Saturday, 1 October 2016

Another Century, kind of.

It's been a busy stretch. With the new job, new environment and new colleagues. About a month back, I took part in my second Century Ride. Klang Premier Century Ride, was not really a true Century as a true Century covers 100 miles, that's 160km. Klang Premier totaled  off at 135km distance which was a little more than 3/4 of a Century.

Nevertheless it was a great improvement over my first Century, averaging 30kph. FASTEST. AVERAGE. EVER. For a 100+ km distance endurance race. The ride was pretty much flat, which favors Sprinters, and other than headwinds, the route was actually quite easy to conquer as long as you are fit and mentally strong.

This also marked my first race with my first carbon race bike. The Avanti Corsa DR1. An aero frameset with integrated rear wheel cutout, seatpost clamp and fork. Not to forget, they even added a special integrated quick release design to combat drag. Truly an amazing design for an aero bike through and through. Full carbon construction tipping the scales at slightly below 1kg frame weight.



An incredibly stiff frame, keeping an average speed on flats was easy, each pedal stroke pushes the bike forward. Truly an amazing frame from Avanti, all the way from New Zealand!

This event also marked the first 100+ km distance for a friend of mine from Swinburne.


My dad also finally picked up cycling in July as a hobby. Kinda fun to have your dad riding with you sometimes.



Marked his first event and first group ride. An easy fun ride at the same event.


Both of us completing our respective events. Me, 135km, and dad, 18km.

Medal bite photos is a must


This ride was pretty much smooth sailing as it was a flat course throughout. The only challenge being, headwinds. This new frame of mine was really superb at maintaining speed above 33kph. Pedaling felt effortless as the aerodynamic features lend a hand in "cutting" through the wind and making sure you keep a straight line as you pedaled.



My built for this bike was:
- Avanti Corsa DR1 Frameset (Using CR5 carbon, one level lower than the team edition)
- Campagnolo Vento G3 asymmetric wheelset
- Shimano Ultegra 6800 (11 speed, 53/39, 11 - 28)
- FSA Energy 110mm stem
- PRO Falcon Saddle 143mm

Till next time

Vincent

Thursday, 9 June 2016

One more milestone

So, yet again, another random post to the blog that is on and off forgotten. This time, I'd like to talk about my experience on my first ever Century Ride, also my longest ride in go, yet.

This event fell on the 29th of May, 2016. That was just about a week ago. It was held at Perak, covering nearly the whole outer perimeter of the state, circling Ipoh town. The event was called the "Perak Century Ride" for obvious reasons. A Century Ride, is a non-competitive endurance ride event for cyclists of all walks of life to challenge themselves and their endurance levels. Usually 100 miles in distance, that's 160 in kilometers (1mi = 1.6km), it's a test of physical and mental endurance and not for the faint of heart. To complete a Century Ride, a cyclist needs to be physically fit, as well as mentally strong. Adequate training before hand is encouraged (more like, a must).

Fast forward to a day before the event. I took the Electric Train Service(ETS) from KL Sentral. ETS is an intercity rail service operated by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad(KTMB). I must say, I was amazed at the punctuality of the ETS service as well as the comfort of the interior of the train itself. It was clean and well maintained, as opposed to the regular KTM train services. The ticket pricing was also quite affordable for a student like me, if I were to travel within Malaysia. I boarded the train and the journey from KL Sentral to Ipoh took about 2 and half hours.

Waiting at KL Sentral
On the way to Ipoh
Upon arriving in Ipoh, I made my way to the race pack collection venue. I was a little wary due to posts earlier in the day stating that the management was disorganized and cause a long queue for the collection, but when I was there, everything seemed to be moving in order. 
Event Jersey
After collecting my pack I waited for my group to arrive and proceeded to check in and freshen up. The next day, everyone was up early to grab breakfast at the hotel breakfast buffet, food was average, the standard hotel menu of noodles, eggs, sausages, ham, dim sum, toasts, coffee and tea, as well as cereal. After a small breakfast to provide a small boost for the ride, we went to retrieve our bikes, only to be greeted by a small rainfall. The rain dampened our mood considerably. We steeled ourselves and prepared for what was for sure going to be a wet and cold ride.

