It is this time of the year when I like to reflect and a few months ago, I had a “great” experience worth sharing with my fellow Athletes and Coaches.
In the past 30 years, I have had the immense chance to work with outstanding buddy athletes and world-class level coaches. Being a Coach myself, I am always in the quest of doing things better to facilitate my Athletes and this is probably a good example of what NOT to do.
On the advice of a fellow Coach, Athlete and friend, I decided to take part in a road race and time trial in nearby Thailand, about a two-hour drive from Bangkok International airport. It took me time to book my flight (last minute) and accommodation (even more last minute) and I ended up settling for the last flight leaving Singapore the day before the race (Race for master’s starts at 7:30am).
Guess what? The flight was delayed for four hours and reached Bangkok International airport around midnight. Luckily, the driver I booked waited for me and we arrived at the hotel at around 2am with my bike still in the bag. I decided to give a better shot at racing in the Open category which was happening at 10:30am instead of 7:30am for Masters.
I headed straight to bed and woke up early enough to set up my bike and realized that I was staying at about 17km from the venue, so a good 40 minutes’ ride as I did not book any transport. The “miracle” of riding in the Thailand country side with Maps in one hand brought me to the venue about 30 minutes before Race start and a quick collection of my race pack helped me catch up with my buddies on the Start line.
Open category started fast and I settled for the 4th or 5th pack; nice pace, beautiful course until Km 6 where I felt that my brand-new, never tried and borrowed back tire was wobbling: Puncture! I tried to find a flat area on the side, and started the process…. Whoops! No C02… it wasn’t allowed on the plane and I had no time to buy it. I ended up carrying the bike to a local farm workshop and managed to put some air in the tube, and started again in the last position (nobody was around) to slowly reach the race venue (one loop), got out to the mechanic to be asked my number by an official. The rules, for the ones who read them, say: “No assistance allowed”.
I waited for my buddies to finish and started riding back to the hotel. Halfway through, guess what? Puncture again. In the middle of nowhere, with no taxi in sight, I ended up carrying the bike on the back of a motorbike while using Maps again to find my way back. Doesn’t the rule of changing tubes say: “Inspect the inner tire to make sure there is no item left that will create the same puncture” … It sure does, and obviously there was one tiny bit of metal in the rubber which was just fine enough to keep puncturing my tubes.
All this to keep reminding you of a few key old-school elements that will contribute to an enjoyable experience in your next adventure:
Plan in advance: Make arrangements way ahead to make sure you leave as early as possible to reach in good time
Book your ride and accommodation: Going around the race location on your own can be a challenge, so make sure you cover all your transportation and accommodation in advance and keep it simple by renting a car with or without a driver
Race with what you know: Do not use any equipment you are not very familiar with; Murphy’s Law will turn it into a nightmare
Know the Do’s and Dont’s: Make sure you read the race rules and participate in the race briefing
I am going to stop this saga just here and just now. So, in conclusion: Do what I say and Not what I did!