Intrepid motorcycle riders refer to a rainy day as liquid sunshine. As much as we try to make the best of bad weather, however, we really prefer sunny riding days. Being able to ride a motorcycle on a beautiful day, enjoying blue skies and soaking up golden rays, may be one of life’s greatest joys. All good, except for those golden rays of sunshine, which can leave us with a nasty surprise at the end of our ride, one that we all likely have experienced—sunburn from riding and rallying.
The pain of sunburn is a warning that we are doing harm to our bodies. Unlike the exercise motto “no pain, no gain,” a sunburn clear signals that it’s time to protect yourself from direct exposure to the sun. An often-overlooked hazard of sunburn is that it can contribute to heat exhaustion. And while you might feel tough enough to handle the sting of sunburn, that pain may be just the beginning.
The UVA and UVB ultraviolet (UV) rays in sunlight that cause sunburn also put you at risk for skin cancer such as melanoma, which can be deadly. Those UV rays penetrate your skin and can alter the structure of the DNA in your skin cells. Repeated overexposure to excess sunlight increases the risks that years later you might develop skin cancer. This is an avoidable illness if you simply protect yourself. If you don’t, learn the early warning signs of skin cancer.
When we think of sunburn protection, sunscreen comes to mind first. With good reason because sunscreen, if reapplied often, can protect us from the sun’s harmful rays while allowing us to wear clothing like biker T-shirts. Did you know, however, that UV rays can penetrate your T-shirt? Today, there are modern fabrics that provide protection from harmful UV rays. This material is sold with a UPF number, which stands for Ultraviolet Protection Factor. Similar to sunscreen, a rating of UPF50 blocks over 90% of harmful UV radiation. The nice thing about UPF rated clothing is, unlike sunscreen, there is no need to reapply it. Using a combination of UPF clothing and sunscreen is a good plan. Remember to also cover your noggin with a hat, preferably wide-brimmed.
Have you ever looked in the mirror on Monday morning and discovered you have a case of raccoon face? Many of us might feel it’s a badge of honor, providing we rode long and hard over the weekend. What it proves is that your sunglasses protected you from UV radiation. Wearing sunscreen on your face will protect your rosy cheeks. If you find that sunscreen on your face gets in your eyes, consider using a helmet face shield with a UV coating. These are available clear or tinted.
Till next time, keep the sunny side up and ride safe!
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