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How Much To Drink on a Ride?

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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.

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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

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.


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.


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.

Team 165 at the Kuantan Century Ride 2013

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Keat, Hans and I were in the state of Pahang over the weekend for the Kuantan Century Ride.  I named us Team 165, which is the sum of our ages.  For the mathematically inclined amongst you, I am a year older than Hans and a year younger than Keat.

Kuantan Century 2013 Promo

The sun in the promotional banner turned out to be a hint of things to come.

I took my traveling bike with me.  The Ritchey Break-Away.  The bike case and two other bags fit nicely in the trunk of my biker chick’s car.

Kuantan Century 2013 Ritchey

We spent the weekend at the Swiss Garden Resort.  Keat’s wife convinced the management to let us have breakfast at 5.30am on the day of the ride.  The coffee house normally opens at 6.30am.  We were expecting a few slices of bread and some butter and jam.  We were pleasantly surprised by the spread that the staff had laid out.

Kuantan Century 2013 Breakfast

Our hotel was about 18km / 11mi from the start at the International Islamic University Malaysia.  We discussed riding to the start but decided against it.  We would have been riding in the dark along a busy road.  Even less appealing was the thought of having to cycle back to the hotel after a long event.  So we loaded our bikes into Keat’s pickup truck and drove to the start.

Some 2,000 people had registered for the event.  It looked like most of them turned up on the day.

Kuantan Century 2013 Start Queue

As is always the case at cycling events in Malaysia, all types of bicycles were represented.  These guys were braver than I to attempt 160km on knobby-tired mountain bikes.

Kuantan Century 2013 MTBs

Here we are at the start in our “before” photograph.

Photo courtesy of Kuantan Century Ride

Photo courtesy of Kuantan Century Ride

The organizers impressed everyone by managing to start the event bang on time at 7.30am.  We even had a two minute warning.  We were led out by a string of police motorbikes.  The police and marshals did a good job of controlling traffic at intersections to allow us to cycle through without having to stop.

Kuantan Century 2013 Police Bike

A fleet of road crew on motorbikes and in cars and trucks, and an army of volunteers at the start/finish line and rest stops, made this a very well organized and supported event.

The route took us through Kuantan town and south along the coast for the first 40km / 25mi.  After the first rest stop we headed inland for a bit before turning right onto Federal Route 3.  The next 80km / 50mi were north or north-east into the state of Terengganu before heading east toward the coast at Cherating.

Kuantan Century 2013 Route

That stretch included the second rest stop at the 83 km / 51.5mi mark.  By then the sun was out in full force.  It got to 34°C / 93°F.  With the humidity at 90% the heat index was about 40°C / 104°F.  I was emptying my two bidons in double-quick time.  The good news was we got to the second rest stop just in time to grab the last of the water.  The heat made the demand for water far greater than the organizers had anticipated.  The riders after us had to wait for stocks to be replenished.

Kuantan Century 2013 Rest Stop

The bad news was all the 750 meters / 2,460 feet of climbing came in the second half of the course.  Mercifully there was another rest stop just after the big hill of the day.  There was still plenty of water at that rest stop.

From that point the heat became more and more of a factor.  The descent after the third rest stop took us to the Gebeng Bypass.  We had an out-and-back along the highway.  The 28km / 17.5 mi along that stretch of rolling highway seemed interminable.  The sun was beating down and the headwind on the outward leg made it even more unpleasant.  The sight of the final rest stop on the other side of the highway with the turnaround point still 3km / 1.8mi away was the final straw for some riders.  They chose to skip the electronic checkpoint at the end of the bypass and cut across the highway to the rest stop.

I was hyperthermic and was sorely tempted to take a shortcut as well.  I persevered but it was a very close call at the time.  So I was not happy to finally get to the rest stop only to find that all the water was gone.  Fortunately they had lots of ice.  I tossed my last  Nuun tablet into one bidon and filled both with ice cubes.  More water was on the way but I was too hot to wait.

