It's the little things that make life on two wheels easier.
Here are some great tricks I’ve picked up over the past 20+ years of riding motorcycles in interesting weather. Some are super old-school and some are stolen from other pursuits.
Weather is unpredictable, and sometimes when you are out riding it changes to something you did not prepare for. We’ve all been caught there, when you’re just too cold to continue but you need to get to your destination. Maybe you keep stopping for coffee. Before high-tech heated gear was a thing, riders used to layer newspapers in their leather jackets, in a pinch. I can tell you that this trick still works today. Just that couple of extra layers of insulation sometimes makes a big difference, and the convenience stores that sell coffee also have newspapers.
Hot weather can be a problem too. If I know I’m going to be riding during a real scorcher, I will wear wicking workout wear as the base layers under my motorcycle gear. Today’s synthetic materials, especially UnderArmor HeatGear which is specifically made to cool you off in hot weather, are really good at wicking sweat away and cooling you off. At every gas stop, I’ll go into the bathroom and soak my synthetic shirt in the sink, squeeze it lightly and put it on wet. It’s like jumping into a swimming pool, and evaporative cooling, once I’m moving again, keeps me comfortable. Note that pulling your gear off and exposing yourself to sunlight can actually literally braise your skin, and too much wind will dehydrate you faster. Keep your gear on, soak your base layers, and stay safe from sun poisoning.
Remember, hypothermia makes you stupid slowly, but overheating makes you stupid very quickly. Both can be dangerous.
Stay hydrated! I stuff a backpack-style hydration pack full of ice, top it up with water and wear that under my jacket, so the ice and water is right up against my spine. Taking a small drink of cool water every once in a while keeps you hydrated more reliably which really helps keep your brains in your head on a hot day. Stopping and tossing back a liter of water just means you’re going to have to pee in 75 miles. With small sips more slowly your body can process it into sweat more effectively.
Your neck gaiter can do wonders for temperature regulation. Your carotid arteries are at the front of your neck, so if you keep your blood flow warm your brain stays happy. They keep road dust and insects (especially the jerks that sting) off your neck and out of the collar of your riding jacket, but in hot weather it will also soak well and dry slowly, cooling you off.
When it’s raining or chilly and damp your visor might fog up. If you don’t have a pinlock insert installed, you might want to use Cat Crap. I know, a lot of you have heard about using dish-washing liquid or shaving cream but I am here to tell you, skiers figured this stuff out long before we did. Why it is called Cat Crap I cannot tell you, but it works.
Lastly, sun visors. Sometimes a tinted shield is not enough, when the sun is low and in your eyes but you still need to see that traffic light. Here’s what you do: take some electrical tape and put blocks of it across the top of your visor. This way you can block the sun but still peek between the gaps to watch for that traffic light change.
Friends, what did I miss? What are some fantastic ideas you've picked up along the way?