Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ronda Riadah Mega Ride 2011

The 5 km “friends and family ride” before the race was fun. My Cape Epic partner Mike and I worked our way up behind the leading police patrol car and outriders with their wailing sirens. It was quite an experience to be part of this convoy of 2000+ riders making their way through the community.

The start to the main event was a bit of a chaos as people jostled for position at the start line. Mike and I planned to race as a team but got separated early on. Nevertheless, the initial ride was at the usual fast pace but without any major jams.

The trails were fast and very rideable consisting mainly of palm oil plantation fire roads. And one can't ever get lost in this event as it was probably the best marked race with generous shredded paper and tapes laid literally every few metres.

I got into a rhythm after the first 10 km and the overall trail was positive, with some nice (read: lung busting) climbs and fast descents. The last quarter of the race was a muddy affair but fortunately the local fire department had hoses set up to spray down returning participants!

I came in 29th position in 3 hours and happy with my finish as I recover well from the dengue fever.

Mike's Account:

Another Sunday and another local race in Malaysia for two of the Team Singapore Cape Epic crew as we go for as much race experience as possible prior to March.

The ‘Ronda Riadah Mega Ride 2011’ is billed as a ‘collaborative effort between the police and community in pedalling to curb crime’ and consisted of family and fixie events held alongside a MTB 50 km challenge. Organisers claimed participation of 2000+ riders with about ½ taking part in the MTB event.

The previous few days saw lots of rain falling in the area but the morning started out overcast and pleasantly cool and dry. After starting with a slow pace group ride racers were asked to re assemble at the start line and when the flag finally dropped the pack followed a chase car on pavement for a few km’s before heading off road into palm plantations.

The fast pavement start began the process of spreading out the pack but I was able to hang onto the front group until we entered the double track so as not to lose time in case of bottle necks. The Malay national team road riders were present and had control of the pointy end of the pack from the start. I found their pace too fast to hang on to so settled back into my own rhythm to save energy knowing that we still had a long way to go.

The trails were a nice mix of short sharp climbs followed by muddy/rocky descents, and double track palm plantation. The crew had done a bang up job of trail marking using shredded paper and plastic tape so no wrong turns this race.

I was being chased by a small group but was able to open up gaps on the descents and tight single track but then gave back most of the gains on the climbs. Gradually the gaps got wider and I was able to chase down a few guys in front. This was the 2nd race and only 3rd ride for the new Epic 29’er and it performed like a champ in the mud smoothing out the trail nicely and best of all … no chain suck.

About ½ way through the race I still felt strong and was slowly picking off some of the riders that had pulled away in the front pack earlier on. At one point a couple of riders had difficulty negotiating a particularly nasty sand/mud section that sapped leg power if your wheels sank or your picked the wrong line. The 29’ers big wheels made it through with ease and I gained 2 places as a result.

Rain began falling in in the last 30 minutes of the race making the trail even more slick and challenging. Some of the more innocent looking puddles we hit at speed turned out to be over the axles while others that looked menacing were only inches deep. That made for some interesting riding.

After clearing the last check point it was a sticky muddy ride to the finish with no riders appearing from behind to challenge.

Was pleased to learn that I placed 4th overall and was just 11 mins off the national rider who took 1st place. The Garmin showed 2:31 with average speed of 19.3 km/hr.