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Cycling | Under the Sun Sports to get a Suntan

The International governing body of cycling is the Union Cycliste Internationale and this foundation is responsible for the international racing circuit. These races attract tens of millions of spectators at not only the worldwide venues but also through televised programs.  The purpose of the UCI is to promote cycling worldwide and coordinate road racing internationally and work in conjunction with the IOC (International Olympics Committee) to present the Olympic Games. The World Cycling Centre (WCC) headquarters is also a world class coaching and training facility. 

USA Cycling (USAC) is recognized by the UCI and IOC as the governing body for cycling in the U.S. and covers all the current cycling disciplines offered in the Olympics.  Teams that wish to compete internationally must belong to the national body first and then apply to the UCI.  There are a set number of teams that may apply yearly.  This year there are 15 recognized teams with only one being a woman’s team. Races normally consist of time trials one day and the race the next.  Road Racing is also a part of triathlon and the Iron Man competitions.

Road racing has become a more popular sport with the high profile racing career, courage and philanthropy of Lance Armstrong.  Also add into the mix the increase in recreational cyclists and it has taken off.  Often when a person becomes involved in a sport they also become interested in the professional or competitive side of that sport.  As more people realize the need to be outside in the sunshine for the vitamin D value and the exercise value, the more types of sports people will research.  Cycling has exercise value, sun value and transportation value which increases its appeal.  Admittedly some states are more likely to have it year round but in the summer most states find their roads become training or racing tracks for cyclists.

The most famous of the road races is the Tour de France which starts in a different European city each year.  The 2010 Le Tour de France is the 97th and will take place from July 3rd - July 25th with the Grand Start in Rotterdam, Amsterdam but, as always, it ends in Paris.  The race will cover a route of 3600km (2237 miles) in the sun and heat of summer!  Sunscreen and sunglasses are a must!  Of course, with a nice base tan, sport tanning lotion is fine but that delicate face tissue will need sunscreen with zinc oxide on the nose and ears.  A broad brimmed hat is advised, especially for those with thinning hair that need to be very careful.  A UV protective sunhat is the best idea for protection for anyone out in the sun for an extended period.  These concerns extend to both competitor and spectator alike.  Unlike the competitors the spectators may take advantage of sun umbrellas.

These races can be quite long with hydration and energy replacement a major consideration.  This can be accomplished either of two ways:  feeding/watering stations or via passing the items from a team vehicle.  Repair pits are also provided in case of major problems with a bicycle.  Riders are allowed to carry water bottles to combat the dehydrating effects of the sun and exercise, as long as they are not glass.

The equipment is very specialized with the bicycles being constructed very precisely to the size of the individual rider.  UV protective jerseys are available and bicycle shorts having padding sewn in to try and prevent sore bottoms.  Sunglasses or sun goggles are another very important piece of equipment.  The items needed for this sport are many and it can be an expensive sport.

Internationally BMX racing is also governed by the UCI and the USAC in the U.S.  This is the exciting, flashy side of cycling.  On circuits of about 350m which include obstacles, jumps and banked corners riders race at high rates of speed.  One practice session is mandatory for each category racing.  The competitions are divided into three phases: motos, quarterfinals and finals.  Motos consist of three rounds and they are the beginning of the elimination process.  Quarterfinals are based on the number of people and are the second stage of elimination towards the finals.

The rules dictate that long sleeved loose fitting shirts of specific fabrics must be worn, good for sun protection; as well as some protection in the case of a fall.  Pants must be long loose fitting and tear resistant.  The rules are very detailed regarding clothing.  Helmets must have full face shields but nothing is said as to whether they must be clear.  What about shields which are tinted to give protection from the sun?  After all this is an outside competition and sun would be a factor.

Spectators must think of what will be required to protect from the hazards of extended periods in the sun as well.  Be sure to have sunhats, sunscreen, a UV protective sun umbrella, and sunglasses for everyone and include plenty of water.

Mountain Bike is the rugged, sunny outdoor-loving side of cycling.  This can include either individual or team competition.  Competition encompasses a variety of cross country and downhill races.  There are marathons, which may be from 32 to 67 miles over all types of flat and hilly or mountainous sun dappled terrain.  There are head to head races in which two to four people each race to see who can be the best at challenging nature and his fellow man.  There is also endurance racing and competitors must be at least 15 years of age.  Whether coasting or pedaling you never know what will pop up in front of you with nature all around.  Courses are well marked and competitors may walk them ahead of time.  Full face shield helmets must be worn and when sunshine is a factor, tinted shields may be worn.  The UCI make definite recommendations for the type of injury protective equipment to be worn which includes neck and cervical vertebrae, in particular.  Trousers should be of rip resistant material with rigid built in knee and calf protection.  The shirt should be long sleeved with elbow and shoulder protection underneath and full finger gloves.  No mention is made for or against UV protective materials but it might be a thought when the summertime sun can be so brutal.  This is also important when in higher altitudes where the sun’s rays are more powerful.  There is something for everyone of an adventurous nature in mountain biking.  The terrain to be traversed may consist of rolling paths, mountainous rocky trails, sun dappled forest roads, flat sun splashed fields, small streams to ford and either manmade or natural obstacles to jump.  Definitely an exciting workout!

Members of the USAC may be either competitors or everyday people with a daring nature who love the sunny outdoors.  The website gives you the cycling industry’s code of conduct for the various disciplines to insure that the public supports the continuance of these sports.

If interested check out all the varied aspects of cycling then grab your bike and head out into the sunshine and have fun!

-Miss Suntan

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