Thursday, November 29, 2007

Big Weekend Ahead

There's the Ride for Life, the Singapore Marathon, the Phuket Triathlon and, of course, Adzim's recovery ride to Bagan Lalang.

To all those taking part in any of these, have fun and stay safe.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How Weird is This?

For the past month or so, the camera and navigator function on my phone hasn't been working. I've brought it back to Nokia (still under warranty) and they said they could fix it but I'll lose all my data. They said they had no facilities to back up my data. So i said thanks, but no thanks. Then I went to another shop, and they said they'd back up my data and reset the phone for 100 bucks. I said I'd think about it.

Tonight, while out riding, I try to answer an SMS and the phone drops and hits the tarmac. Battery cover and battery flies off upon impact. I stopped, picked up the pieces, check to see if the phone is working and go off on my merry way. Got back to the mamak shop and check the phone properly. And guess what...

The camera and the navigator function are both working properly.

Guess all the phone needed was a hard knock.

Isn't it wonderful how technology works?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

What the hell...

... is this world coming to?

First, a friend of mine gets mugged by rempits while cycling.

Then, this very friend's friend gets harrased by rempits while out running.

Something is seriously fucked up when a person can't even feel safe when they're out exercising.

And what are the cops doing? Arresting and fining jaywalkers.

Geez...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Broga Debate... Still Unresolved

Saturday, November 17, 2007. The day the Broga debate will finally be resolved. For on this day, Senn was to ride the Broga Classic loop, then decide which of the two loops, Classic or Reverse, is tougher.

But it wasn't to be.

We started the ride as usual at Batu 14. Present to settle the debate was Senn, Azmar, Adzim, Bacin, Faaisal, Sofian and Dicky the domestique. At Batu 18, we picked up Stupe and Shazly and we happily made our way towards Tekala. A quick stop there to regroup and we were off to Broga for the first refilling stop.

That's when disaster struck.

We pulled into Broga, had our drinks and food, and were happily chit-chatting away. Senn, however, had not arrived yet. Getting worried, I got on my bike and backtracked. I didn't have to go far, maybe about 500m, when I saw the familiar pink jersey. "Whew!" I thought, "She's alright." As she passed she yelled out that she had got lost along the way.

"Ok, it's all good," I thought as made a u-turn to head back to Broga behind her. Then it happened. Right before my very eyes, she flipped over her bike, flew a couple of metres, hit the ground and slid for a couple more metres. In that moment, rider and bike became one, a tangled mess of flesh, lycra and carbon. She looked like a ragdoll being flung across the road.

I was horrified. She lay still, lying on her front, as I rode up to her. As I got off my bike, she wasn't moving.

"Omigod! The impact knocked her out!"

As I turned her around, she yelled, "OW! Don't touch me! Leave me alone for a while! How's the Diva?"

WTF!!! You just had a serious crash, you could have broken something and you're asking about the bike?

Anyway, I lied and told her the Diva was fine (upon inspection later on, it only suffered from torn bar tapes) but she wasn't. Blood was dripping from her elbow, and that seriously needed to be looked at. Slowly, she got up. By now, the rest of the gang had arrived at the scene.

As luck would have it, she crashed right in front of a clinic. She got up and casually crossed the road to the clinic, unaided, as if nothing happened, while the rest of us were fussing with her bike.

At the clinic, we found that she had severe road rash on her left elbow, torn skin on her right pinkie, as well as minor grazing on her knees and thighs. Fortunately, nothing was broken. As she was being treated, we asked the rest of the gang to continue, it was getting late and we didn't want them to be climbing Perez when it was too hot.

Then came the issue of getting back to the car. Senn, being Senn, wanted to continue the ride. But I didn't think it was a good idea. If we did, we'd have about 100km to ride with four climbs to contend with, including the daunting Bukit Tangga and Perez. I volunteered to ride back the way we came and get the car. But she wouldn't have it. She reckoned it would take at least three hours and she didn't want to wait at the clinic by herself.

So we decided to ride back slowly. Along the way, she analyzed the accident. She was riding along and was about to get onto the aerobars. At the precise moment she eased off her handlebars, she hit a bump which caused her arms to slip off the elbow pads. This, in turn, caused the balance to shift, which then threw her off the bike.

It was a long and painful 50k ride back to the car. Because of the torn skin on her right hand, she couldn't hold on to the handlebars so she was riding one-handed most of the way. We stopped at Tekala for some nasi lemak and burgers, then took the shortcut through Bukit Hantu back to Batu 14.

When I asked her how she felt when we got home she said she felt cheated that she didn't get to finish the ride. A true cyclist she is. As of writing, she's feeling much better now, she says most of the aches and pains are gone, except for the one on the elbow.Having said that, i think she'll be off the saddle for a week or so, at least till the wound starts to dry up.

As for feeling cheated, well, there will be other rides and I'm sure these guys will be doing the Broga Classic loop again soon.

And maybe then, we'll finally get the debate resolved.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Powerman 2007 in Pictures

The pictures tell the story. For detailed race report, scroll down some more.

Race start. All still smiling.

Senn's new running technique. She's actually running!

Adrian, my race companion for the day.

Having a laugh during the first run.

Still looking strong. But not for long.

Time to kick ass on the bike.

Trick photography makes me look superfast!

Senn, still smiling, as she launches her attack on the bike.

Sneaking up on Adrian at T2.

Getting out of T2 ahead of Adrian. The look of shock on his face when I passed him was priceless!

Shit! Left Powergels in T2! Oh well, let's make do with a banana...

The return of the cramps!

Cramps gone, it's time to run! Was soon back to walking though.

Not smiling anymore. The face says it all. It was a painful race...


Thanks to Ivie and PM Tey for the pics.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Powerman 2007

I have mixed feelings about this race. I don't know whether i can classify it as a good race or a bad one. It was kinda of a bit of both.

The good: Despite it being a longer course than last year, I recorded a faster time this year.

The bad: Cramps. Really slowed me down, especially on the bike.

The story: The 1st run started out good for me. Target time was around 1h10m, just the right pace to save my legs for the 64km bike and the 10km run after.

