would be complete without a big initial descent just to add more vertical meters to the challenge.

So after 25km, the climbing began in earnest at Sinyi. Much of the lowlands of Yushan and Alishan are devoted to vineyards, offering further incentive for what would be some welcome post ride refreshment.

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The hot springs at Tongfu were skipped, bar for a quick 7 Eleven stop. The climbing continued unabated, but with better weather and the terrain less influenced by low cloud cover the views were most rewarding after each pass into a new valley, invariably through a tunnel.

The famed husband and wife trees were passed after 80km, meaning it was just another couple of km’s to top of the pass. This was shortly hit and chocolate swiss rolls were devoured by the lucky bunch to make it to the top.

A magnificent descent followed that actually surpasses that of Fraser’s Hill. It just kept on going and going. Perfect for tired legs, unlike the 10km climb back up to the lake!

The final evening saw a break from tradition of fine Taiwanese cuisine and a welcome embrace of all things Italian. Deserved beers were consumed, a promise made to return in 2016 and a big thank you to Laura for organising the trip, as well as the ANZA committee for supporting it. So much nearer than Europe.

A quick loop around the lake on the final morning, for a few diehards, to make sure nothing was missed made for a 400km long weekend with almost 8,000 metres of climbing ticked off.

Foot note: High drama on the return; as our bikes almost never made it to the airport!

ANZA Allied World Club Championship

Those of you with their fingers on the pulse will have noticed already that Cycosports posted details of a new TIme Trial event yesterday. The inaugural ANZA Allied World TT Championship will take place on 22nd August at the Pasir Gudang circuit in JB.

Anza have contributed significant funding to this event as we will use it as our club championship event for 2015.

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For details on the event and registration, please click the photo.

The TT is open to all clubs and individuals. However as Anza is sponsoring the event, we have secured a sizeable number of free places for our current financial members. These are not unlimited and so please only register if you’re genuinely serious about taking part. Approach your friendly committee member and they will give you a code which grants complementary registration for the race.

Ideally the club would have liked to have our Championship in Singapore. This proved impossible to achieve legally due to the challenges of getting road closures. The JB track is easy to reach via car or can be ridden to. In addition, Anza/Cycosports will be arranging for multiple buses to go there which makes it even easier.

We’re also looking at putting on a BBQ for members at the event – although beers are not allowed at the track 😞 More on that nearer the day.

Pasir Gudang is a motor racing circuit with very wide corners. As it’s very hilly, owning a TT bike might not be any advantage and so we hope this encourages more members to take part. The circuit will also be raced in the reverse direction than the previous circuit races to take out the sharper downhill corners.

The TT will have a full Cycosports award ceremony for all participants from all clubs. We’ll then do an additional ceremony purely for Anza participants to award the Anza Allied World Club champions. So if you do a great ride, you could potentially be going home with 2 trophies on the day!

Be awesome to see the members there in numbers for what promises to be a great days racing. This is the 1st club championship in years – don’t miss out on being part of it!

 

 

Bali MTB Marathon

Massimo Nanni

June is one of the hottest months in Singapore, humidity and heat are at their top with air at times almost unbreathable, a good excuse to look for some alternative ‘dirt fun’ somewhere else in a milder climate.

I found this option in the 4th Bali MTB Marathon up in Mt.Batur area on Sun 7th of June.

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The race is organised by a small group of cycling enthusiasts whom, among the cycling fun, are also trying to raise awareness on the conditions of Mt.Batur, the largest volcano of Bali, where continued excavations to collect sand are putting at risk the balance of the local community.

Mt.Batur is a volcano in a volcano. Once arrived at Kintamani, about 2 hours drive north of Denpasar International Airport, you are faced with a nice but not impressive conical shape mountain that rises from a valley about 500mt below, with a lake at its feet. Having seen other big volcanoes and read that Batur is one of the largest volcanos in all Asia you might be puzzled but what you may have missed at first is that at Kintamani you are actually standing on the lip of a 13x10km crater of which slopes start 30 km down below right after the town of Ubud. That IS the Batur volcano itself… realised that, then you’ll be impressed!.

