Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Notes From a First Year: Neopolitan Ice Cream

I don’t have a farmer’s tan. I’m not a farmer. I don’t have a redneck tan. I’m not a redneck. I don’t care if you make fun of it, but call it what it is: a CYCLING tan.

It is inevitable…after a long cold winter of riding with frozen feet and fingers, the mercury starts moving in the other direction and you start shedding layers leaving particular areas of skin exposed. Men may not care so much, but the ladies generally like an all over even tan; something you simply cannot have has a cyclist. You can have great legs. You can have low body fat. You can have a VO2Max that’s off the charts. You can have a bike that costs more than the car you carry it on. But you CANNOT have an all over even tan.

I use sweat-proof, waterproof, SPF 50 sunscreen every time I ride. Well, not every time. Once, I showed up late to a race barely having enough time to put my helmet on, let alone lather up with sunscreen. But, if my sunscreen actually is all of those things, then why do I think of Neopolitan ice cream when I look at myself naked in the mirror? I am vanilla in some spots (use your imagination) chocolate in others (tops of my knees) and strawberry in small patches I missed with the sunscreen (on my forehead through the holes in my helmet).

In most races, the USCF will require you to wear a jersey with sleeves so most team kits do not come with a sleeveless jersey. You are pretty much guaranteed a nice tan line halfway down your bicep. And, although I have not officially checked the rule book, I assume you are required to wear some kind of bottoms (lycra, presumably); mid-thigh tan line. Factor in the gloves, socks and sunglasses and you might as well cancel your summer beach vacation.

Or so I used to think, until I started looking around a little. Think about it. How many hours on the bike in the sun must you ride to get that dark of a tan through sweat-proof, waterproof, SPF 50 sunscreen? How many professional cyclists do you see without bad tan lines? The answers: a shit load and zero. So, go ahead and make fun of my tan. I don’t care. I work hard for this tan.

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