Monthly Archives: November 2015

Sharpen your pencil

CalendarThe main news is the report from Arran of the recent Singapore Junglecross event, so read on for that gem, but a few of updates for you before you get to that.

First and foremost, make sure you save Saturday 12th December it’s the club Christmas Party, be there or be sent to Coventry.  Those with kids can block out from 4pm with the adults event starting at 6.30.

Second, we’ve been busy at work in a wee sub-group talking about next years trips so pencil some of these into your diaries.

Feb 27 2016 – Bintan Day Trip
March 12 & Sept 10 2016 – The ‘New to 100km’ Desaru Day Trip (specifically designed for the 26-28km av riders looking to increase their distance. Supported by a number of experienced ANZA riders)
March 18-20 2016 – Tour de Phuket
April 29 – May 1 2016 – Kuala Lumpur Trip (new route, new climbs, new pain)
May 20 – 24 2016 – Sun Moon Lake Trip (Taiwan)
June 18-19 2016 – Mersing Trip
July 30 2016 – Desaru Day Trip
Sept 23-25 2016 – Kuala Lumpur Trip (new route, new climbs, new pain)
Nov 25-27 2016 – ANZA Club Championship (TBC)

And third, thanks to Dave Powell, please beware of a new grate in the left most lane of Upper Thomson road just before Thomson Plaza.  The grill is in the direction of travel, is narrower than a wheel but might cause your wheel to slip in line with it.  No accidents there please now you’ve been warned.

So with that, prepare yourself for a weekend of clear skies and riding (hopefully no rain) and…

Let’s be careful; out there.


Cyclocross + Singapore = Junglecross?

By Arran Pearson

Now, much as we of the fat-tyred (or should that be fat and tired?) fraternity like to claim we are cycling’s masters of dirt, riding bikes on unpaved surfaces has a history as long as cycling itself (hint look closely at those old TDF photos and note the gravel on the climbs).  Sadly, the combination of European winters and unsealed surfaces meant that the cycling season would effectively end as the roads simply became muddy and impassable.  Then, as now, if there’s something silly to do then a cyclist will do it and riding through slush to get to work in the colder months eventually blossomed into a sport which is almost as old as road cycling itself – cyclocross.

The traditional cross course is short – 1-2km or so, mostly on grass and contains a number of man-made (think stairs, barriers etc) and natural (mud / sand / snow) obstacles.  Riders race flat out and most laps in an hour wins with tactics playing a bit part as the nature of the obstacles means that sometimes its quicker to get off and run rather than trying to grind it out.  It. Is. Excruciating.  Think racing an uphill crit on grass and you get the idea.

In response to the lack of road racing in Singapore and the dearth of suitable mountain-bike courses, cycosport have put all of that cyclocross (CX) heritage together with mountain biking and hence we have junglecross.  Essentially a short off-road track suitable for both mountain and (for those that are stupid enough) CX bikes.  With a number of categories on offer and a kids race to finish it off it promised to be a fun morning.

The club was well represented with Massimo fronting up to give the Open category a shake, Phil Routley, Mick Lephamer, Chris Rawlings, Noah Geller, Lisbeth Kannis, Peter McQuaid and I running in the opens and The junior Pearsons, Lehpamers and Routleys churning up paddock for the kids races.

The amazing thing about this race was definitely the spectator involvement.  Unlike your typical MTB race, each category went out alone which left plenty of time to grab a cowbell (being handed out by Rapha – one of the co-sponsors), grab a position at the final climb (muddy wall is a more apt description) and yell and cheer the riders coming through – fantastic stuff.

The course itself was good for a first attempt – perhaps a little too mountain-bikey for the cross riding crew (Noah, myself and a couple of Mavs) but then slipping and sliding through the mud is part of the fun and at least when you did fall off the mud made for a soft landing.

Results wise we (ANZA) had a great day with Phil (sandbagger) taking out the Open category with Noah in third (at least we’re claiming third – the end of race timing was somewhat suspect) with Lisbeth taking out the women’s prize and also being awarded most competitive (or was that competitive – hard to tell) rider of the day.

