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Thread: Wanting to ride Death Valley National Park but not sure about the heat...

  1. #1
    Registered User amtoro's Avatar
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    Wanting to ride Death Valley National Park but not sure about the heat...

    My wife and I ride two up year-round in the south-eastern US except in the hottest part of the summer; we live in Atlanta, where the heat comes with high humidity which usually makes day-long rides very uncomfortable.

    Of those who have ridden Death Valley, has anyone been there this time of the year when the temps are already approaching 100?F? My boss lived in Arizona for many years and he says it will be comfortable on the bike as the air is very dry...

    Please send your comments, ideas or warnings this way; I want to hear as many opinions as possible.
    '04 R1150 RT

  2. #2
    BMW Rider
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    Heat in Death Valley

    Quote Originally Posted by amtoro View Post
    My wife and I ride two up year-round in the south-eastern US except in the hottest part of the summer; we live in Atlanta, where the heat comes with high humidity which usually makes day-long rides very uncomfortable.

    Of those who have ridden Death Valley, has anyone been there this time of the year when the temps are already approaching 100?F? My boss lived in Arizona for many years and he says it will be comfortable on the bike as the air is very dry...

    Please send your comments, ideas or warnings this way; I want to hear as many opinions as possible.
    Never been to Death Valley yet but I have ridden in Nevada and Mexico in 112 degree temps. Fun? Not really. Would I do it again? Yes! Make sure you bring plenty of water just in case you break down.

  3. #3
    rabid reader dbrick's Avatar
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    I've ridden to and around Death Valley every winter and spring since 1984. It certainly is drier than the southeast, but it's still hot. Here's Exhibit A

    The answer to your question depends on your gear (some stuff vents better than others, some worse), your habits (can you arrange something on the bike so you can drink liquids as you ride, are you willing to stop more often than you might in cooler weather), and your body's personal tolerance for heat.

    Because I don't like heat and when in it my discomfort monopolizes my attention, I try to avoid riding places where the temps >90?F. There are exceptions - transiting the Central or Sacramento Valleys to get to more interesting riding, for instance. But if I've a choice, I'll look for higher/cooler, or a different season.
    David Brick
    Santa Cruz CA
    2007 R1200R

  4. #4
    Registered User David13's Avatar
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    The heat never bothers me.
    But that's me.
    Other people starting whining and complaining at about 90 degrees.
    I never heard of weather where it's 'too hot to ride'.
    It is dry, but it is very warm.
    Some people think nothing of it, some people can't stand it.
    dc

  5. #5
    Rally Rat
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    heat

    Dry heat is a silent killer. You do not appear to sweat, but your body looses lots of water that immediately evaporates. An evaporative cooling vest works great, as well as a camelback. Keep hydrating, when you get thirsty, it is too late.

    Age and body condition caught up with me, I had to give up riding this year.

    By the way, I have 2 Silver Eagle Evaporative Cooling vests that I used in this type of climate. They are the old and new version, both work well. Anyone that wants to buy both of them for $50 plus shipping, drop me a line.

    Tom Barnhart
    Port ST Lucie, FL

  6. #6
    Registered User amtoro's Avatar
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    Thanks to all for your input; our gear is vented but not full mesh and considering that we were planning on renting the bike in Las Vegas (time limitations prohibit us from riding all the way from Atlanta), the cost, added to the likelihood of an uncomfortably hot and long two days in DV are making me think twice about taking two wheels this time. Maybe the next one.
    '04 R1150 RT

  7. #7
    Innkeeper
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    The devil had opened up the gates to hell

    Three years ago in July I rode to Lake Tahoe from Lake Havasu via Hwy 40 over to Hwy 395 through Lone Pine, Independence, Big Pine, Bishop, Mammoth Lakes and then to Tahoe. I departed at 3:30 am and was at 5000 ft altitude by 8:30 am.
    Leaving Tahoe decided to cross through Carson City and then through Fallon to take Hwy 95 through Las Vegas and then home. I left after breakfast approximately 9:30 am. Getting close to Death Valley it was already 110 degrees. From Scotty's junction to Indian Springs the temps were 116 to 118f.
    The speed and the heat literally burned the hair off my knuckles. I started with a dozen bottles of frozen water and they became so warm that even when they were poured over my head, there was little refreshment. Arriving in Las Vegas, I stopped at a casino just to feel the air conditioning. At home in Havasu my wife reported 111 degrees. Stayed in the casino until 9 PM fully hydrating myself, jumped on the bike (R1150 RT0) and rode the last 140 miles in temps that averaged 102 degrees.
    Would I do it again? YES! But would certainly be more prepared. Wear white cotton gloves, white painter pants and long sleeve wicking T-shirt along with a bandana for the neck, a camelback and cool vest. I believe in all the gear all the time but going through Death Valley again will find me wearing just my brain bucket.
    Good Luck

