Now I felt like an avid mountain biker already. After just a week from Ayer Keroh Jamboree, I got myself into another trouble signing up for a race instead. Race! Yep. Not a jamboree but totally a pure race format with a 6km loop of trail mixed with road where the participants will have to complete 2 to 4 laps depends on the category you sign up for.
After a late announcement by the organizer of the event program, I was stuck with my personal Saturday schedule e.g. the usual chauffeur duty for my kids. I almost missed the event when my category’s flag-off time clashed with my kids’ tuition class. Aiyak! With some adjustments and begged and plea, I managed to make a quick dash to the race.
When I arrived somewhere near 12.00 p.m. the Men’s Open Category was on going. I can see suffer fest among the faces whilst climbing the final 1 km back to the finish line. My time will be up soon.
Race atmosphere was cool. I mean cool as of relax mode, but the day was pretty much hot. I think Putrajaya is always like that. Alwin just completed his race while Azmar was ready for the Veteran Category, just like me. I did some warming up, though it felt insufficient but the scorching sun already burned me up. I was penalized later during the first lap. We’ll get into that.
As I saw more familiar faces getting ready for the Veteran Category, I started to have the feeling that these old guys means business. When we were called to the Caller Box, there were about 55 of us veteran guys and 15 are mostly big names in the cycling arena. Nor Affendi Rosli and Muhammad Hafiz Wong were among them. I just stood behind them shivering me legs :D
The countdown for flag-off was so hyped by the emcee, the butterfly in my stomach rattled even wilder. The horn blew off and I tried squeezing through riders as fast as I could, regulating my juice wisely.
The first climb stood there after only 100m and it was so hard, steep and long. Gauging from the heart rate zone, I don’t wish to push into red zone early since I have no idea of how tricky the trail will be. The strong ones have already gone into the trail, never to be seen again until the end. The enthusiastic ones that have embarked into a suicide attack mode from the beginning; have already shown signs of…death!
When I reached the top, I had to toggle between recovery and ready for the next burst. There was no time for a breath of relief, that’s why we call it RACE! It’s not until the end is over.
A short and steep climb was the mark for the trail head. It was a twisting turn from the main road where most of the weakling legs from the first lung buster have gone kaput here. A few guys dropped, I gave my best shoved to balance myself not to get tangled up with them. Phew! That was a relief.
Then it was fast downhill through forest lanes with gravels on the surface. Speed was priority at this point since there are still strong riders catching up. Then there was this narrow turn followed by another short burst climb. Great! Insanely intense! The second downhill trail was steep and fast, there was no chance of killing the speed for an abrupt stop. I was just going with the flow whilst tapping the brakes as I grip the handlebar steadily.
Halfway into the ‘killing zone’ I saw a rider was already lying on the trail side. I was definite he crashed, and it was sure a nasty one. The descent has 3 lines, the even one on the left, a gully in the middle (impossible to ride here) and a super-elevated on the right line. We either choose left or ride. Deciding to switch lines mid-way would mean disaster. Adds up with more speed demons in front and the ones tailing, it felt like a pressure cooker. My call was that he switched lines or might have slipped from the right line.
I didn’t have the chance to slow down or stop to investigate since it was too risky for me and the riders behind. I only saw Azmar stopped to check it out. I think it was somebody we know.
The following stretch was a roller coaster ride with a few bumps here and there. Most of us were stretched apart but still visible. We were recovering from the shaky downhill. Then we were back on the road again.
It was getting hotter once we hit the tarmac. Of course, it was in the middle of the afternoon! I simply neglect the heat and soldiered on chasing whatever group that I can latch on to. But, when I arrived, the group just didn’t respond to any of my nudge to form a drafting train.
The final turn brought us to the last climb of the loop. It was long. I mean really long and there was no wind, both from the rider and the real wind. When there’s no wind, heat was inevitable, from the tarmac and from the sky above. It was almost static. I just paced myself as long as I could maintain a good enough momentum to reach the top and continue on for the second lap.
Second lap had a more dispersed atmosphere where most of the time I was alone. Hence, tackling those tricky trails without pressure was a more enjoyable situation. I passed by the injured rider from the first lap crash and only to know that it was one of my friend. He was sitting against a tree with a painful face and a few marshals were nursing him. Hopefully it wasn’t a bad crash.
We hit the road back again and ready for the final push at the final climb. The final one! If we were required to complete 3 laps, I think I might skip the third one. It was just so laborious. And I think I am a late warmer (as if there’s a word for that). Lambat panas. I think I did better this time compared to the first round climb. There were 3 of us and we were closed to each other started from the road section. Again I tried to organize something to share the ride load especially when we have cross winds, but too bad only one guy responded and the other guy just muttered in a faceless manner.
As we started the climb together, again I tried to be friendly by nodding a few smiles. Just to reduce the monotones and suffer feelings among us. Again, too bad they decided to stick to their own, the faceless kind.
At the last 300m was where I decided to just leave them with their pace when I dropped the gear a notch and boost myself away. I was surprised to still have the legs for that kind of stunt. They didn’t respond to it, perhaps they had it and simply wanted to just finish the race.
As usual, mountain bike events are generous with post race meal and lots of prizes (I only whacked the lunch). We waited for the Elite Category Final Stage whilst enjoying our lunch and of course basking under the baking sun. These guys really meant business. Even their warm up was throughout an hour before the flag-off. They just kept spinning around the venue like sharks waiting for the final kill. I should’ve done the same, but sure doesn’t look like a pro la :]
They did 4 laps but due to the intensity and competency, most of them showed suffer faces also except for the winner la, Fauzan our national cyclist. Anuar Manan and a few other big names had to settle for other ranks.
Once in a while, races like this can be a great measuring stick for our strength capacity. As long as we enjoy each of it, I don’t find it as a sufferfest :]
The following photos goes credit to Cycling Malaysia Magazine. They are always around for lots of great photos of you and your bike.
|The Veterans at the first lung buster. |
Notice the strung out?
|The Elites. See how packed they are.|
|Looking at their determination also |
I kalah already :P
|Fauzan Lutfi the Elite Champ|
|Anuar Manan at 5th|
|Hero Kampung only at 19th|
in Otai Cat still looking blur :P