Bike retrieval area
Wet and cold start, yet we lined up
 There was a rolling start of about 10km before the official start of the race, the participants lined up amidst the drizzle. We were slightly drenched before we even started. Upon the starting gong, we all started moving. It was a brief warm up during the rolling start with the top contenders for the prize money and podium placement jostling for a good starting position at the front of the race. My aim for this event was just to finish with the best possible time I could achieve.

The first 120km was a breeze, although there were rolling slopes, I was prepared for it as I had trained myself before the event. However, the longest ride I have ever attempted before hand was only 135km. At 120km, my mind starting doubting if I could even finish the next 40km. The last 40km. My legs were heavy, I was well off my targeted time, the distance on the speedometer didn't seem to be increasing, and my speed kept decreasing. The scorching afternoon sun in contrast to the wet and cold start, was not helping morale. On and off, I managed to strike up a conversation with some fellow cyclists, some I dropped, some went ahead of me. There was a period during the last 25km that I was moving along alone, till I caught up to another cyclist, who was also struggling as the road was a short incline. We talked a little and went together till 10km from the finish line where I dropped him.

Finishing with an official time of 6:28:14
Just glad to finish the ride
Passing the finishing line at 6 hours 28 minutes and 14 seconds for 168km to me was a great achievement for myself. The longest distance yet in my cycling experience, and I successfully completed it 1 hour and 30 minutes from cut off time. It was a great experience throughout, and an eye opener into the life of the pro tour cyclists, who do this everyday for weeks on end and even higher intensities.

My group coming in 10 minutes later

Medal biting photo is a must
If I was to participate in an event like this again, I would probably train harder beforehand. Keep my mind strong and not doubt my own capabilities.

Frozen loot - Energy Drinks (It's like we were preparing performance enhancing drugs)
Till next time
Whenever that is

Vincent

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Throwback to that first race

Life after graduation is kinda dull. I need to get a job.

That said, I had a sentimental recollection of my first race back in May 2015. I was still in Kuching at that time and so I thought, why not? Registered with some club mates from uni and I was in. We didn't really trained much before the race. In fact, we never trained. We were so inexperienced then. Two days before the race, we did a route recon and that was it.

The event I am talking about is ABC Race that was organized by a "Koperasi Al-Bait". It covers a distance of 120km. The day of the race, it was raining and the roads was wet but that didn't stop us from going ahead with the race.

Look at our inexperienced self then. Except for Mark. The one on the left in 3T.
So yeah, at the starting line, there we were in our sports shoes and platform pedals and a good 70% of them were using clipless pedals. You know things are getting serious when over half the playing field goes "clack clack clack". Me and the guy beside me on platform pedals just stared at each other and had this "oh shit" look on our face.

It was a good race experience for us and yeah, I've come a long way since then. I recently just registered for another event in Perak. The Perak Century Ride. So I hope I'll be better in that event....since it covers 160km.


Cheers.

Monday, 18 January 2016

A day climbing Fraser's Hill

Well, it's been a long while. About four months or so? In between that time period, there was a million and one things that happened and the best part out of all of it is, I am now a Swinburne Graduate. Yup, you heard me right. I have recently just graduated from my degree program. It was a tough final semester plunging into the unknown working on some projects that was at times smooth sailing, then downhills and crashes and then smooth sailing again. It was a great experience to be in Swinburne though.

Now, back to the title. Yes, Fraser's Hill. A holiday resort well known to most Malaysians as well as tourists from other countries. This hill received it's name from a man who after discovering tin ore deposits on the hill, turned the spot into a mining spot and just as the tin ore deposits were about to disappear, he too vanished.

That was only a small part of Fraser's history, and how the hill got it's name, locally known as Bukit Fraser's (which means Fraser's Hill). Over the years, Fraser's Hill has turned into a holiday retreat, well known for it's cooling climate and rich nature surrounding the hill.

