Riding in High Heat – A Survival Guide

Riding in high heat doesn’t have to be something to dread.  When temperatures spike, learn how to keep your body cool, hydrated, and relatively comfortable.

I’m dancing, screaming, itching, squealing, fever feeling hot, hot, hot! – The Cure

Riding in the Anzo Borrego Desert in 116ºF temperatures

Story by Jim Foreman

“Mi Doctor” Dr. Guillermo Cisneros

In Memory of Dr. Guillermo Cisneros “Mi Doctor” QEPD

Summertime is the time when most Americans, Canadians, and visitors from Europe and Asia come to ride in North America.

Summer is the time riders are traveling to well-known destinations across the continent. Riding in high heat also brings its own risks.   The danger changes from inattentive drivers to dehydration and heat stroke. These are the most insidious of issues because when you begin to feel it, it’s already in full effect.

Dehydration is a motorcyclists greatest enemy when riding in hot weather.

There are several ways to effectively avoid dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke on hot summer days. They go against conventional wisdom. Those who have experience know that ‘conventional wisdom’ should be rebranded as ‘fool’s wisdom.’

The symptoms of dehydration include light-headedness, loss of focus, slow and sloppy responses to the road, infrequent urination, dry mouth, and feeling sleepy.

If one is feeling the effects of dehydration, stop as soon as possible and head to a shady area. Begin drinking water. Pedialyte or Electrolit (in Mexico) can help a lot, but make sure to chase it with plenty of water.  If Pedialyte or Electrolit is unavailable, coconut water does the same thing naturally.

Plan on spending a couple of hours letting your body rehydrate. Typically it takes two urine cycles to get back to proper hydration. You’ll know you’re right when your urine is light colored instead of a dark yellow.

The symptoms of heat exhaustion are faintness or dizziness, nausea, heavy sweating often accompanied by clammy skin, pale face, muscle cramps, headache, and fatigue.

Heat exhaustion usually accompanies dehydration. Stop riding and get into a shady or air-conditioned place and rest. Ideally, check into a motel with Air Condition, drink a lot of water and take a nap. Alternatively, a library can serve as a great place to cool down and even catch a few winks if you’re discreet.

Heat stroke is a severe medical condition, and one must call for medical assistance immediately. Signs include the initial heat exhaustion and fever, throbbing headache, staggering or disorientation, seizures, and ultimately unconsciousness.

Do not mess around with this. Heat stroke can be fatal. While waiting for help, get the victim into a shady area or place with AC. If appropriate, strip off many of the victim’s outer clothes and use water and a fanning action to cool them down until help arrives.

When you begin to feel the effects of dehydration, it’s already in full effect!

The key to avoiding heat exhaustion and heat stroke on a motorcycle is to keep moving.  Even at a slow pace, you are moving enough air for your body to keep cool.  If you are in stopped traffic, many states allow riders to slowly ride in the emergency lane to keep moving.  It’s critical for a rider to be more conscious of their health and safety than committing a traffic infraction.  It may be necessary to find an alternate route.  Sometimes, one must lane-share to keep moving.  It’s better to potentially get a citation or warning than it is to end up in the emergency room.  Most states have exemptions for minor traffic offenses for medical emergencies.  If behaving discreetly and prudently, without making a scene, most law enforcement will give leeway to a motorcyclist who keeps moving during these conditions.

Enjoying riding during a SoCal summertime heatwave.

Riding in high heat doesn’t have to lead to dehydration or worse. The most important factor to realize is that riding in hot temperatures is drastically different than walking or standing still in the heat.

The safest and easiest way to handle high heat is to stop every hour and drink a half-liter of water. At the same time, you should also have to visit the restroom and pee. If you’re doing it right, the urine should be a light color.  If it’s dark yellow, you’re dehydrated and should take a long break in the shade or air-conditioned building.

It doesn’t matter how long you can go between fill-ups or whether you are doing an Iron Butt Association SaddleSore 1000. During high heat (90°F and up), stop to drink water and pee every hour. When it cools down, it’s safe then lengthen the duration between stops.