The gun went off, and I was going along at an easy pace. The run route was flat. Flatter than flat. As the run progressed, I saw Azmar and Laif pulling away. I could never match those guys running. I soon caught up with Adrian, and we started running together. Edwin and the rest of the imcyclst.com guys then caught up with us and it became a social run.

As we got close to T1, I started to pull away from them. Hit the timing beam at around 1h03m, seven minutes faster than the target time.

Had a super quick T1 and was out in 51s.

The bike started out good enough. I left transition with Azmar and Laif and we were basically cruising for a bit, enjoying the flat bike course.

Then I started to feel it. The ever so slight tightening up of the left calf. "No," I thought. "Not now. We're just starting to have fun."

At 10km, it hit. My left leg just cramped up. I was doing real well at the time, keeping up with Azmar. I had no choice but to slow down. Unclipped the left foot and started stretching it. Poured water on it. Did everything I can to get rid of it. And as quickly as it came, it went away.

But this wasn't the last I was going to see of this nasty cramp. It kept coming back for more. And each time I'd do the same thing. Pour water, stretch, spin. Then it would go away again.

By now, Adrian had caught up with me, Edwin was catching up, so was Adeline. Meantime Azmar and Laif had pulled out a huge gap. I rode along with Adrian for a while finishing off the first loop with him. Then , the cramps got really bad. I had to pull off the road, stop the bike and give it a good stretch. This was when Adrian pulled away, and Edwin whizzed past me. Got back on the bike and Adeline then overtook me. I dunno where she came from, but dayem... she was fast on the bike.

The cramps came on and off for the rest of the bike leg. Despite all this, I managed to finish in 2h07m which was four minutes faster than last year's, ran on a shorter course. But in hindsight, if it wasn't for the cramps, I could have gone under two hours. It was a nice flat course, perfect for blasting.

Took my time in T2, so that I could rest the legs a bit before the final run. Saw Adrian at his rack still putting on his shoes so I grabbed the opportunity to overtake him in transition. Sure surprised him!

But it didn't last long. As soon as I left the stadium, it was the return of the cramps. Stopped, stretched and was soon off again at a very sloooow pace. Meanwhile Adrian was pulling away. In my efforts to blast out of T2 ahead of him, I had left my Powergels on the bike. As I was already delpleted of energy, I had given up on trying to run the whole way and was now just picking points where i can stop running and start walking. Caught up with Edwin who had completely given up running and walked with him for a while. Sockless running didn't help either, I had developed three blisters on my left foot.

The rest of the leg saw me, Edwin and Adrian, yo-yoing from one another. In the end, we all just decided to walk/run together. As we approached the finish line, Adrian picked up the pace a bit, no doubt spurred by the sounds of the celebrations. I tried but I just couldn't keep up. Edwin dropped further back.

But finally, I saw it in all its glory: the finish line. Spurred by the sight of it, I managed a little sprint to cross in 4h40m, 9 minutes faster than last year, but with an oh-so-slow second run of 1h27m.

All in all, I guess I could classify it as a good race. I suffered, yes, but that was due to my lack of disclipline than anything else. I dould have possible gone under 4h30m but again my lack of disclipline got the better of me. I guess I've learnt my lesson:1) no piss-ups the week before a race; 2) hydrate, hydrate hydrate, don't skip the important ritual of ORS every night for three nights before race; 3) salt sticks are you friends.

With these lessons learnt, let's move on to the next race: Ironman 2008.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Pissed

Took the staff out for a piss-up last night, a bonding session after a long day of brainstorming.

Result: got too pissed to ride this morning's epic 190km Frasers loop.

Now i'm pissed off....

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The Broga Debate

Senn and I once had this debate: which is tougher, Broga Classic or Broga Reverse?

At that time, she had only done Reverse and I had just finished riding Classic. Neither one of us had ridden the other.

So the debate ended in a stalemate. We talked about starting at Bt 14 one day, and splitting up at the foothills of Peres, she to go on Classic and me Reverse. This was we could decide once and for all which was the tougher loop.

That never happened, of course. And today, as luck would have it, Broga Reverse was on the menu. Finally, I'll be able to see for myself which was the tougher route.

The verdict?

They are both equally tough.

Ya, ya. Cop-out answer, right? But seriously, Broga, either way, is tough. But they both present very different challenges.

On Classic, you're on flat to rolling terrain for the first 60k. Then, you start climbing. Two short but steep hills, followed by the medium-length Bukit Tangga, and then when your legs are spent 110k in them, you get the pleasure of going up Perez, a 14k killer. At this point you're no longer thinking, you're just pedalling. With all the climbing towards the end of the loop, Classic proves to be a very physical challenge.

On Reverse, however, by the time you hit 90k, you're done with all the climbs (unless you want to take a shortcut through to Bt 14 at the dam, like we did today). But what is left after that is 60k of flat to rolling terrain. The stretch between Semenyih to Tekala, however is where it all kills your mind. it's about 12km of straight, flat road and can be mind-numbing. You're pedalling along for what seems like ages, and you seem to never see the Nirvana Memorial, much less the picnic grounds. I was riding today with Bacin and Adeline and we just rode on in complete silence, wondering when the end would come. This is when you start questioning yourself: why are you doing this? are you nuts? etc. So in this respect, Reverse is more a mental challenge.

So it boils down to basically physical vs mental. Sure, it's a cop-out answer, but that's just my opinion lah. Still, for those of you going out to do Ironman next year, Broga, either way is good training ground. Classic because you're going to need the strength to go up that same damn over and over again. And Reverse because once you're out there on the bike, at 130k, under th blazing sun and your legs are cramping, you're going to be questioning your very existence. And you're going to need every ounce of mental strength to pull you through it.

Again, this is just my opinion, I'm sure others have theirs. I'm not sure my debate with Senn is over yet though. She may want to do Classic herself and maybe only then can we settle it once and for all.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Time to get off my arse

Last night went to Putrajaya to do a brick. Powerman loop x 1 followed by a short run from the mosque to Palace of Justice and back.

