TriFactor Ladies – Bike Racing By a Non-Racer

Nicole Rondy

Bike Racing by a non-racer (and non-report writer!)

Our esteemed RTI editors asked me to write a race report after taking part in the Tri-Factor Bike race on Sunday, the second instalment of this year’s Tri-Factor series.

This is all well and good. Except:

  • I have no idea how to write a race report… (goes and looks at the recent RTI editions….)
  • I realised I generally skim-read the race reports….(ahem, whoops?)
  • I cant normally remember what I had for dinner last night, let alone what happened at some god-forsaken hour on Sunday morning…

But hey, let’s give it a whirl!

The skim-read version (ahem):
1. What?
Straight up, crit-style, all-out bike race. I did the 35km distance race, so 5 laps of 7kms each (there were also options of 56km or 21km – when signing up I decided to ‘man up’ a bit, but as this was a first attempt, I thought I’d leave the 56km ‘race report’ for the big boys)
2. Where?
The course was set out around Republic Avenue and Nicoll Highway (a much more interesting route than up and down Changi airport road in my opinion – for spectators and competitors alike!), though the crazy configuration did mean there were 4 U-turns per lap. More on that later….
3. Who?
(Well as this is my race report and it’s all about me….) I finished second in 1:01:36 (whoop!).
4. How?
With a ‘peloton’ of only three laydeeeeez we had a rolling speed of between 35-40kph (girl power!), but with those four tight U-turns, that turned into an average of about 34kph over the race (we won’t be breaking any records, but dammit its hard work when there’s just three of you!)
5. Why?
Well, this bike race malarkey turned out to be damn good fun, the winner’s loot was pretty good (a podium jersey, a tri bag, a water bottle and a medal – awesome, I can stop stealing G’s kit bags now!) and, as we were flagged off at 6:35am, even after waiting for the podium I was home by 9am for breakfast and a nap! WIN WIN WIN!

So for those of you that haven’t already skipped to the next story….

The longer version:
Pre-race jitters: I’d never competed in a bike race like this before, so I didn’t really know what to expect. I had, however, watched the Tri-Factor bike race last year and seen the number of accidents (!) so was a little wary (but perhaps not as wary as G, who wasn’t keen on me doing it in the first place…perhaps that’s the real reason I had decided to do it then!?). I only looked up last year’s results the night before the race and when I saw that the first four ladies averaged over 36kph for the whole thing, I started to feel a lbit ill, wondered what the hell I’d signed myself up for and couldn’t eat my dinner (or breakfast either for that matter). I mean I can do 36kph, but not for an hour?! Well apparently I can… but not at U-Turns…

Race morning: my TEAM RONDY cheerleader and I dragged ourselves, still yawning, to the race area for about 5:45am, just in time to watch the last lap or so and finish of the 56km invitational and open races (ummm…shit. That was fast. I was suddenly extremely thankful I couldn’t manage any breakfast and you can all be thankful too, so I haven’t had to write a Don-esque account involving frequent trips to the toilet…). In the meantime, I started to notice there weren’t many women around – I spied a couple that I thought may be fun. It looks like my competition-radar is getting more highly attuned, as those two ladies and myself ended up being the only three really in the race. The women’s start line looked rather forlorn, there were only about 20 of us, which was a bit sad to see, given the number of female cyclists in Singapore (Perhaps it was because the original date was postponed? Perhaps it was because they knew they would wipe the floor with us? Or perhaps they were otherwise occupied on a VIP ride with visiting dignitaries…!). Nonetheless, luckily there wasn’t too much waiting around, so not much time to think about it!

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Bike- tick! Race number- tick! Helmet – tick! ANZA kit – tick! Other riders……umm…is anyone turning up today?!

Tactics: what tactics? I didn’t have any!
Right before the start, PA, having just finished the 56km, told me to “Bee carfuull for zee numpties, zey arrr dangerous when you arr doing feefty keelomeetars aan ower” (sorry, I really couldn’t resist!) and G told me to ‘go hard at the beginning, see who follows and stick with them’….
Soooooooo, not needing to sorry too much about PA’s advice (no chance of me doing ‘feefty’, even behind a truck) but not having any better ideas, I did as told by G (what a good wife!) and put the hammer down from the start line – the other two ladies that I spotted before the start caught me pretty soon and it went from there.