Let’s make something clear. When it’s said to drink water, it’s WATER you need to drink. Sparkling or flat is fine.  Please don’t drink sugary or alcoholic water. This includes many sports drinks.  Sure, they may have electrolytes, but they also are packed with sugar and other nasty stuff.  Coke, other soft drinks, and energy drinks don’t hydrate you. Instead, they have the opposite effect and make you more thirsty.

Pro Tip: Drink half a Pedialyte or Electrolit and chase it down with water. An hour later drink the other half.  It can help offset oncoming dehydration in your favor!

Riding in an outfit like this looks cool but can bring dehydration in 40 minutes or less.

What you wear will have a significant impact on how well you handle high-heat riding conditions.

Fool’s Wisdom says, ‘Ride with a T-shirt, shorts, sneakers, and a party-lid, half-helmet, or no helmet at all, to keep cool. While this may not be a bad move when walking or staying still, when riding, it will accelerate dehydration drastically! A rider won’t even feel sweat because it’s evaporating so quickly.

This model for RevIt is wearing an excellent outfit to combat dehydration.

There are two types of hot, humid heat such as on the east coast and dry heat one encounters in the desert.

For humid heat, wearing a vented long-sleeve jacket, pants, and a full-face helmet will give a rider the best success to keep cool.  The vents will keep air circulating, and the natural cooling effects of the body will work correctly. A jacket and pants help the body regulate its temperature.

For dry desert heat, a non-perforated jacket with vents is best.

Wear gear that can control airflow through zipper vents.  Just open up the vents a little to keep a little airflow and circulation going.  As long as you’re moving your body will do the rest to maintain a proper temperature.  It sounds daft, but experienced all-day summer riders know this to be true.

Wetting a polyester shirt, or a gaiter around your neck will do wonders to help keep you cool. If you use a skull cap, bandana, or do-rag between your head and helmet, wet that too.

Kevin Foster is modeling an evaporative cooling vest.

An evaporative cooling vest in 105ºF+ (40ºC +) temperatures will keep your body cool and its temperature regulated. The effect lasts about one hour, but that one hour gives an excellent opportunity to drink water, use the restroom and recharge the vest (soaking it in water).

One can travel around Phoenix, Arizona, during the summer, in relative comfort, wearing an evaporative cooling vest.

Perhaps surprisingly, the color of the gear doesn’t matter when riding in high heat.

Sure when standing still, the color black absorbs more heat. When moving the airflow will negate nearly all of the effects of the color.  Either way, a full-face helmet with good venting adds to the positive benefits of this effect.

Timing is Everything

Most riders in high heat areas such as Hermosillo, Sonora generally don’t ride during those extreme months, opting for air-conditioned four-wheelers. If they do choose to ride, they start at daybreak and ride until noon, then call it a day.

Whether you’re a new rider, an old-timer, or your country’s leading pediatric surgeon, pushing your limits is a losing gamble.

Nena, on the right, knows how to ride and look good in the Chihuahua heat.

High heat days don’t have to kill your riding time. One can ride safely and relatively comfortably by paying careful attention to your body and keeping it equipped with the necessary tools to do its job.

This article is brought to you by Authentic Moto Travels.  Authentic Moto Travels is the best source for high-quality, exciting tours and adventures.  All tours are custom-crafted to match the desires and goals of a group.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)about the Eurotrips

Frequently Asked Questions about the Eurotrips happening in June 2019

Straight answers to your important questions.

  1. What’s the best way to get to Munich?
  2. Do I have to rent a bike?
  3. What if I want to stay longer?
  4. How much should I budget for the trip?
  5. Is there a chase van to carry our luggage?
  6. How do we pay for things in Europe?
  7. Do I need a Passport?
  8. I’ve never traveled to Europe. Is it safe?
  9. Will I be able to go inside the castles?
  10. What do I need to rent a motorcycle in Europe?
  11. Can I bring my helmet and gear to Europe?
  12. What’s the weather going to be?
  13. OK, I’m going.  I signed up, What do I do next?
Answers to your questions…
1. What’s the best way to get to Munich?

While there are many direct flights to Munich from US cities, they tend to be quite costly. Flying around in Europe is like flying around in the USA. Flights within the EU are considered ‘domestic’ and are quite inexpensive.

I advise travelers to fly from their closest major airport to Paris, France. It’s probably the least expensive city to fly in and out of, easily.

Spend a couple of days in Paris while you readjust your body clock from Jetlag and enjoy this magnificent city. Then book a flight on Air France or Lufthansa from CDG (Paris Charles de Gaulle) to MUC (Munich). Make your flight round trip from Paris and simply book your domestic flights to and from Munich.

It’s super easy and can all be done from your home. Please email Jim Foreman for more details and specific arrangements.

2. Do I have to rent a bike?

No. If you have a bike in Europe or have a friend in Europe willing to loan you theirs with insurance coverage, you’re totally fine. Transporting your bike from the USA to Europe only begins to make sense if you plan to spend over three weeks riding in Europe.

BIKE & TRAVEL SERVICE is a top-rated motorcycle rental agency that is based at the Factory Owned BMW Motorrad Zentrum München. They only rent new or nearly new motorcycles in top shape. They also provide excellent customer support should you experience any problems. Fortunately, they are not that expensive.

3. What if I want to stay longer?

Great! By all means! You’re in some beautiful areas of the world. You can continue your motorcycle rental or rent a car and continue your exciting trip.

We’re happy to provide advice on other enchanting places to roam and visit.

4. How much should I budget for the trip?

This really depends on you.

One week trip with Authentic Moto Travels is $1000 USD. Both weeks is $1700USD.  This covers staff, planning, and making sure you have one of the best trips you’ve ever taken.

Round-trip airfare will range from $700-$1400 depending on how you book it. Please contact Jim Foreman for money saving suggestions.

Motorcycle rental varies from €800/wk to €1200/wk depending on the model you choose. Smaller bikes tend to do much better in Europe, but if you need to have a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure, it’s available for you. If you want, you can bring your moto luggage and GPS from your personal bike and use them on a matching rental. Please contact Jim Foreman for details and advice.

Factor a high of $200USD per day for hotels, food, drinks, etc. This is a super high estimate, and your reality will probably be closer to $110USD-$140USD per day. At $200USD/day, you’ll come in well under budget and have plenty of extra money left over.

5. Is there a chase van to carry our luggage?

Nope. This is not a geriatric adventure. You will travel on your bike as you would back home. You will be expected to carry your luggage on your bike. Bike & Travel Service can arrange to keep extra baggage at their facility while you are traveling.

6. How do we pay for things in Europe?

In Europe and Switzerland*, you can pay with cash (Euros) or your credit card. If you have a credit card that doesn’t charge you ‘Foreign Transaction Fees” or additional ‘Conversion Fees,’ feel free to use them. Several banks including Charles Schwab, Capital One, and Barclay’s Bank issue cards that don’t tack on these fees. You can always use your ATM/Debit card at a bank ATM to withdraw €Euros up to your daily limit. Just make sure to put in a travel notice with your bank(s) ahead of time.

(*Switzerland doesn’t officially accept Euros.  Their currency is the Swiss Franc.  Any restaurant, hotel, or bar will accept Euros at a fair exchange rate.)

Don’t bother getting Euros in the USA. You’ll get ripped off from your bank.

7. Do I need a Passport?

Yes! You have plenty of time to download the form from the US State Department and go to the post office to get one. Fortunately, there is no visa requirement for Europe. Just show up, and you automatically get a 90-day tourist visa.

8. I’ve never traveled to Europe. Is it safe?

If you’re asking this, you probably watch way WAY too much news. Europe is perfectly safe. While some cities like London have dangerous areas, we’re not going to any of them. Consider though your behavior and personal perspectives. Travelers get the same response they project. If they think everyone is out to rip them off, they’ll get ripped off. If they believe that most people are good and take the same precautions you do in your hometown, you’ll be just fine.

9. Will I be able to go inside the castles?

Most of them, Yes!

