Monday, May 7, 2007

The Tan

Summer is almost here, and with it comes white tape, high mileage weeks, and insane tan lines. A cyclist's tan line is something that almost defies explanation to a non-cyclist: a striped leg created by shorts and socks, a pale hand punctuated by a dark circle, or the white area in front of your ear from the helmet strap, where literally "the sun don't shine". To a non-cyclist, the tan lines that are so common to us, warrant a double-take.

For me, the tan line is a mark of accomplishment, a sign of your dedication to logging miles on your machine, and a statement that shouts: "despite all of my other commitments, I still find time to ride my damn bike!"

Each season I place the bottom of my shorts on the same tan line I randomly established over 20 years ago. Back-to-back seasons have etched a tan line so defined that it would require a two month, Speedo-induced holiday on the world's finest beach to simply undo it. In the off-season, I barely lose my tan line despite the dark and cold winter and the etched line serves as a great reminder of seasons' past.

Forget tracking the KMs, the quality of your season can simply be measured by your tan.

29 comments:

Strangelife said...

Mad Props to the tan line. The true badge of courage amongst those within the circle.

Radio Freddy said...

Thanks for the read strangelife. The tan is as important as seeing the first of the four digit milage turn over.

Ari said...

I am still waiting for the promised skin cancer that my non-cycling acquaintances have guaranteed that I will get. I wonder if all those other people that live in sun drenched country are all full of skin cancer and are dying by the dozen?????
Ari

Anonymous said...

And make sure to apply sunscreen on the white parts if you are ever forced to go to the beach and take off your shirt. Kit+beach=no good.

Radio Freddy said...

kit +beach = NG. A formula to live by.

Adam said...

Brillant post and great blog.

josh said...

good post. thanks for your response to my comment in the other thread.

jason said...

I completely agree with you! I remember one time a fellow rider asked how many miles I'd been putting in lately, and I just pulled up my sleeve exposing my crisp tan line and said "about that many" woo hoo!

SETH! said...

It was recently suggested to me that I attempt to go tanning with a good dose of sunscreen on my tanned arms and legs, "you know, to get rid of those goofy tanlines."
The same person also mentioned that menace known as skin cancer. Whatever. I come from a long line of farmers and laborers. You know, people who live and work outside in the sun. Skin cancer isn't in the program.
My cycling tanlines, despite the midwest's dreary weather half of the year, are a year-round affair. My arms, and especially legs, are always two tone, and I'm routinely mistaken for a grouchy Siamese cat.
I have no desire to go to the beach in order to "even out" my tan. I know many cyclists that will go to great lengths in order to deny their cycling tan. Don Cipo and Sean Yates are the only two I respect.
Cutting off the sleeves of a perfectly good jersey, chopping the high cuffs off new cycling socks, or rolling up the legs of my cycling shorts reeks of wasted energy. No thanks.

zank said...

I remember seeing on TV Big Mig's shorts pulled up a bit as he was getting washed down for a podium presentation. That guy had some serious lines. And take a look at the photos from the pre-Tour "physical exam" silliness. Crazy lines.

Good on ya, freddy. Nice work so far this season.

Radio Freddy said...

Zank - Thanks for dropping by. It was a toss up - the insane pre-tour med checks or this one. I am always amazed to see the PROs tan. After a crash or during the pre-podium clean up the tan is off the charts. Now if I could just get my tan to look as good out of the shower as it does in the shower. Now that would be PRO.

sydney_b said...

Funny u should post this, just today I opted for a shirt with girly cap sleeves just so I could proudly display my jersey lines. I mean, it takes some time and effort to get 'em.

I figure they're good conversation starters and if folks don't appreciate 'em, then we don't have much to talk about. :)

Radio Freddy said...

sydney_b - Thanks for taking the time to read and post a comment. I am with you, wear those tan lines with pride!

Anonymous said...

great and timely post! after a long, long winter...i'm happy to see my 'perma-tan' developing nicely.

cheers!

the 'other' Freddy

Ari said...

