Monday, April 12, 2010

Desert Riding and the Issue of Water

Heat has returned to Phoenix. This afternoon, I hate to admit, we had to turn the air conditioner on so we could work in the back room of our house. Our home has a western exposure, and the bedrooms turn into ovens in the afternoon.

Yesterday, we went out for a quick walk along a trail in the desert (I hate to call it hiking) with some friends. I brought two liters of water in my backpack. Lady Luck and I managed to drink half of it while we were out walking.

The desert sucks moisture right out of you. You lose water from breathing, sweating, and I think some of it just up and leaves. Dehydration is a real danger, especially for bikers and other people stuck exerting themselves in the sun.

To be honest, once the peak heat of summer hits, I don't ride much unless I'm commuting or it's dark out. On quick little rides, one can sort of get away with not having a water supply. It's stupid, but I've gotten away with not carrying water because water is readily available at either end of the trip. I'm planning to do some motorcycle camping this summer, and a long trip up to Colorado in the end of June. Those will be significantly longer rides. I'm not going to be able to avoid the heat, it seems.

As a man with, uh, a very active cooling system, I'm going to need significant amounts of water handy to keep from getting dehydrated. I've been considering investing in some dromedary bags. I suspect a few of you use them and maybe even like them. Which ones are well-suited to motorcycling? Do you carry them on your back, or in a tank bag?


7 comments:

mq01 said...

personally i dig camelbacks. i also have a hydration vest now since a friend experienced heat stroke last year. and...i freeze bottled water. throw a few in the bags and you have frosty cold water available in the heat :)

kathy said...

Haven't tried a camelback personally but every summer think about getting one. FL summers are brutal with the humidity. I like to pack my insulated lunch bag full of frozen bottles (as mq01 suggests) in my bag for longer trips. You just never know when that packed water will come in handy. When I had the saddle bags, I always kept a couple bottles of water in them. When my husband had his accident a few years ago, I was glad I had some extra water with me. It helped cool him down while waiting for the ambulance. Now that I've gone bagless, I have to remember to toss a couple of bottles into my travel bag. mq is right on - heat stroke is serious, especially when motorcycling.

Gary France said...

Ok, you have made me think that I need to take water and dehydration more seriously than I have so far during my upcoming tour. You see, coming from the UK with its rain, snow, fog we don't get much call for such thoughts....

I get the part about carrying water, even frozen water, in my saddlebags. I have now read quite a few times about riders using hydration vests, but I know nothing about them - gonna start searching the web right now....

James said...

Being fairly new to Southern California, I've been thinking about this same issue and decided to go with a Camelback. I probably won't use it on most rides, but definitely will whenever I go exploring the deserts around here. There were some cheap ones on REI's outlet site.

David said...

I have a Wally World knock off of a Camelback. Works great for me on all kinds of rides, short or long. Since I live in the desert northwest (Eastern Washington) and grew up in southern Idaho, I understand the heat and the need to stay hydrated. If you start feeling thirsty it's too late, you've already lost over a pint of fluid.

I wear my pack under my leather jacket. Every time I stop I top it off with ice from the convenience store (Most of the time they won't charge you). This keeps the water cold and fresh.

Oh, and when you take a drink, remember to BLOW into pipe when done. This cleans it out and puts the water back into the main pack. Then the next drink is cold, not the warm water in the hose.

Dave T.

David said...

Forgot to mention, since I don't have bags on the 'strom, I usually strap a small cooler on the rack to hold extra gloves, etc. I also pack a couple bottles of extra water. Not only for me, but for those people I ride with who forget to bring any. No rider left behind means keeping everyone on two wheels and healthy. :)
Dave T

Canajun said...

Interesting conversation. Like Gary, we don't have too much concern here about heat stroke or dehydration (you can't go 5 miles without coming across a lake or stream if you really get thirsty - or even for a quick dip if it's not too cold!)

Just goes to show the wide range of riding conditions here - sometimes all in the same day.