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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2018 Ensenada BeerFest

2018 Ensenada BeerFest Moto Trip

Story by Jim Foreman

It was Saturday morning. Ten minutes before my alarm was set to ring I was already up and stepping into the shower. The excitement of riding with great friends, old and new, sent me going in record time.

The bags, packed the night before, were loaded onto the bike and 20 minutes later, I was riding out to meet one of the other riders, Tom White for breakfast.

St. Patrick’s Day is always a fun day in the United States. Restaurants serve up faithful Irish meals amongst the decorations and green dressed servers.

By 7:20 am we were breakfasted, caffeinated, and making our way to Irv Seaver BMW to meet another rider, Jessie Vaca and his incredible BMW K 1600 B. Tom rides a rugged R 1200 GS Adventure and I ride the BMW S 1000 XR.

It seems Tom and Jessie were equally excited as we left Irv Seaver BMW in Orange County, a little before 8 am, to meet the rest of the group at a South Orange County spot.

In Lake Forest, Bikram Mann on his R 1200 RT, Nico Okoneski on the Triumph Tiger 800, with Enrique Giner, and Trino Caicedo on R 1200 GS Adventures were eagerly awaiting our arrival. Dale Sprosty on his R 1200 ST arrived in Ensenada, on his own, a day early.   He began a fact-hunting mission along with enjoying the Beer Fest, Friday evening.

Heading south, to the border, the group encountered light rain and drizzle. Ordinarily, a little rain is no big deal, but on California Freeways, on a holiday, the risks inched up. In leading the group, we were going to take it easy. We would forego any lane-sharing as the painted lines and reflector pucks would be slippery. More perilous is that California drivers are less capable in wet conditions. Fortunately, traffic was light.

We arrived at the border and crossed without incident. We all commented on the steel half-cantaloupes at the crossings and our techniques for navigating them as the bikes slipped on their wet surfaces.

Wonderfully, once we crossed the border, the precipitation abated, and we were in chilly but dry weather and roadways.

The run south of the border on the “Scenic Highway” is always spectacular. Riding the stretch between La Fonda and Ensenada, one feels transported to CA-1 and Big Sur found on the Northern California coast. The roadway is smooth and fast with a series of three toll-booths along the way. Riding a motorcycle in Mexico is fantastic. One of the simple affirmations of that is paying half the price of cars on the toll roads throughout the country.

The ride was exhilarating and those who were taking it for the first time were visibly beaming from ear to ear.

The group of intrepid adventurers at Hotel Quinta Papagayo

The group safely arrived at the Quintas Papagayo Hotel around 12:30 pm where we met Dale.

Most of the rooms were not quite ready, but one was, so we used that to unload our bikes, clean up, change, and get ready for one of the best afternoons we’d ever experience. Once changed and ready for a great afternoon, we arranged a van taxi to take us to the Beerfest event grounds at the celebrated Museo de Historia in Ensenada.

Crammed in a Taxi

Beerfest started at 2 pm and we were among the first ones inside. We were warmly greeted and received our glass and a couple of tokens for samples.

As the event gained momentum, the grounds began to fill with a vibrant and classy crowd roughly equal between men and women. There were many dozens of craft cervecerias (breweries) on display as excellent bands played on three stages at the event.

Dale is enjoying the sights and flavors of Beerfest

Everywhere we went, we were surrounded by beautiful people who shared a passion for good times, great music, and the elixir that Benjamin Franklin remarked was proof of God’s love and desire for us to be happy.

Tom enjoying a photo

Throughout the afternoon and early evening, it was a delight to see the warm smiles on Bikram, Dale, Enrique, Nico, Tom, Trino, and Jessie’s faces.

The best thing about an event like this in Mexico is that there aren’t any problems, drunk brawlers, or fights that is so typical in the US.   There was no ego or arrogance. All you see is people having a great time, everywhere.

Dinner at Mr. Pampas Brazilian Churrascaria

At 7 pm that evening we had dinner reservations for Mr. Pampas Brazilian Churrascaria. The group feasted on perfectly cooked meats and Brazilian caipirinhas. After dinner, we hired the same Taxi Van back to the hotel. Though some, including myself, clocked out early, several true adventurers continued the party by returning to the Beerfest and later, the bar adjacent to the hotel.

This group knows how to party!

The following day, we enjoyed breakfast together and decided on our riding plan for the day. Jessie and Nico went to La Bufadora while the rest of us headed east on Mex 5 toward San Felipe on a wonderfully twisty road that reminds one of Angeles Crest Highway (CA-2) from La Cañada to the tunnels.

The road surface was perfect, traffic was light, and lean angles were sweet as we traversed the roadway both directions.

The Fermenting Vats at L.A. Cetto Winery

At 4 pm I arranged a van and our driver from last year, Alejandro to take us to L.A. Cetto winery for a tour and tasting and then dinner at La Esperanza Baja Med.

L.A. Cetto is Baja California’s oldest and largest winery. Our guide Daniel took us through the entire winemaking process from the grapes on vines to bottles for sale. The tour was educational, informative and filled with good humor.

No Pisar el Pasto

A section of lawn had signs posted that read “No Pisar El Pasto.” I decided to have a little fun with the group by saying this read, “Don’t piss on the lawn.” While Jessie and our guide Daniel were giggling, Dale and Bikram began a lively discussion on why signs like that would be necessary.

As if on cue, Daniel began to tell the story of the after harvest party that goes on from noon to midnight every year. I added that sometimes people couldn’t make it all the way to the baño so they would relieve themselves on the lawn behind the statue of the Virgen de Guadalupe. More smiles and laughs came from our guide along with Jessie, Trino, and Enrique.

The L.A. Cetto festival grounds

I had to let the guys off the hook and told them it actually means, “Don’t Step on the Lawn.”

We went to sample some wines produced there. We obviously liked some better than others. We said our thanks and goodbyes to Daniel and hurried off to La Esperanza BajaMed. The Executive chef is Miguel Angel Guerrero. He sources all of the foods locally, within 100 miles of the restaurant. In the mornings, Chef Miguel Angel is often out with his shotgun gathering ducks to serve up later in tacos. Chef Miguel Angel is also an avid motorcyclist who rides a BMW R 1200 GS Adventure all over the world.

Bikram at La Esperanza BajaMed

We were treated like VIPs with wine and appetizers coming quickly. We also were welcomed to walk the grounds and take photos.

Dinner was served up Mexican Style. Seven entrees were ordered, so everyone had a little bit of everything making our tastebuds dance.

The meal and especially the company was exquisite.

After dinner, Alejandro took us back to Cerveceria Transpeninsular to enjoy some more good times and excellent beer.

Several of the boys enjoyed a unique brew with 18% alcohol.

We were later joined by Nadja Castillo who helped arrange the evening and can outdrink most of us. Alejandro’s wife Marianna also arrived to make for an even better experience.

El Meson de Mustafa

The following morning, we packed up and rode out to El Meson de Mustáfa for an excellent breakfast with Sharim Ali. Mustafa owns a small vineyard and bottles up some excellent wines. He also has the very popular restaurant that’s been a regional hotspot for decades.

Sharim and the gang of riders.

His daughter Sharim now runs the restaurant, but Mustafa often comes in to socialize with guests and friends.

Concluding Breakfast, this group of incredible friends headed north to Tecate. The road up is a high-speed thrill ride that was the perfect way to cap a brilliant weekend in Baja.

Crossing the border demonstrated another reason why Motorcycles are perfect for Mexico. We passed 4 hours of cars waiting to cross back by riding right up to the front of the line. Filtering to the front can be done at any of the border crossings.

Farewell Photo at Starbucks in Jamul, CA

Once across the border, we rode Campo Road (Hwy 94) from Tecate to Jamul, where they have a Starbucks Coffee. We said our heartfelt goodbyes and went our own way.

I am so grateful to have led these wonderful riders and friends across one of my favorite regions of the world.

Can’t wait to do it again.

From September 29th to October 18th, 2018, I’ll be leading a group of intrepid riders into some of the best and most amazing parts of Mexico. It will coincide with the 22nd International Motorrad Federation Mexico’s Convention taking place this year in Morelia, Michoacan. It will include a full run on “El Espinazo del Diablo”, one of North America’s Greatest Roads, and visits in San Carlos, Cuernevaca, Cosala, Queretaro, Durango, Batopilas, Copper Canyon, Mazatlan, Tequila, Xilitla and the Garden of surrealist Edward James, Hermosillo, and Guanajuato.   There will be approximately 649, 864 awesome corners we’ll take on this trip through some of the most beautiful parts of Mexico. Bring fresh tires!

This will be the trip of a lifetime! Contact me for details. Jim@authenticmoto.com

Music is playing and the grounds are getting crowded
Border Psycho Brewery has some interesting pull tabs.
The group of intrepid adventurers at Hotel Quinta Papagayo
It wouldn’t be Beerfest without girls in Dirndls
Beerfest attendees taking a selfie.