A little flashback
My first experience taking part in a hill-climb event was at the Shimano U.C.I. – King of Mountain Ipoh in 2011. 54km of endless climbing from Simpang Pulai (start at Bomba* Simpang Pulai).
*(oh did you know that ‘bomba’ (Bahasa Melayu for fireman) actually originates from the Portugese language? Bombeiro !
The event ended at Cafe 88, Blue Valley, Cameron. I remember it was a very scenic climb, with many supporters along the route especially near the panoramic points facing the beautiful hills to the west, and around the area where the hill slopes are covered by cement – to stop erosion. And at Cafe 88, Blue Valley, as far as I can recall, all bikes were parked outside the center, and cyclists had their makan (which means eat!) at the cafe which was located slightly above the area where we parked our bicycle after crossing this huge Shamino balloon arch. I don’t remember what I had for makan as it was just too long ago, maybe a bowl of cendol? Ughh memory ! What was more vivid though was that I totally enjoyed the climb. I was 5 kilos lighter then. Totally blown away by the beautiful mountain scenery — and that would be the Titiwangsa mountain range. And prolly if I paid closer attention, I would have spotted the Gunung Yong Belar (Mont Yong Belar) which peaks at 1991m. As there is no icy caps in Malaysia, all peak(s) looks the same, just blended in shades of green. Nevertheless, I got into trouble 2-3km towards finish. Ran into some small loose rocks on the road as I was going down hill for the last climb up towards the finish line– the rocks struck my wheel.. and I got a puncture ! I think it was my rear wheel or else it would have been extremely hard to pedal on with a punctured front wheel.
Past memories aside, the DRCC KOM Challenge 2018 was the targeted year end closing event on my calendar. It shares the same route as the last KOM Ipoh in 2011. Last year I did KOM Peres, also in December.. in fact on the 31st December!. Hence this natural inclination to take part in at least 1 KOM come year end! I was initially suppose to train for this event after a few run races a couple of months back. Then Tanjung Bidara Challenge 2018 came into the picture. That’s when the prep focus was more for the triathlon event rather than the KOM event. It was a well-rounded training nevertheless. Wouldn’t say it lacked anything as it covered what I needed for the comeback tri event after so long. A couple of rides outside which includes two rides in Putrajaya, one around where I stay and also once up Sempah with Fairul, another tri buddy who have had a long layoff from triathlon events. And that was it in terms of cycling outside the four walls! The rest was indoor. Intense, but my legs gradually got used to it. Time is scarce now as a mother of 2, plus other commitments! As much as I could, I try to squeeze in those training hours.
So the weekend before DRCC KOM 2018, I was in Melaka for the triathlon event. That went well, alhamdulillah. Finished the race in 1 piece, and most importantly survived the swim — which was initially 1.5km, but turned out to be 1.8km. 300m difference in open water is a big deal for a slow swimmer like me. Anyways, I was suppose to continue training the following week as I still have the DRCC KOM. I gotta admit I did skip the training a bit.. (or a lot..!), and took my time off to R&R. Not sure what was it, but the fact driving up to Ipoh and the climbing the hills was not causing any butterflies compared to the days leading up to Tg Bidara Challenge.
Race kit collection
Left KL late Saturday morning (race was the following day 9/12/2018). The traffic was not too shabby. Saw no one with bicycles on top of their cars along the highway, so prolly they have reached Ipoh, or were travelling behind me. I didn’t know anyone who going for the event except for the guys who will be selling sport nutrition products at the official hotel and manning the ‘fuel’ station on the course the next day. That would be Leng from Sports Nutrition Bros, check out their products here. Our group finally arrived in Ipoh after 2.5 hours. Pretty tiring drive I must say. Quickly went to check the start list, collected my kit, got myself some gels from Leng and had lunch at the official hotel. It was already 2pm when we arrived so naturally we were already super hungry.
Note: its much worthy to drive back to Ipoh town and grab some yummy lunch.
I was just too exhausted with the thought of driving back to the town for makan, so we settled for hotel food– on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being perfect), I would rate the food there at Symphony Suites about 3, averaged out with their service.. I can’t rationalise raw meatballs in the spaghetti bolognese. It was for my kids, so they ended up having the pasta only.
Oh, the race pack contained the race number plate with the timing thing attached to the back of it and a DRCC KOM Challenge 2018 yellow-black-white jersey. We checked in at Merton (just steps away from Symphony Suites). The place is exactly as what it looked like in booking.com , and the reviews 🙂 [the ID is called ‘industrial decor’ as I just found out seconds ago btw…haha !]. So definitely recommended if you are heading to Ipoh. Just take note that Merton charges a RM100 deposit, and RM15/hour for late checkout fee. And also most rooms do not have a fridge, except for family rooms. Parking was free so that was pretty convenient as well. Took kids to an indoor playground after a short break upon check-in, and then went off for a massage opposite Syuen while they played.
