With memories of critters and cooler weather dancing in his sweaty helmet, Rudi set out on day 48 of his ride trying to remember how to keep his cool in the near-record heat wave he rode into yesterday in South Dakota. The locals at breakfast were complaining about both the heat and humidity. Rudi worked up a sweat just loading Bertha up for the day. The weather channel warned about heat indexes above 100 degrees along his planned route down I-29 South through Sioux City, Sioux Falls, Omaha, toward Kansas City.
How does a motorcyclists keep cool in 100+ degree weather, exposed to the sun and drying wind all day long? It starts with a protective suit with adequate ventilation such as this one on Rudi. It’s hot standing still, but the loose cuffs funnel cooling air up through the suit where it is vented from both armpit zippers and a back zipper. In extreme heat, you fill up your front pockets with ice from the gas station which cools you as it melts. There is an unfortunate side effect from this as we shall see later.
A water-soaked neckerchief designed to hold LOTS of water is tied around Rudi’s neck and cools him as the water evaporates. A bottle of cold water thrown on the old noggin just before putting on the helmet tops off the preparation. But the real key is to stay adequately hydrated during the ride to ward off both mental and physical fatigue: “If you ain’t peein’ every 90-minutes, you ain’t drinkin’ enuf”, says Rudi!
Needless to say, this watering down ritual gets lots of laughs from store clerks and customers around the gas pump. Kids love to watch Rudi shiver as the ice water runs down his neck.
So why not just strip down to a T-shirt and doo rag, you ask, like all those Harley riders we see? Personal choice is the only answer, along with helmet laws in most states. But the stripped down style is popular out west where helmet laws are non-existent and Harley’s are the most popular bikes on the road. Rudi has crashed often enough and hard enough to know the consequences, and he doesn’t heal as quickly as he once did either. Just a personal choice and no criticism leveled at my friends who ride Harley’s.
Bertha runs great throughout the heat ordeal, just slightly hotter than her usual self, and Rudi throttles back as the heat of the afternoon settles in to save both Bertha some stress and his knobby tires some wear. They have 1,300 miles to go yet and running 5 mph slower is just fine on a long, hot day.
Bertha crosses her out-going track on I-29 near Sioux Falls, South Dakota and is in familiar country again, after nearly 13,000 miles of the journey. The day is a hot as promised and the duo turns east above Kansas City to avoid I-70 toward St. Louis. They choose Highway 36 for a less-traveled road and a more scenic one.
Remember that ice melting in your jacket pockets trick of Rudi’s. The “Law of Unintended Consequences” gets invoked due to the length of the ride today.
Melting ice doesn’t all turn into cooling vapor. Some remains water and it runs down into your lap and motorcycle seat where it does what pee in a baby’s diaper does … got Desitin?
Tomorrow is day 49, seven weeks on the road! Saddle sores or not, Rudi still has over 800 miles to go and it’s not getting any cooler as he heads farther south. Home is beckoning.
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