akmal's bike park

akmal's bike park

Friday 28 November 2014

Weight Training Benefits Cycling

I signed up with a gym a few months ago (okay, my wife persuaded me to join her) with a bit of reluctance. It is the commitment bit that makes me resisting the idea. Anyway, since she's insisting on it herself, I gave in and accompanied her. Nothing to lose for me (she's paying. Ha!), and everything to gain.
*cue Rocky theme song and the Philly steps scene

At first, we went for treadmill runs and stuff. We fiddled a bit with the machine weights with minimal instructions from the trainers. Nothing much of a structured fitness program, really. A month after that, we went for the free Personal Training session that came with our membership.

Basically it was really a fitness benchmarking, and also the gym's marketing bit in selling their real deal - PT sessions. I flopped real bad, especially on upper body and core strength. The legs (from cycling and running) are strong but could be better.

I have to say that the program is expensive, but for someone who does not have any idea about fitness and strength training, best to leave it to the expert. And so my trainer drew up a training plan for me for the next six months. Well, I agreed for a three month program and later on see how things develop down the road.

The program tackles with strengthening the core muscles, along with big and small muscles.
It has been 9 sessions now, and I have felt the difference in my strength and ability. Of course this is coupled with a change in diet (though not totally strict on it).

Take for example my recent ride in Tampin jamboree. Alhamdulillah I managed to climb the hills much better than I would than before; I surprised even myself. The parallel foot position during coasting downhill was also not tiring my quads as I would before. I believe it is from the leg presses, leg extensions and curls that I did during weight training. I could really feel that the legs are stronger. Thus I had fun in the ride. Also the core strength exercise helped in my body positioning on the bike. With stronger back and midsection, I could sit better on the saddle and ever ready to move about when needed i.e. for downhills, cornering and climbing.

Albeit, I'm still not through yet with the program. Meaning the legs can be made stronger still. As it is, I'm happy with the change that I felt so far, and am determined to get stronger insyaAllah.

If there area local gyms available near you (and cheap), I strongly suggest for you to turn up into one and get started. Find out about the program that they can offer you to be stronger. Only with strength and stamina would we able to enjoy our rides to the fullest (and perhaps also to take part in races).

At least we need strong upper body to push the bike uphill, no?

Thanks for reading.
Get stronger.

Sunday 23 November 2014

22.11.2014: NS Nature MTB Jamboree - Series 2: Tampin

I missed their event in Jelebu, and continuing the momentum from the offroad ride a fortnight ago, I registered for this event through the kind people from Perpatih Cycling Club. It is quite exciting for me as this would be one of a series of jamboree rides in Negeri Sembilan this year; to get a feel of what Tampin has to offer.

Tampin is not far from Seremban, so along with the gang from Perpatih, we convoyed from the meetup point (Petronas station at Jalan Tampin) in Senawang at 6.40am. We reached the starting point - Stadium Tampin - at a comfortable time, about half and hour before the start of the event (race category). Already the starting line has been filled with riders and their bikes. With the nice weather, the atmosphere is filled with good vibes and I'm raring to go.
Tampin Stadium grandstand and the participants flocking behind the starting line
trail route and profile
Unfortunately as I was busy with work and home the entire 2 weeks, I had not given much attention to the most important information that the organizer had put up in their fb event page - the trail route and elevation.

Take a look at the trail profile. Notice something? For the first 5km torture is expected. A steep climb to 250m elevation awaits. You may rest and you may decide to ride or push your bike, the hill (and a CP right on top of it) is there to stay awaiting for you. I decided to ride and take the challenge head on. I guess I managed only for the half of the climb. It IS steep.
*my Sports Tracker map and elevation reveals that the steep climb is actually at about the 10th km, with highest level at 278m!

fellow riders as seen at my climbing rest point

the climbing that awaits

the climbing section that demanded many to be on foot

the view from my 2nd climbing stop
with gang from Perpatih, resting at a  plateau en route to CP1
Climbing up, I gathered supports from fellow riders who gave way for me, and a few in their weariness while pushing the bike up did gave me some good words of motivation. I have to say that the two-tiered climbs that I managed to clean were the best moments for me in this ride. The ensuing downhills are good as well for they are ridable; I enjoyed them tremendously.

with Miep; now a face is attached to a name very often heard  of.Donning a sports shirt, I should've got the clue earlier that he's a rider from Pasir Gudang.
atop the hill, CP1 awaits
the view at CP1
However, the joy was marred by a major hiccup on the trail. Soon after rolling downhill, I came to the section where the trail is already jam-packed with riders waiting for their turns to cross a wide gap. And after that, single-filing (in multiple lanes) into a singletrack steep and muddy technical downhill in the woods. I guess it took me the best of half of an hour or more to get through the jam. We ended up on foot all the way in and up on equally muddy technical climb.

pretty muddy affair
I noticed that a few riders behind me are wearing sneakers which definitely has transformed into sleek soles. Grip and proper footing - important for bringing the bike uphill on foot - are diminished, what more with the added task of carrying the weight of the bikes. Hence I decided to gather about five of us nearby each other to form a human chain; get proper footing and bring up our bikes one by one. Teamwork is the key. After all, it's a jamboree and by then the podium placings were already taken up anyway.

