We love riding as much as possible. We also try to be as safe as possible while we ride. We all know the dangers that cagers (and sometimes even other riders) present. We gear up all the time, we ride defensively as much as possible, and we try to have eyes in the back of our heads to watch everything going on around us while enjoying the scenery.
One thing I feel that most people don’t think about enough is riding in hot weather. Sure, everyone knows all about cold weather riding. You won’t get 100 feet down the road before your hands are frozen on a super cold day. We even wrote an article giving some tips on cold weather riding (Click here to check out that article) but hot weather riding is something that people just don’t give a second thought to.
What Happens To US When We Ride In Extreme Hot Temps
Most people that I see out riding in hot temperatures appear to think that the only prep you need is to throw on a pair of shorts, a tee-shirt, and some sneakers. Not only is this a recipe for some severe road rash (a topic for another discussion) it’s a recipe that could lead to severe burns, heat stroke, dehydration, or even death.
Our summer in Montana has turned out to be quite different than we originally thought. When we planned this trip we figured since we would be so far north that heat would not be that much of an issue. We actually thought we would be worrying more about snow like when we were in Colorado a few summers ago and it snowed in June!!!
To our surprise, the temperatures have been in the upper 90’s to low 100’s!!! According to one article, we read it’s the hottest start to the summer here since 1890!!! That figures…lol. Anyway, my point is if you are going to ride in extreme temperatures you need to take precautions. Below are some tips to help your ride in hot weather go smoothly and help you arrive at your destination safely.
This one seems obvious but it’s super important. Bring along plenty of water. We bring at least 1 thermos and one Yetti full of water. As soon as we get low we stop and buy more and refill. We also have a cooler that we put in the trunk that we can store snacks and extra water. I can’t stress how important it is to stay hydrated. Dehydration can sneak up on you really fast. Sometimes you don’t really even know it’s happening to you until it’s too late. That’s why you should always drink water at regular intervals whether you are thirsty or not.
Another thing you can do to help stay hydrated is to bring fruits to snack on that have high water content. Things like cucumbers, watermelon, and grapes have a high percentage of water and other vitamins and minerals and make great snacks while not taking up a lot of room on your bike. If you don’t have a trunk or side bags as we do and you are short on space you can get a water backpack like the one shown below from Amazon. If you fill that backpack with at least 3/4 of ice as you ride the ice will melt and you will have nice cold water to sip on as you ride.
Signs of dehydration are:
- Extreme Thirst
- Less Frequent Urination
- Dark Colored Urine
- Leg Cramps
As you can see the last three can be deadly if they occur while riding. A few other things you can do to help stay hydrated is to avoid caffeine, sugar, and alcohol prior to or during your ride. This includes energy drinks. These are diuretics and cause your body to lose fluids faster than normal, therefore, speeding up the dehydration process. Bringing a salty snack to have while drinking your water may help.
If you find yourself feeling overheated find a cool/shady spot to pull over and hang out for a little while. If you can get to a location such as a gas station or any store with air conditioning that you can go and cool off in that would be great. Do not try and push through it to get to your destination. It might not turn out well for you.
Try and get a good night’s sleep the night before your ride. Heading out into the heat while you are already tired is a recipe for disaster. Once you hit the road take lots of breaks. Don’t try to go long distances without stopping. Stopping, drinking (water…lol), and resting more frequently will help you stay hydrated, keep you more alert, and put less stress on your body. As I stated above if you can’t find air-conditioned stores/gas stations to stop and rest at look for a nice shady spot.
Here we go. This one word divides so many riders it’s ridiculous. I really don’t know what riders have against wearing the proper gear but that’s a completely different topic. For the purpose of this article, I will explain why I think the proper gear is extremely important while riding in hot weather.
Let’s start with no gear. Riding in a teeshirt and with no helmet (where legally allowed) seems like the logical thing to do right? After all, why would you want to cover up and sweat to death while riding? Here’s why. Riding in a teeshirt will expose your arms to the sun/wind and cause you to get sun/windburn. Using sunscreen with a moisturizer will help (especially on your face) but it’s no match for the extreme sun and 70 mph.
It’s much easier to wear a light-colored long-sleeve shirt or better yet a light-colored mesh riding jacket. A good moisture-wicking shirt can help too. The light-colored clothing will help deflect some of the sun’s rays as opposed to darker clothing which will absorb the sun’s rays. This goes for the boots you wear too. Light, cool, breathable boots will help your feet stay cool.
Wear a light-colored well-vented helmet. Besides protecting your head in the case of an accident it will keep the sun’s rays off your head especially if you have no hair like me…lol. Don’t forget lip balm. The sun and wind will dry out your lips super fast. Lip balm will protect against that. You should carry that even on cooler days just because of the wind. Don’t leave home without it.
Ice Bag A/C?
If you live in a dryer climate you can also try neck coolers or wetting your shirt while you ride. This method is not nearly effective in more humid climates. I have never seen it personally but I have read a few articles where riders will buy a bag of ice, poke small holes in it, and attach it to their windshields. The idea behind it is that as the ice melts the water droplets will release from the small holes in the bag causing a “misting” effect as you ride.
If you have ever tried this let me know in the comments below if it actually works.
Riding in extreme heat can be very dangerous. For many years I always felt I was invincible and rode year-round without a second thought. As I aged (a nice way of saying got old) I realized I am not invincible and shit happens. I almost became a victim of heat exhaustion while riding in Amarillo Texas a few years back. It was a good thing I (mostly Chris) realized it. Luckily we were only a few miles from the campground.
Following some of the tips I have listed above will help make your ride a bit safer and a little more enjoyable. One last thing you can do if you must travel on a super hot day is to try and get up and out early while it’s a little cooler and come off the road during the mid-afternoon which is generally the hottest part of the day.
What are some of the things you do if you have to travel on a super hot day? Let us know in the comments below.
Ride Often/Ride Safe