You’ll also be able to hand a pair of half coconuts to a friend you temporarily call, ‘Patsy.’ Then while clapping them together to make hoofbeat sounds, you can go around stating you are “Arthur, King of the Britain!” Furthermore, you can ask valiant knights to join you on your quest for the Holy Grail.

10. What do I need to rent a motorcycle in Europe?

You will need your US State Drivers License with a Motorcycle Endorsement. You will also need your passport (which you should have if you got this far).

An International Drivers License is highly recommended and is available for a small fee from your local AAA office, even if you’re not a member.

You’ll need to leave an insurance deductible deposit of €500 or €1000 on your credit card to guarantee the bike is returned in the condition you receive it. All bikes rented from Bike Travel Service include insurance coverage.

11.  Can I bring my helmet and gear to Europe?

Yes, absolutely.  Consider wearing your moto jacket and boots as you board the plane.  Make sure to bring your helmet as carry-on.  You can take off the moto jacket and boots on the plane until you land keeping your luggage under the maximum weight and compact.

12. What’s the weather going to be?


This is the very best time of the year for weather in Europe.  Keep in mind that we’ll be, at times, in high elevation regions.  A good 3 season jacket, gloves, and pants should suit you fine.  Bring one long-sleeve cold weather undershirt and underpants to use, just in case.

14. OK, I’m going.  I signed up, What do I do next?

Great!  You’ve signed up here for the trip.  You need to take care of the bike rental and airfare.  The Bike Rental is most important.  Airfare can wait a few months.

Motorcycle Rental

Go to Bike-Travel-Service website using a special link provided to you.  It will include a discount.  Then you are all set for the rental.

Booking Airfare

For airfare, It’s best to do it in two steps.  Step one is the international flight.  Use a site like Expedia, Vayama, or Booking Buddy to book a flight from your closest major city to Paris (or Munich if you like to typically pay much higher prices.)  Plan to arrive a couple of days early so you can acclimate yourself to the time change.

If you booked the flight to Paris or another Major European hub, go to Expedia or directly to Air France, or Lufthansa and book a flight from Paris (or that city) to Munich arriving at least a full day before the trip.

Hotels Before and After the Trip

As far as pre or post-trip hotels, don’t worry about it now.  We have plenty of time. In Paris, I recommend a hotel near the airport such as the Millenium Hotel using Booking.com.   There is a Free Shuttle to CDG Airport where there is a Metro station. With the Metro, you can easily get to the center and all the cool places like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre, and Champs Elysees.

In Munich, I do recommend a hotel near the BMW Motorrad Zentrum like the Hotel Königstein across the street.

Once you book the trip with Authentic Moto Travels, we’ll work individually with you to get you all set up and booked with ease.

If you have any more questions, please contact Jim Foreman.

Riding El Espinazo del Diablo – The Best Road in North America

The Best Road in North America

El Espinazo del Diablo

Story and Photos by Jim Foreman

Reflecting on the best road in North America brings forward memories of sheer excitement, joy, and thrills. 

There we were. Riding in the lead, and opening up the throttle to go even faster.  Tom White, a former road racer, keeps steady on my tail and continues the chase. Criss-crossing mountain peaks and ridgelines on the new toll road, we traverse Alpine style tunnels that arch, turn, and dip with a perfect surface beneath our wheels. Finally coming around a tunneled corner, the egress brings us to a marvel of engineering. The spires and support cables rise above the road surface revealing a spectacular gorge. We are now on the world’s tallest cable-stayed bridge.

La Puente Baluarte. The World’s tallest cable-stayed bridge.






The Highlight

For many riders on this 19-day journey through Mexico in 2017, this day, in particular, stands as the pinnacle of a spectacular trip.

Late in 2016 we planned a group of US-based riders down to Mexico to participate in the 21st annual Motorrad Convención Internacional in Zacatecas. Immediately, five of the ten slots were spoken for by the participants of the last Mexico trip through Chihuahua and Sonora. This year, Riders from SoCal, Colorado and North Carolina all met in El Paso, TX to be a part of this special event.

