This weekend heralds the arrival of the first major stage race of the year – with Tour of Friendship kicking off in Bangkok. ANZA / Direct Asia teams are well represented with 12 riders roasting in the 40 degree heat of the Thai summer.
The calendar for the rest of the year continues to develop with Cycosports just announcing their Nongsa Classic event in September.
Support the local scene and get yourself signed up for these events.
I 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.
My 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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
*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
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
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.
Many of you will know KL, some may have cycled around KL and found out how quickly you transition from busy city with overcrowded roads to quiet countryside. Few of you will have ventured outside this in term of cycling in Malaysia. This is a shame because the country has a lot to offer with Ipoh, Cameron Highlands, and Kuantan. Kuantan I am told has lovely countryside, but I wouldn’t know as I just spent four and a half hours staring at a variety of backsides or the stem cap of my bike with the motivational letters “HTFU” stencilled into them.
Kuantan was the venue for the latest Malaysia Century Ride, that being a century in the old money of British miles, so just a smidge over 160km. The MCRs are great events, sitting somewhere between a race and a sportive, they are too competitive at the sharp end to be a sportive and there are too many people of mixed ability for it to be a pure race, but the best thing about them is that with over 2000 competitors, they are fantastically well run and amongst the friendliest events I have ever entered.
Some might think that it’s a long way to go for a bike ride, but the whole thing is a great weekend. You get up about the same time you would on a normal cycling Saturday, jump on a coach and sleep/veg out/chat for 7 hours before arriving at the race headquaters and hotel. Pick up race packs, banter with your mates, grab lunch, assemble bike, replace 2 x tyres because like everybody you just couldn’t be bothered to do it after the last ride where the damage occurred, buy as much kit from the assembled vendors as you can because its 30% cheaper than in Singapore, buy water and beer from the nearest supermarket then head out for a great local seafood dinner from one of the many restaurants just outside town.
So, after a great showing of 18 last year, ANZA Cycling has an elite squad of 3 this year. Well, Steven Wong is the elite squad and Dave Powell and myself make up the other 2. There are a few more ANZA riders about but they have either left the country and are now part of other Malaysian clubs or having had to beg seats on rival clubs buses, were riding in those jerseys to avoid abuse on the way home 🙂
Why so few you may ask, I really don’t know. Joyrides sent 3 coach loads, East Coast Riders sent 5 coach loads and the Dawn Riders who Dave managed to hitch a ride with had a similar number. All in over 800 people thought it was worth the trip from Singapore to Kuantan, and all I can say is that they were right.
7.30 was race start time, so breakfast was agreed amongst the 3 compatriots of Dave, Mark Losi (racing in rival BJCC colours and ANZA gloves) and me. A short ride to the start and we were there by 7.00am. Others had similarly planned to beat the rush and we were somewhere about 1000 riders from the start.
No worries I thought, 8km of neutralised 25-30km/h should be plenty for me to get to the front. We hooked up with Steven Wong, ANZA rider number 3 who had got up a little earlier to get his place closer to the front and he stayed just long enough for the obligatory club photo.
7.30 arrives, the gun goes off and nobody moves, it takes a minute or so for the movement to ripple down through 1000 riders, then we’re off. Once under the timing gantry I’m off trying to work through the field, and that is the last I see of the other ANZA riders for the day.
It’s going beautifully, at 7km I can see the front of the bunch about 500m away, still 1km to go, and 7.5km I look up an the front peloton is gone! Apparently the 8km was from the start banner, not from the timing gantry. I look up the road and see Peloton 1 is gone, with a snaking line of elastic riders bridging the gap, I realise at that point at 8km that my ‘race’ is over. Not to worry, after a few km of riders attempting to bridge, the elastic snaps, and Peloton 2 quickly forms and my plan is, as it was, to stay in the peloton until the end. The hills are at the start this year, and after 25km of rolling hills, suddenly I’m not feeling great, from front of peloton I suddenly slip back about 100 riders at least, but fortunately over the crest of the hill the pace slackens and I get a chance to catch my breath, I recover and we’re off.
