Tag Archives: direct asia

Melaka Century Race | 26th October 2014

By: Pierre-Alain Scherwey

Melaka race is a good chance at redemption for the riders unable to attend Matabunkay or the Masters Tour of Chang Mai.

Ideally located just 3 hours driving time from Singapore. This requires only one night out in the Bayou Lagoon Resort for Singapore residents. Among the massive 2,600 participants, 170 raced in the top category. TDA fielded a strong team of 7 – including Matt, John, Tony, Brad, Simon, Raoul and Pierre. Raoul being a guest rider from Anza Singapore.

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We hit the road at 700am and I felt right away that the team was in fantastic spirits. Our agreed tactic was to put guys in the breakaway and to control the front of the race which is our usual tactic when our sprinters are not present.

Everybody has been applied to the task. After half a dozen attempts and 40km into the race. I found an opening but was alone. The twisting terrain was perfect breakaway territory and helped the bunch to forget me for a while. From that point my plan was to ride at full gas as far as I could could and then hope that a group would eventually bridge over to give me some respite.

The Plan worked well & after 10km i saw 2 guys coming across to me, following by 4-5 others. The main bunch was out of sight.

I was pleased to see team mate John Tonk was one of the new escapees. It was really no surprise though as John is an obsessional attacker. I jumped on the back of the group when it reached me and looked forward to finally getting some recovery.

Right at this point, I had the misfortune to hit a big hole in the road which messed up my brake levers. My right lever dropped dropped 5cm from the force of impact which immediately compacted the rear brake caliper and disconnected the Di2 plug. I managed to punch the lever back in place whilst riding to get the wheel turning again but the rear derail was still not moving. So I had to stop again for a quick fix.

I looked on disappointed as the break and then main bunch came past – thinking my race was over already.

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I had the bunch at sight after 5 minutes of hard chasing at the end of a long straight. This gave me the motivation to push hard for the  5 more minutes that I needed to catch it. Thanks to my team mates who slowed down the bunch fury. This also had the dual benefit of allowing Johns breakaway to get more time on the main pack whilst I get back to the bunch.

The team controlled the bunch and rode behind to prevent anyone else from getting off the front. John being a descent sprinter we put all our hopes on him bringing home a result.

Somehow I found myself with 1 other local  100m ahead of the bunch. He decided to push on a bit more without my help. Few rolling hills after that we saw a group of 6 coming back on us. This put me in a very comfortable situation as I simply sat on to police the break in order to protect John.

At 60km to go, we heard that the break had a 2:30 gap. My goal then was simply to sit in this middle break and to target a top 10 result. This lasted some 50km in this way. The group was organized enough. I took some turns but it was quite neutral.

In the grind to the finish, our group lost some more members and we were down to 8 escapees. At 15km from finish, bad luck came visiting again when I got a slow puncture in the front wheel. I flagged for support but without success – again I saw my race stopped for a mechanical.

After waiting 2 minutes on the side of the road, I remembered I had the Pitstop foam repair with me. It took 10 second to squirt then I started chasing again.

This time, I knew that I I could not come back to the break as there wasn’t enough distance remaining. However, I still had some good legs and motivation to push on. Therefore, my new ambition was to avoid the catch from the bunch before the finish.
My front wheel lost air again and at 5km to go, I was fully flat again. No choice this time I finished on the bare rim as fast and as safe it could be.
I ended up 30 seconds front of the bunch. Probably in 15th position

Team mate Johns escape eventually got caught by the remainder of my group. John went a second too late on the sprint and managed to grab second place.

Back in the bunch, Brad had a bad crash. He touched a wheel in front of him, lost balance and landed in a canal on the side of the road, losing a substantial amount of skin in the fall. No broken bone, but his bike was beyond saving. Raoul went down the bunch to collect water for the team but die to misfortune wasn’t able to make it back to the team – spending 60km lonely km on his own. Matt, Tony and Simon finishing safe in the bunch.

It was a long day under the heat and humidity of Malaysia. The team worked perfectly together all day long. Despite our misfortune we got some descent results. I’m now looking forward to race the Tour of Bintan in 2 weeks. I have high hopes of a big result for the team!

 

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Pasir Gudang Circuit Race

Category 2 | Ian Burton

The chance to race on closed roads and be home by lunchtime? This seemed like too good a chance to turn down, even if I had never done a criterium in my life and sprinting wasn’t my thing. As I had done the time trial at Changi the week before- and to my surprise really enjoyed it- the time trial bars would have to come off.

On Sunday morning the thing not coming off was the plan to be home by lunchtime after the race, a worry for both me and my car companion John Versfeld. The first worry was that we couldn’t race as I had mysteriously misplaced the race numbers I had collected from Kent at Bike Plus on Friday. The second worry was not being able to fit the road bikes on the car bike rack as I hadn’t used this bike rack for years.

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John’s speed dial to Kent sorted out spare race numbers and we squeezed the bikes on. One smooth border crossing and easy car journey (courtesy of GPS) later we arrived at the Pasir Gudang circuit. It was dry and not hot, so that was good; the road surface looked a bit rough and hillier than expected, which didn’t appeal to my pampered red dot cyclist outlook. Anyway no time to worry, time to gather some intelligence from Nico, who had scouted the track, chat last minute tactics with our other cat 2 team mates Steven and Danny, cheer on the cat 3 race already on the circuit and warm up.

