Riding in winters requires so many preparations, you have to keep your body parts warm enough so that you can enjoy your ride. But keeping your neck warm is one of the most difficult tasks, most riding jackets don’t cover the neck.
And this problem annoys me a lot, and here are the things that I do to keep my neck warm during winter rides.
The best way to keep your neck warm on a motorcycle is by wearing a long balaclava inside your helmet and put that inside your riding jacket and then use a woolen neck fleece above it. Neck fleece is thicker than balaclavas and can prevent cold wind from getting inside.
And if you don’t want to put too many things then you can go with the Neck Wind guard, these are not available in the USA right now, they are available on SportsBikeShop.
I am using this long balaclava for the last two years. And when there is extreme cold then I use this neck fleece over my balaclava. (Turtle Fur Fleece, Check the latest price from Amazon).
I found another product that you can use, it is a heated scarf, that comes with a heating element inside it, so that you can keep yourself warm, it comes with three different levels of heat level that you can easily control.
The name of the product is Volt Resistance Heated Scarf. You can check out this product from their official website. This product is also available on Amazon as well, you can easily get it from there as well. (Amazon product page)
How cold air hitting your neck can affect your health?
Before you plan to go on a long tour on winter days, you should always be aware of the effects of cold air on your body, and how the cold air hitting you can affect your health. Apart from having temporary pain, cold air can cause some serious health issues if it is not taken seriously.
In this section, we will discuss the effect that cold air can cause while riding on a motorcycle and also learn about the different tips and trips that you can implement if you find yourself stuck in a similar situation like this.
Now, coming back to the health effects from cold air, the very first thing that you need to know is that with low temperatures, there is a drop in barometric pressure which doesn’t match with the pressure inside your body, and it results in swelling up of your tissues around the joint and also the nerves.
And, when your neck is exposed, which contains the maximum number of nerves and veins compared to any other part of the body other than your head, it becomes very dangerous for your neck to be exposed in cold weather.
Another aspect of the effect of cold air on your health is that the blood vessels inside your body constrict to keep you warm and that in turn activates the pain receptors around the part of your body that is exposed to cold air.
So, as a result, you don’t feel the immediate effect of cold air on the affected part, but as your body tries to return to its normal state, the constricted blood vessels cause pain in the body and also cause fatigue.
You may question that when the temperature drops, why do you experience neck pain and stiffness although these parts are not exposed directly!
There are many reasons why you feel irritation and pain around your neck when you are in a cold situation. I have listed some points which explain why you feel neck pain in cold situations.
- When you are riding, there is very little neck movement which causes it to be in the same position for a long period. And when you are in a cold situation, then the blood vessels contract and may feel cramped and stiff around your neck.
- Also, riding with an incorrect posture causes your neck to be in an incorrect position, and when you try to bring it back to normal position after riding for a long while, then you may experience fatigue and stiffness around your neck.
- Apart from this, having negative thoughts about catching a cold and being sick can cause your nervous system to act in a negative manner, which might cause you more fatigue and stress during the ride.
When you find yourself in a situation of extreme cold, when the temperature falls below negative, then you might also experience mild hypothermia, which happens when your body is releasing more heat than it is generating. In such a case, you must try your best to retain the heat in your body.
So, I have made a list of some of the tips and tricks that you can use to save yourself from cold, after a long and cold motorcycle ride.
- Get your body heated: One of the best and easy ways of getting rid of cold is to apply direct heat to the affected part of your body which is cold, and you can use a hot water bottle, heating pad, gel, or any kind of technology that might help you to get warmth.
Keep heating the affected area for around 20-25 minutes until you feel that your body temperature has returned to normal.
- Hot water bath: Another technique to get rid of cold immediately is to go inside a hot water bathtub, and by hot, I mean hot enough to provide you heat, and not something sort of boiling.
It will help your whole body to get relief from the cold and return the body temperature to normal.
- Be awake: The worst thing you can do after a cold motorcycle ride is sleep without getting enough warmth. Sleeping and resting will only aggravate your cold, and it will also put your body to rest, which is not a good thing.
So, however, fatigue you may have, first try to get your body temperature back to normal and then only rest.
Another thing you can try after a long and cold motorcycle ride is to get some kind of massage once you are back to normal. It will help the constricted muscles relax and will also help you to feel free and relaxed.
Preparations to do before going out for a winter ride?
Now that you know the effects of cold air on your health and the problems that it may cause, you should always be prepared for such situations.
Don’t worry, I have also experienced the same in my past journeys, and eventually realized some of the things that are important to do before going out for a winter ride. And I am going to share that with you!
Read on to know more about the preparations to do before going out for a winter ride.
