To help cover many of our concerns as LD riders, let’s look at the body’s systems:
The Head – helmet head/hair is always a challenge when one wears their helmet for up to 24hrs in a day. Try the branded product Head ‘n Shoulders. Use a hair scrubber brush and work it into the scalp and leave it there while showering, then rinse well. It helps relieve itching. For your helmet, consider Helmet & Gear Refresher from http://www.leeparksdesign.com – no affiliation, just a good product. It is sometimes helpful and refreshing to use a do-rag or beanie-type cap under the helmet – this just gives the head, hair and scalp a different surface to interact with. Sometimes at night this feels good. During the ride try the helmet liner from http://ldcomfort.com/store/store/product.php-productid-11-cat-0-page-1-featured.html – very comfy.
The Ears – use a ‘swimmer’s ear’ product for prevention of bacteria and fungus in the ear. The use of ear plugs means the ears are not getting fresh air the solution also might help prevent growth of unwanteds. Carry a small bottle with you and use it each evening and morning. If you want to make your own, a 50-50 solution of 95% isopropyl alcohol and table vinegar is good. Place enough in the ear to get it wet, even down deep, then let it air dry. Wash your ear plugs and even use the ear product on them when you insert them. If you use speaker plugs you can carefully clean them with the solution, just don’t soak them in the solution.
The Face & Neck – cleanliness is important, but don’t forget some Vit E cream and/or lotion to help with the wind and sunburn. Use at least an SPF30 sun screen and apply to the exposed areas including the back of the neck. Repeat this at least 2 more times during the day – especially when riding into, or away from, the sun. [See LDcomfort’s helmet liner…]
The Eyes – don’t use a Visine-type eye drop, but rather a natural tears drop that has no antihistamine in it. One can find convenient unit-dose eye drops in the pharmacy. Keep these in the tank bag or pocket so you can use them at a gas stop if needed for dry eyes. Larger, multi-dose bottle of eye drops are not good due to potential bacterial growth and thus eye contamination.
The Nose – there is a branded product called Ayr [air] and it is great for preventing dry nasal membranes and bloody noses if you suffer from this. Apply this gel with your pinkie as frequent as necessary. If one does suffer bloody noses from the dry air or other causes, and one doesn’t have high blood pressure, then treat the bloody nose with a generic form of Afrin nose spray. Something that is also important is to clip the hair in your nose before heading out on a rally. There is nothing worse than that single hair really driving you nuts, at speed. DAMHIK.
The Stomach – have some antacid tablets available, just in case; also have some generic Imodium available to prevent or treat diarrhea. Pepto Bismol tablets are easy to carry and can help with an upset stomach or diarrhea.
Body Aches and Pains – for general achiness Tylenol is good; also use it for headaches. For muscular or joint pains, Aleve is a good choice and alternative to Motrin – the former can be taken every 12hrs for relief, the latter needs to be taken every 6hrs for similar relief – take either with some food. If it is possible, consider ice application to a local area. Heat feels good, butt it may produce more swelling and this is not usually good.
The Groin – a touchy subject, butt cleanliness is necessary to prevent rashes and sores. Before the ride use a luffa/loofah pad and an antibacterial cleanser such as PhisoHex, PhisoDerm or Hibiclens to thoroughly cleanse the area. This helps prevent monkey butt. Use seamless rider wear as well [LDComfort is the best and well worth the money if you are into LD riding]. If on a long rally then re-wash the area every couple of days, and if you are stopping for the night be sure to wash out the LDComforts. If the dreaded monkey does show then have some Calmoseptine ointment for use on the area. Find it in the baby section of a good pharmacy you frequent. Also, you may wish to have hydrocortisone ointment for abrasions and sore areas.
Hands – if your finger tips, around the nails, tend to crack on long rides, the best thing is to prevent this from happening – use Neutrogena [there is an unscented one]. Spread this on and rub it in well after you don everything else. After you treat your hands, put your gloves on and you’re good to go! Neutrogena is available in small tubes that can be carried in your pocket or the tank bag. If your fingers are bad, use the Neutrogena at night before sleeping. Clipping your finger and toe nails a few days before a rally is a good idea. If you happen to cause any cuts or abrasions they will be healing by the time you are off for the ride.
For the groin, the fingers/hand, and for the feet/toes small cuts and abrasions can be healed usually with a product from most pharmacies called BagBalm or UdderBalm – it is used for cows but is very effective and safe for human use.
