Wear Seasonal Gear
Story time: When I first started riding, I didn’t always wear pants.
Well, no, that’s not true. While I did wear leg coverings, they were usually just normal, everyday jeans. Nothing made of textile or leather materials with abrasion resistance, good ventilation, or knee and hip armor. One day on a commute to work, I paid for it when I went down and banged up my knee pretty badly. Back then, I always wore a helmet, boots, gloves, and a jacket. However, until that happened, I wasn’t all that bothered about wearing proper pants. You’d better believe I changed that opinion pretty quick after not being able to walk without a crutch for a couple of months.
Anyway, in the summer, I see a lot of riders wearing t-shirts, short mesh gloves, cargo shorts, sometimes even flip-flops—all topped off with a full-face lid for good measure, of course. Staying cool is important, and gear isn’t always cheap. If you aren’t the type of hypebeast who needs every bleeding-edge gear fashion as soon as it comes out, then getting a deal on last summer’s closeouts can save you significant cash. The best part is, it’ll still keep you both cool and safe on your summer journeys. Wouldn’t you rather spend a few dollars to stay cooler, safer, and also not get a sunburn? Also, who doesn’t like opening up a closet and seeing motorcycle gear for all seasons inside? Gotta wear ‘em all.
Don't Forget to Hydrate
How you do this depends on your ride. Maybe you’ll pack a water bottle on your bike, use a hydration bladder loaded with ice and a 90-degree bite valve, or maybe you’ll just make stops along the way to grab something cold from a gas station or café. However you choose to do it, just make sure that you stay hydrated.
Also, eat something salty to keep your electrolytes balanced and avoid hyponatremia. Headaches, dizziness, and general crankiness at levels out of the ordinary for you are some signs that you might need to stop for a drink and a bite to eat. In other words, friends don’t let friends don’t ride hangry. If you’re riding solo, be your own best friend and make yourself take a personal refueling break every once in a while, even if your bike doesn’t need any fuel just now.
Just Like a Swimming Pool
While you’re at the gas station filling one tank and emptying another, take a moment to remove your high-tech moisture-wicking shirt, and then soak it in the bathroom sink. Make sure it’s good and soaked, wring it out and put it back on. It’s like jumping into a swimming pool!
Now the breeze coming through your mesh gear will cool you off and your body won’t have to work so hard to sweat. Also, you’ve rinsed some of the smelliness out of your shirt. You’ll dry off pretty quickly as you ride, and you’ll feel much refreshed while you’re doing it.
Ride at Dawn or Dusk
The best thing to do to beat the heat is not to ride when it’s so hot. I know that sounds obvious and impossible, but staying off the bike during the hottest part of the day can help a lot. If you have places to be, start early and get off the road before it’s a real scorcher. Your favorite weather app can help you out here.
This applies wherever you live. I have family in Bangkok, and while that city sees heat and humidity extremes that aren’t super-common in most parts of the U.S., a lot of locals beat the heat by simply avoiding unnecessary outdoor movement during the hottest parts of the day. For riders, that can mean scheduling yourself a long, leisurely lunch break during peak heat hours, and then gearing up to continue your ride afterward. A little bit of forethought goes a long way to keeping you cool, comfortable, and enjoying your ride for longer. That down time is also a prime time to hydrate and eat something tasty!
Wooded Roads are Cool
The roads you ride can make a big difference. Staying on back roads that are shaded by trees is a huge advantage in the heat. Trees absorb heat and keep the sun from heating up the asphalt underneath you. Temperatures in wooded shade can be ten degrees cooler than open highways baking in the sun.
Every rider likes to map out routes differently, but this is a place where you can use the somewhat creepy powers of Google Street View to your advantage. Tree-lined roads become evident when you can virtually travel along any route you’re considering.
Also, do you often wonder if the nice, curvy roads you see on a map are paved, full of gravel, or maybe dirt someplace on your route? Would you like to find those roads? Google Street View can be your friend, but pay attention to the date on the images. Sometimes, they can be a few years out of date, and things may have changed for the worse.