Back to me, from my last post, after receiving my Allez, which I came to nickname Speccy (pronounced Spes-sy), I have within this four months clocked in a total 1800km on the bike before my return to Kajang after graduation. A friend of mine who lives just a few cities away recently got his own bike. A Scott Speedster with Shimano Ultegra groupset.

We both discussed about the chances of cycling up to Genting Highlands just for the challenge but after asking around, it seemed it wouldn't be possible due to law enforcement. We changed our plans to tackle Fraser's Hill instead. I took a train from my town station that went straight to his town, Batu Caves. I guess it wasn't a normal sight for the people to see a cyclist carrying his bike on to a train, where as it seems normal overseas.

I was lucky I was on the last coach, therefore, plenty of space. Though, this didn't stop the stares from others as the coach began to fill up. The shot above was just during the time the coach was empty, after the shot was taken I moved the bike aside and leaned it against the coach walls. Upon arrival at Batu Caves, my friend rode his shiny new bike out to meet me.

Then we headed back to his place to unpack and rest. The next day, we tackled Fraser's Hill. We drove to a town at the foothills of Fraser's, Kuala Kubu Baru (KKB) and from there made our way up to Fraser's. We did some researched on the track leading up to Fraser's on the internet, and it was a relaxing 34km climb up to Fraser's and another 8km which is the steepest, and toughest climb for the whole route. There was a few beautiful views along the road but upon reaching the starting point of the incline, we were surrounded by trees and nature's splendor appeared before our eyes.

The KKB Water Dam
Blue skies and good weather

The heat was bearable as it was breezy
After a long climb, we finally arrived at the entrance. The entrance to the 8km of steep curving climb.

If you look to the bottom left, you'll spot a tiny little bike.
This arch welcomes you to the 8km of sufferfest. The estimated gradient on Strava, a cycling and running GPS app on my phone that I regularly use, recorded a 10% steepness. For those who are unprepared, be prepared to walk up with the bike.

The view at the top was calming and it was quiet due to it being a weekday.
I took a short rest and waited for my cycling partner to arrive, then we both had lunch at the top and made our way back down. The road down was very steep, with a lot of corners and loose stones and sand. It is best to take extreme care while going downhill and to have your hands at the ready on your brakes as me and my cycling partner learnt.

I was halfway down Fraser's when I received a call from him telling me that he crashed on the way downhill, into a drain. I was thankful he did not went off a cliff instead. He was also very very lucky to have a thick bush cushioning him beside the road. The best part of all was that, despite the crash, all he suffered was scratches to his face, right arm and legs, and the most serious injury was a cut on his inner lower lip that required stitching.

It was a long day for the both of us and we made it home safely.This goes out to everyone who tries this challenge, be extra careful when going downhill. Always check your brakes and corner in a safe manner. We are not racing, there is no need to risk your life for the extra few minutes.

Till next time
Vincent 

Way before we started the ride. Little did we know, what would happen.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

I Am Specialized

It's been quite a long while since my last post, bidding adieu to my old friend. This post is long belated, regarding my new ride. Yes, a new bike.
It took some time saving up the money, sourcing the parts and getting them all together. In the end it was all worth it though. A full black anodized frame deck out with red and whites to bring in some color. I present to you, the Specialized Allez, or Speccy as I call it adoringly.


It's the 2015 Specialized Allez E5 Smartweld frameset, with Shimano 105 11 speed (5800) and American Classic 420 Aero 3 wheelset. The whole build came up to about 8kg. I've been on a few rides with it already so far, and I can say it's a very very nice ride.

It's light, it's responsive, and it's good looking. What else can I ask for?



Shifting is close to effortless, as smooth as you can get for the 105.



All in all, I can say that this is a very amazing machine. Can't wait to ride further and faster.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Adieu to an old friend

11th August 2015

That was the day I made the decision to let you go. Just two days before, I was reunited with you after being away for 21 days. You were  a part of the greatest adventure of my life and for that I am grateful. I bid you farewell, and hope that you will be treated well wherever you may go.

