Hot Weather Riding and Staying Cool

During August of 2007, I took a trip up to Knoxville Tennessee in temperatures that averaged around 100 degrees for an entire week. I have to admit, it was a bit warm with a full face helmet and leather vest. But, I didn’t dehydrate as quickly because of the helmet and long sleeves, making the ride not so bad (beats being at work, right). We stopped for water every hour or so, and made sure we followed some simple steps to make sure we didn’t overheat or dehydrate too quickly.

Clothing Is Key.

If you’re anything like most of the folks I ride with, as soon as the temperature’s up to 70 degrees you’re in your sleeveless halter or no-sleeve billybob tee hauling butt down the road like summer will never end. By August you’re just hoping it will, but you keep that skin under the sun for as long as possible. In hot weather, the more skin you have exposed, the faster you’ll lose the moisture from your body. It’s the evaporation of your sweat that creates the cooling effect for your core temperature, so a blow dryer on it at 80 mph dries you out pretty fast.

I ride in an UnderArmour Heat Gear t-shirt. It helps wick away the moisture, and keeping it under a regular t-shirt keeps the cotton away from my skin. Cotton sticks to you and is a poor temperature regulator when you’re on the road. I’m also a big fan of wool socks. I know, sounds hot. Wool is a great fabric for wicking away moisture, allowing your feet to stay insulated from the road heat as well as cool down so you avoid the build up . . . well . . . we all know how riding boots end up smelling in September. I was glad for the modular full face, which kept the heat from blasting my face (just say no to wrinkles), but still allowed me to open the helmet at stop lights when riding through town.

Bandannas are invaluable. I usually take at least one on every trip regardless of the length of the ride. Soak them in some water and wrap them around your neck or around your head inside the helmet. Inside the helmet will keep the bandanna wet longer, but both help.

I have to admit, I’m not a riding pants person and rarely wear a jacket unless it’s cool outside. Jeans work for me, but when it’s really hot, you inevitably end up looking like you’ve wet your pants for the past 15 minutes. One solution is riding pants, another is a seat cover that allows you to get your bum off the leather. I’ve tried a few, and none have worked for me so far, but a girl can dream. A mesh jacket is on my list of things to try next summer. I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Tips For Staying Cool.

  1. Wear wicking undergarments and clothing as much as possible. Wool socks sound counter-intuative, but they work.
  2. Shorts and/or sandals are a bad idea. Not only is this never a good idea when riding a motorcycle, but having on little clothing only results in harsher temperatures impacting your exposed skin and sucking away valuable cooling moisture as your body attempts to regulate itself. Besides – not everyone can pull off shorts, loafers and a Tommy Bahama while smoking a cigar and turning left. Halters . . . we won’t even comment.
  3. Take frequent breaks and make sure you find some shade or an air-conditioned building. Heck – worst case scenario – jump in someones air-conditioned car at a local drive-thru or find the local library.
  4. Try and ride during the coolest parts of the day. Starting early and taking a break during the hottest timeframes helps. There’s always a coffee shop or fast food place to find some ice cream or a soda and relax for an hour or two.
  5. A full-face or modular helmet will help keep your face protected from the “blow-dryer” effect and give you relief in traffic.
  6. If you’re leading, be aware of everyone’s limitations. Just because you can ride for two hours without passing out doesn’t mean everyone else can. There’s nothing worse then someone going off the road into a ditch because of heat exhaustion. In the long run, it just slows you down more when someone gets heat exhaustion. Prevention is the best solution.

Ride: Orlando FL to Lake Weir (Fat Daddy’s)


Destination: Fat Daddy’s, 10135 SE Sunset Harbor, Summerfield FL
Ride type: Lunch/Dinner, Loop
Total miles: 170 miles roundtrip
Travel time: 4 hours roundtrip

Overview of the Ride

This ride is a quick jaunt for some chow. Even though the destination is pretty close, this route gives you a nice two hour run from Orlando, keeps you away from the Villages and gets you to a spot that has one of the best burgers in Central Florida.

Fat Daddy’s is basically Key West on Lake Weir. Our server was laid back, the atmosphere was laid back, and everyone hanging out there was basically, laid back. You’ll be looking for a flat-roofed orange stucco from the street, but don’t let that throw you off. In the back you’ll find a Tahitian-themed bar. After a while, you start to realize the décor is more Margaritaville than Tahiti, but who cares, you definitely feel inclined to sit around all afternoon. The first table in the back door has a fire pit in the center – not what we you might be looking for in June, but come January, a good spot to park yourself.

