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Avoiding the Heat

Malaysia’s climate is equatorial, being hot and humid throughout the year.  The maximum temperature and high humidity numbers for Kuala Lumpur so far in February 2018 bear this out.

Feb Temp and Humidity

Data courtesy of Weather Underground

I have written in the past about how to beat the heat. I wrote a post about how much to drink on a ride.  Another post was about the efficacy of wearing a base layer.  There was a post about how to keep sweat out of your eyes.

Lately a few riding buddies and I have taken heat and humidity management to a new level.

Ride Start Times.png

When possible, we have taken to starting rides before 5.30am.  That way we get most of our riding in before the sun rises at around 7.30am.  We get an average of 85km / 53mi done, and have breakfast, by about 9.30am.  At that time of the morning the temperature is still in the mid 20s °C / mid 70s °F.

Not everyone can start a ride before 5.30am.  I for one need to take a mid-afternoon nap.  But for those who can, there is no better way to stay

Out of the sun

How Much To Drink on a Ride?

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Hydration Banner

One of the givens of cycling in Malaysia is the heat and the humidity.  I have written a number of posts about the challenges of riding in our tropical weather.

Hyperthermia – Avoid It

Does a Base Layer Really Work in Tropical Weather?

Sweaty Eyeballs

Your Country Very Hot

The really hot and humid weather during the BCG Tour ride from Kajang to Melaka and back over the past weekend got me thinking again about hydration.

Drink 2 liters / 68 fl oz (or eight glasses) of water every day.

Lose more than 2% of your body weight and your performance will decline by x%.

Words to this effect have been repeated over and over in sports, health and lifestyle magazines.  They have become burnt into the minds of cyclists the world over.

It turns out that there is no scientific method behind those numbers.  Exercise physiologist Stacy Sims, Ph.D., a hydration researcher at Stanford University, says that the recommendation to drink 2 liters per day don’t take into account gender, environment, altitude, and fitness level—factors that could affect fluid intake needs.
Read more at Are You Overhydrated?

Alan McCubbin, an Accredited Sports Dietitian, Accredited Practicing Dietitian and the President of Sports Dietitians Australia, points out that the recommendation that athletes drink enough fluid to prevent a loss of body weight from sweat of more than 2% during exercise is based on studies using performance tests that don’t resemble real world sporting events.
Read more at Hydration for Cyclists: How Much Do We Really Need to Drink?

It is clear that dehydration does have an effect on cyclists and other athletes.  The physiological responses include:

  • Reduction in blood volume
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Decreased skin blood flow
  • Decreased sweat rate
  • Decreased heat dissipation
  • Increased pulse rate
  • Increased core temperature
  • Increased rate of muscle glycogen use
  • Rapid and deep breathing, faster than normal
  • Decreased digestive function

All of which contributes to fatigue and an impaired capacity to turn the pedals.  Read more at Dehydration. Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

I have lost count of how many times I have had an elevated pulse rate, an increased core temperature, and shortness of breath while on long, hot rides.  I sweat more profusely than most, and so am probably losing at least 1 liter / 34 fl oz of fluid per hour of particularly hot and humid days.  Perhaps more.  So it is no surprise to me that I need to constantly watch my hydration levels.

Which brings me back to the question of how much I should drink while on my bicycle?  I hadn’t previously considered quantifying the amount I drink in the course of a long bike ride.  But a comment from a fellow participant in the BCG Tour to Melaka got me thinking. He said that one bidon (that is fancy French cyclist speak for “bottle”) lasts him between 60km and 80km / 37mi to 50mi.

I don’t know if the fluid replacement rate for a cyclist is constant over time, but let us assume that it is.  Let us also assume that one bidon has a capacity of 620ml / 21fl oz.  Using these assumptions, this gentleman would have drunk between 0.87 and 1.16 liters / 29 and 39 fl oz over the 112km / 70mi from Melaka to Kajang.

I drank about 5.5 liters / 186 fl oz over 112km / 70mi last Sunday.  A combination of the following:

With a Nuun tablet dissolved in the water in each of my bidons when I started, to replace lost electrolytes.

Drink 6

What I do not know of course is whether this gentleman only drank from his bidon while riding, or also had other drinks during rest stops.

