WTF?! Yes… Popping out of a bowl of MF rice with a random and unannounced race report. In fact, not just one race report, but two. What makes this interesting? Most likely the extreme contrasts that both provide, showing how insanely diverse cycling can be. But first, a little bit of a philosophical moment…
This was doing the rounds last week on one of the million fucking whatsapp groups that are gradually winning the battle to ream out my attention span. I am sure most people have seen it before, but it serves a useful purpose as an accurate and relevant preface:
I am sure that anyone that raced over the weekend will agree with the sentiments there, even if they sound a little, ah, feral? Of course, after 2 months swanning around on chairlifts, sleeping in, getting muddy and generally eating every item of shit food I could get my mitts on I had forgotten these sentiments completely. Its interesting isn’t it, how quickly the mind can erase the pain and suffering and allow you to lull yourself back into a state of denial?
Yes, that was where I was at… Until today.
With short notice we found out that the Johor Nusajaya Challenge race was on in Malaysia, although my sentiments on Malaysia are well known and I have only been back on the road bike for 3 weeks, why not go and get smashed in the face by the usual suspects and the fast locals who are racing for the cash. Given previous DN reports have been, er, less than flattering about Malaysia Truly Asia, my first concern was getting through the check points. The Goat however had bigger issues with our new interim kit, kindly supplied by T3 Bicycles (thanks guys):
The Singapore teams all decided to roll up to the race together, good call given A) safety in numbers in the motherfucking badlands and B) we didn’t have a clue where to go. Whilst its different commuting to a race with competitors, it did give the Goat the perfect chance to give a seminar on what SHAM Red is so shit:
He followed that up with a masterclass on an old Goat classic, the front puncture. Zebra and I provided encouragement and verbal assistance from a distance while Malaysian traffic did its best to have nose to tail accidents around us:
With a bit of time to kill pre race… Not to mention the race start running late as is the usual fashion north of the Causeway, the Goat decided it was once again time to prove everyone wrong with the self-felate challenge, getting some focus, taking a deep breath and giving it one last chance… Zebra provided ample encouragement once more:
The other usual practice in a Malaysian race is the weird starting procedure… Usually based around a VIP, or as we were so blessed today a VVIP. This basically means a lot of standing around in the sun roasting like a motherfucker and then doing a weird formation lap of some sort of freaky unbanked cobbled velodrome thing? Just go with it…
Obviously after the gun there aren’t any photos I’m afraid… Mainly due to a couple of things:
- Field size – 70 riders in open… Yeah, it didn’t stay that big for long, but as an opening to a race on wide roads, it was pretty busy. By busy I mean rammed with some questionable handling skills
- Pace – Flat course, smooth roads, lots of fast locals… Was only going to mean a rabid start to proceedings
I will admit I was slightly concerned that I was going to be gaaaased out the ass today given form and lack of training, but thank FUCK it was flat. I suspect any sign of a hill and I would have been in deep shit, but once things settled down, it wasn’t actually too bad.
Confusingly the wide and relatively smooth roads appeared to have been closed around the 35km circuit, which we were doing two laps of. Even though they seemed to be tightly controlled, race organisers decided it would also be prudent to put big fuck off Traffic cones in the middle of the road most of the way around. Its unsure what the intended purpose was, but the end result was, you guessed it, a cyclist colliding with them at 50kph and triggering all sorts of fucking carnage. Yip, broken collarbones were to be had and the number of near misses and close calls grew throughout the race. Learning – Open racers who are intent on following each other no matter what do NOT mix well with giant orange traffic cones.
As is the usual pattern in these races, it was surging like fuck with break after break trying to get away before eventually the right break got established, or more to the point, the wrong break in my books. Yes, it wasn’t too threatening until 3 locals took off like they were behind a motorbike, sprinting away to make it a break that could stay away.
I was then reminded of another thing I had forgotten about these races… No one really likes to work or rotate to bring back a break. There are few things more annoying than doing a turn or two and then finding that no cunt wants to roll through, thus essentially undoing the matches that were burned in the first place. Yeah, a bit of that going down today, mixed in with some MASSIVE turns by the French/Swiss Robocop, which required some terrifyingly taxing efforts to absorb. I mentioned to the Goat that perhaps it was looking a little dangerous… But as they say, you can lead a goat to knowledge, but you can’t make it think… “Alright alright alright”
The layout of the course meant that it was pretty easy to track the break, which was looking decidedly like it had signs of being able to stay away. It was during the last quarter doing some turns with the other 3 or 4 people who actually wanted to work that I really started to recall that sweet pain and suffering of road racing. Its uncomfortable… Its a constant battle to manage the mind and its a zero sum game of how much you have left and how much you can dish out.
And then finally, after an eternity, it occurred to the Goat that, alarmingly, perhaps this break was actually going to stay away:
Thats right, with the penny dropping like an unwelcome turd, it was sort of all hands to the pump in a semi organised chase, it was time:
Long story short? 5 people chased, 25 people or more watched and…. Drum roll please… The break stayed away! I think perhaps only a few of them, but it cancelled out the bunch sprint for the win, but that didn’t stop everyone going feral on the run in, which Goat featured heavily in. After watching yet another rider collect a cone at 50kph, I decided that my work was done as a training ride and followed the main group in. Zebra and I deciding that the onset of cramp (fuck, in a 70km race, fart noise) was probably good enough reason to not bother ourselves with sprinting for minor placings, so civilised.
170km’s in the bank for the day and I can say that the road hard on is slowly starting to inflate again. Am I being asphalt assimilated? Not so fast given I spent the afternoon pissing about with the Nomad, but the enjoyment factor is definitely up over a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile… In a land far far away…
Yes… From 30 Degrees in Malaysia to fucking 6 degrees in the Wairarapa, NZ, for the first round of the NI Trusthouse series. Quite a temperature swing, not to mention epic wind, rain, hills and a road surface that feels like you’re being punched in the balls by a monkey thats on meth. Every time I think its hard racing in Asia, I just need to spare a thought for my homeboys back in chip seal HQ:
A big opening race for the Rivet boys, with Dan Wannajetski taking second in the Elite race behind some old dude… And the Masters team managing to pretty much stay away from the carnage that was going down. Hope everyone involved in the spate of nasty crashes get well soon. This looks quite hard:
Well done guys and big ups Dan for hitting the podium in the first big one of the season, 150km’s in mental hard conditions, respect it: