Staying Cool, Part 1

CamelBak Classic

After reading through the Info Pack, we noted that hydration packs and cool vests were highly recommended. The start of the journey in Chicago should see some moderate temperatures (currently about 27°C) but as we head into week 2 and approach the Mojave Desert we expect temperatures to climb. We decided to avoid this trip in July/August when temperatures in this region hit their peak but even in June, daytime temperatures are likely to be between 32°C (90°F) and 38°C (100°F) or even higher. Travelling in an air-conditioned car or bus is not too bad but on a motorcycle you have a continuous blast of hot air. The motorcycle we have chosen is fitted with a screen which will reduce the wind blast (in Europe, such screens are used to keep the cold air off) but there is still a high risk of dehydration and heatstroke. This is why we have equipped ourselves with airflow helmets and mesh jackets. Even this won’t be enough. So, we are looking at two other items – CamelBak Hydration Packs and Cooling Vests. We’ll cover cooling vests in Part 2.

A CamelBak Hydration Pack is essentially a small insulated rucksack containing a plastic bladder that is filled with ice-cold water. A tube leads from the bladder out of the rucksack and secured near the mouth somewhere so that it is easily accessible for drinking purposes. These are often used by endurance sports people when out for extended periods in very hot weather. We haven’t quite figured out how best to operate these with a helmet on but it does mean that water is accessible while we ride without the need for frequent stops and digging bottles out of rucksacks. Of course, we will have coffee stops along the way but it is recommended under the conditions we will be in, to have a few mouthfulls of water every 15 minutes. This, in conjunction with the cooling vests, should see us through the hot stages of the trip.

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