Batam 6 Bridges Race


Batam 6 Bridges – Tour de Barelang Road Race (120 km) – Sat. 25th May 2013

Compelled by the prospect of racing for 120 km with 2000m of ups and down, a contingent of 14 Joyriders answered the call to action for the assault on Batam’s Six Bridges – Tour de Barelang (first race event by Cycosport).

We had Joyriders lined up in ALL categories !
– Cat1 : 2 JRT amongst 39
– Cat2 : 1 JR amongst 45
– Cat3 :  8 JR amongst 93
– Women : 3 JR incl. Queen amongst 14


Impressive Results !
Here’s a condensed summary with #rank and ~gap time to the respective category winner:
BRACCO GARTNER Arno (Cat  2  – #23 at 6min 46 seconds !)
DRIESSEN Joost (cat 3 – #33 at 39 minutes)
FUNG Chermaine (women – #5 at 28 min)
GERARD Philippe (cat 3 – #10 at 50 seconds)
GREEN Craig (cat 1 – #32 at 31 minutes)
LEE Leonard (cat 3 at #21 at 25 minutes)
LEUNG Joyce (women – Queen !)
LIM Kai Wei (women – #9 at 40 minutes)
LIMOZIN Jerome (cat 3 – #20 at 24 minutes)
MARTIN Arnaud (cat 3 – #28 at 33 minutes)
ONG Almeric (cat 3 – #37 at 49 minutes )
REGALI Francesco (cat 3 – #29 at 33 minutes)
VARGUESE Sebastian  (cat 1 – #11 at 11 seconds !)
YANG Sunny (cat 3 – #53 at 61 minutes)
WEBER Max (cat 3 – #4 at  16 seconds !)

No podium this time but very close to it, a FEW seconds only for Spaz (Cat. 1) and Max (Cat. 3).  Let’s also give a Cat. 2 survivor kudos to Happy Holland Arno with no other JR support for a very respectable finish with a few minutes gap only !

Joyriders support !
Thanks a lot to Chor Yong and Wendy who were kindly helping out and really made sure we always could find snail support if we needed help ! And to thanks to Arnaud for booking us a JR guys room to shower and change, I am sure that avoided lots of problems back at SG customs…

Before going into the race details (at least my biased perspectives), let’s also go back and reflect on our preparation strategies.

Motivated by the regular Whatsapp encouragements from Spaz most of us employed 5 or more of the following (scientific ?) strategies…

1- Miles, more miles, more JR points, more strava kudos… (find JR on www.strava.com)
2- Hanging onto JR first trains…
3- Faber Loops or mini loops !
4- Clementi / Buena vista-arrh
5- Sweating it all out to take a nap after coastal or bailing out of round island.
6- B6B reckon training ride
7- Aquacycling (seriously with min. 50 cm depth…)
8- Cigars and Clubbing …

Clearly at this point, we need to confirm that : two or more of those were probably wrong !  I am sure Remus and Arnaud will concur.

Certainly for most of us (racing rookies), it has been lots of fun training and dropping off JR first train very consistently week-days and week-ends over the last few weeks … Until one day Sunny, Leonard, Arnaud, Jerome and I declared victory by surviving (~40 km/h average) from LH … all the way…to (Hmm well) … Mandai shell station !  Hu-(breathing)-rr-(breathing)-rr-(breathing)-ay  !!!

Retrospectively, the upside right now after surviving those 6 bridges (lots of ups and little downs) is that (by any Barelang standards) we now know for a certainty that our Thomson and Mandai road sections might really fit into the definition of downhills … so : sorry,  no more complaining !


On Getting there … :
-5 am : Newton to Harbour Front escorted for a few km by Snail King!
-6 am : Check-in, free coffee, free toast, pictures, toilet trip, more toilet trips and … oh … but where is Remus ?
-7 am : In the boat, shortest event briefing ever by Sean Hogan ( basically :’ride safe and eh… well you know what to do, any questions ?  No, great !’  – really cool) , sun cream, supply, fuel and sun glasses checks, more pictures, more toilet trips … Off the boat (still 7 am … welcome to Indonesia), drop the passport, drop the bag, get the timing chip, get a free banana, a free 100 plus, more toilet breaks, team picture, … on the bike and … ready to go !!!  Cycosport = redefined event organization efficiency.
-8 am-ish : Flag Off Ceremony. Thank you Mr Mayor and people of Batam for the support !
-Departing with 5-10 min intervals, good luck to all and Bye CAT 1,… “Tot zien” CAT 2 and JR lone rider Happy Holland …. Finally, off we go CAT3 and Ladies !


Rolling ! :
In style behind police with sirens full on, ambulance in the back and good spectators turn up, we cruise at 25-30 km/h towards a rolling start.  Placing this starting line at a good 12+ km away provided for an excellent warm-up and I guess allowed for a bit of sightseeing.

Soon enough the tourism stopped as we crossed the rather inconspicuous start line and gradually build up our speed towards 38 km/h which was still really comfortable at this point in time (but it wouldn’t last long …).  I took a position towards the front since I heard it was sort of a good idea to be able to see the front of the pack and also to minimize any domino effect fall chances…
To my great benefit, a few bus-frame-size-guys had the same idea.  Clearly, I didn’t make a scene and gladly let them slot-in right in front of me.



