Monday, November 30, 2009

Living by Other Peoples benchmark/Objectives

Winning at the expense of someone is not what I believe in. This is part of Steven Covey's 7 Habits Book thought me. As George Elliot puts it "What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?"

I look at success or people who has succeeded in many facets. You cannot call yourself successful if you just do one thing well, and fail at many others. In the recent weeks, i have come to see the other side of some of my "friends". Some of them only sees one angle in life ie just to excel in sports and to make it worse, excelling at the expense of others.

This is not a view that I subscribe to, having gone through life and look at trying to do good in areas of carreer, family, spiritual, frenship, education, health and wealth. There are many other facets, but these are some that i look as my KPI. Sports to me only fill the facets of frenship and health, it is not an objective to me but a means to a better health.

I am commonly asked (or statements are commonly pass), why are u still slow in your cycling since u have all the best bike and spend large sums of money on the bike. I think a lot of people fail to ask the objective of me cycling and forms conclusion quickly based on their standards and believe system. I spend money and buys these bikes as part of my experimentation/research with all the possible equipment available in the market. I buy because I can and also to get first hand knowledge and not just read and try to comprehend secondary information. Ironically, some of these people do try to leverage on my knowledge that I have acquired through my experimentation. They find these advice cheap ;-).

These equipment performance is much dependendent on your riding style, ur bike, ur weight etc. Basically wheelsets, equipment will be based on individuals and I now have a reasonable idea of what suits me. What is also more important, is that I cycle to achieve better health and maintain my weight while having fun with my friends. It is not to be faster then others, not to be able to have bragging rights and most definitely not to "make your friends malu by dropping them".

The same comments and statement is also made about my running to which I find it quite amusing. I started running mainly to prove to myself that I can do better then before. Doctors sometimes tells me not to run as I was quite heavy before weighing in at 115 kg. When I first ran in the Mizuno Wave run, my time was 1 hour 34 minutes just to complete 10km. That was my benchmark and every race after that, I have been battling with myself to improve it by 3-4 minutes every race day.

It is not that I want to beat another Joe who is the same size that I was, nor compete with my friends, I am just competing with myself to show that I can do a 10km run under 1 hour (if possible), thereby achieving better health and gaining good friends and have fun doing it.

I recognize that most of us are weekend warriors, where we have days jobs and these jobs is what pays to put food on the table. I will not steal time of my employer just to train and achieve better timing. When most of us go to races, we would like to enjoy the sweetnest of glory and its better when we are among friends. How can one enjoy their winning alone, if not with friends. Hence, I do not subscribe to glorifying my strength and winning by putting other friends down just so that we can feel better and show that we are stronger. Why can't we win together?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Redeeming the Ghost of dePalma

I thought the morning started bad enough when i first unloaded the bike (my trusty Pinarello) to find that it has one bottle cage only. The morning already looked recovering from wet nite and the sky does not seem to have any clouds. I thought to myself "Shit, I made another bubu". I am so gonna suffer with only one bottle of water at Bukit Pelandok.

That does not go well especially when i screw up one of the ride before this (same route) and bonked big time. Actually i was nearly hospitalized due to dehydration, but not wanting my close friends see my suffering, i chose to keep it quiet and play it down. I was lying down at the Depalma hill, not able to move, being bitten by ants and other insects having to endure the suffering before help came. It is with this insecurities that has thought me that i may have to depend on my training buddies to pull me back from the cold if I needed it. Actually, the last time round, the ever dependable, reliable and steadfast Adeline came to my rescue having ridden back singlehandedly back to MTDC car park and took the car back to Depalma to rescue me. That time, Maysenn and Ariff was also by my side keeping me company. I never did thank them (especially Adeline) formally for that.

The route also is the route that has many good memories having done Aids ride and many of the Ironman training ride which i had the oppurtunity to play support. It is with this background that I began my morning ride. There was about 13 of us, Alwin, Julie, Hadi, Ihshal, Deryk, Yit Thing Bro, Yit thing, Vincent, May Senn, Ariff, Alan (Senn's father), newbie EZeer (who registered in Half Iron and just got bike day before) and myself.

