Warm-weather riding is here and we riders are grateful for it, but rising temperatures bring some unique challenges.
The good news is that there are many things you can do to stay hydrated, cool, and alert, even in hot weather.
What is dehydration?
Dehydration occurs when you are not properly rehydrating yourself after sweating.
Electrolyte minerals (salts) are vital for our bodies to function. We lose electrolytes through sweating. Excessive sweating without replenishing electrolytes can have a negative impact on our bodies very quickly.
Signs that you are dehydrated and low on electrolytes can include increased thirst, dry mouth, bad breath, twitching, weakness, and dark urine. If left unchecked, dehydration can lead to fatigue, headaches, dizziness and heat stroke.
Coconut water is a wonderful, natural way to rehydrate and is a healthier option when compared to energy drinks. Low fat chocolate milk also offers great nutritional benefits and helps athletes recover after strenuous exercise. Drinking plenty of regular water as opposed to coffee, tea or pop is also highly recommended.
Be sure to take frequent hydration breaks, and try to avoid riding your bike during the hottest hours of the day. Choose early morning or late afternoon to evening rides.
Summer motorcycle gear to keep you cool:
Dressing appropriately for a warm weather ride can be a challenge, but there are a number of very affordable ways to remain cool and stay fully geared up as opposed to sacrificing your safety by wearing shorts, tanks tops and flip flops on your motorcycle.
Kevlar is a synthetic aromatic polyamide (or “aramid” for short). Not only is it an amazing anti-abrasive, anti-puncture material used to make jackets, gloves, shirts, pants and socks, it is considerably cooler to wear than leather or cordura.
Neck wraps, cooling bandanas:
There are a number of these types of products on the market today. Some are filled with gelatin beads, while others have cooling towels built into them. In both cases, you submerge them in water and let them absorb as much as they can. Then, you tie them around your neck or forehead. The rushing wind during your ride will help cool the water – which in turn will help cool you down. A neck wrap or bandana with a cooling feature usually costs around $10 and they’re reusable, making them a very affordable option.
There are a number of cooling vests on the market ranging from $50 to $250. Some of the most popular models have inserts that you remove, fill with water, and put in the freezer. Once fully chilled, you place the inserts back into the pockets of the vest. Other models require that you soak the entire vest, put it in the freezer to chill, and then wear it. When wind goes over the cool water in the vest, it keeps your core temperature down.
Light coloured helmets will attract less heat and when they also offer venting, they help keep you cool. A number of brands offer stylish helmets that allow for great visibility and protection while allowing for airflow.
Vented Riding Boots:
Many motorcycle gear companies offer perforated and vented boots or shoes to help keep air circulating around your feet making them less sweaty and uncomfortable.
One of the first instincts when you’re about to fall is to attempt to catch yourself with outstretched arms. This could cause your hands to sustain some wicked road rash, if not actual abrasions and cuts. Don’t take the risk. There are many styles of vented gloves on the market.
Cooling compression base layers:
Aliki Karayan is the brains behind the VnM Sport brand of compression performance clothing. With a background in motorcycle racing, Aliki designs clothing made with advanced fabrics that amplify cooling and dry in a flash. She calls it air conditioning for the skin!
Without going into too much of the technical detail, these compression garments work exactly as Aliki describes: “Our forearms, upper arms, upper back and shoulders usually take the most beating, along with our quads, thighs, and calves. We created a targeted compression garment that focuses on these specific areas of fatigue only, allowing for a little breathing room in in other areas not in need of compression. True Compression Fit garments provide enough compression to reduce the build-up of lactic acid in the muscles (which causes a burning sensation) when performing high intensity activities like riding on the track. It also reduces muscle vibration which causes fatigue.”
Compression clothing is meant to fit underneath a racer’s one piece leather riding suit. Oh and ladies, Aliki, being a female racer, has designed ladies gear that accommodates for our girl bits!
If compression garments can keep a road racer cool, with less muscle fatigue, imagine what it could do when worn under Kevlar riding gear! Just think how many more kilometres you could put on in comfort and safety?