Hot Climate Riding. Top Tips for Keeping Cool.
I am often asked how I cope with riding for long hours in fairly hot temperatures (up to 46 degrees Centigrade / 115 Fahrenheit). I don’t have much in the way of fancy cooling gear, except for my mesh motorcycle clothes (although prior to getting this gear I still coped fine with a canvas style jacket and Draggin jeans). I figured I may as well put together some top tips that have worked great for me (and may add to this list as time goes on).
I hope it helps give some ideas on ways to keep cool when riding in hot conditions. 🙂
1: Wear the Right Gear
Mesh gear is fantastic for hot weather riding and a great armoured option when needing to keep cool. Wearing light colours helps a lot too (although in truth most of us wear black, myself included). Light colours reflect heat significantly enough to make a difference, whereas darker colours absorb. Your head will cook a lot less in a white or light helmet, as will your body, if wearing lighter coloured gear.THE FULL LIST OF WHAT GEAR THAT I WEAR IS HERE (includes the update of my more recent mesh trousers)
I wear a lightweight Komine Jacket, which I love. I found the armour to be a little lightweight for my liking though, so swapped it out for some heavier duty armour. My jeans are by Assero, but cut for a man unfortunately, so not the best fit. Assero do offer custom gear though, so might be an option to consider later.
Additionally a dry cooling vest (or similar), such as Inuteq brand seems like a great idea. I have yet to try one out, but hopefully it is on the cards fairly soon, so will update about that later.
*TOP TIP*: SOAK DOWN YOUR GEAR WITH WATER!
(At petrol/rest stops I tend to either soak down with the sprays available in restroom facilities, or I use an empty water bottle to fill up with tap water and soak myself down with. Of course do this within reason and do not leave a huge wet mess behind! Alternatively soak your whole body (gear on!) in a local river or reservoir. I’ve done this many times joyfully, despite being warned of possible leaches..(it has never yet happened!)).
The beauty of mesh gear is that even if you get into a river wearing all your gear, it dries out perfectly as you ride, keeping you feeling refreshed and cool. BUT, even if you do not have mesh gear, so long as your gear has the ability to dry out, then just get it soaked! I’ve soaked down my draggin jeans many times previously and they still dry out a treat on a ride. At the very least get the gear off and have a nice soak. I have never regretted taking a moment out to cool my mind and body down during a long ride.
(An additional tip if very hot is to stick ice cubes in any pockets you may have, or tuck in some cubes in your neck scarf and let them melt slowly as you ride.)
2: Ride at Cooler Times of the Day
Try to ride early morning and later on in the afternoon. Basically aim to get as much riding done before the high heat times of between 11am and 4pm (although not always possible of course). Keep in mind that despite most believing that midday is the hottest time of day, it is in fact between 3pm and 4pm that heat levels are at their most intense.
Wear a Camelback/Hydration Bladder: Intermittent sips of water to keep yourself regularly hydrated is much better than glugging down a bottle of water at odd intervals. You will lower your risk of heat exhaustion and your body will thank you.
*TOP TIP* PUT ICE CUBES IN THE BLADDER! A rough ratio of 50:50 water and ice will help keep the water refreshingly cool which should keep you going until the next petrol stop.
Pack extra water: If you are going off-the-beaten-track or there is a chance of not being anywhere you can get fresh clean water, then pack extra water. A neat trick is to freeze a bottle of water beforehand (make sure to leave room for ice expansion though. So do not fill the water bottle to the brim), that way it stay chilled for some time when riding.
Keep an eye on your Urine colour: You want it to be clear. Darker shades indicate levels of dehydration. Deep-coloured urine combined with headaches are early signs of severe dehydration, and chances are that heat stroke will follow. Heat stroke is not to be taken lightly. It can and does kill.
Drink coconut water. Coconut water is a fantastic source of natural electrolytes. If not readily available then sachets of pre-made electrolytes are handy (or make up your own. See image above)
Hydrate with WATER (or at least non-sugary, non-caffeinated drinks): Might seem silly to emphasise this, but I have seen a lot of riders chug down cola and coffees on rides to keep going. Diuretic drinks such as caffeine and alcohol will cause you to urinate more and lose water. Keep your body happy with drinks that will keep you properly hydrated. (I confess that I drink a coffee on every ride, but I balance that out with lots of water and coconut water)
Lastly… a bit of a silly one. An unexpected (but much needed) cool down opportunity came just at the right time..haha! Basically take any and every opportunity to cool the core body temperature down, no matter how crazy it seems at the time!
..and of course, the best one of all is getting any opportunity to cool down in some of the stunning waterfalls in the region. This time was with friends at the beautiful Mork Fah Waterfall in Northern Thailand.
I hope this list helped. If you have any suggestions, please do comment below.
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Safe travels! 😀