Having been spoiled lately with cool and overcast weather we were reminded of the challenges that can exist when riding in Malaysia yesterday. Depending on who you asked, it was either 36 or 38.5 degrees Celsius, but no matter who you asked everybody said it was hot! As per usual we pushed off from Starbucks at 530am and headed to the border where we met Patrick Williams and his group who were doing a 2ookm ride. This 300km ride had many ‘300km rookies’ who had yet to test the distance so for many of the riders they would be propelling themselves into new cycling territories. Yesterday proved to be a challenging and interesting ride that had a good amount of fun, pain and suffering.
From the very start we lost riders to sleep, sickness and other ‘last minute things’. 20 riders lined up for the full 300km distance that would take us to Johor Bahru, Pekan Nanas, Kluang, Kulai, Singapore and ending at Brewerkz National Stadium.
Spinning along with the Patrick Williams 200km crew, we had close to 30 riders for the first 1ooKM of the ride. From the JB Shell it appeared that a massive storm was coming and it looked like we were all destined to be ‘pounded’ by rain for hours. Fortunately as we took off from the JB Shell we had a light drizzle that lasted a mere 15 minutes or so and then the sun came out and we were dry for the rest of the day. The pace was semi sensible for the most part until we hit the first stopping point at Pekan Nanas. I am not sure what happened after that but after the right turn onto the nice roads the pace picked up to 40km / hour and stayed that way for the next 35km of road. Steven ‘Commander’ Hon was on the front almost the entire time and he was taking no prisoners. At the turns where the pace dropped many people mentioned that it was too fast with more than 200km remaining…which everybody agreed too except for the Commander! Steven did a tremendous amount of front time which helped the pack complete the distance in a timely manner. In addition, Steven also was caring enough to ride back with some of the broken riders to ensure they got home to Singapore safely. For those reasons Steven wins the Lundy Worker Award for this AUDAX 300km with the ‘break’em and rescue’em approach‘. Congratulations Steven!
This AUDAX ride was no different than any other and it is extremely rare that the rides go 100% as planned. There are mechanical issues, people issues, weather issues and other things that just make them all so unique and interesting. Well yesterday’s 300km was no different and as a matter of fact it was pretty impressive and incredible all at the same time. Our first puncture was at Starbucks at KM 0. Arvid noticed he had a puncture at 5:10am and he slowly examined his tire and thought he may not be able to do the ride on such a flimsy tire. Stanislav graciously offered him his spare tire which dashed Arvid’s plan to return home to bed. With his plans dashed, he fixed his tire in 20 minutes to roll with the group. The next puncture was Patrick William’s at KM 58. Patrick and the team quickly fixed this up and within 20 minutes were were back on the road.
Punctures may be one thing but this AUDAX 300km witnessed one of the most incredible mechanical failures of all times. We were almost home and less than 50km to Brewerkz when Andy Bennett (aka Business Class, aka Hamster) approached a rocky area at a traffic light. A rock here, a rock there, a rock everywhere including his rear derailleur. The rear derailleur popped off into the road and he could not even find it. His entire derailleur snapped off into the realm of Malaysia roadways. With nothing but his chain cutting tool Andy began a Macgyver-like process of converting his bike to a fixie to spin that last 50km home for beers. Andy’s first attempt at this lasted approximately 50 meters and then his chain was snapping all over the place. Andy stood aside a busy road to watch all the cyclists pedal ahead to returning safely to Singapore. With no Uber app and no taxis in sight, Andy once again pulled out his chain tool and began to work on solution two at the fixie conversion. Removing many more links he tightened up his chain to successfully realize his fixie dream. It worked, and as Andy pulled into the Shell where the other group was a loud cheer erupted. We all got our final drinks and headed on the highway for the final stretch into Singapore. It was great that Andy’s bike was working however his cadence was probably over 120 RPM for the last 50km thus earning him his new name of Hamster. His aim was to make it to the border and then jump in a taxi. A number of riders took turns pushing Andy the final 7km to the border….amazing team work!
After regrouping across the bridge Andy decided to press on further to the emergency beer stop at ESSO (for riders who are out of energy and cannot make it the final 20km home). It was there that Andy’s ride ended, at 302km, an average speed of 31km/hour and likely an average cadence of 110RPM! Despite the many opportunities to quit, Andy focused intensely on staying the course and surviving to the emergency beer stop. Kudos! Andy wins the JFT AUDAX Spirit Award for showing amazing spirit and making the distance! Congrats Hamster!
Pain & Soufferin
There was plenty of suffering on this ride. The heat, lack of food, lack of training and other issues pressured many riders over the 300km of terrain. Some of the notable comments from yesterday:
‘I bonked twice’
‘This was the hardest ride of my life’
‘I could not keep my lunch down’
‘This is way too fast’
Not surprisingly those comments were all from the same rider! 🙂 Many others felt the same.
The return of the heat, the wrath of Hon, the speed in general and the multiple mechanical issues really weighed on riders. Despite these challenges and despite having some nutrition challenges of his own, Stanislav Laufik always had a massive smile on his face almost all the time. He smiled when he finished the Kulai hills, he smiled when he dashed Arvid’s ‘return to bed‘ plans, he smiled as he shared his Clif Bars with shattered riders, and he smiled when he fully recovered to finish the 300km feeling strong. Stanislav wins the Silk Smile Award for spreading happiness in times of despair! Congrats!
All award winners win a pair of AUDAX socks. The awards were challenging this time as so many people showed great class and spirit on this ride. It truly was a great ride. Congratulations to all that completed the ride.
The next AUDAX is the AUDAX 200km on September 17, 2016.
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