I love peloton riding, I’m doing 42km/h with a heart rate of 155 (that’s low for your hamster hearted editor) and a power output of 150 watts, I’m in heaven! I feel great, I’m passing people all the time, no, really, I’m passing people all the time, so why am I not at the front of the peloton. With a large group, the dynamics develop such that there are 2 conveyor belts of riders one on the left and one on the right. The riders on the outside are accelerating t try to move to the front and then move over to get out of the wind at which point they slow down and slip back through the centre of the group before repeating the whole process again As I’m sitting comfortably in the centre the effect is as if I am constantly passing people, it’s a great feeling.
I wasn’t expecting water support and so my mind had turned to how I was going to manage the drink stops without being dumped out the group, when all of a sudden a car turns up and starts offering bottles out of the window, I grab one, pour it into my bidon and know I’m set until at least the 105km water stop.
I’m working on my nutrition strategy in advance of L’Etape in July so I’m taking a gel every half hour and since I’m feeling good they are actually quite palatable. All of a sudden it looks like the group is going to split, somebody has decided we are going too slow and has upped the pace. I make mistake 1 of 2 and after the gap increases, I take it on myself to bridge, head down watching the power meter, I see 400 watts appear for a while and know I can’t do that for long! The gap is crossed, and the 2 groups are back together, but I realise that the effort as too much for me, I drop about 100 riders again and am thankful for such a large group as I manage to hold on and recover again, but feeling pretty pleased with myself as 5 months ago I would never have attempted that.
The ride progresses, the km are being eaten up and I still feel great, somebody tells me that there is a bridge right before the end and I think about how to tackle that. A few attack start with 10km to go, but basically the peloton counters and nothing sticks. The bridge appears, and I commit mistake 2 of 2 and attack, by the top of the bridge I’ve overtaken almost everybody and am about 5th in this peloton, but as we crest I realise I’ve over cooked it, I can barely pedal down the other side. A 14 year old offers me his wheel. How dare he! Doesn’t he know I’m old enough to be his father, maybe even grandfather, he was the one I was screaming at on the way up the bridge to move right to avoid a crash, perhaps he is showing due respect for my advice, either way I’m insulted! I take his wheel gratefully and he pulls me onto the front group. I see the finish line and all of a sudden the top sprocket of the rear fandango breaks and the 2 ladies from cycledelic who I had been marking all day sweep past me with 10 meters to go! Oh well, such is life! I cross the line with 4hr 22min for 160km and am ecstatic that this is the first race I’ve finished in the main bunch.
We are greeted by the local fire brigade who are providing a cooling fountain for all to enter, I cool off then we head off to collect medals and regroup with the other ANZA riders. Dave finished comfortably under 5 hours, Mark broke a spoke but soldiered home with only slight damage to his frame caused by sliding 50km with a rubbing back wheel and Steven Wong, performing as we have come to expect was first in the 50+ group with a time of 4 hours and 5 minutes.
It was a great day! I can only recommend it to everybody for next year.
The Bintan Lagoon Classic was the second race in the series organised by Cycosports and with no ANZA riders winning any of the categories in Nongsa we all had some making up to do. After missing out on a podium place myself in Batam, by a mere second, I came to Bintan with a certain determination…
The trip over was the usual hassle free experience Cyosports offer; after getting through customs it was straight onto the boat and we set off for Bintan. On the trip over Gavin gave us the safety briefing, underlining the fact that there were meant to be some roads in terrible condition. With this in mind, we all began to feel a little uneasy about what the day might have in store for us.
When we arrived at Bintan Lagoon everyone collected their bikes and finished getting everything ready, gels in pockets, bottles in bottle cages, Garmins on bikes, the norm…
The race began at Bintan Lagoon resort and was a 129km route with a 5km neutralised zone at the start. It took us outside of the resort area of Bintan and then we were to complete a figure of 8 route, coming back into the resort area with the finish line being just before we arrived back at Bintan Lagoon.
The race kicked off and ANZA started with an 11 strong team. Early after the neutralised zone there were a few breaks off the front, none of which were very sustained. There were a lot of times when nobody was willing to take up the pace making at the front and I looked down a good few times to see us only travelling in the 20kmh range [That was me, hoping if I set a pace of 20kmh I could get round and sprint at the end . Ed.]. The heat started to become unbearable and coming to the end of the first loop I looked back to see a good number of people had been dropped off the back. To increase the pain of the heat for some riders, as we were about to turn right to begin the second loop, a couple of policemen managed to send a couple of riders the wrong way; fortunately, none of these were ANZA riders.
