In the week prior to the Kenyir Lake tri, i had some decisions to make. Road bike or tri bike? Zipps or Ksyriums? 12-23 cassette or 12-25 cassette?
Final decision: tri bike, zipps and 12-25.
As it turned out, i only got 1 out of 3 correct.
The Kenyir Lake International Triathlon was tough. No wonder it's billed as the toughest tri in Malaysia. The trademark of the race was the hills. Lots of hills. Really steep hills. Hills that we had to conquer throughout the bike and run.
The swim was good. The water was clear, smooth, without any currents. I had a good swim, coming out of the water in around 27 minutes, according to my watch. That really surprised me as I felt no improvement in my swim these past few weeks, yet I was around 6 minutes faster than last year.
From there it was all downhill (if only the bike course was all downhill!) That first hill coming out of T1 was a lot tougher this year than last for some reason. That was the first indication that i got one of my decisions wrong. I was huffing and puffing my way up that hill and used up most of my energy before even getting to the top. At that point, I knew it was going to be a looooong ride. I caught on to a train led by Adrian , and tried to follow it, but lost it within minutes. My legs were spent climbing up that first hill, and I felt like puking.
14km (and many hurls) later, the bike course took us up this hill. It wasn't too steep but damn, it felt long. i knew then that I made the right decision in switching to the 25t for the race. That was one tough hill. I was glad to finally get over it and arrive at the u-turn. The way back was much quicker than the way out, but i was still being overtaken left, right and centre. Not good. I was convinced my bike split was going to be slower than last year and started ruing the fact that I had brought the tri bike and the Zipps. Should have listened to Edwin and taken the road bike and Ksyriums.
Then came the mother of all hills, that last hill before T2. I gathered momentum then got out of the saddle to hammer it up the hill. Didn't last long before my legs felt like cramping, so i quickly sat down and tried to spin up in my 25t. That didn't last long either and before i knew it, i was clipping out of my pedals and stopping to rest about 50m from the top. There was no way i was going to push the bike, however, so i caught my breath and started spinning up the last few metres. Glad that hill was over and done with.
Got into T2 and looked at my watch: 1hr34m, 2 minutes up from last year. Another pleasant surprise. Took my time putting on my shoes and slowly shuffled out of T2 to begin the run. The shuffle became a run when I passed the crowds at the finish area, but as sson as i passed that, i started to walk. My legs just didn't have it. I pretty mus=ched walked up the hills and ran during the downhills and flats. After the u-turn of my second loop, I caught up with Senn and Willy, who were still on their first loop. They looked like they were out on a Sunday morning walk, chit-chatting as they went along. At the top of the big hill, i looked at my time: 3h20m, 10 minutes to cutoff. That's when I got my second wind. I pushed all the way down and broke into a sprint at about 200m from the line. I wanted to make that cutoff dammit!
Turns out, I not only made the cutoff, but I managed to better last year's time by almost 3 minutes! A 3h25m06s compared to last year's 3h27m55s. According to my watch, anyway. We'll have to wait for the official results to see if I did.
Overall, swim was faster, bike was a bit faster, run was a lot slower. Lessons learned: 1) hilly terrain like this, not much advantage going with a tri bike. I was in aero position maybe about 30% of the bike, so a road bike geometry might have worked better. 2) Ksyriums climb better than Zipps, at least i think they do. Zipps give an advantage once you've spun it up to speed. On hills, it's difficult to get to the speed where they become useful.
So of the three decisions I made, I only got one right, using the 25t cassette instead of the 23t. But then again, i would have gotten it more right had I used a 27t!