We started about 8 am and reached Sepang by about 9:15 am, which was reasonable. Since my usual training buddie has now moved on, i made a pack with with Senn to Sweep and hoping that in the event anything should happen to me, she could rescue me as she has also proven to be reliable and dependable. Unfortunately, in my zealousness to up the speed from Sepang to Lukut, I had accidently dropped Senn and Ariff and was with Alwin and Julie until Lukut. I was crazy enough to do it again during the trip back from Lukut to Sepang. Senn and Ariff, please forgive me for that.

Having blundered my pack with Senn, and feeling guilty, i stayed back behind in the Sepang-MTDC leg. Senn, knowing that I was being haunted by the dePalma hill ghost assured me, she will be waiting at the top of the hill for me. That was like a sound of relief in my small heart and I climbed that hill determined to redeem myself. Having reached the top with Senn and Ariff, some bikers passed us by and shouted, "Wehhh, ur friend is down at the foothill lying on the grass". Ariff and myself, in panicked quickly went down the hill again to look for Ezeer. It is at the halfway point going down that I said to myself "Shit, now I have to climb the hill again!!". But remebering what Adeline had done for me before, I thought this guy deserves the same kindness and support.

I went up the hill, had a few words with Senn and decided to shoot off back to MTDC to collect the car and come back for them. I have never cycled so fast consistently for that last 19km having averaged 30km/hr. I reached base and got the car out to provide support as Senn and Ariff was on reaching point. I saw Ezeer 5 km from base and gave him water. As he was determined to finish the ride I chose to accompany him back in the car.

Lessons learnt: Repay the kindness other people have showered on you to others as you may not know when your numbers will be up. What goes around comes around. Extend your gratitude and apologies immediately as you may not have the oppurtunity to thank them again.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Interstate2009 - A hill that is a wall and a Gunung that is Flat

I have never seen such nice country side as in Negeri Sembilan, Johor and Melaka by bike. There are many first that I take away from this interstate:-
a) This must have been the nicest Interstate route that I have the privilege to be on.
b) I have also never seen 3km/hr achievable and balance able on a bike.
c) I have never seen my heart rate reached more the maximum of 110%.
d) Bukit Inas bring new meaning to Bukit (14% climb) whilst the flat road to Gunung Ledang is a surprise.
e) A new meaning in bringing a new secret weapon to Interstate 09.
f) Being close to nature and having some of those items splattered on ur face. I have never dodge so many cow dung left on the road in my life.
h) A near equivalent mountain bike trail route (tarmac) is a nice addition.
The room was ok but the company was great. Lets one sees that other side of people when u are sharing the resort together.

The graph above was taken from Shaharin of KOTRT

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Beyond the viewfinder - Ironman Langkawi

My trip to Langkawi was to serve several purpose. They are a) to recce the Langkawi Ironman route to see whether is it doable from my standpoint, b) to provide bike support mechanic, c) to be supplementary photographer and d) to provide emotional support to comrades doing the ironman.

Typical of me, the journey was full of preparation.

Bike support Crew

I had prepared a toolbox complete for a full bike support with pump, pit stops and even a first aid kit. I had also shipped extra one pair of wheelset being the paranoid person I am. I was extremely happy that this wheel was made to good use by a close fren of mine.

In becoming the Bike Support Crew, I had planned my route in an anti clockwise direction against the ironman cycling so that I can see quickly whether they had needed help. At roughly about 4 pm, we made our last round on the bike route to ensure familiar faces were finishing the last route before we drove back to the Transition.

Camera Support Crew

Having been away from photography for the last 25 years, the world of DSLR takes a bit of getting used to. AJ was kind enough to loan me his wonderful SONY for me to use on that day and I had a blast using his camera. Having very little talent with photography, i had to leverage more on preparation.

