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Photo by Mark Newton, Mexican camping

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Photo by Mark Newton,
Camping in the Mexican desert



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  • 1 Post By markharf
  • 1 Post By LD Hack
  • 2 Post By Snakeboy

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  #1  
Old 6 Days Ago
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Death Valley Fatality

For anyone who hasn't heard, a motorcyclist died (and a companion was hospitalized) due to overheating while riding in Death Valley, California a couple of days ago. I haven't heard any details, but apparently they were among a group of six riding together--the four others in the group were treated on the scene and released.

High temperatures over the weekend were around 129F/54C. Bear in mind that these are official temps, taken in full shade a certain height above the ground, and that unshaded temps on asphalt would have been much higher.

I'm not here to lecture or to argue the relative dangers of various stuff you might do on a motorbike. I'm merely suggesting that anyone tempted to ride down for a selfie next to the Furnace Creek thermometer consider the possibilities should something go wrong.
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Many many years ago, when I went through Death Valley (in an air-conditioned car), all the travel books and advice about it said how no local or well-researched traveller goes there in the summer - you go there from October to March, when it's still hot but bearable, and the summer is only for dumb tourists looking for extreme experiences.

Would be enlightening to know what kind of motorcyclists these were... maybe dirtbikers? But my gut feeling tells me it was likely Harley people riding around in shorts and sandals and protective eyeglasses.
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It doesn't matter who the riders were, folks on tour on Harleys or dirt bike riders. One needs to take extreme temperatures seriously, be prepared, and know the signs of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. This is an excellent article from the Iron Butt Association about how the body works when riding in extreme heat. Definitely worth a read or three for anyone riding a motorcycle:
Riding in hot weather

Don't use mesh gear when the air temperature exceeds your skin temperature!

Last edited by LD Hack; 5 Days Ago at 03:41.
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Sorry to read about the Death Valley deaths. Good article from the Iron Butt crew, with some very useful info. Hottest temperature I’ve ever experienced personally was just over 50C (125F) in southern Morocco one August, with the wind coming off the desert. That was the first time (of only a few) where I’ve been forced off the bike and had to wait it out. If the DV day was even hotter than that then I can understand how it ended so badly. Those sorts of temperatures are quite an unusual experience for most of us and it can go bad very quickly. I was travelling with someone years back in temperatures probably under 40c when their pillion collapsed and fell off the bike with heat exhaustion.

It is possible though to acclimatise yourself (to some degree anyway). Simply spending time in a high temp area will help - although it takes weeks at least, but even for those of us in temperate zones an activity that generates internal heat (such as running) will improve your heat tolerance - eventually anyway. Your body overheats so often it adapts. Not much help if it goes from warm to scorching in a few miles though.
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I just went for my lunchtime walk at work, it's only 32ºC here at the mo but with very high humidity, I still needed a bit of time to cool off after ... mad dogs and Englishmen.

It's a pity someone died, I'm always surprised by people who don't take risks seriously regardless of what they may be. Hubris is a part of the human condition I guess.
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heat can't stop it!

2019 I was up in the alto Guajjira in northern Colombia 46. c on some of them salt pans I was wearing bmw riding gear and these places are no place to slow down or ever stopping for a foto although I did and the fan never stopped
It was beyond anything I ever experienced until I went to the Persian gulf. First tour in 2022 was in Oman. and yes we were hitting 45.c but I was working on a tarmac at a airport and I dont know how hot it was but it was too hot to pick up tools that were in the sun.This job I was on was the next level for heat and total discomfort. I had to do a reconfiguration on the tarmac on a DHC -6 and the cabin is not to big it holds 19 passengers. I have never had a sweat a thon like this one 5 minutes soaked in sweat
6 months later I was in Saudi right in the center of the country Al Dawadmi
this place had a Dakar stop but it rained. my time was in June July and it hit 55 Wow lets sweat some more.
I dont know how I survived these extreme temps- Saudi you cant drink alcohol and that would probably save you from having a heart attack. Oman you can drink and it didn't kill me
every body has a different thresh hold id guess
Death Valley is piss all
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Tragic incident indeed.

I had 114 F in Death Valley when I was there 5 years ago and it was actually 119 F when I left the Visitor center. It was hot, very hot! But it was dry and humidity must have been low - thus it didnt feel totally uncomfortable.

I have definetively ridden in hotter conditions although I never saw any thermometer that could measure the temprature on those rides. I remember riding the Gibb River road in Australia westbound from Kununurra. Spent 2 days to the halfway point. Carried 15 liters of water and a few smaller juice and milk cartoons - it was more or less gone in less than two days! Insane! Gulping down 7-8 liters of fluid pr day…
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