The group consisted of members from the South Coast BMW Riding Club, the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado, and the Brotherhood of Shanghai. Several riders are also members of the GS Giants.

The trip took us to amazing destinations including Chihuahua, Durango, Zacatecas, Queretaro, San Miguel de Allande, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Baja California.

Mexico Highway 40 – The Best Road in North America

Over 125 miles of relentless corners on Mex 40 Libre.

It’s during our stay in Mazatlan that we were able to traverse ‘El Espinazo del Diablo’ or ‘The Devil’s Backbone.’

The day began fairly typically.  We began eastward to Mex 40 (Libre).

Mex 40 (Carretera Mazatlán-Durango) once was a very dangerous road. It served as the only link between the port city of Mazatlán to the state of Durango. In the worst of times, it was said that there would be occasional bodies that would show up on the side of the road in the morning. Since the opening of the new parallel toll road, the Libre road is mostly forgotten, except by motorcyclists.  The previous nine-hour journey now only takes two and a half hours

The road that stretches from Villa Union, Sinaloa to Durango is commonly known as El Espinazo del Diablo. The Espinazo is actually only a small mountain feature on one part of the road.  The whole road, because of its notoriety, got the name.

Taking a break at a beautiful mirador.

El Espinazo del Diablo is 125 miles of relentless twists, turns, curves and elevation changes. The scenery is among the lushest and most beautiful one can imagine.   The danger for motorcyclists is keeping one’s eyes on the road. The newly surfaced road is immaculate, and because of the parallel toll road, it’s wide open with almost no vehicle traffic.

The greatest hazards to riding this road are cows, wild horses, and burros. Look for fresh piles on the road as your warning. Secondarily a danger is riding above one’s ability. This road does not suffer fools lightly.

Now with all the scary part out of the way, this road will also change your life for the positive and give you a sense of accomplishment no tamer of the ‘Tail of the Dragon’ could ever understand.

About 20 miles in, the road rises in elevation, and the temperature becomes perfect for comfortable riding. Only near El Salto does the elevation rise to 8700ft and becomes a bit cold.

Mexico Highway 40D – Unlimited Sights and Thrills

The bridge damaged by the tanker that overturned and caught fire late in 2017.

Once one finishes the road in a couple of hours, the best surprise is yet to come. Imagine Germany’s famous Nurburgring with tunnels and across the world’s tallest cable-stayed bridge. That’s the new toll road that awaits your journey back. Currently, at $165MN ($9 USD), it’s one of the most expensive toll roads in Mexico.  It’s oh so worth it. The toll road is lightly traveled, as well.  Trucks and motorists are quick to give way to motorcyclists and passionate drivers who want to pass.

The beauty and majesty of nature’s designs along with the impeccable engineering the road designers used make for an experience you probably can’t get anywhere else in the world.

What About (insert your favortite road here)?

US roads like CA-1 (Pacific Coast Highway), US 191 (Arizona’s Devil’s Highway), US 550 (Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway), Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, Cherahola Skyway in North Carolina all pale in comparison to the diversity, intensity, and rewards granted to riders of these great roads.

In late September 2018, another group of intrepid US-based riders traveled south to Mexico for the annual Convencion in Morelia, Michoacan.

Because the Motorrad Federacion Mexico convention is hosted in a different city, the routes always change.  Each location presents wonderful roads and unexpected surprises.  Fortunately, because El Espinazo del Diablo is in the center of Mexico, it’s always part of the trip.

One thing is for certain, above all else. The best road in North America is found in Mexico.  We’ll be riding El Espinazo del Diablo again!

Discover and register for new Motorcycle Tours and Trips.

Jim Foreman leads groups into Mexico on short and longer trips through Authentic Moto Travels. If you’re interested in discovering or re-connecting with our great neighbor, to the south, please contact Jim at jimf@me.com or at 310 923-6635.

Tom and Phil at the state line in the center of the bridge.
The Cascada in Mexiquillo, near El Salto
The Mazatlán Malecon at night.
Jim Foreman at El Espinazo del Diablo