  8. #8
    Registered User David13's Avatar
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    I got to disagree with that one innkeeper. I think you need full gear; it keeps the sun off you. Once you stop and get into the sun, with your gear off, you will feel your body temperature going up.
    With the gear on, with an air flow jacket, you are in the shade and the air flows cool. That sun will bake your flesh in moments out there.
    When you stop, stop in the shade. Then get the gear off.
    Also, ice water is not a good idea. It tries to place your interior temperature too far away from your exterior temperature, which makes you feel the difference all the more.
    It never bothers me much. Maybe that way I will be able to, one day, cheat the devil.
    dc

  9. #9
    Registered User amtoro's Avatar
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    There is a lot of advanced gear for hot climates out there but being so humid where we live, I really do not have anything else but a "heat-out" head liner.

    I think the bottom line here is that it is possible to ride the Death Valley until late spring (or in the summer if you are really eager to push it), as long as the rider has light-colored full mesh gear, high volumes of drinking water reserves and cooling gear.

    I will either plan a trip for the middle of the fall or start saving for new/additional gear with very hot climates in mind. (maybe, like that, I'll end up enjoying it and even moving to a desert one day, jejeje)

    Open question: why is it so difficult to find men's pants and jackets in light colors? there are some light gray and white products for women but almost nothing for men.
    '04 R1150 RT

  10. #10
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    Just got back home from Mojave desert and Death Valley. Yes it was hot in the valley, topped out at 106F, but once you get higher up, the temps drop off to more reasonable levels. I used a 3L hydration pack to keep myself topped up, you do sweat a lot (your gear will get pretty funky), once you get moving, it does evaporate more and fools you into thinking your not losing water, but you are. We all rode in full gear all the time and did just fine. My gear is not mesh, but does have venting to help out, the worst was my boots which are Goretex and did not beathe nearly well enough.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  11. #11
    Rocky Bow BMW Riders #197 bogthebasher's Avatar
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    I rode through the park last year in the first two weeks of July and found it to be real hot for sure (especially for a Canuck). I rode with full gear (vented) with extra water in my tank bag. We were lucky that it wasn't unseasonably hot but it did reach 109F (as captured on the thermometer at Furnace Creek). By the time we popped out of the desert for the night a Baker CA I was pretty wrung out but did find room for a couple of cold beverages at the ginormous Greek restaurant on the Interstate there. I would go again but would pick a cooler month so I would be more comfortable taking in more of the sights off-the-pavement things to do. In any case though it was an awesome experience.
    Ken
    [2008 R1200RT (Biarritz Blue) - Mine]
    [2007 R1200RT (Sand Biege) - Hers]

  12. #12
    IBA #44567 Ken F's Avatar
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    I am really amazed that no one thus far has mentioned L.D.Comfort underwear!

    Agreed that you need full gear, and as odd as it may sound you do not want mesh. You can wet your underwear sleeves and to front of your torso before putting on your jacket.
    Zip the zipper all the way up to your neck, and open your sleeves to allow the air to flow up them. Bingo you have an evaporative cooler and the temp inside your jacket will be cooler by 15- 20 degrees at highway speeds.
    I've found that one soaking will generally last about 1/2 hour, and a 1/2 litre bottle of water to rewet yourself will get you on down the road. It's like having A/C on a motorcycle!

    It's pretty good stuff for summer rallys too. I stayed plenty cool walking around at Bloomsburg with it. People looked at me a little strange for pouring water all over my long sleeved shirt though.

    Ken
    IBA #44567
    "Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the the universe."
    -Albert Eienstein

  13. #13
    Registered User amtoro's Avatar
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    We just arrived back in Las Vegas after spending the past two days traveling from here north on US95 to Beatty, NV and to Death Valley via Hells Gate all the way to Independence, CA; I think the decision was appropriate as we were able to carry lots of food and water with us, film and photograph in great measure and in general, discover for the first time this amazing region of the country. We also drove as high as possible into the Sierra Nevada from independence towards Mt Williamson and discovered the contrasts between these and the Inyo mountains just in front.

    After spending the night, we drove back to Stovepipe Wells and changed route south towards Badwater Basin to continue to LV. The temperature in the valley was 112 yesterday and we had 115 today in Badwater. I would have pushed beyond my limits if we had rented a bike.
    '04 R1150 RT

  14. #14
    Registered User dave39's Avatar
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    I'm headed to DV with some friends this weekend for a couple days. The forecast looks pretty good so far.

  15. #15
    172526
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    No idea about death valley but FYI here is a good article on riding in the heat. Supports full gear over vented at temp over 90

    http://www.ironbutt.com/ibmagazine/I..._62-66_Hot.pdf

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