Today’s QT comes from me and was sparked by an odd occurrence resulting from a ride I took last week.
It’s been blazing hot in Atlanta so far this summer, where overnight low temperatures often remain in the 70s. The only way to beat the heat on a ride is to get out early, and even though the sun’s UV rays don’t peak in their daily intensity until early to mid-afternoon, typically, it’s absolutely important to use sunscreen no matter when you ride in the summer.
If you’re like me, on weekends, especially, you may be out for 5 hours or more. So even if you start early, you may still be on the road at the peak of the UV index. And you want to be protected at all times, no matter what. Don’t think you can’t get fried by the morning sun, too.
On the day in question I had applied my favorite broad-spectrum sunscreen (a spray-on, which I prefer for ease of use). In additon to coating my arms, shoulders, neck, face, ears, chest and tops of my legs, I spray the top of my head. (Any balding cyclist can tell you that it is quite possible for the sun to find its way through your helmet to cook the exposed skin on top of your head!)
Extra Tip! Any new scars or new skin from healed road rash are especially sensitive to the sun. Be sure to coat them liberally to avoid sunburn – even if they happen to be covered by your kit.
Here’s the strange part: When I got home from a multi-hour ride that day and took off my helmet, my son asked me what that yellow stuff on my pate was. I rubbed a finger across it, inspected the finger and told him I guessed it was just sunscreen residue, and hoped it would come off in the shower.
Putting on my helmet for my next ride, though, I noticed something. The yellow MIPS liner inside the helmet wasn’t yellow in the area that contacts the pate of my head. I immediately understood what that meant:
The MIPS liner is not solid yellow plastic. Instead, it is painted that distinctive yellow color. And that paint, where it had come into contact with the skin on my head, had dissolved.
Something in the sunscreen acts as a solvent, in effect.
Seeing the missing paint on the liner reminded me that something similar had happened once to the underside of my Timex Ironman watch. What I thought was solid gray plastic was instead painted gray, and the sunscreen had removed some of the paint on contact.
So, if you use a spray-on sunscreen, simply be aware that it may act as a solvent if your coated skin touches a painted surface that is not sealed in any way.
By the way, to keep my pate from acquiring any further yellow tatoos, I quickly pulled out the replacement foam bits that came with the helmet and affixed one of them to the spot in question. Problem solved.
If you have an idea for a QT, fire away. We’re always looking for good info we can share with fellow roadies. We would love to hear from you with any suggestions you have. Contact us by clicking Quick Tips Ideas.
—John Marsh & The RBR Team