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OCBC Cycle Malaysia 2014 Ride Report

OCBC Cycling Malaysia is one huge cycling event that happen in Dataran Merdeka Kuala Lumpur over a two day weekend (Jan 18 & 19 2014). The event tout activities for all ages and with special Foldie Categories. The main event on Saturday was the 1.3km lap Elite Criterium where the Trengganu Pro Asia Team Mohd Harrif Salleh won with a time of 58:59. On Sunday, the 48km Challange takes the center stage with the Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin flagging off the participants and joining the ride. I join this event with the Utara Viperz, a group of riders who lives in KL migrated from the north.

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Pack Collection

After checking into the Hotel and got some rest, I walk over to the Dataran Merdeka to collect the race pack. The race pack collection was at the Dataran Underground Creative Mall called Dataran Undrgrnd. The place was mostly empty with a handful of shops. There was no queue and I got my pack without any fuss. Right after the collection was a guy testing all the timing chip. I was wondering why the timing chip was tested after the pack collection and not before, nevertheless, it was nice to see my name spread across the big TV when he wave my race pack across a sensor. There was also a maze of sponsors stalls selling all cycling items and most with good discounts.

The Challenge Event Day

Feeling better from the flu, I decided to continue with the Challenge. I guess I was excited the night before and did not manage to get much sleep. I was up by 5am and was cycling over to the event site 30 minutes later. The city streets was lively at this hour and the event site was buzzing with activities. The participants were arranged according to the bib number where the first alphabet of the bib  number determine the order of flag off. The flagoff was done in 2 major stage where the Sport Minister Khairy flag off the first batch and he himself ride with the second batch. By the time I met up with the guys which is almost the starting time 6.30am, the organisers push everyone to the back of the line regardless of the bib number. We slowly push the bicycles following the crowd and end up behind Sultan Abdul Samad building next to the Klang river. A total of 3000 riders were said to have joined the Challenge and all congregated around the building. The front of us was a sea of riders, and the same behind. At about 7 something, the crowd started to walk. We push our bicycles up to Pasar Besar Lane and started to mount our beast. That followed by a slow ride up to the starting line.

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Bloodies of all events

The Challenge takes us four 12km lap around the KL city. I was silly to think that the course was a nice flat ride, I was wrong. The reason it was called the challenge was because it was challenging. Right at the starting line I already lost Jeeves and CF. I only manage to keep track of Adrain as he was wearing a blinking light on his helmet. I tried my best to keep up to him in the first lap and lost him in the second. The first lap was the bloodies of all the cycling event that I have joined. In the first 12km, I witness 3 accidents, well, 2 actually, with the third I heard the loud crash and shouting behind me.

Crash caught by Lamie SOC
The second lap, one guy over confident taking a corner and over shot into the ravine. Third and fourth lap was incident free as the crowd start to disperse and everyone enjoying their ride. In the entire ride, I took a couple of pit stops and tried to maintain a constant pace. After 4 laps, I finish the challenge in 2hrs 6 minutes. Though the timing was disappointing, but considering my health condition, I could live with this result.

Shimano Free Service

Thanks to Shimano free service at the event site, they help to solve my months old shifting problem. It now shift smoothly and without any problems. All the guy do was just to tighten the rear derailleur cable. Shimano should sponsor such services in all Major Cycling Events in Malaysia.

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Other Blogs on this Event:

Starting the Year Strong

Well, 60km broken into 2 rides is hardly starting the year strong, but it is much better than 2013. I don’t remember what was I doing in the first weekend last year, but I will remember this weekend for a long time. Partly because I took the Jln Tun Sardon home for the first time, which has a grade climb up to 21.5%. I had to push the bike at some of the segments. To make it worst, I was doing the climb at 12 noon with clear blue sky. The heat and steep gradient took the breath out of me and force me to dismount and push. I am wondering if this is the hardest climb in Penang Island. Once I hit the peak, the view was rewarding, on top of that, the cooling breeze blows through the thick foliage, both calming and refreshing. The stalls at the peak were all closed, except for one uncle selling durians. I was looking forward to a cold 100plus, but I had to hold my thirst till when I get down from the hill. Going downhill was no easy task. The steep gradient means fast descent and my hands muscle hurt for pressing so much brake.

