It was a group of 30 that set out from Novena for the penultimate 200 of the year under the tutelage of Jeff Paine, the fearless rider leading the pack across the border into Malaysia. Unfortunately, Jeff’s Di2 battery—ignored the previous couple of weeks as Jeff built a vintage steel bike—chose its moment for revenge and left him unable to continue past the Malaysian border-side checkpoint. Boosting the group of Audax regulars was the Integrated Riding racing team, many of them taking on the 200 route for the first time. The ride started with some scattered showers in Singapore, but by the time everyone had crossed the border the skies had cleared. Luckily the clouds returned by about 9am, leaving the air quite humid but blessedly free from both sun and rain.
We headed into Malaysia as day dawned, quickly settling into a 40+ km/h rolling pace led by IR’s Wes Hughes and RAAM tough guy Alan Bradley. Notwithstanding a couple of punctures early on, almost all the riders were still together at the 70km refueling station. However, it was an atypical pace for an Audax ride and I cautioned a few people not to ride over their heads. A few of the more seasoned Audax riders kept the stop very short and headed out onto the road again, only to be picked up a half-hour later by a hard-charging train, still headed by Wes. By the time we hit the 110km refueling station, more than a few riders had slowed down to manage themselves, while nearly 20 were still barreling on with nearly a 35km/h average. Again a few Audax riders including myself kept the break short and hit the rode relatively quickly, and again we were overhauled by the IR-dominated group. By then we had two riders relying on polymer ringgit banknotes to keep their tubes inside their tires, and another person riding with a broken-spoke wheel—a wheel which looked certain to taco at any moment during the last 2 hours but somehow functioned till the end.
The next hour was routine: pedal, stay in the slipstream, try not to get dropped in the hills. Amazingly, the coconut stand—abandoned since about 2010—was open for business at the 155km mark. A few riders seemed hesitant, but I and a couple others quickly ordered coconut juice for 1 ringgit, which was delicious (and I experienced no negative effects later on). We had shed another handful of riders in the hills and only later did I learn it was due to a puncture at the back of the group that I hadn’t known about. From the coconut stand, the front group took the traditional pre-2016 route back to Singapore, while later riders stayed on the 2016 route. The distances are nearly the same and converge at the border. From there I headed back home rather than to the official end of the route at Clark Quay since I had over 200km already. As far as I know, Leader Paine was there with a beer in-hand, ready to receive the finishers.
Ride reports aren’t necessarily soapboxes, but I want to take a minute to express my disappointment at the few riders I saw throwing empty plastic bottles and gel packets on the road during the ride. Jerseys typically come with 3 pockets and every bottle and packet discarded came out of one of those pockets. It is a very simple matter to stick those things back into your pocket until you can find an appropriate place to discard your waste. [I usually fold my used gel packets and slip then into the bottom of my bib shorts until the next stop to avoid getting anything in my pockets sticky.] Littering is an irresponsible habit and I hope riders will both take responsibility for keeping their own litter off the roads and help educate those they see littering in order to ensure we can have beautiful roads and scenery for years to come.
The Lundy Worker Award, given to the person who supports the group the best, goes to Wes Hughes. Even with a shredded tire at the half-way mark, and what looked like shredded legs by the end, Wes stayed out front until the end. ‘Nuff said.
JFT AUDAX Spirit Award, given to the person who exudes the AUDAX spirit and promotes long distance cycling, goes to Matt Latham. Matt soloed a large amount of the ride and made it to Brewerkz for some much needed food.
The Silk Smile Award was not won by anybody as the pace was too fast for any smiles.
All award winners win a pair of AUDAX socks.
Next AUDAX 200km is October 8th!