Upon arrival in Langkawi on wednesday, Arif was kind enough to take me along for a full recce on the bike route. I noted some vantage points and some stopping point for me to take photograph from. Being the paranoid I am, I took the car out for another spin to familiarize the route the following day while supporting the Ironman on their warm up bike practice. Although majority of them got lost on their bike, i still manage to take preliminary photos with my compact as part of the documentation of their journey to the Ironman.
When our head cameraman came, I took the team again on the route (after bike checkin) to finalize the distribution of work and our camera stations. The team which comprises of Shazly, Jim, Luvis, Jason, Mervyn, Fatini, Aini, TSB , Hafiz and myself must have been the biggest camera crew on Langkawi. Having known that we will have an early start on Saturday, most of us took our dinner early and had an early nite.Race Day preparation was frantic for me. After waking up at 4.00 am, we had breakfast and i drop of the Ironman to their race start station and went back to Bayview to pick three other camera crew (chick crew). Our first assignment is the Pre Race and the swim. At the swim, we work as a team to document every angle of our Ironman comrades. Jason was the lookout, shouting the numbers and identifying the swimmers, Shazly was on the pontoon for frontal shots, I was covering the approach, Fatini was covering the showers, Jim was roaming around doing what he does best - expressions.We later rushed to the bike route. Shazly and Jason was on scooters, some of the team were on the Innova and some were with me. First stop for bike was the bus stop at Padang Mat sirat (before the airport) and subsequently the last hill at Bukit Malut.
Though we had planned our logistics reasonably well, we had overlooked some of the road blockages and the jam that the Ironman had caused the Kuah town. We got stuck in Kuah town for nearly 45 minutes before deciding to park at Bay view hotel and walked to Istana Condo to cover the run leg.

As the nite came, Tini, Aini, Lin and I decided to move on to Jetty point to cover the finishing. We had anticipated some of our colleagues will be coming in at about 8:30 pm. We sat down for a quick dinner at the Jetty point stall for laksa and coconut water knowing that we will be having a long nite until 2 am on sunday morning.While waiting for dinner to come, i received disturbing call from Patrick to say that Maysenn had required medication and pain killer. Maysen at that time was Istana Condo when she met Patrick and asked me to be at Seaview Hotel so that she can take the medication. Since the road was jammed, i decided to leave the rest of the crew and chose to take the first aid and ran to Sea View and met her just in time. Deciding to stay on until i can see her coming back in the next loop, i took my rest near the TomYam stall with TSB and team.

After seeing that Maysenn had recovered and knowing that AJ was in the last loop, I ran back to Jetty Point to cover the end at the Finishing Ramp. We finished the nite at about 2:30 am after sending Aini and Tini back to the hotel. I also wonder how I survived the 22 hours.

Emotional Support Crew

The way I looked at it, Ironman is majority part preparation and training, most part being there and finishing the event and some parts having the mental determinition to finish. I hope i can play some role in helping out comrades finishing the race although deep in my heart, i know the determinition has to come from the ironman himself/herself.

But in summary, it was a good learning experience for me. But, I had to aggree with ariff, the takeaway is that I had with all my colleagues and comrades is the friendship and the spirit of camradare of just being there to saviour the moment. The rest is the job, be it as participant, as a camera crew, as a spectator. I had lots of good memories.....

Monday, February 16, 2009

Broga Revisit - Batu 18 (Anti Clockwise)

Just to accompany some of my frens who has decided to do a recovery ride to Broga, we decided to start this 138km ride from batu 18 at 7:30 am. I also decided to document the ride by taking the relevant statistcis and ride profile. We have reached quite a distance in training/conditioning for some of us to look at the Broga Classic route as a recovery loop for Ironman training ;-)

