March Mania

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I had was supposed to have a sports event every weekend of March:

  • Sun 1 March – Men’s Health Urbanathlon
    Kallang Practice Track. Running + obstacles, 14 km.
    Completed: 2h 45m 58s (nett time). Runkeeper.
  • Sun 8 March – NTU Bike Rally
    F1 Pit Building. Cycling, 168 km.
    DNF: Stopped at 119 km, 5h 46m 42s (time on the move). Runkeeper.
  • Sun 15 March – Metasprint Duathlon
    F1 Pit Building. Running + Cycling + Running, 3 km + 20 km + 3 km.
    Completed: 1h 34m 19.17s. Run 1 – 17m 17s, Cycle – 50m 56s, Run 2 – 21m 59s. Runkeeper.
  • Sat 21 March – (Re)Cycle 350
    Sports Hub. Cycling, 16 km.
    DNS – I was ill.
  • Sat 29 March – 2XU Compression Run
    F1 Pit Building. Running, 21 km.
    Postponed due to LKY’s Funeral.

Urbanathlon

This was my first time participating. I didn’t know what to expect. Overall, the obstacles were doable. I heard lots of chatter that the organisers made things easier this year, compared to 2014. Well, I’m glad they did! The final “surprise” obstacle proved to be slightly unsafe. The drop from height must have caused a few injuries. They doubled up on the safety matress just before I reached it. Thank goodness they did!

NTU Bike Rally

This year’s edition consisted of two distances – 88 km and 168 km. I opted for 168 km. Siva, Say Lin, Aaron and Edward were with me at various points throughout the ride. It was a hot, hot, hot day. Sad to say, none of us completed 168 km! Siva’s shoulder hurt too much. Say Lin was spent. They stopped at Woodlands Waterfront. Aaron ended up on the 88 km route! After all the hard bits, my foldie gave out after Punggol Waterfront. The handlebar came loose, and there was no way to remedy on the spot. Brother-in-law Edward continued on but not for long. He stopped just before the Pasir Ris Drive 3 slope leading to Loyang Avenue. I was very disappointed. My small consolation is that I did not stop while cycling up Nanyang Avenue. ๐Ÿ™‚

Duathlon

Another first for me. Run 3 km, bike 20 km, run 3 km. My foldie was at the shop, so I used my MTB. I was slow in the first run, couldn’t keep up with the road and tri-bikes during the bike phase and I was even slower in the second run. It was interesting, but man was I tired the rest of the day. I might do it again though.

Lack of photos

I don’t have a lot of photos from the three events.

Anticipating a surprise water obstacle, my phone was wrapped in a ziplock bag for the Urbanathlon. It was quite inconvenient to take photos. After the race, I realised that I had plenty of time to take photos – lots waiting time before the obstacles!

Bike Rally photos are here. It was a hard slog on a hot day. Photos were not foremost on my mind.

The Duathlon was the most “race” event I’ve taken part in. No time to get distracted. I did snap one or two pics while on a straight with my bike.

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OCBC Cycle Singapore 2010

Cycling: One of the few types of exercise I can do now without my joints and muscles screaming out for mercy. 40km is do-able, so I signed up again for OCBC Cycle Singapore.

Last year, I did the distance in 2 hours 13 minutes, which is slow. This was supposed to be the impetus to train harder and go sub-2 hours.

Naturally, things didn’t go as I planned. My training was limited – mostly by sheer laziness – to three short rides at Ubin – and an attempt at the Kallang Park Connector.

Nevertheless, I managed to achieve my timing goal. This morning, I clocked myself at an hour and 38 minutes. Almost half an hour better.

Not that I can put this down to training. I probably knew how to pace myself better this time round. Perhaps, the earlier start this year helped too. Despite the recent hot weather, it was a relatively cool morning. And with cycling, you always feel a breeze. Although when you’re tired, you feel like the same breeze is conspiring to slow you down.

During the ride, I was looking out for @gadgetygirl and @sivasothi (and friends). While I didn’t manage to spot them, I did bump into a friend from secondary school days. Audrey D’cotta was a prefect I knew from CHIJ (Toa Payoh). She now runs her own pilates studio.

