” A 128km rally turns out to be 168km but my meter only clock 154km!”
Finally the big day! My first Rally. Met GL @ 415am, we make our warm-up ride to Singapore Flyer. At 5am, the F1 pit is still pretty empty and we make our way to registration. The cyclist in front got the 168 number tag and I have to settle for 169. Not too bad as it wins me a 8 prize in the luckily draw!
The sky is still dark as we form up at the pit area. Hundreds of rear blinking lights is an eye opener for us! Hopefully no one crashed at the start point! Joseph started shouting…dun look back…just paddle! At 650am, we (2nd wave) are flagged off, heading towards West Coast! The average speed to Tuas was pretty fast, at around 33-35km/h and I was wondering if I can sustain as such speed. K.C was infront of me and I tried to keep up with him. Eventually I lost track of him at a traffic light stop. Damm, that left my little foldie surrounded by roadie! Some looked at my Big Apple wheel, they must have thought that I am crazy to cycle with them!
Up to the 2nd checkpoint at Raffles Marina, I am still able to keep-up with the lead group, or rather the sweeper of the lead group! It’s more like keeping up with the Cisco bike rather than the lead bike! At Raffles Marina, they gave the first hole punch to certify you for the 168km. I would suggest NTU to place some prominent signage as its quite easy to miss the guy who is doing the punching! Short break and the lead pack started to move off.
After leaving NTU S&R centre, we headed towards Lim Chu Kang Road. This is the stretch that differentiate between the strong and weaker riders. More sighting of cyclists having cramps, a few suffer puncture. I spotted our strongest rider, GL eating banana at Neo Tiew entrance, just short of the slope. He shouted “cramp” and asked me to carry on. At this point I have no idea whether I am heading for 128km or 168km. Checked with the road marshals and they do not have a single clue too, so I just ride on.
After Kranji Reservoir checkpoint, we are directed into a maze of small roads within the HDB estate, that leads us to Woodlands Waterfont. The man in yellow applied the 2nd hole punch and I headed down the long, winding Admiralty West Road. Again, I would have easy missed the hole punched at the waterfront!
Next stop is Yishun stadium. This is where it starts to get me confused. Upon entering the stadium, I see cyclists entering from another direction. Upon clarification, the rider on the 128km route were directed to Mandai while those on 168km took the Tuas > Woodlands route. We had a good break here ( I even had time to pee!), the lead car started off and we headed towards Pulau Punggol and eventually the rest stop at Horizon Primary school. Before we leave the school, the officials warn us not to overtake the lead rider, reason being insurance coverage!
The entourage headed towards Loyang and we stopped at the final checkpoint, Pasir Ris Park. A quick rest and we continued down Loyang Avenue towards Coastal Road. At this point, the leading pack is already far from sight. There is a final water-point at East Coast park which I bypass and followed the front riders along the service road. Fatigue finally kicks in and my speed drops to 23km/h. There are only a few riders along this stretch. Later, I found out some cyclist took the PCN! So which is the correct route?
Turning into Stadium Drive and finally down Nicoll Highway where I met Daniel, Donald & Frankie on their Tyrell. Crossing the finishing line 2.25pm!
1. 4 x power bars
2. 2 x Muesli bars
3. Half a bottle of water at every checkpoint
4. 1 x water bottle between every checkpoint
1. Better and bigger signage
2. More water points at checkpoints
3. No fizzy drinks!
Things I learned:
1. To meet 168km cut off timing, follow the lead riders closely. My average rest time for first 2 checkpoint is less than 10 minutes. Average speed to 2nd checkpoint (Raffles Marina) is about 30km/h. I reckon the lead rider should be doing 35km/h and above.
2. Apply deep heat to the leg when cramp symptoms start to show, the result is much better.
3. Do not rest for more than 10 mins at every checkpoint. Once the body cools down, you will feel more tired.
After weeks of training, tomorrow is the big day. 128km seems short to some, but its a considerable distance to me. Beside the body, it is about endurance and building a strong mindset. The important thing that I have learned is how to pace oneself and stayed focus. When to drink and eat so that the body gets enough fuel to burn. Looking forward to a great ride and photo opportunities!