The trail to CP 2 after that and continuing to CP3 are a mix of small hills and a few nice rolling downhills. Nothing much to write about. I didn't stop at CP2 as I was on a comfortable pace and on a roll. At times I was like being transported back to Seri Alam with the usual rubber and palm oil plantation. Sigh.

flowy singletrack, like wide ruts
When I finally reached CP3, it was already past cut-off time. All 3 CP stickers collected, and now is the long way home. We were instructed to take the tarmac route to get back to the starting point. And so we did. I drafted behind a couple of riders all the way, 8km to the stadium.

In my personal opinion, the trail is nice with challenges scattered at many points along the way, marking is ample, organisation of the event is quite good, but the lucky draw is not perfect (because I didn't win anything). Perhaps the major one thing that blemished the overall event (and consequently making other relatively smaller imperfections being blown up as major failings by many participants) is the huge gap en route to CP2. That section wasted many of the riders' time. Anyway, I applaud the willingness of fellow riders to work as a team in hauling our bikes uphill and clear the obstacles on the trail. I enjoyed the ride, except at the gap and non-ridable technical singletrack.

1. I did some weight training for the legs a few weeks ago and I have to say that it helped a lot.
2. Breathing and pacing were controlled with the assistance of zikrullah, and alhamdulillah I did not face any mechanical problem for the bike along the way. Nor any signs of cramps and headache.
3. Man, I really enjoyed the two climbs en route to CP1.
4. Drafting is not a sin.

Thanks for coming.
See you in the next writing.
Ride on!

Monday 10 November 2014

09.11.2014: Ticket to Jamboree Ride 2014

Team Akmal
Perpatih Cycling announced that they are going to have a newbie/beginner offroad event at Taman Bandar Senawang not long after they presented the local Senawang & Bukit Putus trail to mountain bikers near and far (Cabaran Bukit Putus 2.0). The number of participants is limited to only 300, so I immediately grabbed two tickets for myself and Marsya. I asked Yad as well if he would like to join, as the event is nearby to his mum's house in Taman Senawang Indah.

the crowd at the starting area

Nowadays 300 is a small number for a jamboree ride compared to when mtb jamboree started many years ago.
*the usual number now is more than 1,000 - the Burung Hantu 2014 event attracted 2,500.

with Kru - the all-green rider

Marsya adjusting to the ride and bike handling, at Taman Bandar Senawang
The event is just the kind of ride that I need for Marsya as she had been asking for an offroad ride for many months already. I myself had not had many opportunity to ride in Senawang lately. The full distance is 18km designed for beginners (said them), but judging from her fitness level, I'd say a half of the distance would still be good enough after a very long hiatus.

Yad - rider otai Taman Senawang Indah
Marsya had outgrown her Polygon frame. So I prepared for her Naza's Diamondback Apex SL with lots of lightweight parts (within my wallet's limit of course) so as not to burden her much with the machine and she could focus on her riding.

The trail is a very nice mix of what Senawang can offer. Tarmac. Long and short uphill climbs. Long downhill descend. Singletracks. River crossing. Double track (palm oil plantation). The trail design is quite good for a beginner and experienced rider. Kudos to Perpatih gang.

It was raining in the morning a few hours before the event started, so I expected muddy trail to be savoured.

entering muddy offroad
We started on the tarmac for a few km. During this I refreshed Marsya on offroad riding basics - parallel feet during coasting, brake levers assignment (which ones for front and rear), gearing, body position for going downhill, etc.

Marsya crossing the river
Marsya rode quite well for 6km. She even managed to pedal through crossing a river; must be quite an accomplishment for her. There were sections that forced her to get her feet on the ground and push the bike instead, though. The long ascend really taxed her and we rested quite a long while. I took a breather too, and waited for her to recover.

While I was at the trailside, Farid, who is a follower of this blog, greeted me. We chatted for a while, and Marsya went ahead continuing her climb. Sometimes it is the small things like this which give me the motivation to write (and dusting the cobweb on this blog pages). There are people who still read.

At one T-junction about 8km along, we were presented with options. We were cautioned that the left turn would present us climbing ride and the right turn would take us to the starting point very quickly. It was very easy for us to make the decision of taking the right turn and finish the ride short.

taking a fiver (or ten)
Total riding distance: 8.59km.
Total riding time: 57 minutes.

I'd say it was a very successful event and I liked it very much. For a small fee, the organiser thrown in a (pink!) cotton t-shirt and simple lunch with ice cold drinks. Plus lucky dip and lucky draw prizes too.
Marsya's not-so-lucky-number

one for the album: Marsya, pinky me & Yad
I would like to convey my thanks to Perpatih gang for coming up with this event. It has everything that I had wished for, in a small scale jamboree ride. Small crowd, no race, meeting up with friends, ample lucky draw, simple food and drinks and an awesome mixed trail. Plus, it is specially tailored for beginners which is very, very suitable for me to bring along Marsya.

Map of our short route is here.

Thanks for reading.