Guest Author - Nancy Brotherton
June 21st is the official start of summer which means that the days are getting longer and giving us more motorcycle riding time. With longer days comes more sunlight and higher temperatures which means we need to ensure we follow the rules of motorcycle hydration. To keep riding at our peak efficiency one of the key things to remember is to keep our bodies hydrated with pure water. If you don't drink enough water, you risk becoming dehydrated.
We get dehydrated from exposure to direct sun, higher temperatures, and high humidity. We lose moisture from our bodies naturally through breathing and perspiring. Together with the longer riding times in the summer, this increases the chances of our bodies getting dehydrated.
Symptoms of dehydration are: dizziness, confusion, mental fogginess, not making good choices, slow reaction time, shallow breathing, saggy skin, cramps, and low blood pressure. If you are not drinking water and it is hot and you are not sweating, be careful, this could be a sign that you are nearing heat stroke. A couple hours before riding you should start drinking water. Liquids with caffeine in them won't work because they act as a diuretic and push water out of your system. If you must have a cup of caffeine, make sure you drink 8 ounces of water for every cup of coffee or soda that you drink.
Dehydration has a cumulative effect. For example, if you are 2 percent dehydrated on Monday and don't drink enough water to hydrate, then on Tuesday if you don't drink enough water, you will be at least 2 percent dehydrated plus Tuesday's loss.
To keep your body working at peak efficiency, the rule of thumb is to drink 1/2 ounce of water for every 1 pound that you weigh. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, then you should drink 60 ounces of water, or approximately 8 - 8 ounce glasses of water a day. One way to tell if your body is hydrated enough is when you urinate. If your urine is clear, then you are hydrated. If it has a strong odor or is yellow in color, then you need to drink more water.
Motorcycle hydration means keeping your body hydrated while riding your motorcycle in weather that could be dehyrdating. One method is to carry bottled water with you and stow it in your saddlebags or tourpaks. You can partially freeze the bottles to keep them cold or store them in an insulated cooler bag. When you stop to take a break you can dig it out and drink. To use this method you must take time to stop, but in higher temperatures it is better to sip your water every 15 minutes or so, rather than drink more at longer intervals and your body also needs more stretch time in higher temperatures. You can also get a cup or bottle beverage holder and attach it to your motorcycle within easy reach and sip regularly. The downside of this is that you must have one hand off of the grips while you drink. You can also purchase a hands free Camelbak. A Camelbak is a bag like a backpack that contains water. You strap it on your back and sip water through a straw continuously while riding. The downside of this method is that when the temperatures soar it is not a good time to go for a long distance record without taking frequent breaks.
As extra protection, wearing a lightweight, light color jacket can improve your motorcycle hydration by preventing the sun and wind from drying your skin out and robbing you of moisture.
Whatever your choice, make sure that you follow motorcycle hydration safety measures so you can keep your body riding at peak efficiency.
Until next week,
Ride Safe and Keep Hydrated