Whatever the case, the answer to the question is clear – or not, depending on how you look at it.  The amount a cyclist needs to drink to stay adequately hydrated is a very personal thing.  As pointed out by Stacy Sims, our body type – our height, weight, and a gendered predisposition to muscle or fat – will have an impact on the amount of fluid we require.

The environment at ride time is also a major determinant of how much you need to drink.  I have ridden 60 to 80km on just one bidon.  But that was in the cool of a Netherlands spring day.  There is no way I could have survived on just two bidons in the heat of last Sunday.

So while there are guidelines, they may not apply to you as a unique individual, and to the conditions at the time you are riding.

Your starting level of hydration is likely to be important. If you start a race already partially dehydrated, then the amount you need to drink to satisfy thirst and prevent performance declines will likely be greater.

Which prompts the question of when to drink?

The Google consensus is to sip on 500 to 750 ml / 17 to 25 fl oz of isotonic (see below) carbohydrate sports fuel in the two hours before a long ride to ensure optimal hydration and fully stocked up energy reserves.

Then, during the ride, the key point to remember is not to wait until you’re thirsty to start drinking.  Drink little and often right from the start, even if you don’t feel thirsty yet.  If you are feeling thirsty, you are already dehydrated.  Aim to take two or three good sized gulps from your bidon every ten to fifteen minutes right from the moment you roll off. Read more at Hydration on the Bike

Finally, don’t forget to continue drinking after the ride is over.  Even if you drink regularly during the ride, you will still likely be dehydrated at the end.  You will need to replace that lost fluid and electrolytes.  I drank another 1.5 liters / 51 fl oz within an hour of finishing the BCG Tour ride back to Kajang.  And more until I went to bed that night.

A final point to make is that it is possible to over-hydrate.  Drinking too much can lead to hyponatremia, which is a dangerously low level of sodium in the blood.  It is some consolation to know that you really have to work at it to drink too much.  Most people can process about a liter or so per hour.  That is 1.6 bidons per hour.

The 5.5 liters / 186 fl oz I drank last Sunday sounds like a lot.  But the total ride duration was just over six hours.  So I drank about a liter an hour, including a 900ml / 30 fl oz bottle of chocolate milk that I finished in one sitting.

Still not drinking at the level of professional cyclists, who can go through 9 liters / 304 fl oz in the course of a six hour stage race.  Read more at Cycling in the Heat and Avoiding Dehydration

The takeaway for me is that when I am on my bicycle, particularly in the middle of the day, I should be drinking more than I do now.  I don’t think I have to worry about hyponatremia.

Hydration Banner 2

BCG Tour Kajang – Melaka – Kajang Day 2

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BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Banner 2

We were up, dressed and packed in time for a nasi lemak breakfast at 6:45am and the Day 2 briefing at 7:00am.

We all got started at 7:43am.  Pre-warned to pace ourselves because although the return route was 45km / 28mi shorter, it had more climbs, including a big one at KM78 / MI48.

Sure enough the terrain started rolling 3km / 2mi from the hotel, and it stayed lumpy all the way to Kajang.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 2 Elevation

The three of us had planned to break the ride into thirds, with a refreshment stop after 40km / 25mi and 80km / 50mi.  We knew early on that it was the right strategy for us.  The morning was extremely humid.  Despite the overcast skies, I was sweating profusely, and we had been riding for only thirty minutes.

 

We started looking for a likely place to stop when we had covered 35km / 22mi.

 

A few kilometers later we entered the small town of Kota, where we found a shop selling roti canai.  I drank two iced Milos in quick succession while waiting for my roti canai telur.  The roti wasn’t very good, so I had a third iced Milo.

Despite the so-so roti, the shop was crowded.  We had a long wait for our food.  We spent almost forty five minutes in Kota.  Fortunately we had shared a table with a gentleman who was waiting for his order of one dozen roti.  Which explains why we had to wait so long for our food.  He was an interesting person to chat with, so we didn’t mind the wait.

The downside of the long stop at Kota was that the sun got higher and higher in the sky as we sat in the shop.  It was going to be another scorching day.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 2 Sun

About an hour later, as we were on yet another climb north of Pedas, Leslie dropped his chain.  Which was an opportune reason to stop under the shade of the trees for a short rest.  I am glad that we did, because a short while later we were riding through the built-up areas of Senawang and Seremban.

Johan and Danial did a great job of making sure we all stayed on the correct route as we rode through the exit to Bandar Seremban Selatan, Rantau and Linggi.

