In a little over 2 weeks the summer season begins. At the
moment however, Mother Nature is deluging the East Coast with lots of
rain. Apparently, all those times we sang "rain, rain, go away.
come back another day" have caught up with us!
Rain is a wonderful act of nature. It provides the hydration
necessary for all forms of life. Water covers 70 - 75 % of the earth's
surface (salt and fresh water) and makes up 60% of the human body (water
and electrolytes by weight). A minimum intake of 64 ounces of water
daily is required by adults to regulate all body functions (kidneys,
heart and blood vessels, lungs etc...). It's as vital as the air we
breathe. As with most things in life, either too much or not enough
will cause disturbances in our environment and our health.
Rain and motorcycling. Not one of most riders' favorite combinations.
I remember the first time I rode home in the rain. I was returning from
the Club's annual Wildwood trip. From the moment I got on the Garden
State Parkway until I arrived home it rained. It was a steady rain and
along with the other vehicle traffic, decreased visibility. Did I have
rain gear? Of course not! I was still a fairly new rider and was still
purchasing all the bells and whistles for the bike. Once home, I was
able to pour a substantial amount of water out of my boots and was chilled
to my core. The next day I went and purchased a rain suit.
OK, I thought, I made it home without having an accident of
coming down with pneumonia. Was I scared? ...Terrified...
I remember the intense grip I had on the handgrips.
I was so proud of myself for making it home in one piece. The next time
I rode in the rain (well, it was a Nor'easter) was on a return trip
from PA. I was better prepared, arrived home safely and not nearly as
drenched as the first time.
Both new and seasoned riders need to be prepared for both
rainy and hot weather riding. Both require either protecting yourself
from too much water or not enough. Purchase a rain suit. My first rain
suit was rubber and kept me quite dry. However, I managed to melt a
portion of the right leg on the exhaust pipes. It didn't "breathe"
well and I ended up sweating (like those plastic suits that make you
sweat to loose weight). Now I have a set of Frog Togs. They "breathe",
are light weight and when folded up don't take up much room. Purchase
waterproof gloves. This is a must! Leather gloves will "bleed"
when exposed to excessive rain. When you remove your leather gloves
your hands will not only look like prunes, but will be stained black.
Not very attractive when you are in a restaurant!
Cover your feet! Rubber boot covers like Totes work well.
Protect your face. A face shield (or a full face helmet) will limit
the pelting. When I wear my full face I have to lift up the face shield
just a bit to let air in so it doesn't fog up. Also, a neoprene face
cover will help if you are wearing only a half helmet. Keeping dry is
imperative to staying alert and riding safely. You will have enough
to worry about with the road conditions.
Now, the heat! Summer riding is great for lots of reasons:
longer days, nicer weather. However, the rise in temperature can prove
to be detrimental to a riders well being. Our bodies loose fluid in
a number of ways: perspiration, urination and breathing/talking, all
taking their toll. Perspiring is the body's way of regulating temperature.
When we perspire, our bodies loose not only fluid (water), but also
salt (sodium). Signs of dehydration include feeling dizzy or light headed,
having a dry/sticky mouth and/or a change in one's mental status. Thirst
is not one of the early signs of dehydration. Severe dehydration presents
itself as a decrease in consciousness, cool limbs, elevated heart rate
and respirations, faint pulse and finally shock.
Luckily, it is easier to avoid dehydration! Drink plenty of
fluids and frequently. This includes water, juice and sport drinks.
Drink at every gas stop, bathroom stop and meal stop. Look into getting
a handlebar mounted drink holder to hold a bottle of water. Don't worry
about having to use the bathroom. If it is very hot and you are sweating,
your body is not going to eliminate in relation to the amount you are
drinking. Keep yourself cool by wearing clothing that will wick the
moisture away from your body. Keep your body covered by light clothing.
Riding without a jacket or long sleeves contributes to an increase in
So, keep these tips in mind. Be prepared. Be safe. Have a