Sunday, April 28, 2013

GP Riders Team at OCBC Cycle Singapore 2013

                               Cyclists lining up - Photo by Russel Wong taken from top of Benjamin Sheares bridge 
Many of us from GP Riders were competing in this morning OCBC cycling event in the 'Super Challenge' 61 km category for the first time.  Prior to the event, we had been training quite hard together.  We did the 40 km challenge in previous years and this year, we upped the challenge by competing in the 'Super Challenge' category.  Those competing in the 61 km category were, Ernest, Richard Tan, Tomas, Peter, Bernard, Richard Foo, William, Bernard, Gavin, Poh Kuan (the lone lady in our group), Brian (who replaced Steve who is still recovering from the fall at the last NTU ride) and me.  My buddy, Francis Higgins was the only one from our group in the 40 km 'Challenge' category. 

                                                           At the start point with my gang

Some of us had arranged to meet up at Aranda Country Club and elsewhere.  As the venue is nearer to my place, I had decided to cycle from my house on my own and all of us will meet at the bridge at Marina Square by 0400 hrs.  The flag-off was scheduled at 0515 hrs. 

The day before, I had a leisure morning walk with some outdoor friends and after the walk, I picked up my bike from Ah Hwee which was sent to him to do some tuning and cycled home.  I went to bed early well before 2000 hrs as I intended to wake up by 0300 hrs. 

When the alarm set off at exactly 0300 hrs, I got up quickly and very soon, I was out.  From my house, the ride to Marina Square was less than 10 km.  I was first to arrive at the bridge.  It was about 0335 hrs.  Bernard arrived next, followed shortly later by Richard Foo, Poh Kuan, Ernest and William.  Peter was fetching his brother, Tomas and Richard Tan and they arrived a little past 0400 hrs followed by Brian.  Gavin was last to arrive, around 0430 hrs.  Save for Gavin and Brian, all of us were donning our newly designed GP Riders' jerseys.  When everyone was accounted for, we set off for the start line at the F1 pit. 

Security was tighter than previous races, for obvious reasons.  We headed for the toilet before entering the pent.  Once we were in and we were quickly directed to the Super Challenge' line up.  There were already many cyclists at the start point.  The announcer mentioned that there were 1,300 riders for the Super Challenge race and overall, more than 10,000 riders in varied categories were expected.  

There was a slight delay to the flag-off and I reckoned it was about 0520 hrs when the first wave was finally flagged off.  We were lined some 100 metres behind and slowly, we moved to the front until we were cleared to roll off.  It was a slow start off and we had to be watchful as riders can ride past from any side.  I was with Richard Tan for at least the first 5 km mark.  I looked back a few times but didn't see the rest of my gang following behind.  We were supposed to draft as a group.  When the road was wide enough, I was cycling at 37, 38 km an hour and Richard Tan was just ahead of me.  When we came to Benjamin Sheares bridge heading to East Coast for the steep climb, Richard Tan accelerated and I couldn't keep pace with him.  I decided not to follow him.  He is a faster rider than me.  It was still early into the race and I was not sure if I had enough capacity to last that long if I cycled too hard.  Better play safe, do on own pace. 

I was on own, doing around 34/35 km/hour and was still hoping Tomas and the rest can catch up so that we can draft each other.  I began to gather more pace and was doing 40km/hour at some point.  One part of the ECP was closed and overtaking was certainly a breeze.  Soon, I found a group led by a Caucasian cyclist and tagged along them.  We were averaging 36/37 km/hour for the most part.  Admittedly, there were not enough notices to inform cyclist about the U-turn.  When we realised we had to make an U-turn, we were actually very near.  Some of us had to resort to shouting out to fore-warn those behind.  I did not witness any clash at U-turn but some of my GP Riders members told me that there were some clashes at some U-turns.  Some U-turns are narrow especially the one in the small road along East Coast Park. 

We had to do two big laps on ECP.  As I was tagging with the group most of the time, I decided to pull the group for a while on the final leg.  The Caucasian cyclist in the group broke off from us and tried I did, I couldn't catch up with him as I was slowed by some in front of me.  My legs were still doing fine, no sign of cramps or whatsoever. 

It was starting to get brighter and I was on the home run.  About 5 km to the finish line, the group broke out and we were cycling on own pace.  We had to climb the Benjamin Sheares bridge for the last time.  I am weaker on climb, slowed to about 16 km/hour but on the descent, I was hitting more than 50 km/hour.  It was cruise control to the finish.  When I hit the finishing line, I raised both hands triumphantly and I knew I clocked a personal best time for myself.  I should have clocked 1 hour 45 mins at an average speed of 35km/hour. 

At the finishing, I saw Richard Tan who came in first among our group.  He had a puncture at the Benjamin Sheares bridge but managed to cycle to the finish.  Tomas, Peter and Gavin who were drafting among themselves followed shortly.  Ernest arrived next, followed by Richard Foo and Poh Kuan.  Bernard was next.  Brian, the replacement for injured Steve was last to arrive.  Brian did not have any training prior to this race and therefore, he had to take it easy and not to push too hard.  At the finishing, we were joined by Francis who did the 40 km race.  We took some group pictures while waiting for rest to join us.     

                                                             Group Pose After The Race

Most of us from GP Riders did under 2 hours in our 61 km race and this was the target we had set as a group - kudos!.  We then set off for lunch at Bedok before heading back to Aranda Club to store our bikes.             

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