Cool rider, cool ride

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Brian Rivera
  • 17th Comptroller Squadron
Nothing looks better than seeing someone ride by on their motorcycle. For myself, I ride any chance I get. Growing up in California was the perfect weather for riding year-round. Not too hot, not too cold. In Texas however, I now have to keep the weather in mind when I go out to ride. With the weather heating up to around 102 degrees on average, not including the heat from the pavement, keeping cool while riding is something we all should keep track of. From planning your route to the clothes we wear, this article will give you guidance on how to stay safe while out riding in this blistering heat.

First up, if you drive back and forth from work; planning your route won’t be a huge issue, but we all know the fun rides are the long ones with your friends. When you go on these rides be sure to plan your stops accordingly. There is no reason to tough it out and ride two hours through over 100 degree weather till your next stop. Stop at least every 30 minutes to rehydrate and relax in the shade when you are in extreme heat. A quick stop will enable you to ride for another 45 minutes safely. It’s better to take a few minutes to recover than to be sent to the emergency room for a heat injury.

“Try to avoid riding during the hottest hours of the day. Instead, consider riding during the morning, when it’s typically cooler outside, then take the afternoon off to enjoy lunch and other activities before getting back on the road around 5 p.m.,” Rider Magazine suggests. And, if riding for extended periods, it’s a good idea to take frequent water breaks.

Speaking of water, bring more water than you need. Especially if you are riding for long distances. If you have a saddle pack just put extra water in there, a gallon preferably. If you don’t then I suggest wearing a camelback with a ton of ice in it. Don’t just have it on you, use it. Make sure to stay hydrated when you ride. I’ve seen plenty of riders get sent to the hospital for dehydration when they had plenty of water on them at the time. You want to avoid getting heat exhaustion and, or worse, heat stroke. If you start experiencing cramps, nausea, headaches, extreme fatigue, flushed or pale skin, dizziness and heavy sweating, those are signs of heat exhaustion. It’s time to pull over, rehydrate, rest and recover for as long as it takes. The worst thing is that by the time you start feeling bad, you’re already in trouble, so it’s hugely important to stay hydrated. That means drinking plenty of water before you get on the bike, and consuming one liter of water every hour, especially in extreme temperatures. Do not allow yourself or anyone riding with you to come close to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

The last way to stay cool when the weather is extremely hot is to be sure to keep your skin covered. Seems counterintuitive, but think about the clothing people in Egypt and the Sahara wear. They are covered head to toe. Exposed skin is hard to cool because the sweat will evaporate quickly especially with the air rushing over it at high speeds. Now I’m not saying to wear sweats when riding, but long sleeved shirts and jeans will go a long way to keep you cooler when you ride. Wearing a summer motorcycle jacket (ventilated/mesh jacket) is my personal preference as I can feel the air but I am still covered head to toe and I still have all the protection of a regular motorcycle jacket. There are also cooling vests that can be put under your riding jacket that work better than soaking your t-shirt which will help keep you safe and comfortable on the road. Make sure that what you wear is still abrasion and impact resistant. The heat is one thing, but road rash isn’t something to mess with either.

Riding in the heat can be a fun and safe experience. You do not have to wait till the heat dies down to hop on your bike and go for a ride. Motorcycle riding can be done at any time of the year in any weather conditions as long as you know what to look out for and how to prevent it. Be sure to plan according to the weather, stay hydrated and keep yourself covered. See you out on the road.