Thursday, April 8, 2010

Essential Motorcycle Gear - Appropriate Clothing for Your Climate

When I rode to Los Alamos back in the end of April, 2008, I made a major mistake in my planning. I forgot to see what the weather was like in New Mexico. Here in Phoenix, it was plenty warm. So, I wore my Joe Rocket Phoenix jacket, and threw a hoodie in my tank bag in case it got cooler at the higher elevations. I only brought my summer gloves.

Man, did I blow it. I was comfortable for about an hour on the way to Payson. Then I put my hoodie on and I was comfortable for maybe another hour.

Then it was 5 hours of Hell to Albuquerque. I was able to hide behind the tank bag a little bit. It blocked some of the wind, but not much. The road to Los Alamos was worse. There was still snow on the ground! On the ride back to Phoenix I stopped to buy a pair of gloves at a gas station because I just couldn't take anymore cold on my hands.

The good news is that I survived, got a story out of it, and learned a valuable lesson: wear/bring climate-appropriate riding clothes.

My current collection of gear is as follows: A leather jacket for the winter. I wear a fleece jacket instead of using the leather jacket's liner in the gold. Fleece, as most of you know, is absolutely awesome and I recommend it to everyone. Sadly, the zipper on my leather broke a couple weeks ago, and I'm going to have to find a seamstress to repair it. Right now I'm wearing my fleece under the Joe Rocket Phoenix jacket during the morning. Once it starts getting warmer, I don't need the fleece.

My Joe Rocket jacket is getting pretty funky, and I might have to replace it soon. I'm not sure what to replace it with, though. The Phoenix feels like you're not even wearing a jacket, so long as you're moving. Here in the desert, stopping during the summer is going to cause suffering no matter what you wear.

I have a small confession to make: I don't have proper riding pants. I would LOVE to get a pair, but I'm seeking protection that I can wear over my work pants without arriving at work a sweaty mess. And, barring that, I have no idea what will provide adequate protection and reasonable comfort during the summer here. If you've got suggestions, I'd love to hear them.

This summer, I plan on getting some of those high-tech polypropylene underwear and t-shirts that supposedly wick moisture away from the skin. Nothing is quite as gross as a clammy t-shirt in air-conditioning after a hot ride. In addition to those luxury items, I've heard good things about cooling vests and bandannas soaked in water and wrapped around one's neck.

Did I miss anything?