So I just completed my second month of motorcycle commuting and I gotta say that now I’m completely hooked. Driving my truck anywhere now just feels wrong, and that time spent each morning in the cool air really sets me in a good mood for the day. There is a downside though. This is Fresno, and that means the June commute was a lot warmer than the May one, and July is looking to be downright hot.
The thing to remember about motorcycle commuting is that the swing in tempurature which means nothing to a car driver means a lot to us. When I left the house this morning it was a perfect 70°. When I head home this afternoon it’s supposed to be around 103°. By Thursday we’ll be at 110º. This means I really have to prepare if I want my commute to be remotely bearable. So how to deal with the heat? Well, I’ll let you know for sure in a month. But so far, my experience has taught me a few things.
First, cover your skin. When it gets over 100°, anywhere that air touches you feels like a blowtorch. So I wear leather instead of nylon jackets. I have a nylon jacket that’s made of a mesh material that lets the air come right through. This sounds great, and it is if it’s in the 80’s, but again, once you get into the 90’s and above that hot air comes right through and feels like a torch on your skin. The sun will also come through that mesh and sunburn you if you’re not careful. So I have a thick leather jacket from Fox Creek Leather that has vents for letting air through in a diffused manner while at the same time protecting me from the sun. Thick leather also does not heat up like nylon does so it takes me longer to break a sweat. I also wear a full face helmet for the same reason. It keeps the hot wind off my face and I have a black shield to keep the sunlight from burning my skin.
The only other thing you can really do in the high heat is keep that bike moving. Even a hot wind feels better than sitting there at a traffic light on hot blacktop with a 250º running motor between your legs. So you may have to plan your route so that you can keep moving as much as possible. I’ve altered my route to avoid intersections where I would normally have to sit in a left hand turn lane. I also have backup routes in case I get stuck at a train crossing. Again, better to take a slightly longer route where you can keep moving than get stuck for 20 minutes waiting for a train while the sun beats you down.
And lastly, ditch those work clothes. Work clothes are designed for controlled environments. If you get on the bike in dress pants and a collared shirt, they will probably be ruined by the time you get home. So I highly recommend changing for riding to and from work.
So that’s my month 2 motorcycle commuting round up! I’ll give you part 3 at the end of July and let you know how I fared in this heat.