Back to Ipoh again for the Ipoh century ride! A “event” of 160km of rolling hills. Organized by the United Cyclists of Ipoh, it is an event aimed to boost the sports tourism of Ipoh. Like OCBC cycle, though it is not a race, trophies are given for the top 15 or so cyclists for each category; and timing are taken and recorded which in turns give the event a race-like atmosphere.Having done it last year, I was quite excited for the re run as it promised more rolling terrain and was quite hyped up for it. A long 6 hours bus ride to the hotel to race an 4 hours or so event might sound stupid but the terrain there is something we can never get in Singapore.
Pre Ride Training
2 weeks before the event, I crashed on a routine training ride breaking 3 spokes on the front wheel, cracking the derailleur hanger and possibly damaging my front crank, luckily I escaped with minor injuries, just abrasions on my knee and elbow.While mulling over the loss of the usage of the Racing Zeros, I had a spare wheelset to use. which is the American Classic/Planet X 38/50mm wheelset. Also, I had a spare Dura Ace crank which I kept on my standby bike, so I simply swapped it over. Also, I had not done distances above a metric century since a few months ago and I believe will not be able to keep up with the peleton for the entire journey, boy was I going to be proven wrong in the race.
Day before Event
Took the bus in Singapore at around 9pm and reached Ipoh the next day at around 7am after including the rest stops and breaks. An almost 600km journey from Singapore.Reached the hotel and was quickly given a room. Spent the whole day idling, sleeping.eating,checking bicycle and collecting the race kit.
Collecting the race kit is a pain in the ass, first you have to collect the free “goodie” bag before collecting the timing chip.A minor fuss but I wished it could be done together.Since I reached there earlier.managed to sneak my bike,and my bed buddy’s bike up the room before security could notice.
Took a look at the vendors as well, but most was not set up yet. But there seems to more vendors then last year. Ate a pretty early dinner in the town a 10-15 mins walk from the hotel. Went back to sleep early so as to feel fresh for the ride.
Woke up early and grabbed some breakfast before going down to the starting line which is next to the hotel.Reached there with approximately 45 mins to spare. Looked around for old friends and chatted with them. Waited anxiously for the race to start but luckily since I was right in the front, I didn’t need to jostle for position as I was like 3 bike length away from the starting point. Heard about the huge turnout of over 1800 cyclists and that it is going to be a 6km neutral start point.
In my opinion, the first one hour to one and a half hour of the race is the most dangerous. People will be trying to rush into peleton and some of them in their haste do not notice dangers on the road. Moreover, those who rides at faster than their usual riding speed will find it hard to keep up with a faster peleton and as a result will lose concentration due to fatigue. Roughly 5km into the race, a rider who did not look at the road hit a curb-sized piece of wood on the road even though front riders indicated it. He crashed to the left of me; lucky for me, unlucky for him. I believe his rider number was no 17.
Off we go once the race official flag off! Peleton was doing 37kph average for the first 1 hour off the race. A crash happened at the xx km of the race. The third rider in front of me, fell down for some reason and he took down almost 20 person with him due to the fast speed involved. Luckily i was approximately 5-10m in behind him and though I applied emergency brakes, I still hit the rider in front of me, with my front wheel cutting into the gap of his chainring and front wheel. Noticed a slight dent on my tires but felt it was safe to continue riding. If he was using the small chain ring, my tire would have been punctured by the teeth on the big chain ring!Later found out from one of the riders that the guy had somehow punctured his tires and the tire was snaking around. Could have been due to an improperly glued tubular tire. Hope he is fine as it was pretty fast when the crash happen.
Quickly hurried to catch back the first group of the riders. With the peleton now being split up by the crash and also the tough uphill at the 12km mark, it is now noticeably smaller as the rolling hills are starting to take a toll. Managed to catch back up and stayed inside the pack. The next 2 hours was a blur and pain as the rolling hills made it difficult. With speeds exceeding 70kph on the descents, it felt like a roller coaster, yet I was scared because I was still drafting and was afraid that people might crash on the descents!
Since I had planned to carry 3 bottles, I did not stop at the water points. A interesting thing that happen was at the 2nd water point when a guy fell down in the middle of the water point for some unknown reason. The same guy then fell down again with 1km remaining! Thankfully, everybody managed to avoid him safely. The winner I believe attacked on the 2nd water point and could not be seen again. What a strong rider.
Riding was easy by being sheltered inside the peleton. Attacked twice at first 70km then at 164 km but was not successful as nobody picked up the bait and went along with me. Some riders also had the tendency to swerve for some unknown reasons and these are the people that I avoid having around me.Peleton also was in a swirl of activity as low dull periods, speeds could be as low as 33kph and on attacks, it could go to as much as 50kph as the peleton worked to catch the breakaway. But somehow, it managed to miss the winner!
Reached the end in a bunch sprint that was super dangerous as it was a sharp left hand bend back to the starting point! Imagine going at 45kph and braking and sprinting again! Did not know my position and still do not know but finished with a respectable 4 hour 20 mins. Was tired but felt good as that was my first imperial century in a long time.
Though the race organizers promoted the event as a non racing event, the high speeds meant that people was actually treating the event as a race. The organizers could have formed a special “race” category for people who want to the race and win the trophy and created the “ride” category for those who are simply just there for the ride. Though I was impressed by the large turnouts, it also meant a large number of crashes; though statistically, the number of crashes to riders is low. The support given by the organizers alone shows that they put in a hard amount of effort to make this event a success.The hills though is tough and unlike anything encountered in Singapore.
I am definitely coming back next year though if they make the numbers too large, it might actually deter me from going. The success of the event has also spawned a large number of copy cat ride such as the Kuantan century ride and the Terengganu century ride and I might be more inclined to go those event as the number of participants are smaller and less crowded.
3 weeks after the event, the official result by dirt traction is out! Apparently, I came in 40th position with a timing of 4 hours 5 minutes! Was expecting the time to be about 4 hours and 10 minutes. And they even gave out a very pretty good looking certificate. For below 50 sgd. There is absolutely no complaints about the way they organize the race and the support they gave!