Video courtesy of HW Wee

Roads seem extra-hot when surrounded by concrete.

Video courtesy of HW Wee

Not long past the Sungai Gadut KTM Komuter station Danial drove past us in his sweeper truck.  Just fast enough to make it worth accelerating into his slipstream for a pull up the next hill.

Video courtesy of HW Wee

I was starting to get tunnel vision from the heat.  Our next planned stop at about 80km / 50mi couldn’t come fast enough.  In the center of Seremban we caught up with a group who were just getting going again after taking a break.  We tailed them for a few kilometers through town.  One kilometer from the start of the big climb of the day we stopped at a coffee shop and drank as much as we could.  In my case, a liter of chocolate milk.

We added ice to our bidons before heading back out into the sun.  And 180m / 590ft of climbing over 6km / 4mi.

By the time Mark and I had finished the climb and zoomed down the other side into Mantin, we had emptied one bidon each.  We started looking for a cendol or coconut water stall as we rode through Mantin.  It didn’t look promising at first, but as we were leaving town the Mantin Original Coconut Shake shop appeared on our left.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 2 Coconut Stall Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

Leslie and Mark opted for plain coconut water.  Two for Mark.  Leslie had one coconut water and one apple and sour plum juice.  I had two apple and sour plums.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 2 Apple Sour Plum Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

My face was starting to match my base layer.

Never mind.  Just 10km / 6mi to go.  I had expected a flat run in to Kajang.  But it was far from flat.  Dammit!  There was 213m / 700ft of climbing yet to do.

I should have paid more attention to the elevation profile.  When did Beranang and Semenyih get so hilly?

It was again feeling like 40°C / 104F° as we rode those last kilometers.  We were all relieved to see the Bandar Teknologi Kajang Police Station, and the mamak shop next to it.

“Can I have three iced lime juices please?”

The important thing was that everyone arrived safely.  There were only minor incidents over the two days – some flat tires and a couple of shoe failures.

It was another very successful weekend of riding orchestrated by Danial AM and Johan S.  Made even better of course by a fun and friendly group of fellow riders.

Thanks guys and gals.  I’m looking forward to riding with you again at the next BCG Tour.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Danial

BCG Tour Kajang – Melaka – Kajang Day 1

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BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Banner

Johan S and Danial AM of BCG Tour held their second event on June 4th and 5th.  This time from Kajang to Melaka, and back again the next day.

Unlike the inaugural tour from Ijok to Teluk Intan, this time the outbound and inbound routes were different.  It was about 149km / 93mi to Melaka, and 112km / 70mi back to Kajang.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Melaka Route

Or in my case, the outbound ride would have been 149km if I had followed the excellent cue card that was given out at the start.

Kajang Melaka 04jun16

 

I downloaded the .gpx files for the routes to my Garmin 705.  I should have just stuck with the cue sheet for the ride to Melaka.  Rather than just following the downloaded route, my Garmin directed me down an alternate route.  The Garmin did guide me to the New Century Hotel in Melaka.  But from the 117km / 72mi point it took me along a path very different from the one so carefully planned by the organisers.  More on that later.

Twenty of us met at the start point near the Bandar Teknologi Kajang Police Station.

Mark, Leslie and I grabbed a quick drink before we went to the pre-ride briefing.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Start Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

The pre-ride briefing by Danial was thorough, and with our safety on the road in mind. Johan chipped in as well, in between taking the photographs.  Unless otherwise indicated, the photographs featured in this post are courtesy of Johan S.

In a delightfully retro gesture, Danial had a bulb horn rather than a whistle or a gun to start us off with.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Start Danial

We followed Johan’s car for the first 20km / 12mi as he guided us along the busy roads out of Kajang and through Semenyih and Bangi.  A départ fictif.  Just like in the major bike races!

Once Johan released us, the pace quickened.  All the riders who were in front of Mark and I, which was most of the group, missed the left turn off Jalan Kajang – Dengkil onto the much quieter Selangor State Route B48.  So the two of us were riding alone for about thirty five minutes.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Duo

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Duo 2

The rest of the group steadily made up ground on us.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Chasing Pack BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Chasing Pack 2

Mark and I were caught 5km / 3mi from Sepang.  The faster riders pulled ahead.  By then the bunch had broken up into smaller groups as riders settled into the pace that best suited them.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sepang

 

Leslie had caught us too.  The three of us, and Max, made our first stop at the Shell petrol station in Sepang.  We caught our breath and shared a litre of 100Plus as the rest of the group sailed past and onto Federal Route Route 5 toward Port Dickson.

