Ranau, Sabah. 26th and 27th August 2016. A homecoming for many riders and new to a few. On a personal note, currently being based in Sabah it is a homecoming for me too having attended two previous events here in Mesilau and Lohan. The event formerly known as the ASEAN Mountain Bike Cup has a new namesake and is now known as the "Asia Mountain Bike Series”. Sabah was given the honor to host the newly restructured event, the second event on calendar after Jamber, Indonesia. The series has now widened its scope to rope in more participants from the greater Asian countries like Japan and Nepal and many more future inclusions.
This downhill track which is located in the vicinity of the Ranau Municipal Sports Complex is 2.7km in distance and begins at the Ranau Forest Reserve with at an elevation of 997 meters and finishing at Kampung Kilimu. Designing and work began about two months ago with the technical assistance from Mr. Lester Lebumfacil of the Philippines, who built the track for last year's event at Lohan, Sabah. This newly built track and features are built with a different perspective in mind, to raise the standards of mountain biking around the region. This in alignment having learned that Sabah is gearing up to become the Mountain Biking destination for Malaysia and region.
Race day began in the morning with the seeding event. The starting point was set picturesquely above the clouds. Riders braced for a big drop that leads into a berm which flows into three jumps before hitting a short rocky section and being led to the loose top soil and dirt steep section of the track. Then it's off onto the straight high-speed section with loose rocks filled lots of sketchy moments. Riders then meet the double gaps flowing into a drop. It's down all the way hitting a right hander on a tacky clay surface before heading into the "River Gap", landing and a short pedal moment gaining speed, clearing the biggest gap, flowing down and a table to the finishing line.
Eager, I made my way to the "River Gap" on official practice day. Catching a glimpse, seen here Norshahriel Haizat from Malaysia gapping the "River Gap". Second in the Men's Elite Category, Asia Mountainbike Series, 2016 Ranau leg and the overall winner in the Malaysian National Championship standings.
Minh Tran Anh of Vietnam seen here bracing for the "Big Drop".
Muhammad Syafiq Subian a Sarawakian which I had been following over the last three years at ASEAN level competitions, a rider from zero to his current third placing overall at the Malaysian National Championships at the jumps section.
Jeremy Tan aka "JT" winner, Men's Master B at the double gap section.
Eleazar Barba Jr. of the Philippines keeping it low at the "Big Gap" racing towards the finish line. The winner in the Men's Elite Category with an official time of 02:53:24 minutes.
Winners, Men's Elite Category, Asia Mountainbike Series, 2016, Ranau, Sabah (#01 - Eleazar Barba Jr. - Philippines; #02
- Norshahriel Haizat - Malaysia; #03
- Muhammad Aim - Malaysia).
Speaking to severals riders after the event, many were thrilled to have the experience of riding this fast and challenging track and look forward to a return visit. Also, in store for next year, some form of collaboration in bringing the Indonesian riders to this side of the shores by making this track a stop over for next years Indonesian series. Added features to the track would also be interesting to look forward to.
An interesting calendar ahead, the next event will be held at Timor Leste from the 10th to the 11th September and at Bukit Siol, Sarawak from the 05th to 06th November. Here's signing out and until we meet once again on the next reporting, “Keep them wheels rolling and feet pedalling”