Sunday, August 16, 2009

Merdeka Criterium Race 2009...

Event: Merdeka Criterium Race 2009
Venue: Seksyen 6, Kota Damansara, Selangor
Date: 16 August 2009
Time: 8am
Distance: 28KM - 2.8KM X 10 laps (did only 21.2KM by Polar CS100)
Bike: Merida Road Race 905-Com
By Frank

My second road race since I've gotten my bike. I registered for this because the race venue is within 1KM from my residence. And I though of giving support to the organising committee since this is a first sporting event in the neighbourhood. But boy, my hopes for a good race were dashed, even on the race pack collection yesterday.

I registered myself and Andrew through Herbert from KSH Merida. Even so, I needed to fill in the form yet again during the collection. I don't understand the trouble as the form is the same and besides, the process took so long though there weren't many participants around. Reason why was due that the organising committee was having their own sweet time processing the application and chatting away among themselves. It took me about 20 minutes just to collect 2 race packs when I was the first in the queue. Wait, there wasn't even a queue.

The registration form which was plain simple stated 8am to be the flag off time. But upon receiving the race pack with the itinerary in it, I found out that my category will only start at 10.45am but I was required to report in before 8am. What’s with the 3 hour wait? Speech, national anthem and so on. You get the idea. They could have included this detail in the registration form.

With no choice, I arrived at the venue close to 8am and soon met up with Andrew and Wai Lam, the latter came to give support and to snap photos. With 90 minutes till Andrew’s start time as he registered for the 20KM mountain bike category, we hung around at the nearby eatery till an important announcement was made. The race course was altered and more loops have to be done as the traffic police didn’t agree with the road closure time. And I thought this was supposed to be agreed before hand? OK, no big deal on this as distance is still the same. To understand the route, all cyclists went for 1 lap with the aide of the traffic police clearing the road for us.

Just slightly after 9.30am, Andrew’s category was flagged off followed shortly by the 20KM road bike. I believe there were about 100 participants here which include 2 kids, the youngest being 9 years old! I stood at the side to cheer. The roads were closed to traffic and I pity the motorist who were honking their car horns off for having to be stuck in a massive traffic jam for the entire duration of the race. I do appreciate this, but maybe the traffic police could have opened a lane for them? Just my 2 cents though. And in about an hour’s time, the race was completed. Though I believe Andrew suffered as he hasn’t been cycling for a very long time, he did well. And soon, another surprise came. Lionel came to support! Thanks!

At 11am, after a 15 minutes delay, it was my turn, the 28KM road bike open category which attracted about 50 cyclists. I was to cycle for 10 laps. I started from the back with some space in front of me. Reason, I started moving as the countdown was still at 3, so I could have a little rolling start plus to clip into my pedals. And with that, I had the advantage of a good start as I took the outer lane and went straight to the front of the peloton. However, it was only for a matter of seconds before the stronger cyclists took over as they overtook me from everywhere. I admit I was worried about crashing here, so I slowed down to let them pass and soon found myself at the back. Not last but at the back.

28KM road bike open cyclists ready for the start...

Yours truly getting ready from the back of the pack...

Taking it as the conclusion of my periodization phase for my Project DREAM training, I decided to pedal hard for a lap, before doing a recovery at the next and to repeat again for the entire course. But as my 2 biggest gears was giving out some noise as the chain is being rub against the derailleur, I had to use the next available gear as I didn't want to damage any parts. And it was not easy as the last 2 stretch, I had to ride against the wind. The first stretch took cyclist around Persiaran Mahagoni, a wide smooth road leading to Persiaran Surian which was totally opposite. The tarmac which was mostly cracked resulted in a bumpy ride, and together with certain places with uneven surfaces, my bum was made to suffer. Not to mention there were tire puncture casualties from this throughout the race, some as early as the first lap. Then it was into Jalan Cecawi before the final stretch of heading to the start/finish line to complete 1 lap.

At the start of my second lap, I already felt the dryness in my throat. Though it rained yesterday, the haze was still present. Though I had water with me, I didn’t’ drink a single drop from it throughout my ride. Lap after lap, I soon lost count of how many I have done. And I did not want to look at my cyclometer for the distance, just my speed will do. Every time I passed the start/finish line, I could hear cheers from Andrew, Lionel and Wai Lam, and sometimes from the other cyclists too.

Zooming past the start/finish line...

Mid way through my ride, the roads were opened back to traffic. And boy, it was the entire road and some cars came close to me! Though the traffic police were still manning most of the junctions, the main roads were really dangerous. I had to look back at times to ensure my own safety.

At my "second last" lap I think, someone crashed heavily at the Persiaran Surian stretch and medical attention was needed. I had to cycle on the outer lane as ambulance and other vehicles took the inner. And it was really bumpy as it was uneven due to cement spilled some time ago which had dried up. And soon in front, I nearly knocked into a dog that was crossing the street leisurely on its own. Dogs really bad at looking out for vehicles I guess.

Arriving at the start/finish line again, I was told 2 more laps to go. It wasn’t possible at my speed. It was just too fast for me to complete 28KM. A quick check on my cyclometer reveal that I only pedaled for about 18KM. What is happening here?

So be it. Took the lap easy, saving for the final lap to sprint to the finish. But it was a bad choice as I was flagged down upon completing this lap with the marshall telling me that the race was over. Reason? The leader had completed his race and the road is to be opened entirely. I felt disgusted with this type of decision. A 21.2KM race for me in a time of 00:43:46.

Completing the race early without even realising it...

Cycled into the rest area and took 3 cans of some weird isotonic drink. My throat was really dry. Regroup with my friends and didn’t want to talk too much about the race among ourselves, we all left the venue immediately without hesitating much and headed for lunch then back home for a well deserved rest.

Throughout my entire ride, the leader and the leading peloton passed me twice. There were really fast and I suspect the leader might be pedaling at a speed of about 50KM/H! But to accept this as the reason for cutting the race short for other cyclists is just so unacceptable. Many things and confusion could have been avoided by simply putting it on ink. But the organiser choose to leave it out from the registration form which left cyclists fuming over the overall quality of the event. In the end, I felt cheated from a badly organised event.


le_runner said...

pathetic. really a cheapskate and unfriendly event. lacking also sportsmanship.

Cheong said...

Thanks for an honest review.

Yup, The advert was emailed to me from various sources n also posted on some blogs. Somehow, due to the lack of info on the brochure, it just did'nt appeal to me to support it. It just reminded me of too many elements from those poorly organised running events held over the years. Since it is a bike race, I am extra cautious - due to safety reasons. A bike crash is no joke.

Glad you hear that you did not meet with any mishap. Take care

Jamie Pang said...

You should publish the name of the organizer and I can emphatise in this case with the drivers. These roads are heavy with traffic everyday of the week and Sundays are no fun esp when many are heading out with their families. The problem would’ve been eased had they started the event earlier. 10am+ is just too late esp around a residential and top commercial area. Looks like the problem of lousy organization isn’t limited to running events.

Tweet said...

That's too bad to hear. Sucks that they didn't control traffic properly. And even worse that they ended the race prematurely! I had horrendous traffic control at the Merdeka Ride in Penang too! Organizers here need to buck up!