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The field was apparently about 30 strong and we gathered for a pre race briefing from Kent. 1 hour, 2 extra laps, an intermediate sprint and KOM to keep us interested. Bearing in mind our racing team experience at B6B, the plan initially was to stick together near the front to enable us to talk and respond. Easier said than done as the other main teams- Mavericks, Joyriders, Team Integrated Riding and Saxo- pushed up the initial pace and there were a few efforts off the front, which all got pulled back by various teams including us.

Nico had been pretty active and when he went away and a Mav bridged across to him and beyond I tagged along. To my surprise I looked around as we headed around the hilly bit of the lap and we had a gap, although soon a Joyrider, TIR and 2 Saxo guys joined and off our breakaway went. The KOM bell had gone that lap, so my thought next time around was of imminent fame and the glory of winning what i later learned was a bottle of Muck Off. The Mav, Matt Lodge, said he wasn’t interested in the sprint, only working together in a break. Dazzled by the prize I didn’t believe him and kicked up the rise with no contest. As he joined me, I considered he really meant it and, with James Low (TIR) and Michael Naert (JRT) coming back, our breakaway was established.

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At this point there was about 40 minutes to go and it felt ambitious. However, since Mike Swell encouraged me early this year to set my alarm for stupid o’clock and join the ranks of the Hunted on the fast 530 Rats ride, most other rides have felt survivable in comparison. With our team mates doing a great job riding slowly at the front of the peloton, our lead steadily grew to a minute or so and, despite some breeze, this break felt not too bad. As the laps ticked by we kept steadily working together, even ignoring the prime sprint. (Well, almost.) Eventually, with some feedback from the ‘crowd’ along the pit building, we realised it would stick and I started trying to gauge the strength of my fellow breakaways. The next milestone was the 2 lap bell (at 56 Minutes??) And we continued as before. At the next and final bell, partly as result of some confusion due to a non-functioning race loud hailer, we slowed to a crawl. Sense prevailed and we restarted working together to guarantee our top 4 placings. After a light training week, I felt confident to contest the finish. At the first incline I pushed a bit to test the Joyrider, who had shown signs of slowing on the climbs. Then TIR and i got a gap before the short steep hill, but he wouldn’t commit. So we went up and over all together until I kicked up the next incline. No response and a clear Gap! Down the chicane and uphill to the final bend and finish sprint to go, but the Mav had bridged across. I took a poor line into the final corner and I lost the sprint. At least I remembered to get on the drops and give it a good go this time. I have got a good grimace in the Photo!

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Afterwards we congratulated each other and had a cursory warm down, cheering off the cat 1 and Women’s race as well as the obligatory post race discussion with our ANZ cat 3 team mates and others. Sod’s law when i wanted to hang around for prize giving, John and I both had to be home punctually, so after a quick drink, shower and change, off we went. Apart from the threat of a gloved examination at the border (guess which side was the quick and easy One?) It was another easy journey and we were back by 1245. (Still no news of those missing numbers. )

The Strava data shows a 38 average but it didn’t feel that fast. Maybe i was kidding myself. Looking back, what could I have done differently to get a win. I had some idea. Would it have worked? Who knows… at least 2nd was on the podium to reward my efforts and those of my team mates who worked as a team to help me stay away. I had some luck to make the right break and others could have done the same. I hope the cat 2 group can take some confidence into the next races – let’s be in that final sprint or breakaway group!

Thanks to Cycosport team and volunteers for another fun and safe day Out! And great photos online from Slow poke studio and Others.

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  • PS still haven’t found those numbers.
  • PPS i didn’t win the KOM after all that. Apparently there was a mix up in the communication.
  • PPPS my last ride on that bike ended in bits on the following Tuesday Morning! From high to low very Quickly!

Ladies Category | Lizzie Hodges

I’m much better at arm waving than writing so the main points from the women’s category are:

Vanessa (new, racing as Anza but in her old kit, various shades of pink head to toe) suggested a ‘gentlewomen’s agreement’ to which various nods were made, but not by all (as noted by Joyrider Wendy Yap in her write up). Mind you, some of us had English as first language and had come up on the bus several hours earlier, and so been listening to the stories of ‘oh it’s slippery on the corners’ from the cat 3 boys. Turns out starting 3 hours later means a course can warm up and dry out (even if black clouds roll over and onwards above).

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We did indeed line up the entire category across the start, all 9 of us, and proceed for a first exploratory lap. Sarah Jane (Eddie Holland Team) decides to go attack almost immediately, having hung at the back. Given that Wendy (Joyriders), Christina (trek), Veronica (new mav) and myself were sharing the front half of the pretendaton, this took us by surprise.

Fair play to her. The four of us worked steadily for a while, no sign of any bell for the KOM or SPRINT until Christina and I dropped Veronica, and Wendy dropped us. Last time we were in this position, Christina realised I was going through her, and I learnt what to do and not do in the last 50m the hard way. Photo finish says I just pipped her, this time though!

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Wasn’t expecting 50 minutes plus two laps to take 69 minutes, according to my trusty garmin, but can faithfully report that it WAS fun. Even the baby climbs (treated myself to a Pyrenean bike ride this summer, that may have something to do with my new enjoyment of climbing). I also find it deliciously rewarding to hear shouts of encouragement from the rest of the Anza mob (for, I do miss being in my racing teams from past lives). As I’m manning the flags and esky at ECP this weekend for Anza cycling triathletes, it would be great to have any support from anyone who fancies dropping by – thre will be an ice cold esky brimming with drinks and smart, sarcastic chat for anyone one keen. And my chants are like a bad GCSE project if I try and get them to rhyme… Come on by, there’ll be pie (no there won’t). P

P.S. The next race is Desaru, people should go!

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Category 1 | Pierre-Alain Scherwey

Sunday 10th August saw Team Direct Asia (Pierre-Alain Scherwey, Peter Bennett and Donald MacDonald) venture north and across the border into Malaysia for the inaugural Pasir Gudang circuit race. This was no ordinary crit as Pasir Gudang is a motor racing track in Johor Malaysia  comprising of a challenging 3.8km circuit with 70 m of climbing per lap.

The race itself was billed as a 70 minute circuit – at which point the bell would ring and 3 laps added.

The team were motivated and so decided to brave the border traffic and ride to the event and back – adding an extra 100km for the day.

jb3Open Category comprised of some 30 riders – including significant showings from Specialised Mavericks,  Lapierre, Cannasia and the notable presence of the 2 Team-Kenya national riders that had dominated the previous week’s Singapore time trial events. Calvin Sim from the local pro-continental OCBC Cycling team was also present but isolated without any team-mates to support.

Being outnumbered, Team Direct Asia strategy was to opt for a more defensive than offensive tactic – with a lot of our focus being on preventing any  breakaways with the right combination of teams forming without a TDA representative. Fortunately, the roads were kind and the long straights and wide roads made it hard for the few brave enough to try an escape.

The Kenyan Riders were perfectly organized. One pushed the pace whilst the other inflected sharp attacks in the bumps. After a few laps, the tactic of each became predictable and the bunch figured out where to be and when to counter.

Pierre & Peter made use of the tight S downhill chicane to launch attacks at the point the bunch was most stretched. However, the Km long straight false flat directly afterwards made it quite easy for the chasing bunch to catch us again. No luck and the race was destined to finish in a sprint.

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It eventually ended up with a massive bunch sprint with Samwel Ekiru of Team Kenyan Riders the winner. Pierre-Alain finishing 9th following by Peter a few meters back.

An interesting course and a good change in scenery. We’ll be back!
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SCF Time Trials | Open Category

After too long a break, it was great to see some Time Trial action back on Singapore soil. Kudos to the Dirtraction organisers for giving us yet more reasons to buy aero booties and new pointy hats.

I love a good TT. The pageantry of putting on the pseudo sado-masochistic gear, the wide eyed letchery at some kids Lightweight Autobahn disc wheel followed by an hour of frantic suffering behind the sheen of the full face helmet.

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My practise runs were poor – ~2 minutes slower than last year – and I was worried. Like any man, I blamed the bike and put it in for a full service the week before the race. A $600 bill (new tub, headset, bottom bracket, cassette and chain) gave me expensive hope that maybe one of those things had been slowing me down. Hope springs from the weirdest places when you’ve got shit form…

Saturday was the Open TT. 36km – 3 times up and down Changi airport straight. With a start time of 10.16, a full face helmet and a smashing looking new Direct Asia skin suit, it was going to be a scorching face melter of a ride. I felt ok and the ride and my HR zones were almost back to where they should be, but I turned in a disappointing 40km average (2km/hr slower than my National ITT) to finish in 51.40. Good enough for 7th in Open only which was a massive disappointment. Pierre Alain managed 5th, Guillame Rondy 6th & Peter Bennett 11th but the day had been dominated by two Kenyan national riders that turned up and put minutes into the field.

After rolling home in full aero kit, my head was thumping and the legs felt dubious. I was scheduled for the TTT Duo with Pierre on the Sunday so some serious recovery and HTFU was required. Massage, compression pants and my first ever ice bath did the trick and by evening I was feeling human.

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5,45am Sunday and I spun out to Changi w Pierre Alain. We were scheduled to start at 7.46 and the difference in temperature was noticeable and much welcomed. I timed my warm up perfectly to finish at 7.40 – only to find that we’d then been delayed to 8.05 start which was a bit of a spanner in the works.

The duo is pretty high pressure. In a quad team, there’s the ability to hide if you’re on a bad day but you’re fully exposed in the 2 man and there’s a palpable fear of letting your wingman down. It’s a very thin line – basically if one of you blows up then the race is over for both.

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PA is a legend in Singapore for his immense power and ability to suffer & so people were already wishing me the best of luck in surviving the onslaught on his wheel. In TT’s, PAs over-exuberance is also known and so I took us out of the start gate to stop him going too hard in the 1st 2 kms. The two teams immediately behind were Singha-Infinite and Kenyan National riders so pressure was on not to go out too fast and blow up later.

We’d “agreed” to target a 44km rolling average at the start which I secretly had doubts about achieving but we took it up to 44-45km on the 1st lap and held it relatively easily. I felt good – my HR was an average of 172 and was able to share the workload 50:50 with the Swiss precision pain machine. The only negative moment came when my aero bottle popped out at the end of the 1st lap and I was left with no water – however, like a great team mate PA came to my rescue and we shared a single bottle during the race.

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Lap 2 went smoothly. we could see Singha-Infinite weren’t really gaining time and so our confidence was building. I started to lose it on lap 3 and PA probably did 70% of the work on the lap – especially the last 3 km when he took it up closer to 50 km/hr at times. We crossed the line in 48.06 – an average of 43.8km/hr which totally exceeded expectations & had lap times ahead of the Quad winners! Amazingly with Singha and Kenyan Nationals, it was still only good enough for 3rd on the day.

