We are in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. Ramadan. Which for Muslims means fasting during the daylight hours from dawn to dusk.
The Islamic lunar calendar year is eleven or twelve days shorter than the solar calendar year. There is no intercalation, or insertion of a leap day, week or month, to realign the lunar calendar with the solar calendar. So Ramadan migrates through the seasons.
My biker chick and I spent the last two Ramadan months in the Netherlands. Where the summer daylight hours extend for eighteen or more hours. There are advantages to being back in Malaysia where there is little variation in the length of the day throughout the year. Here we have only about fourteen hours between sahur, or the pre-fast meal, and iftar, or the fast-breaking meal.
The length of the fast at this time of the year in northern Europe means that iftar is not until almost 10pm. So rather than spend the last hours sitting at home thinking about food I would go for an evening bike ride. Sometimes on my own and sometimes in the company of David or others from the Not Possibles.
After a loop like this one, and a shower, I was very ready for that iftar drink and meal.
I did the Saturday morning Not Possibles rides as well. Those rides were too much fun to miss. A very large banana and blueberry smoothie at sahur set me up nicely for the ride. I must admit the post-ride koffie verkeerd and appeltaart at The Coffee Club were tempting.
Ramadan rides in Kuala Lumpur are a bit more challenging because of the heat and humidity. Fortunately with iftar being at 7.30pm or so there is no need for evening rides to divert the mind from food and drink. So rather than riding late in the day on an empty stomach, as I did in the Netherlands, I do the Tuesday and Thursday night rides in Kuala Lumpur on a very full stomach. I am usually eager to get started at 9pm, but during this month I am happy for any delay that adds to my digestion time.
Weekend rides will continue here as well during Ramadan. The heat and humidity mean that I have to be selective about the routes, and the pace. The Guthrie Corridor Expressway route is very open and gets too hot for a ride sans hydration. Which leaves Genting Sempah as the ride of choice. That route winds though forest so is shaded and breezy.
Having lots of scenic spots for rest stops helps too.
There is the elevation to deal with, but if taken at a relaxed pace that isn’t a problem. Most importantly for my non-fasting riding companions, the nasi lemak shop at the end of the ride is open during Ramadan.
I get to ride during Ramadan, and my non-Muslim friends get their teh tarik. Everyone is a winner!
Ok, let me get this straight since I don’t know all the rules about Ramadan:
Can you drink anything during that ride/not riding? meaning coffee or tea or juice?
Maybe it might be valuable for non-Muslim cyclists, to understand how you fuel yourself if it’s days of 14 hr. fasts. Eat in the first hr. at dusk and then go riding 2 hrs. later in the evening? I think I’m lost.
Me…after cycling 25-30 km. I need to eat on even a tiny snack, even if only half a banana or cookie, before I continue onward. I know myself…during a 65 km. ride, 2 months ago, I was ready to fall off my bike at 45 km. because I forgot to eat. And the ride only had 3 small hills at 8-10% grade each.
It is no food or drink during the fast. So “yes” fuelling for a ride can get a bit complicated, depending upon when the ride is.
It is 6am as I type this. I ate and drank thirty minutes ago. Muesli mixed in with a banana, some papaya and mango, topped with Greek yoghurt and chia seeds. And a big latte. I’ll be doing the 17km Genting Sempah climb in ninety minutes. Nothing too fast so I don’t burn too many calories or sweat much. I’ve got enough glycogen stored to do that ride and make it through the rest of the day (it is Sunday so I am sure there will be a nap in there somewhere!)
We also do regular rides at night along the KL – Shah Alam highway. I wrote a post about that ride some months ago. It is a 9pm start so we aren’t riding in the heat of the day. Those night rides are no problem during Ramadan. I just ride on a pretty full stomach after breaking the fast. We don’t go very far though. 35km or so.
The more challenging rides were the longer ones that I did during Ramadan in the Netherlands a few hours before it was time to break the fast. Mostly because I was thirsty by that time of the day. There was no particular fuelling strategy. Then I was drinking large smoothies at 3am, which were on the back of dinner five hours before. Hunger knock during the evening rides was never a problem. Terrain that is literally flat as a pancake certainly helped.