Verdict: feels good to be back on the bike. Not exactly all that fast: 27km in 1h03m for a 25km/h average. But still push like mad. After that, run approximately 5k in 28 minutes. Legs felt good, no pain, no injury, although there were signs of cramping at the beginning but the cramps never came.

Woke up today, no soreness.

Tomorrow long ride along the Broga reverse loop, followed by double hill + Terry Fox on Sunday.

Talk about last minute training for Powerman!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Decadence

That's the only way to describe the last week.

Five days straight of partying like a rockstar.

Absolutely zero training. No swim, no bike, no run.

A week of killing my brain cells and letting my muscles atrophy,

I'm sooooo going to die at Powerman.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The 3km Ride to Port Dickson

That's right. What was to be a 120km ride, my first long ride since Raya, was cut short to 3km. Or 2.71km to be precise.

The day started out good enough. Was up at 5.45am, and left the house by 6.30. Packed 3 bottles of water (2 Powerbar Endurance, 1 plain water) for what I thought would be a fairly long ride, as well as Tuptim (the Cervelo) so I can feel what it's like going long on that bike.

Got to MTDC in Bangi at 7.15am with plenty of time to set up. Present for today's ride was ride leader Adzim, Laif, Fadzil, Jaja and Andrea. At about 7.40, we pushed off.

Barely 10 minutes into the ride, I felt my front wheel hit something. Followed by the familiar flop-flop-sound of a flat. Pulled out of the paceline and stopped to change the tube. Not a big deal, or so I thought.

Tube changed, I proceeded to inflate it using CO2. But for some reason, the inflator sisn't want to pucture the canister to let the gas out. While fiddling with it to get it inflated, I inadvertantly snapped the head of the valve stem off. No matter. Sometimes these things happen and it'll steel keep the wheel inflated.

Thinking my inflator was busted, I borrowed Laif's inflator. This time the canister did puncture, and my tyre was being inflated. Oh joy!

Bu the joy was shortlived. Air was soon rushing out of the broken valve.

And because I was using my Zipp wheels, I couldn't borrow another tube from Laif. I needed tubes with an 80mm valve stem to fit the deep dish wheels and I didn't bring any valve extenders.

End of ride.

I was about to make the 3km walk back to MTDC when Laif volunteered to ride back and pick up the car. I guess he figured the rest of the group was a long way off, and riding solo to catch up would be a waste of effort. So off he went.

So that was it. The ride I had been so anticipating since before Raya ended with a pfftttt. And I still had three full bottles of water!

Lesson learned. The Zipps are meant to be race wheels and should be used just for races. Next time take the Ksyriums for training rides, less complications.

Was supposed to run tomorrow but since I didn't get to ride today, I'll join PCC and do their chicken loop. And I will be bringing Angel (the Trek), complete with Ksyriums, instead.

I have to apologise to Laif and thank him as well for sacrificing his ride to help me out. I owe you big time, dude.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Selamat Hari Raya

Maaf Zahir dan Batin.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Night of the Nutters Part 2

(At Adzim's request, I've finally got round to writing the ride report from the Genting ride)

Saturday, 29 September, 2007, 10pm.

Having run up Genting the week before, this week it was biking up. It was a very small group this time, only Zabil, Azmar, Puzi and me. Most notably, the Chief nutter himself, Steve, was absent. Among the four, I was the only one with a road bike. Whatever advantage I had in weight, I lost in lack of gearing Believe me, to climb Genting comfortably, you need mountain bike gearing.

Anyway, off we went. McDonald's hill was first. Normally after a long ride, this hill would be a killer, but with fresh legs, it wasn't that hard. I watch the others spin up the hill, envious of their lower gearing. They were doing at least 90 RPM while I was already grinding my lowest gear at about 70 RPM.

After McDonald's hill, the gradient didn't let up. Imagine doing Mccdonald's hill 5 times over. That's what it was like. Fortunately, at about 5.7km, the road started going downhill. And it continued like that, with a couple of short inclines, all the way to Gohtong. Arrived in Gohtong in 47 minutes. That was the easy part. The haard part was yet to come.

After a quick refill of the bottles, we were soon off again. The first two kilometres were not too bad, it's after you get past Awana that the road gets steeper. So you slog it out at around 9km/h, turning the pedals at 45 RPM. 45 RPM! And I was on my lowest gear. The last time I did this climb I swore I would switch out to a 27t low gear when I attempted it again. But alas I didn't, and now I have to pay for it.

As I approached the dreaded 4.4km to go mark (how appropriate "die.die") my legs were already burning. The switchback here is killer. Take the inside line and you may end up on your back. That's how steep it is. Coming up to the switchback, I took a quick look behind me, saw Puzi trying to slow any approaching cars, then I took a wide line into the corner. With a primal scream, I stood up and just hammered throught the switchback. My legs screaming to stop, my heart saying "Shut the f**k up! Harden the f**k up!" After I got through the switchback, the gradient didn't let up. It just kept going up and up and up. My legs so desperately wanted to stop, but I coaxed it to go on, just a bit more, just a bit more, I urged.

I continued, watching Puzi fly by me and disappearing into the distance. By now, i was doing 100m per minute. I wasn't riding the bike anymore, I was just balancing it, while inching it forward slowly.

Just when you think it couldn't get worse, it does. The last kilometre was even steeper than before. But that could have been my imagination. I got out of the saddle, I sat down, stood up, sat down, counting the kilometre markers as i went along. 0.5km, 0.4km, 0.3km, 0.2km, 0.1km, 0.0km. Finally I was there. I felt like throwing my arms in the air, like a ProTour rider celebrating a mountain stage win in le Tour de France. But I was just so beat, and was going way too slowly to even think of taking my hands of the bar. Instead I just slumped over the bars and rolled the bike to a halt near the taxi stand. Puzi was alredy there, drying his jersey off and putting on a sweater. Total time from Gortong for that 9 kilometres was 1 hour 5 minutes. Total ride time so far, 1 hour 52 minutes.

After a short rest, it suddenly got cold. I put on the windbreaker Senn lent me but it didn't help much. I was shivering. The ride down is going to be miserable.

If the ride up was tough on the legs, the ride down was tough on the hands, having to constantly feather the brakes to scrub off speed down the steep descent and sharp switchbacks. It was scary. Zabil and Puzi, with their mountain bikes and wider tyres, just flew down the road while I was going down as slowly as possible. You know it's a steep descent when the smell of brake dust from the cars lingers in the air.

Just before coming in to Gohtong, I came across an accident. A head-on collision between two cars. It looked like the guy going up was trying to do a fast and furious tokyo drift when he drifted too wide and smashed into the oncoming car coming down. Both cars were damaged beyond repair. I saw one of the drivers sitting at the side of the road, moaning. Not sure whether he was moaning from his injuries or moaning from looking at the damage on his car.

Anyway, the rest of the ride went on without incident. We finally got back to Genting Sempah at 2am. Total ride time was 2h35m. After close to two hours ascending, we only spent about 45 minutes descending! Total ascent was 1210 metres in 19.6 kilometres.

That looks like the last of the nutters' adventures this Ramadhan. The chief nutter will be in Singapore this weekend, doing a 5k swim race and the rest of us will probably be riding Putrajaya or something. Although, the possibility of doing Genting again, whether on bike or on foot, is still possible. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Night of the Nutters

Friday, 21 September 2007, Genting Highlands.

Once upon a time, Chief Nutter, Steve, decided it was a good idea to run up to the top of Genting Highlands from Genting Sempah.

That's right, run.

So during the fasting month of 2006, they gathered at the McDonald's at Genting Sempah and began running. And ran they did all the way to the top. Since then, they've decided to make it an annual Ramadhan affair. I missed last year's run, but having heard all the stories from last year, I vowed to experience it this year.

It was quite an experience. A painful one.

The weather was nice and cool as we gathered at McDonald's around 10pm. By the time we got ourselves sorted out, we began actually running around 10:40pm. Almost immediately, we were faced with the daunting McDonald's hill. We ran in total darkness with no streetlights at all. The only source of light was the blinking red lights us runners had attached to our clothes.

Before long, the rest of the group had gone, so fast was their pace. I hadn't run since Desaru and my legs kept reminding me of that. So i took it easy and accompanied Senn.

About 5km from Gohtong Jaya, the road went downwards. As it went down, we were greeted by a beautiful sight, Genting Highlands in all its splendor, brightly lit against a dark sky. I tried taking a picture but it didn't coume out so nice. I only had a camera phone.

At this point, we caught up with Shazly who was accompanying his friend on hid first run. His freind was about to give up and get into the support car. After some gentle persuasion from Senn, he decided to continue. It was, after all, downhill all the way to Gohtong from here.

And because it was downhill, I picked up the pace a little bit. It was a bit of a lonely run, which gave me the incentive topick up the speed even more. By this time, the legs felt better having already run about 8km. Finished the 11km to Gohtong in 1h41m.

This is where the fun starts. Approximately 9km and twice as steep as the roads before. After a brief regroup, we headed out again. I got as far as Awana, about 2km from Gohtong when my legs gave up. So I started walking. Forunately, I had Kam for company, his legs entering the early stages of cramping. When the road wasn't so steep, we ran. When it got a bit steeper, we walked. Then at one point (I think it was at the really steep switchback. It was so steep if you were to put your hands on the road, you'd still be upright), we just stopped running altogether.

After that, it was just a matter of coming around the bend and seeing the top. Problem is there are so many bends and they all look the same. You round one bend hoping to see the end but all you see is another bend ahead. We just kept walking and walking round the corners, occasionally seeing the Tokyo Drift wannabes speeding up the road.

Finally, I saw the 700m to go sign. Bouyed by this, I decided to start running again. So off I went, but it didn't last long. I soon felt the onset of cramps. But i was determined to not finish walking, so i pushed some more, adjusting my stride a bit to avoid cramps. Slowly but surely, the numbers on the road markers dwindled: 0.7km, 0.6km, 0.5km, 0.4km, 0.3km, 0.2km, 0.1km, 0.0km.

I made it!

But i wasn't at the end yet. Our regrouping point was the Starbucks at the lobby of the First World Hotel, another 500m away. Luckily it was all downhill from here so it wasn't so bad. I arrived at Starbucks a little after 3am, almost two and a half hours after leaving Gohtong.

It was quite an expereince. Painful, yes but at the same time, fun. I guess what eases the pain is the people. Doing crazy things with like-minded people, knowing you're not the only one out there suffering helps make it a lot less painful. And these nutters are genuinely good company: Steve, Azmar, Karoline, Puzi, Doc, Kam, Ngae, Lee Nya, Ishsal, Senn, Alex, Shazly and his two friends, Rahim and a few others. If you ever feel the need to do something crazy like this, you gotta make sure these guys are around.

And the nutters will be at it again this Friday, if you're interested.

Friday, September 21, 2007

That dude is dope

I mean he's a real dope for taking dope.

In case you didn't know, 2006 Tour de France winner, Floyd Landis, was found guilty for using synthetic testosterone to boost his Stage 17 comeback in le Tour last year.

He is now officially the first ever cyclist to have his Tour de France title stripped from him. He is now officially a doper and a dumbass.

And here I was thinking his Stage 17 victory was heroic.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Saturday Night Live!

What do you do when it's fasting month but you still want to get a decent ride in?

You do it at night. And you do the KKB-Gap route.

So it was that five of us gathered in front of the 7-11 in Kuala Kubu Baharu to begin this journey into darkness. Present were me, Senn, Steve Azmar and Zabil. Senn and I were the only ones on road bikes while the rest were on their mounties. Azmar was on his touring bike.

We started at 10:30pm and made our way up to the dam. Zabil pushed the pace a bit and I was barely hanging on. Looked back to see the other three had dropped off. So we backed off a bit and made sure everyone stayed in a group.

This is one ride where it's important to stay together because once across the bridge, it was total darkness. Now, this is one place you wouldn't want to be alone at, it is seriously scary.

Anyway, we rode at a leisurely pace of about 15km/h, chit-chatting all the way to the top. It was a very nice and easy ride, and the conversations helped the kilometres go by a lot quicker.

We hit the Gap at about 12.30am and had a little picnic there. Steve took out a wedge of watermelon, Zabil brought some sandwiches. Our tummies filled, it was time to head back.

This was the part I was dreading. Gap during the day is nice and cool. At night, it was freezing. I put on a spare long-sleeved jersey and stuffed newspapers down my chest to help keep me warm. No good. I was still shivering. Need to get me a windbreaker.

The pace going down was cautious, rarely going more than 30km/h with Azmar leading the way. I dunno how he does it: we had benefit the taillight blinkers of the bikes in front to follow, he had total darkness. Still, he led us down confidently. But unlike on the way up, we rode in total silence, each of us concentrating on the road ahead.

When you descend in these conditions, it's very easy to let your mind wander. The red blinking lights in front of you can be hypnotic, causing you to lose concentration. Your mind starts to wander and you start wondering why you can't feel your right hand. I realised that my hand had gone numb. So my concentration went there, clenching my fist to get the blood flowing again.

When the feeling came back, I looked up and saw darkness. No one in sight. Not one single blinking red light.

Panic.

It was scary. I know all the hantus are supposed to be tied up during the month of Ramadhan but still, being all alone in complete darkness, your heartrate goes up a few beats.

Had to pick up the pace a bit. Cranked it up, went through a few of the corners faster than i would have dared, then I saw it. First one, then another, then another. Blinking red lights! I'm saved.

Caught up with the rest of the pack and stuck to them for dear life all the way down. My right hand went numb again, but I ignored it this time. No way am I going to get dropped again.

We picked up the pace a bit when we got to the dam and continued all the way back to KKB. Except for my hitting a pothole and dropping my waterbottle as a result, the rest of the way was pretty uneventful.

We reached KKB around 2:30am, loaded up the bikes and went to the mamak shop nearby for some sahur.

A late-night ride to Frasers may seem extreme but it's really great fun if you have the right company, people who are as insane as you. This weekend, the plan is to run from Genting Sempah to Genting peak on Friday night and ride the same route on Saturday.

I seriously recommend these type of rides. It's different, it's unexpected and it's a lot of fun. Midnight train to Broga anyone?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Selamat Berpuasa...

... to all the Muslim readers out there.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Broga... Finally

150km. 4 mega climbs. That's the legendary Broga loop. People say doing the reverse loop is tough. The classic loop even tougher.

Never having been on this route before, I decided to join Adzim on this ride. And it was an epic ride.

We gathered at Batu 14 Hall at 8am Saturday morning. The day did not begin well for me. First, I discovered that I forgot to bring the wheel magnet for my computer. Luckily, I had a spare. Then, I discovered I had travelled all the way to Batu 14 with my wallet at home. So I'll be riding with no money, no ID.

Fortunately, I managed to borrow some $$$ from Mac. Doing 150k with no money to buy water and 100 Plus is never a good idea.

The crowd that gathered that day for the ride was a bunch of power riders. We had superstar triathlete Kimberly Yap, Jasmine, Elaine, Andrea, Bacin, Alex "Jesus is my Powergel", Dicky, Bacin, Faaisal, Jeffrey, Mac, Bernard, ride leader Adzim, and a couple of others. Looking at the calibre of these riders gave me an inferiority complex.

We pushed off heading towards Batu 18. The pace, driven by Kim and Bernard was an astonishing 35kmh! I was thinking, "Whoa guys!! Take it easy. We still have 150k to go!" As we turned the corner at Batu 18, Adzim reminded me that the front pack were only going as far as Tekala then heading back. So I eased off the pedals a bit and let them go.

We went through the dam area at a more leisurely pace before making a stop at Tekala. After saying good-bye to Bernard and Mac, we proceeded to Broga.

That was when the pace picked up again. Superman Simon Cross, Randy Tan, Sam Pritchard and one other rider happened to be on the same road as us and everyone wanted to follow their pace. As expected, I was dropped like a bad habit. I went all the way to Semenyih watching the pack get smaller and smaller in the distance. And I was still doing about 32kmh. At the rate they were pulling away, they must have been pulling 40+.

Luckily for me, Dicky noticed I was missing and slowed down to wait. I managed to get a draft from a scooter and soon caught up with him. Then Dicky pulled me all the way to Broga. Thanks Dicky. He was a super domestique that day, having slowed down to pull Bacin when he dropped his water bottle earlier, then slowing down to pull me to Broga. I owe you one bro.

At Broga, we said good-bye to Kim, Simon, Randy and their gang. And now it was down to just the 10 of us.

The came the climbs. The first one was short but really steep. Jeffrey attacked early on but the lost it, inching his way slowly up the hill. Andrea and Adzim went up the hill like it was flat, disappearing into the distance. I laboured along slwoly with Elaine for company. We finally made it to the top and were rewarded with a nice descent.

The second hill was more of the same. It wasn't as steep but it was still tough.

A quick rest before we came to Bukit Tangga. 4km of pure torture. It was long, labourious and hot. It just went on and on. 4km felt like 40. But what goes up must come down so when we finally hit the top, we had a good time going down. I caught up with Jasmine at the end of the descent and we worked together all the way to Klawang.

At Klawang, we had a break. Got myself two bottles of 100 Plus and two bottles of mineral water to refill my bottles. And a vanilla bun for fuel. We were all gearing up and psyching ourselves up for the 14km climb that is Peres. The extra bottle of mineral water was meant to be kept in my pocket so I can pur it on myself if I feel like I'm overheating. As it turned out, that was a very good idea.

We started the climb and I was glad I had that extra bottle. It was hot. Adzim and the ladies, again, just pulled away like it was flat. Bacin, Alex and I kept yo-yoing up the hill. First Bacin would pull away, then we'd catch up and I'd pull away, then Alex would catch up and pull away. We went like this all the way up.

