The CIMB Cycle events for this year were originally scheduled for 21st April 2018. The 14th General Elections got in the way, so the rides were postponed until 7th July 2018.
Read about the 2017 CIMB Cycle event here.
The start and finish were at the Sepang International Circuit, which hosted the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix for many years.
There were two CIMB Cycle options. Either the 90km Challenge Ride or the 160km Endurance Ride. The R@SKLs opted for the Challenge Ride.
In retrospect that was a good decision. A few of us had stayed up almost the entire previous night to watch the World Cup quarterfinals. One of us, having flown into Kuala Lumpur late on the eve of the ride, had to sleep in a chair at the airport after discovering that he had booked an airport hotel room for the wrong night.
The first of the R@SKLs got to the Sepang International Circuit at just after 6.00am.
Pretty in pink! With some men in the mix for gender balance!
The rest of us got caught up in the queue with 3,000 other participants, first, to get into the parking area, and second, to find a parking spot.
We all eventually made it to the starting point. I didn’t count how many were in our group. I reckon about 30.
The event was very well organised. The only complaint I had – and it is a common complaint of mine – is that we were flagged off late. One explanation I heard for this was that the start was delayed to give more time to those who got caught in the traffic jam to join the rest of us who were ready to roll.
The delay did give us more time for photographs though.
The Challenge Ride route started with a loop around the SIC race track, followed by a roughly 10km long speed-controlled stretch before we were all let loose on the road to Sepang.
The police and marshalls did an excellent job along the route. All junctions and intersections were actively manned, and traffic was stopped to allow riders to proceed uninterrupted. This alone is usually enough to win kudos for an event organiser. The police and marshalls at this event outdid themselves by taking traffic off the road completely whenever they could.
I estimate that for 80% of the route, the police and marshalls pulled vehicles over onto the road shoulders, giving riders a clear road.
This was fantastic for the participants. However, the organiser’s Facebook page quickly filled up with complaints from motorists who were delayed by the traffic controls for the event. Apparently, some people missed flights because they were held up while on the way to the airport.
Unlike last year’s CIMB Cycle event, there were no big climbs to get over this time. Nevertheless, the rolling terrain presented lots of short, punchy climbs. This was no flat easy run.
We were ready for the aid stations when they came along. More kudos to the organisers for having enough water, bananas and ice on hand.
By the time we got to the second aid station almost all the climbing was behind us. That was the positive. The negative was that it was hot. The heat was radiating off the road surface.
It felt even hotter during the final loop on the Sepang racetrack before the finish. I think we were all glad to pass under the Start / Finish banner.
Then it was time to cool off in the shade.
We all got finisher’s medals.
I must give a big shout out to Danial Lim, who backtracked a number of times along the route to make sure that all the R@SKLs to safely to the finish line. Thank you Danial.
Much appreciation also to Heng Keng, for helping the R@SKLs with registration for this event, and for picking up our race packs for us.
Heng Keng even managed to get us a photo opportunity with Zafrul Aziz, the CEO of CIMB Group Holdings (in the red shirt to the left) and Azizul Awang, the first Malaysian to win a UCI World Championship (in the red shirt on the right).
The highlight of the day was, as always, the camaraderie and laughter that is the hallmark of the R@SKLs.
A close second was the experience of riding on the Sepang track where Formula One champions like Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel, and Louis Hamilton once raced. The SIC does occasionally open the race track to cyclists. The R@SKLs may be back at the Sepang International Circuit the next time that happens.