Tag Archives: Bintan

Stuff that happens in Bintan

Tour de Bintan

The Measuring Stick by
Reuben Bakker

“Any fit 40 something can be fast on a bike” – Random quote I picked up while digesting too much information online about trying to ride a bike fast.

I last wrote a post for this blog about adventures of my first multi-day road race, the Masters Tour of Chiang Mai in October 2016.  It was quite an experience that left me wanting more.

In the four months since, I had a couple of transition weeks, two weeks off for surgery, an “early festive 500”, a two week vacation and then 8 weeks of moderately intense training for the next stage race on the local calendar, the Tour de Bintan.

As it is easier to write, let me divide this post up into several shorter parts to tell the story of my Tour de Bintan experience.

The Prep Work:

Returning to training from my 2 week Christmas vacation left me in a world of hurt as I don’t have years of base like some folks do; I jealously marveled at others who were able to take a couple of weeks off and then bang out a fast Saturday ride with what looked to be a regular effort.  After reading a bit of The Cyclists Training Bible (Joel Friel) and The Time Crunched Cyclist (Chris Carmichael) along with a free 2 week trial account from Today’s Plan, I hacked together an 8 week plan to get me ready.

I want to go fast.  And everything that I read about wanting to make significant gains revolved around intervals.  So I traded in my weekday group rides for 5am loops around Lornie and Queensway multiple times a week, first starting with 3×8 minute intervals and eventually ending up with 4×20 minutes.  Intervals are a grind and by week 7, I was quite happy to see these disappear from the program as I tapered into the race week.

Let me interlude this post;

The week before Bintan, I had the opportunity to ride in the 35-44 year age group of the Car Free Sunday Criterium race. With 3 laps to go, I was in the thick of things, well, the group chasing the solo breakaway, spending time as the front wheel for a straight away or two (a rookie racing mistake I knew I was committing at the time).  Then, with half a lap left and tired of being on the front, I let off in effort for a bit.  WHOOSH, the group went by.  I got onto the back of the group, but thinking I didn’t have a massive effort left in me for a podium or even top 10 finish, I just maintained the pace while the pack hammered to the finish and dropped some 10+ seconds behind the front of this group.  This lack of finishing prowess would become a theme in Bintan.

Tour de Bintan Day 1:

Friday started early with a 25km zone 1 ride to the Tanah Marah ferry terminal.  I even got to sleep in compared with a usual training ride.  I was so proud of being number one in line, I announced it to my ANZA sub-chat group.  Note to self:  you can show up at 7:30am and still avoid the long lines.   The check-in and bike transfer were seamless.  Hats off to the Tour de Bintan folks and their partners for logistics.  The ferry was choppy.  I saw the vomit bags come out and the ferry staff collecting full bags.  I tried to rest with my eyes shut, but then it came.  First just a bit more than spit, but then with 10 minutes to go, all the breakfast came out.  I was later told that I won the award for loudest vomiting.

Early check-in was done, my bike picked up, race briefing attended and race kit put together, it was time to head over to the 16.7km Individual Time Trial (ITT) course.  It was 12:30 and with an hour until the ladies started rolling down the ramp, I’d have to hurry to complete a course recce.  As soon as I left the tree-lined street of Nirwana Gardens, I felt the wind.  It was STRONG.  With dreams of smashing a 43kph ITT effort, I quietly wept inside.  I finished the recce just as the first lady rolled down the ramp, happy with knowledge of the final (and largest) hill as well as knowing about some speed humps and other smaller hills etc.

At 14:48, I rolled down the ramp.  You can see my first race mistake in this photo (thanks James!).  I’m fiddling with my Garmin less than 20 meters from the start (maybe that’s my second mistake as I’m also wearing mismatched kit).  Head down but still in the hoods, it is hard to find any rhythm with the buffeting winds.  I hit my target heart rate quickly and just keep going.  Soon I pass the guy who started in front of me and I just keep on going.  Saving energy going down hills and using a bit more energy going up.  Around the golf course I ‘flew’.  On the way back to the start, the wind is at my back.  I’m flying, but know there isn’t enough course to get my average speed to the dream of well above 40kph.  Then comes the hill.  I know I’m supposed to power up this with every ounce of strength in my body as ‘more watts going up hills’ saves you time compared to ‘more watts on the flats.’  For some reason I don’t do it.  I didn’t slack going up, but I didn’t empty my effort either.  A bit disappointed with myself, I push on.  I cross the line and shut off the Garmin.  Generally I’m happy and even let out an energetic grunt or three.

My time, officially 25:06, left me in 5th place of the cat (20 seconds off the podium) and is 19th fastest on the day.  As a measuring stick, I was well over a minute off the day’s leaders.

I stick around with the ANZA folk cheering on people we know, consume some calories and then roll back to Nirwana Gardens with dark clouds in the sky.

Tour de Bintan Day 2:

Day two starts with me waking up on the floor, listening to rain.  The mattress in my “budget accommodation” was too soft for the liking of my back, so I did what I needed to do to ensure I woke up as healthy as possible.  Walking over to breakfast, I thought nothing of the very light sprinkles at the time.  Then the sky opened up.  The rain radar was checked and it was purple!

As I ate breakfast with James and Sofiane, I lamented about my second rookie mistake, not sending the bike over to the start line and taking the bus over.  James and I had planned to ride over.  Luckily the purple radar rain moved on and at 6:30 I rolled up under an almost clear sky to meet James.  Having been at the hotel lobby for a couple of minutes already, James had seen a couple of people put their bikes in the trunk of a bus.  In the name of safety, we smiled at the driver of the next bus, motioned to our bikes and he happily obliged by opening his trunk.