The whole loop is approximately 138km and there are generally 3 major climbs. Bukit Lenggeng, Bukit Tangga and Peres. Coming in from Batu 18, the first climb is kilometer 58 just after Lenggeng town, next is kilometer 65 ie about 15km before Klawang and final climb upto Peres is at kilometer 100.
Coming out of Batu 18, the terrain can be considered quite flatwit a very slight incline upto the foot of Peres at kilometer 11. The ascnet here is only about 100m by kilometer 12. We will be greeted with a scenic route near the Semenyih Dam between kilometer 16 until kilometer 20 where we will expereience a 70km/hr descent into Tekala rest area. For the next 15km or so, it is generally flat into Semenyih town. We will be greeted with slight rolling hills from Semenyih into Broga and subsequently into Lenggeng.
We stopped over at Lenggeng to have our meal before attacking the Lenggeng hill which is made of two small ascent. This two ascent is averaging 90m per climb. This is approximately a 9% climb (90m climb in 1000m) . As we go down the second hill into Pantai, u can easily achieve 75km/hr coming down this hill into the Pantai junction. Taking left will lead us to Bukit Tangga and Klawang.
Bukit Tangga is a long ardous climb. The statistics suggest a 6% climb ie 280 m ascent in 4800m distance, that is if you are climbing from the Pantai side.

After tackling Bukit tangga, our journey back seems straight forward seeing that it is only about 54 km back from Klawang to Batu 18. Unfortunately, we have to tackle about 15km of rolling climb. We will be climbing a distance of 340 m in a distance of 15km. Although it suggest only a 3% climb, unfortunately the statistics belies the climb in itself. The gradient maybe average 3% but most of the time, u will be faced with about 5% climb over a duration of about 10km. And this is normally done under a hot sun of about 1:00 pm or about 3:00pm, depends how fast you reach this point. We will reach the peak after a distance of 34km from Klawang (or about 118km on the odometer). Going home is a breeze once the peak of Peres is reached.

LtDL - Post Mortem

Interesting first for the Letua Team....

Lim Yew Ming got his wish to participate in the le Tour De Langkawi as a rider ;-). He got his wish.

L2A has set its target this year to get at least a stage win. It has got green jersey in the past, but Stage win has eluded any Malaysian team from the begining on the Tour. This year, L2A not only managed to get its target of getting a Stage win but also to get the Polka Dot and Blue jersey.

Its a shame that riders that L2A has nurtured like Anuar Manan, Haidar, Nur Ridzuan cannot share this glory, but best wishes to them as they have left for greener pastures in MNCF and the Malaysian team.

Cyclist is a team sport, not only you need the soldiers that is capable with talent of a leftenan and a Captain, but you need to have the Colonels and the Generals to marshall the team forward and be selective in its battle, sometimes you cannot win all battles.

Getting 2nd best Asian Team and 9th best overall team is no small feat for a team that has been in competition only 3 years. Racing with skimpy budget and borrowed equipment from patrons can sometimes be very challenging. Best wishes to L2A and choosing the right fit for the LtDL this year and my congratulations to Joe Nayan and the boys.

Monday, January 19, 2009

First Medal of 2009

The Great Eastern 30k and 20k run began on the 18th of January. This is my first medal of the year 2009. Its been slightly more then a year when I first started to run in this sort of "competition".

It was scheduled to be flagged of at 6:00 am but the 30k was flagged of 15 mins late. I began my 20k run at 6:30 am. The people planning the route were either sadistic or just wanted to see the runners suffer physically and/or mentally when doing this run. The amount of hills that we had to cover is "challenging", and when we thought we were going home scott free, we were greeted with more hills and made to suffer climbs until the last 1km into the finishing line.

There were many pacesetter members who had kept motivating me to the finish line, but the motivator of the day must have been Alex (Powered by Jesus fame). He kept me company for the last 3 km to ensure that i finished in good time.

I was quite pleased with my time (ie shaving of 30 minutes from previous 20k run time) and completed the course in a comfortable 2 hours 45mins. For someone who is quite heavy set, fighting diabetes and water retention, i think i did fairly OK.

Statistics from my Garmin:-
Average Speed : 8km/hr
Pace: 7 min 30 per km
Average Heart Rate :160 (Max 173)
Calories : 2095

Friday, January 02, 2009

Entry into 2009, riding with a BANG!!!

