Rock to Rock Run 2013 Race Report

Rock to Rock Run 2013

The Rock to Rock Run 2013 is a charity event with all the profits from this run donated to a local school, SJK(C) Permatang Tinggi, Bukit Mertajam, Penang. There were two run categories, the 3.8km Fun Run which my lady joined and the 10.2km Competitive Run which I joined. The fun run promise a mystery gift at the end of the line while the competitive run promises a medal. As I have not joined the previous 4 runs before, I didn’t know what to expect, except that there is also a best dress category and people go all out on this. The event only take 2200 participants and so right after the registration was open, I quickly registered for myself and family. Many of my office colleagues also joined and many were also disappointed because they procrastinated too long and the registration was closed.

The race pack collection was a week before the event and held in front of the Rock Shop Bungalow at the Hard Rock Hotel Penang. The race pack had only the Run Shirt, which is made by Brooks two tiny pins and a whole stack of sponsor adverts / discount vouchers. The shirt was a light weight polyester material and look great, it felt comfy and nice also, however, after the run, it was another story and I will talk about that more later.

We woke up early and only had little sleep the night before. All due to the race excitement and I myself wasn’t sleeping much. I’ve yet to overcome the race day excitement to get a good night rest. We arrived at about 6.00am and got a nice parking spot on the roadside opposite the hotel. The event site was still relatively quiet with the organisers still setting up and not many participants has arrived yet. We first collected our wristband. The organisers insisted the bib to be worn and has to be in front before giving out the wristband. My sister inlaw had the bib pin at the back of her shirt and she had to move it to the front before getting her wrist band. The uncle and aunties at the wrist band distribution centre was very ascertain to have the bib infront. I didn’t understand why at first, later at the finishing line I understood why. At the finishing line, the aunty had to write down the top 10 finisher bib numbers as they come in. She has to do it quick and imagine the stress where you have a few participants coming in at the same time. There was one runner with her bib moved to the back and the aunty was screaming at her for her bib number.

After collecting the wristband, there was nothing else to do but wait, stretch and move around the sponsor tents. Luckily I brought some money. We bought the Hard Rock Pink Umbrella and car sticker in support of Pinktober (Pink October Breast Cancer Month), a running short pants and shirt from Brooks booth for RM30 each. Right at 7am, the event gun of and 2200 runners flood the narrow and winding road. We ran on the road as if the road belongs to us, well, it was a closed road, so everyone just ran. I pity the other road users who had to wait for quite a while before the road re-opens.

Rock to Rock Run 2013

View from the Run

I log the run using two devices. On my left hand, my gps cycling computer Cateye Stealth 50 and on the right hand, my iphone 3gs with Strava Run app. I wanted to try out my cycling computer to see if I can export the gpx file after the run and import into Strava. It works great to my surprise. I did not expect the run route to be so hilly and I was telling my sister inlaw that this is an easy run for her. I was wrong and surprise as there was quite a few ascend and descend to the Butterfly Farm, which is the 5km mark and u-turn. My initial goal was to run non-stop to the 5km mark and so I push myself km by km navigating the narrow winding roads. I was pushing and waiting for the body to give way, it didn’t, well, not till the 7-8km mark where I really felt that I’ve ran out of energy. I was keeping the mind busy and not think of stopping. I came up with a nice quote. “You run till the body tells you to stop, not when the mind tells you to stop!” I was waiting for my muscle to give way or running out of breath. Both did not come, just my mind keep asking me to stop. It was a battle to conquer the mind.

There was a water station at the Butterfly farm, it was the only water station. I took a brief stop to down two cups of water before pushing on. At this point, my legs felt like jelly, especially right after I stop. I just push on with a combination of run walk run walk till I completed the race. An hour into the run, I was at the 7.7km point and the run back was not as pleasant as it started. The road was already open at this point and there were cars and buses smogering us while we try to complete the run. I was surprise that I maintain an average steady pace of 7.43/km and I manage to complete the run in 1hr 22 min.

Rock to Rock Run 2013

Fancy Dress Runners

Right after the run, we hang around the hotel car park taking free Milo, 100 Plus and bought some dehydrated crispy longan from Thailand. I met up with my work colleagues and cam whore a few photos with our company banner. As the heat start to take a toll on us, we went across the street malay stall for some roti canai and teh tarik. After a quick bite, we decided to go home and gave up our hope for winning the lucky draw. It was a good and enjoyable run and maybe next year, I will come with a costume to win the nice guitar medal… 

Other Runners Comments & Photos:


Thor’s Running Journey 

Penang Butterfly Farm

Rock to Rock Run Facebook (Loads of Photos)

CFAL 5th Edition 2013

This is the 5ft time G-Club is organising CFAL and its my 3rd time participating in it. Last year, I finish the entire course in 4hrs 19m with the Fixie. While it is tempting to repeat it, I decided to take the Road Bike instead. I wanted to find out how fast I can finish the course and also look to improve the timing. All the excitement kept me up almost all night and as a result, I only manage to catch snippets of sleep. The adrenalin kicks in and by 6.10am, I was already at the starting line waiting for my friends.

