|Riding When Its Hot Enough To Melt Your Shoes!|
Living in South Texas and riding each summer through West Texas makes us feel like we're seasoned hot weather riders, but this ride really challenged that thinking. I left Mission at 7:20am and decided to make some time so I elected to ride the Interstate all the way into Dallas. The first four hours were actually pleasant then north of San Antonio it began to get unbearably hot. The expressway spans over 300 feet wide, most of which is asphalt and cement, reflexing heat right onto you. My Harley air temperature gauge was pegged at 120 degrees, but its universally accepted common knowledge that they're notoriously inaccurate and just about worthless, but even if they're off 20 degrees it gives you an idea that it was HOT. I usually ride with my Shoei full faced flip-up helmet with the eye shield raised so I can get some air, but it was so hot that I couldn't bare to have it open so I rode all afternoon with it closed. The air felt just like a hot furnace and I actually thought that my face would burn if I left the shield open. I forced myself to drink lots of water at every stop. I started early in the morning by drinking a 16 oz bottle of water before I left the house and had another at the rest-stop, about 100 miles from home, another one in San Antonio, and a large Gatoraide in Salado, Texas followed by another three water bottles when I arrived in Mesquite.
The return ride on Sunday was hotter and this time the sun was in our faces as we rode South. We left Mesquite by 8:15am and reached Lockhart by 11:30am. A quick and pleasant first leg. We stopped at Smitty's BBQ in Lockhart for lunch before continuing home via Kennedy. By the time we reached Luling it was 110 degrees and occasionally spiking to 113.
So what's the best way to beat the heat when riding? I'm not sure, but here's what we do to help us make it through the day. The most important is to stay hydrated, drink plenty of water or any drink with electrolytes such as Gatoraide. My general rule is that if you can't pee then you're not drinking enough water. I also limit intake of beer the night before or too much coffee at morning breakfast. It's also good to have something setup on your bike that will hold a water container and allow you to drink while on the road. I had that setup, but it didn't work too well so I removed it from my handle bar, but most guys I ride with have some type of cup holder on their bikes. I'd rather stop and get something to drink.
I wear a perforated jacket which keeps me cooler, but protects me from the sun. Some guys wear short sleeve shirts, or thin perforated jackets that allow too much air flow and I think that's a mistake since the hot air hitting your skin makes your body work overtime in trying to keep you cool through added perspiration. Added perspiration means more water loss and quicker dehydration. I usually wear a long sleeve shirt underneath my jacket and ride in jeans (no chaps) and boots. I also wear a full face helmet and keep it closed when it's too hot. I'll douse my jacket with water as well as my skull cap and bandana, but those tricks only last about 10 minutes out in the heat, but it's a welcome relief as short as it might be. I know guys that put ice in their jacket pockets, guys riding with shorts under their riding pants, and guys carrying mist water bottles.
In hot weather it's important to do whatever you can to stay hydrated even if it means stopping more often than you planned. Each time we ride in very hot weather we start that debate about what's worse riding in hot weather or cold freezing weather. I guess hot weather is best in that you can always peel off layers and in winter you better start off well bundled because once you get too cold (hands) its hard to keep going without possibly causing some long term damage.