We got going again at about 9.30am.  All hopes of a cool morning were evaporating in the sun that had broken through the cloud cover.  It was going to be a hot one.

At about 10:30am, as we approached Port Dickson, Leslie, Mark and I diverted off the published route onto Jalan Seremban.  That took us to the Port Dickson Waterfront.  More specifically to the McDonald’s there.  Mark and I, along with some other Flipsiders, had stopped at that McDonald’s three years ago, during our ride to Tanjung Tuan for the Raptor Watch 2013.

Why McDonald’s?  The Brekki Wrap with Sausage is the bomb after 70km / 43mi on a bike.

Mc Donalds weekday breakfast special brekkie wrap with sausage rm4 Possible To Earn RM30,000 A Month For Malaysian Blogger From the World of Advertisement Starting From McDonald's Ads

Photograph courtesy of Golden Arches Restaurants Sdn Bhd

And there is air-conditioning.  And a sea view.  What’s not to like?

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 PD Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

By the time we  got back on our bikes at 11:15am the sun was out in full force and almost directly overhead.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sun

The shadows were getting shorter and shorter as we made our way through Port Dickson and past the Wan Loong Temple.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 PD Wan Loong Temple Leslie

Photograph courtesy of Leslie

Staying hydrated and cool become all important as the “feels like” temperature edged towards 40°C / 104F°.  An hour after coming out of the air-conditioned McDonald’s we were looking for some shade and another drink.  Others were looking for the same thing.

We found it at Kampung Sungai Raya, at the junction of Selangor State Route 5 and Federal Route 138.  There was a row of roadside stalls selling various drinks.  Leslie, Mark and I  downed two glasses of iced coconut water each in quick succession.

Someone else was thirsty too!

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Coconut 2

An hour further down the road we were again getting desperate for shade and something cold to drink.  We started looking for a petrol station or a shop after making the left turn onto Melaka State Route 142.  It seemed like a long time before we came upon a minimarket in Kampung Jeram.  In reality it was less than 4km / 2.5mi, but in the midday heat it certainly felt further.

It had been a long time since I had done this, but it was so hot that I resorted to the ice tricks that have helped me in the past.  Ice wrapped in a bandana and placed on the back of my neck.  Ice under my skull cap.  Even ice under my arm sleeves at each inner wrist.

Ice

I was dripping all over as the ice melted, but I felt cooler and much more comfortable.  So much so that I pulled ahead of Leslie and Mark, admittedly helped in that regard because they had to stop and wait at a couple of red traffic lights that were green for me.

I should have waited for them.  12km / 7mi outside Kampung Jeram my Garmin directed me to turn left onto Lebuh Spa.  I should have stayed on Federal Route 5 to Jalan Malim Jaya.  Instead I had an unplanned mystery ride through some villages and residential neighbourhoods.

The ice on my head lasted just long enough before I rode into this.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Melaka Weather

A most welcome rain shower that kept me cool, and rinsed some of the sweat and salt out of my cycling gear.

The rain was quite heavy, but it didn’t last very long.  It had stopped by the time I popped onto Federal Route 19 with just 5km / 3mi to go.

Everyone got a bit wet before arriving at the New Century Hotel.

The rest of the afternoon and evening were spent reliving the day’s ride, eating, napping, and eating some more.

It had been an early start for Mark and I.  We had driven to Leslie’s home before 6:00am so that we could car-pool to Kajang in Leslie’s bike / people mover.  So we called it a night after dinner.

BCG Tour Kajang - Melaka - Kajang Day 1 Sleep

 

Fun and Food (Not Necessarily in that Order)

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Morib was the destination this morning.  It is a route I have ridden a few times already.  An Epic Ride describes one of those prior jaunts to the seaside at Morib.

Alvin, Liang, Mark and I got rolling at about 6.45am.  Avoiding the midday heat on the way back was our primary objective.  All looked good as we made our way down the motorcycle path beside the KESAS Highway, through Kota Kemuning and on to Bandar Botanik.  It was an overcast morning, and we had cool conditions as we rode through Telok Panglima Garang and onward to the coast and Morib.