Batur is an active volcano that has built in its huge crater an inner escape vent that has developed into another volcano shaped mountain. From here the most recent eruptions have taken their course. Impressive the black lava field which is still visible on the southern side of the inner mountain, where, I discovered later, the last stretch of the race goes through giving a real feel of nature immense force… People live and trade inside this monster of a caldera which one day would probably erupt again wiping away everything and everyone… but that’s normal life in neighbour Indonesia.
In this exotic and pretty much exiting environment, at about 1000mt of altitude and the perfect cycling temperature, the 70km Bali MTB Marathon www.balibiking.com is held since 2011.

The drive to Kintamani takes you through Celuk, the silver artefacts district of Bali and Ubud, where Balinese culture mix with handicrafts and nightlife, to the famous terraced paddy fields and the plant nurseries in the perfect weather closer to summit, always having temples and divinity statues left and right of the road reminding you of the soulful Balinese culture… if you plan to drive, remember though to get your International Driving License renewed as a stop by the local police is most likely going to be part of the excitement.

I arrived in Bali on Friday 5th from Singapore, rented a car at the airport and spent the rest of the day among the waves of Kuta Reef, thanks to a surfer friend who lives in there… there is always something to do in this exotic island.

Saturday morning I took the journey up to Batur for the race kit (the number) collection and the technical briefing, The traffic was a bit heavy and I took my time stopping here and there for some pics or to browse some local shops on the road, so I reached the race head quarter at Hotel Segara Batur at 1pm… after a donation to the local Police Dpt. due to the lack of a valid International Driving License. Number collected and bike set up from the traveling box, I took some time to explore around, in particular to look for the race starting point which was located in a not well defined point on a not well defined map. It took a while but I finally found it hidden among big black boulders on top of a short but steep climb… the terrain was sand and loose volcanic (oh, really?) gravel and I had to push my bike to reach it… not a good sign as a start, mhhh…

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The race briefing was set for 4pm, I was back by then eager to hear about all the secrets of the course, the rules and as much information as possible, only to hear ‘there will be 4 water points and some marshals to point where you’ll need to turn, follow the paper trail and you’ll be fine, see you tomorrow at 8am!’… well, yeah, what else do we need to know indeed? The route and altimetry was displayed on a map, and I thought the altimetry graph has to be wrong, those climbs can’t be that steep in real life!…but I was about to get a ‘nice’ surprise the following day as volcano’s walls are indeed pretty much damn straight up!

After a night in a nice resort Balinese style villa on the slopes of main Batur, for half the price of a half the stars with half the view of hotels in Singapore. At 7am I got to the starting line where the race atmosphere was building up, some known faces from other teams from Singapore, and a couple of riders I met here and there around the region, was part of the 150 strong total participants. It was a nice feeling, lot of laughter and smiling faces all around led up to the start, and at 8am sharp (amazingly, being in Indonesia huh?) the race was flagged off.

Sensibly the organiser had neutralised the first stretch that was the tricky and slippery rocky downhill that I did uphill to reach the start/finish line, and the race itself started only once the group has reached the main road.

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The first 20km was a paved road stint out and back around lake Batur, a nice legs warmer, with a couple of sharp rises which put the heart rate in gear and thinned the whole group. The paved road changed to dirt, rolling, skirting the huge lava field of the inner cone, the group thinned down further, with the stronger riders moving away as expected. I settled in my rhythm half expecting what was laying ahead. Dirt changed into tarmac again for another 5 km and thank to the good work with a couple of other riders we managed to get back to the main group of 15 other riders ahead. Then the ‘fun’ began.
We quickly approached the wall of the caldera and then there was only one way, up!

A broken tarmac road with a gradient up to 30%, unridable for most (me included) took us in about 1.5km of road from 1100mt to 1400mt of altitude, to the first plateau, just a breather as the second part of the climb, with slightly softer inclines, ‘only’ up to 25% in some points but longer then the first and more ridable due to better paved surface, took us all the way to the outer volcano’s walls at 1650mt above sea level. Lungs were bursting, legs were screaming, the 32-42 XX1 that I was using was not really the best option, not at least for me. At the top I was offered a banana and some water which I gulped like it was my last meal. It was wet, the early morning clouds have left a trail of moisture and crisp air, it was almost cold…but it was nice and the crisp air revived me in a flesh!

I was with a younger rider from Singapore, nice talkative chap, from here we rode the crest of the crater on a rolling single trek which at times showed stunning view of the whole island, the ocean was visible, almost touchable, breathtaking views in a superb 10 km rollercoaster of a trail, we ride fast and we catch 3 other riders. At km 50 we were back down at 1100mt of altitude again, but it was only 2 of us left, the others have disappeared behind somewhere.

