Cycle: Five Ways to Beat the Sun

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Even once the summer's oppressive heat begins to subside, there is no escaping the sun in the desert.

The Valley just doesn't have those majestic tree-lined avenues that create a canopy of shade. More often than not, there are just a few streaks of saguaro shadows to break up sun exposure.

So, what's a cyclist to do? Regardless of your type of riding, here are five easy ways to keep the UV away.

1. Sunscreen

Yes, there is no more annoying sensation than stinging eyes from sweat running sunscreen off of your forehead. Nevertheless, no ride should start without ample application of sunscreen

Scape Athlete Sunblock is a good lotion that was developed in partnership between and Cambridge trained biochemist and the top triathlete in the world. This lotion is a bit thick at first but rubs on evenly and feels as if it absorbs into the skin quickly with little run regardless of how sweaty things get. It comes in one flavor, SPF 50. Just remember to reapply after a couple of hours. Scape runs about $15 a bottle and is carried at Tribe Multisport in Scottsdale.

2. UPF clothing 

Did you know that a typical cotton t-shirt has a SPF rating of 7? Nowadays there is a good assortment of shirts and shorts with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) ratings of 30 to 50, but not a lot of it is very breathable to gets stinky fast. 

Pearl Izumi has developed a pretty wide selection of UPF jerseys and shorts that stay comfortable and fairly odor appropriate regardless of the temps. Just be sure to check the tags to make sure that the piece you're buying is made of the UPF material. And, Pearl Izumi gear can be found at virtually any local bike shop across the Valley.

3. Sun sleeves

These typically white arm and leg sleeves do the exact opposite of their black counterparts when it's cool out. The key is to get them wet so that they act like the pad in an evap cooler, turning the air moving over the body into coolness while also pulling perspiration away from the skin. De Soto, Pearl Izumi and Specialized each make sun sleeves and they can be found at Landis Cyclery starting at $20 a pair.

4. Sun glasses 

Heck, a good pair of shades are worth it just to keep an errant bug from jabbing you in the eyeball. But they also help keep the sun's rays from burning out things like retinas and corneas, not to mention the sensitive skin around the eye socket. 

Any quality set of sunglasses on the market block UVA and UVB rays, so why not customize some frames and lenses? Oakley Jawbones come in virtually any frame color and can be mixed and matched to coordinate with your bike or team colors. Custom Jawbones can be assembled at Airpark Bikes or Bicycle Haus, both in Scottsdale.

5. Lights

The absolutely best way to beat the sun? Ride at night. Just be sure to light the way both from the front and back. Bike lights are getting very bright and fairly affordable, which is nice because Arizona State Statute requires bike operators to "have a lamp on the front that emits a white light visible from a distance of at least five hundred feet to the front" from sunset to sunrise. 

A reflector is all that is required for the back, but throw on a 300+ lumen LED lamp, such as the NiteRider MiNute.350, and you'll have enough brightness to chase coyotes along Desert Classic trail after dusk.

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