All humans need water to survive. Proper hydration becomes much more important in hot weather, especially when we’re active. Yes, riding a motorcycle qualifies as being active. When we ride we are quite exposed to the elements, and that includes hot sun and drying wind.
We’ve all been there: the day gets hotter than you’d anticipated, the forecast changes in the week you’ve been travelling, or it’s just freakin’ hot out but you want to ride anyway. If you keep yourself hydrated, your body can regulate its temperature better, and you’ll be more comfortable and safer.
Humans Are Mostly Water
When that water comes out, it takes all kinds of nasties with it, and that is part of how we stay alive and get rid of toxins and unnecessary stuff from our bodies. When you are dehydrated, all that stuff sticks around, sometimes for too long. That means you are more prone to things like kidney stones. Paying attention to the color of your pee is a good measure: if it's dark, you need to drink more water.
Your blood also flows more easily when you’re hydrated, and that makes every system in your body work at its optimum efficiency, including your brain. Ever feel like you just stopped being able to think, you were so overheated? You were right. Just like your bike will overheat without enough coolant, you will too.
Use A Hydration Pack, Stay Alive
Lots of us have found that the very best way for us to stay hydrated on a long hot ride or a multiple-day motorcycle trip is with a hydration pack. There are several different form factors, but they all do basically the same thing: make it so that you can drink a little bit at a time over the entire course of the day, and that is the very best way to stay hydrated.
You know those times you’ve stopped at a gas station and bought a bottle of water, and just downed the whole thing right there, you were so thirsty? It probably made you feel kind of gross, and then you had to pee like crazy just a few miles down the road. Sound familiar?
With a hydration bladder, slow water intake means you never overdo it. Small sips every few minutes is also a great way to hydrate your whole body. Your guts have time to process all that water and turn it into sweat instead of dumping all the water you just chugged pretty much directly into your bladder.
Hydration Pack Form Factors
Hydration packs mostly come in backpack form, but you can also get them in belt or “fanny” packs, or just bladders. You can wear them outside your riding jacket, but that can impede airflow. I wear my backpack style hydration pack inside my mesh textile jacket. I stuff it full of ice, then fill it with water. Wearing a bag of ice water over my base layer but directly against my spine is the first way it keeps me cool. Supplying me with a mouthful of cold water every few minutes is the other.
If you hate the idea of a backpack, the belt pack might work for you. If you prefer, you can buy the bladder alone and stuff it into your tank bag instead. Either way, if you run a full-face helmet you’ll probably want a 90-degree bite valve for it so that you can run it into your helmet.
Once you try this, I promise you will be hooked. Remember, gas station mini-marts that have soda fountains also have water and ice, and they will usually let you refill your hydration pack for free with ice and water if you ask nicely. You might be startled to find how much more comfortable you are on long rides in hot weather once you’re efficiently hydrating.
Keep your hydration pack well cleaned and dry between uses. And do not neglect to eat while you are drinking a ton of water. A salty snack will keep your electrolytes balanced. Dehydration and hyponatremia are both quite dangerous.