My exact thoughts when I rolled up to the start line of the Malaysian National Road Race Championship.
Here I was, an average rider at best, lining up against the state riders from all over the country! At that moment, I knew I was in over my head. What the hell did I get myself into?
The race started and I had trouble clipping in my left foot. I looked down for a split second to get my foot in, looked up and the peloton was gone. Just like that.
I chased them down and managed to catch them before the first corner. Shifted into the big ring and tailed them comfortably at 40km/h.
Then came this short, sharp hill. And the peloton was still traveling at the same speed. I held on for dear life till we reached the top, then it was down the highway off-ramp towards Sepang. The peloton made the right turn, then everyone got up and sprinted away. I was following them, my legs turning the pedals furiously. I looked at my speedo: 56km/h! Holy shit!
And yet, the pack was pulling away from me. I was doing more than 50km/h and these guys were still pulling away! What the hell?!
At this point, I looked around me and saw some familiar faces: PK and Mong among others. We decided to dial it down a bit. At this intensity, we would not survive the 140km race distance.
So there we were, dropped at 3km!
PK, Mong, two others (sorry forgot your names) and I started working together in a paceline. We were pulling each other at a steady 35km/h. The race course took us through some really scenic countryside but we weren't able to really enjoy the scenery. We went from Bandar Baru Salak Tinggi, through Sepang, Kg Sg. Pelek, Bagan Lalang then back towards Salak Tinggi.
When we realised that we were doubling back, we decided to just head back to Salak Tinggi and call it quits. We weren't tired or anything, just decided that we've had enough. At this point, we had also lost our support car, Senn had apparently missed a turn and was headed to Morib! Very poor marshalling and route marking by the organisers, which happened to be the MNCF.
When we got back to Salak Tinggi, we found that a lot of other riders had the same idea we had. They were all sitting nicely at the coffee shop waiting for their teammates to finish the race.
About an hour after we stopped, the first of the riders arrived. It was a bit of an anti-climax to be honest. There was no bunch sprint. The three leading riders rode past the finish line side-by-side.
Apparently, there was absolutely no strategy invloved in this race. The peloton simply chased down every breakaway. Didn't even look like there was any teamwork, it was each man for himself. While I'm impressed by these rider's speed, their race management and tactics need to be worked on. Their tactic seemed to be attack from the start.
So that's how my first bike race ended, with a DNF. Having said that, I did record some personal bests, including:
Fastest ever speed on flats: 56.3km/h
Fastest 40k: 1h11m
Fastest average speed: 34km/h
Plus I had a good workout and a good ride. In all we covered 63km, which is pretty decent for a Sunday ride.
For sure it was a new experience for me, a humbling one at that. But I'm not sure it's an experience I'd like to repeat.