Travelling by bike in the summer can be a real joy. Whether a secret cove or a deserted beach, with a bike and a little imagination you can often reach incredible places that would be off-limits on foot or by car. All you need do is identify a point on the map, if possible along the coast, and set off.
But you must be prepared. Travelling in temperatures of 30 °C and over requires you to take more steps than on a springtime ride. So how do you ensure you will enjoy the road without suffering the heat?
1. Rule number one for those planning a summer trip in hot climates: Make sure you have a kit to suit the temperatures you will encounter. The ideal solution is a perforated jacket and pants combo. Mesh or perforated fabric garments are best as they combine breathability and safety. If you don't have the option or don't want to purchase an outfit for every season, make sure the waterproof membrane of your jacket is removable and has large air vents. And don't forget the pants as, here too, a ventilated garment is much cooler than jeans for example, however comfortable and practical the latter may be.
2. Be sure to follow this first tip and wear technical garments. It's important! Don't make the mistake of thinking it's more comfortable and cool to travel in short sleeves. Also consider that exposing your skin to the sun is much worse than covering yourself. After a few hours, bare skin is inevitably exposed to a very high risk of sunburn, even when using high sun protection.
3. Riding without gloves and with a pair of sneakers is not the solution to your problems. As for hands, what I said before applies, as covering them with a pair of lightweight, ventilated gloves offers more comfort than riding without. Not to mention what would happen in case of even a trivial slide at low speed. In the same way, get yourself a pair of summer boots. There are specific models for hot climates that offer the same protection as heavier versions. Remember that a non-technical shoe or short boot will never protect you like certified footwear. And think about how many times you put your feet on the ground, not necessarily in a fall. Having protection and support in the foot and ankle area is much more important than people often think.
4. There are protectors specially developed so that riders don’t suffer the heat. Dainese Pro-Armor technology, for example, was created to offer a certified but almost imperceptible protector. 43% of its surface is perforated, which allows the body to distance the heat and significantly limits sweating. There are many varieties of Pro-Armor, including the traditional back protector, pocket back protector and chest protector, all with the same breathability properties.
5. If you need to select a new helmet, modular might be a good solution when it comes to battling the heat. The fact you can raise the chinguard during shorter stops really helps cool the face. The jet naturally offers better ventilation, but hot air in your face isn’t necessarily pleasurable. It doesn’t protect against insects either, and they can become very painful for your face even at low speeds.
6. Heat and blazing sunshine almost always go hand in hand. Get yourself a dark visor, as it really helps to rest your eyesight and protects the whole face from sunlight, which at certain times of the day can be blinding, posing a danger when riding. If you're planning to spend nights away from home, you may have to use your bike in the evening, so remember a spare clear visor.
7. As with your main kit, technical underwear is more comfortable than a cotton shirt or not wearing anything at all under your jacket. Sports underwear is made of breathable materials that help the body regulate its temperature, absorbing sweat and effectively removing it from the skin.
8. Always carry a waterproof shell with you. As you know, summer can bring unexpected thunderstorms and it's always good to be prepared. If you are on a multi-day vacation and use your bike to get around in the evening, a perforated jacket may be too light, unless it has a windproof lining. If you're travelling with a jacket that has a removable waterproof membrane, be sure to take it with you.
9. Hydration is the key to everything. Dehydration, even latent, rapidly leads to fatigue, slows down reflexes, and therefore exposes the rider to greater dangers. It should not be underestimated. It is important to drink often, and during a motorbike trip there is nothing better than being able to drink without having to stop every time. A backpack with water bag is ideal in this case. A small, lightweight backpack can also be very convenient for storing frequently used items without having to rummage through the bike's bags.
10. One potentially annoying aspect of summer trips that you can’t do much about, not even with the right clothing, are the bees, wasps and horseflies that can creep into the sleeves or collar of your jacket and sting you mercilessly. A soothing stick balm to apply after a sting weighs barely anything and can significantly relieve the pain. Taking this with you can make all the difference.
Preparation for a trip is always important. But when it comes to immersing yourself in an extreme climate, hot or cold, it becomes truly essential. After all, we don't like to ride with frozen hands, and neither do we like to sweat inside our jacket or arrive at our destination with our eyes and face burned by the sun. So a few tricks can really help us make the most of our summer riding.