Some of you may have read on Facebook that I participated in a race this past Sunday on February 20th, 2011. It was an all-day event consisting of one mountain bike event -- called the Jamboree --, and 3 road bike events -- called Criterium races. The Jamboree was the first event of the day and was scheduled to start and 10. Riders were to be at the starting grid by 9:45 a.m.
Alright, before you go on, I'm going to rant about the flaws of the event before the good part. So if you want to skip the bad, go to paragraph 7 (not counting this paragraph & the one above).
By 9:30, there were still around 30 people who hadn't received their race number and transponders. No, it's not that so many people showed up, overwhelming the organizers. It was the sheer inefficiency of the organizer's themselves. In short, the registration was an absolute mess. The counters weren't properly labelled, the chain of command was all over the place, there was hardly anyone in charge & the way they split the counters was ridiculous.
For example, there were 4 counters; 2 for registration (let's call them Counters #1 & #2), 1 for payment (Counter #3), 1 for collection of race number & transponder (Counter #4). Sounds simple? That part is. Now stay with me, Counters #1 & #2 were split such that Counter #1 handles group as well as individual registrations. Counter #2 handles individual registrations ONLY. And there was only a small label on the counter you could only see once it was your turn. So for those who wanted to do group registration but ended up in the individual registration line would've obediently waited until his/her turn came only to be told that he was in the wrong line.
Counter #3 was smooth, duh. All you did was pay up RM30 per event. Counter #4 is where the trouble begins. After standing in line for 10 minutes, only 3 people had collected their race number & transponder. There was another 7 people in front of us & about 20 behind us. And the line was growing almost literally by the minute. At 9, we still hadn't moved so the organizers asked those participating in the Jamboree to step aside & form a new line, presumably we would get priority because our event started in 45 minutes and there were A LOT of us. 2 minutes later, we're asked to go back in line. So everyone lost their spot. Nice going. That was still bearable, though.
They did it a 2nd time. This time, they left us standing there like idiots for 20 minutes. No one at the counter, NO ONE said ANYTHING. We were standing IN A LINE facing the bloody counter for 2o minutes & no one bothers asking, "Excuse me, why are you guys standing there?"
Not a fucking soul.
Everyone bitterly went back in line. Luckily for me, my dad was in line because he had to collect the race number & transponder for the Criterium races the rest of my family would be participating in. After talking to some of the regualr participants of the event, they said this was the case every year. That makes 3 years in a row. Nice going. The only reason some people bear with it & come back is because you get to win free F1 tickets if you win any event. As well as cash. The kids got RM300 for 1st place but I'm not sure how much the adults stand to win.
-Deep Sigh-. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can tell you about the fun part. Hehe!
The Jamboree was a 42km event broken into 3, 14km laps. Each lap starts at the start/finish line on the circuit, goes in the opposite direction than the F1 races, exits after the first bend behind the stands, goes into the ring road around Sepang International Circuit before leading up a climb into the oil palm estate. By the time you get there, your legs are already burning after the massive climb. The initial off road part allows you to regain your breath before dumping you into a steep & sketchy descent. You exit and reenter the plantation once. During the reentry, you're faced with this steep, straight climb. It must've been like a 45 degree incline. I never made it pedalling. Heh heh. That was a confidence bruiser. At least almost no one else did. After that is a fast, rough off double track till the ring road again where you reenter the circuit. In the circuit, you have to go all the way around, doing virtually the whole lap back to the start/finish line. Repeat another 2 times. Hehe!
Overall the off road part was a ton of fun. For me, it was the circuit that was the real killer. Fuh. Anuar Manan, local cycling hero was also there! I managed to take pictures with him! He also joined the jambore. That guy is fast. On the 3rd lap, me and several other riders were told that a winner was already crowned so if we wanted to, we can double back to the track or push on. About 6 of us decided to. For me, the final section on the circuit leading to the finish line was pure hell. Sweet, pure hell.
As I wrote earlier, Anuar Manan was there. He participated in the Jamboree as well as under the Men's Open category for the Criterium. He's one strong and fast rider. Clinched 6th place for Jamboree and 2nd for the Criterium. A friend of ours, Ijad also did both but he couldn't finish the Men's Open. It's exhausting.
Ijad, my brother, Anuar Manan, & myself
Halfway through the Men's Open Criterium, Tun Dr. Mahathir came to watch. He came and stood at the pit stop with everyone else to watch the riders zip by. It was amazing to see him. All of us managed to shake his hand. My mom even managed to take a picture with him.
All in all, I rate the event as average. The races are awesome but in terms of event management, a lot is left to be desired.
That's all for now, au revoir.