Upon rolling off for the 140km stage, the roads were wet, there was a light drizzle but I imagine the 100+ person peloton and many hundreds more in other waves were happy it wasn’t pouring.  After a 2+ km neutral roll-out, the group kept going forward, slowly.  We were ‘allowed’ to go faster, but it seems like nobody wanted to.  I ‘figured’ on the ‘famed red road’ (some 20km from the race start) the race would ‘start’.  It didn’t.  I don’t even think anybody even tried to go off the front.  Maybe there was a surge, but to say the pace was relaxed would be an understatement.  It felt like a coffee ride.  In sandals.

At some point, I don’t know when, the pace did pick up, we did finish with a 37.2kph average, but we just kept rolling along.  The sun came out, the group separated and eventually there were ~ 20-30 of us with 3 riders off the front in ‘an allowed breakaway’.  I wasn’t paying attention so I didn’t know who was in it (my third mistake).  Though it felt slow, I was putting out some effort as the cramps came sometime before the 3 hour mark.  Nothing major, but just a soreness here and a twinge there to let me know my legs were somewhat hurting.  I tried to consume more calories, but not enough as the cramps never really went away over the final 50+ km (my fourth mistake).

At the 100km mark, we were going up a hill.  Not fast, just a nice steady pace.  I down shifted the rear derailleur with the intent to easily power over the hill and then heard a snap and then chunk-chunk-chunk sound as my RD shifted to the 11t.  UH-OH;  I’m in the toughest gear on my bike and half way up the hill.  My cadence slows down.  I stand up.  I grind and grind and grind; each rotation is an effort to get my foot around.  The lead group goes past me.  After probably 20 seconds that felt like 200, I crest the hill and am only 50 meters off the back.   I get up to speed and onto the back of the group, thankful that nobody is pushing the pace.

I spend the next 5 minutes figuring things out.  I check my front derailleur.  It works, but only when there isn’t a lot of pressure on the chain.  OK, I have a 39-11t and a 50-11t gear.  One for hills (and just drafting in the group) and one for the flats and any surges.  At this point in time, I become very thankful for the 20 minute intervals with significant time spent spinning at low RPM.

The group moves on.  I sit in.  Between my gearing and the minor cramping, I am forced to ride ‘smart’ and just sit-in, well, most of the time.  The kilometers pass by.  With ~ 10km to go, we absorb two riders from the breakaway.  Now there is a bit more life as everyone knows there are two podium spots in the group.  Still, there is no impetus to push the pace (except for Ben).  The small hills roll on and the rain picks up to more than a steady drizzle.  With only a few km to go, the pace picks up, but nothing stupid fast.  The one km sign appears and people start jockeying.  Given my gearing and not knowing if there were any more ‘up-hill sections’ I just sit in.  We round the corner and see the finish line.  I see an open line and hammer it, but there are many riders ahead of me.  I finish in 10th place, about a second or so behind the 2nd place and nearly 2 minutes behind the stage winner.  There were 15 of us left in the chase group at the finish.

A quick visit to the on-site mechanic stand says that they can fix my bike back at the race HQ, so I send the bike for the bike transfer station, consume some calories, share and listen to race stories (like how Frank Reynaerts had a 80km breakaway, got caught and then finished 2nd in his 45-49 age group).  We cheer on fellow ANZA members as they go up on the podium and then board the bus back to Nirwana Gardens.

Tour de Bintan Day 3:

I wake up on the floor again but this time with a mosquito buzzing around my ear.  Oh well.  My bike is fixed, I have enough sleep and am ready to go for another day of racing.

Breakfast is consumed, a brief warm-up is done, everything is packed into the jersey pockets and I’m off to the start-line, this time at Nirwana Gardens.  It is time to probe on who is going to do what.  I received a tip the night before to watch what number 2 is going to do (from Adam).  That was my plan.  On the start however, I was given a second option in being told that an unexpected rider would try to make a break.  I told them I was in for trying, as long as it wasn’t in the first 20km or so.

The race starts.  I thought it would be more lively than day two, but it wasn’t.  there were a couple of half hearted surges off the front, but the first 20km went by at a recovery ride pace.  The next 20km was also uneventful but for some cursing from one team to another about attacking through a feedzone (I was on the front so got to witness this up close).  40km down and some 70km to go.  I’m feeling good, not really wanting to push the pace, but am rotating around in the first 10 wheels of the group.

Somebody goes off the front and then a second.  I’m thinking, is this it?  They aren’t fully pushing it.  Perhaps they’re just probing, but I know one of the guys up there is they guy I was told about.  OK.  I’m in.  I surge off the front, bringing a 4th guy with me (I think this is how it went down).  We crest a hill and tuck into a 4 man paceline.  After a minute or 2, we are still clear of the group and ED (of 852, Hong Kong) gives the orders: 30 seconds in the front, flip your right elbow and rotate back.

There are 60+km to go.  There are four of us, representing four teams, ANZA (your author), Matadors (Romain Barbier), Mavericks (Ruairi Brown) and 852 (Ed Chadwick).  As the Mavericks are currently holding yellow, the Maverick rider with us has no interest in helping the break going fast.  He is there to mind us.  We slow down from 42 to 38 kph whenever he is in the front.  Either he isn’t as strong or just wants to slow us down.  It doesn’t matter.  He has to go.  Luckily a bridge comes into sight.  After the bridge, he is no longer with us.  Did we drop him?  Did he sit up?  Doesn’t matter.  There are now three of us.  Camaraderie is formed.  Encouragement is given.  Each of us wants to win, but for any of us to succeed, we NEED each other to be equals for the next 50+km.  We remind each other to eat and drink.  The wind is beating down on us.  The sun is hot.  We go on as my Garmin counts down the distance.  It seems like after an hour, we get our first time gap information.  I hear 4.5 minutes or so.  WOW!  My head cannot comprehend it.  I’m elated and prematurely start dreaming of yellow (my fifth mistake).  We go on.  20 minutes later, or so it seems, we hear that the time gap has closed to under 2 minutes.  Time to press on.

Finally, we reach check-point Charlie and know that there is only 15km to the finish, but there are still a few large rolling hills.  Going over the speed humps, Ed’s lone bottle falls out.  He is spent and shouts to Romain and I to go on.  We do.  I’m feeling it.  There haven’t been any cramps yet, but mindful of how my legs felt the previous day, I don’t go into overdrive and keep things nice and steady.  Going up one of the bigger hills, I slow down and stand up.  In a momentary lapse, Romain’s front wheel grazes my rear.  He stays upright but goes off the road onto the gravel.  I peek back, see him still upright and wonder if I should stop and wait or keep pressing.  I keep pressing.

I’m last man standing with under 10km to the finish.  If the race ended now, I’d have won and maybe even stolen Yellow.  But this wasn’t the end.  I pressed on.  Saving energy on the down hills and tapping out the inclines, always telling myself: don’t cramp, don’t cramp, don’t cramp.  I make the right hand turn with 5km to go.  Then the left hand turn with 3km to go.  I begin to think about the finish.  How to handle the cobblestone round-about and the small but non-negligible incline at the last km (tips from Raoul the night before).  I get a little confused just before the round-about with the direction of the road, but get to my preferred side and I’m still last man standing.

THEN I SEE YELLOW beside me.  I look at the Garmin and see 1.7km left.  How long was he stalking me? I see the 2nd place in the GC standing and then a second later 3rd place.  I’m deflated.  My legs are spent.  I try to crack a joke or two as they sit with me over the next 30 seconds.  They don’t respond (verbally).  Then, Bastian responds with his legs and attacks.  The other two follow.  I follow too, but not with any vigor (my seventh mistake – later I’d realize my sixth mistake).  I’m spent and seeing the three podium spots ride away from me like I’m standing still I just press on at my moderate pace.  Just before the finish line, I’m passed by three more riders and finish in 7th, some 15 seconds behind the stage winner Bastian.  We stop some 500m past the finish line.  Congrats are given, backs are patted, fists are bumped and hands are shaken.  That’s racing.  Feeling both happy and dejected, the bike gets put against a tree and I go searching for fluids.

Thus ends the racing portion of the weekend.  I end up 5th in the GC.  I decide that I met my goal of the weekend of ‘racing strong and making some noise’, but unfortunately no podiums.

Calories are consumed.  Award ceremonies are watched, my bike is sent to the bike depot for transfer back to Singapore and my room is hastily packed.  The ferry ride over is uneventful and no vomiting.

I load my 20kg bag onto my back (my 8th mistake – next year, leave the floor pump, bike lock and half my tools at home) and slowly pedal 25km home for recovery ride 1, thinking about what I learned over the weekend.  This is where I realized m 6th mistake:  When you’re in a 90+ minute break and know you either commit for [potential] glory or fail early, EAT YOUR CALORIES;  ALL OF THEM.  I finished stage 3 with over 2 gels left in my gel bottles and a handful of apricots.

Back to the measuring stick.  I’m improving, but there is still work to do.  There are areas to work on.  Back to the quote from the beginning:  “Any fit 40 something can be fast on a bike.”  This is true (well, I’m not 40 yet…).  But now comes the hard part of trying to be a contender: finishing strong.

Daytrip to Bintan. Daytrip to Bintan. Daytrip to Bintan…..

NIK_6630Now before you all get on you soap boxes and say how insensitive I am for mentioning this.  I checked with the lady in question and she was fine with me mentioning the slight memory loss she suffered last week in Bintan.

Now before you all get on your soap boxes… Ok, enough of this hilarity, it was actually quite scary for somebody who had never seen first hand what a bump on the head can do, and we can use it as a little lesson learning exercise as I think, maybe, there was one thing we should have done differently.  Those better trained in first aid can tell us the other things.

Bintan Daytrip.  Done it many many times.  Standard drill.  Do group photo, check. One fast group, check.  One slow group, check.  Support vans for both, check.  Only this time even better, with motor cycle out riders to patrol the turns and make sure we all go the right way.

No problems, uncheck.

Rick: “has anybody seen my bag?”
Everybody: “Where did you put it?”
Rick: “In the car that was at the front”
Everybody “Err, that wasn’t one of our cars”
Miss Ner(local nickname for Neridah) “F&*%%$ Id^^$, I told you which car to put it in, F*#&* it we’re leaving”

I look around as Rick gets his driver to start calling other drivers, when I look back my larger slow group has left with Miss Ner, and I do the old “F^%& it, he’s a big boy and can sort it out and this is Miss Ner’s trip anyway”

It’s 9.15, the ferry home is booked for 3.35, the fast squad plan to do 170km, anybody see the problem with this equation?  Motoring is the word I would use, and they’re standing around trying to track down a lost bag!

Anyway, noting much to report, riding riding riding.  The fast boys eventually catch us and I throw out a playful “you need to be going faster than that if you plan to make your ferry”.  I think I heard a ‘thank you’, but you know how it is when your riding, sometimes your hearing isn’t quite what it could be.

No dramas, a few tired riders by the end of the red road, but otherwise all is well.  A nice tailwind assisted (I know there is no such thing as a tailwind, we just rode strong) trip down the coast.

All is going well, although Bintan is showing signs of getting the better of me just for a change, so I come to the top of a hill to find two of the team on the deck, a small wheel touch at the crest of the hill and it’s first blood to Bintan.  No worries, a minor mishap, onwards troops!

Feeling a little better.
Feeling a little better.

So I swear it can’t have been more than 2km further down the road when Teressa decides she wants to get better acquainted with her rural side and takes a dive into the dirt.  We stop again, and she’s sitting up looking fine, just a well dusted shoulder, which I’m guessing must have hurt like hell on Monday.  After a few minutes of chatting, checking over ensuring nothing is damaged on the bike, or her I guess, she announces she is good to go, but we thought it would be a good idea to call the van back which as bad luck would have it had just raced ahead to deposit two tired riders a little further up the road and closer to home.  The news that the van was heading in the other direction left us with a dilemma.  To sit and wait, knowing that we’re on a bit of a schedule if we plan to make it back to the ferry in time for the 3.35 or listen to the patient who looks ok, is reacting ok, and says she is ok.  We decide she’s ok to roll gently just to keep us moving and to close the gap to the van.

Less than 1000m later and half way up a small hill Teressa stops again and Matt and I circle back to make sure she it ok.

Teressa: “I have no idea where I am or how I got here”NIK_6663
Me: “Get off the bike and sit down!”

Teressa then proceeded to tell Matt and me that she didn’t know what happened, Matt explained a slight touch of wheels had brought her down.  She apologised for holding us up, then repeated the question, and again, and again, and again!  I look at Matt, he looks at me and we share a “Oh Crap!” moment of understanding.  Quite NIK_6687an impact now became evident on her helmet and Miss Ner later discovered that it had done its job and cracked right through on the inside.

That’s pretty much the end of the cycling write up.  We split the group into slower group to leave now, faster to stay behind until the van arrived to transport Teressa and after a few more km I joined her in the van having been burnt up by the faster group.  Still in good spirits, she announced that some of the other riders looked a bit tired and NIK_6689maybe she should swap with them to which my reply was an emphatic “You’re not going anywhere”

A tough day’s riding as can be seen from Johan’s expression and fortunately no permanent damage, just a night of observation in Hotel Gleneagles.

Anything we should have done differently?  If there is a next time, and I hope there isn’t, we’ll be insisting that anybody that takes knock to the head during a ride retires for the rest of the ride and takes the chauffeured trip home.

Let’s be careful out there people!


Tour de Kepri

Nico Las

You’ve suffered on the Red Road of Hell at Tour de Bintan and you want more multi-stage races like it in the region? You’ve tested yourself and cramped up in the heat of the Batam 6 Bridges (aka Tour de Barelang) and loved the pain? Brace yourself for the promising Tour de Kepri! A challenging course and a very well thought programme.

I was not overly excited when Cycosport announced the Tour de Kepri in replacement of the Desaru race. Of course they had always organised their events wonderfully. But what was this one about? Not a race, why go then? And where is Kepri, could someone tell me?

Then came Megan, recruiting ANZA volunteers, to join the Tour as ride captains. All we had to do was to turn up on the Saturday at Harbourfront Ferry, follow the instructions to Batam island, and implement the group riding rules that we follow during our club rides. The primary objective was to ensure that particpants from all kinds of backgrounds would stay in a safe peloton and shout out the pot holes. Also these were going to be no-drop rides so we would have to look after the dehydrated and the weak, and to police the pace of the rides.

As a certified “cat herder” trained on several trips to Malaysia and Indonesia this year, I volunteered and joined Adrian (Muir), John (Versfeld) and Dave (Powell). Lizzie (Hodges) hadn’t recovered from a field trip with her class and missed it : (

As usual with Cycosport, they had chartered an entire ferry to Batam and took care of all our immigration formalities. Sweet and smooth trip. Bastian Dohling was the captain of the captains so he dispatched us on the various groups. I was going to look after the Cat 3s with Adrian.

Once we got to Batam we started to realise that this was going to be a big event. Same race village as for the 6 bridges, food, drinks, massive mobilisation from the local government, with hundreds of volunteers and police force ready to open the roads for us. There I was told that Kepri meant “Kepulauan Riau” = “Riau Archipelago”. So this was really going to be the “Tour de Batam and Bintan”! Like playing ball game on a double-sized pitch! C’est beau!

ANZA had a decent contingent including Bev and Colin, Lenka, Niels, Ned, Frank, Jonathan, Agnes, Eddy, Bruce, and maybe a few others that I am sorry to miss here.

Kepri ANZA Squad

The first stage was hard. About 100 km. Essentially the route of the B6B, with an endless succession of rolling hills. The temperature hit 40 degrees. So we quickly started dropping people and I had to go back and forth all the time. Until we “regrouped” after 60kms, drank about 5 liters of water and pocari each, and reorganized the pelotons by “real speed levels”. Adrian and myself were left helming a heterogeneous group riders of mixed abilities. But the spirit was good. We dropped the pace significantly, waited at the top of every hill, melted in the scorching sun, drank, repeat… Having received no complaint since then I assume that we did bring back everyone to the finish line at the Barelang bridge, where drinks (Beers!) and lunch were waiting for us. Well rested and rehydrated, we nearly forgot that we had another 25 km to ride to get us to the hotel.

After a well deserved beer and first dinner, we moved to the conference room for a presentation on nutrition and endurance racing. We were presented with various memorabilia including a nicely designed Tour de Kepri jersey and a rare Batam key chain. And then to a gala dinner with the local VIPs, where Gavin and Kent of Cycosport presented what the event is meant to become next year: a multi stage bike race that will form part of the “Wonderful Kepri” promotion campaign of the archipelago. We went to bed with “Batam loves bikes” in mind.