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All in all, it was a great day and felt like redemption after the disappointing Saturday. With the work starting on Terminal 5, it’s said that this will be the last ever TT on the legendary Changi straight. If so, it felt great to have Team Direct Asia-ANZA deliver such a strong performance on the last ever race here. Lets hope the new road is even better.

Roll on the National TT in November!

Word From the Sponsors | DirectAsia.Com

Serious Paine in Phuket
Jeff Paine

The cycling scene is Singapore is great. There are a large number of cyclists in different groups at varying skill levels. The roads are some of the best in the world and finding a pothole here can be like finding a needle in a haystack. Despite all the wonders of cycling in Singapore, it becomes an inevitable desire to see other great cycling destinations around Asia. There are so many good choices that you could keep yourself busy for years choosing new destinations. Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam all have exciting cycling opportunities for the Singapore- based cyclist. Like most things, these opportunities come along with risks. While it is important to plan and prepare for overseas cycling adventures, it is advisable to plan for the risks along with all the fun parts of your cycling travels.

I have lived in Singapore for 16 years and started road cycling around eight years ago. Like most cyclists I was keen to try new terrains after cycling mind-numbing round-the-islands (RTIs) for years and having done far too many loops of trusty Mount Faber. Tapping into a regional network of cycling friends, I have managed to take some amazing cycling trips to Vietnam, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan. Usually these trips fall on one of the many public holidays in Singapore in order to give you enough time to travel and get some quality kilometers on the foreign roads. My wife and I have developed a well-honed system for these travels: I dismantle and pack the bikes and she does everything else. This includes arranging air tickets, hotel, ground transport to the airport and any other things that need to be done. Pretty fair trade I would say. One of the other things she did organize was our travel insurance. It was something I gave very little thought too but something she had the intelligence to arrange given the multitude of issues that could arise as you embark on an overseas cycling journey. In December 2013, I had a first hand experience that would highlight how important travel insurance was for such an overseas cycling trip. After a ride on December 30th, 2013 I will never travel or ride again without travel insurance.

Phuket Thailand is a great place for cycling. I have been actively cycling there for a number of years and know enough different routes to keep an active cyclist busy for a month. For the past five years we have traveled to Phuket with a group of friends for a holiday that would provide an excellent mix of riding, eating, drinking and lounging around on the beautiful beaches of Thailand. December 2013 was no different and once again we were back in Phuket for some serious cycling fun. We had done a few shorter rides and on Monday December 30th we had decided to go for the big one: Phuket- Krabi – Phuket – or “PKP” as we call it, 335km of riding that would connect us to another major tourist spot and back to Phuket…all within one day. We set off early in the morning in order to return for a celebratory dinner on Surin Beach later that evening. The ride was going very well and for the most part we enjoyed it so much we stopped to take some pictures along the way at some beautiful places in Phang Nga and Krabi. We arrived in Krabi for a relaxing lunch around noon before starting the 165km ride back to Phuket. At 2pm we set off with our tired legs and full stomachs on the return leg back to Phuket. A few untimely punctures put us a bit behind schedule. Given that the daylight disappears by 7pm our goal was to finish most of the ride before 7pm and coast home in familiar territory around Surin Beach. We stopped for a short break in the city of Phang Nga, a nice little town around 80km away from Surin Beach. One final push to get the ride done and it was almost 6pm. The pace was nice and steady as the aim was now to get back in time for some serious food and wine with our families and friends.

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We passed the giant monk that is always a great thing to see when coming or going to Phang Nga. My riding partner had to get back for a business call and finished the ride in Phang Nga. Therefore the last 80km would be on my own. After giving me all his lights, tubes and luck, I took off with hopes of being home by 9pm for dinner. Flying by the Big Monk (pictured) meant only 60km to go and only 23km to the bridge that connected Phang Nga to Phuket. I was feeling good…could taste the pasta and wine going down nicely after I upload this big ride to Strava.. 50km to go and I was in the section I would describe as ‘dark and gravelly’ – dark because the highway lights on the Highway 402 do not cover the area and gravelly because there was always gravel kicking around and I never understood where it came from. I was almost through the section…it was 6:45pm and the last fragments of light were quickly disappearing.

If you have been to Thailand you know that motorcycles represent a key form of transport for locals and foreigners alike. Actually, one of the things I tell first time cyclists in Phuket is how safe it is given that cars are so accustomed to riding around the motorcycles that they would rarely knock you over if you ride like a motorcycle. Motorcycles also operate differently in Thailand than in most other countries. On motor highways for instance, it is very common to see motorcycles riding the wrong way against traffic in the shoulder lane. As a long time cyclist in Phuket you know this and you just avoid them by pulling out a bit further…after my ride on December 30th I will need to adjust how I describe cycling in Phuket slightly.

