Sunday, December 16, 2007

Action Asia Challenge Hong Kong 2007

Completed AAC Hong Kong 2007 yesterday with Tempo Sparks teamate Andy. Photos & write up will come soon, first take a look at the race route to put things in persepective.


Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Road to Action Asia Challenge Week 3

On the penultimate weekend to Action Asia Challange, I paired up with Alain, my running pal in the SCB team to do the Action Asia Eco Adventure. It was such an interesting course, covering ground in a familiar area but trails that I never knew they existed. We started in Ocean Park, where the Shark and Flower mascots should lead the way with gentle stroll through the Panda habitat. But it seems all patience was lost after going through 5 speeches before the whistle was reluctantly blown, the Shark and the Flower sprinted faster than any of the runners and the race got underway.

We had to coastalteer the boulders toward DeepWater Bay, before walking up a tunnel which is the mouth of a river. Then up some brush wracking trails, through some pitch black tunnels, before going up a stairways from hell to the top of Nicolas Hills. Then down a even steeper trail so slippery as if filled with ball bearings. On the way down we caught Alan and Arthur form Sonics, the former was nursing a bad wrist and elbow from the MTB on the previous day and the latter a bad knee after Macau Half Marathon the previous week, hence taking their downhill carefully. "Bad for them, Good for us." said Alain crudely, who was eager to beat anyone in our age group.
Back to Deep Water Bay via the mouth of the river again, came the 2km kayak. We cruised down and caught 1-2 boat, on the return leg, we again caugh sight of Alan and Arthur and Alain did another trademark assault, "Come On, my grandma can go faster than that!" I started legging my kayak as I know they were not going to take the abuse lightly, an could just imagine Arthur snapping the paddle in two and start outrigging the kayak. The kayak route above was based on Alan's GPS watch marking, look how furiously straight they have paddled after Alain's abuse.
Finally, an easy jog around the coastal walk to Repulse Bay. We finished 2hr23mins with Alan & Arthur finished just 4-5 mins behind.

Coming Next Week, the Action Asia Challange Hong Kong 2007!!! The mother of all races.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

The Road to Action Asia Challenge Week 2

Week 2 was the UNICEF Run for Children Half Marathon. It was another great route, start and finish in the Disneyland Resort, the run takes in the coast line of Sunny Bay and the Inspiration Lake. The area could be turn into the venue of the next ITU Hong Kong Triathlon is negotiation can be successful. I started off well, reaching the 10km mark at 50mins. But soon hit the wall at 15km and finished with a disappointing 1hr55m, the slowest half marathon I have done. The event was more successful with Martina, who is becoming a great action sports photographer! Here are something to add to her portfolio.
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Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Road to Action Asia Challenge Week 1

When it was announced that 46% of Action Asia Challange will be on bikes, we needed some extra training dearly. So stead of doing KOTH - Sai Kung (trailrunning). We did a great MTB route called Project X, created by Julien, the instructor in our previous MTB course. The route cris crosses a gentle hill on the island, we some great downhill runs but perfectly safe with brush and grass on either sides of the route.


Friday, November 16, 2007

The Road to Action Asia Challenge

The Action Asia Challenge Hong Kong will be held on Dec 15. I suddenly realised I will have a race every sunday from now on to warm up for the big day:

25Nov - King of the Hill - Sai Kung: 15km of Trail Running

2Dec - Unicef Half Marathon - 21km around the Disney Resort
9Dec - Action Asia Eco Adventure - 10km run and 2k kayak


Monday, October 22, 2007

INATT Off Road Triathlon

Another great day out with my new mountain bike and Martina with her camera. It was the INATT Off Road Triathlon, a Xterra style race consist of 800m swim, 15km mountain bike and 5.5km trail running on the beautiful Wan Chai peninsula in Sai Kung. Who are my gang of brothers this time? There is my arch rival in adventure race Larry and Kin, also Micah from Sonic and Andrew, podium finisher in Singapore Ironmah 70.3.
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Keith the organiser can't help adding some adventure race elements into it, like after the swim we have to run across a beach, cimbing up some boulders, jumped fences and dash across the camp site to get to the transition.

