Hydration & Riding In The Heat

DavidFL

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Hot season is fast approaching & I found this recent article on the web extremely informative.

The article was write by Domingo Chang
Domingo has been riding motorcycles since 2006. He first threw a leg over a bike on day one of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Basic Rider Course. Since then, he's ridden over 150,000 miles, year round, in all weather conditions. Domingo rides both two-wheeled motorcycles, and three-wheeled sidecar motorcycles. He loves to explore the great state of Colorado and has ridden in fifteen other states. Domingo is Examiner.com's Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner and has been published in the BMW Owners Association Magazine.​

His article
Being a year-round rider, I’ve encountered my fair share of both hot and cold weather conditions. Since riding with full protective gear, or ATGATT (all the gear all the time), is always the best option for safety, I have learned how to keep cool properly while riding in hot weather.

The Science of Sweat
Your body regulates heat by sweating. As sweat is released from the body onto the surface of your skin, evaporation occurs. Evaporation is the primary method by which sweat cools the body, and it works by the principle of “latent heat of vaporization.” Latent heat is the amount of heat absorbed or released when a substance, like water, changes state, such as from liquid to vapor. One gram or milliliter of water requires approximately 580 calories of energy to vaporize. This energy is drawn from the body in the form of heat. Thus, as sweat vaporizes, it pulls heat out of the body, cooling you down.
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My riding jacket and pants are made of air mesh Kevlar, which vents well while still protecting me from the sun. But no matter how “vented” your riding gear is, you‘ll start to sweat when stopped for traffic lights and other obstacles. Once you get moving again, you‘ll be grateful for that sweat.

This can be explained through a process called convection. Convection is the transfer of energy by means of moving air that surrounds the body. When the air and the skin are at different temperatures, heat transfer occurs from the place of higher temperature toward the place of lower temperature. As heat is pulled from the body through evaporation via sweat, it warms the air directly around the skin. Wind pulls this air away from the skin, constantly replacing it with cooler air, thus constantly pulling heat from the surface of the skin. This is commonly known as wind chill. Unfortunately, when the air temperature is above 93°F, wind will actually heat up the body.

In a sort of reverse wind chill, when the air temperature is higher than the skin temperature, you will see the opposite effect. As you travel at high speeds in high heat, the amount of heat entering the body through convection drastically increases. One might think that wearing more clothes in such heat would be a bad idea, but the opposite is true. The amount of heat that has to be lost through evaporation, or sweat, also must increase.

Wearing wind-breaking material dramatically reduces the amount of heat inflicted on the body through convection, thus reducing the amount of heat that your body must lose through evaporation (sweating). The illustration below depicts three scenarios of sweating at high temperatures (103°F).

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Tips for Riding Cool
In these high-heat conditions, I wear a long-sleeved, tight-fitting exercise shirt made of moisture-wicking material. I know that it seems counter-intuitive to wear long sleeves, but as long as you have air moving over the fabric, it will work great. Just think of the evaporation process described above. As sweat evaporates, it takes your body heat with it. Moisture-wicking material draws sweat away from the body to be evaporated through the shirt, aiding the cooling process. Conventional materials can simply trap sweat next to the skin, limiting evaporation. The key to these materials is air flow. If there is no air movement over the material, then the shirt will become oversaturated, and sweat will not evaporate.

When air temperatures are high and the reverse wind chill is in effect, wetting down clothing will increase the amount of moisture near the skin. This moisture is now available to be evaporated, drawing heat from your body. Although much of the evaporation will be caused by the high air temperature itself, there will be enough water on the skin to reduce the amount you need to sweat.

Some techniques for wetting down include neck bandanas (particularly those with water-absorbing crystals), wetting down a regular cotton t-shirt, or even pouring water directly into your helmet.

Keeping Hydrated
Now that we know how much water the body needs while riding in high temperatures, we can deduce that staying hydrated is one of the most important things to do while on the road. As covered in the above graphic, the difference between covering up or not is about 20 oz./hour and 40 oz./hour, respectively. Here are some tips to help ensure hydration.

Wear a Camelback: For longer rides, I wear a camelback-type water bag on my back. I usually fill mine with half ice and half water before the ride, and those cooling sips do add up to make the difference. If you‘re doing it right, you‘ll run out of water in the camelback before your next gas stop.

Carry Extra Water: I carry a gallon jug of water in my side case on longer days of riding. Be wary of taking in ice-cold water too fast. In my case, it causes an upset stomach. Swish it about your mouth to bring its temperature up a bit before swallowing.

Urine Test: Go for the clear. Dehydration is not something you can tough out – it will kill you if you don’t remedy it. Deep-colored urine and headaches are early signs that you are in need of water. If you stop sweating, heat stroke is not far behind. Drink water often!

Only Water is Water: Caffeine and alcohol are diuretics, which cause you to urinate and lose more water. When it’s hot, steer clear of sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol. Also, never drink alcohol directly before or during your ride.

Riding in really hot weather is not bad when you’re prepared for it. Remember to hydrate, keep your skin covered, and avoid hazards. Don’t let the heat weaken you to the point where you’re not fully attentive to traffic conditions and the road. Basically, you must consider how your body will deal with the heat. Reducing the effects of convection, through covering up and wetting down, will reduce the amount of heat that your body must deal with through evaporation. Covering up in the heat will keep you cool.

Hot weather usually means lots of sun exposure, so get some good sunglasses or a darkened visor to prevent headaches caused by sun glare. And don’t forget to put sunblock on the back of your neck where your riding gear leaves the skin exposed.

