Luke Bryan’s Gal Ain’t Got Nothin’ on My Tan Lines

In his song, “Too Damn Young,” Luke Bryan brags that “in that moonlight, I saw her tan lines.”

Luke, you handsome country crooner, you. I just want to tell you (in my heaviest Tennessee Southern drawl) that, “I’m no longer too young, and I’ll hop up on your tailgate and flash my tan lines at you any time of day.”

Sadly, it’s true. You and anyone else in a 50 foot proximity.

Now before any of you get your hopes up (or run for the hills, for that matter), let me tell you why you won’t have to wait until the moonlight…and why it really won’t be all that exciting…

I am a cyclist. (You’ll need to go back and read my Intro paragraph to my Cycling 101 post #1 at the Remedial phase to fully understand why I use that particular term to describe myself – it’s really just meant to make me sound tougher & more proficient on those pedals.)

If you read my introductory post, you’ll find that there are different classifications of cyclists, but unless you’re dealing with the kind who puts on a gingham dress to go to the countryside market by carrying her bread in a basket, the rest pretty much share one particular characteristic that marks them (I mean, us) as cyclists. (Sorry, I’m not used to personally sounding so tough & proficient yet.)

It’s the distinctive summer tan lines.

tan_lines

Despite the fact that I do most of my riding in the evenings (and occasionally in the mornings) and that I wear SPF30 on my body and SPF50 on my face, I’ve managed to get tan lines – and when I say distinctive, boy do I mean diSTINKtive!

My shoulders and tops of my legs (the lower parts not covered by the biking shorts) take the brunt of the heat – along with my cheeks and nose (which get some windburn too). The backs of my legs get nothing, and the tan gradient lessens down to my ankles, where my clipped-in, covered feet are white (which is quite noticeable when wearing summer sandals). More noticeable than the white feet are the white hands from the cycling gloves (which don’t cover the fingers, but those spend all their time wrapped around the grips).

Did I mention the tops of my ears? Okay, I’m just teasing on that one – the helmet pretty much keeps those shaded (but me putting sunscreen on them doesn’t keep my family from mercilessly making fun of me!).

Then, of course, there’s the reverse raccoon sunglass lines. (I’ll wear these even as the sun goes down. The bugs have a harder time sky-diving into my eyes that way. Notice I said harder time – not impossible…unfortunately.)

That other white line on “my” face up there is for my helmet’s chin strap. I’m hoping that, besides keeping my brain intact (no cracks please), it will also keep me from having to have a face lift one day…

And please don’t mistake that dark patch on my chest for fur. My cycling tops have zippers, which is how I get my air conditioning while I ride – and a V-shaped tan.

So maybe my tan lines aren’t as sexy as the ones Luke Bryan saw on the dock by the moonlight. But if he’s a true country boy who hangs out in the pastures with the cattle, then I have just one thing to say to him. “You should see the muscles in my calves, cowboy!” 😉

Cycling (Not even 101 yet – this is a reflection on my Remedial phase)

I’ve recently gotten into bicycling – which now apparently sounds much cooler if you label yourself, instead, as a “cyclist” (long vowel sound), rather than a “bicyclist” (wimpy vowel sound), not to be mistaken for the label “biker” (coughing vowel sound) in which you have a motor that will do a large majority of the work for you and sounds much more intimidating when revving your engine at a stop sign – versus the only sound I can make at that same stop sign, which is the unclipping of my shoe from my pedal (okay, and the whimpering “crap” that slips out when I lose all my momentum & a hill is facing me).

I’ve decided that, essentially, there are 2 categories of cyclists. Those who are either:

-Leisure-oriented

or

-Goal-oriented

Admittedly, there’s a range of sub-types within these categories, particularly the goal-oriented one. There are goal-oriented cyclists who:

– simply set personal goals to ride so many miles per week (though they might do it leisurely or not),

-work to beat either themselves or someone else’s record(s), perhaps on a particular course that’s been set up (see MapMyRide to understand how you can extend these challenge possibilities beyond your own circle of friends),

-formally compete at the amateur level, such as in triathlons, mountain bike or road bike races,

-formally compete at the quasi-professional level in high-speed road races,

-formally compete in professional road races (e.g., Le Tour de France being the premier of these known by all).

Let’s get back to the normal person, though – like me (yes, I consider myself perfectly normal!) – who started riding with absolutely no competitive aspirations. I imagined myself being a top-speed leisure-oriented rider (meaning I would ride down park sidewalks, pronouncedly declaring “left” to all the walkers I passed – and then I’d go a little over the posted speed limit when no one was looking). I would’ve even been okay with a little bell and a basket on my bike. And I surely couldn’t have imagined frowning down upon coming to a hill, hopping off to one side of my bike, and leisurely strolling it to the top.

That was before T surprised me with my very own Trek Lexa SLX (which touts it is specifically designed with women riders in mind — what? it comes with a compact mirror?!). She was sleek and beautiful, but I could tell she had a little bit of a rebellious streak in her – so I named her “Little Red Riding.” She was a little intimidating just sitting in my office, let me tell you – because even though she’s consider a “low-end model” in the road cycling world (yes, there are bikes that cost more than my car), I was afraid to de-value her by getting a scratch on her body. (If it came down to who was getting the road rash, I decided I’d throw my body between her and the asphalt.)

she is – “Little Red Riding,” hanging out in my office with me for the first time.

Here she is – “Little Red Riding,” hanging out in my office with me for the first time.

I was also intimidated by her clipless pedals (which seem to be a misnomer to me, as you do “clip” into and out of them) – and be assured that I’ll write more about those from a beginner’s perspective on a different day because, I figured if anything was going to cause my body to ever be between my bike and the asphalt, those were the most likely culprits.

I should’ve been intimidated by my crank system, but, heck, I didn’t even know there were any choices in crank systems at that time. There are, in fact. One is a triple crank system (meaning there are 3 chainrings) “for a wider range of gear shifting.” That’s what the brochure says, anyway. I can’t be sure of the difference because T chose a compact crank system for me. ‘Sooo?’ you may naively ask. Well, let me just read you its description: “Two front chainrings with shorter gearing, for the best combination of climbing ability and flat-terrain speed.” If you didn’t catch the two most important (let me translate that as intimidating) words, they were: CLIMBING and SPEED. I felt like I’d been gifted with a Trojan Horse! T was sneak attacking me with his gift. He had every intention of me being more of the goal-oriented cyclist than the “ring your little bell down the sidewalk and push your basketed bike up the hill” sort of leisure-rider I had envisioned.

So “Little Red Riding” and I weren’t going to be delivering a basket of cookies to Grandma, huh? Instead, we were going to be out riding with “The Big Bad Wolf.” (Please help me dramatically end this post by inserting your own goose-bump-raising howl here.)

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