The mountain bike was tough for me, I am still very cautious and slow on the bike, not quite getting use to balancing and picking lines off the downhill. But it was a glorious route, at one part, we had the ocean all to ourselves.
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To finish off the run, we have to repeat the beach + boulder run again but in much shattered condition, thanks to the marshall who yelled at me and said the guy behind you was trying to catch up, that really sparked off my final charge to the finishing line.

I finished in 2hr35min, 15-20 mins behind Larry and Kin, but they are so much faster than me on the bikes, it is kind of expected. Slowly, I am building up my fitness again for Action Asia. All photos taken by Martina, my fiancee.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Back On A Mountain Bike

The end of this month will be the one year anniversary of the mountain bike accident that fractured a bone in my arm. I have been staying away from MTB all these time, partly cause of focusing on triathlon but deep down I must admit I was scared. But the enjoyment of Adventure Race is so great, I couldn't hesitate from planning ahead for the Action Asia Challenge Hong Kong in December. First, I check on my race partner, Andy, he is still not training as ever, so any loss of trail running and moutain bike sharpness from my side probably wouldn't matter. Then finally I slashed out on a new machine - the Specialized Epic, finally gone was my oversize hardtail bike and instead of a full suspension cross country bike.

Then along with some Sonic guys, I joined a one day MTB skill course in Lamma Island, the instructor has built an obstacle course on a little hill, so we can practise bumps, stairs, tight corner etc in a safe environment. It was a real cool day to regain my confidence back. After lunch he took us to tackle some stairs, it was my my ultimate demon, coz I fractured my arm after falling "over the handle" bar on top of 3 steps of stairs. When it comes to my turn, I stare down the stairs, everything else in the background just fade into a blur. It was that dramatic, like soloing up a rock climb and nothing else in the world but the route itself matters. I headed down, there is hardly any difficulty with the wide stairs but my heart rate just pump right off the scale. I did only half the staircase and the flash back of the crash replayed again and again. Thankfully I had the gust to do the eventual challenge of the day, a drop off from a big stone, probably a bit over half a meter tall. It was easy when we know the right technique.

The next sunday, I head out to do a easy ride with Brian and gang in Tai Tong Country Park, the very park where the accident happens but we stayed on easy trail all day. It was part of the scheme to exercise the demon within. So much practise for now, I am gonna do a Xterra style off road triathlon coming Saturday. Should be fun. And let's hope for a safe off road racing season!


Monday, October 01, 2007

Hong Kong ITU Triathlon

It wasn't my prettiest race but I did it anyway. It was the Hong Kong ITU Triathlon yesterday. I turned up barely recovered from a bad cold and felt really not in form. But I wasn't limping or coughing blood, so not doing it due to a feeling of my "form" is simply an excuse. DPP_219Beside it is my first year in Triathlon, how can I miss THE triathlon race in town. The swim began with a deep water start in Tai Mei Tuk. It was hard as hell after having swam only 3 times since Singapore a month ago. Though I got out of the water along with a few Sonic teamates who were roughly similar speed as me in training, so maybe I wasn't doing too bad afterall.

DPP_515Once on the bike, I felt more alive, I had rode the Bride's Pool Road only once before when I first got my bike. And this time I was tackling the hill climbs with much stronger legs. The 10km loop has two hills on either end, with an incredibly taxing 4.5% gradien hill at the far end. But then once you turn around, it is a free ride downhill reaching 45km/h. I pushed quite hard on the uphills, unlike Sinagpore, I didn't try to hold myself back. I felt I might get some presentable result today.

Came the run leg, two loops across the exposed reservoir dam, I felt quite fresh in the begining, and I saw many sonic teamates just ahead of me, doing their first loop, so if I pushed hard I would get some good timing this time. Too eager to do that, I stupidly did a wrong U-turn at mid way of the dam that was only meant for the "fun-distance" category. The helpers standing around there actually watched me doing the mistakes and said nothing, one of them even recorded my race number on the timing sheet.

