There are many levels of bikers. There are some who ride year round no matter the weather and other who only ride when its nice. We are all the same and just enjoy being on our bikes. Now that we are in the summer you need to pay extra attention to staying cool while you ride. I don’t mean how others perceive you but rather keeping hydrated and your internal body cool. You are also going to want to be on the watch for symptoms of heat related illnesses such as Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke. We will cover 10 tips for summer riding and how to identify the symptoms and treatment for Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke. This list is by no means an all-encompassing list. If you have a method you like to use share it with us in the BLOG.
1. Dress for the occasion. Its always a balance between safety and comfort while you ride. That all leather riding suit will sure protect you while you are riding but wont keep you very cool unless its designed for warm weather riding. I have known people to use mesh riding gear, wetting their shirts, using cooling vests (vests with pockets for ice packs like those used for coolers). I am going to focus more on non-gear related thing that most people overlook. It is good to layer your clothes that way you can remove as needed for the heat. Riding with long sleeves while may sound hot is actually a good way to keep from getting sunburnt as well and keep the sun off you while you ride.
2. If you know that it is going to be a very humid and or hot day dont start your ride in the middle of the afternoon after you have been sitting in the AC all day. Instead start your ride early in the am like 8am when temperatures are cooler. That way as the day heats up your body acclimates to the temperature better. You will still be hot but not as uncomfortable as when you start your ride in the middle of the afternoon.
3. When planning your route try to pick a route that minimizes the number of stop signs and traffic lights. When you come to a stop at a light you have the heat radiating up form the asphalt along with the motor from your bike. If you get a long light it can be extremely uncomfortable.
4. Pick a route that will avoid potential traffic jams. I remember when I bought my first bike, a #honda CB650. I bought it because I worked in VA but lived in MD, a 45-minute commute each way then. Today that same route would probably be over an hour. On my first day on a new job I rode my bike and there was a traffic jam on 295 just north of the DC line. I sat in traffic for a long period of time, not only was I uncomfortable but my bike overheated. Most bikes are air cooled and need to move to dissipate the heat. My engine locked up and would not start again until it cooled down. Which leads me to tip number 4
5. Always ride with a completely charged cell phone. That way when you break down you can call those expecting you and call for help.
6. Take water with you and more than one bottle. In my ultra this was easy because of my saddlebags but you can put them in a backpack or your pockets if you have cargo pants. I would throw three or four bottles of water in the freezer the night before. Keep in mind if you do this that water expands when its frozen you drain off a little of the water before putting it in the freezer. On my CB650 I always rode with a backpack and the frozen bottles of water against my back did wonders for keeping me cool. You can also by backpacks with water bladders in them so you can drink as you ride.
7. Bring an umbrella. I know this sounds kind of wrong but an umbrella can give you shade if you are in an area where there is no shade! Getting out of the sun is half the battle of keeping cool.
8. Bring a light colored cloth (white, tan, etc) to put on your seat. Nothing hurts more than to jump on your bike when its been sitting in the sunlight and the black seat is heated up from the sun. Can you say OUUCH!.
9. Bring a kickstand protector for when you park. You will be leaning anywhere from a couple hundred pounds to 900 pounds on the kickstand depending on what kind of bike you have. All that weight on the kickstand on an asphalt parking lot will cause the kickstand to sink and potentially cause your bike to fall on its side.
10. Don’t forget sunscreen. If you are on a ride on a sunny summer day and are in short sleeves you will probably get sunburnt. If you dont wear sunscreen you will feel hotter and be in pain when you ride while you are sun burnt.
11. Always carry lip balm. Lip balm helps keep the lips from cracking because of dehydration, which can also be painful.
Ok I know I said 10 tips so consider the last on a freebee.
So what are the risk factors to watch out for? They are age and your health condition. The age groups most affected are infants, children up to 4 and adults over the age of 65. I personally know a lot of bikers over the age of 65. There is a guy in our chapter who is a WWII Veteran and until just recently rode a Gold Wing and just moved over to a Spyder. If you have heart, lung, kidney disease, obesity, underweight, diabetes, mental illness, sickle cell trait, alcoholism, sunburn or any condition that is accompanied by a fever you are at risk for heat exhaustion.
