Sunday, January 24, 2010

Broga Jantan reloaded

Faizal approaching the top at Bkt Hantu

The rest of the group soon came...

Tubulars on steroids....continental Grand Prix 4000

Bkt Tangga but windy...


The last climb...Genting Peres...

Looking at the FB events, broga sounds nice. It's even nicer if there's lots of cyclist around.
Arrived at Bt 14, and along I brought the argon 18 TT bike. And it's the first time I am doing the hilly broga with it.
For flats, TT bikes rules. Not quite for hills.

I've just upgraded the usual Hutchinsons to Continental Grand Prix 4000 (tubulars) at Joo Ngan's. So I was able to try it out in this ride.

For the first climb we hit Bkt Hantu. I was quite in front just before the ascent, so I slowed down to let the other guys come by.
Then, as we enter the hills, I went solo just to see who would come. To my surprise, it was the one legged man, or the bionic man as we called him.
But I know he won't last. After awhile I looked back and saw Faizal doing a solo pursuit.
Anyway, all this was just for fun and testing the legs. In no way Bkt Hantu is easy. You just sit there and pedal. Some parts you have to stand and climb.

We briefly regrouped at the top, and then sped off to Semenyih. Now here's where the Conti tyres really shine. I went fast with not much effort, at all.
The tyres were rigid, responsive, light. Another thing it's smaller than my previous Hutchinsons making rolling easier. The road however was pretty bad condition.
I joked to Faizal, that I wanted to join politics and become the `wakil rakyat` of this area, so I could get the road fixed for cyclist.

After Semenyih and turning into broga, the head wind was atrocious. I couldn't go aero all the time. At one point the wind pushed the bike an inch to my right.
Falling now will be bad news for IM 2010.

After stopping for breakfast at Ulu Beranang, we attacked another 2 minor climbs, and then the mother of it all, Bkt Tangga, which is a 4-5km gradual climb from the base.
Actually it's not that hard, only that the climb is long. Then, it was downhill all the way. I didn't go fast, and applied some brakes just to slow down.
Breaking is actually harder on carbon wheelsets.

After Klawang stop, it was TT mode back again. Managed to chased down Roger, Prakesh, with Faizal at the back. Then it was the usual hell climb up Peres.

After descending Peres, I was rolling at 40km/h back to bt 18, which is kinda surprising because I wasn't even pushing it. It must be the tyres.

Opted to stop to have ABC at 18 before heading back 14.

It was hot, but great thing was I had every inch covered, so it wasn't that bad.

Distance: 140.79km
Ave: 27.4km/h

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Malakoff Penang Ride

At Juru starting line...

First stop at Petronas (first day)

The devil has arrived...

We get to ride penang bridge...just don't crash overside into the sea.

Keat Seong, Poh Seng, and my bro.

Adli reaching...

Balik pulau view at the top.

Teluk bahang dam....

Actually I had wanted to cycle to penang for this ride, but 2 days after an ultra run is not enough to recover. So I opted to drive there with my younger brother, bringing 2 bikes.

Since I didn't get to cycle, I decided to drive all the way to penang without using the highway. So it's going from KL-KKB-Tanjong Malim-Bidor-Tapah-Ipoh-Chemor-Sg Siput-K. Kangsar-Taiping-Penang (butterworth). That's almost 8 hours of driving plus rest. Using highway could get you there by 4. Driving from KL-Ipoh is pretty ok, but not from Ipoh-Penang.

First day. My legs are pretty ok by now. Nothing much about this ride, except the view at Bkt Merah was spectacular. At one point, I was doing solo in front on my TT bike pushing around close to 40kmh. But since this was a social ride, it's best to keep speeds around 35kmh.

Actually most of us are just drafting the motorbike or vehicle in front, so it's was all really easy.

My bro was doing good. He's fast, but still lack experience, but with more training, probably he'll be better.

Second day. Now this is actually more fun. We got to ride across the Penang bridge, which was a tad too windy. Almost had my TT bike wobbling on the descent.

Then we started to hit the first climb. And that's where you see who are the real strong ones. In cycling, you could save a lot of energy just by drafting. It's only when you hit the hills, that's when you can see which guy has the stuff to power on.

The first climb is just as tough as going up Gohtong Jaya, and I was actually liking it. I didn't pushed too hard because I didn't know how long this would take. Soon, we reached the first resting place overlooking the island below. Then it was a harrowing time downhill. With the carbon wheels it's even harder to brake, so I opted to be safe instead of hammering it all the way.

The 2nd climb was a bit more merciful, which brought us to Teluk Bahang Dam.