Being super domestique had take its toll on Dicky's legs and he dropped back. As did Jeffrey, who clearly hadn't fully recovered from Interstate and was pushing very hard early on in the ride.

Finally, after climbing for what seems like forever, I saw the UMNO sign. At that point in time, it was the most beautiful sight ever. I was soo happy to see that sign I let out a scream of joy, much to the amusement of Alex, who was a few metres behind me.

We waited at the peak for everyone to show up. One by one, Faaisal, then Dicky appeared over the crest. While waiting for Jeffrey to come, a yellow truck pulled over. The passenger door opened and out popped Jeffrey. He really took his legs too far.

After that, we descended Peres and rode to the nearest kedai runcit to refill. Everyone had used up all their water supply on the climb. After filling up, we were supposed to have a slow-slow ride back to the car so that Jeffrey (and the rest of us) can recover. Hah! Slow-slow was 36kmh! I shudder to think what a fast pace back would be.

We finally got back to the car around 3-something. Tired, beat, hungry, but happy. It was tough but I have finally completed the legendary Broga loop. And the tougher classic loop at that. What a feeling.

Kudos to Adzim for organising such an epic ride. Now it's time to conquer the reverse loop.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

365km, 3 Days, One Helluva Good Time: The Interstate Ride Report

The Day Before

Murphy's Law: What can go wrong will go wrong. Just as i was taking my bike down to the car, I realised something was wrong with the bike. The familiar click-click-clicking of the rear wheel as it rolls was missing. I tried turning the cranks but the rear wheel wasn't moving along with it. Damn.

A quick pitstop at Edwin's solved the problem. The cassette body needed servicing and after about an hour, we were on our way to Ipoh. Good thing I caught this in KL and not five minutes before the ride starts. Phew!

Day One

At 6:30am, we gathered at the hotel lobby. 250+ riders, in their colourful cycling gear, got ready to roll. A quick briefing by Mac and we were on our way.

My first day was not without incident. At the 6km mark, some idiot directed us to turn right at the traffic light. So we followed. But I knew something was not quite right. A quick look at my tulips revealed that we had gone the wrong way. We were supposed to go straight. Managed to call out to most of the misdirected riders to turn back. I was pissed. I sprinted back towards the traffic lights in anger, the thought of leaving a Look Keo cleat implant on that idiot's face strong on my mind. We were back on track but were two KMs off the tulip guide.

Cooled down soon enough when I saw the scenery. It was gorgeous.




Somewhere along the way, I saw Ronald stopped at a support car. Decided to join him for a while and wait for Senn. Unseen by me, she had zipped by in a big pack. So after waiting for a while, I decided to move on. Caught up with a rider on a Cervelo R2.5 wearing a CSC jersey and he gave me a free pull all the way to Karai, where I eventually caught up with Senn, Mac and the rest.


Pitstop in Karai with the World Champ



After Karai, we headed off towrds more beautiful scenery. However, this was where I got into a spot of bother. My legs just refused to co-operate. And I was getting dropped by Senn and Mac. Got off the big ring and just spun in the small ring to recover until the next watering hole. Fortunately a big group decided to stop there and I was thankful for some rest. A couple of 100Plusses and some foo chok gave me the strength to tackle the daunting Bukit Berapit. It was nice steady climb, less than two kilometres long. But in the heat, it was still tough.


More beautiful scenery just outside of Karai


After the climb it was an easy ride through to Taiping. I rode with a small group till the Taiping Lake Gardens where I found myself riding solo again. Finally got to the Golf Club at around 1.15pm.

A quick shower, lunch and a nap before proceeding to the golf course for a group photo session.

A river of blue heading for the photo session


After that, we had a sumptious steamboat dinner, which unfortunately started late because the cookers weren't working. All in all tough, a satisfying first day.

Day Two

Decided not to bring my camera for this ride because I had heard that it might rain. The ride started at 7am and I started off at the very back of the pack. For the first half I rode with PK and his group. It was going at a nice enjoyable pace. The little dimple that Mac told us about was steep as hell and I saw a lot of riders getting off their bikes to push. Short but steep, really steep. After that it was a 12km cruise to the watering hole.

This was where the fun began. I pushed off with the group but soon realised I had left my water bottle at the warung. So I had to turn back to get it. And so began my mind-numbingly boring, loooong, solo 65km ride. It was tough and it really plays with your mind. And it was tiring, with no one to help you work. As it turned out, it didn't rain at all and the sun was exceptionally hot. Making the solo ride even more mind-numbing.

At the approach to Bukit Mertajam, I caught up with Senn, PK, Mac and Vong. It was such a relief to see other riders! Rode in to the hotel with them at around 1:20pm, my arms and legs covered in salt. I was pretty close to dehydrating.

That night's dinner was a bit disappointing, they ran out of food before I managed to get any. Apparently the hotel is a little inexperienced in dealing with hungry cyclists!


Dinner time but didn't get any food



The route profile for Day 3



Fish porridge to make up for the disappointing dinner



Day Three

Finally, the big day: the Penang Bridge Crossing.

We pushed off at 6:30am in a strict two-by-two formation, with the marshalls (I was one of them!) in pink manning the outside. It was tough keeping the formation with the front setting a very high pace and the back of the peloton dropping off. And some of the riders just didn't have the discipline, going around other riders when we specifically said no overtaking.

Arriving at the bridge



It was time to cross the bridge. It was very windy on the bridge which posed a problem for those with deep dish wheels, me included.

Crossing in strict two-by-two formation



And midway through, rain started to fall, so all the more reason for us to be careful out on the bridge.


Going over the top of the bridge



We made it across safely and headed to the Queensbay Mall for pictures and light refreshments, courtesy of one of the eateries at the mall. Very nice of them.


Pretty in pink: the bridge crossing marshalls at Queensbay Mall



After the short rest, the rain really fell. A lot of riders decided to call it quits and take the support cars. I stubbornly went on, having kept my camera safely in Syahiful's car. The rain was painful, pelting on your skin like bullets. Luckily by the time we got to the first climb of th day, it had stopped. But it left a pretty treacherous descent for us riders.