Meeting fellow foldie-owners is always a treat too. I think I saw a Dahon guy that I saw last year, on his distinctive yellow-orche bike with matching tyres. As we whizzed past me, he hollered, “Go, bro!” And the support staff are always generous with their cheers for guys on small bikes (read: supposedly inferior equipment).

The ride itself – I preferred last year’s route. The organisers seemed to have switched the start and end sectors, which meant that this year, we headed towards the finish, then headed away from the finish… several times.

OCBC Cycle Singapore 2010

All in all, I enjoyed myself. The rest area after the ride was much better too. Last year, there wasn’t much. This time, there were a few booths, the most important of which was NPark’s Park Connector booth. They had maps showing the Park Connector Networks, which included park connectors being built and in planning. Picked up a couple of brochures and got myself a nice PCN cap.

OCBC Cycle Singapore 2010

Oh yes, the goodie bag includes items that I might actually use!

OCBC Cycle Singapore 2010

The Long Overdue Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix Wrap-up Post

My Grand Prix weekend began last week on Thursday with…

Meeting the BMW Sauber F1 Team | photos

BMW Sauber F1 Meet the Team Event

I was invited to attend a meet the team session at BMW’s gleaming HQ along Alexandra Road. Now, I’m pretty realistic, so I’ve never harboured thoughts of driving a car in Singapore, let alone a BMW.

So, going to a car showroom was a first for me. Plus I’ve never been this close to F1 drivers too. In the car, they seem distant. But here I was, going to see them up close. The whole setup was classy. There were media and PR types. Definitely some valued BMW customers too. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I felt a bit out of place.

The questions, I must admit, were a tad tedious with lots of obvious questions, particularly about acclimatisation and racing at night. On hindsight, these questions had to be asked. And those are all moot now since the race is over. BMW’s test driver had the most memorable answer during the session.

On being asked what life as a test driver is like, the clean-cut and amicable Christian Klien replied, “I travel with the team to all the races as the reserve driver just in case they go to a restaurant that has spicy Asian food and cannot drive the next morning then itโ€™s my turn basically…”

Heh.

Unfortunately for Christian, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld didn’t have a problem with our spicy food.

Still, the test drivers are unsung heroes of the teams. They rack up kilometres in testing to help develop the car over the course of the season. It’s something like being a reserve goalkeeper in football. The most probable way you’re going to get a chance is if the guy ahead you *touch wood* gets injured or falls ill.

I will remember the Meet the Team session not so much for meeting the team but for bumping into a number of people that I know: Stephanie, a prefect from CHIJ; Parita, who I found familiar and only a day later realised that we were on a Youth Expedition Project together; Gene, my sister’s boyfriend, who was covering the event for Hot Stuff magazine and an aunt of mine who was there with her husband. I also met a few Singaporean bloggers: Nadia, Claudia and Brian.

The Night Recce from the Singapore Flyer | photos

Singapore Flyer | Eve of Singapore GP

That evening, I went on my first ‘flight’ on the Singapore Flyer to check out the illuminated race track from above.

There is no better view from the Flyer than this. If I go on it again, whether in the day or at night, I’d probably be slightly disappointed.

Thursday night was also the practice session for the Safety Car. It was making a hell of a noise going around the track at full speed.

Of course, nothing compared to the noise that Singapore was about to experience over the next few days. It was a nice little appetizer though.

On ground level, everything was still very accessible. You could even get up close to the marshalls and to the track at certain areas.

Whether or not I attend the race next year, this preview to soak up the atmosphere is a must in my book.

Friday Practice | photos

Singapore GP - Friday Practice

I’ve gone on about the crowd issues at length, so I’ll not mention them here again. (I do intend to send my feedback about improvements to the Singapore GP organisers.)

I got into the circuit just after the gates were opened at 1 p.m. I took this chance to walk around a bit while the whole place was relatively empty. The support race paddock was open too. Just as well that I took a few photos then because they barricaded the area from Friday evening onwards.

The practice sessions for the support races gave me the chance to practice my panning shots, in preparation for the stars of the show.

