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Your Country Very Hot

My biker chick ZAZ and I have moved a number of times from our tropical home to more temperate climes.  Each time we struggled initially with the cold but we did get used to it.  Almost without noticing our increasing tolerance for low temperatures.  Until we got home again.

We have a catchphrase that we use with each other a lot in the first few months back home.  “Your country very hot.”  I shouldn’t be surprised that we have to reacclimatize to the heat and humidity.   It does take a few months before I don’t feel the need to take four or five showers a day.

Yesterday’s ride confirmed that I am not yet used to being back in a hot and humid country.  I was invited to ride the Broga 116.  I had expected to be part of a group ride.  What I hadn’t expected was that I would be part of a highly organized group ride.  A group ride with two SAG support vehicles, three water stops, photographers along the route, lunch at the finish, a t-shirt, and in a first for me at any organized ride, a route ‘tulip‘ sticker for my top tube.

All put together by a cycling club, without commercial sponsorship, for anyone who was willing to pay RM 30 / USD 10 to participate.  At least fifty of us stumped up the cash and were ready to roll from the car park at the Sungai Tekala Recreation area at 7.30 am.
I had three 25 ounce bottles of Nuun-treated water, a layer of sunscreen on every bit of exposed skin, and a cap under my helmet to soak up sweat.  In other words I was unprepared for the heat and humidity.

On previous rides I had noticed that my average pulse rate was 10 to 15 bpm higher than it had been in the Netherlands.  I knew that was because of the higher ambient temperature in Kuala Lumpur.  It was about 28C / 82F with a relative humidity over 80% at the start.  It would get considerably warmer as the sun rose in the sky.  That fact should have been my first warning that I would have a tough day.

Graph courtesy of The National Weather Service at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/heat/index.shtml

The second warning came 35 km into the ride, in the form of the first climb of the day.  The Bukit Mandom 1 climb is only 1 km but it has grades of up to 10.2%.  By the time I had crested that climb sweat was dripping onto my top tube and I was already into my second bottle.  The descent at 60 kph plus cooled me off a little but that was scant respite.  After 1 km the road tipped upward again as Bukit Mandom 2 presented itself.  By the time I completed the 1.8 km to the crest of that hill I knew for certain that it would just get tougher as the ride progressed.

As indeed it did.  Bukit Tangga (literally Stairway Hill) was bigger and badder than the previous two hills.  I started cramping in both quadriceps on the lower slopes and had to stop 3 km into the climb to stretch.  If nothing else that gave me the opportunity to take this photo of my fellow cyclists grinding up the hill.

The spasms from heat cramps in my quadriceps were my constant and faithful companion for the rest of the ride.  Whenever the grade kicked up above 6% I had to slow down to below 10 kph.  I found that if I rode in my inner ring /  largest cog combination (why oh why didn’t I have my compact crank?) and maintained a very slow cadence I could continue to pedal without completely cramping up.  The observant among you, dear readers, will have noticed from the route tulip that the planners had saved the biggest climb of the day for the end.  13 km long and a total of 470 meters upwards.  I have never been so glad to to see the back side of a hill.

Nevertheless I took several positives from this ride.  The organisation was excellent.  Which was a very good thing.  The water stops saved me from becoming severely dehydrated.  I had 75 ounces / 2.2 liters of fluid in my bottles at the start of the ride, which turned out to be woefully insufficient.  I picked up at least another 2 liters of water at the stops, along with, pardon the pun, a bunch of bananas.

The views, when I wasn’t staring fixedly at my front wheel so that I wouldn’t have to look up at the never-ending slope ahead of me, were lush and verdant.

I learned that Aesop knew what he was talking about.  My slow and steady 6 to 8 kph up Genting Peres meant that I caught and passed a number of other riders who had started the climb at speed but then had to stop for a breather before the top.  And I finished the ride on my bike and not in a SAG support vehicle.  Not that I am competitive or anything!

Our sea freight had been delivered so I was able to do the ride in my Not Possibles jersey.

Best of all I made new friends, courtesy of Syihan Nik, who invited me to do the Broga 116.  By the way I still haven’t decided if I should thank him or thump him.  Here are Syihan and I early in the day, looking and feeling considerably better than we did at the end.  As you will soon see.

I finished the 114 km soaked in sweat but my cooling mechanism hadn’t coped very well with the conditions.
Despite cold showers and iced drinks my core temperature stayed elevated for the rest of the day.  So there is no doubt about it ZAZ.  Your country very hot.

About alchemyrider

I left Malaysia in 2008 as a non-cyclist. I am back home now with two road bikes and all the paraphernalia that goes with being addicted to cycling.

5 responses »

  1. oh gosh…. I am getting soft legs reading it…..

    Reply
  2. some crazy American friends of mine wear arm and leg coverings that are supposed to keep you cool. Cannily enough, they’re called “arm” and “leg” “coolers”. for some reason, this post made me think of these garments.

    well done!

    Reply
    • Some people here wear them. At first I thought “They are either hard or crazy. Wearing arm warmers in this heat.” But your friends may be on to something with arm coolers. Apparently they work. I’ll have to investigate.

      Reply
  3. Pingback: Kilo Months | Old Roots, New Routes

  4. Pingback: H0w Much To Drink on a Ride? | Old Roots, New Routes

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