Gear choice for crossing the desert in June

Discussion in 'Riding Suits' started by John Z, Jun 19, 2016.

  1. John Z

    John Z Premier Member

    I've read Tom Austin's article in the Iron Butt magazine concerning hot weather LD riding...
    I'm doing a BBG/50CC which will take me across the I-10/I-8 corridor later this week. Its forecast to be HOT, to the tune of ~115° or so.
    I will have a choice of a mesh Tourmaster jacket, or an Aerostich Transit (leather) jacket. I also have a pair of LD Comfort sleeves.
    I'm not sure weather to wear the Transit with the sleeve cuffs open, or the mesh with an under armor short sleeve shirt with the LD sleeves?
    Thanks for the advice.
  2. Steve Bell

    Steve Bell Premier Member

    John, I completed my 50cc last July and can totally relate to the heat. A couple of suggestions. Is there a way you can adjust your starting time that would put you in NM and AZ in the dark? It is much cooler at the night. When i ran my 50cc I hit AZ and NM in the dark and heat wasn't an issue. Secondly, wear your LD comfort gear. It is a game changer. I don't have the sleeves but have tried them with them wet and under a jacket, it is cool temperature wise. I really like a mesh jacket, but in extreme heat I wear my Klim overland jacket and zip it all up. I wet my LD comfort shirt and even put some ice in my jacket. When I am riding, I stick my hand out so the air goes up my sleeve and it is an instant air conditioner. Very important to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

    Good luck and let us know how it goes

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  3. kwthom

    kwthom IBA Member

    Let's revisit that summary that Tom wrote...

    This is incredibly accurate; experienced this today.

    You will want to cover yourself using the leather jacket *and* have the LD sleeves in use *before* you hit the threshold temperatures.

    The rainy part of summer is just beginning to get started; the temperatures might back off a bit, but you'll get to enjoy the desert version of humidity.

    ...and with a little luck, a bit of rain.

    Good luck on the ride!
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2016
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  4. Patrick Ford

    Patrick Ford Premier Member IBR Finisher

    The mesh jacket is a no go. I wear my Darien on the hottest days with the airflow cut off unless the LDs are wet or I have a bag of ice tucked inside the jacket. Tom's article is right on regarding survival in the desert heat. I attended a desert survival course at 29 Palms put on by a Park Ranger who trains Seals and Rangers in desert survival. You need to keep the heat out with clothing rather than letting the hot wind blast dehydrate you. He told us if you were going to sit in the shade at 120' the more you could cover your self the better. He used an example of a military overcoat, the heavy wool ones, as being what he would choose if available. He had figures as to how much water you would go through just sitting in the shade but I can't remember for sure the amounts, a liter and hour I think. Several years ago I rode from Tehachapi to Havasu in July, and it was cooking hot, I had a 2 gal water jug and I sucked it dry as I was going through Needles, without stopping to pee.
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  5. Scott Miller

    Scott Miller Premier Member

    I'm curious about the data supporting a mesh jacket being a no go. A good comparison study would be to measure the dehydration rate on the same person in the desert shade at the same temperature with and without the wool coat on.

    It has been a few years, but I have ridden across the western US in August wearing a MotoPort Kevlar Airmesh jacket over an evaporative cooling vest and found it to be an effective system. My previous (first) experience was with a Revit lined jacket which, even with the vents open and wetted LD baselayer was unbearable in the PA summer. As long as you were moving it was bearable, but coming to a stop, or riding behind a full fairing was so uncomfortable that I decided to change to the unlined Kevlar mesh jacket. I did not try the lined Revit in desert riding, but I am sure I don't want to.

    The MotoPort sales-pitch on the disadvantages of lined motorcycle gear also sounds pretty convincing.

    My current gear is the same MotoPort, which is now 6 years old. For the IBR I was not planning on investing in another suit. But, I realize I am now older (wiser?) and sure don't want to wind up withering away in the Mojave next summer :eek:

    Are there any IBR participants (past or future) who use the MotoPort (CyclePort) mesh gear successfully in high temps? If so, what system do you use?
  6. Patrick Ford

    Patrick Ford Premier Member IBR Finisher

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  7. Scott Miller

    Scott Miller Premier Member

    Great article. Thanks for posting the link (or re-posting, as I had not noticed the link previously). Since an air-mesh jacket works below 93 F, absent owning other gear, an evaporative liner (or wind breaker?) combined with LD undergarments should achieve the desired effect.
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
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  8. kwthom

    kwthom IBA Member

    It could...

