Ok, so the alarm was set for 04.30am this morning, and we had cut a lovely BBQ at friends short last night to get home and try and get some sleep, which we did, luckily.
I was pretty excited about my first big riding event! Not so worried about the 53k distance as about riding with so many other people, the organizers thought there would be about 300 riders.
Got up, got dressed and kitted out, had breakfast, got the bikes ready and loaded onto the truck, got all our "stuff", got our coffee to-go and off we went down to the Stadium. Apart from the "Bike Expedition" there was also a 2,5k Fun Run and a 5k run; and a 10k race and a 21k Half-Marathon race with price money awarded. They all started after us though, so I only saw a few of my running friends, because we were already off at 6am.
Here's my friend Hana and I before the start:
As it's all about look, I had borrowed some kit from Nathan, which had the Swedish colours on it! It's actually a team shirt for an English team, but hey - it was blue and yellow and had an angry viking on the front! I also borrowed the bib, since I wanted one that matched the grey in the shirt! So I wore a pair of Nathan's Swedish branded (Craft) bike shorts. I looked good!
Off we went! Pretty exciting!
I tried to get Nathan to take a few photos as we were riding along, but he's not really much of a photographer... We did take these at the end of the highway by Ripas, where we did the first "regroup stop" to keep the whole group together.
You see, as I've mentioned now a few times, it was not a race, but an expedition.
We had four marshalls riding as pacers at the front of the pack, and police on motorbike and support cars in front of them - not to keep the pace up, but keep the pace down so that everybody would be able to stick together!
As they don't close off the roads for these biking events, I guess this is the way they have to do it, and for me it was ok for a first "race" experience. I got very relaxed as I was riding along in the group, and after a while I started to just enjoy it - and even took back the camera and took some photos whilst riding myself! It was a lot to look at, funny bikes, funny people and other exciting things!
These guys for example to the left, had been pretty nifty and altered the race shirts and put on pretty pink back pockets on them! Clever!
Here's Nathan at one stage, he's in blue, and another Kiwi guy to the left of him. They looked good both in NZ riding shirts:
This guy upset me though. It wasn't just the fact that the organizers didn't stop him from riding although he didn't have a helmet - but why on earth would he choose to take part in a big ride like this and not wear one!?! Just plain stupid.
I guess they could have put the pace up just a little bit though, I am not joking when I say that I think I was rolling more than pedaling all together today!!
Because of the big group, and because they didn't want any gaps, you had to pedal to keep up of course, but then roll or even hit the break frequently not to run into someone. Poor Hana even got a blister from all the breaking! Ha ha!
Here I am while passing the Istana. The weather was just perfect, nice and cloudy and not too hot. A great day for a time consuming ride like this!
At 31k we had a stop for... makan! (= food) Again, it was time to regroup, you could go to the toilet, have some juice, water or raisin bread, shake your legs. A last regroup was finally done at 47k so that we would re-enter the Stadium in a big nice group!
The makan stop at Jerudong Park:
Hana had her name on her bike, very cool:
Last regroup stop by Little Gadong, now only a few kilometers to go:
All in all the ride took us about 2h54min (!), and that was excluding the stops (we were out 3h35 all together...)! Of course by the time we got back all the runners had finished their races since a long, long time already, so I didn't catch up with anybody then either..! :/
But I did find this guy with the same shirt as me!
Anyway, I so enjoyed this morning!
It was nice in many ways for me, nice to go easy and slow and get familiar with my bike, and it was nice to see how riding together in a big group worked. Every time when there was something on the ground, or when the group stopped, hit the breaks or someone fell over - different hand signals and sounds were made to call attention. Good for me to see and learn all that in a very relaxed environment like this.
It was also exciting for me to ride along roads I would never go riding on without this safety in numbers and escorting police! Although I do think it should be doable to close off the roads and organize a proper race, all the roads we used today were dual lane anyway, and traffic wasn't heavy that early on a Sunday morning.
Finally I enjoyed chatting with other fellow riders - everybody was very friendly. Not many women though, I think we only spotted about 10 girls riding in total.
It's important too I think, to take part and support these kind of happenings here in Brunei, to keep them happening! They are truly getting better and better and the organization today was flawless, very well done. Plus, it was all for charity, win-win.
Thank you Nathan for coming with me. Not a biggie for you I know, but it was a first for me! :)