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Keeping Your Cool

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. The cloudless sky sparkles as the bright summer sun casts deep shadows on its climb to stand tall overhead by midday. Your chronometer says it’s still early morning, yet your thermometer says it’s already 75° and rapidly rising. What a day for your ride, you think. Well. At least it’s not raining although that might be better. How do you plan to stay cool during your ride? How can you battle the effects of the blistering summer sun?

One option might be to ride as nude as possible so you have the wind to keep you cool. Assuming you meet the legal requirements of having some cloth on your body, to establishment may allow you to get away with that option. It is not your best choice, however.

"While you may benefit from the cooling effect, your passenger may be getting asphyxiated."

The seasonal bugs seem to be much more obvious when they zap against your bare skin at road speeds. The sand and dust even blast away at your skin as you fly down the highway headed to your destination. More importantly, the super-heated wind and the burning sun suck the moisture out of your exposed skin gradually cooking you to a well done, dry-broiled state.

A better option would be to wear your full riding gear to ensure adequate protection from both the elements and the pavement in the event of an unplanned meeting. Your gear will keep the harmful effects of the sun off your skin while reducing the impact of the wind’s drying effect on your body. You won’t seem to notice the bugs quite as much either except when they decide to deposit their carcasses directly on your face shield. But how can you stay cool wearing all that gear?

There are several things you might do to maintain your cool under these sauna-like conditions. Sometimes you might raise your hand slightly to let the air blow up the sleeve of your jacket. It feels good as the breeze slides up your arm and across your back. This isn’t recommended while riding two up, however. While you may benefit from the cooling effect, your passenger may be getting asphyxiated.

Good quality leather riding jackets normally have zippered vents that allow relief from trapped in heat. Newer jackets are made with synthetic materials like Cordura® and Gore-Tex® that provide cooler protection. We often switch to heavy denim jackets in extremely hot weather. Not only do they breathe, but we can throw them in a sink at rest stops and soak them down. Now we have air conditioning for the next few minutes of our ride.

Other techniques to prevent getting hot under the collar include the use of cooling devices. Crystal-filled wraps are available that provide a longer term cooling effect when worn across the back of your neck. Misting sprayers can also help provide relief from the blistering summer heat.

Of course, the number one technique is to drink plenty of clear fluids, especially water. Replenishing your body’s fluids helps prevent dehydration, heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Although soda, coffee or alcohol may be more appealing, your body needs clear water to maintain its fluid equilibrium. Without it, you will lose your equilibrium and the effects of the summer heat will have claimed another victim. Keep your cool in the summer heat.

Ride Smart! Ride Safe!