In between the Open and Sport races a small kids race was also put on – these are a regular feature of the Australian race scene but not something that I’ve really seen in Singapore.  Aiden (my son) had been talking non-stop about it for weeks and it turned out to be a highlight of the day – lots of post ride discussion as to the ‘uphill grass bit’ and the need to work on more hill training for the next one.  I think I may have created a monster!

Cycosports is planning another race in late January / early February and with a separate cyclocross race being run on the green corridor January as well it looks like cyclocross, sorry Junglecross is here to stay so if you’ve got a mountain bike / commuter / even a road bike that’s seen better days then front up for the next one.  Best fun on two wheels (and lets face it… you can endure almost anything for an hour!)


Call for nominations

NominateFurther to last weeks post, where we asked you to start thinking about nominations, you were all obviously thinking hard, but now we’d like you to stop thinking and send your suggestions to us.

Awards fall into two categories as usual.


The Serious – Please let us know your nominations for:
Most improved male cyclist
Most improved female cyclist
Female Triathlete
Male Triathlete
Best male rider (doesn’t have to be fastest or toughest, could be the one who met all their goals for the year etc.)
Best female rider
Best male MTB
Best female MTB
Club member of the year – For all round contribution to ANZA Cycling

The not-so Serious
You decide, any humorous or notorious event worthy of a certificate and some playful ribbing

Please send nominations for all the above to

Talking of Christmas, a bundle of presents arrived today, what shall I do with these?

image1 (2)

And with that teaser, it only remains to say….

Let’s be careful out there.


Cape to Cape, Western Australia

By: Mick Lehpamer

Tales From The Dark Side

Seven brave ANZA souls took up the challenge laid down by our MTB Director…  Let’s fly down to Perth, drive for another 3 hours to a sleepy little spot called Margaret River & then go flog ourselves silly doing a 4 day mountain bike stage race amongst 1,000+ other crazies just like us….  And, without a hint of hesitation or reservation, we all say it was bloody AWESOME!!


Stage 1 – Just look at that photo… Nothing more needs to be said! If you need more convincing watch my 23 second video..(ANZA Facebook Thursday 22nd). Where else can you ride on the pristine beach ½ way through a killer first stage! And did I mention sand… yes, sand, sand, sand & more of the stuff…

Hint for next year… go practice on the stuff as it was everywhere!


Stage 2 – Sand…  a little less than yesterday but just enough to remind you that you still hate it.  Once again, majestic views of an awesome coast line followed by some pea gravel single track to test your handling skills..  And you got to love a stage that finishes at a winery!  Half way through and we all just wanted more!  Let’s not mention the speed bump Gilles…


Stage 3 – The Pines  – Singletrack heaven!  Some of the best singletrack I have ever ridden..  Simply awesome!  This is why you go mountain biking and until you experience it & the thrill of nailing the berms, jumping a huge tabletop complete with a hooting crowd, cow bells ringing  & a screaming chainsaw  (yes, there was a guy with a chainsaw cheering us on) you have not biked!  And to cap it off… this stage finished at a brewery!

Stage 4 – With somewhat tired (read concrete) legs, the 7 brave ANZA MTB souls raced strongly to the finish line…  we were once again spoilt with awesome singletrack, tough pinch climbs, screaming fast downhills and a few sections of blacktop to ease the pain …  we were all greeted with a huge cheer as we all successfully completed an amazing, stunningly beautiful MTB stage race!


Who finished where… who cared? Well… we did.. just a little..  The ANZA pecking order went Phil, Arran, Me, John, Fredrik, Liesbeth & Gilles…  We’ve now all set our base times & we’re all going back to beat them next year…  Who’s coming with us?


Yes, Yes it is nearly Christmas again

christmas countdownOk, let’s get the articles out the way up front for a change.  We have a great write up of the Taiwan KOM from Dione, demonstrating our RTI principle that if you’re an ANZA member we’ll claim the credit for your achievements no matter what jersey you’re wearing at the time.  Don has news of the strange sport called cyclocross which for us takes place in a jungle as we don’t have any sand dunes in Singapore.  And following some confusion after the reintroduction of ride captains to our rides, The Gentleman Cyclist returns with useful information on how to settle the arguments.

Now on to the exciting topic of Xmas and the ANZA Cycling party.  Please start thinking and nominating your thoughts for awards.  Awards fall into two categories as usual.

The Serious – Please let us know your nominations for:
Most improved male cyclist
Most improved female cyclist
Female Triathlete
Male Triathlete
Best male rider (doesn’t have to be fastest or toughest, could be the one who met all their goals for the year etc.)
Best female rider
Best male MTB
Best female MTB
Club member of the year – For all round contribution to ANZA Cycling

The not-so Serious
You decide, any humorous or notorious event worthy of a certificate and some playful ribbing

Please send nominations for all the above to

Finally, please check out Facebook for Neridah’s post.  After a serious uptick in the number of weekend away rides we have run this year, we hope those that took part enjoyed them and would like to help keep the bike rolling.  If so, we’d like your help to fashion the 2016 ride calendar and of course a few volunteers to make them happen.  No experience necessary, just bags of enthusiasm and an ability to answer the 50th email asking “have you booked me a hotel room?” with a smile and a wave.

Ok that’s it from me except of course the usual

Let’s be careful out there.

The scary, exotic event that is the Taiwan KOM

KOM back to TaipeiBy Dione Wang

I first heard about the Taiwan KOM after having crashed halfway down Faber on a wet and slippery weekend morning last October. Barry Davies came to my rescue and explained that he was doing hill repeats to prepare for a 105 km race up a 3,275m mountain in Taiwan. I shook my head in dazed disbelief at such a mad exploit and ducked into a taxi, certain I’d go nowhere close to something so unfathomable.

Fast forward a few months and I joined ANZA Cycling, reading the RTI and hearing about all kinds of intrepid two-wheeled adventures. The healthy pool of strong cyclists generous with sharing their experiences meant that stories like those of the KOM were circulating, and at some point by some osmotic, subconscious process I had ignored my better judgement and decided I’d sign myself up for the 2015 race.

This was of course in complete disregard of the fact that up until that point I had never climbed more than 1,500m, and certainly never attempted anything steeper than the “steep” side of Faber. Of course, being in Anza Cycling means you absorb craziness and bunch riding skills in equal doses [If only it were in equal measure. Ed.], and I told myself I’d somehow make it through.

And so it was with this in mind that I set out to better educate myself, reading the rich online literature out there about training and nutrition and the scary, exotic event that is the Taiwan KOM. Indeed, many evocative words have been written about this race (including Hish’s RTI piece), turning it into somewhat of a cultish event gaining in popularity and mythical status.

Accounts of the race are generally potent mixtures of the brutal and the beautiful, painting the KOM route as a captivating, cruel mistress stealing hearts and sometimes crushing dreams. Last year’s edition was particularly dramatic, with abysmally cold weather sending the brave few who persevered and finished into uncontrollable hypothermic shivering. So when Andrew asked me on Tuesday to offer a woman’s account of this year’s race I was a little hesitant, wondering if I might be able to offer anything interesting at all. But the chance to write for the RTI was all too tempting, and I agreed [If you keep up the flattery, we’ll have to ask you again. Ed.].

While I’d like to say I took advantage of my flexible student’s schedule to put in tons of solid training hours on the bike, the truth was that I have been too unfocused with conflicting triathlon and cycling goals. And so I was very glad for the monthly ANZA outings to Malaysia and Indonesia to log some decent traffic-free road bike miles. Neridah’s Frasers trip in March was especially helpful, giving a taster of what a sustained climb would feel like.

Along the way I also joined Arrivo Primo Singapura (APS), feeling rather out of place and tremendously lucky to kill myself holding the wheels of machine triathletes. The trips to undulating Bintan certainly gave me some endurance and strength, and slowly but surely my FTP crept upwards towards my 4W/kg goal. My training schedule typically involved 3 trainer sessions during the week and 1 or 2 long weekend rides.

