Re: Sonic Sports - Thailand Bike Race
Well the truth is hard to know where to start!!
Multi stage racing is certainly an experience although I'm not sure there were many moments I would have called fun!!
Although in some respects it was very well organised, communication was very piecemeal so I felt like I spent most of the first two days trying to chase what was going on. By the end we had a pretty smooth routine and felt like we'd been doing this together for years!
Having said that the first nights hotel was lovely and we started with a pre-race dinner buffet on the outdoor terrace overlooking the river. We were all in bed by 9:30 to rest up for the 5:30 wake up call.
Next morning we had to pack up and put our bags away and cycle to the Egat headquarters where the race started. It was good to have a chance to warm up but still had to wait about half an hour for registration and the helicopters with the media to arrive so we could start!!! I was very nervous and had no idea what to expect but was cheered by the news that we had a 14km 'neutral zone' before they separated us for the category starts.
The rest of my 'team' was in the 30-39 group so I was very much on my own, however as there were only four girls out of 140odd competitors we were put with the 50+s. I held a fond hope that this might mean they wouldn't be as competitive, but only in relative terms! Straight off from the gun the politics started, manoevring for position, breakaways, mad sprints, breaking draft lines and everyone doing their best not to 'pull'. The first day was 105km and I managed to keep up with the peleton until the last 20km where they broke away at 55kph+ and of course completely taking me by surprise. I soon discovered that not only do you have to watch the road in front of you, the cyclist arounds you and in front, but also legs of the front of the peleton as the only notice you have of a break away is tightened legs muscles and suddenly the've accerated 20kph in 3 seconds! Amazing
The second day I was starting to get the hang of it a bit more but still hated the politics - its so frustrating to have to slow down to 20 only to shoot off at 55 within a couple of seconds - not something that I had trained for and all my lovely base training was absolutely useless. Neither had I trained to go 30 up hills so was soon lost on the second day. The Thai lady blatantly cheated to come third grrr as well as drafting me for 50km then shooting past me at the last 100metres but I knew at that point that I was much stronger so wasn't too worried about losing her on the hills the next day.
The third stage was definately the hardest with pouring, blinding rain, gusting winds and 50kms of hills. It was also the most pleasant as we left the main roads and winded our way through the hills on a narrow country lanes. Was fighting for second for about half the race but hard to know as my competitor had got a flat tyre and had been taken up the pack by moped - I think they were trying to make sure she wasn't penalised for the flat but I sure would have loved a bit of a rest and a ride up a few of those hills!!! The Thai lady dropped out at this stage so I knew i was guaranteed at least 3rd place!!
Although the first two days had felt pretty easy after the hills I was getting tired and just wanted to get the award ceremony and lunch over with as quickly as possible. Even so I managed to get at least 10 minutes run in after each stage so my brick training didn't suffer. Everyday we had to stop by and pick up the boys at the next finish (about 40km on) and then go on to the elite finish (another 30km) where we had lunch and the award ceremonies for the stage. We then went on to the hotel where we had to unpack, get the bikes and wash our clothes for the next. Somehow the days were really busy and there wasn't as much time to relax as I was expecting. The third day we had checked into our rooms and everything when they told us we were at the wrong hotel! I think we were all ready to cry. Nevertheless after a nice hot bath and a little nap we were ready for the goodbye banquet with music, entertainment and a showing of the race video. I am a celebrity!! ha ha
By the fourth day about a third of the race participants had dropped out, we were now a small band indeed, and breakaways were less dramatic as everyone was tired. however we were still cruising at 35-45 for over two hours with only a few breaks where we slowed down a bit. We then separated as we attacked the last 8km to the finish line - straight up hill and absolutely relentless. I was so pleased to have my little police escort as it meant I could zigzag across the road to my hearts content. I have no idea how far I was behind the other girls but was just so pleased to have finished my first bicycle tour!! 100 + 90 + 90 + 100
We just had time to change, pack the bikes and collect our awards before we had to rush back to Bangkok to catch our flights home. The reservoir where we finished had amazing views and made me realise how high we had climbed in the last two days. An excellent feeling of accomplishment.
I would definately recommend Sonic takes a team next year as if there is enough of you it doesn't matter what the rest of the pack is doing. It is fully supported and each peleton has several water carriers and spare wheelsets. The roads are cleared, the course is clearly marked and everyone is kept track of by walkie talkie so you will never get lost or left behind. Each team has a van with a Thai interpreter and driver. They check you in hotels, help you organise your stuff, take you to dinner and basically babysit you and treat you like royalty. For me as a vegetarian there wasn't enough to eat and you are responsible for taking your own nutrition and sports drinks but considering that this is run and organised by keen amateurs its an amazing deal for 1200HKD. I met some lovely people and learnt so much - it will certainly be an experience I will never forget.
These races need your support to survive and I hope I can inspire a few of you to consider joining next year.
If I can do it- anybody can
See you at Tour Egat 2008
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