I didn't realise my mistake until I was well into my second loop, it was so frustrating to have screwed up on my strongest part in such a dumb fashion after all the hard work on the swim and the bike. So in the end, between "2km short" or "3km over", I decided to ran two full loops from that point and actually tallied 13km of running in the blistering sun. I
n my final length of the dam there were hardlyDPP_1010 anyone left on the course . I was out of glycogen, cramps were urging to kick in and eventually when I made it back toward the finishing line, the transition area was already being cleared up. Thankfully Martina and Madoka was there for the finishing snap.

So it was incredibly frustrating, I approached the race saying it was not an important one for me, but once I got on the race course, it was diffcult to take it easy, and so although I can easily look on the bright side and say at least I completed it, deep down I will always be looking forward to a revenge in the next 12 months.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Pirate Party - Andy's 30th Birthday Bash

Tempo Sparks Andy hosted a great party last night, the whole crew of the Black Pearl came alive!

Andy’s Pirates Party 15-16 Sep 07


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Lecture of Doug Scott the British Mountaineer


If there is an anti-thesis to this website, it has got to be Doug Scott's lecture on Thursday with Royal Geographical Society of Hong Kong. Every week I dramatised my average Joe's adventures on this blog, but when a real master of adventure speaks, it was in such a casual down to earth manner that I almost fell like going up and re-write his speech for him. Initially I thought time has mellow out this mountaineering hero but more likely he simply no longer dare to believe in the rock star status that media once crowded him. Though despite his best effort to underplay his stories, they are still tales that every climber father will read to his son.

In 1975, Doug Scott and Dougal Haston, the summit team from Chris Bonnington's Everest South West Face Expedition Team, reached the top of the world via one of the most difficult face to be climbed at the time. The poster I held above was the moment they reached the summit and it was 7pm in the evening. As it was too late to make a descent, Doug and Dougal had to bivouac in a snow cave, which they dug, few hundered meters below the summit and survived the night in thin air and bone chilling cold. Probably the highest point anyone has spent a night in open air in the world to date.... and lived.

Two years later, he went for an expedition in Pakistan's Ogre Mountain, the team split into pairs to climb the 7000m Karakorum peak in Alpine Style (light weight small team style). Doug and Chris reached the sumit but on the way down Doug slipped off while abseiling and pendulumed across a few miles across the mountain face (recounted as the older version of Doug stroked the laser pointer across the picture of mountain like it was great fun) and broke both of his ankles. Chris later also cracked 2 ribs and contracted pnemonia. But they survived the week long descent to base camp, Doug did it by crawling on hands and knees and abseil off his bump, even crossing glaciers cravesses that way.

"Why did it happend so soon after the success of Everest.?" Doug asked himself in the lecture. "Probably because I had begun to believe in my own myth created by the media after the Everest Expedition." Hence I can see why he is now so humble when talking about these climbing tales again.
This is the attitude I admired the most from Doug, when he was up there on the moutain face, he was not there to achieve something great, just out there having a good time with his friends, doing the things that he most loved.
As with lectures by famous mountaineers I have come across, the speakers would devolve a great deal of time talking about how his closest friends' death in the moutain. A sudden rock fall, a slip off a rope, an avalanche would just wipe a dear friend away from their lives in an instant. "But we were left with fond memories of our time together on the mountains." said Doug. This is the attitude I admired the most from Doug, when he was up there on the moutain face, he was not there to achieve something great, just out there having a good time with his friends, doing the things that he most loved.

At the end of the lecture, we went up to buy some signed posters of him. We bought two for our buddy, ahdont. We told him "This friend of ours has been a big fan of you ever since he read the expdition report of your Everest trip." He replied with humour "That might have ruin his life, people still ask me when I am going to get a real job!"

Doug Scott's charity, Community Action Nepal, is supporting the poor community of Nepal to build a more sustainable life.



Friday, September 07, 2007

Ironman 70.3 Singapore Part 3

13th Powergel of the Day


On the bus back to the hotel after the race, Austin asked if anyone did not have a cramp at all today. I said bemusely "Yeah." then I added "but then I had 13 packs powergel today!". That was how carbo loaded I have been. The guys laughed out loud "You ain't gonna crap for the coming week." but let's not go into my digestive function on the post race week for now.

