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Old 03-17-2010, 10:47 PM   #1
alien_sporez
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Houston summer riding

I'm getting ready for my first summer of riding in Houston. I've lived here for 10 years (originally from Canada), and I'm finally getting back on a bike for the first time since moving here.

I would like to commute on my bike for a bunch of reasons, but mainly just to get some seat time. However, I have to take into account that when I get to work I need to be in business-casual attire. I absolutely intend to wear full gear every single day (usually a textile mesh jacket and pants, helmet, gloves and boots).

So, I guess the first question is:

Does anyone out there use a phase-change cooling vest like these: http://www.glaciertek.com/ and if so, how are they while riding and do they keep you cool?

How well does textile/mesh gear work in the hot/humid summer weather to keep you cool? Is there a color that keeps you cooler (white or silver, vs black) or is that really irrelevant for a mesh jacket.

Do any of you lane-split in order to keep moving, and therefore keep cool? (Yes, I know lane-splitting is illegal in TX).

Anyways, opinions and experiences of Houston riders would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-17-2010, 10:56 PM   #2
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The mesh jackets actually keep you a little cooler than no jacket at all, but only if you are moving. They keep the sun off of you and circulate air, but if you stop it's like a sauna so split lanes if you feel safe doing so. I have never seen those vests you mentioned they look really cool...no pun intended. Would probably be helpful during the hottest of summer months. I wear all the gear all the time as well EXCEPT in august. I just can't do it. If I'm driving in traffic I just try to avoid the freeway if I can and just wear a helmet and gloves with the visor open and sunglasses to keep the wind out of my eyes.
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:08 PM   #3
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Houston summers are brutal. Especially at red lights! Mesh at the absolute minimum, but its still hotter than . I used to take a quick hop in the shower with all my clothes on so it'd cool me down on the road. By the time I got to work it was just hot hot steam water on me. Stepping into the air conditioning felt pretty good after that. Never ever squid.
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:13 PM   #4
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+1 mesh jacket
lighter colors will help
look for some hot weather clohes in the outdoor shops, like REI, gander mtn, and academy. there is a material, which i cant remember the name of, but it is lightweight, feels kinds like nylon, and will keep you cool and dry.

take more breaks from riding. whenever you fill up at the pump, go in and drink some water and cool off for a while. exhaustion will put you in the same spot as a drunk driver or a 1 month experienced squid on an r6 in a group ride.

protect your eyes, too. i usually carry around a couple of spare visors in the summer. i have the smoke tint if it is light out, and in the visor pouch is the clear and mirrored. so that you can swap if need be. and go to a clear once the sun sets.

if you are commuting to work and the sun is up, pack your work clothes or have a spare outfit at the job, unless you are ok with being nasty sweaty at work...
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:17 PM   #5
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oh, and dont listen to people who tell you not to wear gear in the summer down here. without a helmet, you have a lot less eye protection, protection from the sun, or other elements. the jacket will of course do its best to save your hide if you fall, but keep it zipped or it could not go well. get either a mesh jacket or vented jacket with flaps or slits you open up to allow air into the jacket. you will sunburn pretty quickly on a summer ride. bring sunscreen or at least make sure to apply before you ride.
and dont forget to hydrate.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:32 AM   #6
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I have never seen those vests you mentioned they look really cool...no pun intended. Would probably be helpful during the hottest of summer months. I wear all the gear all the time as well EXCEPT in august. I just can't do it. If I'm driving in traffic I just try to avoid the freeway if I can and just wear a helmet and gloves with the visor open and sunglasses to keep the wind out of my eyes.
I think those phase change vests are what cops wear when they're directing traffic during the summer, because they'll be out there standing in the sun and not even sweating and they always look 'bulky' which I just assumed was the kevlar... but they must be using these kinds of vests. I'm thinking it might be an absolute necessity for July - September. They're a little bit spendy, but the alternative (being hotter than satan's ) isn't terribly appealing.

