The sun has got his hat on! And with the good weather set to continue so should you, as part of preventing sunburn or worse heat stroke. Getting out in the sunshine is glorious but a long day on the bike gives it plenty of time to chew your exposed skin and we all know sunburn is no fun. Here’s is our advice for sun safety, a pre Megavalanche heatstroke incident a couple of years ago taught us a thing or two!
1. Slop on sunscreen
First and foremost the obvious one – wear sunscreen kids! Lather it all over, remembering area like the top of your head and forehead even if you will be wearing a helmet all day, the sun will get through the vents and still burn you. There are sweat proof sunscreens out there too like the Reimann range that will give you up to 10 hours protection too. Sunburn is caused by the short-wavelength, high-energy ultra-violet (UV) light in sunshine. The burn itself is caused by short-wavelength UVB rays, but UVA can cause skin damage too, so you want a sunscreen that blocks both. Suncream should have an SPF of at least 30, and preferably 50. In theory, that means you can stay in the sun for 30 (or 50) times longer than if your skin were bare.
2. Slip on a shirt
Keep covered up, a very lightweight long or ¾ length jersey is ideal for hot days as it will be super breathable and keep you covered up. You could also opt for a jersey with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) rating, these will be rated in the same way as suncream is. We quite like the Madison Flux Enduro jersey, it’s one of the lightest weight jersey’s we’ve ridden in and is long sleeved too (mens' and women’s versions available. If you want something with an SPF factor then the Morvelo brand is well worth a look for a reasonably priced jersey with options that have an SPF of 50.
3. Slurp electrolytes
When you sweat you don’t just lose water but also essential salts and minerals too and getting depleted of these things can leave you feeling pretty rough. An electrolyte is a substance that conducts electricity when dissolved in water, they are essential for a number of bodily functions and we need them to survive. Many automatic processes in the body rely on a small electric current to function, and electrolytes provide this charge. Common electrolytes in the human body include sodium, potassium, calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium, chloride and phosphate all of which are lost in sweat during exercise. They can be easily replaced via dissolvable tablets which can be added to your hydration pack bladder, common brands are Nuun and High5.
Slide on glasses
Aside from helping keep bugs and other flying crud out of your eyes, sunglasses also protect from repeated exposure to bright light and UV which can cause a range of short- and long-term eye problems including cataracts, macular degeneration and growths on the eye. In the UK, sunglasses have to meet British Standard BS EN 1836:2005, so look out for markings that indicate compliance and don’t buy anything that doesn’t meet the standard. You should also check sunglasses for consistency and optical clarity by looking through them at arm’s length to see if they excessively distort the view.
Slap on a hat
Wearing a hat with a helmet isn’t perhaps in the mountain bikers repertoire, but gravel riders will know the benefits of a small cap to keep the sun off the face and forehead. For the rest of you, we’d advise sticking a hat in your riding pack to wear at the lunch stop. Plus it'll cover up that sweaty helmet hair - win win right?!
Happy riding and enjoy the summer sun!
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