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Either that I was pushing the use of powergel to doping territories or I could have pushed much harder on the bike, I was fresh as a rabbit when I got onto the half marathon, I was able to over take most people on the course. It was a good feeling though a lot of the competitors I passed were on their second loop of the run already, so much closer to the sweet finish then I was. The real challenge on the run was the weather, midday sun hosted the party of the first 10km lap and a tropical storm took over the helm on the second. But our supporters cheers on regardless of the weather and what have we got to complain? I met Madoka, Catherine, Austin, Arthur and Dennis at different stage on route, padding each other on the back, giving high fives in opposite lane, no one could feel that they are facing this alone. Finally at the final 2km of the Half Ironman, my legs began to feel weiry, so I popped open my 13th and last gel in my pocket, my only chocolate flavour one especially preserved for the moment; unawared of any potential digestive related side effect, I swallowed it and brought myself home.

A Word of Thanks
r62The seed was sowed in January's Action Asia Sprint when Larry first asked if I will do the Singapore Half Ironman in a matter of fact manner. So I decided to join a tri club and prepare myself for the "2008" Singapore Half Ironman. But somewhere along the line reason and sanity gave way to dreams and maddness, and it was Alan who should take most of the credit in convincing me to sign up this year when I was drunk from the completion of the 2.1km swim in Shek O Challenge in June. I mean where is the fun when you are too ready for a race
Sume, Jeffrey and Albert should also get their fair share for making half ironman sounded like it would be a stroll in the park. I had of course never been convinced that I can do it, until it was done. So thanks guys for making me taking that ruthless step of signing up. I mean where is the fun when you are too ready for a race, that is got to be my motto.


Thursday, September 06, 2007

Ironman 70.3 Singpore Part 2

One Year I Swim Proper
Knowing there is nothing more I can do to the bike, I left the transition zone to join the rest of Team Sonic at the swim start. The fi0523rst light was yet to be drawn and groups of sonicians were there taking photos in the dark. Then suddenly the twilight retracted and the red sun emerged from the sea. What better way to start a race day?
Unlike Ironman Korea, Singpore started in waves, so the mass suicidal scene I expected was replaced by a orderly starts. I dived in the sea along with my age group in blue swim cap. It was hard to imagine that I had dared to take part in the swim leg of Ironman Korea a year ago. For my swimming form has changed and improved so much one year on. I used the total immersion technique to glide throught the water as smoothly as I can, yet100 that was just barely enough to keep up with the main group.

At almost the beginning, my hand smashed into some junk in the sea as I speared it into the water, it was a polystyrene float with sea shells stuck on it. My fingers grew numb immediately, I dare not to look at them. Not willing to acknowlege an accident has happended so soon in the race. Thank god it was nothing but minor cuts and that was the last bit of bad luck I had that day.

Half way down the loop, I caught up with the tail end of the yellow cap guys (M25-29), thinking I must be doing okay, but 5 mins later the wake of the green cap guys (M35-39) stormed pass me like a tornado. Soon the orange guys (40-44) also emerged but thankfully it was like to get out of the water.

The 90km Experience
b23The bike leg was a sheer enjoyment. Once pass the humpy loop on East Coast, we joined the silky smooth inner city loops which we have to do 4 laps of. I maintained a steady 30km/h pace, while all the Sonic guys raced passed me in much greater speed. Never mind them, I just want to scrap a finish today. On the second lap, the "cycling jinx" manifested itself in a comical way, the cap of the aero bar mounted water bottle bonuced off a hump and so from then on every hump means a splash of isotonic drink on my face. In the end I just opened my gob and caught the spilled out to save myself from dehydration. 90km was the longest I have riden my entire life, though by the time I reached the transition there was no time to savour the back breaking expereince. Kenneth the Sonic coach was standing a T2 to urge me to get ready for the run.
to be conintued....