    The desired effect is enough air space between your body and the outer garment to allow airflow - inputs at your arms, outputs preferably away from your jacket/helmet interface.

    I'd consider trying a shorter ride with the gear you have, then make a determination on it's ability to do what you'd like for it to do.
  9. ravenranger

    ravenranger 22798 now 580 Premier Member IBR Finisher

    +1 on not wearing mesh in the desert. Works great back east but not so much out west.

    I had the good fortune of riding last week through the desert (Tucson to Reno via Vegas and Death Valley, then Reno to Denver, then Denver back to Tucson). I wore my First Gear Kilimanjaro jacket and First Gear TPG Escape pants.

    Fortunately I timed my ride so it was only about 110° at the hottest so I didn't have to resort to the bag of ice technique. I did wet down my shirt and used the evaporative effect by opening the wrist vents and the bottom of the front zip on the jacket once the full brunt of the afternoon hit.

    As for under-garments, coolmax, LDcomfort, or other similar wicking garments are very good. I had a coolmax t-shirt, coolmax tights, and a Royal Robbins Expedition Light long-sleeve shirt on under my gear and it wasn't bad except when at a dead stop at traffic lights.

    I also was staying hydrated by drinking about a liter of electrolyte enhanced water every hour.
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2016
  10. Jon Kerr

    Jon Kerr Premier Member

    I'm no expert in this arena, but as a physician and a guy who loves to ride in the desert (I live in Utah), here are my thoughts for what it's worth (I have done multiple long distance, multiple day desert rides, multiple cross-country, Mexican Baja, death valley (one of my favorite national parks to ride--in fact I just got back from an 8 day 7000 mile ride which included DV this weekend), and extended hot weather rides. I've ridden in everything from T-shirts to mesh to leather and Aerostich. Assuming a normal state of health, the day of the ride isn't usually the issue (most people's metabolism can compensate for a short (5-6 hour) state of dehydration), however, given longer riding times and extended heat in conjunction with wind from riding, everyone will dehydrate. It's the day after the ride or later in the day that can really hurt you (or when you start to feel the effects of dehydration). If you are out of shape, have medical problems, diabetes, obesity, kidney problems, smoke, etc., then this becomes even more serious for you!!! You are hydrating not only for the now, but also for later - to ensure you do not hit a threshold which is difficult to bounce back from. What this means is wearing a mesh jacket FEELS good while you ride (in that kind of heat), but it leads to dehydration and will cause weakness, fatigue and can lead to electrolyte disturbances down the road. Protecting yourself with a better jacket leads to a better state of hydration because it is easier to maintain fluid balance. A certain level of sweat is appropriate and even necessary to cool one down. Maximize this with controlled wind flow through your jacket and LD comfort system. Exposing your sweaty body to the motorcycle-driven wind simply continues to wick away the moisture and doesn't allow your body to utilize the sweat to evaporate and cool your body appropriately. The human body has not yet evolved to include the motorcycle in its evaporative cooling process (yet).

    Wear good protection and drink (water, not coffee, not soda, not beer). Cool down with water/ice inside your jacket/pants.
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  11. cacomly

    cacomly Premier Member IBR Finisher

    I can speak firsthand about dehydration. I was dumb enough to not be wearing a jacket during the 2014 Butt Lite and on day 2 in Oklahoma I stopped for a bonus near Ft Sill and almost fell over when I tried to stand. It was a 15 minute or so ride to the closest fuel stop and I got there just in time as it was all I could to do to stand and maintain my balance plus my vision was affected. It took 30 - 45 minutes in a/c, 2 quarts of Gatorade plus food to get me to where I could function, and 2 days to feel good. You don't want to be in that condition!
  12. Patrick Ford

    Patrick Ford Premier Member IBR Finisher

    Backing up Chris would be my Daughter Rebecca Martinez who spent the night of day 10 of the 2015 IBR in the emergency room instead of running to the finish. She had been drinking and not eating which caused her sodium level to drop to critical levels. You have to eat and drink water, it won't do to just drink lots of water.
  13. Patrick Ford

