Well that was certainly an interesting AUDAX 300km this past Saturday. Having done AUDAX rides for ten years now this one really had a lot of experiences that were completely new and exciting. We had solo breaks, people cracking early (😊), the loss of our deli and forced lunch at McDonalds, tubular breakdowns with some new equipment, a record number of riders and the most female riders in AUDAX history.
The ride setoff a bit late due to the large number of riders. There were some familiar faces and some new faces embracing long distance cycling in Singapore. The riders were seasoned Audax riders, team road racers, some people trying to get back into shape and a few leisurely riders to join the pack. It did not take long for the excitement to kick off as Steven Hon launched a solo break in the first two kilometres to solo the entire 300km distance. We never saw him again…well I did but that is another story. Steven easily took the KOM jersey by arriving at The Coconut Stand at the end of the Kulai hills first. He was likely a full couple of hours ahead of the next riders. Congratulations Steven for setting a new AUDAX Singapore 300km record time of 10.5 hours! Special Kudos also to Teh An Qiao from Malaysia who also did a solo ride in aims of winning the jersey. This is no easy feat when you have riders like Steven and Wesley Hughes in the group. An Qiao also gets a jersey for his impressive solo effort and he wins the JFT AUDAX Spirit Award!
Like all AUDAX rides a caution is issued not to ride outside your limits. 300km is a long distance so being strong for 100km is worthless if you blow apart and need to abandon. This advice is given at every AUDAX ride. Despite the good advice it is a common thing for riders to try to sit on the Wheel of Steven Hon or Wesley Hughes and succumb to failure later in the ride. That happened to me this time as I was enticed to sit on the Wheel of Wes and the IR Express (a fast racing team with at least six strong guys present) ….the pace was fast for the first 115km. Many riders felt good until they hit the hills before Kluang. Needless to say the group I was with all blasted off and I decided to dial the pace back to survive the entire ride. Unfortunately, I was too far cooked to continue and had to give up in Renggam. (20km outside of Kluang). I tried every trick in the book to continue…giving myself a pep talk, taking a gel, etc…but I realized I was going only 15km/hour and still shattered so it was definitely taxi time! Surprisingly there was a rider sitting on my wheel at 15km/hour. I went to Kluang to meet Wes and the gang in the idea that maybe after food recovery and more riding was possible. It was not…. so managed to get a Grab taxi to take me all the way to the border where I pedalled over the causeway into Singapore. That is when I saw Steven Hon again as he pedalled by me at the Kranji MRT station where I was later picked up. This was the fourth AUDAX ride abandon I have had in ten years, and coincidently Wes was on two of those four rides. 😊
One suggestion for all riders is to add Grab to your phones….it was very cheap and a nice option to have in Malaysia if you ever need to get back for whatever reason. Thanks Stanislav for your Grab assistance! Stan wins the Lundy Worker Award and a pair of Singapore AUDAX socks for helping me get my sorry self safely back to Singapore. The Grab taxi actually took the exact route back all the way through the Kulai hills almost as if we were chasing Steven. As we departed Kluang we (me and Grab driver) saw many riders. It was very hot, and it was amazing to see the riders suffering through the heat on the long straight stretch out of Kluang.
In addition to ensuring your body is conditioned and ready to ride long distances, it is also important to have your equipment ready and in good shape. Mechanical fixes are not always easy when you are in the ‘middle-of-nowhere’ Malaysia. Over the years we have had to create rear derailleurs, fix electronic gear shifters, sew ripped tires and ride on rims. This AUDAX we had a new experience with one rider having to buy a new wheel! Dan Langlois was riding on some nice tubular wheelsets…. nice…but not that great if you puncture two times and run out of tires. While buying a new wheel is not that big of a story, the hilarious thing is that Dan carried the other wheels on his back while he rode into Singapore on his new equipment. A picture is worth 1000 words. Smiling Dan wins the Silk Smile Award and a pair of AUDAX socks! Congratulations Dan and amazing persistence to finish this 300km thriller.
In the end there were many tales and stories. Messages were pouring in late at night with pictures and happy faces for those who were successfully able to complete the ride. While some of the challenges can seem overwhelming, it is great to persevere and complete the ride…..it reminds me of a quote I read recently in a book:
“Suffering is one of life’s most important teaching instruments –one which the modern world has largely weaned itself off of. Suffering teaches appreciation for what you have, and it ingrains within you the most important attitude of all –that being gratitude. There is no emotion more healthy in life than gratitude. Not love or joy or happiness. Being grateful trumps the lot, and if you can develop” from “Muay Thai: Peace, At Last” by Michael Goodison
Now while this was about Muay Thai boxing, many of the words are applicable to long distance cycling! Being mentally strong is very important. Congratulations to all of those riders who successfully finished the AUDAX 300km!
The next AUDAX ride is the AUDAX 200km on February 10 2018. Sign up here www.singaporeaudax.com/#rides