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ironman 70.3 Singpore Part 1

Photogenic Finish
IMG_2059As if to taunt the competitors, there is a split about 1km into the half marathon, take left you will finish the daunting Ironman 70.3 (aka half ironman) circuit of Singapore, take right you have another 20km or 10km to run before you can find pain reliever. But this is the third time I am coming up to the junction that means I can take left with a smiley face! Approaching the finishing line the volunteer pulled up a ribbon for me to run through, I stopped for a moment, knowing that Martina should be nearby, to let her get ready with the camera; then leaped as high as I can into the air to ensure a dramatic finish on the photo. The happiest finishing line I have crossed to-date. I finish my first Half Ironman in 6hr23mins, snail pace maybe but it is a FINISH and here is how I got there.

The Jinx?
The 50 triathletes strong party of Sonic descended from their coach 1.5 hrs before the start of the race, ample of time for the final preparation. I got to my bike, setup my helmet etc. Then I thought I will give the tyre another little pump. Unfortunately I broke the valve of the front wheel in the process. What would the fortune teller have to say when you lost two inner tubes before the swimming have even kicked off?But as the “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” said “Don’t Panic”! I pulled out my spare inner tube and took the wheel to the bike mechanic, they fixed the wheel and the relieved me ran back to the bike. To my shocking horror, the tyre has deflated again, the fresh inner tube has punctured! Where would I be without the bike mechanics? I returned to them, they fit another new inner tube quickly and this time the wheel has held. Deep down I recall the day when I fracture a bone in my left arm last year, earlier that morning my seat tube fracture mysteriously; retrospectively I always say that was the warning sign for something worse installed that day. What would the fortune teller have to say when you lost two inner tubes before the swimming have even kicked off? I beleive there is cycling jinx on me, but that is not a reason to back off now. I am simply too carbo-loaded to call it a day.
(to be continued....)


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Fujirock Festival 2007

DPP_0042Apart from hiking in North Alps, another big agenda of our Japan trip was the Fujirock Festival. It was Asia’s biggest open air music festival drawing in international big names in the 3 days of non stop concerts. The last and only festival I did was Glastonbury 2002, and FJR certainly lived up to my expectation.

First evening, we were united again with MUSE, who visited HKDPP_090 only back in March. It was definitely on top of our to-see list. Their powerful music sored through the valley, and the 3 gigantic plasma screen, displaying some really cool graphic that amplified the meaning of every song. The song “Invinsible”, which I have shared the powerful lyrics before, was my personal pinnacle, image of mass demonstration went hand-in-hand with the words ‘Together we are invincible!”.

Second day, Kaiser Chief, set the stage alive, Ricky Wilson, the lead singer was a chubby guy on the outlook, but he demonstrated so much energy that I though he must be steroid. He jumped off the stage and launched himself to the crowd again and again, bemusing everyone but the security guards.

DPP_072On the final day, we waited for an hour to make sure we are in front of the stage when Mika came on. Martina danced wildly to her idol. Chemical Brothers came on in the penultimate concert. I heard they were good before, but I was never into dance music. But it turned out to be my favorite concert in the whole festival, the techno x laser x computer graphic on the plasma screen simply brings the week’s experience to a whole new level. Green stage was turned into a gigantic dance club or a massive rave party. Their set last for 1.5 hrs and after which we were so exhausted.

Here are some advices for anyone who stumble to this post and is planning to go in future:
1. If you can afford it, consider to stay in hotels instead of camping, as the camp site is outside the gate of the festival anyway, it makes little different to your experience if the tent is just a spot you go back to at the end of the day.
2. Even if it didn’t rain, bring a pair of boots with you, the Kate Moss festival look has imply caught on so well in Japan.
DPP_1503. Don’t miss the cable car ride to the mountain top, the “Day Dream and Silent Breeze” stage was a real treat for us. Plan to spend 3-4 hours there away from the crowd.
4. There was some romantic installation art in the forest board walk, don’t miss them, especially in the evening.
5. Japan has a great system to courier heavy stuff anywhere around the country, people simply sent their camping stuff ahead of them.
6. Unlike Glastonbury, we were able to enjoy hot bath in Onsen, the quality of the festival food was excellent, the toilet never overflow, have a great time!