With an ever-dwindling bunch we began the second loop, which started by heading directly south. The later it started getting into the day the more I found myself calling up one of the water bikes or cars to grab a drink. I looked down at my jersey and shorts and the black parts of the kit had been turned white from all the salt crystals. In the 40-degree heat a couple more breakaways were attempted, with Craig noticeably putting out a couple of sustained efforts.
It was after one of Craig’s attempts that I counter attacked and two Joyriders came with me, one man, one woman. As I went past Craig I shouted for him to jump on my wheel, but after his flurry at the front and in the searing heat, he unfortunately didn’t have the steam. The three of us got away with about 45km still to go to the finish – we worked well together and all seemed pretty happy to take turns on the front. As we started to pull away I think the ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ philosophy started to play a big role for the main bunch as from what I heard there seemed to be no extended effort to pull us back. Gels were taken on board a lot more regularly now with my stomach beginning to feel the effect…
About 20km to go and we turned right into the resort part of Bintan. By now my legs were starting to feel it and I kept looking back expecting to see the chasing group. We were on the last few major hills of the day – at this point one of our breakaway companions got dropped so it was down to me and the female from Joyriders. There was one hill in particular (one of the KOMs from the TdB) where it felt like I completely blew up and, with cramps in what felt like every muscle in my leg, I tried to ignore the pain and continue churning away at the pedals.
With around 10km to go we made a right turn and decided to take 30 second turns on the front. 5km to go, slowest 5km of my life. With the 2km to go sign I looked back one last time unable to see the bunch, I knew we had done it. We crested the last hill and came down the other side; the last 200m or so was a straight, slightly uphill stretch of road. Race done, I had crossed the line in first place and, to my surprise, had won by a whole 3 minutes over the main bunch. After a painful 45km breakaway it made the victory that little bit sweeter.
Everyone did the usual of jumping in the pools and the showers and getting changed ready for lunch. The prize presentations were done and after that we headed back down to the ferry and back home to Singapore.
An incredibly tough day out, with my heart rate topping out at 206 at one point. The 40 degree heat made the 129km feel like 200km. However, all in all a good day for ANZA (TDA-ANZA sounds like a slightly different story…) with Ståle getting second place in Cat 2, my first place in Cat 3, Craig with third place in cat 3, Aiyana narrowly missing out on the podium for the Women, and ANZA taking home first place in the team category for Cat 3 too.
A brilliantly organised day with the only bad parts of road in the end being a few large potholes and some sticky tar, and for many of us some very painful sunburn!! Hopefully we can continue our success in Batam next month and, in the meantime, pray for a cloudy day! See you there.
The UCI-UWCT qualifying race in Perth was turned into a hybrid stage race this year, the first of which on Wednesday evening in Fremantle was watching the NRS criterium race in which our Superheros from DirectAsia-ANZA – Robocop, Alex Robertson and Dave Cox plus Vinnie Ang and Paulo Caputo all competed. It what looked like one painful lap after another the main pros in the race blew the amateurs away but then it was only a preview race for the Uncle’s UCI qualifier which started with a 18km time trial on Rottenest on Friday, then moved to two road races on Friday and Saturday. You needed a degree in mathematics from MIT to work out how to qualify for the finals in Slovenia so I won’t bore you with details here (not that I understood them)…suffice to say if you rode hard, you qualified.
Rottnest is a gorgeous island with beautiful sea views, undulating sand dunes rising majestically from the Southern Ocean and an almost daily stunning sunset. Its spotless dunes are kept spotless by a volunteer group cleverly called Spotless while there are all sorts of building and “fun” restrictions on the island. But for all its beauty, for me there simply were too many sand dunes, too much blue sky and not enough concrete. No casino. No Four Floors. Nothing. Yet I managed to resist the temptation to rip out all this and build a condo on it. Call it Quokkas Oceanhillsky View or something.
It is also a ridiculous place to hold a time trial. There was zero traffic apart from one errant golf buggy, clean road surfaces, winding, twisting, lumpy roads with breathtaking vistas on almost every corner – I mean where were the articulated trucks, the crazy bus drivers and the taxi drivers with a craving for lane switching without signals?