If you’re into beer, this is the place for you. They have more than a bajillion different beers, and we’re not talking the various light versions of domestic brands. You’ll find Guinness, Newcastle, Bass, Yuengling, Amber Bock and about fifteen other brands on draft. Yes – I said on draft. We were on the bikes, so of the bajillion available to me, I had one – but with the temps in the 90s, it was the best single beer I’d had during the month.

The food was great. I had the Black and Bleu burger, which was a healthy-portion of Angus beef smothered in bleu cheese. Princess had the Big Mouth burger, and J&M each had the antipasto salad. I do have to say the salad looked very tasty with nice-sized portions of fresh Italian meat cuts. We had onion rings as an appetizer, which were a nice non-greasy compliment to the Newcastle.

Once our casual lunch of two hours had timed out, we hit the road. This is a great area for small restaurants catering to the locals. Keep your eye out for the next eatery adventure as you’re headed back. Oh – and I believe there might be an ice cream opportunity or two along the way.


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Riding With Allergies

Spring’s coming on, and in Florida, March means pollen counts in the 9 to 10 range (considered high to very-high). Riding when you have pollen allergies can be miserable, and dangerous. I try to stay off any kind of medication when I’m riding, because there’s nothing worse than feeling drowsy or blurry-eyed on the road (we’re talking allergies right now).

Of course, sneezing constantly is no fun either.

What causes pollen allergy reactions?

  • A grain of pollen looks like a very spiky sea urchin. When it enters your nasal and bronchial passages, it latches onto the mucous membranes and gets stuck.
  • These membranes have cells (called mast cells) full of histamines.
  • When an allergen trigger (like pollen) lands on one of these cells, a receptor sitting on top of the cell tells the cell to let loose on the histamines.
  • The histamine starts a series of annoying reactions like sneezing, watery eyes, and itching to help you get rid of the allergan.

What are some natural solutions?

  • Neti Pots are a way to flush your sinuses, but are really for after you ride. Someone mentions this in the LiveJournal discussion mentioned below.
  • Quercetin is a natural plant-derived compound (flavonoid) that helps keep the mast cells from releasing histamine. Flavonoids can be found in citrus and green tea.
  • Food can help. Add some horseradish, chili peppers or hot mustard to your food. They’re all temporary decongestants.
  • Stinging nettle is a natural antihistamine without the side effects (drowsiness, dry mouth) associated with the drugs most commonly used.

So, what are you options?
I usually go with a bandanna over my mouth and nose when riding in a half helmet. It helps cut down on what you’re breathing in, and actually works on days with moderate pollen counts. A full face gives you additional protection if you keep the vents closed.

Before I start out in the morning, I try and get an idea of the pollen count. You’ve got several options available.

You should also avoid certain kinds of food during ragweed season since they share allergans with ragweed:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Melons and bananas
  • Zucchini and cucumber

What have others tried? Here are a few conversations on the web:

  • LiveJournal’s gerardwing got a good “Riding with Alleriges” thread going with several riders giving their solutions.
  • Masks are available from several manufacturers. You can find reviews and comments on several different types at AchooAllergy.com’s blog. Respro does make a bandanna-style scarf called the Bandit Scarf.

You can also get more information on natural remedies and causes from several web sites:

Rolling Thunder: Ride From Florida

Florida

Ride to the Wall…Southern Style

This second annual event leaves Bruce Rossmeyer’s Daytona Harley-Davidson the morning of May 22nd. This is a police escorted ride. A pre-ride party will be held at the dealership on the 21st. Pre-registration ends April 30th.

Packages depend on accommodations and food preferences at dealerships. All include a t-shirt, patch, gas ($4.50/gal):
Gold – $735 per bike
Blue – $635 per bike
Gray – $505 per bike

The police escorts include: Volusia Sheriff’s Office, Savannah/Chatham Police Dept., Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, Iredell Sheriff’s Office, Virginia State Police.

Ride Schedule – Stage 1 (May 22)
1.) Leave Destination Daytona ride to Savannah GA
2.) Lunch at Savannah HD
3.) Savannah GA to Tilley’s Harley-Davidson in Statesville NC
4.) Pig Pickin’ party at Tilley’s (music and prizes)

Ride Schedule – Stage 2 (May 23)
1.) Leave Statesville NC ride to Shenandoah
2.) Lunch at Shenandoah HD
3.) Shenandoah VA to host hotel (Radisson Inn Reagan Airport) or secondary hotel (Sheraton Crystal City)

Ride Schedule – The event (May 25th)
1.) Ride to the Pentagon parking lot

Gas Stops & Estimated Times
Detailed Schedule
Package Information
Registration Information

If you’re coming from Florida’s West coast, there will be a ride on the 21st headed from Crystal River HD. Breakfast will be served between 7:00 am and 7:30 am. Riders will leave at 9AM for Stormy Hill HD in Clermont for lunch. After lunch, the ride will head for Destination Daytona.