Quote:
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+1 mesh jacket
lighter colors will help
look for some hot weather clohes in the outdoor shops, like REI, gander mtn, and academy. there is a material, which i cant remember the name of, but it is lightweight, feels kinds like nylon, and will keep you cool and dry.

take more breaks from riding. whenever you fill up at the pump, go in and drink some water and cool off for a while. exhaustion will put you in the same spot as a drunk driver or a 1 month experienced squid on an r6 in a group ride.

protect your eyes, too. i usually carry around a couple of spare visors in the summer. i have the smoke tint if it is light out, and in the visor pouch is the clear and mirrored. so that you can swap if need be. and go to a clear once the sun sets.

if you are commuting to work and the sun is up, pack your work clothes or have a spare outfit at the job, unless you are ok with being nasty sweaty at work...
Really good tips, thanks! Actually, since I start work at 6:30am, I might be able to get away with a mesh suit over my work clothes since my commute would be all highway (my house is 2 blocks from the Westpark, and my office is right at 610/Braeswood). Going home at 4:30 I think you're right, changing into non-work clothes for the ride home might help the cooling, and keeping a spare dress shirt/pants in my office just in case my ride in doesn't go as well as I planned.

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oh, and dont listen to people who tell you not to wear gear in the summer down here. without a helmet, you have a lot less eye protection, protection from the sun, or other elements. the jacket will of course do its best to save your hide if you fall, but keep it zipped or it could not go well. get either a mesh jacket or vented jacket with flaps or slits you open up to allow air into the jacket. you will sunburn pretty quickly on a summer ride. bring sunscreen or at least make sure to apply before you ride.
and dont forget to hydrate.
I will never ever EVER ride without full gear closed. Seen too much of what happens when you don't, and I have walked away from crashes without a scratch (except maybe being a bit sore) because I did. I've seen the scuff marks on the back of my helmet after a spill, and heard the crack of the plastic hitting the concrete in my ears and realized, "If I hadn't had my lid on, that would have been my skull smacking the pavement"

Last edited by alien_sporez; 03-18-2010 at 05:34 AM.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:43 AM   #7
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Oh and to answer your questions, I've never tried that vest, but if you have to be minty fresh at working give it a shot and post up results for someone else that may want to get one. As far as mesh vs textile, most people I've known that have wrecked in mesh swear they'll upgrade to textile. Most that have wrecked in textile swear to upgrade to leather. Safer=thicker=hotter=sweatier. I'm fairly sure white will be cooler, then silver/grey, then black is the hottest. But that's just a simple assuption.
Personally I only lane split to get out of tight spots, if a car is coming over on me, if there is heavy accident or constructoon traffic, if I'm stuck next to some idiot driver in a rush or some teen chick on her phone texting. I do it enough to be ready if I have to save my hide, but not where it becomes an everyday riding habit. I've heard and seen some pretty bad results from unnecessary or careless lane splitting.
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Old 03-18-2010, 07:34 AM   #8
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just drink lots of water and make sure to get plenty of salts.

I get the runs during the summer if I don't take in enough salts. it was hard for me to figure out why, just trust me.

Your going to be hot, your body will adjust, and cold beer when you get home will be so very very good.

personally, I take an electrolyte supplement called electrolyte stamina.

And your going to need non wrinkle slacks. Hit the road before sunrise. I wear a nice hiking boot, gortex lined, dark brown so it fits in with balck or brown slacks.

I don't lane split just to keep moving. Bike is water cooled.

OH yea, on the way home when it's really hot, just poor a liter of water on yourself right before you mount up. It's like free sweat. trust me it helps.

wash your gear every few months in the bath tub, it's gonna get stinky.
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:55 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alien_sporez View Post
I'm getting ready for my first summer of riding in Houston. I've lived here for 10 years (originally from Canada), and I'm finally getting back on a bike for the first time since moving here.

I would like to commute on my bike for a bunch of reasons, but mainly just to get some seat time. However, I have to take into account that when I get to work I need to be in business-casual attire. I absolutely intend to wear full gear every single day (usually a textile mesh jacket and pants, helmet, gloves and boots).

So, I guess the first question is:

Does anyone out there use a phase-change cooling vest like these: http://www.glaciertek.com/ and if so, how are they while riding and do they keep you cool?

