BY KRIS FANT
104 degrees Fahrenheit. 35 mph hot cross wind. Tired. Thirsty. Hot. Many of us have been there, riding through the desert, unprepared for the conditions if we have never ridden extreme heat before. Here are some tips for surviving.
Mornings and evenings are usually cooler, so many people will ride until 11, and take a break in the shade or air conditioning until 3 or 4 before continuing their day.
A bike that breaks down in the desert makes for a long day. Make sure the oil you’re running is the appropriate viscosity for hot riding conditions, your coolant is topped off, and your radiator or oil cooler is free of bugs and dirt.
When it gets hot, it’s tempting to stash the protective gear and wear a tank top. This is not the way to stay cool, let alone protected. When you’rewarm, your body perspires, cooling the surface of the skin, our largest organ. If you ride without gear, your sweat evaporates so quickly, it does not have a chance to cool your body. Wearing loose fitting, light colored gear allows your body to evaporate your perspiration at a rate where it can still cool your body.
Water Your Clothes
At times, I’ll hit every bathroom or stream on a hot journey and wet down my t-shirt and jacket.
Water your Skin
to keep your skin moisturized on a hot day, wet a small cloth and keep it in a ziploc bag. Wipe your face at every stop.
A cooling vest helps skip all the stopping to water your clothes, and uses fabric and crystals to keep you cool. Just soak the vest in the morning, and it will stay damp for 5-10 hours. This mimics your perspiration, and keeps your core cooler for longer. We like the Hyperkewl vest by Technique, available for $23-50 USD on Amazon!
When it’s hot, it is recommended to drink 16-32 ounces of water an hour. Stay ahead of your thirst. If you’re thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. If your urine turns yellow, increase your fluids and make sure to take in electrolytes. Check your coffee consumption – coffee is a diuretic so you may dehydrate faster.
It’s tempting to just get a snack at a gas station but when it’s so hot, having a previously prepared snack can help you stay hydrated. Chopped up apples, watermelon and pineapples is a great hot day snack; if you want ice cream, get lemon sorbet. An avocado, cucumber and potato salad is a refreshing lunch, with chicken or canned tuna for protein.
The desert offers some of the most beautiful scenery available. Keep yourself from getting overheated, and enjoy a beauty like no other.
Photo Credit: @rtwPaul