February Events

March 7th, 2009

A busy end to the month of February …

On Saturday, 21/2, we had our last practice for the EM Dragon Boat Carnival.  There are three teams representing SPT (the project I am working on) and 66 teams total, all from EM, entered into this competition.  Two teams (SPT Long Chuan and SPT Dragoneers) practiced together, and raced against each other, just to see where we stood

blog12 photo by Freddy

This is taken before the second mock race.  We did not look this good after a second all out effort.

On Sunday 22/2, I was up early (like 5AM), had a quick and light breakfast, grabbed the bag I had packed the night before and took my bicycle to the F1 Pit Garages.  Today, OCBC (a local bank) was organizing the first large scale cycling event in Singapore, and I was one of many EM employees to participate.

The first event is a 50 km race for elite racers (those capable of maintaining a speed above 40 km/h).  They left at 6 AM and I wanted to be there to take some pictures.

Before the event, cyclist are slowly (mainly because it is still so early) getting ready

 cycle01

There are about 200 cyclist ready to go

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I was entered into the 40 km race with the number 902.  The start was scheduled for 7:30 AM but was given in order of expected finishing time.  Ahead of me were all the people who had indicated that they would finish in less than one hour; I was in the group of riders who expected to finish in 60-75 minutes and the last group was for those expected to take more than 75 minutes.  There were over 2500 participants.

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Some people have really tried hard to have a unique look

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Immediately after the start, I follow a group that is moving at a pretty good speed.  I am drafting towards the end of the group and working hard to keep up.  That is when I made the mistake to look at my odometer and see that we are doing 38 km/h.  On my own, I can ride consistently at 31-32 km/h so this is significantly faster, but I do not have to fight the wind resistance.  I am able, just, to keep up with the rest of the group.

However, at each turn, the group slows down than re-accelerates and I loose contact – I have to re-accelerate back to 39-40 just to catch up and at each turn, this gets tougher.  Finally after 20 km of the race, I have to let the group go as I am afraid I will not be able to finish the race if I keep pushing.  I slow down to 32 km/h and they quickly move away from me.

I ride pretty much on my own for the next 20 km back to the starting point, occasionally passed by a small group of riders, occasionally passing a slower rider or two.  I finished the race exactly 500th in 1h15 – I am happy with that result.

There is a crowd recovering after the finish

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While more cyclists keep arriving

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The atmosphere before and after the race was fantastic.  As I was recovering, the 20 km fun ride was just starting – another 3000 participants were getting on the course. 

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For me, this was an opportunity to ride non-stop on the streets with no traffic to worry about, and also see how I stack up against other cyclists.  I only took pictures before and after the ‘race’ as I wanted to do the best time possible since I had such a good start.

It was a great day and before 11AM I was back at my apartment, trying not to fall asleep on the couch! (I failed…)

This past Saturday 28/2 was the EM Dragon Boat Carnival.  66 teams were entered from all departments and many people I normally race with in Papillon were now my opponents in other teams.

All the following pictures were taken by others, as I did not have my camera for this event – credits with each shot!

We arrived early as there were preparations to make and a lot of the organising committee was from Papillon so it gave us a chance to catch up after the long break since the Regatta in November.

blog01 photo by Samuel

The day started with a sail-pass of three boats to set the scene.

blog02 photo by unknown

We had practiced this for two hours several weeks ago, and than another 1/2 hour before the ‘show”.  I am glad that it looked good from the shore.

SPT Team members came in gradually and started to get into the mood…

blog04 photo by Samuel 

And than the heats began.  6 boats per heat, so 11 heats required.  The first two in each heat go directly to the semi-finals; all others go to the repechage.

Heat 6 saw SPT Naga-X finish in 3rd place.  In Heat 8, SPT Dragoneers(my team) did rather well from the start.

blog03 photo by Harry

and continued to do well at the end

blog05 photo by Harry

No, we were not the only boat in this heat.  We finished first by two boat length – we had one of the best times of all the heats.  In heat 10, SPT Long Chuan finished second, an excellent result since the teams was essentially all beginners.  The repechage was kind to Naga-X and they also qualified for the semi-finals.  Three-out-of-three into the semis…

There were 6 semi-finals with the top team in each going in the Grand Final and the second placed team going to the Plate Final.  Long Chuan was in Semi 3; Naga-X in semi 5 and Dragoneers were in the last semi, Semi 6 against SSM Inspection “A” which also had an excellent time in the heats (only 0.12 seconds slower than ours…).  We needed to get ready while Long Chuan and Naga-X ran their races and therefore we failed to see the results.  Naga-X was a very credible third and Long Chuan did better after a (incredible, I was told) come back to take first place by a dragon’s nose.  One team already in the Grand Final.

Our semi was very close! Dragoneers and Inspection “A” were neck and neck all the way and it was unfortunate that one of these teams should be eliminated from the Grand Final. 

blog06 photo by Samuel

Fortunately, we had a good finish and beat Inspection by 0.33 seconds.  We had given it our all and really had difficulties rowing back to the docks.  The cheers of the rest of the team on shore confirmed that we were first.  Two SPT Teams in the Grand Final.

Unfortunately, since we were the last semi-final, the organisers are already calling the plate final as we are starting to cool down.  Soon, they are calling for the Grand Final teams to get ready – we stall!  We go through our preparation and pre-game pep talk, more in order to give ourselves longer to recover than any other reason. 

SPT Long Chuan is in lane 2 – ready to go…

 blog07 photo by Samuel

SSM Vigilance (with a lot of people I know because they are regular rowers) is in lane 1; Dragoneers are in lane 6, all the way at the other end.

blog08 photo by Samuel

All teams have to be good to get to the final – now is a question of which is slightly better, or which has been able to keep the most energy at the end of the day.

The results are very close.  Most of our fans from the shore are not sure which team won.  What is sure is that Long Chuan, unfortunately, finished last.  This is still an excellent result and they have a good excuse – one of the rowers lost his paddle right at the start and therefore they did the whole race with only 9 rowers!  Sam finally showed me the pictures he took at the finish – it is clear that Vigilance pipped us right at the line by a whisker!  We figure second place is not bad, but there is still a chance that the photo finish was at a different angle and therefore saw it differently.

blog09 photo by Samuel

My day is not done though! I have one more race, and it is the most serious of all.  The Inter-site race.  For the last two years, I was racing withthe Harbour Front team, since I was located nearest to them – and for the last two years, Refinery won the race, with Chemicals in close second place.  This year I was in the Chemicals Team and we were determined to regain the trophy.  Both Teddy and I are again sitting side by side (he was also next to me on Dragoneersand helped me a lot running the team) but we are both exhausted from the semi + final we just went through.  However, everybody else in the three boats has done pretty much the same thing, so no excuse.

We have a good start and lead all the way for a very famous victory! Chemicals has regained the cup and bragging rights for a year.

SPT Dragoneers with the silver medal from the overall competition

blog10 photo by Samuel

and of course “Chemicals” with the gold medal from the inter-site and the cup!

blog11 photo by Samuel

Now, I can retire from Dragon Boat with me head held high – a silver and a glod medal for my last two races is not bad!

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2 Responses to “February Events”

  1. David Ingon 08 Mar 2009 at 03:06

    Another Sunday in Singapore with hot weather. After all of that time near the equator, it will be interesting to think about whether you’ll miss the same temperature every day, or whether you’ll enjoy the changes in seasons.

  2. pierreoon 14 Mar 2009 at 17:52

    I am sure it will be both.
    It is very nice not to have to worry about what to wear when I go out.
    But a change in season, occasionally, even for colder weather, would be nice too.
    It will not be long now before I get the opportunity…

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