Morib Route

The road along the Langat River to Tanjung Tongkah Lighthouse, previously a section of road in disrepair, has been resurfaced.  Cool weather and smooth tarmac makes for fun riding.

The first order of business once we got to Morib was breakfast.  We stopped at the aptly named Delicious Bread Coffee Shop.

Morib Delicious Bread

The bread was as advertised.  We had ours toasted, with butter and kaya.  Along with nasi lemak, soft-boiled eggs, and iced Milo or coffee.

Morib Breakfast Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

Yummy yummy!

Morib Breakfast Group Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

Then it was time for a bit of fun.  Photographs further down the road at the Morib Gold Coast Resort, for no other reason than it has a sign that reads “Morib.”

Morib Gold Coast Mark

Photograph courtesy of Mark

More photographs on the sea wall at the beach at the end of Persiaran Mestika.

Morib Bicycles Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

And another picture just to prove that we had really ridden to Morib beach.

Morib Group

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

The overcast skies cleared just as we started on the 70km / 44mi ride back to Bandar Sunway.

It was less and less fun as the temperature and humidity ramped up.  By the time we were 15km / 9mi from home, it was properly hot.  So much for an early start to avoid getting toasted on the way back.

Morib Weather

We were only 12km / 7.5mi away from Morib when we made a hydration stop.  The first of a few such stops.  We pulled up to a small sundry shop near Kampong Kathong and bought litres of water, some iced tea and other flavoured waters.

About 20km / 12mi from Morib we had made what in hindsight was an ill-advised detour toward Pulau Carey.  The realisation after 4km / 2.5mi of the detour that it was still a long way to Pulau Carey, coupled with the rising temperature, prompted the smart decision to turn around.

Our next hydration stop was at Cendol Santan Sawit Mak Lang.  A mere 20km / 12mi from the sundry shop.

We didn’t know that there was such a thing as santan sawit.  Santan is the Malay word for coconut milk.  Made, as the name makes clear, with the flesh from the nut of the coconut palm tree. Kelapa sawit is the Malay term for oil palm.  At the time it didn’t make sense to us that santan could be made from the nut of the oil palm tree.  We figured the term “santan sawit” referred to santan made from coconuts that grew amongst the oil palm trees.

I now know that palm oil is used to make a coconut milk substitute.  The aforementioned santan sawit.

Which, despite the complete lack of coconut milk in it, makes a delicious cendol.  Made even better, in this case, by lots and lots of shaved ice.  We even got an extra bowl of shaved ice.

Morib Chendol Mark

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

We made two more hydration stops in the 37km / 23mi between the cendol stall and Bandar Sunway.  Both times at petrol stations.

At the Petronas station 10km / 6mi from Bandar Sunway we met up with some friends who had ridden to Morib as well.  They rode a slightly different route, including a climb to this lookout spot at Jugra.

Morib Dicky Cindy Benjamin Cindy

Photograph courtesy of Cindy

By the time they pulled up at the Petronas station they were looking just as hot and sweaty as we were.

It was 1.45pm by the time we got to our cars.  More drinks, and lunch, were on our minds once we had cleaned up and stuck our bicycles into our vehicles.  Mark led us to Lim Fried Chicken in SS15, Subang Jaya.

Fried chicken, a fried egg, green beans and curry rice, with extra curry gravy and sambal on the side.

Morib Lunch Alvin

Photograph courtesy of Alvin

Chased with ice-cold homemade soya milk.

The ride to Morib and back was suddenly fun again.

 

Sweaty Eyeballs

Sweaty Eyeballs Creativeallianceorg

Graphic courtesy of creativealliance.org

The bane of every cyclist.  It is hot.  You sweat. The sweat drips into your eyes. It stings your eyes and smears on your glasses, impairing your vision.  Usually just as you are approaching a pothole or a sharp corner at speed.

I started cycling in Houston, Texas.  Where summer temperatures are consistently in the mid 30s C / 90s F.  So it wasn’t long before I was looking for a way to keep sweat out of my eyes.  I settled on a Sweat GUTR.  A soft plastic headband with a lip across the front which channels sweat away from your eyes and glasses.

SweatGUTR_0001_Hydro-White

The Sweat Gutr worked well, but it had one shortcoming.  My forehead gets oily as I sweat.  The smooth plastic headband would start sliding down my forehead, breaking the seal between skin and band and allowing sweat to leak into my eyes.