Something new that I tried today was leaving home at about 10.38am. The sun was already blazing and I wanted to see if I could get a good ride, no matter what time of the day. I was wrong, the heat got to me 10 minutes after I left home and I was battling it the entire journey. The only thing on my mind was Hot Hot Hot and Shades Shades Shades. I took a break at shady area and consume both my water bottles 3qtr into the ride. Usually in all my rides, I rarely stop, today, I have to stop at every chance I get, a short break from the heat refreshes the spirit to go further. Nevertheless, I did enjoyed the ride, even in the heat, I just tell myself not to repeat such stunts and stick to morning ride. Morning Rides are the best!…

Last Sunday of 2013

Its the last Sunday of the year and a 40km ride clocks in 1551km total distance for 2013. It has been a great cycling year, where I have been cycling commute to work for majority of the year and breaks my round island record during CFAL 2013. In addition, I have started to run and completed both the 10k KL Marathon and Penang Bridge Marathon within the stipulated time. 2013 is also the year that I did my first Triathlon Sprint distance. As 2013 is coming to the end I am looking forward to a more exciting 2014. Though I plan to join less endurance sport in this coming year, I would like to better my time in those that I have participated in. I also hope to complete my first Century ride in 2014 and ride more than 2000km in a year. Happy New Year to All and may you be Well and Happy!

Penang Urban Triathlon 2013

Ever since I finish the Penang International Duathlon early in the year, I have thought of doing the Triathlon. Triathlon was a new addition in my Bucket List and it is one of the things that an endurance race enthusiast like me must do before we kick the bucket. The Penang Urban Triathlon 2013 came along sometime mid this year and a light bulb goes up in my head to register for it. It was a sprint distance, 800m Swim, 20km Bike and 5km Run and this is the best distance for a beginner like me to go for. It was a small event with only Two hundred over participants of mostly locals and expats.

Penang Urban Triathlon 2013

Race Pack Collection

The race pack collection was located at the event site which is the Chinese Swimming Club in Tanjung Tokong. The collection time was open two days before the event and was glazed with sponsors booth and discounts. The briefings was done on both days. The briefing is important for those who do not read the Participant Booklet cover to cover. I went on the Saturday hot afternoon where everyone at the site was tired from the day and was chilling from the hot sun. I did not intend to by anything and the items at the sponsor booth did not excite me so after collecting the race pack above, I went back. The race pack came with a shirt, race bib, swimming cap and sponsored items. The one nice thing that the event organiser did was to provide options to participants on the T-Shirt and Race Belt. Participants had an option to skip the T-Shirt, which would one could save RM15 and the race belt was made as an option to purchase at RM20. This way, if I choose not to take the T-Shirt, I stand to save some $$ and prevent wastage. The shirts are nice in a nice to get for the first few events that we join, after some time, the closet will be full of these shirts and some will end up going to disaster relief.

As this is an Urban Triathlon and the course was done in a confined space, participants swim 800m in a zig zag route in the Chinese Swimming Club olympic size pool. This add up to 16 laps going from the top of the pool and end up at the bottom. After the swim, participants cycle 20km in a 2x10km loop. This is where many made mistakes and cost them the race. After the bike, the run was a straight forward 2.5km run to strait quay mall and back. 3hr from the last to flag off is the cutoff time. I calculated and thought this was doable and hope that I did not disqualify due to swimming. As I had not train at all and the last time I really swam was more than a year back, I didn’t really know what to expect. The only thing I knew was that I had to go slow and keep myself calm and not to panic in the water.

Race Day (Dec 15, 2013)

Though I was a little anxious the night before, I did manage to get some good sleep. I put my alarm at 4.15am and manage to leave the door at about 5am. The bike setup and body marking was from 5am to 6am and I arrived at about 5.45am. In my haste, I forgot my two water bottle in the refrigerator which cost me later in the race. I was early at the event site as there was not that many bikes in the transition area and I could get a nice parking at the hawker restaurant next door. After setting up my bike and got my body mark, I went to the pool side and waited for the event to start. Because I put my swimming time at 50min, I was placed among the last to start. Sharp at 6.45am, the race started. Every 15seconds a participant enter the pool. The crowd roar when the first participant went in, everyone watch him swim the pool length and when he did his back flip, everyone cheered again, especially the ladies, I hear them scream the loudest.