Ride safe. Ride aware.

Source: www.fix.com/blog/motorcycle
 
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Mar 30, 2010
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Last ANZAC day.. When Mike and I were riding out in Kanchanaburi.
It was so hot and so dry....

I had no sweat on me.. It evaporated as I was riding... First time to experience that. (Off Road Riding)
Could feel myself crisping up nicely..

Usually when road riding.. because of the jackets you are sweating like a pig and jacket soaking when stopping.

Having the Kanchanaburi experience.. I can see the merit in the long sleeves when more adventure / off road touring riding. Where you have a decent pace and covering distances.

Though I would not wear long sleaves when bush whacking on technical stuff at the back of Pattaya.
As you simply over heat with all the stop start and hard work.. Usually end up peeling off my jersey to get air flow.

Cheers
Brian
 
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Apr 27, 2010
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Very informative, in depth writeup!

I would like to add one thing though.
Its probably not news to many of you but..... When sweating a lot the body will also lose various kinds of salt and other minerals (I believe the common name for these minerals are electrolytes). Carrying a bunch of bags of ORS (oral rehydration salts) is an easy and cheap way to be covered if (or when) you begin to run low of electrolytes.. It helped me a lot of times.
 
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DavidFL

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Its been stinking hot again for a couple of weeks, 40 plus on the road & I've finally weakened.
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Time to try & cool down a bit whilst riding.

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1341 baht on Aliexpress & sadly a size to small. 4XL, but can't get an 5XL, no matter where I try, so far.
Plus a 2.5 litre hydration pack that goes in my handlebar pouch.
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Morningrider

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There are a few with 5XL available, like this one: Aliexpress

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Herobiker Size.jpg

So cheap! I'm still using the Dainese "Ninja Turtle" I bought 15 years ago, with one zipper replacement two years ago. It's not as tight as it used to be, but the Komine mesh jacket holds it in place anyway in the event of a slide. My Dainese Wave 2 Neck cost S$1000 at JR Pte in Singapore, before the days of AliExpress shopping. It's incredible how cheap the Chinese Ninja Turtles are now, without the CE certifications of course, which is probably why JR doesn't stock Dainese Ninja Turtles anymore.
 

Wayne66

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My Knox armoured shirt is serving me well in this hot summer.


I also wear a camelbak when I go out riding and fill it with cold water and ice, it keeps at a good cool temp for quite a while, drinking cold water whilst riding down the road is good and refreshing.
I also carry the electrolytes powder when on longer trips

Wayne
 
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DavidFL

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There are a few with 5XL available, like this one: Aliexpress

View attachment 154910

View attachment 154909
So cheap! I'm still using the Dainese "Ninja Turtle" I bought 15 years ago, with one zipper replacement two years ago. It's not as tight as it used to be, but the Komine mesh jacket holds it in place anyway in the event of a slide. My Dainese Wave 2 Neck cost S$1000 at JR Pte in Singapore, before the days of AliExpress shopping. It's incredible how cheap the Chinese Ninja Turtles are now, without the CE certifications of course, which is probably why JR doesn't stock Dainese Ninja Turtles anymore.

Excellent value for money. Got one 5XL.
Many thanks for the tip.
The 5XL was only available in red, & if you did not click on the red one, you wouldn't see he 5XL.
 

DavidFL

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The gtr hydration solution for riding in this year's horrific heat.
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2 sachets of electrolyte.

A 2.5 litre hydration pack.
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Kept in the custom made leather gtr handlebar pouch. Just suck it as you go.
No pack on your back warming your body up.
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And the worst ever heat conditions I've experienced here in 40 years riding.
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48 Celsius parked outside a 7-11.

44 Celsius on the road riding!!
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Wayne66

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The camelbak on my back is cooling when it’s filled with iced water

Yep the weather is horrendous 5555, I am just sticking with short runs into town to go swimming at the moment
 

DavidFL

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2nd day riding in the heat I still suffered.
Anything below 90kph meant you were getting too much heat off the road & motor.
A faster speed kept you a bit cooler. Cruising on the highway at 120kph was tolerable.
However, on the winding, twisting mountain roads cornering speeds of 60-80kph are far too slow & you start to overheat.
A tip from Oddvar was brilliant & that was buy a 1.5 litre bottle of cold water from 7-11 & pour it over your jacket / torso.
This worked well & certainly cooled you down for the next 20 minutes & then you warmed up again fast.
However, there weren't enough 7-11s or shops with cold water in the mountains, so I eventually bailed on this mountain rice east of Nan.
Back to 101 / Phrae / & the main highways home to Chiang Khong where I could sit on a higher sped & not over heat so much.
Another tip off I received was to put a wet bandana around your neck to cool down. This also helps for a short time, but not for hundreds of kms.
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I also noticed that there was 2 Celsius temperature difference where there was some roadside forest cover, but once you got on the open road through the rice paddies the temperature jumped up 2 Celsius.
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Bring on a bit of rain please.
The 2024 hot season has been a killer.
 
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Oddvar

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I bought a Cooling west about 10 years ago.
It works better with a Goretex jacket zipped up. A mesh jacket will dry out quickly.
No need for cold water, keep a bottle in your pocket on the 'shady' side. :grinning:
 
Oct 11, 2009
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When I did a long ride in 2 days to Khao Lak in 2 days it was so hot especially in Bangkok.
I will try some of these ideas.
Safe riding