Tuesday, October 11, 2011

KOM UCI 2011: Stuck at 2nd gear

Lots of thoughts in my head...

2nd major ascent

I didn't realise I was pulling so many...

Mark Cheong going for the attack, and I gave chase.

Gear was stuck at 5th from bottom at RD.

Finished in 5th. With only one gear, nothing much I could do.

Damn proud of this bike

Cable snapped at the front shifter.

Gear stuck at 5th

To my dad.

With only 2 rides up to hulu langat the same week, I wasn't really hoping much from this ride.
I did, however, went to Edwin's shop to get racing tubulars, which cost quite a lot. But it was necessary, as the only pair of racing wheels light enough, was my Mavic Kysirium, and that was tubular.

Mich's aunt was gracious to host us at her place in Ipoh.

Race day. Morning came, and the rain was still pouring outside. I thought it would be cold, so I brought the 2XU compression top. Loaded the bike in the car, and we went off to the starting point.

When I unloaded the bike off the boot, I was horrified to find out the gear cable to the rear derailleur had snapped. Raymond Ng and I was trying to figure out how to connect the braided steel wires, but we coudn't figure that out. Time was only 20 minutes to the start. So he suggested I go find Kenny to see if he could fix it.

I quickly pumped up the tires, then cycled to the arch. Stopped to ask a guy at the van nearby if he knows anyone who could fix that. Answer was negative. Found Kenny, and he suggested that the high gear screw be adjusted to move the chain up. With a screwdriver, I managed to set it higher. Adzim helped took off the broken wiring.

At that point, I didn't even know if I could ride this. If it's flats, it might be ok, but we are riding up to almost 1500 meters, with some steep climbs. I actually had thought this ride is gone. I stood there, waiting for the marshalls, to let us go, and thinking if the ride was even possible. Safety issue came to mind firstly. It's just a ride, and there's no point continuing if there's
probable risk I could harm myself & others. As I stood there listening to the fireman, reading the prayer for our safety, I prayed earnestly.

Then they let us off. 5km to the flagoff. I tried riding as cautiously as possible, still trying to feel, if I could still ride this semi-fixie bike. Only the front derailleur is working. That's all I could play with.

After the flag off, the speed picked up, and we were soon heading towards the first major climb. I've actually cycled this route twice before. So, I roughly know the major points of attack. The first steep climb is a 2km, bukit hantu kind of gradient. Anticipating an attack,
I moved my way leftwards and surged ahead. I looked back. No one followed. Odd. So, I kept pedalling. Surprisingly, I could put the power instead of cadence. I wasn't dying so I just kept pedalling until the flats alone, in front. Saw Lydia Yeow, and was quite happy to see her there.

I thought at least, I won this first major climb. But I will be swamped by the riders soon. Or so I thought. I looked back and the peloton is still hanging in one bunch behind. Funny. No one wants to reel me in. I slowed down a little, to join them. There's no point riding this fast,
at this speed. So I stayed there for some time.

Then we encounter another steep slope, that marks the beginning of some very winding & relatively steep hills. There were some attacks by others, but
the momentum didn't sustain. The peloton managed to reel them in.

With only 2 gears, I needed a different strategy. I know I wouldn't be able to follow their attack, so I will have to attack early, and be ahead, rather than staying in a group.

Then we passed the bridge, and it was a smoother climb uphill.

I stood up, snapped the pedals, and sprint ahead, hoping someone would follow. None did. So, I continue riding in front, and was feeling quite comfortable, almost at home. Used to riding solo, I preferred that to a group. My mind wasn't with the ride. My father has passed away suddenly
last week tuesday. Watching him with all the life supporting machine hooking up, with the heart rate monitor kept on blinking, was really heart breaking to watch. For someone who wasn't active & he was a bit obese, his high heart rate at 190 & 180 was just incomprehensible.
I had ran uphills for training and 170 feels like dying.

The peloton came by again. Somehow everyone was riding safely. I urgently need to pushed to pace. I attacked again, signalling to Kelvin Tan, riding a blue Trek, wearing the P2K jersey to follow me. He did. We went off in front, and did some work together. I chuckled when he said "This is your day Steve". How do you ride a race using only this? He did warned me that's it's only 30km, and there's still some distance to go.

Then the peloton reeled us back again. This time, a rider wearing orange riding an Orbea, attacked. I stood up, and gave chase. He went at a furious speed, and drafted behind a support motorcycle carrying 2 extra wheels. Was that legal? Anyway, I managed to reel him back,
and his words were "Kat depan ada 6 lagi rider.(In front there's 6 more riders)". That's odd, I thought we are the only ones in front.

I remember another attack by Mark Cheong, riding an awesome Look bike. I gave chase as well.

Finally the whole group decided to attack. I tried to follow, but with only 1 light gear, I couldn't do much. I was left behind and all I could
do was watch the whole peloton moved past, as they snaked up the hills. Mark had an issue with his chain, and he stopped. I just kept on pedaling.

After awhile, I looked back at my meter, and it's 37km. I was still behind. I realised if I don't chase the front pack, I will lose them once they hit the flats after 44km. So, I tried to go faster, and managed to catch up with the group after the wooden hut at the right side of the road.

Then I went all out on attack again. I wanted to get to the flats first. It was kind of rolling, and the speed was intoxicating. As I entered the Welcome to Cameron huge words cliff, I saw Shahrin Amir, wearing a Malaysia white jersey, riding impressively on a MTB. Wow, could this guy win this whole race?

As we reached the flats, he let me move to the front, and urged me to go faster. I had only one high gear, and that's all I could go, and it was
60kmh. Then the rest of the front pack attacked again, this time leaving me a bit far off.

As we reached the second last climb, they slowed down. I looked at my meter ant it was 51km plus. Not much distance left.
I went for an attack again, and surged back to the front. This is now all out. I just hope they won't catch up with me.

With one last climb to go, the marshal on the bike said there's only 800m left. Could I really win this? We finally reached the last turn up the hill,
and that's when everyone attacks. With only 1 gear, I could do nothing. I tried my best to follow. With less than 100m left, it's time to die.
I pedaled furiously and managed to fend off some guys. When I passed the finishing, I still have something in the tank. I still could breath
easily, and it was kind of frustrating to not be able to attack with the right gear. I got 5th placing.

Looking back, it was a good race. I was able to chase some guys, and lead, despite using one gear. I had wanted to ride this for my dad.
He struggled after his watch business went sour, and we all in the family did. Despite all this, he finally managed to set up his beloved
business again during his last 5 years. He worked until the last day he passed on. I will always remember him as a watch repairer, which one
has to have lots of patience tinkering minute dials & screws.

I started this ride with the thought:

"Shit, I can't ride this race." to

"Maybe, I will just ride for fun." to

"Maybe, if I attack, I could win this."

This ride will be my most memorable one.


Paul Lee said...

Brilliant!Memorable! Thanks once again for sharing yr insights abt your epic ride!


Henry Wong said...

Yip. Salute and respect! U r amazing!

Anonymous said...

Great Ride.

gracie said...

EPIC is the only word that can describe what you did. It's not just a tough ride where you came 5th, it's a ride that showed your mettle and 'never give up' spirit. Thank you Yip for sharing - reminds me to cherish my own parents and loved ones much more.

cRAzYtoMatOmaN-D said...

In a way, I think what happened was a blessing in disguise.

Even the rider beside you marveled at your effort with just 2 speed leading most of the way.

You rode well for your dad!

K3vski said...

Well done Yip, you are freaky! Dad will be very proud.

The Jackal said...

Yip, amazing feat! In my eyes, you WON that race.

Just A Visitor said...

simply amazing and inspirational. Makes me want to get off my butt and go cycling again. Hope u be at podium for next year's series.

Jimmy Tee said...

Yip, it's Jimmy here. I am back in Australia now. How are you? Hope you have recovered from TMBT. Congratulation for finishing despite all the pain and stomach problems. Proud of you brother!