I live and ride mostly in Texas. It’s great because we almost have four season riding here. I say almost because sometimes it’s just too hot to ride. This week we’ve been seeing a heat index of about 106. That’s really, really hot. Due to work schedules we also wind up touring in the summer time more than any of us really want to. As a result, I’ve developed some hot weather riding tips I’d like to share with you this week.
Get a cooling Vest
You can find these everywhere from Amazon and Revzilla to brick and mortar motorcycle stores. Evaporative cooling vests are pretty simple. You wet them down and put them on. As you ride, the wind hitting the wet vest keeps you cool. I tried Zippo’s on the last trip I was on and I’m going to be buying one for myself soon. They come in a pretty impressive size range so you stand a chance of finding one that will fit you well enough.
If you really have a problem with heat and want to get really fancy, you can find vests that are cooled by ice packs. Zippo has one and he loves it. They are quite expensive and you have to have a way of freezing the packs. Since we often take long trips with a truck that has a camping refrigerator in it, we can use it to freeze the ice packs. Most people are goint to be fine with regular evaporative vests
In a lot of ways, this is my number one way to beat the heat. I know if you aren’t a morning person this can be really hard to do but the earlier you start your ride, the longer you’ll have cooler weather. On our last trip we grudgingly shifted our start time from 8:00 to 7:30. Those thirty extra minutes made a huge impact on how hot and tired we were at the end of the day. Starting that early also got us ahead of a lot of traffic which equaled even more time out of the heat at the end of the day.
Stop more often
This is so hard to do, especially if you have a long day’s ride ahead of you. Despite that, you need to take time to get your core temperature down. What we found useful was making our first leg of the day our longest leg pushing ourselves and our gas tanks to take advantage of the relative cool weather. If we were making good time, our second leg might also be a long one. Then, as the day goes on and the heat of the afternoon sets in, we start shortening our legs so that we can cool off more often.
Spend your stops wisely
When you stop for gas, make sure you get inside as quickly as you can and stay inside long enough to cool yourself off. Wet down your vest in the bathroom sink while you take care of business. Drink your water inside the gas station to get your temperature down. Spend as little time outside as possible. You might even considered gearing up inside with the AC.
Be prepared for stopping on the side of the road
No one likes having a problem with the bike that causes them to stop on the side of the road but it can, and will. happen. If you are riding in the heat, make sure you are prepared. If there is AC available, get into the AC when you can. If you must stay outside, get into the shade as much as possible. If you are stuck in the sun, have a wide brim hat with you. I also carry an umbrella on the bike. It’s not for rain, it’s for sun. Having extra water stashed away and some sunblock is also not a bad idea.
If You cool down with ice be smart about it
Grabbing some ice is a good way to cool off. And while it feels good no matter where you put it, some places have a bigger payoff than others. Ice at your pulse point and under your arms will get you core temperature down faster. Pulse points are places like your wrist, neck, and ankles.
Wet down everything
Even if you don’t have a cooling vest (or even if you do) you can still take advantage of the low tech properties of wind blowing over wet by wetting down everything you can. I think at least half the water I buy at stops goes over my body instead of in my body. I wet down the Buff on my head. I pour water over the inside of my jacket. I pour water over my head and down my shirt. When traveling with a group we pour water down the back of each other’s shirts and over each other’s heads. Sometimes I pour it into the inside of my helmet before I put it on. The more wet cold water is on me, the cooler I stay. Yes, it makes me look a hot mess but at least I’m a cooler hot mess.
Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
Push water at every stop. Dehydration is no joke and it is no fun. If you can fit a Camelback or some similar device under your jacket you may be able to drink while you ride. If you can stash a bottle in a bag or behind your windsheild then do that. Regardless, you should not get off the bike without shortly thereafter reaching for some water.
So there you go, some easy tips for riding cooler. The most important thing is to listen to your body and if you body is telling you it’s overheating then pull off as soon as you can and get yourself into the AC. If that means you cut your day short then you cut your day short. Hopefully you’ve found something here that can prevent you from reaching that point. Thanks for reading, I hope you found something useful here. If you have a tip please share in the comments. If this blog was useful please share it with your friends.
Stay tuned for next week. It’s the last week of the month where I share some of my Favorite Things. Next week’s installment is a favorite thing from my Mom and not motorcycle related at all…But it’s yummy!