I don’t mind the heat, I really don’t. In fact, I’m quite the fan, figuratively speaking of course. The temps that soar into the 90’s (F) are no bother to me as much as their cooler siblings on the other end of the thermometer. Despite the heat, I can still do things and not have to wear 30 pounds of clothing.
In my youth back in the 1970’s, things such as air conditioning were considered a luxury. In my family, in northern New Jersey, sweating through the summer heat was a normal part of every day life. It got hot, you went outside, ran around and played in the sun, went to the park, rode your bike, did things outside (without sunscreen), you would sweat, take a shower, eat dinner and then lay in your bed sweating again/still until you fell asleep from exhaustion. We didn’t complain too much because we understood the alternative, freezing cold in the dead of a New Jersey winter. We coped.
In my Navy days, at ripe age of 18 I was shipped off to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba back when it was an actual military installation and not the media joke it has become these days. I was stationed in GTMO, as it was designated by the military, for two years and I would have been there longer if not for the boys in D.C. deciding I was having too much fun and shipped me off to Keflavik, Iceland… but that’s another story. GTMO, was awesome, it also got pretty hot down there. Though it was right on the water, I don’t ever recall there being an ocean breeze to cool it down. For the first six months there, we had no AC in the barracks. You’d sweat, shower and continue to sweat. Temperatures were normally in the 90’s most days and mid-70’s at night in the summer months. 80’s and 60’s in the winter months. We coped.
Through my entire adult life, it has been a quest to find that temperature that suited me all the time. Room temperature is too vague. Naturally, we all gravitate towards 72 degrees for the daytime and mid-60’s at night. There are those that love the cooler temps, and I applaud them. Some folks just dig those temps that hover in the 40’s all the time. I get it and I sometimes find myself comfortable in that range provided I’m in jeans, long sleeve shirt and denim jacket. But I don’t want to bundle up in any form, restricting my movement and egging on the sweat glands when we move from outdoors to indoors. On with the jacket, off with the jacket, on and off and on and off…. ugh.
As a cyclist, I’m okay with temps in the 30’s and 40’s if I’m mountain biking here on the east coast. I know I’ll warm up in a matter of minutes and I’ll be sweating before too long. Just don’t stop moving. In the summer months when I get on my road bike to pound out some miles, I’m okay with temps being in the 90’s. I’m moving, I’m passing through shade, I feel a breeze. And, as any road cyclists knows, regardless of which way you are traveling, there is always a headwind. And, depending upon the conditions, what the level of humidity is, “comfortable” is a moving target. In areas where humidity is usually very low will be accompanied by “dry heat” comments. But let me tell you, I’ve been mountain biking in Moab, Utah when it was 104 degrees. Dry or not, you’re freaking baking. While I’m at it, I’ve been road cycling here in New Jersey when it was a 104 and it wasn’t that bad.
In our modern society, we crave air conditioning in the warmer months to maintain our comfort level while we are indoors. That comfort disappears within 5 steps outside our front door on our way to our soon-to-be air conditioned car and for the the motorcycle rider, our comfort doesn’t come into play until we are moving. If we are indoors, 70 degrees may be comfortable and shorts, flip-flops and loose t-shirt are the attire. In my house, in the evening hours, watching the tube, I’m usually freezing while my wife, who is enjoying the intermittent blasts of heat flashes, feels like a radiator. To her, 40 degree temperatures are fine. It is an ongoing battle. More covers on my side than hers.
Temperature comfort for our furry friends varies as well. After all, they are furry and do require a bit more attention so they do not overheat. We have found that our fuzzy kids kinda like the temperature right around 70. Roxie, our slightly overweight retriever mix, doesn’t like the heat so much, but she does like laying down in between to bushes in our back yard no matter what the temperature is, but this one loves the colder temps like her mother.
When we get on our bikes amid the summer months, we know we are in for a warm ride and the likelihood of sweat coming into the fray is not unusual and to be expected. We know that as long as we are moving, we are good and we dread traffic or a red light. This is where the “lane splitting” and “filtering” advocates have their time on the soap box. If you are a big twin rider, I feel your pain. Being the owner of a Harley Davidson, heat is something we deal with every time we push that start button. We know this, we expect this and, oddly enough, welcome it. Those of you on smaller bikes and/or imports, you may not suffer the same discomfort we do, but you do have your own level of heat to deal with.
For the big twin rider, there are things we do, should do, can do to keep cool. Installing a set of Love Jugs will keep the motor cooler, not necessarily you however. Having a Camelback with ice cold water in it is a great way to maintain hydration on those hot days. Wearing your vented leather jacket is another way. There is this whole thermal thing with regard to sweat and air moving across it that lowers your temperature. It works, I do this and I have no complaints…..until I come to a stop. Which brings me to the last point in this segment. Routing. If you are doing a local ride, there’s not a lot you can do to avoid traffic or red lights. But on your longer rides, consult those maps, online or otherwise, and find that route that will move you around those choke points and keep you moving. Here in New Jersey, I can plot a route from my house to my brothers house 50 miles away and not stop at all. Of course it might take me 3 hours, but I won’t be stopping. Wearing a half helmet or low-profile (brain bucket) helmet might be cooler, but it won’t be much consolation should you hit the pavement. Plus, covering up will prevent sunburn and that alone can make life miserable on the bike. Covering the skin will keep the body cooler. This means if you’re going to get on the bike, leave the shorts, short sleeve shirt and flip-flops at home. Dress for riding, not the pool. That goes for your passenger too.
I’ll never berate someone for how they choose to dress when they ride, it’s none of my business. I’ll never make comments to anyone on their choice of bike to avoid the heat, it’s their bike, your bike, it’s none of my business. But there are ways to keep cool out there and you should make every effort to ensure you’re ride is temperature comfortable. So, don’t be lazy, take the steps to keep cool out there in the summer months. The number one thing you do need to do is freaking hydrate! Have water with you, be it bottles or a Camelback, whatever. Hydrate you dumbass!
Temperature comfort is as personal as underwear. Boxers, jockey’s, boxer briefs, thong and commando are usually accompanied by a “reason” for the choice. Each offer different levels of heat retention and in turn, raise or lower the comfort level. This is where the term “Hot as balls” comes into play. But let me tell you, lately here in New Jersey, it has been much hotter than that.