After last weekend’s Broga broiler my biker chick gave me strict instructions. I was to get a full medical examination before doing any more hot and humid rides. Which in Kuala Lumpur meant before doing any more rides – period. Turning 55 was additional incentive, not that I needed it given that my cycling was at risk, to get checked out.
So I spent a few hours being been scanned, prodded, pierced, x-rayed and wired to various machines. I was declared fully fit so I was able to turn my attention to what rides to do over the coming weekend. A group from the Racun Cycling Gang and some Cyclistis had signed up for this ride: a charity ride in support of the Malaysian Aids Foundation.
By the time I got my act together registration for this ride had closed. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately given the weather forecast for the day of the ride, the organisers accepted my entry despite my tardiness. The ride was 130 km. There was one water stop, at the 80 km point. The organisers recommended that riders have two, or better yet, three bottles to get them to the water stop. I had three bottles on the Broga ride and that hadn’t been enough. I would have to do some things differently to make it through this ride in better shape that I had been during the Broga ride.
The first thing to do differently this time would be to not let my heart rate shoot past 150 bpm. The Karvonen formula, which is a more accurate way to calculate your maximum heart rate than the frequently quoted 220 minus your age method, puts my maximum heart rate at 165 bpm. I suspect that part of my troubles during the Broga ride stemmed from riding at greater than 85% of my maximum heart rate for more than an hour, including hitting 165 bpm at a few points. In other words I would have to curb my competitive instincts and not chase after faster riders.
The second thing to do differently this time would be to stay as cool as possible. I should have done this very simple and, in hindsight, obvious thing from my first ride in Malaysia. I put my three bottles in the freezer overnight.
Farid and I rolled through the start at about 8am. It was already warm and it was obvious that we were in for a sunny morning.
You can see two frozen bottles in my cages. The third bottle was in the rear centre pocket of my jersey. Pouring ice cubes down someone’s back was a high school prank. Who would have thought that I would volunteer for the equivalent now? Regular sips of frosty sport drink combined with that lump of ice at the base of my spine kept me lukewarm rather than hot for most of the ride.
Despite taking turns at the front of a group that hit better than 40 kph at times I managed to keep my heart rate in check. This was helped in large part by the very flat route. We were riding on the coastal plain to the west of the city, where the only climbing was up highway overpasses. Much like in both Houston and Den Haag. We did approach one climb today but just as we got to the foot of the hill we turned to the right and away from it. I was not disappointed!
Of course there is no avoiding the effects of the heat and humidity completely. I was dripping in no time at all. This time I remembered to bring my Sweat GUTR, which I had bought to keep the sweat out of my eyes in the 40° C and higher summer temperatures in Houston. It still works a treat.
The water stop had been moved to the 59 km point. I was glad to see it. I refilled one bottle. I probably should have topped up my other bottles but I didn’t want to dilute the Nuun sport drink. I poured some water over my head and the back of my neck. More to wash the sweat off my face then to cool down. Once we got moving again it did help to have wet hair and a wet jersey.
The organizers had shortened the ride to 98 km. I was not disappointed about that either! By the end of the ride all three of my bottles were empty. I rolled across the finish line hot and sweaty and in need of fluid. As you can see there was more to drink at the finish area.
It may not look it from the photo above but my strategies to not overheat worked. The freezer is my new friend.