Friday, July 16, 2010

Ask Atgatt Girl - It's Hot!

Atgatt: All The Gear. All The Time!
Dear Atgatt Girl,

I love riding my own bike and I know that you say I should wear all of my gear all of the time, but during the summer months, it's so hot!  How can I stay safe and cool while I'm riding?

Emma Haught

Dear Emma,

I imagine it is VERY hot there in Arizona during the summer!  But that's no reason not to wear the proper gear.  In fact, sometimes when it's hot, wearing all of the gear is even more important!

Staying safe while riding is, of course, always one of my top priorities, but part of staying safe is dressing appropriately for the weather.  When it's 85 degrees and I am asked if I'm hot in all of my gear, I either simply rolls my eyes or smart-assedly retort, "that's why I have to ride fast!"  There is a kernel of truth to that, but there are better ways to beat the heat than twisting the throttle.

Father and son on an antique motorcycle; both dressed in shorts and T-shirt
Photograph from:

I know we've all seen those riders out there sporting shorts and sandals when it's hot.  They look like they are probably staying cool, but they are actually making themselves warmer by not gearing up.  Sounds wrong, right?  It's not!  When we get hot, we perspire.  When air passes over our damp skin, we cool down a bit.  However, riders who are wearing a short-sleeved shirt may be sweating, but that sweat is being quickly dried off of their skin by the warm air they are riding through.  What we want to do instead is to take advantage of the combination of our sweat and the wind as we ride.  One of the best answers that I've found is mesh gear.  These specialized jackets (and pants) provide protection through a number of strategically placed pads (knees, elbows, shoulders, etc) and they are made of a perforated denier poly mesh which is lightweight and yet stands up fairly well to abrasion (like from skidding across the pavement!).  My favorite mesh gear for women is made by First Gear.  They are well-made, the sizes are accurate and proportionate for women's bodies and they come in caauuute colors!  Prices for these jackets are in the $120 to $140 range.

The mesh gear will go a long way in allowing some air to get through while keeping the sun off of your skin, but there are a few tricks that I've learned that add to my comfort when I'm riding in warm weather:

1)  Stay hydrated!  If your body is low on fluids, it's going to make it harder to sweat and as we discussed already, sweating is the body's air conditioning!  When I am riding in the heat, I make sure to stop about every hour to drink.  I alternate between water and a sports drink like gatorade.

2)  Wet a bandana (or even your shirt) and wrap it around your neck.  When the air passes over the wet bandana, it will help to keep your torso cool.  You can do the same thing with a banadana on your head under your helmet.  It may not be the most attractive look, but you will feel like a new woman!

3)  You know those ice storage units at gas stations?  While you're making your hydration stop, pop your helmet in there.  (Trust me on this one!)   In the 5 - 10 minutes it takes you to fuel up and gulp down some water, your helmet will have cooled off considerably.  When you put it back on your head, I dare you to tell me that angels don't break out into song for you!

4)  Try to avoid riding any distance in the most brutal heat of the day.  When I ride long-distance, I try to schedule things so that I leave early in the morning.  I then stop for lunch (get off of the bike, sit down in an air-conditioned place or at least find some shade and cool grass) during that hour or so during the day when the sun is really heating things up.

5)  Finally, dress in layers.  We've been talking about how to beat the heat, but when you've been riding all day in temperatures in the 80s or 90s, you will be amazed how cool it feels as the sun goes down and the temps drop into the 70s!  Like your mom always told you, "take a sweater!"

Don't forget!  If you have a question for Atgatt Girl, simply leave a comment and she'll get to you soon!

1 comment:

I am Harriet said...

Hi there.
I'm stopping by from Friday-Follow to thank you for participating.
Have a great weekend!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin