2005 MDHS-GP RaceSpeda #1
Fraser's Hill climb, 05 June 2005

by Darren Lee | photos by Kharis "Big Easy" Idris

Pic © Big Easy

Well, last Sunday's MDHS (Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor)-GP RaceSpeda race up Fraser's Hill wasn't something I really want to write about, but since there's been a request and some photos ....

Kuala Kubu Baru, located at the foot of Fraser's Hill and otherwise known as KKB, is fast gaining a reputation as bike racer-friendly. Starting with the MDHS Sprinter road race back in 2003, the town has hosted at least one race a year and this year's event is the second up Fraser's, the first being in 2004. Being an uphill race (the last 30km goes skywards) you can bet it is a favourite amongst the climbers. And why not? 30km is long enough to get rid of even your most dogged rivals, that is, if you have what it takes to pull it off.

Last year I had Yeang "Red Shorts" with me but this year I travelled down alone, which in some ways is good but isn't much fun (and safe) when you start getting drowsy at the wheel. I'm happy to say I made it in one piece to the Cyberjaya Cycling Resource Centre (also known as Melvin's house) to spend the night. I arrived to find Mel washing his bike and his many many wheelsets (how can someone who's not a professional have so many wheels??). Depending on your outlook, you have either a luxury or headache of choosing which wheels to use.

The next day, we arrived in KKB in good time. And I could leisurely set up my bike and get changed - which was great compared to my last outstation race when I arrived with barely half an hour to spare and everything was one _big_ rush. My team captain Jordan was already there handing out numbers to team members.

Bikes, anyone? Pic © Big Easy

Five minutes before the start, race director Big Easy came "on stage" to deliver his briefing. The race is 60km long compared to 48km last year. I start to worry because I ran out of water last year and with an additional 12km this year, I am sure to be thirsty again (I'd like to thank the BikePro bloke who handed me a bottle of cold water about 5km from the finish).

We are on time to start the race. For once I position myself near the front - in fact, close enough to take out my TheDuh-HandPhoneCam(tm) to snap some last minute photos ...


In short, the race was very painful. Initially, keeping up with the pack was manageable during the first 30km of flats and mild rolling terrain around KKB town. Although I didn't look back much, I gathered everyone else (200+ riders) kept up too. At the 30km mark we hit the first climb, which although was quite gentle, caused people to start dropping off like flies. I picked my way though the slowing riders and kept up with the leaders over the shaded areas and onto the open roads bordering the dam.

I would say that the pace set by the leaders was just relentless. There weren't any attacks to make a selection and neither was one needed, really. The tempo was just kept steady and high - and you'd get dropped simply because you couldn't hold the pace.

Pic © Big Easy

Last year I got left behind on the open roads around the dam, which wasn't a pleasant experience at all because I had cracked physically as well as mentally. At the time I did not know how far the vicious mini climbs around the dam would go on and consequently my mind just gave up on me. When that happens all you'd want to do is to stop and climb off - the broom wagon is always there! This year I got dropped at around the same point, again (dang!), but at least I kept on pedalling and did manage to keep the leaders in sight until they disappeared for good four or five corners later. After being dropped for good I had for company the ever-stylish Doc Adrian and some other guys so it wasn't a lonely ride to the start of the Fraser's climb proper (at 20km to go).

At the beginning of the final climb I was alone again as severe lower back pain prevented me from following Doc & gang. A little while later Swee Loong, who was pacing eventual women's winner Marianna, came by. Thoughts of getting a paced ride to the finish was certainly nice but I couldn't even keep up with them. Later the back pain got so bad that I stopped for a while for some stretching (and that cost me a few more positions, but it didn't really matter at that point did it?).

As it turned out I was alone for most of the 20km climb. The only time I had company was when I caught riders in front of me and left them behind, or when riders behind caught up with me and left me behind! In the spirit of camaderie, I would encourage slower riders to keep up with me just as riders faster than me would ask me to keep up with them. It doesn't matter whether you could or not, a little bit of encouragement can go a long way.

I found myself constantly checking the odometer and wondering when the 2km-to-go mark would arrive. Then the 1km mark. It's not a good sign at all when you find yourself doing that. Anyway, the pitiful slog finally ended when I crossed the finish line. I had a guy stick to my wheel for the last few kilometres and I let him cross first. Like I said, there wasn't a prize for a position that far back :-).


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