The climb wasn't as tough as it was made out to be. Kinda like Genting Sempah. I actually enjoyed the climb. Between the two climbs, we made a detour to the Balik Pulau Sports Complex where we were treated to lunch by some VIPs. It was quite an affair, with kompangs and speeches and really good food. The sambal belacan was especially good.

After the food, there was more cycling to be done though. Especially the mother of a climb. I was pulled all the way to the foothills by Jester, who then let me fly up the hill on my own. It was kinda like having my very own domestique.

Again, the climb wasn't very tough. Lke the first hill, only longer. It was fun just spinning up the hill, passing riders as I went along. And once we got to the top, the scenery was beautiful. I tell you, sambal belacan is my powergel!

Then came the very technical descent, with very little time to rest. One corner led to another and because the roads were still wet, I only went at about 33-35km/h. But once we hit the end of the descent though, I threw caution out the window. Managed to join a paceline, which included Mac and Jasmine and flew through Batu Ferringhi all the way to the hotel. Was almost sad to arrive at the hotel, wishing for another few km to blast through.

All smiles after another completed Interstate



A big thank you to all the organisers of the Interstate 2007. The routes were good, the accommodations excellent and the company superb. Now I look forward to next year's Interstate.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Interstate 2007 Ride Report Coming Soon...

Interstate 2007 ride report coming soon. Still trying to figure out where to start (there were so many highlights?, and yet to download pics from the camera. All I can say is it was a blast. Had loads and loads of fun. And the ride routes were excellent.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Interstate 2007

Hotel reservations in Ipoh reconfirmed.

Bags are almost packed.

Bike is prepped.

Interstate 2007, here I come.

To all those going, ride safe and have fun. See you in Ipoh.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Burn

Haven't posted recently because I haven't done anything recently. Not since Desaru. Only one ride and one easy swim. That's it.

And I have no desire to do anything more. The other day I had a choice between a 15k run and watching Ratatouille. I chose the latter. (And of course after watching a movie about food, you just have to eat. I had popcorn during the movie, sambal nasi goreng, Lecka Lecka ice cream and three Big Apple donuts after.)

Maybe it's the beginning of burnout. Can't be. Haven't been training enough to be worthy of a burnout.

But then again, we've had a pretty hectic season with tris every month. In between, there have been runs and the odd duathlon to participate in. So really, the month of July and August has been non-stop.

Good thing there's this quiet lull before Powerman. If it was scheduled for September, I'll be burned out for sure. Ya ya, Interstate is coming up but it's not a race so I can pretty much do the 365k at a leisurely pace, hop into a support car if I have to.

After Interstate, total rest for the week. I'm not even going to do the Mizuno Wave Run. It'll be the last event before puasa but forget it, I need my rest. I might do the PCC ride if they have one though.

Then during the fasting month, if those cazy dudes at Light & Easy continue with their midnigh rides/runs to Genting and Fraser's, I'll definitely join them. That will make up my training regimen till Hari Raya.

That should give me enough rest to comeback after Raya with renewed enthusiasm. And then slowly build up to the big one: Ironman Langkawi 2008.

Monday, August 20, 2007

And so ends the 2007 triathlon season

... and what a season it has been.

Full of highs and also some lows.

Lots of mistakes made. Lots of lessons learned.

My season kicked off with a nightmare Ironman, and finished with a pretty decent half ironman.

Some things that stood out for me this season:
- got a new bike
- saw a friend's bike break to pieces
- learned a very painful (and expensive) lesson in giving up. Remember: Pain is temporary, quitting is forever
- all the races I did badly last year, I did well this year (PD and Desaru).
- the one race I did well last year (Kenyir), I did badly this year. (Since I did badly at Ironman this year, hopefully next year will be good)
- lost several toenails over the season
- I have a perpetual blister on my little toe on my left foot
- personal battle against Azmar: Me 2(A Famosa, Bukit Merah)- Azmar 3 (Kenyir, PD, Desaru)
- personal battle against Bacin: Me 2 (Bukit Merah, PD) - Bacin 3 (A Famosa, Kenyir, Desaru)
- my swim has improved slightly. The times are just slightly faster, but it takes less effort to achive them
- my bike is steadily improving
- my run still sucks
- discovered a miracle cure: Ice. It'll get you through any aches and pains during races
- started this blog
- got plenty of encouragement through this blog
- made a lot of new friends
- unfortunately, lost a friend too

Except for a couple of tragic incidents, I've had a good season.

Next up will be the PCC Interstate, a 330km ride from Ipoh to Penang over 3 days, then some well deserved rest until Hari Raya. Then training starts again for Powerman before going full-on for Ironman next year.

See you all on the road...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Desaru (Now with even more pictures)

The race didn't start off too well. The conditions for the swim were horrible. With 3-foot swells, it was difficult to navigate and get into a good rhythm. And it seemed like it just went on forever. Finally got out of the water in 1h07m02s, only two minutes faster than last year. So I thought I was going to have the same tough time as I did last year.

But things got better after that. Had probably the fastes T1 ever and it was on to the bike. The bike leg was simply awesome. Rain started falling midway through the first loop and the crosswinds were killer. At times, I was nearly pushed off the road by the winds. The deep dish wheels I was using didn't help much. But by the end of the first loop, the rain had cleared up and conditions were much better. I finished the first loop in one hour flat, the second in 58 minutes and the final in 1h04m, for a total time of 3h02m02s, over an hour faster than last year's 4h05m51s. Of course the cooler conditions helped a lot this year. Last year it was so hot, my skin was bubbling from the heat.

Looking fast on the bike



Senn going aero

My T2 time was slow because my race belt decided to fall apart on me. As I was running out, I found my belt around my thighs. A quick look showed me that the buckle had come off. Spent two minutes trying to get it back together. Hastily put it back on and it was on to the run.

Race belt sorted, it's off for the run


It took me about 5km to get my running legs but and all the people I overtook on the bike were overtaking me again and just pulling away like I was standing still. But I kept on running the entire first loop. At this point, my initial target of sub-8 hours was modified to sub-7 hours. The second loop was a run/walk, mostly running. In the end, I came home with a run time of 2h33m47s for a total time of 6h48m16s. Much much better than last year's 8h35m35s.


