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Pulau Indah 180 2016

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Banner

180km / 112mi is further than most organised rides.  An extra 20km / 12mi didn’t sound like much, especially as a few of us had made it through the 220km / 137mi brevet a couple of weeks before.  As it turned out, this ride was much more challenging than even the brevet was.

The attrition rate in an event is one sign of how challenging a course is.  592 riders started the Pulau Indah ride.  398 finished within the cutoff time of 7 hours 30 minutes.  So 33% of participants either did not finish, or finished outside the cutoff time.

The three of us rode together.  I missed the memo about the choice of jersey!  I can assure you that we didn’t look so cheery eight hours later.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Justin, Liang, JM Justin

What contributed to the attrition rate?  I think it was a combination of the road conditions,  the winds, and the mid-day sun.

As the name of the event suggests, the ride started and ended on Pulau Indah.  The island is separated from the mainland of peninsular Malaysia by the Straits of Lumut.  Pulau Indah is home to Westports, the largest sea port in Malaysia.  Together with Northport nearby, Westports has become the 18th busiest seaport in the world.  Pulau Indah is also home to an industrial park.

The side streets and the Pulau Indah Expressway carry a large number of cargo trucks everyday.  Which inevitably leads to potholes and cracks in the road surface, and then patch upon patch as the damage is repaired.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Route

The organisers did warn us about the poor roads during the technical briefing before the race / ride was flagged off.  I don’t think all the participants fully appreciated the warning, and some started out riding too fast for the conditions.

By the time we got to the bridge over the Straits of Lumut, a number of cyclists had suffered pinch flats or damaged carbon wheels.  There were lots of bidons on the road.  I also heard that there were a few crashes.  Signs that the roads were damaged and very bumpy.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Bridge

So the first contributor to the attrition rate came early.  Puncture a tubular tire, or crack a carbon rim, and your day is over.

The poor road conditions continued after we turned right onto Jalan Banting Klang. through to Banting town.  Things improved a bit along the coast after Morib, but concentration on the road and riders ahead remained very important over the entire course.  Even Cat’s Eyes could catch you out.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Cat Eyes Jack Mah

Photograph courtesy of Jack Mah

I think the energy spent constantly concentrating on the road conditions was energy that was not available to turn pedals later on in the event.

I must credit Central Spectrum SB for doing a fine job organising the Pulau Indah 180.   This was one of the better run events I have participated in.

Central Spectrum couldn’t do much about the roads, but they did very well with other aspects of the ride.  Directional signage to the start point was good.  Goodie bag pickup went smoothly.  There was free coffee, tea, and some munchies on offer before the start.

We started on time – hooray.  Always a good indicator that the organiser is on top of things.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Start Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

The directional signs along the route were large and clear.  Especially helpful were the signs warning of humps in the road.

The marshalling along the route was excellent.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Moto Marshalls Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Some busy roads through Banting were closed off to traffic, which made life less stressful for the riders.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Closed Road Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

We did have to ride with traffic in some places.  Again concentration was important.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Traffic XviCliX

Photograph courtesy of XviCliX


There was free food and drink at the finish.

Kudos Central Spectrum SB.

The first water station was 50km / 31mi into the event, on the south side of Banting.  Bananas, water, and 100 Plus were available.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Water Station XviCliX

Photograph courtesy of XviCliX

17km / 11mi later the three of us stopped at Morib for breakfast.  I was surprised that not more riders stopped at those food stalls beside the sea for a rest and some eats.

It had been overcast for most of the distance to Morib, so the riding had been comfortable.  We averaged about 30kph / 19mph to that point.  A bit faster than I had anticipated, but my average heart rate was only 107bpm.  I must have been drafting the entire way!

Conditions changed after Morib.  We were riding along the coast, and the wind was making itself felt.  It was my turn to pull, and started riding in the drops.  I was crouched low against the wind for much of the remainder of the course.  Which explains why my glutes are so sore today.

We chased down a group ahead of us, which gave us the relief of a draft.  I noticed a red Specialized Roubaix in the group, and wondered if it was Simon.


Photograph courtesy of Joy Saidin

A salute to the guy on the fatbike.  It must have been an effort to push those tires aound the course.

Simon and his girlfriend had found my blog, and had contacted me some weeks before the Pulai Indah 180.  Simon was making the trip from the UK to ride this event, and asked if he could rent a Roubaix in Kuala Lumpur.

The short answer is “no”.  The availability of rental bicycles in KL is extremely limited.  The only shop providing rentals that I know of is Cycleism in Taman Melawati.  They have Lapierre bicycles for rent, but only in size M.

Simon decided to bring his Roubaix with him to KL.  I didn’t manage to chat with Simon during the ride, but did see Farrah and him at the finish area.  It was very nice to chat with them.  I am pleased that we connected through this blog.

By the time we got to the second water station at 103km / 64mi, the sun was out, and the temperature was quickly rising to the predicted high for the day.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Weather

Graphic courtesy of Weather Underground

Some were better prepared than we were.  There was a contingent of rider friends from Van’s Urban Bicycle Co.  They had a support vehicle with, among other things, an ice chest full of drinks.  Certainly made our lukewarm mineral water look distinctly second-best.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Support Car William Cheang

Photograph courtesy of William Cheang

There was a time check at 110km / 68mi, right outside the Sepang International Circuit.  It would have been fun to ride a lap of the circuit as part of the route.

Hope for some relief flickered briefly at about the 120km / 75mi, when a light rain started to fall.  That lasted for all of a minute, after which normal sunshine resumed.

We were getting cooked, and wind hadn’t helped us.  We were hoping for a tail wind on the way back to Pulau Indah.  But the wind had turned, so we rode against it for most of the rest of the event.

A cold drink stop was in order.  We pulled into a PETRONAS station at 130km / 81mi.  A spot of air conditioning and three cold chocolate milks hit the spot for me.

We were starting to drag, as were many of the other riders around us.  This ride was becoming hard work.  I can’t imagine what it was like for the elite men and women, who were racing for cash prizes.  RM3,000 for the category winners.  Not to be sniffed at.

The third water station at 150km / 93mi couldn’t come fast enough.  Lukewarm water served to rinse salt off our faces.  Fortunately there was a row of shop houses behind the water station that provided a source of cold drinks, and some shade.

We lingered in the shade for longer than we probably should have, but the thought of another 30km / 19mi in the wind did not appeal.

It was hot.  It was windy.  The roads were bad.  It was hard work.  My average speed over the last 60km / 37mi dropped to 27.5kph / 17mph.  My heart rate went up to an average of 134.5bpm.

What a relief to see the 5km / 3km / 1km to go signs.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 3km Sign Catherine Wong

Photograph courtesy of Catherine Wong

The organizers were about to dismantle the timing gantry when I got to the finish.  I think I was the last finisher to get an official time.  Just a hair outside 7 hours and 30 minutes.

I could have used a spray down at the end of this ride, but the fire truck was long gone by the time I finished.  Not even a wet patch on the road remained to show that they had been there.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Bomba Cycling Malaysia Magazine

Photograph courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

For those of you into numerology, check out my ride number.

Pulau Indah 180 2016 Medal

Unfortunately it was D007 that won a prize in the post-ride lucky draw!