Do you know how to protect yourself from dehydration?
Many motorcyclists don’t factor in the dangers of dehydration when going out on a long ride on a hot summer’s day. There could be many reasons for this, but one has to be that many riders don’t see riding their motorbike as a strenuous sports activity, like football or a workout at the gym for example. The fact is that many variables exist that affect motorcyclist while out on the road, and these can combine to make dehydration a serious and potentially lethal problem.
Why Dehydration Affects Motorcyclists
There are a variety of reasons why dehydration affects motorcyclists. One reason is the way the sun’s heat is absorbed by the asphalt you ride your motorbike over. This heat emanating from the ground will heat you up too, and the hot air rushing past your face can make you feel like someone has opened the door to a furnace. When you combine this with the affect the sun has on heating you up directly, dehydration can set in quick.
It’s a catch 22 when it comes to shedding layers to keep cooler over keeping them on to stop direct sunlight beating down on your skin. Keeping them on means you’ll feel hotter underneath your layers, and most likely sweat more. Taking them off exposes your skin to UV rays, and often you’ll feel cooler because of airflow around you. The problem is that even though you may feel cooler, the sunlight is literally sucking the moisture out of you and frying your skin.
Possible Consequences of Being Dehydrated
The consequences of dehydration while driving a motorcycle can range from simply having to stop for water to losing control of your motorbike and having an accident. The longer you leave it before hydrating yourself, the more likely you will suffer from severe heatstroke. Heat cramps in your legs and stomach are a common initial symptom of dehydration, and if you feel these you need to pull over fast, because they won’t stop until you get some water inside of you. Heat exhaustion is likely to set in if you don’t stop for water, and you’ll soon feel dizzy, weak, and tired. Your control of your motorbike will get steadily worse, and there is even the possibility that you will faint while riding. The final stage of severe dehydration is heatstroke, and at this point you will likely need to be taken to a hospital for recovery. You may feel intoxicated, and will experience a rapid heartbeat along with fast breathing. Riding will become very difficult so you may have already pulled over, but riding your bike is the least of your worries now. Confusion and blackouts are common, and if proper medical attention isn’t sought heat stroke can lead to death in rare cases.
How to Keep Hydrated While on a Ride
Keeping hydrated is best done by using natural methods, and you can find a list of the best foods and drinks to keep you hydrated at this WebMD article. Don’t try to combat the effects of dehydration and subsequent tiredness by taking cheap synthetic drugs that claim to keep you awake, like ephedrine for example. Buying this type of medicine online is not a good idea, because it leaves you susceptible to the danger of counterfeit medicines, which will only add to your problems while out on the road. If you really want to use something extra to stave off the effects of dehydration, then the benefits of hydration electrolyte replacement tablets could be of use to you. Adding a tablet to plain water will infuse it with added vitamins and electrolytes like sodium and potassium, without adding the sugar and carbohydrates found in many sports drinks.
Things to Remember
If you do find yourself suffering mild symptoms of dehydration, try soaking your first layer of clothing, like a thin cotton t-shirt, in water and putting in back on with your jacket over the top. Your body will absorb water as you ride, and it should make your body feel cooler. Also, use your common sense when out riding your motorcycle. Of course try to avoid riding during the hottest parts of the day, but if you do make sure you take regular stops along the way. Use these pit stops to get out of the sun, so sit in the shade and drink water. Dehydration can be a killer, so make sure you’re not a victim.
Lily writes on behalf of a healthcare provider. Prevention is definitely better than the cure, especially when it comes to a glass of water.