Ice is a miracle cure for anything while running


The finish line: 6h48m16s



Senn crossed the line in under 8 hours. Well done!


The imcyclist.com team with MC Lan and Uncle Chan


All in all, I had a good race. Some weren't so fortunate though. Please spare a thought for Bernard, who had a nasty crash on the second loop. Apparently the guy in front of him decided to stop to puke... in the middle of the road. Bernard couldn't avoid him, went smashing into the puker's rear wheel and endoed. End result:

a carbon frame broken in three places



Pictures courtesy of Ivie. Thanks!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A-racing we will go, a-racing we will go...

... hi-ho the merry-o, a-racing we will go.

It's Desaru this weekend and I'll be participating (as opposed to racing?.

Target: anything faster than last year's dismal 8h30m.

Do-able?

Hopefully, if I don't get any backaches or stomach cramps like last year.

Wish me luck...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Weekend Workout

Saturday

HOA - Genting Sempah - Bentong - Genting Sempah - HOA
Distance: 104km
Total ride time: 4h05m17s

First time riding with the CSC (Cycling Siamang Club) boys. Those guys are animals. I consider myself a fairly decent climber but was thoroughly humbled by these guys on Saturday.

On the way up to Genting Sempah, I was dropped within 5km.

Finally got to the peak in around 52 minutes, my best time so far. But these guys had already been there for at least 5 minutes, looking thoroughly relaxed as if they hadn't started riding.

The trip to Bentong was a lot of fun. Five of us, myself, Laif, Adzim, Azwar and Fairuz, started working together in a paceline, each pulling for about 30 seconds at 34-38km/h. But everytime Azwar took a pull, he would pull for around two minutes and bring the speed up to 40-42km/h! It was hard work just hanging on to the wheel in front! Maybe he got carried away abit, because he was texting while pulling us all along! (No wonder he felt it was a boring route. I am truly not worthy of riding with him.)

But the fun didn't last. As usual, I got dropped approaching Bentong, at exactly the spot I thought I would. Before long, Saiful, Abu and Bacin caught up with me and began pulling away. Luckily, we were already in Bentong so I didn't have to suffer the humiliation of geting dropped by them too.

After a quick ABC, it was back up to Genting Sempah again. In cycling, what goes down must naturally come up, so it was back to climbing again. The first 15km or so was quite pleasant, with the whole group sticking together in a nice paceline, led by Azwar and Adzim. But as soon as the road pointed upwards, all hell broke loose. The paceline just exploded. Adzim and Azwar dropped the hammer and immediately, I fell behind. It was a solo ride all the way to Genting Sempah, not being able to keep up with the front runners, yet slowly pulling away form those behind.

I finally got to the last kilometre before the rest area. For some reason, I can never understand this bit. It doesn't look steep, yet it's always a slow slog just to get through. Cranking away on 39-25 feels like a 53-12 here. To make things worse, the plan was to not stop at the rest area and continue up McDonald's hill to the T-junction to regroup. I normally stop here to rest and refuel, but because I didn't want those guys to wait long, I continued on. And my legs really felt the burn.

By the time I got to the regrouping point at the T-junction, the front runners (Adzim, Azwar, Bacin, Abu, Saiful and Yusran) had buggered off. Maybe I took too long to get there and they got bored of waiting.

Anyway, I stopped at the T-junction and waited for the rest. One by one they showed up, first Fairuz, then Adeline and Shazly, then Senn, then Laif. Patrick called and said he was eating at McDonald's so don't wait for him. Jaja and Fadzil also were stopping at the rest area to refuel, so we decided to go ahead to HOA. The 15km descent was heaven sent, a nice reward after all that climbing.

Sunday

The plan was to go with PCC for a 108km ride to Batu Arang. But decided not to since my legs were still feeling the burn from the day before. So slept in and went for Nasi Lemak Mak Wan Jor in Kampung Baru. Yum.

Afternoon, took the boys for their swim lessons so decided to put some laps in myself. Did 1200m in around 26 minutes and also did some short sprints, playing catching with the boys. That's a fun way to get a sprint workout in.

So overall, a very good weekend. Let's hope it's enough for Desaru.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

adidas KOTR (Koyak On The Road)

Like the title says, today's run was a disaster. After the high of the past two weeks' races, this was a downer. It had to happen, really.

The day started well enough, there was the gathering of the usual triathlete gang: Senn, Adrian, Jaja, Fadzil, Adleine, Patrick (who didn't run but was there to support Jason), Jason, Bernard, Gunter and a few others. At 6:45am, we were off. My pace started off well for the first 10k, looking like i might actually go below my set target of 2h15m.

Then it happened.

Pain. On my left foot. At the arch.

It was like walking barefoot on those reflexology pebble thingies. Every step I took, was like landing on those pebbles on my arch. Ouch.

I tried to run through the pain, telling myself the pain didn't exist. But with 8km to go, I couldn't fool myself any longer. so it became a walk for a bit, then run for a lot less.

Finally, at 4km to go, I saw the ambulance. Asked if they had anything for swelling but they gave me the same ointment they give for muscle tightness. Didn't help. And by then my left foot was throbbing. So I took off my shoes and limped all the way back to the finish line. Barefoot (Makes me wonder how people like Ngae run barefoot).

At 1km to go, Bernard caught up with me. He had problems with his knee and kinda gave up at 7km. So the two of us walked the last km across the finish line. It was the first time in my life that I WALKED across a finish line.

Total time: 2h45m, half an hour after my target. No medal, no hoo ha. Just a quiet finish.

Now as I sit here typing this, my foot is elevated and I've got an icepack on it. No more running for the next couple of weeks, might not even do the Desaru run, just swim, bike and call it a day.

Speaking of swimming, I went in the evening and that salvaged my day for me. did a total of 2.1k with a time of 50m05s. At least the swim bit is looking good for Desaru

Thursday, August 2, 2007