Up until now, everyone were well behaved. But not afterwards as the peloton separated and we were like racing up and down the roads towards the ending point.

Well, it was a pretty nice ride, and well organised by Malakoff and the participating agencies. We felt like super important Tour riders. Looking forward if they are having it next year. Thanks to the THG guys who had helped out on accommodation and planning too.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Ultra Run: MR 25 ultra marathon 2009

The reservoir..

A photo before the start...

This is 3rd loop. The guy behind was pacing me all the way.

2nd loop starting..

After 8 loops to finish it.

The top runners this year.

I didn't took this run too seriously. It would be just an attempt to see how many loops I could run it. Each loop is 10.55km around a lake named Mac Ritchie reservoir.

There were a few malaysian runners. Our friend Tey went all the way down to support us, and of course to take pics as well.

I anticipated blisters will formed. So, I had 4 plasters taped on my feet at the prone areas. Frank and I then hitched a taxi to the starting point.

It was great to meet with some familliar faces during the registration. Mohan, the ever crazy dude, had done 22 marathons this year, and he looks pretty strong. Met with Sukaimi, the guy who won this race with 9 loops last year. I was actually hoping to run 9 times as well.

The race started precisely at 7am. Soon I found myself running at a blistering pace, and was soon in the front pack. We didn't actually pushed it so hard. In fact the guys (an italian, Tobias the german, a sg dude who won 50k TNF this year) were happily talking to each other. Tobias mentioned last 2 year he had won with 9 loops. The Italian advised us he was going this fast just because he wanted to do 5, as well as the singaporean runner.

But, it was a seriously fast past. The first thing that hit me was, it is a trail run. I thought this might not be so bad, with shades from trees, and soft dirt. However, some parts of it has pebbles, and big rocks, which could cause serious injuries if you stepped wrongly.

As I approached the station for the second loop, the Italian guy had a slip and fell, but he was ok. I decided to slow down and let them go on. Going at that pace would be suicidal. First loop was done in 0:49:33.

2nd loop is pretty much the same, albeit at a slower pace to finish 0:58:38. Some guys did passed me.

3rd loop was pretty ok as well. I remember one runner pacing with me all the way. However he was having a hard time breathing, a sign that he was pushing too hard. Time 1:06:47

4th loop. I had some pain creeping up. That's usual. Began to walk some of the uphill parts.
End of the loop means finishing a marathon. Time 1:15:33

5th loop. This is the decisive factor, or what you can call it as mid way point in the race. I was beginning to hate the rocky gravels and hard rocks path. Every step has to be carefully inserted, otherwise, it's like stepping on sharp edges. I think this might be, because of my flat footedness.
I was also getting hungrier. Luckily I had my powerbar, besides the banana at each end of the loop. Time 1:24:11

6th loop. I was slowing down considerably. Fatigue, pain slowly crept in. This is actually normal. It's part of suffering in long distance running. You just have to accept it. Pain is always your friend, but you can't make it stop you from running. I was feeling good so time was 1:26:25

The more I ran, the more I remembered the path.

7th loop. The pain was enough to cripple my running. Running trails is something I haven't train. Frankly, running 100km bukit aman was easier on the legs because trails force you to use muscles which you don't. Continuous usage of those muscles had actually cause more pain. So I had to devise another running method, which is to lift my legs up, in a sort of marching movement, while not using the foot. This is the only way to go forward with less pain. Time 1:39:07

8th loop. Pace is now terribly slow. My mind was still strong. Heck, give me a pair of fresh legs and I don't mind doing this forever. There is something in ultra running that pushes you to experience things that you can't possibly have in normal life. The passing of time in eternity. The internal conversations with our selves. And the depths of endurance we have to go beyond.

Physically, I am battered as everyone else. It's only the mental part that keeps you going. To keep on going when everything is failing you, is the only moment you know about yourself. You don't do this to get some prize or medals. It's just not worth it with all the suffering.

After doing some time check, I thought it was impossible to go a 9th. So I decided to call it a day. I thanked the guys who had been manning the water stations for hours.

As I reached the station, I took of my cap to signal the end of the run. The ending was sweet. Time for last loop is 1:49.

However, as usual my legs were battered. Stepping on steps even had me in pain.

Total time is 10:29:19

Frank did 6 loops, which is quite an achievement. The winner did 9th loops in 10:52.

I did got a 4th placing, which qualifed for a medal and a pair of crocs.


MR25 ultra run is a nicely organised ultra run. 1 hour per loop will be a nice pace, if you wish to do this many times. Water at each station is enough for everyone. But you'll need to train on trails for this.

More nice pictures here:
Steve Choo