This was Grab car all the way, I was just tired after the drive etc. and I didn’t want to bother looking for a parking spot later on! The muscles were still tired with post physio sores ! Naturally that worried me. The massage helped relieve the tense muscles, and unfortunately causing other new ones too. Aunty was humm… a bit rough, at least more dramatic than the Thai twist-and-crack ! (hope it doesn’t sound off, and sounds like the way I mean it..hehee…). but that was the best alternative I could have to a proper professional sport massage touch! Dinner by recommendation was at Indulgence (Thanks Nora and Nizar!), and by the time we hit the sack was about 9pm ++.
Woke up around 5am, snoozed the alarm and finally up around 5.30am .. ish.. I was staying right near the race start so, it was all cool (read: no rush to get up/ready super early). Well…. except for 1 thing.. ! I didn’t double check my gears before we left KL (will tell you a bit later). But that did not stop me from cycling as the essential gears were all there (helmet, bike, cycling shortsw, which I wear inside the pants), shoes, water bottle, nutrition gels). With all that in place, I headed down to prep my bike (usually do this the night before the race as explained in previous post) and waited at my car. There were a 1000 plus cyclists already at the start line — not that I counted. Then spotted Lie Wei, my cycling and tri-buddy. She was taking care of the timing that day. Lie Wei was also in Desaru when I did Xterra a couple of months back. Chatted a bit before I joined the rest of the herd. Race morning start line scene is always fun as that is the only time you can see everyone and of course exchange Hellos before working their cranks down the course (and then UP! for this one). I didn’t see anyone familiar, just so many people.
Didn’t take long though before a ‘Julie!’ came. Looked around and too my jolly surprise, Ali Nordin and Bahar Nordin (anakpanyu) were there ! Wah, all the way from Brunei for DRCC KOM Challenge ! Neat. Both are tribuddies from way back when and we have raced alongside each other on many occasions. Nice and humble chaps just that we never get to chat long with them as they typically fly back immediately after their races in Malaysia!
Ok, so race start.. Symphony Suites is about 6km away from the Simpang Pulai bomba. I reckon this was done as a perfect planning for the location of the newly opened hotel (it wasn’t around in 2011 I am sure) and to accommodate more than 1000 cyclists ! Someone was saying there were 10 buses from Singapore, and with a constantly growing number of the cycling and sporting community in Malaysia nowadays, it wasn’t a surprise to me when the MC announced the number of participants taking part. Cowabunga !
The start finally came after an audibly fragmented speech and duaa’ (prayers), and off we went! Just to note that I did pay attention on what was being said in the prayer and that included the objectives of the event (one being to strengthen to camaraderie of the multi-nation group of participants and all involved, and that all will go smoothly). I cycled along staying on the left most of the time at the start (slow cyclists stay on the left for right-hand drive countries). The other cyclists were fast and furious, but I didn’t want to get left behind either. I had no expectations for this event except to finish it one piece, and hopefully no cramps at all. So, no unnecessary exaggerating in keeping up any undesired pace at the same time not mind testing those climbing knowledge and skills! missJeweLz don’t mind little challenge!
First half of the course, of any event types which I have taken part in was typically busy, 2nd to 3rd fifth is when the cyclists/athletes start slowing down (and stopping for their makan break for more endurance events), or just to stretch those about-to-cramp legs. And the last stretch is when you give all that you’ve got. The longer the race, the more lonely it can get towards the end. I continued to pedal and ensure efficient energy expenditure throughout the ascending 59km. So no joke!
In perspective, I felt it wasn’t steep at most sections, more like landai (smooth and gradual inclination) but with a few steep sections at least the second half of the climb. I can’t pinpoint where the steep sections were when I was cycling last Sunday, but looking back at the elevation chart, there were quite a few short steep climbs the first 25km, and 4 long ones the next 25km. A significant dip the last 9km ish before the home-coming-climb (read: mencanak (steep). That last dip in elevation as I recalled it was when I had the tyre puncture in 2011. I was looking out for the end point in 2011 the last 5km, but couldn’t locate it. But noted there were more development work around Blue Valley.