Video documentary available:
Ride With Thunder

$5 Camera Mount For Your Bike

I’ve been looking around the web for some camera mount ideas, and found an instructional video for a $5 version over at Helmet Hair Motorcycle Blog. Instruction Video $5 Camera Mount

Considering that these things can run anywhere from $99 to $280, finding a McGyver solution is always great.

Pashnit Motorcycle Tours found an interesting adaptation out on the road in California. It was a camera bag with a hole cut in the front and bungeed to the tank bag. The video camera is protected by foam stuffed in the bag.

If you’re interested in not taking chances with your camera, there are some camera mount options out there that someone’s actually tested.

  • CamMount makes a handlebar mount that will fit on an bike, and they’re running a sale right now, so it’s $40 off the grip action models (weigh about 4 lbs).
  • I also checked out my ride on RAM Mounting Systems (’03 Heritage Classic Softail), and got a list of parts, but no real solution that actually showed me what to purchase to make it work – so good luck with there. Too bad too, because they had some good looking aqua boxes that might have been handy in bad weather.
  • Same problem with the Saeng site. I imagine there’s a set up that will work for a video and/or digital camera, but they didn’t have the quick find so I bailed.
  • Now, if you’re on a sport bike, you’re in luck. Sport Bike Cam has a great sport bike solution, excellent instructions for use and mounting, and you can purchase it directly from their site.

If you’re looking for a high-end camera and mounting system, check out Twenty20 Cameras. They make both helmet and motorcycle mount cameras, they don’t try and sell you something you don’t need, and they put a lot into a small package for a good price.

Their VholdR wearable camrecorder looks like it would be a great
solution for anyone on a bike. It records up to 100 minutes onto a microSD. Is water, dirt and shock resistant. Will mount to a helmet or handlebars. Looks simple and highly functional. I think I’ve talked myself into one!

Bears, Eating and Bike Week 2008

Riding down for Bike Week is great. There are bikes everywhere, people everywhere, drinking everywhere, and sometimes bad things happen. So, rather than warn everyone, I thought I’d share a couple of handy map mash-ups from the folks at OrlandoSentinel.com.

First – Bears!! I’m with Stephen Colbert on this one: we’re all still in the dark regarding where they use the bathroom, they hock everything from cereal to gelatinous candy, and even young ones outweigh a Rottweiler. If you’re headed to or from Daytona via the Ocala National Forest, don’t make the mistake of thinking bears are hibernating so won’t be out. Be careful. You don’t want to hit one. Here’s a map of where some bears have been found on Florida’s popular roads.
Second – Eating!! OK, enough about safety and bears. You want to know where to eat, so here are a couple of searchable listings that give you some listings/reviews and health inspection reports.
And, you probably need some coupons, so here’s a link for some local eateries.

Book Review: Hawk Hagebak’s Motorcycle Adventures

Good books with decent maps are hard to come by. They’re either too long on copy and too short on route information, or just spend too much time on being a tourist guide book than on being a book for riders.

I love to take a good ride book with me and bust it open each night to get ideas for the next day’s ride. Hawk Hagebak has a great series of books titled Motorcycle Adventures that are geographically based, so if you know where you’re going, you take along a book and have enough rides for an entire week. There are three in the collection, and all cover the south, primarily TN, NC, and GA. Hawk also maintains a site called Motohawk. A review in case you’re curious from CarolinaMCEvents.com and a sample ride in the Southern Appalachians.

I found my copies of his books in a Harley shop in Chattanooga TN, and ended up using some of the rides from the North Georgia portion the next day. You can find used copies on Amazon for about $11.00 apiece.

For additional rides outside Florida, check out the Ride America blog.