At 7 pm, for the very first time, the distinctive eardrum-bursting roar of Formula 1 engines reverberated around Marina Bay.

Unlike practice sessions in other countries, most of the teams had their cars out from the start. And they were getting in as many laps as they could so that the drivers could learn the circuit and for the teams to collect data about the track.

Also, the Bay Grandstand (not sure about the rest), was at least half full! The novely factor probably pulled in the crowd. Friday Practice is not very well attended elsewhere.

Mark Webber has the dubious distinction of being the first man to crash at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. He hit the barriers at the turn leading to the tunnel under the Bay Grandstand.

Practice was quite eventful with the crashes and near-shunts. Driving under lights didn’t seem to pose a problem to the drivers. In fact, a close up shot of Hamilton on the big screen revealed his eyes – totally focused. Not something you can get in a day time race.

The photo above of Lewis Hamilton’s car is my favourite shot of the whole weekend. It’s on the Esplanade Drive, just after Turn 13. Judging from the number of views, the following photo, taken on Saturday during the third practice, is the most popular. Still, I prefer the one above as it is composed better. I also feel it conveys the sense of speed a little more dramatically.

Saturday Qualifying | photos

Singapore Grand Prix - Saturday Qualifying

Friday’s crowd debacle led to Saturday being a recce for Sunday. My priorities:

  • Find a nice quiet corner to take panning photos
  • Find a place to watch the drivers’ parade (on Sunday) up close
  • Find a place close to the start/finish straight to watch the beginning of the race (so that I could experience the full impact of 20 F1 engines)

I was at the track at about 3pm this time. The Aston Martin Asia Cup qualifying was on when I got to the circuit. During the Formula BMW first race, I was busy getting McLaren stuff. I tried Turn 8 during the Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying. It was good but not the most ideal place to take photos. It was quite close to an underpass entrance, so walkabout ticket holders might chope that corner early on Sunday.

I looked at the map and decided to try Turn 5 during the 3rd F1 practice session before qualifying. That corner fulfilled all my criteria.

For some reason, there weren’t that many people there. I managed to get up to the railings and started panning away when the F1 cars went past during practice.

At one point, as I was waiting for cars to come by, Kimi Raikonnen went past on the boundary rider’s motorcycle. He had crashed further along the road after Turn 5! Unfortunately, I was on manual focus and other settings meant for panning shots. I don’t have F1 drivers’ standard reflexes, so I didn’t manage to get a shot off.

That hour was the most productive for my photo-taking. I took (and deleted) tons of panning photos. Looking back, I realise that all this wasn’t possible when I was still using a flim SLR when I attended the 2002 and 2003 Australian Grands Prix in Melbourne. I didn’t have film to waste. Neither was my camera up to the task of shooting 6 frames a second.

Just to get a “car parked on the road” shot (as Darren Heath calls it) back then took a ton of film. My frame would either be totally blank (shot way too early or late) or have either the front or back half of the car in it. I was quite stupidly standing along a straight as well. So, this shot of Raikonnen – then with McLaren – was the only one with the whole car in the frame.

Thank goodness for digital.

Finally!

Sunday Race | photos

Singapore Grand Prix - Sunday Race

I plonked myself at Turn 5 on race day, even before any of the support races had started. Armed with an expensive rental Kangaroo TV unit (Turn 5 was not equipped with a giant screen), I waited for the minor races to go by.

Time seemed to stand still for a long time.

The drivers parade started, and I was thankful that they were in those nice classic cars.

More waiting. The calm before the storm.

The roar of engines as the F1 cars went by to take their places on the grid. Just a preview.

The warm-up lap. Getting there… getting there…

As the cars lined up on the grid, the sound of 20 F1 cars growled, waiting to be unleashed.

Five red lights came on one by one.

The lights went out, and the cars took off!

Ah, that beautiful sound…

It’s something to be experienced. I just cannot describe the sound.

The cars got past the first few corners safely. They zoomed, and I mean really zoomed past where I was standing. There were so many cars bunched up that I didn’t really know where to focus either.

After another lap trying to capture the moment, I decided to take a walk back to my designated seat at the Bay Grandstand. (Hey, the sound and the view at the start of the race wouldn’t have been as good from there.)