    Patrick Ford Premier Member IBR Finisher

    I didn't know this until the e r doc but when your sodium level gets critical you.have to bring it up very slowly. Too fast and you can suffer permanent central nervous system damage.
    When Becky said.she was sick we stopped at a truck stop. She went in and laid down and drank 3.5liters of Gatoraid. Behavior was strange and it wasn't long till she was in an ambulance headed for a hospital.
    This stuff is.nothing to take.lightly.
    It's called hyponatremia, if I spelled right
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  14. Jon Kerr

    Jon Kerr Premier Member

    That's correct, hyponatremia. It means low sodium. It can be brought about by drinking too much water. YOu have to be careful about your intake. This is why extreme athletes will utilize electrolyte tabs.
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  15. Skidoo

    Skidoo Not Right Rider Premier Member

    Some interesting information listed above.

    I have completed numerous 50CC+ crossing here in Australia and the temp on one crossing was verified at 50 degrees C (122f) and numerous other crossings in excess of 45 degrees C

    My method and yes in the early days I miscalculated badly and paid the piper.
    • Run mesh upper
    • Use camel back and consume a minimum of 3 litres water between fuel stops, approx 550k (350 miles)
    • Consume 1 x electrolyte drink (approx 700 mls) at each fuel stop. If extreme temp up to 2 may be consumed
    • Monitor urine colour/output. This is a late warning but a good guide on how you're managing it.
    • Last crossing started using a cooling vest in peak of day that did make a cooling improvement to comfort
    I have never used ice, for no specific reason but have poured water down back etc.

    Hydration is a real issue, on some crossings I have been on exceptionally small bikes and my MA is close to 100kph (62mph) exposing me to heat for substantially longer periods which slightly changes my strategy.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
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    KEN PHENIX Premier Member IBA Member

    My hot weather riding experience pales compared to you guys but I learned my lesson nonetheless. I have an Olympia textile/mesh onesie that is great for short commutes either over my street clothes or stand alone. But I made the mistake of wearing it on an undocumented stroll around central Texas in the heat of summer. Daily highs reached 111f and no amount of soaking or hydration could offset the constant hot air blast. I understand now that directed air circulation is better than unfettered air flow. But stop and go traffic can be absolutely sweltering. My solution which came totally by accident was gear with removable thermal AND Gore Tex liners. For some reason there aren't many on the market. Mine is the ReV'it! Defender. It is lighter without the liners and breathes better when stopped or off the bike. If rain is anticipated I keep the Gore Tex liner in my pants and I can quickly pop in the jacket liner roadside when needed. I suppose it's cheaper to produce gear with the Gore Tex bonded to the outer layer.

    I have an evaporative cooling vest too. I know it's effectiveness is diminished by high humidity but it's nothing like hot dry air through mesh.
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  17. JD Darden

    JD Darden Premier Member

    I also travel at night, with Clearwaters on max power if there's no incoming traffic. My hottest experience in heat is only about 107, but I find I feel less exhausted when riding with a Klim jacket vs my mesh gear. And lots of water , as others have said.
  18. Patrick Ford

    Patrick Ford Premier Member IBR Finisher

    Half a bag of ice in your jacket with restricted airflow in the really hot temps. Works for me but YRMV.
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  19. kwthom

    kwthom IBA Member

    So, here we are nearly a year later; this topic is as useful today as it was lat year.

    @John Z How about a review...

    Were you successful in your 50cc/BBG?

    What gear did you go with - and how did your choice work out for not only the hot weather condition, but overall on the entire ride?
  20. John Z

    John Z Premier Member

    I was successful in my bid for the 50cc/BBG. I simply wore an under armor shirt under my Aerostich Transit jacket. My ace in the hole was a 1 gallon insulated cooler that I have mounted to the right passenger foot peg. In addition to providing cold drinking water for the entire trip, I was able to suck in a mouthful of water and spit it down my chest from time to time, which cooled me considerably.
    I rode through several hours of 108° temps through NM, AZ, and CA during the trip. It was remarkable that when I would open my helmet (Schuberth C-3) to drink from the tube, I noticed that it was probably 15 degrees cooler inside my helmet.
    Overall it was an uneventful ride for me, however my riding buddy was wearing a half helmet and glasses instead of a helmet. The day after we arrived in San Diego, he had to seek medical attention for a serious case of windburn to his eyes.

    John Z
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