I couldn’t concentrate on the job in hand and without a truck to tailgate behind or an auntie to watch out for crossing the road without warning I trundled around in 30 minutes. The biggest danger on the road was the quokka – a sort of Darwinian weirdo that is a cross between a rat, a kangaroo and a koala on speed withdrawal. They just walk around doing not a lot except for getting in the way of bike riders so I bought with interest Mark Haller’s advice of “if you see one on the road, aim straight for it.” I’m still trying to figure out what would have happened next had I seen one during the TT given a quokka’s reaction speed. Meerkats they are not.
The competition for this world qualifier was a bunch of bronzed Aussies with bulging muscles from every crevice and assorted tattoos on every flat part of skin, riding on some seriously pimped up bikes. The guys were even worse. The NRS race later in the day had it right when it only allowed road bikes and no aerobars so I compared my time against theirs rather than the million dollar TT bikes I was up against. It was still shit.
Without the bling I was never really in the competition but what the heck. It was still a good day out. The proper road racing began the next day with 12 laps of Bold Park, seven of them with half an SBV and five with half of that plus about three-fifths of a backside of Faber. It was a gruelling, attritional race as it was last year, made harder when the Super Uncle’s category caught the Junior Uncle’s category making a peleton of around 80 riders at one point.
This exploded on lap 8 and the first time up the steep bit (that’s 0.5xSBV + 0.6xMFBS for the right brain readers, “the fecking hard bit” for the left brain readers). By the time the carnage was over and not before your hero had to chase back on because some brainless fecker lost a wheel, that 80 riders was reduced to about 50 and with each consequent lap we lost another 10%.
So it t’was that on the last lap and up the hill for the final time with about 30 Junior Uncles and Super Uncles together. Determined to stay with a pack that was attacking each other left and right, I hung on for my life but couldn’t close a gap myself this time and crested in last position. At least by that point I was seeing stars and dry retching while later, when I downloaded my data, I noticed I set a new maximum heart rate just at this point. At least I was trying. After 100km at speed and on hills I don’t train on, I finished two mins down on the bunch and in 12th place. I needed 10th for an auto spot in the finals in Slovenia in August so I’m crossing my fingers for a roll down.
On the Sunday we had something called a Grand Fondue, a little bit of a misleading title in my view as there wasn’t a slice of Swiss cheese in sight. Unless you count Robocop pining for the mountains, that is. Basically this meant 120 riders starting in one bunch and riding from Fremantle to somewhere I can’t remember in the Perth hills. The fun part of this ride was discussing with a yocal rider how it was more than just a coincidence that we didn’t hit a red light the entire way through the city bit and learning the police have some device that can override a red light when they want to. I didn’t know that. And why isn’t it on the black market for us to buy from some dodgy geezer in Kalang? Getting one of those would be huge fun.
Anyhoo, the jollity ended with a touch of wheels on a dull, flat, straight bit of road as it always does and a minor stack that happened right in front of me – I’m talking not even a bike length ahead of me here people yet I still stopped on time and stayed upright. How ‘bout that, eh? I pulled my front break lever so hard I managed to pull the cable through the calliper thingy, a point of note I suddenly remembered a few kilometres later while descending at 75kmph on a rough road that fell snake like through some woods. It was the same out-of-control adrenalin rush feeling I got when I did a bungy jump and I must admit I may have had a slight accident in my shorts.
And then the fun really ended as soon as we hit a 10km climb that had the same sort of gradient as Mandai Avenue the same direction as the Crazies do it. That meant all I had to do was say to myself ten times over “it’s just a Crazies ride, it’s just a Crazies ride”, a strategy that worked until episode five when some motherfecker attacked and the group blew to smithereens. We’ve all been in the dark place in what happened next: Alex R and I couldn’t get on the last wheel back to the bunch and spent five agonising kilometres watching the bunch inch away from us until it was just the other side of “too far”. Dave Cox made it, Vinnie Ang also did. Robocop punctured during this agonising period too and yet despite not passing Alex and I, managed to finish ahead of us.
How odd. This modern day Twilight Zone in the Perth Hills has never been fully explained.
