Strava displays a “Suffer Score” along with other summary information about each ride that you upload. The Suffer Score is a value calculated using your heart rate during a ride relative to your maximum heart rate, and the distance ridden. The higher your Suffer Score, the harder you worked during that ride.
A descriptor is assigned to Suffer Scores. 100 to 150 is a Tough score. 151 to 250 is an Extreme score. Anything greater than 250 is an Epic score.
I have only twice had a Suffer Score in the Epic category. The first was during the Kuantan Century Ride last year. My average speed was 28 kph. My average heart rate during that ride was 144 bpm, over a distance of 161 km. I felt trashed for the last 20 kms of that ride.
My second Epic effort was yesterday. I rode with four other Flipsiders from Bandar Sunway to Morib and back. This ride was 133km. My average speed was 26.6 kph. Despite the shorter distance and lower average speed, my heart rate averaged 140 bpm. Not much less than it was during the Kuantan ride. And again I felt trashed for the last 20 kms of the ride.
I have had rides that had a lot more climbing, and were therefore more difficult – although this wasn’t easy either, given that the sun was beating down and that the temperature felt like 36 °Celsius.
I suffered, despite the flatness of the Morib ride, due to an alarming lack of fitness. I knew that being inactive for more than three months would have a negative effect, but I didn’t expect it to be this bad.
The route took us west along the KESAS Highway. It was my first time riding west of Sunway Lagoon, though my companions have done this ride before.
We exited the KESAS Highway at the Bandar Botanik interchange, where we turned left onto Jalan Langat. I have been on that section of road before, during the ride to Port Dickson, and during the Klang Premiere Century ride.
We weren’t on Jalan Langat very long before we had to make a stop at a PETRONAS petrol station. Justin had a flat tire. I took the opportunity to take an opportunistic photograph.
We had stopped at the PETRONAS Johan Setia.
Two hours into the ride my left arm and shoulder had started aching. I spent a lot of time sitting up on my saddle to give my arm and shoulder a rest. Marco is smiling in his selfie, but you can see that Mark and I are wilting in the heat. At this point we had another fifteen kilometers to go before we got to Morib. Those were some of the longest kilometers I have ever ridden.
It was a relief to finally arrive at Taman Seri Bayou Morib. Marked on the beach side by this pretty art installation.
We had ridden 75 kilometers. There were serious doubts in my mind that I would make it all the way back to Sunway.
I didn’t look it at the time, but I did feel somewhat rejuvenated after these.
Four cartons of cold chocolate milk.
The others looked cheery while waiting for their nasi lemak. I had some too. It was very good.
It was about 11.00am when we started the return leg. This wasn’t the last sit-down I needed before we got back to Bandar Sunway.
The return leg was 17 kms shorter than the outbound leg. We had done a loop to the east of Bandar Sunway at the start. Despite the shorter homeward distance, my average speed dropped from 27.6 kph to 25.5 kph. Even with the slower pace, my average heart rate went up from 137 bpm to 145 bpm. That must be when my Suffer Score ventured into Epic territory.
I really was struggling over the last 20 kms. I kept looking at my Garmin, convinced that I had covered three or four kilometers since the last time I checked it. Only to find that I was only fifteen hundred meters further forward. Right about the time I was going to pack it in and collapse on the edge of the road, a rest area hove into view. There was only about 6 kms to go, but I wouldn’t have made it without that final fifteen minute rest in the air-conditioned PETRONAS shop – and without an ice-cream.
I would have preferred an easier ride. Especially after such a long time off the bike. It does however make me believe that I will finish the Malacca Century Ride next Sunday.
Hopefully it won’t be another Epic!