I either had to keep pushing the band back up above my eyebrows, or tighten the band.  A tighter band solved the slippage problem in exchange for a pressure headache.  I settled for pushing the Sweat GUTR back up my forehead when necessary.  Once the dog days of summer gave way to cooler autumn days, my Sweat GUTR stayed in a drawer.

Then I moved to the Netherlands, where even on the hottest days, sweaty eyeballs are much less of a problem.  My Sweat GUTR continued its stay in a drawer

It came out of the drawer when I got home to Malaysia.   But the average humidity of 80% or more made the slippage problem worse than it had been in Houston.  The Sweat GUTR was soon consigned to the back of a drawer, never to be used again.

For a while I resorted to wiping the sweat off my brow with a bandana.  I built up quite a collection of bandanas.

Bandana

They weren’t a particularly effective solution.  Too often I was reaching into a jersey pocket for a bandana after sweat was already stinging my eyes.

A friend suggested streaks of Vaseline above my eyes.  That may have worked, but I foresaw one major drawback.  I would forget the Vaseline was there, and would smear it everywhere the first time I wiped my face.

So I relied on my bandanas.  In other words, I put up with stinging eyes.

One day a riding buddy turned up wearing a helmet liner.

Mission Enduracool Helmet Liner 1
He raved about how this particular helmet liner uses a “proprietary technology . . .  to create a prolonged cooling effect.”  Mission Athletecare website

I needed help coping with the heat.  The helmet liner was worth the price just for the cooling effect.

Now that I have worn these helmet liners for the better part of a year, I value them for more than just their cooling effect.  The helmet liner wicks away sweat from my forehead before it can trickle down into my eyes.  No more sweaty eyeballs!

The stretchy fabric stays comfortable over long periods.  No more pressure headaches!

The fabric is stretchy enough for me to stuff some ice cubes under a liner to cool my scalp on particularly hot days.

A multi-tasking piece of cycling kit.  The best kind.

Does a Base Layer Really Work in Tropical Weather?

Hot Weather Banner

Illustration courtesy of someecards.com

The Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation issued a media statement on 8th January 2016, in which he said that peninsular Malaysia will have hot and dry weather throughout the first quarter of the year.  A strong El Nino phenomenon is to blame.  We may see a rise in temperature of between 0.5 degrees Celsius and 2.0 degrees Celsius compared to the norm for this time of the year.

So far the recorded high temperatures in Kuala Lumpur support this.

Weather forecast KL

Data courtesy of http://www.weather.com

Hooray!  It is going to be hotter than normal for the next few months.

Staying cool in Malaysia’s humid tropical heat has been an ongoing challenge for me.  In previous posts I have chronicled the various things I have tried to stay cool while out on my bike.

The latest tool in my bag of tricks is a base layer.  The opinions on the efficacy of wearing a base layer in hot weather are mixed, to say the least.  Some riders think it is crazy to wear an additional layer under a jersey out in the heat.  Others swear by the ability of a good base layer to make a hot weather ride more comfortable.

I was persuaded by articles such as this one, titled “Why Wear A Base Layer In The Heat?“, which appeared in Cycling Tips.

I have worn a sleeveless base layer under a jersey on long rides for a few months now.

Audax BRM 200 Malaysia 2016 JM Air Kelapa Marco

Photograph courtesy of Marco

In the absence of riding with a rectal thermometer to provide quantitative data, I can’t tell you how many degrees cooler my core temperature has been with a base layer on.  Plus there are too many other variables to consider – ambient air temperature, level of exertion, hydration etc.

However I can report that in my case, a base layer does what it claims to, which is help keep me cool in hot weather.  My base layers  are much more breathable than my jerseys, which helps with evaporative cooling.  The same process that makes my arms feel cooler when I wet my arm screens.

I also feel more comfortable riding with a base layer on.  It wicks moisture away from my body, so I don’t have a soaked jersey clinging to me.

I can unzip my jersey and not have rivulets of sweat dripping down my torso.  For a heavy perspirer like me, this is a big plus.  It is also easier on the eye for my riding companions as I sit with an open jersey at rest stops.

An advantage of a base layer that most riders agree on is that the extra layer between jersey and skin provides some protection against road rash in the event of a fall.  I hope not to test that claim!

It is forecast to be at least 33° C / 91°F this Sunday, during the Pulau Indah 180.  My base layer says “Bring it on!”

Beat the Heat