After that it was kinda easier – we were caught by a larger bunch of about ten riders who had been delayed by a huge stack on a sweeping corner and rolled to the finish line 40kms later. Inevitably after three days, I felt at my best on the final climb up to Thetownwithaninstantlyforgettablename and finished in xx place, yy time behind the leaders. I’ve never looked up what xx and yy represent, I just know that (a) I didn’t win it; (b) my legs hurt afterward; (c) it was freezing by Singers standards; (d) it was a really fun cycling event and I’d recommend it to everyone. Do it next year. You’ll have a blast.
With experience gained from the Desaru and the Tour de Bintan road races last year, and some big names noticeable by their absence from the rider list, confidence was running high in the ANZA Cat 2 team, as we lined up on the start line of the Nongsa Challenge, the first in the new Cycosports race series for 2014. Set to be a 97km road race, over 8 laps of a 12km undulating loop of the Batam countryside, in normal ANZA style a quick huddle with the 8 riders on the start line was the basis for discussion of any tactics and a race plan. Basically Mark would be race captain and him and Kevin be the protected riders, with Mike chasing down any serious breaks – ish. George and Hish were happy to be told what to do, and hoped to feature more during the race, having gained valuable race and peleton experience from the TdB.
The siren went to signal the start and 75 Cat 2 riders rolled out of the hotel complex to start the race, an easy pace was set with the group clipping along at around 35kph. It was very hot though with the temperature hitting 34.5 degrees although the first few laps were pretty much uneventful with a few riders drifting off the front to no avail, and George seemingly enjoying himself happy to pull the peleton along by taking unnecessarily long turns on the front. A hilly, winding course with a couple of sharp bends saw the group soon pass the back markers of those dropped from the womens category and Cat 3 (but mentioning no names!) and happy to watch Nico dig in and enjoy solo efforts off the front for a few 100 metres, every lap.
A hasty plan was formed on the move by Mark and communicated to the team that after the big right hander after the hills, with 2 laps to go the ANZA riders would all have a go at stringing out the group, Mark was in lead position out of the corner, closely followed by Mike and Kevin, but the idea soon fizzled out as some riders seemed happy to sit in the wheels rather than work and try and make a break for the team, and it took a good half a lap for Mark to calm down over the lost opportunity.
With around 15km to go and approaching the final lap, Raoul and a Mav started to drift away at the front of the peleton, with the group apparently not reacting. With a decent size gap developing, Kevin attacked on one of the hills and made it across the to lone twosome. The three started to work together and with Hish and George beginning to hold back the peleton resulting in the gap growing, it looked like the break was going to stick and things were looking good… until the Mav decided he didn’t want to play. So rather than pull when it was his turn on the front, he’d slow and practically sit up, a big shame but in his opinion there was apparently ‘too far’ left to go, even though it was worth a go for what would have been guaranteed podiums for the 3 escapees. So before long and with around 7km to go the break was caught and things started to hot up for the finish, which was a sharp left hander at the end of the lap, into a couple of rolling hills and into the finish.
With around 1.5km to go riders started to have a go off the front, but no one really managed to get away. Kevin was up with the leaders and things were looking good as the group turned into the finishing straight. A rookie mistake by Kevin in that he had decided not to recce the finish beforehand and the finish came earlier than expected, not that he had much left in the tank anyway, but he likes to think that another 100m or so would have seen him improve on his 7th position and first ANZA rider across the line, closely followed by Steven, then George, Hish, Mike, Raoul, Mark and Nico.
A quick dip and relax in the hotel pool followed by an excellent lunch and the partaking of plenty of beers from Tiger who had sponsored the event, and the group was back on the ferry and partaking of plenty more beers from Tiger who had sponsored the event. And then there was some rose wine, and some more beers, and that’s when things started to become a blur and the day began to draw to a close…
So at the end of a very hot and tiring day, it was another excellent, highly enjoyable Cycosports event, the logistics and organisation was, again, simply faultless. So heres looking forward to the next in the series, in Bintan on 13th April, although maybe as Cat 2 we should talk a bit more about team tactics, rider roles and have some sort of plan before the actual race… but hang on, I think I can recall us saying that after TdB, and before after the Desaru race, etc….!