Last Saturday, a group of riders was reportedly exploring Death Valley National Park on their motorcycles. Temps hit a record 128 degrees Fahrenheit (about 53.3 Celsius) in the park that day, and the riders soon felt the effects of the extreme heat.

One of those riders was later pronounced dead, while another with "severe heat illness" was taken to the hospital by first responders. Four more were treated and released, as reported by The Los Angeles Times

In addition to being a scarily high three-digit number for heat, temps above 120 degrees also make flying helicopters more difficult. Hot air gets thinner than cooler air. This in turn prevents helicopters from gaining the necessary lift they need to fly and get to those who need help around the area. 

It's an awful story, and our condolences go out to that rider's friends and family. But it's also a good reminder of some key things we can all do to take care of ourselves and our riding buddies when we're out exploring in hot weather.

Hot Weather Motorcycle Gear: The Coolest Helmet, Gloves, Jackets and Shoes Available

Wear strategic layers. Yes, even in the summer.

I'm not talking about warm, toasty base layers that you'd wear to keep warm in the winter. In case you're not familiar with them, cooling base layers do also exist. They also help to wick moisture away from your body, helping your system better regulate your body temperature as you exert yourself. 

Also, it might seem counterintuitive, but keeping more of your skin covered (instead of exposed to the hot sun and wind) will also help you to more easily stay hydrated in the heat. As a bonus, it will also help to prevent nasty, painful sunburns. 

One of my favorite things to do when the temps shoot up is to put on a cooling base layer, then put a motorcycle jacket with great ventilation on over it. The cool air blowing through the mesh panels in my jacket works together with the cooling base layer to make things very pleasant while I'm moving.

Don't be afraid to soak those base layers and then put them on under gear with good air flow.

This advice isn't suitable for every ride, but you'll know when the time is right to give your cooling base layer a good soaking. Put it on under your mesh jacket, then go for a ride and enjoy the delightful cooling sensation of strategically deployed H2O and wind against your skin.

Depending on what you feel comfortable with, this method also works well with a buff, neck gaiter, or even a balaclava that you want to soak and then put on your head/neck for extra cooling. This works extra well under a helmet that has good ventilation.

Also, just like covering the skin on your body can help prevent dehydration, there's more than just impact protection to appreciate about your motorcycle helmet. Much like many of us wear hats during the summer to protect our heads (and eyes) from the sun, helmets can also be helpful in this regard.

Just make sure the one you're wearing has lots of good airflow. If you find that the wind noise is too much, add earplugs and enjoy a quieter ride along with some nice, cool air channeled over and around your head.

Allroad Hydration Bladder

Stay hydrated, both on and off the bike.

The weather's beautiful (if hot), and the sense of urgency we all had drilled into us as kids about the fleeting days of summer vacation never left, right? So, it's really easy to get caught up in the moment and put off taking a nice, big, cooling drink of water even if a little voice in your head is telling you that you should.

Just a few more miles, you might think. But the way time passes on a bike is funny, and pretty soon an hour passes and you still haven't taken a single sip. And now, your head hurts. Probably because you need to drink more water.

Bring water with you on your journey, whether it's in bottles or a hydration pack or however you prefer to carry it.

Sure, you might be planning to stop somewhere for lunch or a snack along the way, but you never know when the unexpected might happen. For example, a bike in your party might break down. Or you might get lost, and then you'll be glad you have water on hand and can at least hydrate while you're cursing your GPS and/or waiting for help.

Relatedly, having your favorite headache remedy (ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.) on hand is also a good idea just in case. Getting annoyed when something goes wrong only gets worse when it's hot and you also have a headache that makes thinking your way out even harder.

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Bring a snack, just in case

We all know that being hangry is a thing. At the same time, we also know that riding in extreme heat puts additional stresses on your body.

That's why having a little snack on hand (like a granola bar or jerky or a banana or something) can make the difference between calmly thinking your way out of a bad situation and potentially getting into a friendship-ending fight because you get disproportionately angry over something really small

In other words, yes, that one Snickers ad campaign about how you're not you when you're hungry was indeed trying to sell you Snickers candy bars. That doesn't necessarily mean it was wrong, though. A chocolate candy bar will probably melt in extreme heat, but there are plenty of other snacks that won't. 

Dirt bike and rider fall off a cliff

Know your limits, listen to your body, and be honest with your riding buddies

This might be more or less difficult, depending on you and your riding buddies. But if you can, chat with your riding buddies ahead of time and agree that any of you can say (or signal) that you need to stop for some reason. 

Hey, even when it's not hot out, weird stuff can happen on rides. A bug might fly into your helmet and you urgently need to get it out. Depending on your helmet, the visor might suddenly decide to partially detach and you need to pull over so you can try to fix it. Or maybe you'll pull away from a stop, only to realize that your pannier is open/your boot is open/your jacket is open and you need to fix it. It happens.

Those concerns are all pretty minor, but you and your buddies also need to agree that you can stop if it's something more serious. We all want to push ourselves to get better at riding, but finding the balance between pushing beyond your comfort zone and ending up in a bad place is really important. Push, but don't push yourself (or your buddies) too hard. Be chill, listen, and communicate.

Most riders are well acquainted with our favorite weather apps for keeping track of what the temps and conditions will be like where we're planning to ride next.

Sometimes you have to go out in weather that you'd rather not ride through because you have obligations. But if you have the luxury of choice, don't be afraid to say if you're not feeling it and then reschedule your ride for another day.

Maybe you just got some bad news and you're not in a great headspace to ride safely. It's all part of being human, and the real ones in your riding buddy group will understand. We've all been there, trust me.

Ride awesome, stay hydrated and cool, and go explore when and where you feel comfortable doing so!

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