Lotions, Balms, and Powders

Sunscreen, in the world of beauty, is the ultimate in adulting.   – Emily Weiss

Bed head is a real thing for me.  My hair doesn’t get long, it gets big.  It is coarse and has a wave to it when it starts getting big.  To keep it manageable and somewhat well-kempt during the day, I became a morning shower person in high school.  Bedtime showers are fine, but morning is really best.

The bike rides require their own patterns of hygiene and grooming.  Our typical preferences and patterns of behavior get thrown off during our rides.  Shaving occurs less often, the times for going to sleep and waking up occur much earlier, and showering becomes an early evening thing.  It is silly to shower and clean up in the mornings before getting on the bike for the day.  Even on our January ride, when staying warm and covered up was a bigger concern than sweating and sunburns, a shower at the end of each cycling day was a good way to warm up, clean up, and remove the residue of creams and lotions.

Sunscreen is a must during our warm-weather rides.  I’ve learned that a healthy application of SPF 50 sport sunscreen is the best to keep you burn free.  The No-Ad brand has worked best for me during our training and BRAT rides.  Spray sunscreen doesn’t provide enough sustained protection for me during the hours on the road bikes.  Other popular brands, despite what their television commercials and product advertising suggest, have left me with bad sunburns even when liberally applied.  No-Ad Sport SPF 50 in the big squeeze bottle has become my go-to formula–and has made converts of a number of my student cyclists.  We start every long-distance ride with a big bottle that we pass around each morning.  On the rides to Canada, we took two bottles.

In addition to the morning application to the neck, ears, face, arms, and legs, it is also important to reapply around lunch time.  The afternoon application usually feels similar to an application after getting out of the pool, lake, or ocean when your skin is still wet from being in the water.  The sweat that usually starts pouring out of your pores once you stop cycling often makes for a wet reapplication.  By the end of the cycling day, the combination of sunscreen, sweat, and dust that have accumulated on all exposed skin surfaces creates a slimy and grimy fim on your body.  By the end of the cycling day, it is time for a shower and change of clothes.

Many nights, our team will have to take turns sharing one or two showers.  On those occasions, the ones waiting in line try not to sit on nice furniture or get their grime on other surfaces.  When in the support vehicles, we sit on a collection of old bath towels to protect the seats and upholstery.

Chamois Butt’r is another wonderful product that requires multiple applications to work most effectively.  It is a lubricant that gets applied to the skin on your underside that rubs against the saddle through your cycling shorts.  When applied liberally at the start of the day, it helps reduce friction and the chance of developing saddle sores during your time on the bike.  Reapplying another dose or two during the day helps keep things moving with minimal friction.  Chamois Butt’r also makes a blend for women with a different pH balance.  As with sunscreen, both products work best when applied generously throughout each day.

When saddle sores do start to develop, Anti-Monkey Butt powder is good to apply at night.  Basically a diaper rash powder, Anti-Monkey Butt helps dry things out and gives the body a chance to heal.  Aspercreme and other muscle rub lotions are helpful to rub into weary muscles after showers and before going to bed.  Having the night time to work their wonders, the powder and muscle rubs help make getting back on the bike on the following morning as pleasant as possible.

In combination, the accumulation of sunscreen, road grime, sweat, and remedies for saddle-sore prevention makes for glorious shower experiences at the end of each cycling day.  We who normally shower in the morning can face each morning with bed head knowing that we’ll be covered up with our helmets and that we will experience our own form of bathing each morning before getting on our bikes with baths of thick, white sunscreen, and a slimy skin lubricant to ward off saddle sores.  It’s awesome!!!

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