Better riding: Heat wave

Shubhabrata Marmar Updated: May 24, 2018, 04:53 PM IST

As summer approaches, motorcyclists start to shrivel up and leave the roads. Well, we don't. At OVERDRIVE we ride right through the summer and along the way, we've learnt a few things that really works. Here are three things that dramatically alter your response to the heat. Try them today.

Do not expose skin

Your skin is amazing. No, I'm not referring to your penchant for Fair & Lovely. Your skin sweats and the evaporation of this causes your skin and then you to cool. The human body can only handle a limited temperature range and both hyper- and hypothermia (too hot and too cold, respectively) are problems for us. Our natural reaction to heat is to start taking clothes off to expose skin to breeze. On a bike, this is a potential problem.

You see, the exposed skin evaporates sweat very fast and can rapidly cause serious dehydration unless you are aware of this and drinking enough water to compensate. The strange strategy is to use summer-friendly fabrics but keep yourself covered on the bike. Open vents, use mesh but do not get out of gear into shorts. You risk serious injury if you fall as well as dehydration.

Also note that when the air temperature is higher than your skin temperature, the passing air leaves heat on your skin rather than takes it away. So as the temperatures cross 35 degrees, you really need to watch yourself for signs of both overheating and dehydration.

Don't stick your neck out

The important of your neck in the keeping cool scheme of things cannot be overstated. It's the one part of the body where major arteries sit very close to skin. If you can cool your neck, you'll feel better immediately. The easy way to do this is a very, very wet buff or scarf or something. You want a fabric that soaks water in good amounts but doesn't allow it to evaporate too fast. Protecting the skin from the hot breeze will also slow evaporative loss. In the cold season, we do the opposite too. A warm fleece liner will make you feel considerably warmer and more comfortable almost immediately.

Baselayers, baselayers, baselayers

I know we've said this before but get rid of natural fabrics from your motorcycle life. You can thank me later. Silk and merino are perhaps the sole exceptions. Cotton, the most common fabric motorcyclists use, is perhaps the worst. It's thick and blocks wind partially. It soaks up your sweat and doesn't dry fast and it takes up room in luggage too.

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Baselayers are designed to wick sweat away from skin, spread it over a wide area and promote evaporation. At the end of a long day, they make you feel fresh, un-sticky and cool. And they pack down small, dry fast if you wash them and take a long time to get stinky too. The sole downside, really, is that they are expensive. But they are also, irreplaceable.

These three things are, of course, in addition to the one thing that underpins all hot weather riding - your ability to drink water regularly and stay on top of your hydration. If you're out there a lot, get a hydration bladder and use it every single summer ride.


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