Late for Nowhere

From life in Southeast Asia to backyard adventures in Kodiak, Alaska

Nay Pyi Taw cycling weekend: My races

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There I am: the fat white guy in the middle of the group.

The second round of the year-long Cycle and Make a Difference Charity Series was held in Nay Pyi Taw on January 24 and 25, featuring races for both road cyclists and mountain bikers.

I had been doing a fair amount of cycling throughout December and January, but many of the competitors were residents at the youth training camp in Nay Pyi Taw. I was interested to see how my 47-year-old lungs and legs would hold up against the young locals who were training for the Southeast Asia Games scheduled to be held in Singapore in June.



The road race on January 24 was short and fast, starting with 35 kilometres (21.7 miles) on flat roads before tackling the steep, unrelenting 8km climb to the peak of the inappropriately named Mount Pleasant. I had little trouble keeping up with the main group on the flat section, despite speeds hovering in the 40-50kph range: My advantage over the young riders was my racing experience, and I was able to hide in the middle of the peloton without expending too much energy.


This all changed when we reached the bottom of the hill, by which time we had shed about 20 rider out of the 50 or so who had started the race. Once we hit the slopes, there was nowhere to hide: I was one of the first riders to be ejected out of the back, and all I could do was pedal at my own pace while I watched the young, fit national-level riders disappear up the road.

I eventually finished in 27th place (1h 24m 46s) overall, and in 5th place in the Over-26 age group. Chit Ko Ko, 23, was first across the finish line in the men’s race with a time of 1hour, 15 minutes and 55 seconds, while the women’s event was won by 24-year-old Thu Zar (1h 22m 20s).


The mountain bike race on the following day consisted of five laps of the 4.5km 2013 SEA Games circuit, for a total of 22.5km. The course is tough, with plenty of singletrack, rocks, ruts and steep hike-a-bike sections.


My effort was doomed to failure virtually from the start, as a I suffered a pinch flat about 200 meters into the race. As I rode slowly back up the first hill to the start line, I thought I would pack my bike away and spend the rest of the day taking photos of the race. But then I found myself at my car, putting a new inner tube in my rear tire. Before I knew it, I was back on the course riding the race, albeit nearly a full lap behind the frontrunners.


Despite spending 15 minutes changing my tire, I somehow managed to finish 9th out off 11 starters, and 4th out of 6 in the Over-26 age group. The event was won by 18-year-old Mann Tin Khung (1h 3m 55s). No women entered the mountain bike event.


The next round of the six-race series, sponsored by Myan Shwe Pyi Tractors (MSP) and the Myanmar Cycling Federation, will take place in Mandalay in late March. In the meantime, Bike World in Yangon is holding another 11 Hills Challenge on February 8.




(All photos courtesy of MSP)

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