When I was a teenager (again still in the desert), I did a lot of work outside. It was common to consume well over a gallon of water during a work day and STILL be dehydrated. There was a saying that was often repeated when working outside:
If you aren’t peeing; you’re dying!
When I started riding motorcycles at the track I was amazed how few people understood hydration. During the summer months a large number of crashes are directly attributed to lack of water. I would see riders in my pit and recognize the signs of dehydration. Suggest to them that they drink more water they would shake their heads and tell me that they had a glass this morning and they were fine.
When I race in cool temps (below 100F) I pack 8 liters (2 gallons) of water per day. Normally I consume all of it.
When I race on hot days (well over 100F) I pack 12 liters of water per day and usually drink even more that what I brought.
You go through a massive amount of water and still only urinate a couple of times per day. My goal is to out on track with the urge to pee. When I come back from the track, I no longer need to pee and am again thirsty.
Where does the water go? That is the subject of the rest of this article.
In the desert, the humidity is so low that you do not realize you are sweating. The water evaporates immediately. That is what suckers everyone into thinking they aren’t dehydrating. “I can’t be dehyrdated, I haven’t been sweating all day”. Then they pass out.
The same issue happens on the track. You are sweating, profusely, but the wind from moving removes it immediately and you think you aren’t sweating at all.
If you ride on the track, pay attention to this little trick:
Go out on the track and notice that you are dry. Come into the pit and sit down in your leathers. You will be soaked in a minute. You didn’t just start sweating, you just stopped air drying.
Sweating in leather sucks. The leather will stick to your skin and will bind you up. Racing in leathers that stick to your skin make it harder to race, harder to get comfortable on the bike, harder to move around.
The fun part though is watching someone else try and get out of leathers that are stuck. I have seen up to three people helping one get out of leathers. Hilarious.
Enter undergear or base layers. They have been used a lot at the track over the past few years and it is pretty rare to see someone who isn’t wearing something under their leathers.
Not all base layers are made the same. The quick “go to” is Under Armour. Unfortunately, they do not make a good set of pants for men and the shirt tends to ride up. That issue leads a lot of riders to wearing one piece undersuits. They work, you don’t get ride up, leathers are easier to get off.
The other difference between base layers is the material they are made out of. The goal of a base layer is to move the sweat from your body so that it can evaporate and to make moving around in the leathers easier. With moving the sweat away comes the bacteria.
Sweat doesn’t smell. The bacteria that feeds on sweat smells.
When you wear base layers your sweat and your bacteria gets transferred to the base layer. This is better than transferring it to your leathers directly but is still a problem with smell.
Wear a base layer long enough and it will get pretty nasty. No matter how much you wash it it is going to develop a powerful aroma. Your significant other will probably start demanding you leave it in the back yard and then you end up throwing them away. This gets expensive fairly quickly.
What is the answer?
Easy, wear a high quality base layer. There are a couple of them out there. They are NOT major brands. They are NOT produced by the manufacturers of the leathers. They do have a high initial cost but actually cost less.
I have gone through a LOT of different brands. Dainese, Alpinestars, Moto-D, PsycleSkins, Under Armour, Rev-it and more. They all went into the trash. Not because they wore out but because they got so gross I couldn’t stand to put them on any more.
What do I wear now? Funny enough, I wear the set that I bought first.
Back in 2012, I was in Utah watching the World Superbike races. I stopped by a vendor selling base layers. I grabbed some of their advertising material and did some research that night. I liked what I saw and decided to try a set. Went back the next morning and bought a top and bottom.
Three years later, that exact SAME set is part of my gear bag every weekend.
The top does not ride up because they solved that problem. The bottom edge of the top has rubber that sticks where you put it.
The bottoms are comfortable and do not bunch up under your leathers.
Both pieces are compression fit which actually helps with muscle fatigue and endurance.
They don’t smell. You can even wear them multiple days in a row and they won’t smell. Pretty damned impressive.
The gear I am speaking of is made by VNM Sport.
Things to Remember
Hydrate. Keep hydrating until you need to pee. Then hydrate some more. Try to go onto the track with the urge. It helps. Dehydration WILL kill in this sport. If you aren’t peeing, you’re dying.
Wear a good base layer. Name brands tend to be expensive junk. If it starts to smell bad you can wash it in boraxx but the better answer is to get a better set.
Consider VNM Sport Gear. They really are that good.