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I could sense the Sarasin Bridge in the near distance…only 10km to go and it was almost as good as being home for me. I saw a motorcycle approaching in the distance in the dark and gravelly section. He had a light shining brightly and I had my flickering little bike lights on the front and back to ensure that the world could see me. As usual I checked to ensure no cars were approaching from the back and then eased out to give the motorbike enough space to pass me.
The next thing I remember is hearing a strong cracking noise, smelling smoke and rubber burning and seeing the bottom of my downtube as I flew through the air before I landed on my knees and collapsed to the road. It took me a few minutes to figure out what happened. I looked backwards to see a helmetless man lying on the main highway, his motorcycle stopped but the engine still running, my bike still back there with my flickering bike lights, pure darkness. My knees…open and exposed with blood running down my shins. The dark and gravelly section was empty…there was nobody around. He was passed out, I was dazed and confused and not sure what happened. Somehow I was able to grab my bike pump and Garmin, both of which had flown from my bike, and roll off the main highway and into the ditch. It was dark and quiet and nobody was around. After a few minutes, a lady on a scooter approached (again driving the wrong way on the shoulder the way everybody does). She was moving slowly and came to a stop when she had seen the fallen older man and me with my bloodied knees screaming in English ‘help me’. While she did not speak English she definitely was able to assess that the situation was bad and started to make phone calls.

At this point I fell asleep or passed out and the next time I awoke policemen and ambulance drivers surrounded us. They quickly loaded us in the primitive ambulances and took us to a small hospital in Klok Kloi near Phang Nga Thailand. After a rough ride we arrived in the hospital most likely at 7:30pm. I was terrified. Nobody spoke English, my knees looked disastrous, I had no idea where my phone, money and ID were and I was in shock from having a head-on collision with a motorcycle. My bike was also gone. After what seemed like an hour the medical staff realized that I needed to go to the Bangkok International Hospital in Phuket Town given the extent of my injuries. So after some basic cleanup they loaded me back in a more sophisticated ambulance to make the 60km ride into Phuket Town. I managed somehow to find my phone and was sending messages back to family and friends to meet me at the hospital in Phuket Town.

After what felt like hours I arrived in the hospital into a waiting room. My friends and family were yet to arrive so I sat patiently talking to the nurses as they provided me with basic treatment. I had never been in a hospital in Thailand so this was a new experience for me. A hospital representative approached to check in on me and ask me a few basic questions: name, nationality, what happened…etc. He then asked me how I was going to pay for any treatment I would receive. That was a great question…I honestly had no idea as this was new too me. Surely I was insured…I work at a major global MNC in Singapore and maybe even have other coverage. I did not know the answer to that question as that was part of my wife’s department. Without insurance I always had the luxury of using my credit card to ensure payment but one thing was clear for sure – without some form of payment or guarantee I would not be going anywhere out of my waiting room area.

Luckily for me my friends and wife all arrived to intercept this hospital representative. Also a bonus was that my wife had arranged travel insurance that covered such instances when abroad. Working with the representative at the hospital, we called our insurance provider (DirectAsia.com) hotline who immediately worked with the hospital administration team to provide what is called a Letter of Guarantee- basically stating that they would cover up to a certain amount of costs for any medical treatment provided to me. Despite all the bad things that had happened over the past two hours, I saw a bit of hope after learning first that we had insurance and secondly that my wife knew who to call in a time of emergency. I was ignorant to both facts prior to this experience.
Having friends and family and being back at a modern hospital like Bangkok International in Phuket put my mind at ease. I was taken to an operating theater to repair damaged cartilage in my left knee- the knee that took the full impact of the sidecar on the motorcycle, and to get some stitches on my right knee, which served as a landing pad after during the accident. Subsequently it turned out that I had damaged cartilage on my knee, a torn quadriceps muscle which would require a major surgery and a follow up surgery in March 2014 to remove excessive scarring.
Medical costs can be high. We do not have kids and in general are young, healthy and fit people. Therefore our exposure to medical facilities has been minimal in our 16 years in Asia. The past few months have been an eye opener. My knee injury is now costing in excess of S$200,000 and the follow up physiotherapy costs and doctor visits are still ongoing as of late March 2014! I was surprised to learn that the coverage provided for me at work was not nearly as comprehensive as the coverage provided by the travel insurance we had at DirectAsia.com. (keeping in mind I work for a company listed on the Dow Jones Index- a major MNC)….I was surprised. DirectAsia.com has also been extremely helpful and customer friendly post accident. As you go through the rehabilitation process the last thing you want or need is complications on who is covering what and when will you get paid, etc. Luckily we have had excellent service from DirectAsia.com.

Even today I continue to deal with the aftermath of this accident. I am not yet able to ride again as I am still going through the healing process of three surgeries. I also need to get a new bike as my old one was completely destroyed by the accident. I was pleased to learn that the travel insurance also provided some coverage for the cost of the bike! I have taken the time to learn more about the insurance given how crucial it has been for our family over the past three months. When I consider the coverage and protection we have under our policy with DirectAsia, the premiums are extremely reasonable. As someone who travels with groups of cyclists many times of year, I now make a few suggestions that I offer to you here:

1. Get good insurance from a provider such as DirectAsia.com
2. Have the contact numbers handy– a plastic bag in your rear pockets or even taped to your bike – if you ever need them time is usually in short supply – share them with your cycling group in the unlucky chance your are unconscious
3. Watch out for motorcycles and avoid riding after 5pm in Thailand (there is actually a law in Thailand that you cannot ride a bicycle after 6 pm)

In the end this has been a tremendous learning experience for me. I am still dealing with the aftermath of the accident as I have yet to fully physically recover. I was disheartened to learn that the driver of the motorcycle was heavily intoxicated when he ran into me. I am looking forward to getting back on the bike and getting back to Thailand and other great locations. One addition to my plastic bag in my jersey back pocket is my DirectAsia.com policy number along with the number to call in case of emergency- which my friends will also know. Get travel insurance….it is good for your family, your bike and your long term health!