When I got to my seat, everything was going well for Ferrari. Massa was leading. Raikonnen, in third, was gaining on Hamilton.

Then Nelsinho Piquet Jr. crashed into the wall at the Bay Grandstand.

You know the rest. =)

I enjoyed myself tremendously during the race.

Can’t wait for 2009!

Links

  • Boston Globe Photos
  • A nice collection of Singapore GP photos from various photographers and photographic agencies.

  • Sour Grapes
  • Yup, our track is a circus. Ferrari, to steal a line from Pirates of the Caribbean, welcome to Singapore!

Singapore Grand Prix 2008 – Friday Practice

A short post to say that I’m back from the Friday practice session.

Really tired.

Donated blood in the morning, then headed to the circuit.

Went in when the gates opened, walked around, took photos, watched Formula BMW practice, watched Vicky Cristina Barcelona (sorry, Aston Martin and Porsche races aren’t my cup of tea), then back to the track for the first practice session.

In between the two practice sessions was what tired me out. Some very serious bad planning and inflexibility by the organisers.

The walkway between the Bay Grandstand (where NDP is held) and Gate 7 (Marina Square entrance near Starbucks and McDonald’s is way too narrow.

That small passage cannot cater to the 25,000 people in the Bay Grandstand. It’s the only way to get to the Esplanade/Padang portion of the track where the majority of the food/drinks/merchandising is located.

It took me slightly over an hour to get from Bay Grandstand to the hawker village at the Padang.

While in the jam, I was stuck next to some Finnish dude who kept on moaning about how terrible this situation is and how this doesn’t happen at other venues. (He also complained about the lack easy access to alcoholic beverages.)

As embarrassed as I was at this lack of foresight, I have to agree.

Not acceptable.

Practice itself was good fun. A few drivers seemed to have problems with the final turn before the start/finish straight. Mark Webber ploughed into the barricades before the tunnel. If this is what happens when it’s dry, I wonder what will happen if it rains…

Anyway, I’ve gone on long enough. It was meant to be a short rant.

So, I owe posts on the following:
Meeting the BMW Team
Previewing the circuit from the Singapore Flyer
Friday Practice review

Oh yes, my modem went kaput this morning, so I’m on Wireless@SG temporarily. That means my huge photos will take a long while to get uploaded. Haven’t even finished with the Pandan Mangrove Cleanup set.

Time to hit the shower.

Peter Chan – Another walk around the Singapore GP pit garages

My intrepid friend, Peter Chan, took another walk around the F1 pit garages and start-finish straight yesterday evening. Once again, he has shared his photos with me and given me permission to blog these. Here we go…

AF1 START-FINISH line at 703pm-2008

Work going on at the start-finish straight. I’m imagining 20 cars on the grid, waiting for the five lights to go out, signalling the start of the race. The sound is guaranteed to give you goosebumps. Hair raising, indeed…

AF1 and Singapore Flyer-2008

Suzuka’s famous Ferris Wheel may no longer be an F1 feature since the Japan race moved to Fuji, but we’ve got our Singapore Flyer dominating the paddock skyline.

F1 worker and buggy stuck at Turn 23-2008

Valerio Maioli lighting engineer in his buggy.

F1 garages-2-2008

Renault team at work.

F1 garages-7-2008

McLaren Mercedes keeping a firm lid on things.

Singapore Grand Prix video previews

Oh yes, yesterday’s event with Darren Heath began with a screening of this video. It shows Red Bull’s Mark Webber in a digitally animated simulation of a lap of the Singapore Grand Prix. Among all the simulations I’ve seen, this one is the best. The animation and the sound are spot on. Turn up the volume when watching it!

I hope the racing is as good as the battle between Webber and Vettel in that video, although I know side-by-side racing along straights in F1 nowadays is very rare. Heh, Vettel spins in the clip and somehow manages to catch up with Webber by the end of the lap – more fantasy stuff. Oh, Webber’s narration is pretty good too. Except that me makes Padang sound like Penang.

The next video shows McLaren’s special preparations for the night race. Don’t let it be said that their outfit is stuffy and mechanical. Would your CEO do a video like this?