The HolyCrit Debacle

Ever since the headline report in The Sunday Times (7 December 2014 issue) about the eight edition of HolyCrit was published, there has been a sudden outburst of 'interest' in it with the 2 organizers being arrested by the police and the possibility of participants being arrested. 

Now, I am not saying here that the police should close both eyes about this and let this whole matter rest. Instead, I want to bring out the bigger picture about why are such 'allegedly illegal' races organized.

HolyCrit

A brief introduction on the concept of HolyCrit. HolyCrit is a monthly street criterium for the fixed-gear bicycle community. Starting at night, organizers releases the location only a day or 2 before the race. Participants pay $10 to join the race and the winner takes it all. HolyCrit is a unsanctioned race and organizers direct the traffic away from the riders without official permits/approvals. It bears much similarity to the famous Red Hook Criterium in Brooklyn, USA. Red Hook Crit started out as an illegal street race but is now one of the biggest fixed-gear criteriums in the world.

Singapore's Racing Scene

As most Singaporeans know, Singapore's sporting scene is quite limited despite the Government's push to promote sports locally. Specifically, cycling has faced many challenges here in Singapore. Road racing requires many roads to be closed and with Singapore's limited land space, the 2 most common location for races are East Coast Park and Changi Coastal Road. These locations, however, presents its own problems (eg. narrow roads, humps and sharp turns).

These challenges became apparent when the 2014 National Road Cycling Championships was postponed from mid-2014 to December 2014 but was subsequently cancelled because the Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF) was unable to find a suitable race route and "have not been able to pool together the required minimum resources". 

Most cyclist in Singapore looking to be competitive often have to head to our neighboring countries to participate in races organized by professional events management companies, like Cycosports and Metasports. Popular races include Tour de Bintan (Bintan, Indonesia), Pasir Gudang Circuit Race (Johor Bahru, Malaysia), Desaru Cup (Desaru, Malaysia) and Batam 6 Bridges (Batam, Indonesia). 

The Problem

Ever since the news article was published on Sunday, I've seen many comments that "the organizers should just apply for a permit". My question is: If an organization that is recognized by the Singapore Sports Council is unable to obtain an approval for such a high-profile event at least for local riders), how will 2 independent guys get one?

They did something that even SCF was unable to do effectively: bringing the community together and providing a platform for local riders to shine. And to add to the point, it was not even profit-driven. Every dime paid by the participants would go the winner and prizes were sponsored by companies. 

Conclusion

What's happening now is that 2 guys, whose intention was to give locals a chance to have a taste of the competitive side of cycling, will now have to face the music after giving so much to the society. Some guys will be raising funds for the organizers at Tanglin Halt Road this Sunday (14 December 2014). This isn't to start another HolyCrit, but instead, it is to share the 'punishment' with someone who has given us so much. 

My hope is that this debacle would encourage better management of the sport in Singapore and, if possible, bring more races into Singapore.

 

Note: I know many people will disagree with what I have to say and I'm open to other opinions.

BTC Pt. 2: 3 Punctured Inner Tubes

1-Day Bintan Training Camp (04-10-2014) Pt. 2

"PUNCTURE!", I yelled as the group caught up with me. Jacq stopped to assist me. It was a typical change of inner tube: took out the old one, checked the tyre for debris, new tube, inflate. 5 minutes later, I was back on chasing the group. 

When I reach the U-turn point, I could hear a hissing sound the moment I stopped. I immediately look down and I saw a deflated tyre. My thought at that moment? "Luckily I brought 2 tubes". When I saw the tyre had a 5mm cut, Jacq gave me a $2 plastic note to put between the tyre and the inner tube. Same procedure as before and I thought I was good. I even poked around to make sure nothing was in the tyre.

I waited for the sweeper support vehicle to arrive so I can use the track pump to inflate the wheel to an optimal pressure. As I was pumping, the driver of the support vehicle tap on my shoulder and pointed at the cut. Since it was wet, I could see air bubbles forming. 