It wasn’t however until I met my current coach, Barry Ziza — a top Israeli triathlete— in Jerusalem this summer that I started training semi-seriously for the KOM. The never-ending hills around Jerusalem were perfect, and I found myself back in the Holy Land in September for more rides climbing 1,000m in 40 km — the fact that I rode a Peter Sagan-autographed Cannondale didn’t hurt. Back in Singapore with the haze in early October, Barry put me to work with ankle weights on the trainer and some very dull dark hours of strength training.

By this time APS had formed a team of 6 going to the KOM, and we’d get together riding all the hills we could find in Singapore. This little island actually isn’t as flat as you might think once you start getting deliberate about finding climbs! Batshit crazy haze one weekend also meant that pro triathlete Kathryn Haesner and I tackled an epic 5.5 hours Coach Troy DVD together….misery loves company.

The last week before the race was terribly stressful for me, and tapering only meant lots of pent-up nervous energy. Thankfully Bruce Swales was a huge help, very generously lending me his lightweight wheels and a brand-new bike case. With that and a 32-tooth cassette (paired with a compact, being the weakling that I am [I’m sure somebody once said that the true mark of strength is knowing ones own weaknesses, or some such motivational *&^%. Ed.]), I was ready to go.

Most of the APS team — Timothy Cosulich, Matthew White, Marcin Szot, Kathryn Haesner, Luca Ronsisvalle, and myself — took a red-eye Scoot flight landing in Taipei 24 hours before the race. We deftly manoeuvred our bike cases and ourselves into taxis for the main station where the KOM organisers had shuttles to take us 170 km to our race hotel in Hualien. Scott Ellinger, the KOM’s international campaign director, filled the 4-hour drive with his larger-than-life personality and vignettes of cycling and his Green Beret days, but mostly I hid in the back and dozed. I did however catch some of the gorgeous scenery along the way — verdant greens and the blue of the Pacific ocean.

After checking in at the race hotel I got to work unpacking my bike — being a poor mechanic I struggled with the less straightforward parts; thankfully there were helpful cyclists all around. Not always a bad thing being a woman! A quick spin around town with Kath in the mild 24C weather to check that everything was working and we were down for a solid, boring pre-race dinner made less boring by the presence of the defending champion John Ebsen. John looked every bit the climbing specialist he is — all muscle and bone and a serious, soft-spoken nature.

APS was supported by our sponsors Argon 18 and Vision, who went out of their way to explain how our team cars would work. With the rosy weather predictions of 24C at the start and 10-12C at the summit I stashed a bright blue bag in the team car with arm warmers, a vest, and a light rain jacket.

The rest of the evening was spent making sure bikes and gear and nutrition were all in order for the mad day ahead; by this time I’d seen and spoken to quite a few of the other 45 women cyclists, all of whom seemed stronger and more experienced. Thankfully the day’s travels had tired me out and I fell asleep without too much trouble at 10 pm.

KOM pre-race APS
Once an ANZA cyclist we’ll take credit for your endeavors whatever kit you wear!

Race day
Race day dawned crisp at 4 am and after another solid boring meal we rolled our way to the start, where organisers had already gotten a show going with dancers and music. We checked our day bags with warm clothes for the summit, took some team photos, and lined up at the starting line in the first third of the 412 peloton.

The first 18 km was a flat, neutralised coastal section giving everyone a good warmup before the road rose (gently at this point) at the start of the climb. So far I had kept to coach Barry’s firm instructions to stay in the small ring and below 80% HRmax, but as the peloton began to thin out it seemed the whole world was going by me and I had trouble keeping my anxiety and heart rate in check. I forced myself to calm down and enjoy the twisting mountain road curving calmly up at an average of 3,4% for the first 20 km.

Amateurs have the luxury of soaking in the majestic views of plunging cliffs, massive boulders, and pristine forests….that is, if they keep it rubber side down through the pitch-black tunnels. After the race I heard of a few crashes as cyclists hit the metal grating (a bit similar to the one at Keppel Viaduct) going in and out of the pitch-dark tunnels, and a professional cyclist (Brett Lindstrom) quipped that he’d shut his eyes just to make things more fun.

