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Joe Noonan
It's All About The Ride was founded by Britta and Joseph Noonan. Britta and Joe are a happily married couple who share a love for travel, exploring and experiencing all that life has to offer. Currently on a work assignment away from their home in beautiful Coeur d' Alene, ID, they are presently living full-time in a fifth wheel near the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. Both Britta and Joe are adventure seekers with experiences and insights into all aspects of exploring and visiting unique locations. From camping off the back of a motorcycle to living out of an RV and exploring off the beaten path, their product and trip reviews come from first-hand knowledge and a love of seeing and experiencing all that life has to offer.

Summer's Here! Hot Weather Motorcycle Riding Gear and Safe Summer Riding

With over 30+ years of riding experience,  I have ridden in just about every temperature and road condition Mother Nature could throw at me.  My hardest lesson learned was what not to do on a hot summer day of riding.

Long hot summer rides require little common sense to manage the heat.

Crater Lake in September has some of the most unpredictable weather imaginable! Riding my K1200LT in the slick mud was a challenge. I had Britta walk next to me to be safe in case I lost my footing. 

Photography Prints
I was on my KTM950 on my way to Billings ,  MT. This hurricane had come into view and I stopped to grab this picture. Later that night in Billings the news and shown the destruction this storm had done to several buildings. I had no idea at the time that I was riding through a hurricane! 

I left my friend's summer rental home in Upstate New York on my Harley one July day around 8:00 am in the morning.  We were drinking a little the night before and woke a little de-hydrated. So of course I had a cup of coffee! You're supposed to take a diuretic before a hot ride, right? I said my goodbyes and headed out from the beautiful Swan Lake area in Upstate New York. I was heading straight down to the New Jersey Shore to stay with my family in Stone Harbor at their rental. All in, it was about a 6-7 hour ride.

Weather was typical for mid July in Jersey. The triple H; hazy, hot and humid. The weatherman was calling for the mercury to break 100.

You need to remember this was early in my riding career and had no clue about hydration and evaporation. I had no clue you wear a jacket in the heat. I was a Harley rider. Our uniform was   engineer boots, jeans and a black tee shirt. You don't wear a jacket in the summer!

Ambient temps were hovering around 102 with relative humidity at 85%, so it felt a lot hotter.  Halfway into the 6 hour ride, I remember feeling dizzy and I had to pull into a rest area on the Garden State Parkway. I chugged ice water and rested a bit. I was still not feeling right but thought I was close enough to make it. I was wrong. I did not feel the signs of heat exhaustion because I was on the bike in the wind and noise. When I stopped the first time I had every symptom on this list except the headache.  When you are young, half of this list is also a standard hangover. So I ignored it.

Heat exhaustion signs and symptoms include:

  • Cool, moist skin with goose bumps when in the heat
  • Heavy sweating
  • Faintness
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Weak, rapid pulse
  • Low blood pressure upon standing
  • Muscle cramps
  • Nausea
  • Headache

15 minutes into riding again, I barely made the next rest stop. I had heat exhaustion and was dangerously close to heat stroke. I remember siting in a fast food area with my head down for three hours or so. I drank all the water I could but the damage had already been done. Only stopping the activity that caused the heat exhaustion, staying cool and time will help you recover.

Remember without your jacket on you cannot see or feel your sweat. Be aware of the signs and pull over frequently to hydrate and to cool your own skin off. 

I remember thinking this feeling is not stopping. My heart rate was up. I was dizzy. I was so tired. My skin was hot to the touch for a long time. I waited until sunset to head back out for the final hour of the ride. I felt horrible but better than I did 3-4 hours earlier.

I remember my Dad saying how pale I looked when I rolled in. That is all I can remember. I drank more water and passed out until the morning. My youth and athleticism is probably the only thing that saved me that day.

I have researched heat exhaustion and heat stroke and have had many successful rides in 100+ degree days. The key is preparation and the right gear. As of this writing, I literally just rode 6 hours in 110 heat from Albuquerque to Phoenix. I was well hydrated. I brought my Camelbak bladder and kept it in my RKA tank bag and fully geared up with my Rev'It Wind Jacket from Revzilla.  I also stopped every hour or so to chug water and soaked down my head and shirt under my jacket. Was I tired when I got home? Hell yes, I was! I'm 51 years old and just rode 6 hours in 110 degree heat! However, I was not in any danger physically because I was hydrated,  prepared and used evaporative cooling and the wind to my advantage.