I walked over to Jacq and told her my ride was over. Disappointed I was, but I can't do much. The other riders in the group offered me an inner tube but I declined and explained that if it puncture 3 tubes, it will puncture the 4th. 

I hung my bike onto the Car Of Shame and that was the end of my ride but the start of my sightseeing session as some of the guys joked.

I tried to make myself useful on the support vehicle. Helping to refill bottles for the other riders and encourage them. The driver was very happy to have me on board. He even went to buy me some local delicacies at one of the stops while we waited for the group to catch up. 

Continued...

 

Jacqtours:  http://www.jacqtours.com (Web)   https://www.facebook.com/jacqtours (Facebook) Bintan Lagoon Resort:  http://www.mozaichotels.com/#/en/hotels/bintan

 

 

BTC Pt. 1: Prep and Initial KMs

1-Day Bintan Training Camp (04-10-2014) Pt. 1

Hoping to race in Tour de Bintan next month, I decided to head for a 1-Day training camp in Bintan Island, Indonesia, with Jacqtour. It was my first ride out of Singapore, hence I was slightly panicky during the preparation. 

As usual, I am riding my Giant SCR 0 2014. Normally I carried one spare tube or a tyre sealant (Vittoria Pit Stop), but I decided not to take the risk and went with 2 spare tubes (with 2 CO2 canisters & multitool).

On morning of the training camp, I headed to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal. It was very crowded (full ferry) because of the long weekend. I checked in bikes (with a little sense of worry) and went through immigrations. 

Took me about 15 minutes to clear security screening and immigrations. The ferry was indeed full and there was no available space for the whole group of us to be sat together. Soon we began our 75 minutes journey to Bintan Lagoon Resort. 

Upon arrival, I handed my passport to the staff and skipped immigration (they kept our passports). I immediately went to the toilet to kit up and relief myself. Jacq (the tour leader) had planned for us to depart by 10am but by then, some of our bikes we still nowhere to be seen. 

Photo Property of Jacqtours 

Photo Property of Jacqtours 

We ended up departing the resort at 10:15am.

After holding about 2 minutes of 20kph pace, we started to push. There was a huge (kinda…) descent at the start and as an aggressive descender (it's a negative characteristic), I broke away from the main group (not really a peloton). For the next 5km or so, I was either going into the headwinds alone or drafting the support vehicle. 

20 minutes into the ride the dark clouds loomed and soon, monsoon rain was falling down on us. With no foliage to break the rain drops, descending at 40+kph has the same feeling as needles poking your arms and face. The weather was pretty much like that for the next 35+km.

At KM 12, we crossed the KOM point of TdB Stage 2. We (by that time I was already with some of the other guys) stopped for refill and some bananas. Less than a minute later, we were back on. 

I was always told that Mandai Road was rolling hills, Bintan showed me otherwise. When riding along Mandai, I could easily roll over the climbs using the speed of the descends. On the contrary, Bintan's rolling hills will drop your speed from 40 to 20kph even before you reach a 1/4 of the climb. 

Bintan Island is relatively forested. The roads we were on were mostly 2 way (single-lane) and was surrounded by not-so-tall trees. This made seeing what was coming up difficult. There were times when I anticipated a continuation of the descent after the turn, but BAM! there was a 6% incline. 

Roads were mostly quiet with little traffic (depending on which part of the route). The villagers were very respectful to cyclists. Motorist always give way to me and some even come to my side to encourage me. When rolling into the villages, the kids were so happy to see us and they kept cheering for us. It definitely make me feel like a pro-cyclist.

At KM 55, I was feeling so good, I was ready to do the full distance (129km). I refilled my bottles and was the first to leave the rest point. But disaster stroke, I started to feel my rear wheel wobble. I kept going for another minute hoping it was just the road condition, but it got worst. I stopped and took a look at my rear wheel.

 

Continued...

 

Jacqtours:  http://www.jacqtours.com (Web)   https://www.facebook.com/jacqtours (Facebook) Bintan Lagoon Resort:  http://www.mozaichotels.com/#/en/hotels/bintan

 

Pimping a road bike for a triathlon

For mere mortals like me who cannot afford to have a road bike and a separate triathlon-specific or time trial bike, the best we can do is to pimp our road bike to fit the situation. From normal road ridding/racing to time trailing, creativity is important.

