The Formula 1 race in Sepang, Malaysia has always been touted as the “Hottest Race of the Year” and rightly so as the temperature outside the car can be in excess of 40 degree celcius plus the humidity. Inside the race car cockpit and with the driver in full uniform and a full face helmet to boot it must be a torture, a sauna on wheels. While cycling will never reach the 300 km plus speed of an F1 car, we get the same sauna treatment when riding in the Malaysian heat.
That’s why we here in Malaysia starts cycling around 7.30am and target to finish by 10am (so that we can enjoy 2 hours of eating post cycling and call it quits around noon to join the family at 1pm for more food..) When possible avoid cycling between 12 noon to 2 pm, take a break for lunch or rest or take a short nap.
As usual when cycling in the heat, hydrate and rehydrate your body well. I personally like to carry a 3-liter Camelbak for a 2+ hour ride.
If you are man enough do wear sunblock, but don’t apply them on your forehead as when you start to sweat the sweat with the sunblock will sting your eyes.
Get a shade (sunglass) for cycling, not only it prevents you from squinting to beat the sun the whole way, it will prevent dusts, flies, road debris from hitting your and goes into your eyes especially when you are going down hill.
Wear long sleeves jersey even though it may be hot initially but when you perspire it will cool you down once you catch the wind.
Get a buff, to shield your face from the heat emanating from the tarmac and to prevent yourself from dying inhaling the exhaust fumes from lorries and old cars. When the heat gets too unbearable, soak your buff in water and wear it like a skullcap, it will keep your head sane.
If you prefer wearing a helmet (which I strongly recommend) get one with good ventilation but not too exposed that your scalp will get sun-burnt (especially if you are bald/balding).
When you are totally plastered from the difficult climbing and long cycling hours, a friend once recommended Vanilla Coke to give you an instant boost and help you recover. I tried it and it worked for me.
And remember, keep drinking a lot of fluid to keep those bad cramps away. And while you are busy drinking while cycling, watch out for the other danger in Malaysian cycling, the potholes!
Ride safe everyone. Hydrate and re hydrate.