Saturday, September 8, 2012

8 Hour Mountain Bike Enduro

Scramble at high noon
"Why I am putting myself through this torture again?" That was the question in my mind as I struggled for the first few laps. The race objective was to complete as many 7.2 km laps as possible within 8 hours. 

The first two hours was agonizing with pain in my lower back and trunk, including a stubborn stitch on the left stomach area. I was half hoping for the forecasted thunderstorm to happen so that the marshals would stop the race but alas, that was not to be. 

Race Course
I felt a little better after I made a pit stop for a stretch and cold coconut juice at the two hour mark. Lars coincidentally made a stop as well and we looked at each other with knowing glances about the pain we just went through, and the other six big ones coming up. 

I left the pit stop first and subsequently settled into a more manageable rhythm which is typically the case for my endurance races - the first couple of hours are usually the toughest. 

The interesting thing about long-distance events are the psychological battles that are waged in one's mind. I knew I would never give up, but many a times the voices in my head were seducing me to just surrender and give up this ridiculous punishing I was putting my body through. 

No time to do it in the bushes
I think the challenge with the Tampines trail is the sheer grind of doing the same route again and again and although not technical or very steep, the short burst of climbs and some rough descends do take their toll. 

Perhaps my back pain had something to do with the bike. I raced on the Specialized S-Works 29er hard tail whereby the previous enduros were on full suspension bikes.

Hanging in there
I made a final pit stop on the fifth hour to have a sandwich and mount the lights. I calculated the remaining time and knew that I had a comfortable margin to make the 730 pm cut-off to complete another 6 laps laps without killing myself. Nevertheless, the lower part of my body was screaming in protest and I found myself slowing down. 

I finally completed the race with 17 laps (122 km) in 7:45 hours, total climb 1,200 metres. Although aching and tired, completing an endurance race and challenging the body and mind is always rewarding in it's own ways - a test of one's perseverance and the euphoria of success. And I guess that is why I put myself through the torture again and again. 

A big thank you to my Singapore Five-0 mates for their support, with special appreciation to Ed's girlfriend Shieu and family for the hydration support.

And of course, to my girls for the logistics preparation and tasty seafood porridge for the recovery meal.
The 8 Hour Mountain Bike Enduro was yet another event expertly organized by DirTraction. Full race results here.

Photo credits - Teo Soon Haur and Roy Sim.

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