Over-heating on a motorcycle is a real thing; try this tip for instant air conditioning!
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If you read through this blog, you will find me constantly extolling the benefits of backroads: less traffic, more hills and turns, slower pace, better scenery. One additional advantage is the shade often provided by tree canopies. But, sadly, not all backroads are tree-lined; and sometimes, no matter what you do, you’ll find yourself out in the open, with the hot sun beating down on you.
This windchill chart shows you how speed can reduce the feel of of the outside temperature. What it also demonstrates is that when it is really hot out, faster equals hotter. Notice that as the outside temp gets above 90° F, the “feels like” temperature actually goes up with your speed. This could lead to a very dangerous situation, possibly resulting in heat exhaustion or even heat stroke.
The Long, Hot Ride Home
Louise and I ran into this situation coming home through Virginia on the last day of one of our long trips. The previous days had periods where we would get a little uncomfortable, but there was enough shade on most of the roads we chose. On this final day of riding, the temperature reached nearly 100° F and we were feeling it.
We always keep bottled water on the bike, especially on hot days; it’s easy to dehydrate and not realize it until it’s too late. Louise poured some water down my neck and onto my sleeves (we were wearing light-colored long sleeved T-shirts – highly recommended on hot rides). I immediately felt the instant air conditioning effect of the evaporating water. This is a result of the liquid absorbing heat from its surroundings as it evaporates, the same way sweating helps cool you down (at the expense of your body’s hydration). We only had a small amount of water available, so the instant air conditioning benefits were short-lived. Then it occurred to me: we are doing this the hard way.
I pulled in at the next gas station and we went inside. The plan was to soak our long sleeved shirts in water, and then put them back on. I took the shirts into the restroom and soaked them in the sink. Here’s a pro tip: spend a buck for a gallon jug of distilled water and use that for turning your clothes into air conditioners. The water from the tap in the gas station restroom was disgusting at best. My favorite white long sleeved shirt never did come clean after that. But, the plan worked. We may have looked silly donning soaking wet clothes (feel free to insert your favorite wet t-shirt joke here), but back on the road, it felt like we had just cranked up the AC to max. If you wear a bandana on your head (with or without a helmet) soak that, as well. Also, if you have enough room on your motorcycle, take an extra jug of water for the road.
So, next time you head out on a hot day, grab some water and a long-sleeved shirt, and stay cool, comfortable and safe.