59km is a longgggg road for a hill-event, well at least for me. Applied the same principle when I had to do 2 loops for the swim leg in Tg Bidara the week before ; basically segment the course to what works for you, mentally and strategically. Better still is a careful observation of the course. But since I am not up to speed at the moment, the first principle worked out quite well. Broke the 59km into 3 segments of 19km ish (equating 57km), plus the last 2km. At the end of each section I assess how I am doing, and made sure all system is okay. This is way not to feel overwhelmed by the distance and good patrtitioning too for my sports nutrition schedule. So downed 1 gel after the first 19km (Science in Sports gel with caffeine), and another one the next 19km (N8 sports gel apple flavour). In my water bottle I had the Powerbar Isoactive isotonic sports drink to replenish my energy need.
I passed the first two third of distance well. Overtook a few groups, and vice versae. I was surprised I could still keep up after 30km with the cyclists who overtook me, but then some dropped after the next climb. There were some down hill sections so I used that to my advantage. Nothing stopping me just that I had to be extra cautious as I have not cycled here for ages, so whatever obstacles or hazards ahead need extra watching out for. And kudos to those cyclists who had the courtesy to point out to any hazard they sport first. Another hazard road bike cyclists should watch out here (or wherever really) are the moss build up at the shoulder of the road- the part where the tarmac drops off. If you cycle too close to the edge there can be a chance to slip. There were plenty of MTBs and fatbikes, which was cool to see. Different bikes, different styles in completing the climb. Even met a fat bike rider atter the racerace never experienced roadbike ! Interesting.
Anyways, not much drama on the cycling itself. The water station was not stocked up when I passed it so ended up picking half empty mineral water by the road side to make sure I keep on hydrating at the same time have some more left in my water bottle. Splashed some water on the head to cool the system down too! Not sure the fate of those behind me though but I hope all of them survived to the finish line! The fuel station I mentioned earlier, ooohhhh that was heaven sent… icy cool sports nutrition by the Sport Nutrition Brothers. Terbaik Leng and team ! Grabbed a cup of the beet-coloured icy and sweet sports drink and pedaled on slowly before I gulped the drink to finish ! I haven’t got the chance to ask Leng what drink that was. Will try to add that info here once I have it ok, God willing !
This was the toughest section for me. I have not drained the energy capacity, I was not overheating or experiencing any cramps. Just over the distance my muscles were getting a bit tired but still able to cycle on. Felt it on the hamstring, quads and a bit of the ITB. Calves were surprisingly okay. I think I do have an explanation to that !
Last elevation dip before the last straw ! Hah, the place where I punctured (well my tyre lah) 7 years ago. And pheww…. no puncture this time. No major expectations for this race so I was just happy to pass through this point with no unwanted incident, alhamdulillah ! Pretty quite stretch here as the faster and much faster riders have reached the finish by now. In fact, saw many cyclists coming down already way earlier.
It was a very busy finish area. With the cars, buses, trucks and the whole lot of cyclists lining up to collect their medals and food. I stopped my clock about 3:42′, official time per website was about 3:41’21. Was happy with my performance given the preparation, and no drama at all during cycling. So alhamdulillah and congratulations to all !
Event category : Hill-climb (cycling)
Elevation gained: 1819m | Max elevation: 1523m
Time : 03:43:16
Net time: 03:41:21 | For full results head here
Overall pos : 487 out of 766 for roadbike category male & female, and 23 out of 55 for Women Open category (there was only 1 women category — as usual!)
Calories burned (for the fun of it) : 1906 calories
Average heart rate : 86% of my max heart rate (!) <–much to work on… mama not yet fit lah….
Notable finishers congratulatory shout out !!:
Hin Tong, Bahar Nordin and Ali Nordin, Geoff Kronenburg, Melvin Sazon, Iran Moriff, Razif Salleh & Adrian Chuah (both were previously cycling for LeTua) and Danny Feng (former TSG assistant manager).
Enjoyable but not one to be taken granted for. Those climbs really put you up to your physical and mental test. Strategies and climb techniques come VERY handy. So climbing skills is one you wanna polish apart from other lasting-the-distance skills and ability. I have a lot to work on and improve and definitely will come back for a 3rd repeat if they have it in 2019, as a season finale of course. So thumbs up to the organisers and sponsors, and again, Congratulations to everyone who participated. Hello! again to old and new friends which I met a long the way. To those who did not manage to finish, treat this as one of those challenges you wanna repeat after another round of solid prep!
Recall the para above where I mentioned that I did not double check my race gears but have all the essentials enough for me to cross that finish line ? Can you give it a guess (if you didn’t see me during the race nor saw any of my recent postings?) Yes? No…?
Scroll below to check out which gear I left behind… (“,) First one to comment with the right answer (if you are in Malaysia, missjewelz will reward you with a Sigg bottle okay !) Happy scrolling and thanks for the time !