You will also want to be able to identify the on set of Heat Exhaustion or Heat Stroke. Knowing this information can mean the difference in your life or the life of a fellow biker you are riding with. Here is the list of symptoms and treatment for heat exhaustion from webmd.com
Symptoms of Heat Exhaustion
The most common signs and symptoms of heat exhaustion include:
• Dark-colored urine (a sign of dehydration)
• Muscle cramps
• Pale skin
• Profuse sweating
• Rapid heartbeat
Treatment for Heat Exhaustion
If you, or anyone else, has symptoms of heat exhaustion, it’s essential to immediately get out of the heat and rest, preferably in an air-conditioned room. If you can’t get inside, try to find the nearest cool and shady place.
Other recommended strategies include:
• Drink plenty of fluid (avoid caffeine and alcohol).
• Remove any tight or unnecessary clothing.
• Take a cool shower, bath, or sponge bath.
• Apply other cooling measures such as fans or ice towels.
If such measures fail to provide relief within 30 minutes, contact a doctor because untreated heat exhaustion can progress to heat stroke.
After you’ve recovered from heat exhaustion, you’ll probably be more sensitive to high temperatures during the following week. So it’s best to avoid hot weather and heavy exercise until your doctor tells you that it’s safe to resume your normal activities.
HEAT STROKE- Heat stroke is the king of all the heat related illnesses. If you have reached this stage things have really gotten serious. Heat stroke can cause damage to your brain, your internal organs, and even kill you. This is a real medical emergency and you should call 911 immediately and perform some basic first aid procedures until EMS can arrive.
Even though Heat Stroke can affect anyone, it often strikes people over the age of 50. So don’t think just because you are an athlete who ride a mountain bike 100 miles that you are exempt.
The trick thing with Heat Stroke is that sometimes the symptoms of the lesser heat illness often will manifest before Heat Stroke sets it, Heat Stroke can come about without any previous symptoms. According to Web MD “Heat stroke results from prolonged exposure to high temperatures — usually in combination with dehydration — which leads to failure of the body’s temperature control system. The medical definition of heat stroke is a core body temperature greater than 105 degrees Fahrenheit, with complications involving the central nervous system that occur after exposure to high temperatures. Other common symptoms include nausea, seizures, confusion, disorientation, and sometimes loss of consciousness or coma”
Symptoms of Heat Stroke
The hallmark symptom of heat stroke is a core body temperature above 105 degrees Fahrenheit. But fainting may be the first sign.
Other symptoms may include:
• Throbbing headache
• Dizziness and light-headedness
• Lack of sweating despite the heat
• Red, hot, and dry skin
• Muscle weakness or cramps
• Nausea and vomiting
• Rapid heartbeat, which may be either strong or weak
• Rapid, shallow breathing
• Behavioral changes such as confusion, disorientation, or staggering
First Aid for Heat Stroke
If you suspect that someone has a heat stroke, immediately call 911 or transport the person to a hospital. Any delay seeking medical help can be fatal.
While waiting for the paramedics to arrive, initiate first aid. Move the person to an air-conditioned environment — or at least a cool, shady area — and remove any unnecessary clothing.
If possible, take the person’s core body temperature and initiate first aid to cool it to 101 to 102 degrees Fahrenheit. If no thermometers are available, don’t hesitate to initiate first aid.
You may also try these cooling strategies:
• Fan air over the patient while wetting his or her skin with water from a sponge or garden hose.
• Apply ice packs to the patient’s armpits, groin, neck, and back. Because these areas are rich with blood vessels close to the skin, cooling them may reduce body temperature.
• Immerse the patient in a shower or tub of cool water, or an ice bath.
If emergency response is delayed, call the hospital emergency room for additional instructions.
After you’ve recovered from heat stroke, you’ll probably be more sensitive to high temperatures during the following week. So it’s best to avoid hot weather and heavy exercises until your doctor tells you that it’s safe to resume your normal activities.
Chuck Bowser “Deuce”