The first few hills were already impressive but with fresh adrenaline and still bearable temperature, we had build a bit of confidence and kept a fast pace.  For me, so much so that with my size and my downhill-weight-advantage non-carbon bike and wheels, I ended up at the very front and perhaps upped the pace unintentionally for a little while on those few downhill’s !!  Since I was there (at the front), I had a little fun with the picture truck guys before reminding myself how many km left we had still to do.  Rejoining my sort of favourite place a little behind the head of the race,  I realized who was working with who and clearly there were three very determined ladies in front with support guys.  They didn’t really seem to appreciate the additional work out on the downhill’s thanks to an aluminium-rookie …   No problem, I decided to behave and stay put behind them while looking around and finding some comfort by spotting that JR Max had the same idea.  The pace had anyway built up to 40+ for a while now and I reminded myself with a lot of regrets already about hydration an fuel !!!  The pack was now really more of a long train with a few gaps starting to appear.   Feeling a bit squished on the left of the road side I decided to move more in front with the riders in a single file.  Retrospectively that was certainly also a mistake since it’s way more exposed …  I can only but guess this was what Happy Holland was screaming to me when we crossed with the CAT2 head group a few km before the midpoint u-turn.  Approaching the U-turn (62 km out), I was convinced (same thing happened at OCBC) that the pace would increase right off the turn so I stayed right behind the head of the race (the 3 ladies and 6-8 guys incl. JR Max).   After few min. at a stronger pace, we were now in a break of about 20 or so riders.  I looked around a few times but could not see any other JR jersey expect for Max who really looked pretty relaxed still while I was starting to feel a bit of cramps.  Somehow I managed to stretch them out while on the bike … basically by standing up on the few downhill’s and by hitting my legs with my fists on the uphill’s.   I had no clue this would work but it did.  I saw someone taking a foot at a time off its cleats, good idea (I guess?) but there was no way I could keep up on one piston…


This CAT3 lead train now started to slow down, no body complained and actually no one really wanted to pull anymore except the few riders with support I talked about earlier.  30km or so after the U-turn everybody needed water at the same time and those motor cycle support dudes did a good job coming up and down our train. Unfortunately, there was a crash just behind my right hand side with someone getting a new bottle.  I can only guess that this rider was followed by another and that a pace change occurred when changing bottles…. (mental note : do NOT draft in a refuelling lane … !)  The sound of the crash was terrible and I have to say I felt really bad not to look back or not reaching out to help but I knew that any of my own sudden movement could cause another crash and there was an ambulance plus plenty of medical support for this event.  This occupied my brain for a while and by now we were 25 km to the finish line in a group of 10 guys + 3 women.  I still had to use my breaks at times on the downhill’s but I had now no more complex to move outside the train to be able to climb in the uphill side not really faster but with less efforts.  Clearly that really helped me because I had very little juice left in those legs…  Coming to the last 2-3 km.  5 guys decided to attack so my brain being too hot I decided to follow (wrong again !).  Clearly after that my tank was nearly totally empty but we could now see the final bridge so I thought one more hill, then down to the bridge … coming up what I thought was the last hill in a good place … whoops fatal error, there was still one more final short hill !!!  With nothing left, I dropped on that very last stretch…  I watched  Max still going very strong for a very good placing.  For a first real race (so excl. OCBC), I finished 10th, 50 second behind on top of the bridge… trying hopelessly to sprint barely managing 20 km/h  … !  Max finished 4th !!


Onto the parking, walking (…speed <1 km/h), we all battled for a cold 100+.  My lower back was now taking revenge on me and I wasn’t able to move much for a while.  I was glad to get some help from Chor Yong.  Had a chat with Max, what a really strong rider he still didn’t look very tired to me…  I also saw Happy Arno, I think he lost his English for while, ‘proficiat menheer’ Cat2 !
Thanksfully everybody arrived safe.  Refreshments including beers and food were more than welcome at the Golden Fish restaurant.  This is where the final mention goes to Jerome for waking up just in time to make the stage by winning a raffle prize.  We finally had one Joyrider on this stage ! Bravo !


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For final words, here are few memorable Tour de Barelang quotes:
– ‘But wheeeere is Remus ?’
– ‘Phil, perhaps you should pretend you’ve a flat tire already the event spare wheels are carbons…’
– ‘Eventually, this should go downhill. No ?’
– ‘YO ! Give me back my bottles, give them back !!! (to the water supply motorcycle dude)
– ‘Dad went on honeymoon to Batam with his bike!’
– ‘Oh Oh… how am I going to hold it ?’ (Toilet call 5 min. in the ride)
– ‘Sunday 6:20, then guys ?… Naww !!’ (Leonard and Almeric did … wow !)
– ‘The snail is cooked !’ .. or rather ‘les escargot sont cuits’

End of story … till next time.
See you at Long House and ride safe !

Philippe Gerard.