Hans, and that ice, saved my ride.  Han pulled me the last 28km / 17.4mi.  I was chewing on ice cubes all the way to the finish, desperate to stay cool enough and cramp-free to make it to the end.  This is Hans at the finish.

Photo courtesy of Jerantut Cycling Club

Photo courtesy of Jerantut Cycling Club

I was happy to be just behind Hans.

Photo courtesy of Jerantut Cycling Club

Photo courtesy of Jerantut Cycling Club

At the halfway point Keat had told us to push on without him.  The heat got to him even before it got to me.  So it was great to see Keat smiling at the finish.

Kuantan Century 2013 Keat Finish

Can you spot the difference between this “after” photograph and the one of us at the start?

Photo courtesy of Wai Leng Mann

Photo courtesy of Wai Leng Mann

Apart from having these in our literally hot hands.

Kuantan Century 2013 Medal

Team 165 is already talking about doing a 120km / 74.5mi ride in the southern state of Johor next month.  Hopefully by then I will have figured out how to keep my  core temperature in check.

Keeping Something in Reserve

Last week I rode up to Genting Sempah for the first time since my Racun Cycling Gang friends hauled me up there on my maiden Kuala Lumpur ride three months ago.  Moon, Farah, Farid, Syihan, Wan and I started a bit further down the hill this time.  “So we can have a warm-up” was the reason Syihan gave me for the extra kilometers.

We must have had fun last week (I admit the 20 kilometer / 12 mi descent is a blast) because Syihan, Wan and I did that ride again this morning.  Azhar, who works with Syihan, rode with us.  So did Galvin, Qiao, Rama and Jamali, whom we linked up with via that living map of human connections that is Facebook.  We started the ride together but it wasn’t long before Azhar, Syihan, Galvin and Qiao rode up the hill away from me.

I was keen to measure my effort a bit better this time.  My goal was to keep my pulse below 150 bpm.  I wanted to see if I could get to the summit without overheating.  It was 25° C / 77° F when we started.  Most of the climb is shaded so I stayed relatively cool.  I needed my Sweat Gutr in the 84% humidity though.  There was still a haze of moisture in the air as I rode past this brave little fellow.  The rest of his peanut gallery friends had scattered into the trees as I approached.


It was no surprise that my jersey was soaked by the time I had traversed the last of the 600 meters / 1,970 ft to the summit.  I didn’t feel as hot or as breathless as I had the week before though.  I had kept my pulse below 150 bpm as planned, except while getting up the 7.5% kicker near the top.  It was a surprise that I got to the top in a little less time than it took me the week before.  There is something in that “slow and steady” adage after all.

The problem with feeling good during a ride is that you get cocky.  There was talk of continuing on from Genting Sempah to Janda Baik.  The additional 30 km / 18.5 mi were described as “rolling”.  It sounded like such a good idea at the time that I even got Wan to change his mind about heading straight back down the way he had just come.

This is the profile of the ride between the summit of Genting Sempah to the turn-around point in Janda Baik and back to Genting Sempah.  I leave it to you to decide if I was misled.


Those “rolling” 30 km added more than 450 meters / 1,470 ft to the climbing total for the day.  It was a good thing that I had rationed my efforts earlier in the day.   I needed to have something left in the tank for the 1 km drag back to the top of Genting Sempah.  The steepest slope of the entire ride.  So I continued to modulate my efforts.  The younger guys rode off ahead on the climbs.  I spent much of the time spinning on my own.  Literally.


We regrouped outside the McDonald’s at the Genting Sempah Rest Area.

Photo courtesy of Yee Chun Yen

Photo courtesy of Yee Chun Yen

Then it was time to head up the final slope and collect the payoff for all that climbing.  It was time to stop holding back, stay off the brakes and chase trucks all the way down the hill.


Ice is Nice

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.

Bike-X 04

Photo courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

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.

Photo courtesy of Cycling Malaysia Magazine

It may not look it from the photo above but my strategies to not overheat worked.  The freezer is my new friend.

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

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.