3 memorable sentence to the begining of my year 2009:-

a) Can u pick me up this morning, my car tyre has a puncture
b) The peloton is too fast, we need to save the legs for the upcoming lenggeng climb
c) After this accident, i think i will have to lay of cycling and pickup remote control helicopter

The story unfold in early morning of 2009, when i receive a text from Adeline, to say that her car has had a puncture and she needs a lift to Batu 18. I am usually cautious when this type of things happen, especially when i have had my schedule drawn up the night before as to when i should leave the house and when i should arrive at Batu 18. We pushed off from her apartment at 6:35am and reached Batu 18 at 7:25 am.

We pushed of late at about 8 am and reached Semenyih at Haji Khalili's house after a short stop at Tekala to regroup. Haji Khalili's hospitality is fabulous. Shout out to him, his wife and his neighbour.

Upon pushing of from Semenyih, we plod on cautiously towards Broga. The peloton at this time has already picked up speed and we where thunderously riding into the Broga right of turn at quite a phenomenal speed. Just about 5km out of Broga, i decided to drop of the peloton as I knew we were approaching Lenggeng and there is a hill climb after Lenggeng town (actually its an excuse becoz I was dropped). Farid (Firdaus brother) passed me and i shout out to him, "Save your legs, we have a climb up next just after Lenggeng town", to which Farid nodded and slowed down together with Jaja.

Just as I finished the sentence, and came down the hill, we could see in front of us, the first peloton had stopped and bodies were strewn by the roadside. Out of the 8 people in the peoloton, 4 went down while the other 4 narrowly escaped. I could pick up the silhouette of Adeline sitting in the middle of the road dazed. As I arrived, I could see Firdaus lying on the grass and Azahari lying faceup with his arms pressed to the forehead. Blood was gushing from his forehead as we tried to apply pressure to the keep the blood from spewing out. Alim and me worked out a system to use what ever cloth available (Kash's sling, my glove) to apply and tie Azahari's forehead to stop the blood. Meanwhile, everyone worked as a team to get the bike organized to one side and while others help the other injured to the nearby house. Passers by called up the ambulance while we camped out at the nearby house (Haji Mokhtar). I am so proud and happy to see such graciousness of the Malaysian public and how the team worked in such an emergency.

Summary of the casualties were as follows:-
a) Azahari (Axy) - Broken shoulder, 2 inch deep gash near forehead (20 stiches on forehead and 10 stiches near ear)
b) Azri (Pine) - Dislocated bone on shoulder
c) Adeline - Concussion (broken helmet), gashes all over face (lips and chin), shoulder, hand
d) Firdaus - major gash on shin and thigh, state of shocked.

Two ambulance took them to Seremban Hospital for Xray and treatment (lessons learn - bring ID when cycling and wear a helmet)

Tuan Syed Hasyim and Ahmad Ramli took all the broken bikes back to Batu 18. Our sincere and heartful thanks to these Old Putera Boys, in being there for us. Farid and me packed up the bikes in the respective vehicles and pushed of to Hospital Seremban after hearing that Azahari had to be admitted.

Upon arriving at the hospital at about 4pm, we were sad to see our colleagues in such deplorable state in a crowded ward. There has been many casualties in the new year, that the wards are fully packed (what use to have two beds now housed 3 beds). After discussing with Azahari, we came out with a plan to check him out of Seremban Hospital and bring him back to KL to check him into Ampang Puteri Hospital where he will be closer to this family. It was during this time that he shared his concern of perhaps not being able to ride a bike for the next 6 month to a year and he may need to change hobby, once his wife sees his injury. This really touched and moved me.

Arrived at Ampang Puteri at about 630 pm and placed him at the emergency room where another Xray had to be done and his wound got stitched up and washed. He insisted that he is OK and assured me that his family is on the way and bid farewell as i need to send back another casualty back to her house to face her mother. I left him at about 7pm and called to check on him every 45 minutes. Send Adeline back and reached home at about 9pm after having a light meal along the way.

This is one major casualty that has left me quite scarred, and i need to evaluate my riding routes and style. Anyhow, i thank everybody involve and was touched by the solidarity of all riders involved. My only regret was not being able to keep my promise to stay on to accompany Kash in her maiden ride - next time Kash. She has also covered this crash in her report here. (Thanks Kash for the photos)