Qatar Cycling Federation Al-Shamal Road Race

9 May 2014

I have been cycling twice a week as cross training since last December when I bought my road bike. I have since then fell in love with cycling and enjoyed it even more than running. My speed and form is getting better and my results in the GMC Tri Series were the evidence.

Eager to see where I stand amongst the pure cyclists, I decided to participate in a road race that took part 9th May 2014 in Al-Shamal. There were an Elite 71 km and Weekend Warrior 36km categories. Yes I took part in the later. I have never rode more than 40 km so far, so I would not gamble and risk of coming last in my first cycling race.

Al-Shamal is located about 70 km north of Doha. Not familiar with the place, I joined a convoy departed from Ikea at 5:30 am. The drive to Al-Shamal was interesting and somewhat a nervy experience as we were driving in thick fog all the way. The fog was so thick the visibility was reduced to just a few metres. But we made it to Al-Shamal just in time for the registration.

There were many female national cyclists in the 36 km race. I cant help worrying losing to these girls. The course for the race is one loop out on Shamal highway and back to the town via Al-Gharya Road. I started the race cautiously and kept it steady at around 30 km/h. Some of the more experienced guys went off  way too fast for me to tag along. I quickly positioned myself at the back of the big chaser group among the national ladies. The weather was hot and windy making it really hard for a novice like me.

I made a steady gain and overtaking others one by one until I broke away from the peloton by 10th km. In front of me was the top Qatari female cyclist. She had her coach and asst. coach driving along by her side. I managed to catch her but she stayed on and drafting on me. Well I don't know how much saving she got drafting on my back but she stayed for 6-7 km refusing to share the work load. Her coach and her assistant kept shouting and giving instructions to her in Arabic. It was rather annoying. I managed to break up from her at the flyover exiting the highway into Al-Ghariya road back to Al-Shamal.

The inbound was a lot harder as we had to fight a strong head wind all the way, plus I was cycling alone. From here the lead group had dispersed and spread out individually. I managed to overtake 5 or 6 more and continued to press on despite my HR stayed at high 179/180 bpm. My speed was reduced from the 30s to just 25ish kmh. I was closing in with 3 more cyclists in front of me as I sprinted to the finish line. I completed the 36km race in 1:13:24 for 8th place. It was a great feeling to finish in the top 10 in my first race considering I was still new in this sport.

I believe I should focus more on cycling and utilise my thunder thighs to a good use.

At the start

I was pressing hard to catch the guy at 7th place
 

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