Bladder and Kidneys – there is nothing that helps endurance more than proper hydration, butt what do you do with all the fluids? If a male, consider the use of an external condom catheter and drain bag or drain tube. These are readily available at the medical equipment/supplies stores. When you are asking for them you will need to specify a size – something like small, medium or large. Unless you have some challenges one way or the other, start with a medium size to obtain an understanding. Using the hydrocortisone ointment over just the head of the penis may help prevent irritation over a long period of use. Also, clipping the pubic hair short will help with comfort on the ride and will help prevent the hair getting caught in the condom cath as you unroll it to put it on, or when you take it off. If you have never used one, you will enjoy the freedom of improved hydration it provides. One catheter will easily stay on for 48hrs. If you are in a motel you can disconnect the drain tube/bag and leave the catheter on. Do replace it every 48hrs. Sorry ladies, I do not know of a product that really works well for you. I have heard of some but have been told they are not good on the motorcycle. Be sure to advise me differently if you know so.
The Skin – to prevent dryness, use Lubriderm lotion or Eucerin lotion, or any moisturizing lotion that has worked for you, before the ride and after showering. The lower legs and arms are areas that need it.
The Feet – clean socks are important for comfort as well as prevention of fungus and foot ulcers. TechSox from http://www.leeparksdesign.com – no affiliation, just a good product – are recommended. They wear well, wash out easily and usually dry overnight. I carry at least 2 pair on multi-day rallies.
Thoughts on cooling the rider in hot weather – along with hydration, one might consider using the neck coolers that swell up with water when soaked for a while. Place one or two in a plastic baggie and keep them soaking all the time. When you want to use one it will be ready and you can add ice at a gas fill-up if you want it to be colder. Wetting your shirt or jacket is an effective cooling method for a short time. Adding ice to your jacket/pants pockets helps for a longer time. Unfortunately, none of this feels very good when the humidity is high. If you did follow through with LDComfort then there are some excellent tips on their website for dealing with the heat.
The use of medications during a rally should be well thought out by the rider. Your body systems will be changing during a rally, and certainly will be erratic during a multi-day rally. Check with your doctor or pharmacist about which prescribed drugs it might be ok to not take, and which you must take during a rally. Watch the heat that can affect the medications in storage on your bike. Consider storing meds in a quality thermos and add an ice gel-pak that you can refreeze in the motel ‘frig. Using the thermos is better than nothing as it will prevent heat from building up and destroying expensive medications. Carry a 2nd written prescription with you so if necessary you can have it filled with at least a few days’ supply for on the road.
Stimulants and performance enhancing drugs are not acceptable during a rally – per the rules. Thank goodness that does not include caffeine or energy drinks, BUTT be cautious about the use of these waker-uppers. Once used and eventually finished ‘working’, there is usually a period that follows that could best be described as the let-down or crash when alertness may really flag and sink to depths that are deeper than before taking them. Consider using NO caffeinated products for the week, or even two weeks, before a rally. If during a 24-hour rally you need something, then think about a Red Bull sugar free, or similar, in the late afternoon or early evening. 4 to 6 hours later perhaps a strong cup of coffee might get you on through the night. If you did do a caffeine-fast for the week before, then the effects of caffeine in a Red Bull and a strong cup of coffee will be more dramatic than if you use caffeine each and every day. In a multi-day rally you probably want to avoid the caffeine products and visit the IB motel instead. If you are using caffeine, and do try to sleep, even though you may successfully ‘sleep’, the caffeine will prevent it from being an appropriate resting sleep with proper Stages I-IV and REM sleep. Long distance truckers find that sleeping for a few hours just before sunrise provides an effective rest. Waking up with the sunrise helps the sleep-deprived mind adjust to the new day. Be sure to avail yourself to the very good article on Fatigue by Don Arthur, MD and fellow motorcyclist and LD rider.
Re: nutrition – I usually lose weight while rallying; not just fluid butt real weight loss – 7# in the 10-day MERA rally. I do not eat a lot while rallying, preferring to snack on fresh fruits in the morning, followed by fruit and trail mix of choice in the afternoon, and mixed nuts [Costco has new-to-me bagged products that are tasty and nutrtious - Cashew Clusters are formed into squares and are easy to carry and eat; also Cranberr-Orange Tango is a mix of nuts and dried fruits that are tangy and tasty; place these into small plastic baggies for quick snacks]; occasionally I will have an energy-type bar [Clif Bar, Mojo Clif, or Hammer nutrition bars are also good – avoid any bar covered in chocolate or other soft finished layer (they melt)]. I use Hammer gels of different flavors and some with caffeine; also Hammer Endurolytes capsules that help replace the important electrolytes we lose during hot weather – www.hammernutrtion.com. I may eat a meal once per day or every other day but this is light – a Denny’s breakfast, a Subway sandwich, or Chinese food.
This is an ever-changing, dynamic work of love for the sport. Check back once in a while for the latest…
Peter Perrin**, Pharm., FASCP
**AKA – long distance motorcycle adventurer