Sun Burn

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Yesterday I rode over Vail Pass with Sue, met Vincent near the top, then rode down to Frisco and then back again to Vail. I took off with no headband, but it was cloudy. I also left with no lip stuff with sunblock. I always use that at altitude or my lower lip gets really burnt.

Anyway, today my forehead and lower lip or pretty toast. I keep forgetting how much more intense the sun is at altitude than in Kansas. It always surprises me.

I went to a dermatologist a few years ago and the nurse asked me if I’d ever been sunburned. I thought it was a trick question. I hesitated and then just answered yes. She then asked more than 3 times. I laughed. I said yes again and told her I’d been completely sunburned toe to head 100’s of times, if not thousands. She looked shocked.

I told my mom the story and she said something like you always went to the pool with sunblock on when you were a kid. I told her that sunblock hadn’t been “invented” when I spent the whole summer at the pool. The lifeguards and a few others used to put zinc oxide on their noses, but other than that it was full sun.

I couldn’t come close to counting how many times I have been completely fried by the sun. My normal summer look was peeling skin on my face and back. Sometimes when it was bad, I could pull nearly complete sheets of peeling skin off my back.

I have pretty okay skin. I had freckles as a kid, all over my face, arms and shoulders. Most of my friends had freckles too. It doesn’t seem like many kids have freckles anymore. I wonder why that is? Must be sun related. I don’t know why you lose your freckles either? I just they just slowly disappear as you get older.

When I raced The Tour of Southland, on the south island of New Zealand, they have a problem with really bad sunburn. I guess there is an ozone hole that moves around above and that the sun is super intense and dangerous. The race supplied sunblock. Every school kid that lined the courses when we rode by wore long sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat that covered their faces. It seemed strange at the time, but it made sense.

Anyway, I don’t use sunblock on my skin. Well, hardly ever to I use sunblock. I’m not completely sold on the whole thing. Plus, I can’t stand it when it gets into my eyes while riding. I know that I’m going against the grain on this, but I think the jury is still out, scientifically, on this one. I guess time will tell.

Sue riding back towards Vail near the top of Vail Pass.

Sue riding back towards Vail near the top of Vail Pass.

I saw this mushroom near the top of Vail Pass.  I have no idea what it is, but it is the biggest mushroom I've ever seen.

I saw this mushroom near the top of Vail Pass. I have no idea what it is, but it is the biggest mushroom I’ve ever seen.

These guys were near the top of Vail Pass too.  I can't believe how hard it must be to do this.  I was so impressed.

These guys were near the top of Vail Pass too. I can’t believe how hard it must be to do this. I was so impressed.

14 thoughts on “Sun Burn

  1. scott

    I’m with you on the sunblock (and a decade plus of additional exposure) – but the bad news is that the jury’s back and we’re screwed.

  2. Wildcat

    Steve, this is silly. I never used to use sunscreen, but it was mostly because I HATED the greesy/sticky feeling on my skin. Then when you would sweat it would look like a layer of oil on your skin. I hate the smell just as bad. Well, a couple years ago I discovered Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry Touch sunscreen. Here it is –

    It’s scent free and goes on perfect. You can’t even tell you are wearing any at all.

    You can get it at Wal-Mart for $7.49 or something like that, but a bottle lasts a long time. Anyway, I use the SPF45 on my face and SPF 30 everywhere else.

    I just LOVE the stuff. Now, I use it all the time March through June. It allows your skin to tan gradually and not burn or peel. By July, my skin is a perfect tan that requires no sunscreen for the rest of summer.

  3. channel_zero

    Bottom line: you are supposed to really lay the stuff on, and then do it again because even sweatproof, waterproof sunscreen protection declines steeply over time.

    One of the most useful things I’ve heard on the radio this year was a segment on how a revision of the rating of sunblock regulations are changing because consumers have no clue how much they are supposed to use (not enough now) and rely too much on SPF rating.

    I see plenty of freckles in my area on all ages. Plenty of sun and mild weather here though.

  4. Daniel Russell

    To say nothing of not wearing a helmet while training. We all make or own choices, even the bad ones.

  5. Euro

    I’ve had a bad sunburn twice in my life. I’m 44. I was diagnosed with skin cancer a year ago. You better start praying Steve.

  6. David

    I have metastatic renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer that has spread to my lungs) and there is a connection between the treatment for RCC and melanoma. I say that to say there are a lot of melanoma patients at the cancer center alongside me and some of the stuff you see there will make you a believer in sunscreen.

  7. Wuzfastnowimnot

    My Uncle (age 76 and has always lived in Miami FL) has had several melanoma removed and tested. The irony is when the biopsied the cells removed they discovered the cancers were the result of the sunscreens he used and not UV damage. Yes, the sun causes damage as well as cancers in some people but not all. My Aunt, his wife, was a big tanner and at age 74 has never had a lesion or melanoma.

    There is no one answer. I’m with Steve on this one. I don’t like putting chemicals on or in me and I don’t always wear my helmet training either!!!! Only when I am with riders I don’t know. 35+ years racing and training. Lucky? Maybe….But I also not going to lecture or ridicule those who chose to wear a helmet.

  8. Bryan

    I’m 48 (almost 49) and have never had a sunburn, but do have a deep tan from hours and hours out on the road. I’ve never used sunscreen and have never had problems. Lots of it has to do with your native complexion. I’m not fair skinned like my mother and take more after my father; we have darker complexion. Even at altitude I’ve never burned.

  9. Brad Carvey

    UV light is one of the causes of skin cancer, so blocking UV with sun block should help, but….

    My parents were outside a lot. never used sunscreen and never got skin cancer. Some time in the 80s sunscreen started getting popular. For about 40 years people have gradually spent less time in the sun and used more sunscreen.

    So, the skin cancer rates should be going down, especially with younger people that have used sunscreen their whole lives and don’t spend their lives outdoors in the sun. Unfortunately, skin cancer rates have sky rocketed. The skin cancer rates with 19-39 year old has increased more rapidly then older people, probably because of indoor tanning salons. Still, major rise in skin cancer in the US and other places.

    Altitude should be a problem, more UVs, but Australia has way way more people die from skin cancer then any other country.

    Like most things, there is not simple answer. I use sunblock, but based on my first 30+ years, I will get skin cancer. On a ride from San Francisco to Denver (1969), I got 2nd degree burns on my arms, crossing the central valley with 110-120 degree temperature. I still have scar tissue on both arms. Not sure if the sunblock will delay my pending skin cancer, make it less severe or have no effect.


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