Chuck Watwood of Lawbike.com submitted this short article to us, with some unique and practical tips for staying cool while riding in the often intense summer heat here in the Deep South. Great advice!
We enjoy living in the South for its relatively mild winters, but that means we have to endure some brutal summer temperatures! We’ve certainly experienced some scorchers in July and August so far. These tips can help you keep cool while out riding in the hot Southern sun. We’ve tried these ourselves, and can testify that they really work.
1. STAY COVERED. Ever notice how the locals on a tropical island are covered head to toe? Only sweaty tourists go out wearing shorts and a tank top in the blazing sun. Riding a bike through hot air is like standing in front of a blow dryer. Cover up, or you’ll end up well-done. Don’t forget plenty of sunscreen for any exposed skin.
2. HYDRATE YOUR CLOTHING. Soak your clothes before you hit the road. And if you can’t water down everything, then pay special attention to your neck. A damp bandana can make a big difference.
3. VENT, VENT, VENT. Make controlled airflow your friend—especially through your helmet, gloves, and jacket. Look for clothing with vents you can zip open. Even better are nylon mesh jackets with removable cold-weather liners.
4. HYDRATE YOURSELF. If your bike runs low on fluids, it seizes up. So do you. Your brain will shrink to a walnut and start rattling around in your skull. Well, maybe not, but the poor decisions that follow will make it feel like it did! And this means water, Powerade, etc. As refreshing as that ice cold beer may be, alcohol will dehydrate you even more.
5. TAKE FREQUENT BREAKS. Riding with people who are so slow they are getting hit in the back by bugs? While you wait, find some shade, take off your helmet, lose the jacket, and drink some water.
6. IMPROVISE. During your next gas stop, fill your pockets and packs with ice. It doesn’t take a lot, and you can usually get it free from the fountain drink machine. As the ice melts, the water evaporates and takes heat with it. Probably should stick with nylon jackets for this one. Or, plan ahead and bring along those re-freezable ice packs used in coolers and hide them in your jacket.
So keep riding this summer, but stay cool and protected! Let’s enjoy the ride and the road together.
Chuck Watwood Bob McNally
LawBike.com LawBike Florida
*photos by AMA & Jeff Kardas