Saturday, May 29, 2010

12 Hour Mountain Bike Night Marathon

It had to happen, Singapore's (and my) first 12 hour night marathon. The rules were simple, to complete as many laps as possible within 12 hours in the Tampines Bike Park, an 8.3 km course with gruelling climbs, rocky trails, drops, switchbacks and some technical downhill sections. I mulled about the race and category  for about a second and decided on the solo - what the heck, I wanted to see how my body and mind would take to this paid torture.

My second task was to choose between the Scott Spark 10 and Commencal Meta 55, and decided on the latter for its more comfortable "all-mountain" geometry and 140 mm travel (as it turned out that was a wise choice).

Training was sporadic, riding with Morten Hansen and Mike Maxwell on a couple of nights and weekends. We discussed race strategies - nutrition (I survived on Hammer Bars, Endurolytes and bananas), hydration (alternated between with Hammer Heed and Perpetuem and consumed about 700 ml per lap) and lighting (I used the Ay Up V4 configuration).

Heck, I even reduced my alcoholic intake leading up to the race, which was a big deal for me.

Race day was a carnival, my Singapore 5-0 mates were present in full force to both race and support. Our logistics were amazing - team tent next to the feeding zone, full complement of tools, spares and bike stand, lots of food and drinks, battery chargers, and the ultimate indulgence ... a full-time masseuse and a proper massage bed (with the hole for one's head).

The race commenced at 5 pm and my plan was to break the 12 hours into 4 quarters, resting and getting a massage in between. The race started well enough for me, trying to get into a rhythm and pace myself conservatively. However, adrenaline and testosterone has a funny way of conspiring to make us ride too fast at the beginning. 

My first and second quarters were fine, I felt strong and relaxed and the lap times were comfortably sub-30 minutes. Third quarter onwards was tougher (I guess it was also way past my bedtime). Needless to say, as fatigue and monotony set in, my lap times became longer and I even stopped at the top of a hill, laid down and almost slept for 15 minutes. My IB and calf muscles were cramping, and my lower back was sore.

I soldiered on, and a strange thing happened towards the end. At around 3.30 am onwards, I felt like my second wind had come and I was actually riding faster and with conviction. Perhaps the thought of the end of the race around the corner motivated me.

And finally ... I completed the race with 18 laps, overall position 15th from a field of 56 racers - I am really happy with this result. There were champagne all around for all Singapore 5-0 racers and supporters. And in case you were wondering, first position went to a Filipino gentlemen with 25 laps! Then again, this was a no-age class race and some of the riders were half my age (yes I know, consolation thought).

Looking back, this was a fantastic event to savior. The organisation, atmosphere and camaraderie with friends. The pain, perseverance and glory.

Congratulations to Singapore 5-0 riders Mike and Louise who took 2nd position in the Mixed Duo, and to the other racers as well (we had 2 Solos, 1 Men's Duo, 1 Mixed Duo and 2 Quads).

Special appreciation goes out to Richard  Herberth for being my pit stop race support - the hydration, tablets, food and even dispensing with the annoying seat post creak - he made my race!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Singapore Bike Hash #396, Pulau Ubin

Mike Maxwell, Nic Le Clerc, David Lucas and I had the pleasure of organizing the Singapore Bike Hash #396 in Pulau Ubin. Around 80 riders "hashed" around the sleepy island, culminating at the Ketam Mountain Bike Park, and then lunch at the First Ubin Seafood Restaurant. Nice way to spend a Sunday morning.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Flip Video and Mountain Biking around Las Vegas

My boss gave me a Flip Video during our company conference in Las Vegas, and that was my first attempt at shooting and editing the Flip (or any video camera for that matter). This device is amazingly easy to use. 

I rented an Ellsworth Epiphany mountain bike from Escape Adventures, and shot the inaugural video in Cottonwood Valley. Imagine a desert in one of those western movies, that's exactly what it looked like - blue sky, joshua trees and light brown rocky soil. The trails are flowy and not that technical. I had to improvise and strap the Flip on to my Camelbak chest strap - hence the jerkiness and dodgy angles:

I think the overall video quality improved a little on the 2nd ride:

Then I got a little adventurous and took a 45 minute taxi ride southeast of Las Vegas to Bootleg Canyon Mountain Bike Park. This trail is a lot more challenging, and really windy: