My weekly routine usually involves me out the door just after the kids go to school for a relaxing aerobic ride. Which means sticking in Heart Rate Zone 2 for an extended slow ride. But today was a little different, instead of my usual loop I headed to the course for this Sunday’s OCBC Road Race Challenge.
The 6 kilometre circuit is in Singapore’s North behind Seletar Airport, on a wide open piece of tarmac. Depending on the age group, riders will either 2, 4, 6 or 7 laps of the fairly flat circuit. The only really highlights are bridge at the start finish line, which acts as to small climbs, and the two tight hair pin turns. Leaving limited options for race strategy; will we see a team breakaway or a bunch sprint for the finish?
I rode the circuit between 9:30am and 10:30am today (Monday), just as the day was warming up. For the early races, expect a reasonable temperature, but for those at 10:30am expect temperatures to ride and the sun to be hot. Today’s wind at that hours was noticeable but not overwhelming.
As the circuit is surrounded my construction sites, the road quality varies. Riders will need to be on a lookout for two forms of obstacles:
- Concrete Clusters: Small piles of harden concrete that have fallen off trucks. These are mainly along the edges of the road, and the majority are easily avoided. But hitting the wrong ones could easily puncture a tyre. The largest I found was on the inside of the left hand bend about 1.5 kilometres from the start/finish bridge.
- Debris: The road is scattered with debris that has likely fallen off a truck. The most common being clusters of metal wire. Something that hunts cyclists all around Singapore as they roll through industrial zones. I’m assuming that race organiser will clean this up before the race, but best to be on the look out during your warm-up. Please be kind to fellow riders, and if you find anything, throw it off the road.
Unless you’ve noticed something I haven’t (remember my racing skills are still those of an infant), then the most likely places on the circuit for breakaways will be:
- Start/Finish hairpin and bridge: This is probably the most demanding section of the circuit. You’ll come down off the bridge and approach the hairpin turn at the traffic light, before going back up over the bridge. The climb is only short, but it’s enough to put some distance on your rivals. If you add the previous climb up the bridge before the finish line, a strong team or rider could quickly create a significant gap over the peloton. During a normal morning’s traffic, I didn’t get a chance to attack the hairpin as a dodge a constant flow of trucks
- Turn around hair pin. This tight hairpin will have even the most skilled riders testing the limits of their cornering skills. The less experienced riders should take this corner with caution on the early laps. While those with fast cornering skills, might see this as an opportunity to breakaway from the peloton. As the actual turn wasn’t setup, I could only imagine where the turn will be. I do know it will be before the road divider starts on the other side of the bridge.
Overall, it’s fairly clean piece of tarmac that will play host to over 100 riders this weekend. It’s going to be exciting to see racing in Singapore. We all hope this is the start of many more events to come.
If you’re coming down. Be sure to support the other riders, cheer them as they speed past. As pedestrian access is limited, we all need to support each other. I’m excited, are you?
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