You don’t have to be a Glenn Frey fan or a fan of the Miami Heat to know the “heat is on.”
Yup, it is that time of year where it gets insanely hot. Personally, I even tend ride less this time of year, but that isn’t always an option, especially with a 15 state trip coming up in mid-July.
I am already dreading riding through Texas because the last time I rode through Nebraska, I discovered a heat that I didn’t know existed. I have always described that day by stating I felt four blow-dryers were attached to the windshield and blowing hot air in my face for hundreds of miles. But, it’s not all bad. With a few adjustments and precautions, you will survive the heat wave.
Riding back from Leesburg this past April, the “feel like” temperature was approximately 104 degrees. Add the heat rising from the asphalt plus the heat from your engine, and you will feel like a baked potato wrapped in aluminum foil broiling in the oven. However, I have a distinct advantage; I am use to the heat.
I love playing golf when I see heat warnings, because I know no one else is crazy enough to be on the course and I love having the course to myself. I am born and raised in Miami, so I embrace the heat. Last night I was walking my dogs and at 9:30 at night, it was 84 degrees. It’s the cold that kills me. But the same way I got acclimated to the weather, so can you.
Would you run a marathon tomorrow without training? Of course not. You need to build your endurance. You should do the same with the heat. Do more activities outdoors, including riding your motorcycle, so the day you take that ride, especially a long ride, you aren’t miserable the whole time. It is surprising how fast the body adjusts.
In February, Anny & I were in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. When we arrived, including the windchill factor, it was -27 degrees. For the next 2 days, the temperature remained at minus degrees. Before I left, it was approximately 50 degrees and I was outside wearing a T-shirt and jeans. In Miami, I have never worn a T-shirt when it is 50 degrees, but my body got used to the cold weather.
Hydrating goes without saying. How much? I don’t know. I have read a bunch of articles that say “x” amount. I say drink as much as you can, and if you are starting to feel thirsty, you are beginning to dehydrate so drink some more.
For me, I see a lot of parallels between golf and motorcycle riding especially when it comes to dealing with the heat. One article I read in a golf magazine discussed hydrating with water versus Gatorade. Studies proved that water starts to hydrate your body in as little as ten minutes, while drinks like Gatorade take as long as 40 minutes.
So, drink plenty of water while riding and drink Gatorade at the end of your ride to replenish your electrolytes. When I was riding through Nebraska, I had a 6 pack of large water bottles with me as seen in the pictures below. I stopped every 30-45 minutes and I drank at least a half bottle, if not the full bottle of water. If I happen to come across an overpass or shaded area, I would stop for a few minutes to stretch out and drink some more water.
I also love bananas, so stocking up on bananas to fill my body up with potassium works well and prevents me from getting cramps. There is a reason they give bananas at marathons and what do you think is in the i.v. bag in the hospital– potassium.
It’s also important as I have mentioned in a prior post to plan your ride. Other than the route, we knew nothing else. That’s why every time we came across a gas station, we not only filled up the tank but, bought more water and ice. Riding down to Key West, I don’t need to plan my ride. I’ve gone to the Poker Run in September many times and I have always done the ride without a cooler because I know every five minutes I will pass a grocery store or a gas station, but if I had done that in Nebraska, I surely would have suffered from heat stroke.
Bikers love black. Hell, the only reason we don’t wear anything else is because no one has invented anything darker than black! But, while riding, wearing black is not the smartest thing to do. We all know that lighter colors cool you down versus darker colors.
Today’s technology is also important and should be taken advantage of. I probably knew more about microfiber materials than most bikers because it has been popular in golf for years. I wear a microfiber shirt and pants and I can tell you I feel the heat less because my legs are covered and protected from the sun’s rays. You will see in the pic below I was wearing a long sleeve white microfiber shirt. Yes, wear long sleeves. Short sleeve shirts, tank tops, or wearing no shirt at all will only increase your core body temperature.
Remember, dress the part. Don’t you dress accordingly to wherever you are going? Be consistent. That applies to riding as well. When it is 40 degrees, I have 17 layers of clothing on while the Michiganders visiting Florida have on shorts, tank tops, and sandals. It wouldn’t make sense for them to wear a parka would it?
By the time we arrived at Torrington, Wyoming we kept bumping into the same group of bikers at our gas station stops. They were wearing chaps and leather jackets. I have no idea why other than I guess for safety reasons should God forbid, they have a fall or maybe to look cool. Either way, I didn’t get it especially since they could have worn mesh jackets that have pads in the elbows and back areas. Staying cool is more important than looking cool.
Other technology to be taken advantage of is wearing a cooling vest. My cooling vest is blue which caused some friends to tell me I look like a greeter from Wal-Mart, but it did help cool me down.
I will also soak my shirt in the bathroom sink when I stop at gas stations, and if the bathroom is outside, my pants get soaked as well. This is also the best time to wear a helmet. Your head releases a lot of heat, wearing a helmet keeps your head cool and will retain the moisture as well. Again, it cools down my core temperature. It won’t last for hours, but 20-40 minutes is just fine because shortly thereafter, I am ready for my next stop.
Okay, what you are about to read- you didn’t hear it from me as it may result in my man-card being taken away from me. TALC! That’s right, talcum powder!
Talc helps absorb moisture and having the “sticky, dirty, I have road grime attached all over me feeling” just gets me more tired and aggravated, but talc feels refreshing.
If you are ever riding and see a bike parked on the side of the road, that cloud of smoke may be me having a talc shower not issues with my bike.
One more thing I like to do in the morning while I shower and again at the end of day is to rub baby oil over my skin. Yes, you read correctly. Talc and baby oil! Baby oil hydrates your skin. We use talc and baby oil on babies don’t we? Trust me, it works. Just don’t do it front of your friends and make sure it’s not medicated talcum powder as I once learned when I rubbed it all over my private parts!
Sunblock goes without saying. You can see the green bottle of sunblock inside the cooler pocket in the pic below.
Finally, watch what you eat. A huge, heavy meal sounds great, but for me, it does more harm than good. You are already tired. A huge meal will just get you “more sleepy.” Don’t you feel like taking a nap after your Thanksgiving Feast? I prefer something light and refreshing. Typically, a salad and an appetizer, and if a bowl of fruit is available, then that as well.
I’ll be the first to admit that my tips aren’t very “macho,” but, would you rather appear to be “macho” and in the hospital suffering from a heat stroke or have the memories of the great ride you did?
Stay cool and ride.
Notice the cooler and the bottle of sunblock.