The Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge may be the best race I did all year. It was a 5 day MTB stage race in Langkawi, Malaysia. Langkawi is a small island off Malaysia close to Thailand. My teammate Cory Wallace (KONA FACTORY TEAM) talked me into this event, which turned out to have a superstar field including Karl Platt, Burry Stander, Johnny Cattaneo and Marzio Deho on the mens side and Nathalie Schneitter and Vivienne Meyer for the women.
Day one was a 62 km UCI marathon which was super hot, probably about 35 degrees C and to make it even worse the whole field of 160+ pro men spent 20 minutes lined up on the start waiting for the honorary patron Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, some general or colonel, to show up and say go. I went out way too hard and blew up after the first 30 minutes. After another 45 minutes of trying to ride hard I came around and had a strong finish. There were going to be three neutral feed zones but it turned out that there was only one, so most racers got extremely dehydrated. I finished up 16th. Cory was having an awesome day but got attacked by a jungle vine, which wrapped around his head and his bike. Cory finished 11th.
Stage two was a UCI XC held at the Kampung Tok Senih Resort. This course had an awesome super steep climb and rad single track descent through rubber plantations. The local race marshals had little camp fires going to keep away the mosquitos which made an already hot race even hotter plus you were always breathing in smoke.
The third day was like a cyclocross race, super small gaps and group racing on a 4.7km course on the north end of the island. Transport to the start was by bus, but by the time Cory and I boarded it was full, so we hopped on a unimog like army truck with a chain smoking driver for the 45 min drive. Another super sunny hot day that clouded over within 30 minutes of finishing and then the most amazing thunder storm rolled in. Everything was flooded within an hour.
The 26 km hill climb on the fourth day started rough for Cory when he blew his tire off his wheel before the race even started. The day before we were discussing tire pressure and I though it was crazy to run 60psi, he didn’t listen to me though. We got Cory fixed and made it to the start on time but it wasn’t his day and within the first 3 km he hit something, maybe a thorn, and flatted. Celebrated British road racers Chris Froome and Adam Blythe joined this stage as guest riders.
The final day, a short track, 40 min plus 3 laps of a 1.9km course around the Langkawi Sports Centre was in 40 C heat was probably the toughest of all the stages, but I had my best finish.
The LIMBC was the most competitive mountain bike race I did this season. In the final GC I finished 10th and Cory 12th.