The life of a racing cyclist isn’t easy, and brothers Zamri and Harrif Saleh know this all too well. They share some thoughts with Cycling Malaysia about what it takes to be a race cyclist.
Fresh off their success in the recent Jelajah Malaysia, brothers Zamri and Harif Saleh are the epitome of racing cyclists. Focused, driven and very thoughtful, they posted sterling 1 – 2 finishes in 3 stages of the Jelajah Malaysia in December 2014. Doing their team, TSG (Terengganu State Government) and the local hosts proud, Zamri took 2 stage wins in Bandar Seri Jempol and Alor Gajah, while Harrif won a stage in Kuala Klawang. These wins were no fluke, as TSG team captain Zamri is quick to point out. “We are more focused now, with our coach, and team morale is very high. We certainly aim to post better results in 2015.”
The key to winning races is tactics and strategy, especially in team stage races like the Jelajah Malaysia and Tour de Langkawi. A good team working together will deliver a sprinter to the finish line in the final 2 or 3 kilometers who is strong and fresh to challenge for the win, or help conserve the energy of a mountain climbing specialist for those stages that involve lots of elevation changes. “Both Harrif and myself are sprinters,” says Zamri, “and having the co-operation of the entire team is important for good results. There is a role for everyone in the team, and we all put our effort together in order to achieve race wins. Although we do not have team orders in TSG, we know who is in a better position to win on the day, so we make sure we do everything we can to deliver the win.”
A typical stage race day begins the night before. Harrif explains, “Before curfew the night before the race, we get together with our coach to discuss strategy and tactics. This is when we decide at which points of the race we will conserve energy, where we will attack, places where we have to be cautious, things like that.” After resting up, the brothers then begin the morning with their race preparations, getting their kit ready and performing their Fajr prayers, followed by a hearty breakfast. Zamri provides a little information on the nutrition intake for racers. “We usually have a big breakfast of cereals, with milk, and sometimes fruits. Our meal preparation actually starts the day before where we consume a lot of low glycemic index foods like pasta. The amount of food we consume depends on the length of the stage the next day, and how much effort we’re expecting to put in for the win. But yes, a lot of cereals and pasta for us. Definitely no nasi lemak for us,” says Zamri with a laugh.