A Message from Chapter F Newsletter Editor Ami LaBarre, GWRRA, Montgomery, AL. I’m sharing this because it is excellent advice for this time of year, as I found out the hard way recently. Any credit for the article should go to the author, Jackie Vaughan and to Chapter F, Alabama, GWRRA. Ride safe, ride happy.
Article “borrowed” from Jackie Vaughan
Hot summer days make a convection oven look positively chilly. Riding in hot weather presents its own chal-lenges. However, rather than staying home and missing all the fun, with a little planning it is still possible to enjoy our favorite roads.
Dressing properly is very important. A T-shirt and shorts are not the an-swer. Exposed skin is not only dan-gerous in a crash, it’s a major source of dehydration and sunburn. Add to that the long-term danger of skin can-cer and covering up becomes the clear choice. Cover all exposed skin to reduce dehydration. There are some specialized clothes that purport to have UV resistance built in, but they are a bit on the pricey side. A long-sleeve cotton shirt, cotton jeans, and gloves, all normal safety wear, are the clothing of choice. Many rid-ers use the old biker’s trick of soak-ing the body of a heavy cotton sweat-
shirt in water, leaving as much water in the shirt as possible. The sleeves are left dry from the elbows down, as well as from the waist down, to allow for moisture wicking down. The wet shirt becomes an evaporative cooler that leaves the rider in blissful com-fort for at least an hour.
Apply plenty of sunscreen to the face and back of the neck, and if gloves are not worn, to the backs of the hands. Look for a product that is strongly water-resistant so it won’t run into the eyes from perspiration. Use at least SPF 30, and since sun-screen loses potency with age, make sure it’s fresh. Most people fail to put on enough sunscreen and do not reap-ply throughout their ride.
Start the ride well-hydrated, taking in at least a quart of liquid before depar-ture. Contrary to logic, this will not necessitate extra pit stops. Take in at least a quart of liquid such as water or sports drinks every hour. If the temperature or heat index is very high, double that intake, since fluid
loss can top a gallon an hour. Riders who do not need to make a pit stop every couple of hours are dehydrating and should sharply increase their fluid intake.
Break the ride into segments with extended cool-off periods every cou-ple of hours. These can be refresh-ment stops, points of interest, or just spending 30 or 40 minutes in a cool gas station, sipping a sports drink. Caffeine tends to increase dehydra-tion, as does alcohol.
Know the signs of heat exhaustion (profuse sweating, dizziness, flushed face, weakness, muscle cramps) and heat stroke (no sweating, pale face, shallow respiration, collapse). Riders and co-riders should watch for them in themselves and in others. At the first signs, seek a cool place and cool the victim down as quickly as possi-ble. In heat stroke, seek emergency medical help.
With a little preparation and common sense, beating the heat is a lot more fun than staying home.