Thursday, February 6, 2014

10 things learnt touring the hottest city on Earth

Adelaide, South Australia. Recently named the hottest city on Earth after it recorded three consecutive days above 43.5C. As luck would have it, this was exactly I to ride through the guts of it with a group of mates.

Here are ten things I learnt from that experience.

1. White helmets help reduce overheating

This is incredible, I feel like I have had the epiphany to end all epiphanies. I knew I bought a white helmet for a reason but I have struggled a little with it sometimes thinking I must look pretty try hard or something, I dont know, how vain right?

  But it came into it's own during ADR 8 when we travelled through 3 consecutive 40 degree+ days. It dawned on me that the colour is obviously a great reflector and this had a positive overall affect on my core temperature.

My head was definitely, amazingly, the coolest part of my whole body - in these intense conditions. The Shoei GT-Air helmet is that good a helmet anyway, but trust me, if you are touring around Australia in the summer months, get yourself a white helmet. Then spin around in it taking photos at every turn and make a gif out of it, like this;


2. Wet t-shirts are like great air con

Steve told me once ages ago that in the extremest heats he takes his t-shirt off (plays with his moobs momentarily) wets it under the tap, then puts it on under a jacket. So I tried it and was amazed. It's like full on air conditioning for your upper body. S

o much welcome relief and added endurance (in terms of minutes, this heat is killer) to a long punishing ride. I do wonder though if it can have a negative affect? Could this instant freezing even cause heat exhaustion?
Jumping in large rivers also works

Therein lies the short lived problem, because there is no real thermostat, you are wet and in riding in hot wind. Would be really interested in hearing from others on this subject. 15 minutes down the road and you're dry again anyway...

The solution: get a cooling vest next time.

3. Really old doesn't mean really slow

A painful lesson learnt pegged to the tank in top gear, and a vintage red plate GSX R-1100 (pre-85?) goes sailing smoothly past me as if standing still. I gotta remember those literbikes have two more cylinders than me, but you should remember before making any assumptions, that just because it's old, doesn't mean it can't go like stink.

4. Rest and remove clothing

While touring in intense heat you better have a good rest plan, and a plan to stay hyrdated. A good point to make is about 100kms in above 40 degree weather. Stop, take your jacket, gloves and boots off. Air that shit out. Cool down while your drinking. Then gear up and get going again. Rest, hydrate, keep going.

5. Hydrate every 100kms rule of thumb

I just said that didn't I, but it's a valid point so I'll say it again. Rest every 100km and take in plenty of water. I made it through a 600ml bottle every stop using this rule of thumb, and I survived.

6. Doing crunches standing on the pegs can reduce leg fatigue

Okay I'm going out on a limb here but unless you have travelled these roads you can't really understand just how boring, flat and straight they are. So I made a game up. On the deadest straights with no oncoming traffic, I'd crunch up, and down, every half hour or so to keep the blood pumping up and down my legs, into my roasted toes. The Multi has a great standing position with almost neutral wind buffering when perched up on the pegs, so this is going to really depend on your ride, but if you can, try it, couple up downs while cruising along carefully can help those rusty knees seizing up.

7. Don't wear shorties

Or this happens in a matter of hours. It's like a third degree burn from hot oil. Luckily I prepared another set of long gloves earlier which had better ventilation anyway. Lesson: always wear weather appropriate gloves, and prepare for a change in conditions if touring.

8. Riding in groups has advantages and disadvantages

Like the time I wanted to scream when someone said when is the next fuel stop for the upteenth time, after just being at a fuel stop 30kms ago. Compare that to the time when I hallucinated I was riding a giant marshmallow unicorn through heat fatigue, when Bully and Murphy 'buzzed the tower' either side of me, snapping me back into reality. Advantages and disadvantages. I am of the school that tries many things at least once, how else can you know if you like it otherwise? I like all kinds of riding and while this was a challenge I still really enjoyed the ride and the things I learned.

9. Backpacking accommodation means no towel included

Here's an old farts tip and all you young-uns probably know it, but Backpacker accommodation usually means 'Towels not included'. I'm used to cheap hotel accommodation which always comes with a towel of some sort, so I never packed one.

Found out it costs an extra $2 deposit down on a towel that reminded me of a face-towel I had at home. Lesson learned: don't stay in backpackers.

10. Don't tailgate cages on freeways

I had a moment where I was manically tailing this cage that had overtook me, ridiculous I had gotten angry and thought tail gaiting was the solution. I thought I was drafting also, ya know catching a bit of a free ride from his tail wind, when Bully pulled me up and motioned pull back, get out of the heat and the fumes.

We talked about it later, pretty obvious really that by sitting in his draft I was in his heat and his exhaust trail. What a stupid thing to do period, let alone in 44 degree heat.

Take it easy, sit back from the traffic, you're on a bike, you have the power to pass with ease when it's safe to do so, don't sit up cagers butts, no one likes it.

Learned anything different in large groups, or solo rides in the intense heat?