Safety: Sun Protection

Fall weather is perfect for bicycling, whether it’s a long-distance challenge or a leisurely family ride in the country. The sun is out, the air is crisp, the humidity tends to be lower – and the need for sun protection is as important as ever.

Target your protection. When you’re leaning over on a bike, you get more sun exposure on the back of your neck, the back of your ears, and the back of your legs. While you should apply sunscreen to all exposed skin, pay special attention to those sometimes neglected areas. You can also wear a bike helmet with a visor to cast shade on your face, and ultraviolet-protective sunglasses to protect your eyes. 

Choose clothing wisely. Much of the new biking gear available offers UV protection called UPF, which stands for ultraviolet protection factor. The number indicates what fraction of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can penetrate the fabric. A shirt with a UPF of 50, for example, allows just 1/50th of the sun’s UV radiation to reach your skin. Even better is that some of the high-tech UPF fabrics also wick away sweat and can help keep you warm or cool as needed. You can also find protective arm and leg sleeves, some in fluorescent colors to make you more visible.

Practice the four r’s. Many long-distance cyclists know and practice the three r’s of stopping every hour to rehydrate, refuel and repeat. The Skin Cancer Foundation advises everyone to reapply sunscreen every two hours – or more often if you’re sweating. So, for us cyclists, why not add another r when stopping to reapply that sunscreen?

A good measure of success for me? When I come into the office on Monday and my coworkers ask if I rode over the weekend…because they don’t see any change in my skin tone.

Mark Barnes, Member at Large