Monday, May 29, 2006

Funny tan lines: a cycling update

This is one of the major problems of being a cyclist -- that you spend the whole summer with very sharp tan lines right where your cycling clothes end. I've already got a dark line on my upper arm, a series of dark lines above my knees, at the places my cycling shorts of varying lengths end, and a dark line above my ankle where my socks end. A large percentage of the time I spend outside I spend on my bike, so I'm stuck. I have this problem where I'll apply sunscreen, and apply it when I have my cycling clothes on, so I get it right, but then as I ride, the shorts will ride up a bit and the short sleeves on the jersey will pull up a little bit, and I'll have missed a section of skin and will end up with this sunburnt patch of an inch or so on my arm and thigh.

The funniest tan lines, though, are the ones on my wrist and hand, where my cycling gloves end. I have a super-sharp line on the thumb side of my wrist, since I ride mostly with my hands in a sideways position, with the thumb facing up. And then as summer gets going, I'll develop lines on my fingers, since the gloves end just before they reach the first knuckle. And, depending on the kind of gloves I have, I sometimes get a little dot on the back of my hand where the velcro strap doesn't quite cover the skin fully. I'm already developing this dot on my left hand, although for some reason I don't have one on my right. I guess my gloves aren't quite the same. If you have gloves with mesh on the back, you will end up with a whole series of dots across the back of your hand. Some cyclists will develop a line across their forehead where their helmet goes, and maybe lines across the neck where the helmet straps cover.

Sigh -- the sacrifices I make for my bike. So today is devoted to fixing this situation -- sitting outside in the hopes that my hands and ankles will get some sun.

Yesterday I went on a 50-mile ride, my longest of the season by far; I'm working my way up to being able to do a 100-mile ride by late August. I like to ride centuries -- organized rides with set routes and food and water supplied along the way -- of (logically) 100 miles, although there are always shorter options for those not wanting to ride the 6 or 7 or 8 hours it takes to do the full thing. The longest 1-day ride I've ever done is 130 miles, about 1 1/2 years ago, a ride that taught me a thing or two about endurance and pain. For some reason, the pain doesn't keep me away -- I suppose it's the sense of accomplishment and the feeling of strength that keeps me doing it again and again.