by Victor Wanchena
This month we have had a stretch of truly warm weather. Mind you, I’m not complaining in the least. In just a couple of months a chill will return to the air and not long after that… well, you know what happens. Hot weather riding poses a few challenges to riders, not the least of which is staying cool. Despite this I stay fully geared up regardless of the temperature. And does that get the looks! I really don’t care being painfully aware of what happens when you ride without gear, but the reactions of people to a fully geared rider on a 95-degree day is high comedy.
One fine July day I was seated in a restaurant with a couple of friends, our jackets and helmets scattered about the booth, when the waitress approached and asked, rather sheepishly, “Can I ask a personal question?” I piped up immediately, curious where this question was going. “Certainly.” “Aren’t you guys hot in them big jackets? It’s like 95 degrees out.” My cohorts and I all turned to look at one another, whose turn was it to field this one. I guess it was my turn. So I gave her the whole spiel. I explained evaporative cooling effects, safety concerns, etc. At one point I felt like I was teaching a high school physics class; the only thing missing was the overhead projector and charts. I n the end she simply nodded, confirming that absolutely none of what I said had was understood. Just give me your order please. If I wanted the Mr. Science talk I’d watch the Discovery Channel.
Earlier in the year I found myself traveling across South Dakota on a hot and dusty evening. I pulled into a small gas station, just prior to closing. I filled up and went in to use the restroom. The whole time I was under the watchful eye of the cashier. She obviously thought I was a deranged lunatic, recently escaped from government custody for wearing my Power Ranger space suit on such a warm evening. As I walked to the counter she asked, “Ain’t it a little hot to be wearing a jacket?” “Well, I am on a motorcycle,” I replied, a little too tired to go into another impromptu science seminar. “Well that’s kinda crazy,” she said, obviously her finger on the red panic button under the counter. I was too beat to explain. “I suppose.” Her demeanor began to change. Maybe the homicidal crackpot struggling to keep his body temperature above 105 degrees wasn’t out to get her. “ I have an uncle that does all sorts of crazy things. When he’s drunk he eats junebugs. It’s really gross, he crunches them and everything.” I wasn’t sure where this came from. Was she impling that if I keep riding in my riding suit I would eventually go batty and begin snacking on bugs? Or was she just trying to find some common ground with the nutty rider standing in her store? I’m really not sure.
For me, riding is about being out in the sun, wind, rain and heat. But I don’t compromise my safety because it’s warm out. For me it’s really much easier to clean up sweat than blood.