A Fly in the Ointment


By May I have usually developed a tan on my arms and legs. It is a warm Mediterranean one that my Greek brother-in-law approves of. I could almost pass muster as his compatriot, but, take off my t-shirt and the truth is glaringly obvious. Underneath I’m just a pasty Englishman with a cycling tan.

There is a big difference between the moderate spring sun which developed my cycling tan and that of a sultry August afternoon. Fixing my bike last Saturday this is something I forgot. While my daughters splashed around in the paddling pool (my wife had made sure they maximum factored) my poor pale back turned quite rosy.

Even with a tan when the sun is strong there is a risk of burning. After an uncomfortable night with a tube of cooling Aloe Vera, this wasn’t a mistake I was going to make for Sunday’s club run. In the morning I lathered up with sun cream and headed out. 60 miles later I hadn’t sweated it off – kid’s sun cream is robust stuff – but I did have a new freckled complexion. Every exposed area of skin was dotted with little black specks. The combines were out, the wheat was being harvested, and the air was thick with thunderbugs. I had in turn harvested a good number of the irritating little bugs with my sticky and sweaty sun cream coated skin.

All this is coming round to a serious message about riding on a sunny summer’s day.

If you ride regularly in a group you are expected to do your share of work at the front. If you spend all day tucked in the bunch, eventually someone will notice your wheel sucking habit and comments will be made. Riding at the front you’re not just pushing air out of the way, you are adsorbing bug life too. I think there is a clear positive correlation between time spent at the front and extent of bug frecklage. So, at the end of a sticky summers ride, if your limbs and face are not spotted with bugs, you had better chose a dark and shady corner for the post ride coffee before anyone notices and the uncomfortable questions start!

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About velorichard

Riding a bike around Cambridgeshire looking for some hills
This entry was posted in Club cycling, club run, Cycling and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to A Fly in the Ointment

  1. perthcyclist says:

    I have taken to wearing white ‘arm coolers’ on sunny rides, they aren’t really ‘cool’ but then I only have to slather my legs, face and neck with sunscreen. It also saves it getting on my hoods and bar tape.

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    • velorichard says:

      We just don’t get that many hot sunny days for riding in the UK that I’ve never really thought of using them. When we do get some sun most of us just like to strip down and feel a rare bit of warmth…

      Black for bar tape and hoods is the only colour that works on UK roads. Most of the time they’re so wet and filthy that any other colour soon gets grubby.

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  2. Frank Burns says:

    Mine came with white tape (which looked cool when new) but after 11,000 kms it is definitely well beyond its use by date! (Unless, of course, grubby handle-bar tape, like shaven legs, betrays your serious commitment to cycling…..)

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    • velorichard says:

      I was offered celeste green for my Bianchi. It looked very pretty, but my first thought was that will just look grubby in a couple of weeks. So it is practical black for me. I understand it looks quite slimming for the handlebars too 😉

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