“Awoken by the alarm clock at 4am, I went straight into autopilot. Kettle on, cup of tea, toast with marmalade and a banana.” – Glenn, Singapore Baroudeurs
In an altogether different kind of ‘Ride Report,’ Glenn Jeffries, Captain of the Singapore Baroudeurs walks us through the team’s first expedition: Barelang Sportive, Batam, Indonesia: 25th May 2014
On an ordinary day I cannot function without breakfast and this was not going to be an ordinary day. Today, the Singapore Baroudeurs were leaving the little red dot (Singapore) and heading over to Batam, Indonesia for our first event, the Barelang Sportive Wheels For Change Charity Ride organised to raise money for UNICEF. Although the focus was supposedly about enjoying the ride, Jono had entered the team with a 3.5 hour time for completing the 100km ride with 1,200m of climbing. Suffice to say we were shuttled into the first wave of riders along with the more established amateur teams in the region. I would also like to add that given our geographical location it would be fair to say our collective experience of climbing could be squeezed on to the dot at the end of this sentence.
Inevitably our conversation turned to race tactics!
The 20km cycle to the Harbourfront ferry terminal in darkness was a relaxed, chatty ride in a relatively cool 29oC at 5am. On arriving we collected our race kits and prepared for the departure for Sekupang. During the 45 minute crossing us and the other 280 riders busied themselves applying sunscreen, taking on more food and drink and reviewing the route. Inevitably our conversation turned to race tactics! After much heated discussion the decision was taken to hit the route hard after the 15km neutralised zone before the mercury went into the red. Disembarking from the ferry we realised that the temperature was already well into the 30’s and this was going to be a hot one.
Riders with mouths open taking in the rain
At 8am we got underway following the police escort out of the city. The pace was a brisk 35 to 40kmh made all the more interesting by the number of holes in the roads. “Hole” was constantly being shouted throughout the peloton with a couple of unfortunate riders not being able to react in time and puncturing within a kilometre of the start line. Out of Sekupang and into the countryside our race strategy came into play! 3 of the 5 of us made it into the leading group of riders (Jono and Lyndon were boxed in) and pushed on as hard as we could with the agreement that we would wait for each other at the water stops, which were essential during the race. Unfortunately myself, Chris and Stan missed the first water stop at 32km and pushed on to the stop at 50km. We had all run out of water at about 40km despite carrying 2 litres and the cloudburst that came at 40km was a welcome respite. Cue lots of riders with mouths open taking in the rain.
The scenery was amazing
The At the 50km water stop we regrouped, replenished and re-evaluated strategy! Lyndon was suffering with the hills, but fighting on like a true Baroudeur. The rest us were struggling with the 34oC heat (in the shade!) and 90% humidity. By the time we had wrung out wet socks, drank a couple more litres of water we were off again.
The scenery was amazing, on one side vistas overlooked coastal estuaries and fishing villages and on the other side was lush tropical forest for which we were grateful for any shade the canopy extended to us.
Encouraged by the cheering families as we passed through the village communities. It was time we pushed on through the Kebun Raya National Park to the coastline, knowing that once there we would have to retrace our outward bound route for 40km.
A quick stop for water at the 75km marker and we started out on the final leg of the ride. We had an hour remaining to finish the ride in the 3.5 hours that at the outset we thought was going to be a big ask. The run to the finish line at the Barelang Bridge was underway and no sooner had we clipped in the clouds started to gather and the rain started to fall.
The temperature instantly dropped and made the business of maintaining a good cadence that much easier. 5km from the end saw Jono suffer a mechanical leaving him stuck in a single gear. Fortunately it was a low gear so the hills posed no problems. Myself, Chris and Stan counted down the kilometres until the structure of the suspension bridge came into sight. Shouts of encouragement between breaths went up and down the group as each rider took their final turns on the front to pull each other across the line in a time of 3hrs and 20mins.
“…It would be fair to say our collective experience of climbing could be squeezed on to the dot at the end of this sentence.”
It only took a day before memories of the pain and suffering of the event had been forgotten and the planning began for the next event. A sign that everyone had really enjoyed the experience of cycling on new and unfamiliar roads.
Training commences on Saturday morning for Darwin in August!
– Congratulations to our Baroudeur Brothers in Singapore.