KOM 2The next 8 km averaged 5,1% and before you knew it you’d climbed 915m to the 46 km mark where there was a water stop but no bathroom. By this time I was in desperate need to pee, and after some anguished debating with myself ducked behind a hut a few km’s down the road and congratulated myself for a smart move — the next 18 km rose over 700m, with the steepest pitch at 12%. It was only around this time that I finally settled into a rhythm keeping a good cadence and a steady heart rate. I managed to catch some who’d passed me earlier by the 80 km mark and thanks to the caffeine and sugar didn’t quite feel the 2,150m ascent. The air was cool, the views gorgeous, and it looked like it was going to be a perfect day ahead — lucky us! Even the absence of the team car didn’t dampen my good spirits; I focused on breathing, on switching between holding the tops and the hoods, on eating and drinking, and the back pain which bothered me in the first 40 km vanished.

A pitch-black Bilui Tunnel at the 85 km mark opened sharply into a 5,3 km descent at -3% — although I had the route taped to my top tube I was caught off guard and took a while before I focused on cutting clean lines rather than hanging on to the brakes. The descent was a welcome, very fun break and it was only 80m of elevation lost. At this point I’d caught the amazing vegan pro Christine Vardaros twice but she looked too serious for chitchat — later I found out she was riding through crippling back pain!

The 91 km mark at GuanYang was the start of the end for me. After another pee stop (this time behind a team car with a Taiwanese driver — speaking the local language saves you lots of time and effort!) I realised I was out of food, having stupidly left 3 gels in the team car. Thankfully the 4 km after this rose only 200m, and the insanity didn’t start until DaYuLing at 95 km. The finish was 10 km away at an average of 11%…I was beginning to lose my mind. Zigzagging up a 15% pitch  in my lowest gear I crashed into the barrier at an inglorious speed of 3 km/h and took forever to regain my composure while the whole world went past again. My teammate Matt saw the hilarious moment from behind and pointed out it’d make a great video for the APS awards dinner.

I might be ruining it all for the masochists out there, but while the supposed 300m climb at 27,3% had planted fear and trepidation deep within me, it seemed this pitch never materialised. I did however hug the outside of a hairpin which read 17-18%; masochists are free to choose the shortest way up. The last 5 km was nightmarish for me — I didn’t notice the altitude, but my legs were completely shot even though my heart rate stayed within 75%. I knew I’d finish well within the cutoff time, and mentally shut down. Another APS teammate Marcin whom I saw bravely struggle through cramps earlier gave me a very welcome push, but even that mental and physical respite couldn’t get me to focus for long. Crossing the finish line was therefore anticlimactic for me — I’d envisioned giving it my all in the last 20 minutes, but instead my brain was fried and legs just refused to cooperate.

KOM finishAfter a few quick team photos at the summit — I had held everyone up, especially Tim C who finished 50 minutes ahead of me — we put on our warm clothes and rode the very dodgy 2 km downhill dodging cars and people to get to the hotel shuttles. Kath however had no time to celebrate her remarkable 5 h finish — she jumped into a van taking her south to Kenting, where she’d place 5th in the pro field of the Taiwan 70.3 fewer than 48 hours later.

We all found it odd that the awards ceremony wasn’t held the evening of the race, but the next day 170 km away in Taipei. Left to our own devices, we went out to a local restaurant where I translated badly, and were entertained by a thoroughly excitable taxi driver on the way back. I explained in Mandarin that we were in town for a “competition” with no detail as to what sort of competitive endeavour, and he immediately started raving about how stunningly brilliant it is to be in a “competition”.

The fun and drama didn’t end then — the next day’s shuttle ride to Taipei was interrupted by a mudslide closing off the mountain road. Kudos to the organisers who handled the situation with finesse, putting 400 cyclists on the train while the bikes stayed in the shuttles…it later transpired that the drivers had to make an epic journey up Wuling and down the other side! As for the cyclists, there was plenty of beer and good company on the train and nothing to complain about, and we arrived at the Fushin hotel in Taipei for the awards ceremony and a fantastic buffet dinner afterwards.