Kepri Boys on TourThe next morning, after a nice short ride on good roads that could become an time trial stage one day, we took the RORO ferry that was going to carry us to Bintan. To the amazement of all, we were welcome by a huge crew of masseuses as well as a local pseudo-mexican band that played some classic tunes while our deep tissues were torn by strong hands. Everyone was smiling and cheering, and when the band managed to get everyone to sing along, this was definitely the climax of a great weekend.

Another celebration of Wonderful Kepri when we landed in Tanjong Uban, and we headed for another difficult stage, although a little less hot. With the experience of the previous three rides, the groups settled into homogeneous pelotons and it was much easier to keep our cats together. We followed the western shore road before turning left to Red Road of Hell, and then a loop to Tanjung Pinang. By the time we got there, welcomed once again by massive celebrations at the Governor’s residence, everyone was extremely satisfied with their achievement, and with the fantastic organization of the event. Impressive to hear people who had travelled to Europe in the summer say that this “training ride” had been their best weekend of the year!

So watch out for the announcement of the Tour de Kepri 2015. By then it won’t be just a ride anymore. It will be a race.


Post Bintan note. Many of us were disappointed with some aspects of the Tour de Bintan this year. In particular with the logistics of the Friday crit, ie the time lost during that day in run down, uncomfortable and unsafe buses. So please note, organisers, that when the cost of participating in these events is ridiculously high, we would like to at least fully enjoy the experience.

Bintan or Bust!

It’s that time of year again.  You have all followed Crankpunk’s advice on what to do in the last week so your pencil is as sharp as…  Ladies I’m not sure what you sharpen in the last week, but I’m sure you’ll let me know over the weekend.

In Cat 1, Team DirectAsia have 2,342 riders in their team, so they plan to just man mark every other rider out of the race before launching Pierre at the finish line.  There are 4 ANZA ladies racing (Kari, don’t forget to tell Metasport your team unless you are deliberately going incognito, ninja style), 10 Cat 2 men, so that has the making of a really good squad and 18 in Cat 3, so again some team tactics are a distinct possibility.  Let’s see if we can come home with some jerseys 🙂

Pseudo Singapore Nationals
Last week we brought you the news that the nationals had been cancelled.  The good news is that Kent has stepped in to fill the void left by the nationals being cancelled to put on what looks like being a fun weekend just over the border.  Don has the lowdown on that in this post ——>>>> <click here> So take your race tuned legs for a spin one more time.

Road Report
Thanks to Dave “Road Report” Powell for the following wise words:

Singapore:  Saturday and Sunday – none, although there are new road works at the Jalan Buroh / West Coast Hwy junction.  That’s the funny roundabout with traffic lights on the Kranji ride.  They are diverting lanes for the construction of a flyover.  Kranji and Reverse Kranji rides take note.

Bintan:  Expect the roads to be filled with crazy lycra clad cyclists hell bent on destroying themselves and each other in the hot and hellish rolling roads that make up the Tour de Bintan.  On the plus side, you can safely ignore traffic lights regardless of colour (nothing new for some).

Take care out there

You’ve seen the lights on Orchard Road, you’ve seen the ‘tree’ at Vivo City, that can only mean one thing, it’s Christmas time and so I’ll finish with a couple of important announcements relating to the Christmas Party.

A reminder that the Christmas Party will be on Saturday 13th December and in the morning we will have a special Krismas Kranji.  Dress up in your best Santa Outfit and deck the top tubes with boughs of holly.  Prizes will be awarded for best dressed and best decorated.

Speaking of prizes, as in previous years, we want nominations for the following official categories, but also feel free to make any other serious or not-so-serious award nominations.  Please send any nominations stating the category, who you are nominating and brief note on why you think they deserve the award to committee@anzacycling.com or anzacycling.rti.ed@gmail.com

  • Club Member of the Year,
  • Triathlete of the Year (separate awards for male and female)
  • MTB of the Year (separate awards for male and female)
  • Road Rider of the Year  (separate awards for male and female)
  • Most improved rider  (separate awards for male and female)

Good luck to everybody going to Bintan this weekend, and…
Let’s be careful out there!

Final Pre-Bintan Notes for Cat 3

TdB LogoI want to start with an apology to the Cat 3 participants from ANZA.  When I said I’d help coordinate the training I wanted to do much much more, but then work trips and holidays crushed that leaving Chris Rawlings to step in and destroying any structure that I had in my own training, so this weekend will be (again) a leap into the unknown.  I just hope I make it past my customary 100km blow up point.

Anyway enough of that.  If you have seen the <participant list> you will see that any plans we had to try to arrange which wave we were in have been thwarted as there are now only 2 waves for Cat 3.  The good news is that with 9 ANZA riders in each wave and the top 50 going through from each wave we all have a pretty good chance of making the cut for Sunday.

I have a few race tips but before that, if you haven’t already signed up for the Tour Dinner, then let me assure you that not only is it a really good opportunity to banter with your team mates after day 1 but it is also the best food you will get anywhere in Bintan Resorts that weekend.  Here is your link to book dinner tickets if you have not already <Tour Dinner>

The bad news for we Cat 3 folks is that we don’t start until 8.50am (9.50 Singapore Time) a time when most of us normally have or are getting ready to retire for breakfast under the shade of the CBTL canopys.  In short, we start at the equivalent of 10am SG Time, ride right through the heat of midday and through to 2.30 or later so IT WILL BE HOT, HOT, HOT!  Drink a lot and don’t think it will be a great idea to skip the water stops unless you know you can.  Cat 3 has mandatory water stops, so my advice is head straight for the furthest point in the water stop to avoid the scrum.

The Race Tips

I’m leaving this to last so you can all claim you ran out of time when you’re explaining to my why you completely ignored them.

EinsteinMy good friend Einstein  is credited with saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting a different result.  I, However disagree in my unending faith that eventually Cat 3 will be able to get to the start line together as a team, so here goes.