I enter the pool at 7.28am almost 45minutes after the first guy start. I started with a strong kick on the wall and cover as much distance as I can before I pull my first stroke. I started with the free style and tried to get into a nice rhythm. Though I could sync my strokes and breathing to the rhythm that I wanted, I felt like not enough air. I keep wanting to breath much faster but I couldn’t. When I finish my first lap, I knew I could not continue this further, so I decided to change to breath stroke. With breath stroke, I could breath much faster, though still not enough, so I slow down my pace and took a long rest after each lap. Along the way, the stronger swimmer guys and girl overtook me while I maintain my lead over the others. There was just a hand full behind me, but it was nice to know that I ain’t last. When I got out of the pool, I hear chattering that the first participant had already finish. Though dishearten, I soldier on as I had to finish the race. When the official timing came out, I finish my swim in 27min 28 sec.

The transition was a short distance dash from the pool, however, I had to slowly walk over because the floor was all wet and the tiles look slippery. I didn’t want to end the race here, so after a careful walk over to the transition area, I started to put on my cycling gears. I was surprise to see that most of the bicycles were already back and only a few were still out there. The old lady next to me just came back from her bike ride and rush on for the run. I help her to put her bike on the rack and the husband took a photo of me. My first transition was 2min 52sec and the winner did it in 33 sec. So much difference.

As I cycle out, I started to chew on the  Fast Track energy supplement bar that was given in the race pack. It was a chocolate bar, and I had a hard time to get it down.  This was because I did not have any water on my bike. I was also struggling to get enough air into my lungs as It was hard to chew and breath at the same time. I was watching my speed and I was doing at 20 something kmph. I was thinking to myself that this is not good enough, I need to go faster, but I could not, I could not get enough air in and I had trouble swallowing the energy bar. I would say that I was mentally beaten at this point where I just could not get over the water issue. I manage to finish the bar within the Strait Quay loop and when I head over to the other direction my hands were free and all I had to do was concentrate on cycling. Heading towards the Dalat International school was tough as this was the uphill climb. The good thing was that it was only a short climb, conquering the climb, it was down hill after that and only a small mound to overcome right after Dalat.

When I completed my first loop, I saw one participant took a short cut coming out from the housing estate, she did not finish the entire route. At the Chinese Swimming Club, the race organiser keep screaming for participants to continue the second loop. The second loop was easier to do, but the energy bar did not seams to have any effect. Maybe because I did not consume any water, and it did not burn as effectively. So I struggle to finish the second loop and finally clock a disappointing 47min 43sec.  Biking was my strength and I finish 7 minutes later than my expectation. The top guy did it in 34min 10sec and 40min was my goal.

Coming into the second transition, all bikes were already back, I was among the last few to start running, most of all the participants have already finish the race and was congregating at the event ground. My second transition was quick, I hang my bike up, took off the helmet and glove and started running. Somehow the system did not capture my this transition time. I was physically beaten by the time the run started and I did not even bother to take my energy gel as I did not had much water to drink. The water station was only at the transition area and at the Strait Quay loop, each time I come by the transition, I only mange to grab one cup of 100 plus.

So I started running and walking and running. There was quite a number of volunteers guiding the pathway, as there are many turns, volunteers were placed at the major turns. I did not have a problem with the path, but during biking there was one guy who strayed out of the running path till Island plaza, he must have done 7-8km run. I was among the last few participants and the volunteers were nice to cheer us on. We cheer each other on as well and finally completed the race. I ran the 5km for 40min 48sec, which is per expectation.

I finish the entire race at 1hr 58mins 50sec, which I was happy with. The top guy finish his in 1hr 5min 31sec, almost an hour before me. With another year of training, I was telling my colleagues that we will go for top 30. Per this year’s performance, we have to finish it within 1hr 30min, which is doable. I just need to shave 10min off my swimming, running and biking, this would put me nicely within the top 30.

Sprint is the best distance for beginners to start and I would recommend anyone who wanted to try Triathlon. There is not many Sprint events in Malaysia, so if you see one, register for it fast. And you can put a thick on your bucket list when you are done.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013 (PBIM 2013)

One of the most anticipated event of the year has arrived. Friends and colleagues who have been training for this event are all prepared and many are using this event as a benchmark of their progress and decide if they should progress to the next level. For me, who just want to run for fun went into the event with little to no preparation, except for trying to get a good night sleep just before the event. As in all races, the event started with the race pack collection. We collected our race pack on the first collection day, which is a week before the event. The collection tent was operated by school children’s, who was energetic and eager to get rid of the 40k bibs at their tent. We arrived just 10 minutes before closing on the first day and got our bib easy without any queue or fuss. The race pack came with a small bag, race bib with timing strip, a sleeveless race jersey and sponsored items. I later found out that those collected the race pack later got more sponsored items. Next year, remind me to collect at the day before the race.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