CFAL 5 2013

Sharp at 7am, the Chief Minister flag off the three thousand riders and we started at a steady pace. The pace continue till we hit the Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu Highway where I signal my friends to speed up to 30kmph. I was leading the pack and by the time we come to the Penang Bridge, I took a photo of my rear and to my surprise, they were not there. They were having a hard time to keep up due to their mountain bike smaller wheel set.  I slowed down a little and told them that I am going to push on to shoot for a record time and continue with the journey.

CFAL 5 2013

Coming into Queensbay, dark clouds was visible at the southern part of the island and I made a brief stop to pack all my electronics into plastic. Soon enough, when I arrived at Automotive Lighting, it started to rain. The rest of the journey were laced with spots of rain which felt refreshing and at one point, which is at the Teluk Bahang Dam area, where the rain is the heaviest, one start to challenge nature on weather this is the best It got.

CFAL 5 2013

At the hour mark, I arrived at Kampung Sungai Batu, which was ~26km from the starting point. This was just a couple of km before the first water point. I manage to grab the Red Bull and a couple of bananas from the first water station and pushes on. As I brought my own 100plus and water, I did not take more water from this station. This water station also mark the beginning of the Bukit Genting climb. From the water station, it was a slow ascend, about 1km on, the road bend right and the category 4 climb appears. The climb was only about 3km long, but the gradient is so steep that I had to stop and push the bike many rides previously. This time I stayed on the bike and paddle on with a steady pace of 9-10kph. I keep telling myself that the climb will be over soon, it felt like forever and as the road bend left and then right again, I could see the peak ahead, it was just another short 300m to go and I pushes on. Many stop at the peak taking a break or cigarette break, I just continue on and enjoy the fast and winding descend. I was reaching the speed of 52kph and I started to slow down as the road becomes narrower. We had to turn a hard left right at the bottom to go to Pulau Betong. This is the flattest and most straight stretch of the entire route. This is also where all the road bikes overtaking the mountain bikes with lower wheel size.

I was relaxing a little here and enjoyed the village and paddy field view. Before I know it, I arrived at the second water station. Here I took one can o f 100Plus, down it, got the can into the trash and moved on. At this point, there were some sun and the heat start to get to me. The cold 100Plus was refreshing. I arrived at Kampung Sg. Pinang 5 minutes ahead of my target time of 2hrs. This is the start of the second daunting climb, the Teluk Bahang Climb, which is 6km long. Last year when I arrived at this point, there was a guy holding a sign saying 6km climb ahead, my heart sank at that time. I knew what I was getting into this time round and was better prepared. Know what to expect, the climb still felt endlessly long. Similar to Bukit Genting climb, the pain is rewarded with beautiful scenery. As I was pushing for time, I only enjoyed the micro glimpse of the view. After the climb, the long descend was rewarding and equally dangerous. The road was slippery and many slip and fell.  At one point one support truck stopped in the middle of the road helping a cyclist who fell to load the bike into the truck. Me and a few cyclist lock our brakes and my rear tyre skidded right. Fortunately, I was in control and nothing happen. I had a fright of my life as I thought I would fall. I guess I need to learn to skid more.

Coming down to the Teluk Bahang Dam, the rain was the heaviest. By the time I reach Ferringhi, I was quite spent. I remembered I had some sultanas which I had prepared for the ride and I took them. It only manage to give me small burst of energy and I had to keep consuming it. It was awfully sweet, so taking a whole bunch of them was difficult. Nevertheless, the pack of sultanas took me to the finishing line. I finally clock 3.5hrs for the entire ride beating last year’s time. I was glad to see my wife waiting for me at the finishing line with the camera.

CFAL 5 2013

I collected my medal and look for a place to sit and rest. My friends later came in after the 4hr mark and the clouds was gone and the heat start to set in. The lucky draw started and the organisers had to make a last minute change where they call the names instead of numbers as many riders number flew off their bikes after the rain wet the paper stickers and made it soft. Through out the Southern part of the island, the road was filled with lucky draw numbers. I walk away empty handed this year. It was ok, as I had achieved my goals and enjoyed the entire ride. Kudos to G-Club for this event, I hope there will be another CFAL 6 next year.

CFAL 5 2013

CFAL 2013 Pack Collection

After one year of training and waiting, CFAL 2013 is right at the doorsteps. In less than 24hrs time, thousands of cyclist will throng the streets and be the traffic. I am as excited as ever. This year, with a road bike, I am looking to beat my last year’s performance. 

I arrived at the goodie bag collection early this year at 10.30. It was already quite crowded, but mostly from participants that hang around and test the jersey sizing. I collected my packs without having to queue like last year. So, it pays to be early. There was a few stalls from sponsors, Nich, a Thai bike custom company was displaying two of their bike models. They will be opening a branch in Penang soon. There was also the mytriathlonshop selling endurance sports essentials. QuickSport, another endurance specialist shop was also there. 

The Goodie Bag this year came in MaplePlace Restaurant sponsored red bag. In the bag, the Jersey, made by Ciclista, a nice bookmark, a GoGood granola bar, Deep Heating pain relieving cream, lucky draw number sticker, food coupon, medal coupon, Blackball discount coupon, Thule & PC Bike Shop Brochure and the Event Booklet. 

