Saturday, September 18, 2010


The downside of the cycling tan is now much more clear in my mind. Being a child of the baby oil/iodine generation, I used to slather myself in this concoction along with my fellow lifeguards as we watched over the minions of young children deposited on our concrete beach every day throughout the summers of my late adolescence. Hour after hour, we baked our skin going for that perfect tan while making sure everyone’s little darling safely returned home at the close of the day.

Tanning continued to be an avocation for me. Telling myself that I felt better, i.e., healthier when I was deeply tanned only served to mobilize my intent to hide that virgin white skin that had reappeared over the long cold months of my collegiate career in Boone, NC. Somewhere along the line, the baby oil/iodine mixture was replaced with actual sunscreen and sun block.

The advent of the tanning bed furthered my “preparations for the beach” as the Navigator and I would spend our 15 minutes working up to 30 minutes in the bed in advance of our late spring trips to Folly Beach. Of course, that was so we could spend more time in the sun relaxing and sunning!

Very similar to my thought processes when I was a smoker, I didn’t REALLY believe that getting sun was bad for me. Forget that my maternal grandfather died as a result of melanoma. Disregard the medical evidence that was piling up about the effects of UV on skin. So, I continued into my 40’s seeking out that perfect tan each season.

In my early 50’s, I began to notice that I wasn’t really tanning anymore. It was more like playing connect the white dots. I began to question my lifelong pursuit of the perfect tan and quit going to tanning beds and began making sure I was covered in proper sunscreen when mowing, riding, or sitting at ballgames enjoying my niece's time as a collegiate level softball player.

This year in particular has been my first real cyclist’s tan. I’m sure you’re familiar with it. The area between the tops of my socks to just above my knees is a nice golden, protected brown. My arms to the shirt sleeve level have that burnished look as well as does my bald head, ears, neck, and face. All the result of having made certain to apply proper sun block to those exposed areas of skin while riding. Other portions of skin, notably abdomen, back, and upper legs remained pretty sun free this season.

Yesterday, I found the downside of the cycling tan… The Wood-man and I had ridden on Thursday while here on Hilton Head Island, SC and I wanted to spend some time with the Navigator yesterday on the beach. I duly covered ALL of my skin parts in freshly purchased sunscreen and spent the day in and out of the shade of the umbrella with her and Sherry Shazam on the beautifully white sands of this Atlantic Ocean bordered island.

Uncrowded beach late in the day(High tide moves in on a gorgeous day at Hilton Head Island!) 

After returning to our rental unit and disrobing for a shower, I found the folly of my ways. Previously untanned skin was now quite red. I was two and three toned. An artist specializing in color gradients would have been proud of their work had they painted my skin. I don’t want to say I was too red but,as I walked by her table, what I hope was a near sighted older woman at the local restaurant tried to order me for supper along with drawn butter.  The joyous flush of sunburned skin apparently emanated through my light weight shirt!

So, today, it will be back to riding and protecting all of my skin again. The red parts that linger will be appropriately covered and the already tanned areas will get their due layer of protection. (Note: to protect the eyes of the innocent, no images of this experience will be posted.)

This year’s HHI experience…

Mornings have been placid and peaceful as we’ve enjoyed coffee on the dock and watched the birds feeding in the lagoon. Each morning, we’ve been treated to Elvis’s morning swim and each evening, in the glow of low level lighting along the walkways, we’ve watched him feed. Elvis, as we’ve named him, is an approximate 4’ alligator that cruises the lagoon.

Morning coffee on the dock!(The Navigator and Sherry Shazam enjoying the morning brew!) 

Quiet morning on the lagoon...(Mornings start peacefully at Ocean Cove.) 

The Wood-Man and I did a light cruise of 20 miles around the island on Thursday. The bike paths on HHI will pretty much get you anywhere you need to go and are excellent for transportational needs and for cruising/light exercise but not at all appropriate for speed and a hearty workout. If I lived here, I could easily see not using a car at all. I’ve yet to see a recumbent bike or even a trike. The paths are well used by both pedestrians and cyclists. The “stop and go” nature of the bike paths as they cross business access got tedious quickly. Each intersection has its own little stop sign on one side of the island and yield signs on another side. The yield signs are seemingly more appropriate. There appears to be a booming bike rental business on the island as well. Today (Saturday), we plan to explore for more barren areas of the island where we can perhaps exceed 15 mph safely.

Charles Fraser and Gator(Statue of Charles Fraser and local gator) 

We stopped by one of the island’s local bike shops (Roadfish Bike Shop) and enjoyed a nice conversation with the staff. I made sure to invite them to the 2011 Blue Ridge Breakaway back home. Some of the staff were prepping for the S.C.State bike races that are being held this weekend in Greenville, SC. The Pro Road Championships are also being held there today and tomorrow. We’ll hope that local cyclist George Hincapie can defend his national title.

The Navigator and Sherry Shazam have already packed up and headed to the beach. The Wood-Man and I are headed to breakfast before mounting our two wheeled steeds for a day of island exploring. I hope I don’t fall off mine due to all that sunscreen!

Until later,

- Zeke


michele said...

The vacation spot looks lovely with the clear blue water and sandy shores. Keep slatherin' the SPF on dear Zeke. It's for your own good. Speaking from experience, the SPF is easier then the surgery and waiting the results. But that's the pitfalls of being lilly white. Enjoy your vacation with Mrs. Navigator and friends. By what you wrote, it doesn't sound like that will be difficult to do.

Unknown said...


Thanks for the comment! I'm back at work now experiencing the Monday morning, post mini-vacation let down... :) It was not at all difficult to enjoy our time away. We had a great time and I avoided making myself look like a lobster again!.

- Zeke