Here in urban Arizona the summer heat rides through you. Starting in late June, the vast expanses of concrete under a relentless sun combine to turn this city into an oven that doesn’t cool off until Thanksgiving.
The pavement can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit, which combines with the heat coming off the motor and the surrounding cars. Getting caught in slow traffic in those conditions will teach you what heat is.
So, what is an earnest biker to do?
Keep riding, of course!
Keep yourself covered – Shorts and a sleeveless shirt aren’t appropriate clothing on a motorcycle. What you might think is keeping you cool is actually interfering with your built in cooling system. Heat combined with the wind we encounter while riding can evaporate your sweat almost instantly. If you stay covered up, your sweat will accumulate enough to actually do its job and cool you off. You want your skin to be covered with some kind of material that just lets enough air move through it to be comfortable.
Drink a ton of water – In intense heat, you can sweat up to four quarts in an hour. That water has to come from somewhere. Drink, drink, drink. Stop now and then and drink some more. Really, if you’re going to be riding in the heat, you need to drink more water than you think you need. Stopping for a bathroom break beats stopping for dehydration and heat stroke. Load up on fluids before getting out in the heat- by the time you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. If you’re not peeing, you’re dehydrated.
Avoid riding during the hottest time of the day – Seriously, take a siesta during the heat, and ride earlier or later in the day. We’ll all forgive you for waiting until a cooler part of the day to ride.
Get elevated now and then – Higher altitudes bring lower temperatures. When you can’t take the heat anymore, go up a big hill. It gets 3 to 5 degrees cooler for every 1000 feet of elevation you gain.
Adjust your attitude – It’s hot out. You’re going to sweat a lot and won’t be entirely comfortable. Accept it, get out there and ride.
Mercedes-Benz’ racing team did some research several years back and found that driver reaction time can slow up by as much as 20% well before the driver feels overheated. We motorcyclists can’t afford to give up that kind of reaction time in traffic, so, drink lots of water, stay as cool as you can, take frequent breaks.
As many of you know, I don’t have a cage. But I must admit that when my neighbor offered up her car during these 115+ days I accepted.
With thanks to Luck @ The Great Motorcycle Pizza Tour.