In preparation for Sunday's triathlon (a very short distance one, just for the record), I've played around the positioning of some components on my bike to get me rolling well.

Poor picture here. Sorry.

My Giant SCR 0 2014

Main changes:

Zipties!

- Change of position of bottle cages as inspired by Ironman Chris Lieto. Just simple zip ties and a little foam tape. Neat!

Vittoria Pit Stop

- Having a Vittoria Pit Stop Canister attached to the frame. No extra tubes or CO2 canisters, just this to save me from any flats. 

 

As you can see, the changes revolves around making the bike more 'aero'. Although the changes would most probably be little, it's nice to try different looks.

A newbie's quest to conquer Mt. Faber

On a rainy afternoon, I put on my wet weather cycling gear (jacket and overshoes), dropped my tire pressure down to 85psi and rolled off to conquer Mt. Faber.

Standing at a mere 105 metres tall, Mt. Faber is one of the few 'real' climbs you can find in Singapore. There are 2 ways up: Mt. Faber Loop or by the commonly known "Steep Side".

The Steep Side. Averaging 5.8% over 1.5km with a maximum gradient of 16%, it was a force to be reckoned with (at least for me). 4 months ago, I went by the steep side and was forced to push my bike up the steepest section of the Steep Side. This time, I was determined to bike up.

It was a cold and miserable 17 km before I reached the foot of Mt. Faber. In between, I had to stop to get a hot coffee just to warm myself up (it's not everyday in Singapore you get a chance to be soaking wet in 24degrees winds).

Upon arrival, I immediately hit the first part of the climb. 0.5km averaging 5%. My legs were gone by the time I reached the top. 

Right turn to the steepest part

Right turn to the steepest part

Took a GU Roctane Gel and off I went to climb the steepest part. 0.5km averaging 8%, with a maximum of 16%. I was on my easiest gear (39x25) the whole way up but it wasn't easy enough. By the end, it felt as if I was putting out 400 watts for 10 minutes. 

The rest was just easy climbing and finally, I conquered Mt. Faber. Then came the fun part, descending! 

Descend

Descend

I would love to be going at 100kph on descends like how they do it at Le Tour, but Mt. Faber offers a "technical" and short descend. With the wet roads, I was worried even when I was just below 35 kph. 

I now Mt. Faber is easy for many but today, I conquered it. 

 

 

4 days to my first triathlon

4 days to my first triathlon! 

After months of hard work and training, the day is finally within arm's reach. Well, this week is just above relaxing and making sure I'm prepared for the triathlon. Monday was recovery after a hard day at work.

On Tuesday, I headed down to Athlete Lab to do my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test. I was aiming for a FTP of 2.0 Watts/kg. I could have gone too hard during my warm-up, resulting in an "unstable" FTP test. 

Power data of FTP Test

Power data of FTP Test

Average power was 155 Watts and, as you can see, my power output was going down during the test (it's suppose to slowly increase). The coaches, I guess, decided my FTP was suppose to be higher and it was recorded as 190 Watts, which translate to about 2.11 Watts/kg. 

Today was a gloomy day. I stayed in bed till noon because of a headache. After lunch, I pondered about heading for a swim or bike, but the dark clouds came. The thunderstorm was forecast to last till 3:30pm. I decided that rain should not stop me. Put on my jersey with an extra layer of jacket, dropped my tire pressure down to 85psi and off I went. 

Check out the next post on my ride!

First training at Athlete Lab Singapore

In the hunt for a more efficient training, I came across Athlete Lab. It is backed by British Cycling's head coach. With Team Sky's reputation for their scientific approach to everything, it definitely sounds good. 

So on Thursday, I headed down for my first introductory session. The atmosphere of the facility is just mysteriously motivating. Seeing other athletes in pain, it made me want to start so badly.

