Great results from the weekend. 11 people showed up at the start of the third Singapore AUDAX 600km brevet this season and 11 people successfully completed the ride. While the results are impressive the ride was not without its challenges.
We started the ride earlier than usual at 3:30am in order to enable people to have a bit of weekend left post ride. We stayed together until the border and were in Malaysia on the way to Melaka at 4:40am. Over the years we have heard of many stories of people being robbed in Malaysia whilst cycling. Despite the stories we have been fortunate to have avoided this for more than ten years of riding in Malaysia. This time our luck ran out. About 20km over the border a motorbike shot out and sped alongside the group of riders and quickly grabbed a bag from a cycling jersey which contained cash and a passport. It was a matter of seconds and the thieves quickly sped off down a dark street. This apparently happened to another rider the week earlier. Unfortunately, the rider had to turn back and then had to spend almost the entire day at immigration and customs to get back into Singapore. Luckily nobody was hurt but I guess we will need to be more vigilant for future rides. Upon learning of the danger Dan Smith agreed to ride at the back of the pack for the entire ride. If we had a Chivalry Award he would get it…but we don’t so he can have the JFT Audax Spirit Award for doing loads of back-of-pack time and keeping the group safe for the remainder of the ride. There was one brief lapse of security again in Batu Pahat where there was an attempted robbery by another motorcyclist however Rocky boxed him away. Congrats Dan!
After getting over the armed robbery incident (reports were that various guns and knives were seen- still to be verified) we were hit with a massive rain storm. The rain was so hard it was pounding our eyeballs and visibility was less than a meter. We took refuge at Shell where we sat for almost an hour and enjoyed 5in1 coffee. The temperature dropped and we were all very cold. Only 15km to go to Pontian McDonalds so we saddled up and started to ride when the rain died down. Surely the worst was behind us we had hoped….
The pace overall was fast because we did not sleep and no stop was longer than one hour. We skipped Hotel Super Cowboy this time and were on the road back in the last hours of daylight. By Batu Pahat the two Thai visitors had fallen back by more than an hour and the remaining nine stayed together as a group for the entire ride. This is not always easy given the various strengths of the riders in the group. Wesley Hughes was on the front guiding the pack for more than 500km at speeds that kept the group together all while having to carry a medium sized suitcase for the entire ride. Despite calling for FTP levels on the hills of Batu Pahat, Wes did a great job at getting the group safely home and therefore wins the Lundy Worker Award. Congrats Wes and thanks for the pull.
One of the gals on the Wes Train was Ling Ling. While the ride may have been a piece of cake for Wes it was not that easy for the rest of the pack who burnt through many matches just to stay on board the train. The idea of riding alone after the armed robbery in JB and the darkness in some sections of road was frightening. Remember we did not have vehicle support on this ride. Many of the riders on the train were suffering. After hearing about the robbery, Kelvin (Ling Ling’s better half), came up to meet the group to provide follow up safety support for the last 75km in Malaysia. This was amazing because it covered us for some very dark sections of road and also JB where we rode through around 4:30am. (same time we were robbed the day before) Kelvin’s car had a bike rack on it with three spaces….after 450km many of the riders were looking at the rack with envy and getting ideas of sitting beside Kelvin as he drove. Resisting temptation at one of the last coffee stops Ling Ling gave a big smile and jumped back on her bike. While she normally rides with the medium speed groups she managed to stay with the Wes Group with a solid ride and a big smile…congrats Ling Ling on winning the Silk Smile Award!
Overall a great ride. All 11 riders who completed PLUS Daniel Insunza (poor guy who was robbed) will receive a pair of Singapore AUDAX socks for completing the ride under such challenges. We fought the robbers, the rain and the normal challenges to complete a great ride. Special Kudos to K. Navin and K. Prapat for finishing in 39h45m. They were stuck at the Singapore Customs as they did not have their return air tickets for Thailand with them and the Singapore authorities had thought they were moving in for good. Note to foriengers……please bring your return air tickets in the future! Thanks OK Heng and Jason for supporting the visitors and getting them home safely.
41 days until PBP….keep on riding!