Did you feel it too? That just perceptible uptick in temperature surely means that good things are around the corner.
We’re sure you’ve noticed the sun still shining at 6, right? And with it, can we assume you felt a little optimism alongside?
And the smell…is that the scent of daffodils in the air? Yep, Spring is coming and, without wishing to skip a whole season, that means Summer isn’t that far away either.
Though we wouldn’t want to second guess a government who’ve done more U-turns than a motorbike rider without satnav, it does look like some form of staycation may be permitted once the weather warms up.
And how we’re longing for that feeling of the open road that a great motorbike ride brings. And the longer, the better we say! In the UK, the longest, most iconic motorbike route is, of course, John O’Groats to Land’s End. From the tip of Scotland to the most westerly point of Cornwall, the whole thing covers 815 miles and takes around 15 hours, depending on traffic.
After such a long time spent indoors and stationary, how we’d love to be revving up for such a sprawling ride! But even if you’re tackling something more manageable, and without wishing to burst the tyre on your sense of adventure before you’ve even set off, there are some precautions you need to take if you’re riding in the summer months. With that in mind, here are 6 IDEAL tips for long motorbike rides in hot weather in the UK.
Staying hydrated is one of the most important things to remember when you’re out riding. There are going to be some long stretches spent under the sun, and often spent under thick protective clothing, too. Distracted by the thrill of the open road, it can be all too easy to forget to drink water.
The hotter it is, the more fluids your body needs to function, and as any rider will attest, it can get super sweaty under your leathers. That’s a lot of water lost, accordingly, and it’ll need replenishing. If you’re not careful, you can suffer from dehydration, and this presents serious risks. According to the experts at News Medical, ‘’Studies have shown that cognitive function declines at mild water loss of around 2% body water loss…these include poorer concentration, increased reaction times, short-term memory issues, and negative mood changes’’.
And it’s that poorer concentration and increased reaction times which should be of particular concern to riders, as such changes could raise the likelihood of an accident.
It’s best to be alert to the symptoms of dehydration; feeling dizzy and lightheaded, general fatigue and having a dry mouth, lips, and even dry eyes, which can impair your vision are some key signs.
Make sure that you stay safe and drink plenty of water. There are special rider’s backpacks you can buy, such as a CamelBak, which make drinking water while you ride easy. You should also avoid setting off on a long ride after a longer night on the beers; we all know how dehydrating that can be.
TIME YOUR RIDE
To avoid a whole day of sun exposure, it’s crucial that you factor in the time of the day that you travel. Doing so can help you avoid riding at peak sun exposure.
Having the sun glaring down on you from above, especially with all your gear and no shade, can lead you to getting hot and dehydrated, which, as we’ve established, can be dangerous.
Riding when the sun’s at its highest can also present problems with visibility. This is due to the glare you’ll experience when facing the sun or with it in your mirrors. To compensate for that glare, having the right helmet helps mitigate visibility issues. To be legal, your visor must, according to the British Motorcycle Federation, ‘’conform to BS 4110 – which ensures a level of scratch resistance and permits up to 50% light transmittance. Any other visors are illegal, but sunglasses, tear-offs and inner wrap-arounds are all permitted’’.
Do be aware that sunglasses are discouraged, though not illegal, in the Highway Code.
At the height of summer (June, July and August) and between 11am and 3pm, the sun will be particularly strong and the glare from the road sometimes blinding. Instead, try to complete the majority of your ride during cooler, more softly lit hours.
In hotter climates and during hotter times of the day or even year, one way that you can offset the heat is by dressing accordingly.
Plan for the day and know what the average temperature is going to feel like. This way, you can choose the number of layers you wear.
Though you might think the leather biker jacket and matching trousers is obligatory, you actually have several options for protective clothing which conform to UK law. According to the Highway Code, you must wear a protective helmet, but after that, the law gets a little murky. Generally speaking, however, any insurance claim will be invalidated if you weren’t wearing…
- Motorcycle boots
- Textile, heavy denim or leather trousers
- A textile, heavy denim or leather jacket
- Motorcycle gloves
- A visor on your helmet or goggles
Though this somewhat restricts your ability to dress cool, you can opt for protective clothing which is breathable, perhaps looking for clothes made out of a material with sweat-wicking capabilities. You can find various leather jackets and trousers in a perforated material which allows for a decent amount of breathability, too.
Another aspect of your clothing that you want to consider is the colour; certain darker tones will attract more heat, whilst lighter colours will help you keep cooler, as well as alerting others on the road to your presence at the earliest opportunity.
REMEMBERING SAFETY TRAINING AND PRACTICES
It is important that you have knowledge of how to safely navigate a situation where you feel uneasy riding, particularly in the trying conditions of summer, when somewhat surprisingly, the majority of accidents in the UK occur.
All your bike training will come into play in any event that you start feeling dizzy or lightheaded, or the starkness of the sun causes visibility issues. Should you be keen to brush up on your skills and road safety knowledge, courses and material from MTS rider training will provide information in regards to safety which could be invaluable.
Take a break if you need to, resting in order to get your body to cool down, and look for places to eat and drink if you need to refuel. Ignoring your body’s warning signs shouldn’t be an option.
RIDE IN GROUPS
One way to ensure that you’re safe while riding in hot weather is to ride with others, in convoy, or to put it more glamorously, in your very own biker gang.
Whether you are on a road trip in a group or just want to have a friend along for a casual cruise, riding with a companion will help mitigate any trouble that you run into. You will be able to look out for each other, offering reminders to stay hydrated as well as checking on the well-being of your partner.
In the event that you start feeling sick because of the heat, your riding companions can assist you, providing you with shade and water, or in more drastic circumstances, even call emergency response personnel to the scene and provide you with assistance. Riding in a group or with at least one other person ensures that responsibility and safety are prioritised.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It can be easy to get lost on the road, figuratively and literally, when the freedom of two wheels and some serious speeds revs up in your soul. We hope you enjoy your motorbike ride in summer with safety, as well as that adventurous spirit, in mind.