After being nicely fed we were taken to the excellent La Maison hotel where we were reunited with our bikes. Determined to drink more beer, the decision was made to head to the Brass Monkey downtown for Halloween and rugby world cup finals. After enjoying more cycling talk and a brilliant rugby match with Alan Grant and the few APS left, I finally collapsed into a coma-like sleep at 2 am.

Thank you and see you next year!
All in all, it was without doubt the most rewarding bike race and overall experience I’ve had in my (admittedly short) life. The Taiwan Cycling Federation pulled off yet another successful event, and Lee Rodgers and Scott Ellinger did a great job of herding cats all of whom had expensive bikes and unique needs. My gratitude to APS and ANZA for the invaluable support and encouragement, I always learn something new on a group ride or chat. And certainly I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish any of this without my coach Barry, whose knowledge and patience I have drained again and again. My only recommendation to readers is to train for the endurance and strength, and to sign up for the 2016 race!

The Gentleman Cyclist on Ride Captains

cycle_for_kingDear TGC

A prickly problem has presented itself and I need your worldly wise advice.  I was on a social ride with my cycling club recently and they have just introduced ride captains to help guide those less knowledgeable in the ways of the club ride etiquette.  This is clearly a step forward, but on my ride there were at least 4 ride captains and they were all shouting advice.  I’m usually good at following orders but what I need to know is what to do in a situation where the ride captains disagree or issue contradictory instructions.  Who do I listen to.  I don’t want to cause offence or seem like I’m not doing what I’m told.

Yours confusedly

Vacillating Victor

Dear Victor

Oh dear, oh dear, what a pickle you are in.  There should never be more than one ride captain on any given ride, and if there are then those who are not in the hot seat for the day should courteously take a back seat.  That said, however as we know from long days in the automobile, those that do not drive do so feel the need to issue instructions as if they were, and so I believe there are some social pecking order rules that you should follow in the eventuality that you have multiple captains to listen to.

  1. Is one a Gentleman? A gentleman, particularly if said gentleman is a minor Royal should always be listened to, he is born knowing how to give orders and has practiced this gift from birth by bossing the domestic staff around because none of his own family will listen to him.  You can identify him by his plus fours and possibly a tweed cycling jacket, although in the hotter climes of Singapore, he may be found in a light beige suit.
  2. cycling officerIs one an officer? Or dare I say an actual Captain?  Officers should always be obeyed, if not for their ability to marshal troops across hazardous terrain swarming with natives then for the fact that they are trained to kill you with the second knuckle of their little finger without anybody noticing.  Such punishment looks just like you his a pot hole while going for your water bottle.  If no officer is available then a Sergeant Major will do, again not because they know what they are doing but because the bellow with such alarming volume that you just feel compelled to obey.
  3. Is one called Bradley and has outrageous ginger mutton chops? If so, just do as you’re told, he knows what he’s talking about.  He just does alright!
  4. Is one a member of the club committee. A long way down on the list, but hey, we’re just establishing a pecking order here.
  5. Finally anybody else who is officially nominated as ride captain should be listened to in alphabetical order, or if you prefer by date of birth.

Now, of course, there is one exception to all of those that takes precedence and that is if one of your ride captains is a member of the fairer sex.  If that is the case, just do as you’re told for a peaceful life!

I hope this helps you stop your vacillating Victor.

Happy Riding


Tuesday is a holiday. Go racing!

This coming Tuesday sees the Deepavali public holiday. For those still in mourning about the postponement of Tour De Bintan, there is a race event taking place in Bukit Timah – the inaugural Cycosports Jungle Cross.

Bukit Timah? Yes indeed – the race will take place on a brand new trail in Turf City.

Jungle Cross is a new Series aimed at everyone who wants to go off-road in Singapore. The event will be held on a regular basis with the idea of developing a series of races across different skill sets, bike types and ages. The course itself is mostly flat and would suit anyone with a bit of fitness with a mountain bike or Cyclocross bike.

the course itself is a 2km purposely designed loop. Depending on category chosen, you’ll then do between 5 and 7 laps.


The Series is for the whole family, with entertainment and food to keep everyone happy while the races are underway. There’s even a kids race available. Unsure? Come on down and check out the action for yourself.
Registration is an incredible bargain and less than $50. Sign up now at: