Screaming that you're a cyclist... - CycleBlaze

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Screaming that you're a cyclist...

Leo Woodland

A salutary story...

A decade ago, we were riding across Hungary, about to enter Romania, when we stopped unexpectedly at a naturist site. I say "unexpectedly" and not "accidentally" because we knew what it was - there was a sign outside - but we didn't know it was there.

It was gloriously welcome in a hot summer and we made the most of it for a couple of days. On the first evening, we met a German and his scandalously younger girlfriend of the sort we'd all like to have, both of them naked but he with one arm in a sling.

The story came out over a beer. He and his friend were touring in a camper-van, a tiny RV if you're American, and one night they had fancied a bit of rumpy-pumpy and he had started down the wooden ladder that separated one bed from the other.

"And then I felt the earth move!", he laughed.

I suggested it was premature if he was still on the ladder but, no, he said, it had literally moved. A minor earthquake had thrown him from the ladder and he had broken his arm.

"We are not so different," he laughed. "I don't have to tell people. But nor do you!"

I was puzzled.

He pointed at my legs, which were paintpot brown from ankles to mid-thigh, the classic cyclist suntan.

"You don't announce that you are on bicycles," he said. "You scream it!"

Now when I'm touring, I roll my shorts up to different heights, to avoid the dramatic contrast. Then, not expecting to stay at a naturist site, I hadn't. I was dressed in nothing but camouflage.

"Zat is vare funny!", my friend laughed. I'm sure everyone else did as well, but they were too polite to mention it.

Who else has had a cyclist leg tan and been teased for it?

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1 month ago
John PescatoreTo Leo Woodland

Many years ago when I was in college, my girlfriend and I took a month long cross country driving trip. While driving south in California on coastal highway 1, the views were awesome and we saw a small parking area for getting down to the beach. We stopped, grabbed our plastic Instamatic cameras and headed down the path to take some pictures of the surf on the rocks.

As we turned the final curve on the path, we quickly realized this was a nudist beach with naked kids running around, naked people playing volleyball (I always thought that was just a stereotype...), naked people grilling food, etc. Being two repressed, fully clothed East Coasters, we felt like perverts with our little cameras and quickly turned around and fled!

Since I rarely do any sport bottomless or even topless, whether kayaking, hiking, biking etc. - I usually have what we used to call a "farmer's tan" no matter what.  As I've become increasingly cranial follicle challenged (we don't use the b*** word), what shouts "I'm a cyclist" is the radial pattern of tan on my scalp that the helmet vents enable.

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4 weeks ago
Rachel and Patrick HugensTo Leo Woodland

Great story.

Bicycle gloves used to have a hole between the thumb and forefinger...creating a tanned circle on a ungloved hand...I called that the positive cyclist sign.


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4 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo John Pescatore

Do you mean this look?  

The Klingon look - one of the side benefits of cycling in southern Spain for a month.
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4 weeks ago
John PescatoreTo Scott Anderson

Exactly - like I've been grilling hot dogs on my forehead!

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4 weeks ago
Kelly IniguezTo Leo Woodland

I went in for a pedicure. The lady taking care of me asked with great puzzlement in her voice why would I sunbathe with my socks on, as my feet were white and my legs tanned. 

Yes, I wear socks with my Shimano sandals!

We met a cyclist at a campground in Montana who did not wear socks with his sandals. He said the tan line was an excellent chick deterrent. 

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4 weeks ago
Gregory GarceauTo John Pescatore

No offense, but I think I'm more "b---" than either you or Scott.  I don't like to use the B-word either.  I prefer to think of it as a beautiful head of skin.   I can remember  a case where my helmet tan went all the way from the front of my head to the back of my head.  (Actually, it was more of a helmet BURN.  Very red.)  I got it on RAGBRAI and you can't imagine the grief I took at work for the next week or so afterward.  Alas, I have no picture.  Ever since that time, I've been wearing a cycling cap between my head and my helmet.

I also thought I'd mention the sock tan, or lack thereof.  I always wear socks while cycling despite the tan line that ends a couple inches above my ankles.  A decade ago I started seen a lot of roadies wearing below the ankle socks to eliminate that tan line.  I bought a pair.

The problem is that every year I forget about them until it's too late.  Only a dork would wear those socks after he or she already had white ankles and brown calves. 

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4 weeks ago
Lyle McLeodTo Leo Woodland

Kirsten (my spouse and touring compadre) is the poster girl for Cycle Tan. On our 2015 cross Canada trip we took a mid-term break in Ontario for a 3 day sea kayak trip on Georgian  Bay (Lake Huron). She garnered lots of looks and comments at the boat launch! 

Kirsten modelling Cycle Tan at the Killarney boat launch on Georgian bay

Me on the other hand, being of Scots heritage and therefore lacking in melanin (and what bit I do have has been applied in splatters) pretty much always look like this.

Hair is now thinner and grey(ish) but the skin is still white and speckled. My socks actually blend in with my legs!
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4 weeks ago
John PescatoreTo Lyle McLeod

Cool - you don't need to spend extra money on hi-viz socks or gloves!

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4 weeks ago
Lyle McLeodTo John Pescatore

So true! Even lights are optional, I've been told I glow in the dark!

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4 weeks ago