After discussing with the coach for a few minutes about my objectives and abilities, I was "prescribed" a training. They call it Ironmania, definitely sounds scary. 

The training is projected on the wall while I hoped onto my Adjustabike and I'm off. Your target power is marked and you have to pedal till your power is within the marker. Ironmania was split into 3 sets. 

By the second set, I was on the verge of giving up. But when I turn and saw the face of pain on other people's face, I kept going. 

Within an hour, the training session was over and I've never gone so hard before. 

Now it's time to rest and prepare for my Functional Threshold Power (FTP) Test on Tuesday.

 

Athlete Lab Singapore: http://singapore.athlete-lab.com

Neilpryde Demo Day

Last Saturday, I had the chance to attend Neilpryde Demo Day at Fat Cat Cycle. Mr. Neil Pryde and his son, Mr, Michael Pryde, was present to share with the attendees about Neilpryde Bikes and also to launch the new Nazaré 2. Since I'm planning to get a new bike within the next 6 months, I decided to drop by and look around.

Peter sharing with me the range of Neilpryde bikes available (Nazaré 2 in the foreground) Photo Courtesy of Neilpryde Club Singapore

Peter sharing with me the range of Neilpryde bikes available (Nazaré 2 in the foreground)

Photo Courtesy of Neilpryde Club Singapore

I has the chance to ride Peter's (Distributer of Neilpryde in Singapore) Neilpryde Alizé (now renamed to Nazaré). His bike was equipped with upgraded components. 

Peter's Bike Brief Specs: Neilpryde Alizé Frame, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Rotor Q-Rings, Rotor Cranks, ENVE Wheels

Peter's Bike

Brief Specs: Neilpryde Alizé Frame, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2, Rotor Q-Rings, Rotor Cranks, ENVE Wheels

Within the first few pedal strokes, I was impressed. The frame's vertical compliance gave a smooth ride but the stiffness of the bottom bracket provided a efficient power transfer. I was told the wheels would flex when accelerating to 30kph but held its speed very well from then on. Conclusion? I was in love with the Nazaré within the couple of minutes.


The newly designed Neilpryde Nazaré 2

The newly designed Neilpryde Nazaré 2

When I jumped onto the Nazaré 2, I was not informed about the improvements. But by feel, I knew the Nazaré 2 was much stiffer than the Nazaré. There was definitely an increase in road buzz but the power transfer was second to none. One could argue that the difference in components made the difference but hey, you got to ride to feel it.

Mr Michael Pryde giving his presentation Photo Courtesy of Neilpryde Club Singapore

Mr Michael Pryde giving his presentation

Photo Courtesy of Neilpryde Club Singapore

Neilpryde is a new company in the cycling world, but little did I know, they are one of the most famous windsurfing companies. Michael gave a very interested presentation about the company's history and the design concepts of the Neilpryde lineup. 

To be honest, I am a Specialized fanboy and I'm obsessed with aerodynamics. I'm hardly impressed by other brands' aerodynamic data but not this time. By the end of the presentation, I was convinced the Venge and the Nazaré 2 was on par. 

Neil Pryde Michael Pryde, Peter and I looking at the Bura-SL Photo Courtesy of Neilpryde Club Singapore

Neil Pryde Michael Pryde, Peter and I looking at the Bura-SL

Photo Courtesy of Neilpryde Club Singapore

Everytime I visited a bike shop, I would only focus on the aero road bikes and paid little attention to the light climbing road bikes. This time was the same. I did not bother to try (or even to take a look) at the Neilpryde Bura-SL, until Peter told me to give it a shot. 

First thing that impressed me, the weight. The frame of the Bura-SL stands at 710g (the current lightest production frame is the Trek Emonda at 690g). If you want to talk about stiffness, you got to try the Bura-SL. The full bike is below the UCI weight limit. When I rode the bike, it felt as if it will roll up the climbs by itself. 