Adieu~

Thus, with that out of the way, I guess I should explain what it all means. 

I have recently just sold off my Raleigh. Yes, the road bike. It was barely two days of me returning to Kuching and being reunited with it that I made up my mind. That two days of maintenance and patching up the lovely bike to a presentable condition was tough, knowing that I'd be letting it go soon.

I guess, I'll always remember the journey we've had together. The places you've brought me and the speed you showed me. The thrill of the ride, so to speak off.























These here are the just the few of the many many adventures we've had. Adventures that I will always remember you by. The one bike that got me into road biking.

Thank you, Raleigh. (Thank you Raleigh Raleigh much) :'D Pun


Sunday, 14 June 2015

Half.A.Year

It's already June. That was awfully fast. My last post was last December. That just shows how much I care about my blog. Guess this might be a long post, or maybe not.

So far, what's new? I started my third year in university, which literally means, final year. First semester. It was hectic. It was tough. Most of it was also mainly caused by my poor time management (no surprises there). I've also started going a little serious into cycling. Nothing intense yet though. Just a few long rides here and there, a race once in awhile, and just cycling. Got myself a new bike. A road bike to be exact. 

My road bike(left) compared to my hybrid(right)

I'm pretty happy with it. Been riding it for six months, I can say I'm getting very familiar with handling a road bike. A lot of people say that, an expensive bike is the best and fastest. I would say, yes, an expensive bike with great features is in fact better, but it all also comes down to the rider. Although a lot of people argue that a carbon fiber bike is lighter and thus faster, there's nothing that says an alloy/steel bike can't be just as fast. In my view, the bike is only about 25-30% of the overall factor that makes a cyclist. 55-65% is the cyclist him/herself. So while most of my peers are talking about their shiny new bikes, and carbon fiber frames, I'm content with what I have and how my performance is without a doubt, on par with them.

Every weekend (Sunday), we will have long rides. So far, I have been to Damai Beach, Kampung Serikin(near the Indonesian border), Samarahan, Bako, and Muara Tebas. It was great riding out far, proving the quote "Have bike will travel". In fact, the second photo above, was taken at Tasik Biru, which translates to Blue Lake, because of the blue waters. Taken while we were heading back from Kampung Serikin.

I've made a lot of great friends in the Cycling Club here in Swinburne Sarawak. We ride, we laugh together. They're the best company during the long rides.

See these people I ride with. These crazy bunch of people I ride with
Riding with them = Best weekend spent. I seem to have fallen in love with cycling a lot. So much that I can literally say that "Cycling is love, cycling is life". To some extent, that sometimes when people ask me if I would ever get a girlfriend, I can just nonchalantly say, "Nah, I have my bike. I'm happy enough." Weird huh?

Another thing that happened was that, since joining the cycling club this semester, I feel like I contributed in bringing more life to it. This was done via what I learnt in my studies. Design. Best part of it? I loved doing it. Wait, I LOVE doing what I do when I can do it for what I have passion for. The weekly ride poster promotions was nothing big. The thought of designing a club cycling jersey. That decision and the agreement from the club members was a great moment. After the many discussions and idea generation, we finally decided on one design. May I present to you,


 

My pride and joy. My creation, and design brainchild. Swinburne Sarawak Cycling Club jersey. There will be the sense of pride of putting this jersey on, knowing it was my design and also knowing that, we are a group, a team, and a club.

Cycling is also a means for me to relax and rightly so. The things you see while on a ride, breathtaking. 






Yup. Beautiful. Also, these views are different. You only get to see this and experience it once.

I also took part in a race with a distance of 120km. This was last May. The experience riding amongst professionals was great and also an eye opening one. Seeing them ride and the pace of speed they ride, showed me that there are better cyclists out there, and I want to be as good as them.

I guess, cycling has become a part of my life again right now, and it's going to stay.

Cheers,
Vincent

"Go fast or go last"
"Go fast or go home"
"Don't stop pedalling"