A bit about Jeff Paine :

Originally from Canada I have lived in Singapore for the past 16 years. I have enjoyed cycling around Asia for the past eight years and regularly take part in local and regional cycling races. Most exciting cycling experiences include completing the Paris-Brest-Paris in 2011 and the Trans Malaysia Express (TME) ride from Thailand to Singapore in 43 hours in 2012. Now in training for Paris-Brest-Paris 2015 (well when I recover).

The Family Trip | Chiang Mai

When Sarah, my wife, announced that the children were old enough for us to do a family cycling trip I was delighted.  She had been beavering away at the laptop for days and finally raised her head to say she had found the perfect trip.  A SpiceRoads family spiceroads-logotrip in Chiang Mai for five days.  “Great, how far are we riding?” I asked.  “95km” was her reply.  “Fantastic, that will fit right in with my Etape training.  95km a day with some hilly terrain.  Isn’t that a bit far for the kids though” I added as an afterthought, “never mind, they can always sit in the bus”.  “No, 95km in total over 4 days of riding with a day riding some Elephants” she replied.

Some quick mental arithmetic determined that this was a daily distance that, to paraphrase Linda Evangelista, “was not worth waking up for”, and so I was resigned to it being a family holiday rather than a hardcore training week.

Oh the sacrifices we make!

We’d been on a SpiceRoads one day temple tour round Bangkok a few months earlier and the bikes were good then, but a couple of people said the bikes could be a bit touch and go so Sarah decided to bring her Mountain bike, which she hadn’t ridden for at least 18 months.  Step 1 get it serviced.  Step 2 get a box. Step 3 pack it (First problem, mountain bikes are chunkier than road bikes, so I had to pack the wheels separately)  Ok, we’re ready to go!

Once in Chiang Mai, we had a day bumming around the town but the night before the cycling was due to start I thought I’d better reassemble the bike.  Ah!  Looks like the bike has taken a knock on the plane and the derailleur hanger has done its job of saving the rear derailleur beautifully by shearing right off.  Looks like Sarah is using the tour bike after all and a few panicky emails make sure that they do, in fact, have a bike for her to use.  No problem we think, we can put the clip in pedals on the tour bike and Sarah can still wear her mountain bike shoes.  That seems like a plan right up until we find that the Singapore climate has done its evil work and the straps break off the shoe as soon as she tries to tighten them!  Ho Hum, running shoes just like any normal tourist them!

As luck would have it, the bikes are all new this year and in fantastic condition.

We were the only people on the tour, so it’s just us, our own personal guide, Noom (although he said he didn’t mind if we wanted to call him Moon) and our driver Thai, now how am I going to remember his name?

I think I break one of The Rules by putting road pedals on a mountain bike, and away we go.

Day 1Day 1 was a 26k bimble through some great countryside followed by a 5km canoe across the reservoir for lunch.  All pretty flat apart from a really unexpected kick to get up to the top of the dam.  Danielle attacked, Luka followed, I was not to be beaten by either.  So half way up, a hand on Luka’s back as he looks about ready to fall off, and we slowly pull Danielle back passing her just before the top.  Luka is stoked, Danielle is furious.  I just don’t understand where these children get their competitive streak from 😉

We hit the canoes thinking it won’t be long until lunch.  DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW LONG IT TAKES TO CANOE 5K ON FLAT WATER!  We keep thinking that it is just around the corner.  Our spirits raise as we see some lakeside houses, only to be dashed as the guide paddles on past.  On and on we go, Danielle thinks it will never end, Luka has a sense of humor failure and just as we think we will die on this lake, the guide pulls into what must have been absolutely the last restaurant on the lake.  The effort, the desperation, the pain are all quickly forgotten as we tuck in to some lovely rustic Thai food and the kids embark on trying to out dare each other into jumping off the highest platform.  Not sure these would pass Australian or New Zealand Health and Safety!  The night is spent in a small resort on the river Ping.  Nothing special but clean and pretty much what you’d expect in rural Thailand.

Matching outfits for the girls
Matching outfits for the girls
Where is our guide going?
Where is our guide going?
Its a long way down
Its a long way down

Day 2

Day 2 was the day we decided to be team ANZA 2011/12, resplendent in our gold and black kit (Still the best design of club kit in my opinion).  It started strangely with a ride in an ox cart.  Fast these animals are not, and it can only be said that suspension and rubber tyres were a good invention, but it took us dutifully to a local village where they had some locally produced craft products for us to buy.  No really, they were locally produced, and absolutely did not come from the same Chinese factory as all other tourist craft products.  Anyway, Luka acquired the best souvenir a small boy could ask for, a catapult and proceeded to fire small stones anywhere and everywhere.

Once the tourist activities were over the serious matter of riding 30km downhill commenced, and a very enjoyable day was spent putting in next to no effort whatsoever as we travelled through the northern Thailand countryside.  Only one small piece of drama ensued when we had finished at 29.8km.  Danielle was therefore instructed to take the Garmin and run 100m up the road to ensure we bagged 30km for the day (but that’s a secret so don’t tell anybody)

Team ANZA.
Team ANZA.

That night we were eco-tourists.  We spent the night in an adobe lodge where we helped make some more adobe bricks, built some models out of the mud/clay and then helped cook our own dinner.  We even had to introduce the children to that strange thing called washing up your own plates and cutlery.  If you’re a 5 Star hotel junkie, you might not like it, but it was clean simple and just fine to crash for a night.

