This past summer I had the pleasure of riding 52 days coast to coast across this wonderful country and there are many stories to tell and I’ll try to get to them sooner than later but this article is about rider comfort, protection and safety.
I had been planning this ride for the better part of two years and come 2018 I was off on my adventure, with all the planning done I figured I had all my bases covered with a great set of rain gear by *Scott, rain boot covers that are amazing at keeping my feet and pants cuffs dry, as well I have a heated jacket liner for if it gets cold, (a heated vest with sleeves) and heated gloves.
What I wasn’t prepared for was forty degree celsius heat! There was many places both in the maritimes as well as southern Ontario and the Prairies that heat became a real issue.
Riding into Regina during the mid-day heat it was a solid 40 degrees celsius out and I was bordering on heat stroke and had to find a place to cool off fast! Wetting down my bandana and laying it over my back and around my neck helped but I was down for a few hours in the park trying my best to stay in any shade I could find and consuming lots and lots of water with electrolyte tablets. The other environmental change I didn’t take into account was smoke from forest fires and there was lots, it started in Northern Ontario and continued into the prairies but in B.C. it was thick, I was coughing like I did when I smoked cigarettes 20 years ago.
After days of riding through extreme heat and smoke I’d had enough and obviously needed some more protective gear so after looking around online I picked up a *Vogmask which seem to be the best thing out there for protection from smoke, dust and other organic airborne particles, it’s rated a C99 and has a 1 way exhaust valve to prevent fogging of glasses or a visor, it’s a Canadian company so your hard earned dollars stay in Canada and no exchange rates plus I found the delivery to be fast. Find out more at www.vogmask.ca
The other two items I picked up are a cooling tee shirt and a cooling neck wrap, both of these have sections filled with polymer beads, you soak them in cold water for 2 minutes or more, lightly squeeze out the excess water and then wear them.
The action of evaporation causes heat transfer away from your body and helps to cool you down. The more air that passes over them the better they work so don't cover them up, the tee shirt needs a mesh jacket or one with air flow panels to work properly.
The tee shirt is made by a company called *Leatt, under COOLIT TEE unfortunately it seems that it’s been discontinued, Fort Nine as well as Revzilla were sold out but I found one at a bike dealership. I personally know someone who has used the same cooling tee shirt and she says it works wonders.
The other item is very inexpensive and can be found at Amazon for under $10 and that’s a polymer filled neck tie. The process is the same, soak it in cold water for a few minutes, gently squeeze out the excess then tie it around your neck, I found doing this with a plain cotton bandana worked pretty good but would dry out in 10 minutes, the polymer beads last about 2 hours for some lasting comfort. Cooling the blood flowing through the jugular vein can do wonders to help you feel cooler and start feeling right again plus it has a nifty flame pattern that also looks cool…go figure.
So it would seem that smoke from fires and hotter weather will be the norm for the future so why not have the right gear for it? We have rain gear and cold weather gear, it’s now time to carry smoke and heat protection too.
Ride safe, ride far.