Mr Michael Pryde Photo Courtesy of Neilpryde Club Singapore

Mr Michael Pryde

Photo Courtesy of Neilpryde Club Singapore

Speaking to Michael at the end of the event, he left me with the impression that he was a really passionate cyclist when he described that road cycling gave him a sense of freedom and allowed him to think about his life. "Sometimes when I reach home from a ride, I have to recall where I was cycling" said Michael. 

Thank you to Peter and the crew at Fat Cat Cycles for organizing this event. 

 

Fat Cat Cycles: https://www.facebook.com/fatcatcycles

Neilpryde: https://www.facebook.com/neilprydebikes

15082014: Last Minute Ride

It was a boring night and considering that I'll not be doing any group rides this week, I put on the aero bars on my bike and headed out for a solo ride along Mandai Road.

Generated using Mesmeride

Generated using Mesmeride

It started out (as usual) with a boring and slow spin from my home to Yishun Dam. Just focused on pedaling smoothly. 

When I reached the start of Mandai's rolling hills, I kicked it up and went on an interval session. Go hard on the ascends and roll down the descents. Although I ended up pedaling downhill trying to go fast. 

Mandai Road is one of the few places in Singapore where I can go up to 50+ kmh. It takes practice (as I found out) to be able to be on the aerobars, going downhill at that speed. 

Definitely going to do more of this in the future!

 

21072014: Another lazy week

Another unproductive week. Was down with some sort of infection of my GI tract that left me sick for 2 days and weak for another 2. The only training I did was a short bike to Changi Coastal (50+km) for a reece in preparation for my upcoming competition.

Speaking about the competition, just to share with you. I'll be competing in the Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF) Celebrational Series on August 2nd. It's a 4x6km format Individual Time Trial. My major issue now is that I can only average about 32+ kph alone, which is definitely not on par with the other competitors. My objective, hence is to not come in last. 

In the midst of recovering from the infection, I took some time to prepare my bike to adhere to the UCI regulations (quite a pain in the ass). 

Ohwell, let's just hope next week would be more fruitful:)

06072014: It's recovery time!

I'll be honest. I've never ran longer than 3km in my life (I hate running so much, I have problems running 2.4km) but today I ran 5km. Now my calfs are aching badly. 

I have a strict training plan that I adhere to, so I have limited time to recover before I start busting my ass off again. So here's what I did immediately after the race.

Ending at noon, it was hot and I knew I was severely dehydrated. I spend 10 minutes just gulping down Aquarius electrolytes drinks and plain water (yep, free). Then I headed off to the club where I train my swim , which was 5 minutes away. 

photo 2-3.JPG

First thing first was to shower and get the mud off me. Here's where the recovery starts. I applied Tiger Balm Gel and massaged my calf just to relax them. And then did some static stretches to loosen them. 

Lunch! My rule: high protein (for muscle recovery) and some carbohydrates (replenish the depleted energy source)

When I got home, I put on my 2XU Calf Guards and Skins A100 Tights. First time using them after such strenuous activity. Effectiveness: 8/10

Remember, recovery is about 80%nutrition!

05072014: Pre-race (Reebok One Challenge)

So I'm heading for Rebook One Challenge 2014 tomorrow. It's basically a 5 km run with 11 obstacles in between and is based on the concept of a prison break. Which means it isn't just about endurance, it's cross fit (that's what's Reebok is all about, right?)

So what's the pre-race routine for me?

First, the race essentials. Number bibs, shoe tags, shoes, running shorts and my my compression wear. 

Second, pre-race workout. To ensure I'm in my best form tomorrow, I went for a slow spin bike ride in the afternoon. Small chainring, high cadence. This will prevent my body from thinking that I am "shutting down" and at the same time not make myself burn out pre-race. 

Third, nutrition. High carbohydrates (not too over the top) tonight. Ensure proper hydration from now till 1 day after the race (proper hydration=clear pee!).

And lastly, mental preparation. My purpose for this "race" (it isn't competitive, so I guess it isn't a race) is to test my endurance and strength. It was also just a motivation for me to do my run trainings (which I hate). So my aim tomorrow is to do my best and hope I complete it without losing all my life tags.

Check it out: http://reebokonechallenge.com.sg/