1. Let’s start the race together.  There are 9 ANZA riders in each wave.  Find each other, push through the bunch, they’ll grumble but they’ll make way if you say you’re getting to your team mate.

2. Be close to the front but not at the front.  Unless you plan to tow 120 people for 160km and then ride them all off your wheel, to quote Crankpunk below, if your chest is in the wind and you are not out on your own then you are in the wrong place.  In short, save your energy for when you really need it.

3. Don’t Chase a Team Mate!  If there is an ANZA man in a break, DO NOT HELP ANY EFFORT TO CHASE IT DOWN!  That way if he is caught, you might still be relatively fresh to have another go.

4. Communicate!  If you plan on making a break or crossing to a break with an ANZA man in it, let your team mates know and we can do our best to give you a gap.

5. Have Fun.  If things aren’t going your way, there has traditionally been a Margarita stall on the side of the road.  I’ve never spotted it, but if you’re all alone and you spot it, have one for me.

6. Consolidate quickly.  If you get dropped, find some other unfortunates and convince them to form a peloton with you.  I know from experience 60km on your own isn’t much fun when you have already blown up, so find some others or at the worst drop back to the Gran Fondo and ride with them.

6. BE SAFE AND COME HOME IN ONE PIECE.  Unless you are hiding something, none of us gets paid for this.

Good luck to you all.

Crankpunk | Bintan Race Smarts

bintan foodIt’s coming. The World Championships, Paris-Roubaix and le Tour de France all rolled into one. Yes, it’s the Tour of Bintan…

Time is running out as the race starts very soon indeed, so you better not get training harder.

Yes, I did say not.

One thing I have learnt about the week and a half before a bike race is that you really cannot improve that much in strength, stamina or power in those 7 to 10 days beforehand. However, you can do a lot of damage by overtraining, by riding to fatigue, and by simply going over things too much in your head, thus putting at risk all your previous gains by using up too much nervous energy.

The key to the final week of pre-race prep is to be as calm and composed as possible and to make decisions about your training, rest, hydration and nutrition that will allow you to maximize the work you have already done, ensuring that when you get on that start line your condition is optimal.

‘Consolidate your previous gains’ is a phrase I use a lot. It simply means that instead of jumping ahead of yourself and leaving holes in your preparation, it is far more beneficial to take care of what you have gained.

This way, your base will be solid and established, and all further gains will be real and not fleeting. So often, in that week before the big race, you see riders going out on death marches of 170km or battering themselves up that hill in the hope of somehow making the Great Leap Forward from Cat 2 quality to Cat 1.

It doesn’t work that way, and we know it too. Better to shore up what you have, to use short, sharp intervals (in their three and fours, not in the dozens) and to taper your lead into the sharpest point possible.

My final week prep before Bintan would look something like this:

Day 1: Off

Day 2: Relatively moderate spin, anywhere from 1 up to 3 hours, depending on time. This would be a tempo ride (say a 6 on a Perceived Rate of Exertion (PRE) Scale). Fairly flat, if hilly I would spin as much as possible.

Day 3: A hard 3-4 hour ride. Either with a group, such as The Crazies, or alone. Personally I prefer riding alone most of the time as it gives me control over my efforts. I’d try as best I could to ride a route that emulated the race route, do some 10-15 minute TT-like efforts, some shorter, harder sprints every 15-20 minutes or so, and also throw in 3-4 hard hill efforts.

Day 4: A spin or off completely. I prefer to be off the bike at least twice the week before a big race, knowing that when I am doing the hard efforts, I am nailing them and thus getting the benefit from them at 100%.

Day 5: If it is a one day race, I’d go for a 2 hour ride, a hard day where I’m going to glycogen depletion. Studies have shown that depleting the glycogen stores starts of a cycle whereby the glycogen is replaced rapidly, being at its absolute peak between 60-72 hours later. So, three days before the race I like to do about an hour to an hour and a half of hard, dedicated, shorter intervals.

For a stage race, the duration is shorter as you need more energy later in the week. Intervals again in this case but less – you needn’t do too many , you just want to isolate the muscles, get the cardio blasting and tap in to those glycogen stores so that the system starts working.

Day 6: Typically off or a light spin.

Day 7: Pre-Race prep day. Usually an hour and a half at a light spin with 3-4 short sprints in succession early on, 2-3 three 3-minute seated intervals at a TT pace, and finish with another 3-4 sprints. Some people prefer to just ride lightly, I find that I need the tension in the legs, and to remind them that they belong to a bike racer!

On the Day: Studies have found that 3-4 short, 20 second sprints in succession about 20 minutes before a race can stimulate production of the body’s natural EPO. It works, and it’s all legal!

In the race, there are two great ‘rules’ I was told as a spotty-faced 15 year-old by a grizzled veteran of the road. These have served me well ever since and they are:

  1. If you’re not alone and the wind is on your chest, you’re in the wrong place.
    Meaning, position yourself intelligently and do not waste energy. Cycling is a numbers game, and energy levels are crucial.
  2. If you don’t feel good, take a chance. However, if you do feel good – do nothing until that moment.
    Knowing when that moment is exactly comes with time, but basically, do not give up your natural advantage with speculative attacks. If you feel great, wait, and give it all. All you have to do in a race to win, is to go faster than everyone else for one tenth of a second. Simple!

And if you are going to attack early, follow wheels for the first 20-30 minutes and let the attackers tire themselves out. Wait for ‘The Lull’, the moment when the speed drops and everyone looks at each other, desperate for respite – that is when you have the best chance of getting away.