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White! Just the colour for making mud bricks!

Day 3Day 3 and another eco-tourist start to the day as we went to ride a water buffalo and learn all about how they plant and harvest rice.  Suffice to say that all is well in the rural world of Northern Thailand.  Husband talks to tourists while wife does back breaking work of planting and harvesting rice.

Bring on the cycling and the children are starting to feel a little tired and hungry.  A little way into the ride and they are demanding a lunch stop so Noom obliges with a perfectly timed stop at a roadside grill.  BBQ chicken, lamb, prawns and oddly enough eggs are hungrily eaten and declared delicious and the original local redbull is tried and declared disgusting!  We ride on to our pickup point (I should point out at this time that the length of each day can be extended or shortened, so if you think your kids want more or less, that can all be fitted into the plan.)  That night was spent in an idyllic bamboo lodge where they served dinner outside your room and thai massages were part of the package.  I’m sure the picture doesn’t do it justice, but the surroundings really were beautiful.

Man talk to tourists, woman work the fields!
Man talk to tourists, woman work the fields!
Bamboo lodge in beautiful surroundings
Bamboo lodge in beautiful surroundings

Day 4 is a rest day, well of sorts.  No bike riding today, today we ride something

Mmmmm I love a nice mud bath
Mmmmm I love a nice mud bath

altogether larger and more unpredictable.  Today is elephant mahout day.  We met our elephants, making friends by using a bunch of bananas and then proceed to be shown how to ride by sitting on the neck locking our knees behind their ears.  The kids and Sarah look fine, but I was feeling distinctly unstable as they gave me the largest elephant and it looked like a very long way to fall.

Mmmmm I love digging in the mud
Mmmmm I love digging in the mud

So off into the hills we go about an hour until lunch and I’m finding inner thigh muscles that I didn’t know existed

(oh boy this is going to hurt tomorrow I think).  After lunch, we proceed to give one of the elephants a mud bath, or was the elephant giving us a mud bath, I can’t be sure really, but she certainly seemed to enjoy lying there while we shoveled mud unto her.

I think this mud sets off my hair colour
I think this mud sets off my hair colour

Once done, it was a long ride down to the river where we gave the elephants and ourselves a much needed bath before heading back to the ranch for showers, cold drinks and souvenirs of photos in frames made out of elephant poo!

 

 

 

 

 

Day 4Day 5 and I’m right, riding an elephant uses muscles that nothing else does!  Today really is a tourist cycling day.  We start at an umbrella factory where we get to paint our own umbrellas and have the real artists paint designs on anything you own.  A great opportunity for a truly unique iPhone or camera case.  Then we’re off on the final stage of the journey.  Luka is complaining that either his bike needs oil or he does and we put it down to him being tired at the end of the week especially after his sandbagging on day 3 where he hung back all day before charging ahead with 2km to go!  Much later after he has ridden most of the day with my hand on his back, we identify that in fact the front brake has been rubbing all day, I knew I should have checked that in the morning, oh well, a good workout for me.

Miles and miles of empty countryside
Miles and miles of empty countryside

We had a quick stop at a tin/silver factory to check out those lovely designs that you haggle over at Thai markets and to buy a few things at a fraction of the price that you could even haggle the market dealers down to.  This brings us on to lunch.  After 4 days Noom has realised that we’re not interested in finding anything even remotely western and we want to try the real local food and so we stop at a little roadside eatery where we get the most exquisite Northern Thai curry I’ve ever tasted it’s called Khoa Soi and is much more subtle than the usual red or green curries.  And so to the end, a total of 121km ridden and we finish at a local hot springs where we can shower, bathe in the hot spring fed swimming pool, and then cook some eggs in the boiling spring water as it bubbles out of the outlet.  It is a great way to finish the day, before Noom and Thai drop us off at our hotel back in Chiang Mai.

Fantastic job SpiceRoads, a thoroughly enjoyable and highly recommended family trip.

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Tour of Friendship | stage 5

And so it ends. In a dirty car park in the middle of nowhere. The sadness of seeing 300 riders trying to quickly pack their bikes boxes in the blistering heat. After 5 days playing at bike racing, there’s a whiff of melancholy in the air.

 

Today’s stage was 90km, totally flat and on good roads. It ended in a sprint for all categories and some super quick speeds. In open, we averaged closed to 44km/hr for the 93km. The win was taken by Wisut from the local Singha Infinite team. I actually saw him take a business call during the race when we were going at 50km+.

All Anza finished safely in their respective bunches.

A great 5 days racing yet again and absolute hands off to Kai for putting on such a great race. I encourage everyone to consider it for next year.

Tour of Friendship | stage 4

An easier looking day on paper. 103km, mostly flat with a 3km climb up a dam at the end.

open started fast – with a 43km average for the1st 10km as the break tried to get established. With that done, we then settled down to an easy speed and it was a quiet procession for the next 30km.

things went nuts at 40km when the pros sped it up and we hit over 65 during the attacks which completely shattered the group. Pete Bennett and Dave Christenson made group 2. Dave cox, myself and a mav then ground the last 60km ourselves to the dam where the 30s just caught us 😦

Mark Cook from Direct Asia Anza celebrated his birthday in style by bringing home our 2nd stage win of the tour!

Steven Wong smashed it again – winning the stage and putting more time into his rivals. He would have podiumed in 30s also with a great ride up the dam.

Raoul was taken out by a rogue bottle at 60km an hour but is thankfully ok. A busted bike and Anza jersey being his biggest loss.

aiyana got 3rd we think but waiting for results.

1 day to go. I’ve had a beer already and desperate for a burger to celebrate the end tomorrow.

 

Tour of friendship | stage 2

ImageToday was a good day for the team but bitter sweet. Due to a last minute work commitment, Pierre Alain has to leave the race tonight to fly to India. As a result, our plan from the start was to get PA into the break and try get the yellow jersey.

The race was a 120km scoot up the highway from Bangkok to Kanchanaburi. Fortunately the Highway of Death didn’t live up to its name and today was actually quite nice. We started with a 20km neutralized section through BKK – at 38km/hr average.

Immediately when the neutral section ended, we were into a set of searing attacks at 55-60km/ hr until a break with the right composition stuck. For us, that included PA and Dave Christenson and so we were ecstatic back in the bunch.

We spent the next 80 km closing down any break together with the Mavs and crusing at a comfortable 40km average. Dave C took the sprint and PA came 5th. This left us with 1 and 2 on the Open GC – a great result for the team.

In the ladies, Aiyana went up to 5th in GC after finishing 3rd in the stage.

Steven Wong rode strongly again – retaining the yellow jersey in 50s.

Raoul and John both going well in their age groups.

All in all, a good day but a great shame to lose PA when he’s in the yellow.

Tomorrow brings the first decent hills and more 40 degree temperatures…

 

 

Bintan Lagoon Classic | Cat 1

First running of the BLC and another cracking event from the Cycosports boys.

With most of the SG Cat 1 boys in training for next weeks Tour Of Friendship, the BLC was meant to be a good final warm-up to test the form and see who was flying. Sadly for some of us Direct Asia ANZA boys, the gentle warm-up edged more towards a serious melt-down..!

Things should have been apparent from the ferry over to Bintan.  Pierre had his gameface on and was clearly motivated by the thrill of the race.

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The wafer thin (32 riders) Cat 1 listing looked almost exactly like the contents of the Longhouse carpark for the Sunday Crazies ride & everyone pretty much knew each other. One face that was an unknown was Danny riding with us in TDA. He’s a sprinter with the Avanti MY team & needed someone to ride with – joining Pierre Alain, Pete Bennett and myself. Danny had legs like treetrunks which looked great in pictures but might be a hinderence on the big rollers that were coming 5km from the start.

With the Mavs fielding their A-team of 8 riders & the rest of us with dribs & drabs, it was looking like a tough day on paper. I seized my chance to cross the line with arms in the air early just in case it inexplicably failed to happen later.

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After some acrobatics to get 200 bikes off the ferry, the masses started getting ready on the grass at the resort. Temperatures were already 37 and climbing and it was clearly going to be a dirty bomb of a day. PA managed to misplace his Garmin and spent 5 mins making us all look – only for him to mysteriously find it was down his pants!

The race kicked off and things immediately heated up – both figuratively and literally as we quickly  hit 40 degress. The first rollers proved an quick breakpoint with at least 8 of the pack getting shelved out the back after some early pressure – with our sprinter being one. By checkpoint charlie I was still holding on comfortably and was starting to feel decidely cocky about the day.

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Things started going tits up around 30km in when I felt some dodginess on a corner when on the front of the bunch. Thinking I’d punctured I dropped to the back of the bunch and got off to fix the wheel. It turned out to be a loose front skewer and the wheel had been shaking. Quick fix – but it meant a 3km chase back to the bunch which melted down a lot of the scarce supply of matches in the bag.

Soon after getting back, things went further south when Pierre broke a spoke.The bunch spent a few seconds debating how to treat this but slowly came to the realisation that it was a one day race & thats just part of racing. With that, the attacks started in earnest and the hammer was dropped. With a slow wheel change, PA stood no chance of getting back on despite Pete staying to help pull him back. I waited further up the road but he was 1 minute + behind the group by the time he got back to me. PA chased for another 10km alone before finally sitting up and waiting for the mere mortals in the team.

40km in and the entire team were now out of the race. That left us with an 80km ride home over some nasty rollers in a 40 degree furnace. Tough day ahead. Around 50km we passed CycleWorx Joel foo and he gave the wise suggestion just to treat it as a Gran Fondo and cruise home.

At about 100km, the police sirens raised the spirits and we had visions of the Cat 2 pack arriving with an armchair ride for us at the back of the bunch & copius amounts of much needed water support. Hopes were dashed when ANZA’s Stale and Mavs Richard Paine came flying past alone. Great ride by them but we really desperate for a water support bike to come along.

A few more Cat 1 stragglers were picked up or passed on the final road home. By then it had become a death march and we were just desperate to get it over with. Like a good Scotsman, I was as red as a baboons arse from sunburn and my guts just wanted to spend some quality time on a toilet as a result. We had a little sprint on the final hill to scare Pete that we were going to steal his Cycosports points and then it was done.

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I think we ended up with 14,15 and 16 place but frankly didn’t care by the end. A jump in the pool and a cold beer was all any of us wanted. Tough tough day.

Absolute hats off to the Mavs for fielding a very strong team and dominating the day.  As always, huge kudos to the CycoSports guys for putting on such great events and keeping the racing scene alive. Looking forward to Batam already & hoping that we can field a more respectably sized team.