The Race: well, as there seemed to be only 3 who wanted to join in our little breakaway (and we finished nearly 5 minutes ahead of the next lady), there’s not a great deal to report: we worked together, took pretty much an equal amount of time on the front – which means we each must have pulled for over 11km each (yes, probably more work than I do on the average Saturday Kranji, I must admit!!), and yelled encouragement to each other through the race (ahhh isn’t that nice!).
I think it took me about half a lap to realise I wasn’t doing a triathlon, that I didn’t have a ‘passing zone’ and therefore I could draft (this was all new to me!). But by lap 5 when the legs were screaming each time I was on the front, that was very welcome indeed! We didn’t have any luck at sticking on the back of any guys – the only ones left by the time we went out were stragglers, though we had plenty of guys hanging on to us (what did I say about Girl Power?!).

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The laydeez out at the front..Yup, there we are again…

The course lay-out was fun and kept it interesting for the five laps: up and over the bridge on Nicoll Highway twice, and up and down Crawford Road, meant there were three ‘climbs’ (well, not really) per lap. There were also…

U-TURNS: did I mention there were FOUR U-turns per lap?! Evidently, I am useless at U-turns. And five laps of four U-turns means…. I got dropped TWENTY times in one race (have I set a new record?!). Yup, I was the proverbial elastic band…

The (not so) Big Finish: The finish line was about 500m from the last U-Turn, after a climb, which meant the inevitable was due to happen on the last lap… the other two dropped me at the final turn, flew up the hill and took off to the finish line while I was barely getting started again. Despite giving it all I had up the hill and then to the finish, I couldn’t catch the winner (Lynnette Ngo- Cycledelic)… but I did manage to just catch the second place by a single second (phew and owwwwwwwwwww!). At that point, I was very thankful for those early morning, mid-week sprints sessions with the ‘Superchix’ and the LCK section on a Saturday!

The Crowd: were pretty non-existent (though to their credit, it was pretty damn early). G was awesome in his cheerleading, as always- yelling encouragement to our little peloton (but yelling in French when he wanted me to overtake/go harder!) and as the course came through the same section so often, he managed to see us four times per lap, which kept the spirits up! Though his immediate, post-finish line analysis of “We need to work on your U-turns!” and “Couldn’t you have attacked earlier if you knew she was going to have you at the U-turn?!” were perhaps slightly less wonderful that the rest of his support throughout the race…

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(The G-man, showing his support for TEAM RONDY! And also taking selfies…we were obviously too slow to keep him sufficiently occupied…)

What have I learnt?

  • There really wasn’t so much to be scared of, the course was pretty safe, well managed and those bloody U-turns strung out the course so there was never really any dangerous bottlenecks or “numpties” in the way.
  • My legs were stronger and lasted longer than I thought they would (though on lap 2 I did wonder how I was going to manage 3 more….) and thanks again to those ‘bloody U-turns’ it brought the average speed down to something less scary!
    I need to work on my cornering so I don’t need to work twice as hard to catch up every time (see G, I’m listening!).
  • You don’t need to be a ‘racer’ to take part in a bike race: in fact it was a real shame there were not more women there – hell, if I can do it, anyone can. I would really encourage any women and/or other ‘non-racers’ from the club to give the next race a go (insert appropriate club champs plug here?!)!
  • Mainly, it was actually really damn good fun. I was expecting to hate most, if not every minute of the race (I don’t really like pain). But, I didn’t, at all, I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, the first thing the third-placed lady (Jess McMorris) said to me when we finished was “oh my god, how much fun was that?!”… I couldn’t agree more!
  • Oh, and I realised I really do like riding my bike more than triathlon… (whoops, did I say that?!)

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Action shot from the Cheerleader – if I’m sticking my tongue out I must’ve been enjoying myself!

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Whoop whoop! Whoever said there’s no prizes for second place?!

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