With this I am all set for tomorrow. Carbo loading tonight… 

Totobobo Filter

I came across Totobobo while searching for a filter to combat the haze in Penang. I wanted to continue cycling when the haze came, and didn’t want to stop because of lung cancer worries. Googling for Cycling Mask returns the popular Respo Mask as the top search, but further down is where I found Totobobo. I was initially attracted by the entry price. It is much cheaper than Respo and much more breathable.

To no surprise, the filter darks up as reported by the London Cyclist. When I put the filter under a microscope, I could see all the tiny carbon particles sticking to the fiber of the filter. The filters have electrostatic charges and this helps it to attracts the carbon particles. I have also taken a photo of the filter after 4.2hrs of usage. This is where I stop and change the filter as I believe, the filter looses the filtering efficiency as more and more particles are getting through.

I tried to improve the filter efficiency by using two 92% filter back to back. My theory is, I can get a filter efficiency up to 99.35% (92% + [8%x0.92]). Though I could not prove 99.35% efficiency, but I did notice that the second layer of filter do darkens quite significantly, and I am definitely getting a filtering efficiency of more than 92%. The caveat in doing this is that I broke the filter holding clips because the thickness of the two layers of filter.

I am horrid by the carbon particles that goes into my lung. Without this filter, I would have been inhaling the particles and these tiny particles may get traps in the inner catacombs of my lung.  Not sure what long term damage this could do to my lungs, but it is better not to have them there.  Totobobo is now my cycling companion, together with my gloves, shoe and helmet.

Campaign For A Lane 4th Edition 2012

I arrived at the Penang Esplanade just before 6.30am and the crowd was already swelled. By the time I meetup with Kenny and go to the starting line, we were already at the end of the peloton. The sun was peaking out during flag off and within minutes, the sky brightens up. The entire Weld Quay street was filled with cyclist and it becomes more scattered on the coastal highway. By the time we reach Queensbay, there were already people stopping. Not sure if they were giving up or waiting for friends. The skin starts to feel the heat of the sun, but the air is still cool. I was already breathing profusely, but i did not feel an ounce of tiredness. All my friends were all way ahead of me and I was cycling alone at this point onward.

I reach the back of the airport in about an hours time. By t this time, the air starts to heat up and more cyclist stops and wait for the truck. The ride up to this point was smooth. Thanks to the traffic controllers of the event, I did not need to stop at any traffic light. This is one of the reason why I like to join such events, where we can ride non-stop. Just after the Bayan Lepas town to Gertak Sanggul, was a horrible accident involving a motocycle, truck and a car. The entire traffic stands still and us cyclist have to get down from our bike and push our way through.  I was impatient and shouted to ask everyone to continue walking and dont stop and take photos. I didn’t want to loose momentum.

This is the end of flat roads and rolling hills begins. I was able to concur all the hills, but not Bukit Genting climb. This 2km climb was steep and I was only able to cycle up to midpoint, I had to get down from my bicycle to push. This part of the journey was also very scenic. Just before the climb was the first water station distributing 100plus. When I got there, the station was flagging people on as they have already ran out of drinks. I push on as the next water station is at botanica ct, not that far away.

The Balik Pulau segment of the ride was flat roads and I was wheezing through many cyclist. I learnt from my friends later that they were struggling on the flat roads on their mountain bikes because of the wide tyres. They were saying that many road bikes and even foldable bikes were overtaking them like crazy at this point. The second water station was jam pack and the organizers should have look for a location with wider roads. Nevertheless, I got a bottle of water and 2 bananas from this station and moved on.

I spotted Vans Urban Bike riders after Bkt Genting and tried to keep up with them.  Just as I lost them ahead of me, I arrived at the end of Jalan Sg. Rusa. At this Junction there is a temple and coffeeshop and a guy holding a sign “6km Climb Ahead”. My heart drop when I saw this sign. The previous 2km climb was already gruesome, this would be worst I thought. I was not feeling tired and my legs were still spinning with a constant cadence, so I was not defeated just yet. The long climb was hard, at occasions, I have go get down to push the bike, but before long I get back up and continue.  The climb almost took all that I got and I reach the eventual peak. The downhill was short lived and another set of rolling hills started.

I was tired by then, and the heat started to take a toll on me. My ass hurts from the seat and my shoulder felt like a heavy burden. The trees along the way does provide a quick relief, but it does not help on the heavy burden felt on my shoulders. I keep telling myself that I am almost there, to give up now would have been a waste. Every little rolling hill becomes painful and even flat road is difficult because of the heat. I arrived at the finishing line at 11.19am, clocking 4hrs and 19minutes for the entire ride. I was glad that it was over and most of all, I made it. I have cycled round island 82.8km long on a Fixie, fixed gear bicycle. It was a personal achievement and I even outlast my iphone which went dead after 47km. I was surprise to find out later that my friends finished at 11am sharp, which is only 19minutes ahead of me.

Other Cyclist Experience:
United Nation of Runners
Prima Riders
Samosaurus Chronicles