The race starts at 2am with the Full Marathon, then 3am for half and 6am for 10km. I was wondering why do they have such a huge gap between half and 10km. Not that I am grumbling about the heat, there is no heat running at 6am, but the fact that I have to wake up at 2, send my sister inlaw who is running the half, and come back rest and later go again for my 10km was a little pain the rear end for me. Later when I ran the race, I realize why they have to do this. There was just too many runners, for the 10k run, there were 14k participants. And many like me, half walk and run, and we clog up the road. We all end at the same finishing line, and I bet the half and full marathon runners who comes back at 7am onwards must be cursing at the 10k or fun run participants who clog up the road at narrow points. For me, I was running the last KM and I had to squeeze through people. Its just too many runners for and I heard the organizers are shooting for even larger crowd next year.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Walking shoulder to shoulder like penguin

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Goku

I got to the event site just in time and went to the blue arch ordered by the MC. I was trying to get to the front of the line, but it was jam pack, so I just went as far up I could get. When I saw Goku, I knew I have gone far enough as he would blast a path infront. On the contrary, the gun off unleash 14k runners onto the road and Goku was no where to be seen after that. We all practically walked like penguin till the a few meters after the timing recorder. It was a quiet gun off, everyone was in the zone. When we started running, all we could hear was the sound of shoes hitting the road. Some shoes does make much more noise that others. There was one guy whose shoe was like leaking air at every step and it whistle a little.  I am not sure if it was design this way, it sure was annoying. Just after 1km, the other side of the road was the final water station, there were many participants running over to get water. It was just over 1km and some are already thirsty for water? Anyway, I just kept on going pushing forward.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Old man putting me to shame

At the 2km mark, I saw this old man running at a steady pace. I saw this old man almost through out the run, putting me to shame. At times, I can’t keep up with his pace. Eventually, 3km before the finishing line, I redeem my pride by pushing harder on and complete the race with the old man behind me. One of the problem with huge crowd marathon is narrow roads. The bridge ramp going up was about 3 cars wide, and with 14k people squeezing though this tiny space, it was really hard to keep on running without having to push people of the path. Eventually at roughly the 3 km mark I stop running and walk up the bridge ram while taking photos front and back. At this point, I was really amaze by the number of runners on the bridge. As far as I could see, the entire bridge in front of me was painted with yellow. I turn back, and it was all yellow as well. Its like the entire bridge was filled with Minions running for Bananas. From this point onwards I was doing a sprint and walk routine. Sprint as fast and far that I could, then walk to recover and then sprint again.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

To the front, bridge filled with yellow minions

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

To the rear, more minions

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Good minions go on the left, came back as bad minions on the right.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Taking a leak at the middle of the bridge, I wonder if the other end of the door sees the Sea?

Coming to the midpoint, the crowd was getting less. Still, it is hard to maintain a certain pace without having to bump into someone. My sprint and walk strategy does not seams to pay off as I keep seeing the few same people. I overtook them when I sprint, and when I walk, they overtook me. After the turn at midpoint, we were greeted by a strong and steady wind. It was cold and refreshing and made the bridge a very nice and beautiful place to run. The sun was up and it was hiding in the clouds behind us, so it was not warming the place up and I could hear chatter of complaints about the chill. At this point, I started to look at the time and worried that I would not be able to complete ahead of the Hard Rock Run time. I pushes on.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

I hope none of the bottles and cups fell into the sea

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Eh, weren’t you behind me Uncle? Putting me to shame again…

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Full Marathon 6hr Pacer

Coming down the ramp, with not much time left, I kept on going. The 6hrs pacer zoom past me and I had a difficult time to catch up. At this junction, there were 10k runners, Half Marathon and Full Marathon runners. It was a 4-5 lane road and it was filled with runners. Looking at the photo above, you can see the entire road is filled with yellow minions all heading to the same direction. For some (FM), there were bananas at the end. After the 6hrs pace past me, came a guy running the full marathon pushing a wheelchair. I heard the St.John ambulance guys chatter on the side saying the guy was pushing is father. He got full cheer from everyone as he goes by and at the finishing line. I gave it the most I could and finish the run a few minutes short of the Hard Rock Run. Not entirely satisfied with this performance, but I did enjoyed it and had many nice photos along the way as a trade off. I hope to do a longer distance marathon in the next event. Till then, I have a lot of training to do.

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Jam pack finishing line

Penang Bridge International Marathon 2013

Jam pack after the finishing line