For Floridians who ride, June is already considered summer time, and while the rain is something those of us on two-wheels also need to watch out for, it’s important not to forget about the dangers that come with increasing temperatures. Overheated engines are no joke, but an overheated rider isn’t something to overlook either. That’s why it’s good to review the signs of heat exhaustion as we move into the summer season, as well as tips and tricks you can use to stay cool while riding.
THE 9 SIGNS OF HEAT EXHAUSTION
- Elevated body temperature
- Profuse sweating
- Clammy sensation on the skin
- Pale or flushed complexion
- Fast and shallow breathing
- Muscle cramps
- Extreme weakness or fatigue
If you experience any of these while riding, it’s important to pull over and give yourself a rest just as you would your bike. If your engine started overheating you wouldn’t push it past its limits would you? No, then treat yourself just as well as you would your machine. After all, your body is far less predictable than your bike, so while you may have a better gauge on how much farther your bike can go when the engine starts heating up, when it comes to your body it’s all just guesswork.
Before we dive into the different ways you can stay cool while riding during the summer months, it’s important to first understand the body’s natural cooling system: in other words, what your body already does to keep you from overheating.
HOW THE BODY STAYS COOL NATURALLY
The body keeps cool in one of two ways: through the use of sweat and through the use of air circulation. In fact, it’s very similar to how engines are either water-cooled or air-cooled. Only the body can actually do both extremely efficiently.
When you sweat, excess heat is drawn out of the body through the process of evaporation. This process only works in a dry heat, since the surrounding air is capable of taking in more moisture. When it’s humid out, the sweat stays on the body (along with the heat trapped inside of it), creating a hot, sticky, and uncomfortable sensation that does not succeed in cooling your down.
In such situations, the body is better cooled through the process of convection. Which is just a fancy way of saying that when air hits your body at a high enough speed, it cools down. This sensation is created when you place a fan in front of your body or also when you go for a ride.
However, both processes deplete the body of moisture, which is why it’s so important to stay hydrated while riding the summer. Dehydration is just as serious of a potential threat as heat exhaustion.
Typically, you want to drink about 8 oz. of water for every hour of riding. Sports drinks are ok, but water is best since that’s what your body needs.
Alright, now that we’ve reviewed the signs of heat exhaustion and have a better understanding of what the body naturally does to stay cool in hot temperatures, let’s dive into the tips you can use while riding in the summer to steer clear of heat exhaustion, heat strokes, and dehydration.
7 TIPS TO STAY COOL WHILE RIDING
- Stay hydrated: You can NEVER drink too much water during the summer.
- Stay covered: Don’t ride in just a t-shirt. Exposed skin dries out more quickly than covered skin.
- Don’t just rely on sweat: Soaking your t-shirt before putting it on or wearing a wet bandana around your neck can do wonders to help with the heat.
- Shop with the heat in mind: Riding-specific items like hydration vests are specifically designed to help motorcycle riders stay cool in even the hottest temperatures. If you live somewhere hot (like Florida), consider investing in a good one.
- Frost your helmet: Most gas stations and rest stops have giant freezers in them that are great for placing your helmet in for a quick cool down. Leave it in for as long as you can. The cold sensation won’t last long once you’re back on the bike, but it’ll delay the heat long enough to keep you hydrated for longer.
- Avoid riding at noon: Not just at noon, but also a few hours after as well. This tends to be the hottest time of the day, so it’s better to give yourself (and your bike) a rest during this time.
- Take breaks as needed: If you notice yourself experiencing any of the 9 signs discussed above, take a rest. There’s no point putting yourself at risk when 15-20 minutes off the bike drinking water and relaxing in the AC will do the trick.
All that being said, enjoy the sunshine and the long summer days. Stay cool out there and we hope you get the most out of your summer riding season!