Review: Hugger Gloves

The Basics
• Made of 100% Technaline® cowhide – waterproof leather.
• Leather is 1.0 millimeter thick vs .6 – .8 mm for most gloves.
• Soft as a baby’s bottom!
• Conforms to your hands, doesn’t loosen with wear.
• Comes in lined, lightly lined, and unlined.
• Styles include full-finger, fingerless, perforated and cut-away.
• Gel palm and some versions have velcro fastener.
• Sizes Available: (W) XS to XL; (M) S to XL
• Price range*: $75.95 – $99.95

• Owner: Samich
• What I’ve got: Blk/Blk, XS
• Where I bought it: From the friendly folks at Cartersville HD

The Review
If there’s one thing I enjoy it’s a good pair of gloves. Now, I’d had my River Road full-finger gloves for about three years, and they’d served me well, but one last day in the rain put them out to pasture. They’d gone from a rich black sheen to some sort of sunbleached milky grey colour, with little left in the velcro closure in terms of closure. I’m big on sticking with brands that work, so I thought I might luck onto another pair. As I rummaged through the dealer rack, I noticed a very soft looking pair of basic gloves that didn’t seem to have the standard HD paraphernalia of roses, sparkles or lace (all ideal for riding by the way – the guys don’t know what they’re missing). They claimed to be waterproof – not water resistant – waterproof. Since they were only $35.00, I thought I’d give them a try.

I will say this for Hugger Motorcycle Gloves, they’re not a bunch of liars. These might be the most comfortable gloves I’ve worn. I rode through at least two thunderstorms in them, packed them in my bag at night, pulled them out the next morning, and you would have never known they had even gotten wet.

The Recommendation
• Go with the most close-fitting size. They’ll stretch, conforming to your hand.
• The cut-away version looked interesting, but they didn’t have my size. Next trip!
• They make an X-Small that actually has X-Small finger length (very unusual)
• These gloves don’t make claims they can’t keep. Worth $50.00 – a bargain at $35.00

Web site: Huggergloves.com

Ride: Orlando to Ocala (BBQ)

Destination: Backwoods Smokehouse, 888 County Rd. 310, Interlachen FL
Ride type: Lunch/Dinner, Loop
Total miles: 236 miles roundtrip
Travel time: 6 hours roundtrip

Overview of the Ride
If you haven’t been through the Emeralda Conservation area, you’ve missed out on some great Florida scenery. Emeralda Island road has some surprising sites, like a red pick up with antlers, and some of the better curves on this ride. Be careful on this road: there are some hairpin turns around objects like barns. The street signs are pretty well placed, and if you end up on a road other than Emeralda Island Rd., it will either dead end or lead you back out to a main artery.
The Emeralda Conservation Area is known throughout the state for the variety of birds that thrive in the marsh. The conservation area has been around since the early 1990’s and includes some great viewing areas.

Most of the ride up and back is through and around the Ocala National Forest. While you’ll get some very straight road, there are some interesting towns, many harkening back to the days when roadside attractions were the norm and everyone cooled off on the porch with some ice cream.

Lunch at Backwoods Smokehouse was great. The restaurant fills up pretty quickly with locals and bikers. On the day we went, a group of twelve showed up on their Harleys, Hondas, Yamahas, and a Ridley. Our table of four all had sliced pork, coleslaw and pinto beans, but once I’d smelled the ribs I had second thoughts about my order. Next trip for sure. The meal was great, the company exceptional (Mike & Jill), and the ride was only half over! Make sure you look into the free candy box near the register before you leave. There’s nothing better than a little jolt before you hit the road.

On the way back, we made a brief stop at Nicole’s Produce on CR 314A just after crossing CR 40 for some peaches, sweet corn and vine-ripe tomatoes. If produce isn’t your thing, check out the Lake Weir Fat Daddy’s ride. You’ll find plenty of great food and beverages at this local hot spot.

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Riding To Give Back

I was reading an article the other day about winterizing your bike, when I realized I’d never actually thought about it before. Living in Orlando, unless there’s a hurricane, I’m riding – so winterizing really isn’t something I actually know how to do.

So rather than winterize, I ride with Teddy Bears strapped to my bike (OK – not really – I usually suggest someone else do that) or toys stuffed into my saddle bag heading for a kids home or AmVets lodge. The best thing about riding and December are the toy runs in Central Florida, and they’ve gotten bigger each year. Ocala HOG alone collected more than 2,000 toys during their event this year.

Given the number of toys runs, it was fitting that today I received an email from a riding friend who recited a great story about a Lake County Florida HOG chapter member known as the Toy Man (Jim Gray). He started a toy run to help out some local Lake county kids, and over time, the number of toys collected filled an entire warehouse. It took a committee of 10 people to manage it every year, and more than 200 children received toys. Jim was a Vietnam Veteran who worked for the Mount Dora Post Office – just a local guy helping local families during the holiday. Tragically, Jim lost his life several years ago when riding his Harley just before Christmas, but his spirit of giving lives on every time someone gets on a bike and donates their time, money or compassion for a day.

Enjoy the holiday season, and don’t forget to spread a little joy during 2008 by supporting your local benefit rides. Riding is a great way to meet people, but also a great way to make the world a better place.

Ride and remember the journey,
Samich