Sunday, March 06, 2011
OCBC Cycle Singapore 2011 - 6 March
This is OCBC third consecutive year organising the nationwide cycling event and my first, which took place this morning. I had signed up for The Super Challenge (60km) but at last hour, the organiser emailed to inform that I am only good for The Nissan Challenge (40km), sigh. No reason was given, I reckon it must be due to lack of my official record being my first time participation this year.
My own cheap Raleigh bike is not meant for speed, it is an out-and-out 21-speed mountain bike and I will be greatly disadvantaged if pitted against the sleek road bikers. I decided to do some upgrading one week before the main event, changed the tyres to road type which will greatly reduce resistance during pedalling and upgraded to 24-speed - I am ready to tear the track.
My event was scheduled at 7.15am. I had arranged to reach George's place who was also taking the same event as me at around 6.30am and we will cycle to the start point at F1 building together. It was a short ride from his place in Crawford. Many riders were seen cycling to the start point.
George and I had different agendas, he preferred to cycle on his own leisure & pace but I was gunning for my personal best so that I can qualify for 60km next year. As I had a red tag, I can start at the mid point while George's orange tag can only start at the back of the row. We parted way from that point.
Due to high turn-out, some 10,000 cyclists in varied categories, the flag-off was to begin in waves starting at 7.15am. At the start-line, I can see mostly, if not all were using the road bikes and everyone looked quite 'pro' to them too. (Sheepishly) Mine is an improved version of mountain bike in bid to match their speed. It took a while for me to finally take-off from the start line.
From onset, it was a quick acceleration and I told myself to focus on maintaining the speed through out, if at all. But not long later, it was chock-a-block when the stretch along Geylang narrowed to one lane. We practically had to push our bikes along, some were heard complaining. Luckily, it was just a short stretch when the road was widened leading all the way to ECP. Everyone was pushing hard, many with sleek road bikes passed me but I did pass some too. I was on 6-gear during cruise control and went into 7-gear when I decided to pass some. When we hit ECP, one section was closed and that stretch was at least 5 km ride on the highway. Everyone was speeding, trying to past one another. I saw a first casualty, likely clashed with another cyclist. This man was sitting on the side of the road aided by the volunteers.
Near to the sailing club, we made an U-turn (20km mark) and heading back to the direction we came from. We had to cycle along the East Coast track, speed was compromised due to the narrower path. Constantly, we had to watch out for the members of the public as the track can be accessed by anyone. I was maintaining my speed, constantly on 6-gear and sometimes, 7-gear. I can feel the strain on my knees but reminded told myself to ignore it and push on.
Almost at every turn, I can see someone grimacing on the ground. Some could have sped too fast at the turn thus colliding with others. However, it is heartening to notice many cyclists having the presence of mind to signal to those at the back warning them to slow down at each turn. When someone shouted "right", immediately the slower one in front would move to the left for that faster cyclist to ride past. The code of ettiqutte by most cyclists is laudable, I must say. I did the same too.
With 5 km left to the finish, I tried to accelerate as fast as I could. But tried I did, my mountain bike just could not match those on road bikes for speed. I was cycling as hard as I could and I was grinning away when I saw the finishing line just ahead. I gave peace sign when I zoomed home, hopefully a photograher could take a good snap of me. There was no timing shown but I reckon I should come in around 1 hour and half, averaging 30km/hour. I hope my official time when released in the next few days can qualify me for entry to 60km. I stayed back, waited for an hour for George to finish before cycling back together. My legs did not ache but my buttock was, it must be the same for many. I should know now what is pain in the butt, ouch!
It was a good cycling experience for me, I truly enjoyed it.