Monday, May 21, 2012

Subang Jaya Cycle Fest 2012

Sorry, no PIPR 16 ride..
I've made plans earlier to cycle in Putrajaya.
But, a fellow cyclist had informed me that it was 80% offroad, so, that said, I didn't want to ruin my loaned Tern Bike and decided to ride to the MPSJ Subang Jaya's Cycle Fest instead.

Lack of publicity
There weren't much media coverage on the Subang Jaya Cycle Fest 2012.
Many cyclists were unaware of it.
When I made my way to the town council's sports complex, there were already a big crowd at the area, but they were mainly residents using the place to conduct their weekend health activities like Tai Chi and other form of exercise.

Supporting some good friends..
My buddy Johnny Ng from My Bicycle Shop is entering his rider Shawal Shafee in the Folding Bike race category.
It was the third event to be held after the morning fun ride, handicapped cyclist race and fixie road race.
Entrance fee was RM50 per participant and this includes a goodie bag. I couldn't be bothered because I was not into racing.
But, this was a good opportunity for me to try out my Canon EOS7D and my trusty EF70-200 F2.8L telephoto zoom lens.
The truth to be told, I have never photographed a folding bike race.
Since it was held early in the morning, the lighting conditions were great!
The first guy I met was an old buddy of mine Teoh Teik Hoong. He was covering the event for the SJ Echo, a community newspaper

Foldies at the starting grid
 Later, Johnny came into the scene and he was arranging for his Dahon Dash P18 to be set-up for Shawal. In this race, there were two favourites: the Legendary Wong Ah Thiam @ Mohd Hafiz Wong and Shawal.
This year alone, the 21-year-old Terengganu dude have had an excellent run with two podium finishes at the Folding Bike Jamboree and SIC Kencana Bikeathon.
There were two other former national cyclists at the race.
Shawal, who remained unknown on the scene, is making his mark.
The race was simple: three laps x 3km loop around the MPSJ.
What looked rather easy has its 'hidden' loopholes. 
There were long flats and climbs on this 3km course as I had tried it earlier before riding into the sports complex.


VVIPs and a leisure ride
Selangor's Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was the guest of honour at the event. He was accompanied by Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo Burne.
The first event of the day, was a 6km ride around the course.
Cyclists who were hanging out at the scene were 'herded' to the starting grid.
Well, since the response was lukewarm, I joined in the fray to run-in my loaned bike.
And right at the back, I met a cyclist from Bandar Saujana Putra who was on his MTB.
The man, who is in his mid-40s was very sporting. We chat a bit and rode together.
Right behind me, was a couple in their XDS foldies. 
They didn't say much as I rode past them.
Since it was a leisure ride, I didn't pay much emphasis on riding fast.
On the average, I was doing about 16.5km/h on the Tern Eclipse S11i, which was an average 'cruising' speed.
After doing two loops, I waited patiently to watch my favourite racing foldies Shawal and Wong in action.
While hanging out at the starting grid, I met Anson Leow from Cycling Malaysia magazine who got me mixed up with another folding bike guru.
I cleared the air a bit for him and started a conversation about the folding bike scene..

Waiting for my shot at the starting grid
 While chatting with Leow, can a middle-aged dude who said he had done some mountain bike routes in Kuala Kubu Baru.
Never knew this guy and spent some time talking to him.
Then, the moment that I have been waiting for came.
The cyclists - about 15 folding bike owners were lined-up a the starting line.
I knew at least one couple, a husband a wife racing team who were among the crowd.
Shawal and Wong took their position behind the flock.
As soon as they were flagged off, I waited in anticipation to see the top foldies battling it off on the MPSJ Criterium.


Coming in strong
As soon as the escort motorbike came around the corner, the lead peloton came through after breaking away from the weaker flock.
And right there, Shawal was really bashing it out with Wong.
A couple of other riders in their KHS foldie including a former national cyclist who was riding a Carbon ORI was in the tight grouping.
On the second lap, only three rider were left with Shawal, the Carbon ORI dude and Wong pulling away.
Slowly, the other cyclists were filling in the far gap.
I saw a lady who was riding her Dahon MuP8 in the race, gracefully taking her stride as others struggle to complete the second lap.
Minutes into the final lap, Wong, Shawal and the ORI dude came sprinting onto the finish line. They had a timing-chip to clock in the fastest lap.


Leaders of the first lap


Checkered flag: The ORI dude, Shawal and Wong at the end of the race
Still a good season..
This was Shawal's third podium finish for team My Bicycle Shop.
As for the Legendary Wong Ah Thiam, he didn't do too bad by taking third place in the race.
Later, I met Shawal and Johnny behind the pen and congratulated them for taking second place in the race.
So far, the best has yet to come and seeing as it is, Shawal is a 'marked man' in such amateur races. 
He said he was clearly disappointed with the other riders who seemed to have been working in cahoot to block him.
Well, with prize money at stake, pride and bragging rights, I guess its no surprise to see these guys playing dirty.
But it was clear that the Dahons had performed with a 2 - 1 finish.
I hope Le Run Industries would lend some support to Wong for his effort at the race and further promote the Dahons.
As for Shawal, my hope is to see him as a Tern Bicycles sponsored rider who will compete in the Southeast Asian circuit...

Shawal and Johnny, post race

Hanging out with the team at the pit...

Summary

The lack of participation at this event made it a mediocre affair.
But, that said: I must commend the organizers for doing a decent job managing the traffic as well as holding a seamless task in managing the races.
What I don't see, is a carnival-like atmosphere as the event read: Cycle Fest. The festivity mood is certainly not there...










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