All the elite warm up oil, shower gel, forte and so far are available from Quality Bicycle Parts distributors. So if you want some "pro-ness" Go to your local bike shop and have them order it for you. Don't make me lose my job by ordering it online.
thank you,
Ari

Bobke Strut said...

No truer words have been uttered..."The quality of your season can simply be measured by your tan".

Sadly, my tan lines are not what they once were due to more couch time than saddle time.

I'll never forget the looks I got many years ago when I took off my shirt and waded into the gigantic outdoor hot spring pool in Glenwood Springs, CO. My arms from wrist to mid-bicep were of a bronzed hue that would make George Hamilton envious while my torso was as pure milky white as a millennia of Irish DNA can allow. People just stopped and stared in a state of utter horror/befuddlement. Too funny.

Secret Trainer said...

The Canberra Cycling Club has even held official tan line competitions!

http://secrettraining.blogspot.com/2005/12/secret-trainers-tan-lines.html

Matt said...

Don't forget the "racoon eyes" that the sunglass give us too!

Anonymous said...

I think as far as face tans go, there is nothing better than the half and half. Chris horner and FastFreddy typically have this one nailed...

Anonymous said...

cyclist tanlines are hot. its a fetish of mine. ;P

Upstate said...

The best part of the winter is looking down in January or Feb and still seeing the old tan line from the many miles of the season before and the stories you start to remember from some mid summer flogging with a friend or on your own.

Art said...

Burned in year round. I ran a 5k in the snow a few weeks back, and wore some shorts that sit just above the lines. Really got some strange looks. I think the key to getting a really PRO tan is having a closet full of identical team kits. Different shorts can all be put on the lines, but the sleeves on different brands of jerseys always seem to sit a little differently.

stratobiker said...

I'm Steve and I'm a fake tan user!
In the early season a fake tan makes you look good, and looking good is all part of the game, so why not?

Lydia Sugarman said...

Not only do I love, admire, and lust after the cyclist tan, I love the shaved legs that go with it. Hurrah for bike boys!

brettok said...

Check mine out here

Mr.G@sbcglobal.net said...

Word: EVOO!!!! ATMO

I STRONGLY recommend the strain from the motherland of olives/oil; i.e., Spain.

Find the stuff with the greenish hue to it (you will have to pay up for this variety), and apply several coats to your exposed skin before you mount-up for endless miles of fun in the sun.

The hotter and more sun-baked your region of the nation, the more EVOO should be applied. If you are of northern Euro stock, it's OK to mix it with your FPS 30 SS, as it will help to take the edge off of any sunburn that you may normally get.

If you are of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern stock, and/or live in one of the convection oven states: Texas, Nevada or Arizona - where the summer sun can melt tarmac and and turn your skin into parchment in less than 1,000 km - blow off the SS and just apply the EVOO directly as it will give you the type of golden bronze tan only approached by body builders on Venice Beach.

EVOO will also help keep your skin smooth and moist, as well as help attract and entrap gnats on your legs, which looks VERY PRO and the end of a hard day in the saddle!

Also, and just as critical, apply liberally after your post ride shower to further help the skin recover; EVOO is full of nutrients and antioxidants

EVOO Rocks!

EVOO is PRO!

Mr.G

Anonymous said...

While the random "skin cancer" comments are plain dumb, with tan lines comes a small risk. It can happen to wear stuff that is slightly shorter than usual, especially jerseys that move up and down on the arm.
The tiny part of milk-white skin on the edge of the tan line, exposed to the sun could be at risk.

My father in law rides a lot and recently got a skin tumor exactly in that spot (fortunately caught in time). Nothing proves that tan lines were the cause, but why take the risk when all it takes is some sunscreen?

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Radio Freddy said...

Lydia,

Thank for keeping an eye out. Impressive bit of translation. This was only one of a few comments that were hit. Best to you.

-RF