Holy mother of pooches, it's hot.
Not a great day for Motocross unless you like the stifling heat and experiencing the equivalent of snuggling up underneath a down comforter when it's 100 degrees. Where's my oxygen mask?
Helmet, gloves, boots, knee braces. What else is wrapped around you? Don't think for a second that flimsy sheet you call pants and jersey helps keep you cool because when it's hot and muggy nothing works. Especially when competing in a high exertion sport like Motocross while wearing tight fitting protective gear.
Oh and what about your bike? Poor little guy. Ready to blow a gasket at a moment's notice and huck-a-buck just to get you off the back. So, how do you keep from overheating while keeping your dirt bike running at optimal temperature? Lots of tricks exist from the obvious to the why didn't I think of that. Whatever steps you take, it's important to be wary of heat stroke because it's happened before with deadly consequences.
Some people handle the heat better than others but in either case it's up to the rider to decide whether their core body temperature is rising, and rising fast. If you feel sick, dizzy or have a headache it's time to check-out. It's always best to play it safe and even if you feel fine take these steps in-between Motos to ensure you're ready for the next race.
Go for a Swim
Bring a kiddie pool or even a garbage can, fill it with water and go for a swim, or at least a soak. Little else helps reduce your core body temperature faster than sitting in a cool bath of water. Even a lukewarm 80 degree temperature pool helps and if you're overheated it'll feel like stepping in a 65 degree pond.
Open an Umbrella
Some places - coughHangtowncough - it's hard to find shade. But imagine wearing all that gear sitting in the sun while waiting for the gate drop. So, grab an umbrella and get out of the direct sun. Even better, get your mechanic or another member of your pit crew to hold the umbrella so you can get your head in the race.
Wear a cooling vest during the parade lap or while waiting at the starting line. If you can remain cool for as long as possible you'll have a better race, reduce your chance of fatigue and prevent flaming out before Moto 2. Yes, you can wear a cooling vest during the race but it's just more bulk and once you start heating up you'll heat up the vest ultimately working it against you.
So obvious, but drink water and lots of it. If you're dehydrated and can't sweat that's when trouble begins and it doesn't take long to hit hard. Start drinking water long before the gate drops.
Cold water tends to absorb better plus it helps cool your core body temperature and tastes better. So, put some on ice but if you can't or forget don't sweat it, lukewarm water does the trick just fine and won't make that much of a difference in terms of re-hydration time. The point being, drink water, any temperature water to get hydrated.
Remove Your Gear
As soon as the Moto ends take off your gear. Get your helmet, gloves and boots off and expose your skin to the air - you'll immediately feel better. Fun fact: It's actually a myth that you lose most heat through your head. But a helmet certainly prevents a lot of heat from escaping contributing to a rising body temperature.
So Much Sweat
Once the sweat starts flowing the three-layer face foam on your goggles offers little defense against sweat in your eyes. This sounds a bit odd, but some riders tape a Kotex pad on the top of their goggles for added moisture protection and we have the photo to prove it.
Keeping Your Dirt Bike Cool
Vapor lock, an overheated engine and even boiling fuel ends a Moto faster than the gate drops. Don't cut corners with lubricants and on really hot days take note of these suggestions to keep you running all day.
Fill your radiator with fresh, top-of-the-line coolant. If we sell it, we like it so take your pick. Coolant is the single most important thing to prevent a dirt bike engine from overheating. If your engine overheats, dump the existing coolant - it's ruined - and add new fluid.
Put Your Gas on Ice
Boiling gas sounds scary but it won't ignite blowing you across the finish line however don't expect to keep riding if it happens. Boiling gas leads to vapor lock which occurs when the gas turns to vapor which shuts the engine off. Add some Reflect-A-GOLD to your gas tank to protect from the hot summer sun and in extreme cases some riders lay a wet towel over the gas tank or even remove the gas tank (filled) and soak it in an ice bath before the next Moto.
Be safe and ride cool this summer. Know your limits and if call it a day so you can ride another day if you feel sick or can't get cooled off.
For additional articles on riding dirt bikes during summer check out: