Tour de Timor 2012

It all starts tomorrow....

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Peter Wall | September 8 2012 | 1 comment

Volunteers at work

One more day until the start of the Tour de Timor – and it’s starting to get crazy at the Timor Lodge.
All the riders, media, and the many volunteers are now in-country, and there’s a huge sense of anticipation in the air. The riders gathered this afternoon for a pre-race briefing, and the theme was … safety! Apparently a six-day mountain bike race on crazy roads is a bit of a dangerous thing.

One of the cool things about the Tour de Timor are the many volunteers who travel to help out. Today I spoke with Belinda Olding from Newcastle in Australia. She came because her sister is riding in the race. She’d never been to East Timor before, and had only heard about it on the news. She thinks it’s cool to be here to see it first hand… and she’s not really that unique. Most people here feel like the ‘troubled times’ they’ve heard or seen or read about don’t really do justice to what they’ve seen of the country and it’s people so far.

Rashid Salleh

Yesterday I promised two quick profiles – and here they are. Rashid Salleh is in charge of media at the Tour this year. He’s a sports presenter, actor and TV personality from Malaysia who has a huge soft spot for East Timor. He’s been involved with the Tour since it began four years ago, and this year has already put in countless time and energy making sure media coverage at the Tour goes smoothly. He also worked with Jungle Run at the Tour last year to produce a 6 part series, soon to be broadcast on Multi Channel Asia. He even did the narration!

Rashid is looking forward to the race starting tomorrow: “This year is going to be exciting because a lot of the race will be on good roads. So it will be fast. We have some road cyclists who might surprise some people.”
He also thinks it’s a special year, especially for peace-building with East Timor’s neighbour, Indonesia.
“For me, the big thing this year is crossing the border. In the three years I’ve been involved with the Tour, we’ve never done that. And I’ve never been to Oecussi, so going there is going to be cool.” Oecussi is the small enclave of East Timor, now entirely surrounded by the Indonesian province of West Timor. On day two, the race will travel roughly 50km from East Timor through West Timor to Oecussi.
Shinta Okta

The other person I promised to write about it Shinta Okta. What would Jungle Run do without her? Her title is production manager, but essentially she’s the glue that keeps everything together. Fluent in Indonesian, English, and Javanese, Shinta does things like: manage the team’s finances on the road; make sure everyone is fed; hook up the team with Sim cards and phone numbers; find Aussie-style plug adaptors when the rooms at the hotel don’t take European or US plugs; etc, etc. This is her second Tour de Timor, but she’s still nervous. “This is an unpredictable event, lots of things can go wrong.” Ominous words….?

Finally, day five. If you ask any of the riders about the race…. everyone thinks it will go fine – until day five. It’s the longest day of the Tour – 119kms, and has some massive climbs. It will be the hardest day by far, and if you’re able to even finish, you’ve achieved something.

That’s it for today. Stay tuned for the first post from the road tomorrow, following stage 1.

“This is an unpredictable event, lots of things can go wrong.” Shinta, Production Manager, Jungle Run

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