I was warmer, humid and not as nice, and then we hit the 3rd major climb of the day, another wall-up, 1km, 300mt of ascent, my legs (and brain) refused to even try and I walked all of it, my companion of the moment dared a bit more and obviously had better legs and slowly went away in front. At that point the group was all diluted, everyone was moving at their own pace in their own zone.

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At sharp 3 hours of riding (and walking), like a swiss watch and as I was expecting and as always happens, the first tingles of cramps on my legs started to bother me, luckily the hard climbing was over and the precious as gold salt tablets+energy gels gave me just enough replenishment to keep the tingles as just a minor nuisance for the rest of the ride.

The next 6km were mostly in dirt, gravelled, rocky rolling roads, mostly slightly uphill to close a loop ending at the top of the first climb at 1400mt of altitude.
Then back from were we came, downhill the same broken tarmac road, it was steep, oh yes it was, tough even downhill…then the rolling paved stretch and the dirt road skirting the lava field.

The lava field was looming black and silent on my left, and at km 65 a marshal pointed us ‘go left’, straight inside the black mass. Lava is a porous and relatively light sort of sharp edged rock, the trail was cut through huge black boulders and made of small lava rocks which were providing basically zero grip as they were sliding away under the bike’s tires, a ‘floating’ exercise slow motion moving forward, legs were completely empty, eye sight was blur but focus was still a must as a slight distraction could have costed dearly with a possible a tire tear or a nasty fall…no, you don’t want that once you reach there just few km from the end.

Tough as it was, the lava field ride was a stunning and rare experience, the icing on the cake of a brutal but a fantastic ride.

A motorbike rider from the organiser announced ‘3km to the finish’, I did not have anyone behind that could challenge my position, nor anyone in front to try to catch, so I just enjoyed the moment, entered the woods at the edge of the lava field, those first line trees had to have witnessed quite a spectacular show when in 1968 the red lava was pouring right beside their trunks, and arrived to the last, now familiar, dirt and rocky climb to the start, now finishing, line, under the cheers of a number of local people who have assembled to see the faces of those crazy people who dared challenge the vulcano’s fields.
The time keeper told me that I was 6th of the Veteran (over 40) category, 70km, 1424mt of elevation gain in 3h52min. Strava confirmed it all adding as well 1424mt of elevation gain and an Epic Suffer Score of 315! not bad, not bad at all!

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Till next tale from the dark side… see you in numbers on Singapore trails!

AGM Time

voteJust a reminder that the ANZA 2015 AGM is coming up soon – Wednesday 24th June (7pm in Picotin Bukit Timah to be precise).

The evening will cover the usual review of club achievements over the past year, what’s coming up & then move on to the election of new committee members.

Not to steal the thunder from the night but I think the club has progressed measurably forwards during the past 12 months. Some key achievements including:

  • Signing of a complete new set of sponsors – resulting in the largest annual sponsorship $ in the club history
  • Getting a new higher end club kit supplier and all club members receiving a free jersey
  • Free OneLifeID for all members – in line with our focus on safe riding
  • Significantly increasing the number of club trips and drinks events over the year
  • Adding a new post-ride coffee venue – Dimbulah
  • Provided access to a free Club Cycling Coach (Crankpunk) although few took it up
  • Moved beyond just a Kranji/Changi to add some new rides during the week & on Saturdays. Trialed a new earlier 6.50 start for the Steady 28 group
  • Enhanced our financial management – giving greater visibility into our financial state – and resolved a long standing impasse with ANZA on  governance of club funds.

We’ve also got a couple of things that will be unveiled in coming weeks . Can’t say much but the words Bottles and Club Championship might give you a hint….

As you can see, there’s been a lot happening. If you’d like to get involved in making more happen then I encourage you to stand for a Committee Position. All positions can be applied for but we have 2 open vacancies now – Road Director and Tri-Director. If interested thn please approach any current committee member and they’ll let you know whats involved and how to apply.

The SEA Games road races take place this weekend. Get out there and support the local guys on what should be a great couple of days racing.

Just noticed that this weeks blog see us post our 300th update to RTI. Yay to us!

Keep it safe out there!