- Cover all body parts from cold air: The first and foremost thing to do is to cover all your body parts from cold air. Generally, we cover our faces and our body with helmets and gear, but a little portion of our neck remains exposed to the cold air.
It can be very dangerous if the weather in which you are going to ride is extremely cold. Even a small passage of air inside your body can drop the temperature of your body.
So, before going out on a winter day, always check twice to cover your whole body and make sure that not even a single part of your body is exposed directly.
- Check your motorcycle before going out: Before going out on a cold winter ride, always check your motorcycle and make sure that it is fueled and oiled up properly, to not have any kind of breakdown in the middle of the ride.
Also, check that the engine temperature is running at an optimum mark, and there are no chances of a breakdown.
Because you don’t want to look for help in the middle of a highway on a cold winter day. Also, check the windscreen of your motorcycle, as it helps a lot in deflecting the cold air from directly hitting your helmet.
Also, make sure that you check the battery of your motorcycle, as it is one of the most important things to check, especially when you are traveling long distances.
- Wear proper winter riding gear and wear warm clothes inside in layering fashion: Before wearing your motorcycle gear, make sure to wear warm clothes inside to keep your body as warm as possible during the entire ride.
You can also choose heated balaclavas and jackets if the weather outside is very cold and freezing. Heated clothes will help the best keep away the cold if it peeps in from the riding gear.
Another thing that you can do is to wear the clothes in layers, to create a layer of vacuum in between them. This will act as a separating layer between the cold air and your body, and effectively help to keep your body warm and comfortable.
Also, if possible, wear water-repellent clothes, which might help you to stay warm in case you get wet accidentally or by rain.
- Close all the air vents of your motorcycle helmet and get a heated seat and heated grips: Motorcycles also come with many features to protect the rider from cold, like heated seats and grips.
Make sure that you get this feature on your motorcycle if you plan on traveling long distances in very cold weather. Heated seats and grips will help a lot in keeping your hands and butt warm.
Hands are one of the most exposed parts of your body, and it is very important to keep your hands warm.
Also, another thing to do before going for a long winter ride is to close all the vents of your helmet, to stop the cold breeze from entering directly inside the helmet. You can also use a heated balaclava to get additional heat around your neck or head.
- Keep a positive mindset: Before you start your ride, make sure that you are feeling good mentally, and you don’t have any kind of stress in your brain, which might reflect in your body during the ride.
Going on a ride with a stressed mind might cause you to have negative thoughts during the ride, and it can get even worse if you find yourself stuck in any situation. So, always make sure to keep a positive mindset before going on a long motorcycle ride.
What to do when your neck gets cold?
However prepared you may be, there are chances that you might get a cold neck during or after a long winter ride. If possible you should call for immediate help from any of your friends living nearby or do a halt and stop for some time. Stopping and relaxing will help your body to get some time to get back to normal.
While taking a halt, you can drink hot water to soothe your throat and also your stomach. This will also help to provide additional heat to your body and maintain an optimum temperature throughout the ride.
Also, while preparing for the ride, take some hot ginger tea or coffee in a thermos and when you take a halt, take some sips from that in intervals. Ginger helps provide a soothing effect to your throat and prevent you from catching a cough or cold.
If you are stuck somewhere in between and you don’t have anything hot with you, then try to find any kind of shelter or help nearby and ask for help. Also, if you run out of food or water, try to find it before you get hungry or thirsty because your body will catch a cold fastly without energy.
Food and water in cold conditions are most important to keep your body warm, and it is best advisable to keep yourself hydrated and satiated and carry enough for the entire ride.
However, if you find your neck getting cold during the ride, stop immediately and check whether there is an air passage that is causing cold air to come inside and check the air vents on your helmet.
Sometimes, the air can pass from the lower portion of your helmet to your neck, which you might not feel initially, but your neck can get very cold after a long duration. So, try to take a halt every 30 minutes or so when you are riding in freezing weather to prevent yourself from getting cold.
And, if you find that you feel stiffness and pain around your neck, then try to move your neck right to left, do it a couple of times whenever you take a halt, to keep the blood flow active around your neck and saving your neck to become stiff.
Also, try stretching your hands to their fullest and go from up to down touching your toes, to relax your shoulder and back muscles. Relaxing your shoulder and back muscles will also help you to get relief from neck stiffness and fatigue.
Last but not the least, keep your mind away from negative thoughts, as it might be enhanced in cold weather, which can additionally cause you mental stress and negative nervous system response.
Think about positive things during the entire ride and keep yourself motivated and running, even when you find yourself stuck in any kind of situation.
The biggest factor that contributes to your health is your mental state during the ride, and if you are positive throughout the ride, thinking about positive things in your life, then you can tackle any kind of tough situation that comes your way during the ride.