While most of us can’t wait for summer to arrive, for others it means the misery of hay fever – an allergic reaction to pollen that causes puffy eyes, sneezing, watery eyes and, in extreme cases, fatigue and what can best be described as a foggy head.
That’s bad enough on a day to day basis, but when you want to get out on your motorcycle it’s also potentially dangerous. That’s why we asked some of our hay fever suffering team members for their top tips on riding a motorbike when you suffer a pollen allergy. Using some, or indeed all, of them might be the solution to your hay fever nightmare. Here’s the 10 they came up with…
- Take medication
Ok, it’s obvious but needs to be said. There are plenty of anti-histamine tablets out there, which do a good job in controlling the reaction your body might have to the allergen.
If taking tablets, it is important to ensure that you take a kind that won’t cause drowsiness when riding your motorcycle. There are plenty of non-drowsy options out there, so check before taking them. It’s also important to take them early, in order to give the medicine time to work. Some swear by taking their antihistamine last thing at night, especially if you are riding first thing in the morning.
- Check the forecast
It’s pretty easy to find out the pollen count. Most weather forecasts include this information, and it’s also available on the Met Office website. Knowing the expected pollen levels will help you in planning your day. Know your enemy! If you only experience problems on days with high pollen counts, take extra care, and also consider that the pollen count is usually at its highest in the early morning, and at dusk, so time your ride around these times, if you can.
- Use a barrier cream
A simple trick is to smear a small amount of Vaseline/petroleum jelly under your eyes and around your nostrils. This will trap the pollen and stop it from entering your eyes/nose. A great tip when exposed to the elements while out on the bike. Other, more dedicated, creams are available too,
- Wear sunglasses
There are a number of funky hay fever glasses on the market, with a seal to stop pollen getting into your eyes, but it’s definitely worth trying to wear a pair of sunglasses (especially wraparound style ones) under your helmet. They should reduce the amount of pollen getting through, and may help stop runny eyes.
- Close your vents
Much as we love riding with an open faced or jet helmet in the summer, you might find that a full-faced one works better when you suffer from hay fever. You’ll also want to close all the air vents, which is annoying on a hot day but preferable to letting all that annoying pollen permeate around your face. Make sure your visor seals properly too, and try to avoid riding with it in the up position.
- Wear a face mask
Again, it’s all about putting barriers between the pollen and your skin. Balaclavas and neck tubes, like those made by Buff, are not only a great way to keep warm in the winter, but also provide an amount of pollen protection in the summer. Fit it so that it covers your mouth and nose for maximum protection. With a full faced helmet, it might feel a bit warm and claustrophobic, but if you want to use an open faced lid it’s an essential piece of kit.
- Clean your helmet
Pollen sticks to stuff, especially your skin, your clothes, and your helmet. Make sure you keep your helmet meticulously clean after every ride, paying close attention to the vents, the visor and the inside of the chinbar. If you can remove the lining and machine wash it, do this as often as is practical.
- Carry a nasal spray and baby wipes
For many people, nasal sprays can produce quick relief from hay fever symptoms. If you’re out on the road, it always makes sense to carry a spray and moist baby wipes with you. If symptoms occur while you’re out and about, stop and use the baby wipes to clean your face, especially the eyes and nose, to remove the pollen. Use the spray and take five minutes to allow the medication to kick in. All being well, you should feel better and able to carry on with your journey in a jiffy. Don’t forget to give your helmet a quick wipe down while you’re at it too.
- Plan your route
If you have an option of routes to take you to your destination, think about the one that’s least likely to have you coughing and sneezing. Pollen is released by plants and is needed for them to reproduce, so if you ride through the countryside, especially taking in fields and rape seed crops, you’ll be exposed to high pollen levels. If there’s an alternative way, you might find it’s better to take it and reduce your risk.
- Shower and change as soon as you can
As well as keeping your gear clean, look after yourself too. If it’s possible to have a quick shower when you arrive at your destination, do so. It’ll not only freshen you up, it’ll wash away any pollen hanging around your body. Likewise, change into a clean set of clothes – good practice for helping you avoid the symptoms of hay fever when you’re off the bike too.
These tips are provided for guidance only. If you suffer from hay fever, it is advisable to speak to your GP or local pharmacist for advice.
Do you suffer from hay fever? What are your top tips for riding through the high pollen periods? Let us know through our social media channels.