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The Heat - Riding and Surviving

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' at netrider.net.au started by raven, Feb 6, 2009.

  1. Well...it's been damned hot here in Melbourne and it's going to be again tomorrow. (40+)
    Thought I might bring it up for discussion, based on my own humble experience...which may or may not differ from others..

    So how do you ride and survive in the heat?...

    Firstly and most importantly...everyone has their own threshold of discomfort and bodily ability to deal with it, and it can vary from one day to the next...so there is no foul in calling it a day early due to the heat (remember! - you have to still ride home), or for staying at home in the first place...right!

    Heat stress is a seriously dangerous thing...because you just don't realize that it is happening to you....yeah, yeah, I know...it's bloody hot...you feel like you are cooking etc...that's the good bit...you still know what's going on and are feeling it...
    Sooner or later though...if you push it too far, you flat out WON'T know!
    Like it or not, your simple judgments become impaired, your reactions slow down, and your brain fails to focus on all those things that you would normally be alert to - that keep you alive - merging cars, sharper than expected corners, pot holes that might send you careening into the trees mid-corner etc etc...That's heat stress - and it will kill you!

    The same thing goes for de-hydration - allow yourself to become dehydrated and you'll be feeling veeeery sick, head-aches etc...it aint fun and you won't be getting home from where-ever you are, if you get struck with it.
    I've found that the best way to avoid it is to drink and drink and drink and keep swetting like a pig. Really!...Stop swetting and it (dehydration) won't be far away.
    Stop and cool down - PROPERLY!...your mates wanna keep going...say good-bye, and cool down.
    If you must keep riding (long week-end away or whatever) and the heat is abominable, then feel free to completely immerse yourself in every river you go past, it does'nt take long...just jump in leathers and all...depending on how long it has been between dousings. The important thing is to keep your core temperature down...moving through the air while wet, acts like an air-conditioner. If you have'nt tried it, give it a try...it's a great feeling for a little while. :)

    One other thing that I would strongly warn against...Do not underestimate the distraction of the discomfort of the heat...

    If you are riding along and thinking - shit it's hot!, shit it's hot!, shit it's hot!, your head is NOT in the game...leaving you wide open to not seeing, noticing, or even being aware of something that you should - all because the heat is just so opressive it's all you can think about...you miss that car that did'nt see you, becuase you are overly distracted by the damned heat - and bang!

    Depending on your riding gear, you will need to vary your breaks and cooling off periods, of course...

    Anytime I am commuting home, and I know it's going to be beyond my own personal comfort zone - I step into the showers at work in my riding gear - boots and all for a few seconds and wet myself down pretty much fully. (I thank Pinx for THAT idea) <grin>...
    I'm usually dry by about half way home, but that is enough to get me there without getting too heat stressed.

    I ride the monash in Melbourne...On a 45c day, the temps on the freeway are around 52c off the rad surface...in the areas where I hit regular streets surrounded by cars while sitting at lights etc , it could easily be 55c+ coming off the roadway.

    In my own own experience, I've seen a bloke tootling along ahead of me go more or less straight ahead off the road instead of around a corner...and I have blacked-out myself on more than one occasion. (been riding - suddenly realized I was veering off the road just before hitting armco, end on...or have suddenly realized I'm further down the road than I was a second ago, 2 mins later.)

    I'm not saying anything new to most of you long range riders or seasoned commuters who've endured the heat, and have your own tricks of the trade...:)
    ...I've just started it off with a few tips of mine...so feel free to chime in with your own tips or thoughts. :)

    and stay cool. :)

    *EDIT...Here's a good link to follow as well...much good reading here!

  2. Kishy has a great story about his misadventure with heat exhaustion.
    If he's online he might want to link that thread again, a good lesson in what not to do.
  3. Good advice in there, thanks raven.
    I was actually talking about this with my dad the other day, and he suggested draping smallish water soaked towel around my neck. I gave it a go, worked ok but the cooling effects didn't last too long.
    Thinking about it more, you could put some of those flexible ice packs inside the towel, roll it up then use rubber bands to hold the ice packs in place. I might try that out next time I'm on the bike.
  4. For longer rides, I strongly recommend getting a Camelbak (or similar) water-bladder backpack. They can be comfortably worn over armour and hold between 1-3 litres of water. They have a drinking hose with a bite valve, allowing you to drink while you ride, without having to stop.

    (I recommend trying to get one with a 90 degree bend at the bite valve, as they often fit under the helmet chinbar better)

    Also a fun party trick to try: Evaporative cooling. Saturating your (textile) jacket and pants with water so that the air will evaporatively cool you as you ride. Depending on how humid it is, how hot it is, and how fast you ride, this can be anything from pleasant to FREEZING COLD, at least until your gear runs out of water.

    Edit: Oops, just realised that Raven covered that one above. :)

    (There are evaporative cooling vests available which work on this principle, incidentally)
  5. Take caution with this; 0*C icepacks are cold enough to cause tissue damage when left against the skin, so a thick towel around the pack is a must.

    (Alternately, if you've got a lot of money handy, there are phase-change vest packs which melt at a much safer and longer-lasting 15*C)
  6. Yea good point, although by the time the packs become flexible they aren't as cold.
    Phase change vest packs sound interesting.
  7. Another thing worth mentioning is having an electrolyte drink on you during longer rides. Hydralyte is one of the better ones, but Gatorade works well too. The glucose in those drinks is going to help with concentration, and carbs for fuelling your muscles.
    I usually carry some fruit and snack bars as well, slow energy release foods are good for the long rides.
  8. aV1mv1iA. John !
    Heat can be a worry if you are not prepared for it and take steps to avoid being overcome. Luckily I only commute 20 min each way to work and back.

    I remember a cpl of weeks ago? when we hit the mid 40's 3 days in a row. I was on my way home in 44C, I think it was, and decided to wear my mesh octane jacket, half done up with a light t-shirt underneath. I figured I could cool off @ 100k+ on the straights. BOY was I wrong. I felt like I was being cooked in a fan-forced oven :shock: and spent the last 10 min doing eactly what you posted: "If you are riding along and thinking - shit it's hot!, shit it's hot!, shit it's hot!, your head is NOT in the game"
    Was exhausted by the time I got home ( and that was ONLY a 20min commute! ).. I dismounted, removed all my gear and jumped straight into the pool.
  9. Thanks for the tips guys
    Being a newbie rider, I get tempted to considering some squidding but unfortunately I've become far too attached to my skin etc.

    What's the concensus on unzipping your leather jacket a few inches to let some breeze through?
    Does this cause enough of structural integrity issue that the jacket might rip open upon impact with the road?
  10. I think you missed one of the more important things raven, if you can avoid riding in the heat, then avoid it! Plan ahead so you ride when it's cooler - early morning/evening times. You're better off avoiding riding in the heat then all of the measures above if you can.
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  12. As usual, an extremely good post from Raven!

    I so agree about the concentration factor. It is so dangerous to be thinking just about how hot you are and forgetting to keep your mind on the game. And it's so easy to slip into a semi hypnotic, almost surreal, state.

    I don't do heat easily at the best of times. Last Friday I had to ride to work, (Footscray to Hawthorn) so went early, but even then at 34 degrees I found it difficult and almost fell in a heap when I finally got to my destination. When it was time to leave it was 44 degrees and I just thought, no way am I riding in this, recipe for disaster. So I waited at work from 3pm till 5pm till the temperature had dropped to a mere (!) 34. Before I left I wet my t shirt in the sink and wrung it out and tipped a bottle of water over my head before gearing up (I'm an ATGATT girl) That certainly helped and the ride home was much more manageable than the ride over.

    Today with a forecast 44, I have made the decision not to ride to work. First time in my 18 months of riding that I have not ridden because of the weather (I normally ride every day). I just figure I know my limits!
  13. You have a pool? :grin:

    Your place must be about half way between work and home :wink:
  14. I don't think anyone's suggested this yet, but if you are riding in heat, you may well also be riding in a textile-type jacket. Soak it in water at every stop and put it back on again; the effect is terrific, if only medium-temporary :). (Oh, take your mobile out of the pocket first, of course :LOL:).
  15. I regularly unzip my leather jacket a few inches to allow some cooler air to get in around my back when I'm in my leathers...
    If I'm at that point, then it's because not doing so, would be more dangerous than trying to keep cool enough to be able to concentrate properly.

    If you are in a light flow through textile, then leave it zipped up, find a tap, or a river or buy some water and wet yourself down, but keep button up.

    BTW...SQUIDDING in this kind of heat is stupid....A hot north wind will give you severe windburn and just dehydrate you faster...not to mention the sunburn on top of the wind burn...euck!...

    I laugh out loud and shake my head when I see the nitwits in shorts and a t-shirt, that look at me like "I'm" an idiot because I have dragons and a textile jacket on....with boots. ahahahaha

  16. Yep!..good to menttion that...if you want to go for a ride, pick your times in the first place...early or late rides are some of the nicest in summer. :)

  17. +1! I just think of how they will feel if they come off with burning ashphalt embedded in their skin!
  18. Smee/Seany...thanks for mentioning and linking this thread from Kishy (for some reason I had not seen it)...It has alot of additional tips and good ideas for reducing the impact of heat...and a vivid story of just how it can get the better of you..OUCH!

  19. Let's put it this way, unzipping your jacket a few inches will not make much of a difference if it is not a vented jacket.
    If it helps do it as you are LESS likely to come off due to heat exhaustion.
    Make sure you soak your tshirt underneath then put the jacket over it.