Since moving to Arizona the Rev-It Wind Jacket has become our go-to jacket to tour the South West in the summer.

The hydration rule to remember is to take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2 for the number of ounces of water you should be drinking every day. So for instance, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should be drinking 90 ounces of water per day, and more depending upon activity levels. It is absolutely crucial to abide by this rule while riding in the heat.

Portable hydration systems can be your key to staying on top of your hydration and in control of your two wheels. some of you wear a Camlebak backpack. I prefer to keep a bladder in my tank bag. The hose reaches over my shoulder to keep my wife hydrated as well. The system works well for us.

Wearing motorcycle gear in 100+ degree heat may feel counter-intuitive but it is the sweat and evaporation you are counting on to keep cool. Do not ride like I did all those years ago in just a t-shirt. Your sweat is evaporated before you can even see or feel it. Plus, the sun on your bare skin is heating you up even more. Just be careful, because at temperatures above your standard 98.6 degree body heat, mesh can hurt instead of helping you. I found the following article on the Long Distance Riders site some time ago very informative.
This article was taken from the LDRiders list, and was written by Tom Austin.

Why Mesh Riding Suits Don't Work in Extreme Conditions

Human bodies exchange heat with their surroundings in four primary ways: convection, conduction, radiation, and evaporative cooling (from perspiration). When ambient temperatures are below the body's normal temperature of 98.6°F, all of these pathways can provide cooling. The higher the windspeed, the more cooling there is from convection. But when ambient temperatures rise above 98.6°F, only evaporative cooling can work. More importantly, too much wind becomes a bad thing. There is a limit to our body's perspiration rate and when the wind speed uses up all of the available perspiration, more wind increases convective HEATING. This is the opposite of "Wind Chill". 
What this means is that you do NOT want to maximize the wind against your skin when the temperature gets extreme. Mesh suits, or wearing just a lightweight shirt, are NOT the right approach. You will actually stay cooler with a conventional suit with the vents adjusted so there is a more moderate air flow across your skin. My lightweight leather jacket has two chest vents and one main rear vent. I soak my shirt or cooling vest and it is perfect. Just enough ventilation. I will use the arm openings as scopes as well. This blows the air up my sleeve and across my shoulders. 

Another Layer? Yep

If you are going to ride and tour during the summer heat I found that a cooling vest and a wet bandana or cooling neck wrap is fantastic for staying cool on 8-10 hour rides when doing necessary interstate riding to get to your vacation destination. The bandana I will wrap several ice cubes in the back of it and as it melts it also drips water down my back that help evaporation;orative cooling as well.

Living in Arizona as a full time motorcyclist I found the following very helpful for my situation. Most of you will never find yourself riding in these conditions. If you do though, this is excellent advice for how much water you should try to consume.

You Have to Carry Much More Water to Ride in 110°F+ Temperatures

When temperatures are below 98.6°F, you may perspire less than 1 quart per day. But when the need for evaporative cooling kicks in, you perspiration rate can increase to 1.5 quarts PER HOUR. If you aren't drinking 1.5 quarts per hour under extreme conditions, you will start becoming dehydrated. Your perspiration rate will decrease, you will feel hotter, your heart rate will increase, and your judgement will start to become clouded. If you are a competitive endurance rider, you can probably go at least 300 miles without stopping. If you are averaging 75 mph, that's four hours. You may need to consume 6 quarts of water in that period of time when the temperature exceeds 110°F.
I carry an insulated 1-gallon cooler with a drinking tube attached when I know I will be riding long distances in hot weather. It was barely adequate for this trip because I deviated from my normal routine and purchased an extra bottle of water to drink during my fuel stops. On one leg, I made the mistake of starting with less than a full gallon and started experiencing the early signs of heat exhaustion. I felt much better after sitting in the shade for 10 minutes while consuming a full litre of bottled water.
Based on my personal experience and research, there is a world of difference between 100-105°F and 115°F in terms of how much water you need. A half quart per hour is more typical of what's required near 100°F. You might even be able to to run without water for several hours at about 100°F and make up the deficit by drinking at lot at your next fuel stop. But at 115°F, the level of dehydration you will be experiencing between fuel stops is excessive; you will definitely experience heat exhaustion and possibly heat stroke.

I hope this information is helpful and you will start to be more careful during your long summer touring rides. It might just save your life. Stay safe and as always remember,  It's All About The Ride!

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