How well does textile/mesh gear work in the hot/humid summer weather to keep you cool? Is there a color that keeps you cooler (white or silver, vs black) or is that really irrelevant for a mesh jacket.

Do any of you lane-split in order to keep moving, and therefore keep cool? (Yes, I know lane-splitting is illegal in TX).

Anyways, opinions and experiences of Houston riders would be greatly appreciated.
I just spent last weekend in jail for lane splitting (at about 10mph) so I'd recommend against it...
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:58 AM   #10
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where at?
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Old 03-18-2010, 08:59 AM   #11
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I have a bunch of the wrinkle resistant khaki slacks and I can wear polo shirts. So, generally, I wore underarmor under my textile gear, packed my work clothes and fresh undies and used a bunch of deodorant. Now that there is a shower at my work I am even less worried.
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:00 AM   #12
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I skip pants, I wear jeans, and mesh jacket gloves and helmet. Mesh does awesome.
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:07 AM   #13
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I have to dress business-casual at work, also. I wear a textile jacket during the summer months. I place my nice shirt and tie in the backpack, and I just wear a light T-shirt underneath -- on the way to work. When I arrive at work, I throw the dress-shirt on along with the tie. During the early morning hours, it is not so bad. However, expect to sweat your off on the way home.

On the ride home, I have been caught in the rain a few times. Be careful with the type of gloves you wear. I had some red Icon gloves that bled all over my dress pants.
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:21 AM   #14
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I just spent last weekend in jail for lane splitting (at about 10mph) so I'd recommend against it...
What! What were the charges? Man, you cannot get away with anything in the suburbs. I keep hearing about people getting pulled over outside of Houston and getting their bikes towed for not having an M class. They just give you tickets in Houston. I was spotted by a cop in Houston and he just pulled up next to me and said to keep it in the lanes. He was on a bike though so I got some sympathy.
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:52 AM   #15
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Textile should offer more protection than mesh. I have mesh and when I look at textile jackets, they LOOK safer because of the fact that they are held together with more thread.

Life is give or take, you cant do anything around that. You want the COOLEST (temperature wise) gear you will have to give up SOME protection. You want the BEST protection, you will have to give up comfort. Thats just the way life goes.
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:00 AM   #16
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Wow. I knew splitting was illegal in TX, but I didn't know splitting would get you jail time!

I was lane splitting on 1960 on Sunday because the traffic was just dead stopped. I split right past a cop and he didn't budge. How did the cop even catch you?
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:04 AM   #17
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Yeah I lane split when needed and have been spotted my cops and had no problems.
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:02 AM   #18
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What! What were the charges? Man, you cannot get away with anything in the suburbs. I keep hearing about people getting pulled over outside of Houston and getting their bikes towed for not having an M class. .
and rightly so, they also should tow your bike if you don't have ins. too

riding/driving is a privelage not a right.

OP, learn to utilizie the the HOV lanes, also try to change your work sched. to come in before or after traffic gets heavy.

keep a pair of work shoes at work, and wear riding boots to/from work
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:21 AM   #19
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and rightly so, they also should tow your bike if you don't have ins. too

riding/driving is a privelage not a right.

OP, learn to utilizie the the HOV lanes, also try to change your work sched. to come in before or after traffic gets heavy.

keep a pair of work shoes at work, and wear riding boots to/from work
As much as I tend to think you're a total stickler, and are kinda too hard-headed, I have to agree.

I know of a couple dudes without their M-class that can ride very well... and I know plenty without that REALLY shouldn't be riding. Heck I know guys with their M-class that shouldn't be on public roads.

If I was a cop and pulled over a guy without insurance or M-Class, he doesn't get to ride home. Sure some of you are good riders, but there is no way for a cop to know if you are a safe rider or not. I think no insurance is the worst infraction though.

Insurance is made mandatory NOT for YOU... it is for the other innocent people you hurt or kill because you are being a fool.
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Old 03-18-2010, 01:41 PM   #20
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I was charged with passing in a no-passing zone. I'm all legit with M-class, insurance, registration, and all that mess.
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