A word on cramping. It happens to us all – well, most of us. One key to limiting the cramps is to train harder. Simple but true. The other is to hydrate well the week before the race. On the morning of the event you should be peeing water, clean and clear as from a mountain spring.

Things like Nunns and drink mixes help, but in my opinion the best thing out there for cramps is Extreme Endurance, which you can find here: http://www.xendurance.com. I make no money from this at all though they do sponsor me, but I take this because it really does help a great deal with my cramping. It’s the only product I recommend.

In the race, if you have friends in the pack, communicate. How quickly cyclists forget they are actually part of a team. Plans don’t often work out but by staying clam and thinking about a situation and how to handle it, rather than going of individual instinct, you can make better decisions.

Finally, stick to what you know and ride to your strengths, and take care of those weaknesses. If you don’t train to do 100km solo attacks – don’t try it in the race!

If you never usually get up three hours before a hard ride and eat 6kg of wholewheat pasta and drink beetroot juice by the gallon – don’t do that before the race either.

Similarly, if you are racing for the first time and don’t usually guzzle four gels and a 1kg peanut butter power bar per hour, again, probably not too smart to do that on race day either.

Train for these things. Work out what works in an environment where there isn’t a finish line and you can actually ride home to throw up!

Confidence is a hugely underrated element of bike racing. If you prepare badly or do things in the race you never normally do and have a bad day as a result, that can stick in your head for months and affect all future performances.

This is supposed to be fun. For most of us, we get precious little chance to take risks and to wear ridiculous clothing and just enjoy ourselves like kids every day – so take it. The result should not define you, but the effort and the sense of achievement should enhance all other aspects of your life – something the pros forget all too often, sadly.

So yes! Go forth! Go crank! And GO ANZA!

Crankpunk – Lee Rodgers – is a professional cyclist based in Taiwan. He also runs the ANZA Crankpunk training program. See here for more info on how to get access.

Bintan Training Ride

Kari Nore

With Tour de Bintan only four weeks away, I was starting to become rather concerned that I might not get a chance to ride the course before race day. So I was very happy indeed when the Cat 2 guys opened up their training trip to the other groups. I struggle with bad cramps on long, hot, hilly rides and so this time I wanted to test a new strategy; My plan was to remain seated on the all hills and spin up in an easy gear, and to pop salt tablets like smarties.


After an uneventful ferry ride we all assembled with our bikes at the statue of the giant eagle outside of the Bintan Ferry Terminal. There was a sense of anticipation in the air as the boys primped, pimped, polished, fussed and generally fluffed about for an hour as they got their bikes ‘race ready’. Nico had booked two cars, and sensibly insisted the two groups be defined before we started. Finally after a couple of last minute toilet trips we were away! Our group consisted of myself, Lizzie, Mick, Robert, Mike and Jesus.

We set off at reasonable and steady pace, all of us no doubt acutely aware of the very long ride ahead of us. As we rolled past a school in the early stages the usual gaggle of kids ran up to the fence shouting and grinning at us. ‘How cute’ I thought as I turned to shout ‘hello’ and to return the wave. Belatedly I realised that this cheeky group of eight year old boys were not waving but were in fact flipping us the finger!


Before we knew it we were on the dreaded ‘Red Road of Hell’ and our nicely co-ordinated group soon split up and stretched out as we tackled the hills at different paces. It seemed much longer than I remembered and I was very relieved to get to the end of it and join the Cat 2 boys who had camped out under the shade of probably the only trees to be found along that section.

After the drinks break the groups merged into one and the Cat 2 guys did the heavy lifting and pulled us all along with them. The little stretch along the ocean is always lovely however the section that follows soon after where the road narrows and the surface becomes all rough and gravelly was something we all had to bear with gritted teeth.

The next big drinks stop was at the T-junction where the race route takes the guys left for a loop through the town and the girl’s route takes to the right. After much discussion and some voting we decided to split into our two groups again. The Cat 2 guys were feeling strong and were up for the extra miles whilst the more sensible amongst us were focused on finding legitimate ways to trim as many KMs as possibly off the distance remaining.

So off we set again and our group picked up the pace in the next section. And with the road winding through forests and shallow valleys it’s a rather nice section to ride faster on. We took it single file as a long-ish line of trucks and cars soon jammed up behind us. It was soon after this that weather suddenly turned from baking hot to heavy rain and it coincided with me beginning to wish it was all over. My legs were starting to cramp and so I was nervously awaiting the ‘big one’, that crippling wave of cramps that brings you to a complete standstill and means that your day is over. My stomach was also unhappy, protesting the combination of clif bars, gels and salt tablets. But it was a matter of head down, bum up and to keep on pedalling away. We continued to hold as a group although all pretence of two abreast was long gone as we tucked in behind each other single file. And so we continued, grinding away at the remaining kilometres in the pouring rain. There were some moments of confusion as we rode over several bridges that no one recognised or remembered, however after a quick conference with the driver of our support car we were assured that we were indeed on the right track. Much to my delight we hit the Check Point about ten kilometres before I was expecting it (and from a different direction that I expected), and then much like section at the end of a Kranji ride from the top of SBV to the CBTL, it was every man for himself to Nirwana.

I must confess I envied those checking into the hotel. They had hot showers, clean clothes and proper food awaiting them whereas myself, Lizzie and Mick had to soldier on a bit longer and return to Singapore that night.


Moments of misery and pain and self-pity aside it was a great day out. I was delighted that I managed to stave off serious cramps and I shall attempt to pursue the same strategy on race day. We were all very lucky with our bikes, with Mike getting a flat just a few kilometres from Nirwana and Lizzie’s chain snapping after the ride whilst we were still on the Nirwana grounds. Thanks so much to Nico Las for taking the initiative and organising the trip, and thanks to ANZA for supporting us with cars.

Cat 3 Training – Truth or Fantasy

Masked AssassinThis week’s Cat 3 Training Ride

So here is the plan for this Saturday’s Cat 3 training ride.

We will call it as a separate Cat 3 ride, then roll out of Food Canopy and down to Bukit Timah.  At Adam road somebody will volunteer to ride to the front and proceed to try to rip the legs off the group all the way up Adam and Lornie, shelling the weakest riders out the back, who shouldn’t be there anyway!

The next group will then take up the mantle as we hit Old Upper Thompson and drive the pace until we lose another 2-3.

We’ll head off on a standard Kranji and by the time we get to NTU to do a couple of loops, we should be down to the 50% who are hardcore, the rest can limp home alone.

2 NTU loops to punish those who stayed with the group and back for coffee.

AngelAlternatively, and my preferred option:

We will try to divide into groups based on the waves we are in, but I’ll make the group sizes even.  I’ll try to get some ribbon or something so we can identify our ‘teams’.  Then we will make a brisk but ‘steady’ ride round to Rifle Range Road, the same as last week.  Each team is responsible for making sure that nobody in their team is dropped on the way.  I don’t care if you let them draft all the way or if you take turns pushing them up the hills, each team, and preferably the group as a whole should arrive at RRR together.

At RRR we’re going to try to have some fun.  Each team will choose a couple of attackers, and the teams will take it in turns to attack.  The other 2 teams must chase down the attack but AS A TEAM.  I don’t want to see a long line of individual gap crossers.  Work as a paceline to bring back the attack, it will be 6 or 12 (2 teams) against 1 attacker.  The attackers team should not do anything to help the chase down, nor should they join their attacker and support him.  Once caught, the next team has a go.

We’ll do this on the way down RRR, then ride back steady as a group. Repeat 2 or 3 times depending on how well it works and if you are having fun!

Tour de Kapri and Cycosport Desaru Changes

A word from our Sponsor, Kent of BikePlus fame on the Cycosport Desaru Cup and a slightly different training ride option across Batam and Bintan.

1) Cycosports Desaru is changing to Nongsa and is most likely going to be the 4th October now. It’s a long story but lets say Malaysia truely…[I’m sure we’ll get the lowdown from Kent sometime, Ed.]

2) We have a great training weekend as follows, which we launched yesterday [see ANZA Facebook page, Ed.]:

25/26 October 2014
Cycosports is pleased to announce the first Tour de Kapri, covering 250km of the Batam and Bintan islands. In 2014 the tour is billed as a training camp aimed at international cyclists who would like to build their race miles as well as gain valuable training /race day tips.

Training at Your pace
The weekend is aimed at road warriors who may or may not have participated in races, but are keen to do so in the future. You must be up for 130km of riding per day at a pace of 28-30km / hr.

You will be put into a training peloton to suit your ability and speed. Each Peloton will be assisted by Training Mentors who will help guide the peloton and impart advice on riding techniques and skills.

The weekend will also include a couple of informal workshop sessions covering topics that will include riding skills, training programmes and nutrition.

But rest assured it’s not all hard work. There is plenty of time for hearty meals and a welcome dinner on Saturday night. On the Sunday ferry to Bintan will also aim to have free massages for those with tired legs. We want to make this fun!

Who Should Attend?

  • Category 3 riders looking to improve before their next big race
  • First time Category 2 riders who need the extra miles
  • Experienced Gran Fondo riders looking to step up to race next year

Event Pricing
The weekend package of $295* includes all ferries, 4-star accommodation (twin share), meals, and training / road support. We’ll even throw in a souvenir cycling jersey. But hurry there are only 150 slots available.

Please note that the accommodation is twin share so we recommend you sign up with a buddy so you know the guy / girl snoring in your room.

Early Bird Pricing
The first 50 slots will be priced at $220 (all inclusive)*

* Except Visa on Arrival

Visa on Arrival
Unless you have an ASEAN passport or an APEC card, you will need an Indonesian Visa. The Visa on Arrival is SG$20 and available for purchase as part of the registration process.

Event Schedule
*schedule may be updated. Updates will be communicated via the briefing / facebook.
Day 1 Route / Event : 25 October
Singapore time
5.00am       – Ferry check in opens at Harbour Front Ferry Terminal
6.30am       – Ferry boarding
7.30am       – Ferry departure

Batam Time
7:30am        – Ferry Arrives at Sekupang
8:30am        – Ride: Sekupung to Sembulang  (60km)
10:30am      – Ride: Sembulang to Utama Restrurant (30km)
11:00am      – Early Lunch at Utama Restuarant
1:00pm         – Ride: Utama to Hotel (30km)
2:00pm         – Hotel Check In
3:00pm         – All cyclist arrived at Hotel
4:00pm         – Training Workshop A
5:00pm         – Coffee Break
5:15pm         – Training Workshop B
6:15pm         – Workshops Complete
7:00pm         – Welcome Drinks & Dinner

Day 2 Route / Event : 25 October
Batam Time
4:00am         – Breakfast Open
5:00am         – Ride: Hotel – Telega Punggur (30km)
6:30am         – Ferry Boarding
7:00am         – Ferry Departs (Snacks and Massages)
9:00am         – Ride: Uban – Pinang Ride (100+ km)
1:00pm         – Lunch
3:00pm         – Ferry Boarding
3:30pm         – Ferry Departs for Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal

Singapore Time
5:30pm         – Arrival at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal
Cancelation / Ticket Transfer
Cyclist who cancel by the 14th October can get a 50% refund. No refunds will be given after the 14th October.

Cyclists who wish to transfer their ticket to a friend can do so with an admin fee of $30 before 14th October. Transfer after the 14th October will incur an $80 transfer fee.