Beginners Guide To Summer Motorcycle Riding
Riding a Motorcycle in the Summer Sucks
The sun is no joke. It is beating down on you, heating up the asphalt you are riding on, and sitting in traffic just plain sucks. I live in Southern Arizona and temperatures easily get to triple digits for 5+ months out of the year, and I fought fires for 11+ years. I think I know alittle about how to stay cool during the summer, so cadets, take a seat and let’s learn alittle.
We’re going to go over the basics and dive alittle deeper into each item. As a SMART Rider we need to be wearing full gear, be cognizant of hazards, and make sure we get home. With those 3 goals in mind, let’s start.
Gear. This is important. There are plenty of reasons NOT to wear gear in the summer. It’s fricken hot, and a t-shirt/shorts seem pretty nice. Skin cancer is not nice. Check out https://www.skincancer.org/ to learn more about that. You can have a full set of gear and still stay well ventilated too. A textile mesh motorcycle jacket, pants, and gloves are pretty standard. A full-face helmet is a given, but find one with good ventilation. Make sure to wear earplugs though! Boots are just gonna be sweat buckets for the most part. Sorry. Dry them out between rides and get some anti-fungal spray too.
Perforated leather is neat, but I still prefer textiles. Either way, the abrasion-resistant areas of this type of gear is only on the most common contact areas. Think of the shoulders, elbows, back, hips, knees, and buttocks area. Those areas will not have mesh but that is fine. Everywhere else should have “holes” in the gear to allow for ventilation. Find gear within your budget and go from there.
Onto the hazard perception goal. Heat exhaustion is real. You will begin to lose brain function when you become more and more dehydrated. Think of falling asleep, while having a few beers. Not a good combination when you are riding your motorcycle home after a fun time with your friends. You definitely don't want it to turn into Heat Stroke, but let’s talk about the baby in the room. Heat Cramps. These are no bueno and will cause your hands to cramp, hips to spasm, and back to seize up. Just think for a second and you’ll understand all of that is not good when heading into an intersection with a left turner… Please drink water and have a snack here and there on those long rides. Water is a great absorber of heat and your body is made of 70%+ of it! The more you drink, the more tolerant you are of the heat too. Start early, get in the habit of drinking water as a habit, and if you are thirsty… DRINK! Doing that will make your ride way more enjoyable!
How do we get home now…? We have to PLAN our ride. We will be struggling with the heat and we need something simple to follow. I give a lecture on PLANning your ride in the MTC Rider Academy and you need to check it out. As a Cadet, you need to learn a ton before going on a ride. The PLAN Method is the most important part of any ride. No matter what you do, you PLAN. Here are the cliff notes. P is for Position for safety. In order to be in a good position, you must account for these 3 things:
Good Line of Sight
360 Space Cushions
At least 1 Escape Path
As I said before, this is explained further in the SMART Rider Basic Training Course. L is for Locate Hazards. Look for those road surface hazards, left turners, sides of the vehicle, caution signage (orange signs), and those uncommon things in common situations. Now we go into the A & N portion. A stands for Adapt for Hazards. This means moving into a different lane to avoid a road surface hazard, covering your brakes going into an intersection, or just moving into a better Position for Safety aka the P part.
Now we gotta NAVIGATE THREATS! Oh, man. Now is the time for a RED Stage maneuver. You just Located a Hazard but it turned into a THREAT! SWERVE around that car or road hazard, EMERGENCY BRAKE when you can’t escape, JUST GET OUT OF THERE! I hope you never have to Navigate Threats, but it can happen.
When you go out and ride this summer it really comes down to these few objectives. Drink plenty of water, wear full ventilated gear, and PLAN your ride!
Ride Safe, Ride SMART. See ya later Crew.