I have been cycling avidly for the last 5 year. Up and down mountains in Ireland and Europe it's a great way to see the country, keep fit, have fun and meet people.
If you open any cycling magazine or holiday brochure everyone looks tanned, fit , healthy, beautiful and of course decked out in the most expensive gear courtesy of sponsors. Photoshopped or not, it's not the reality of cycling in Ireland!
Cycling is a little more "character building" here. January and February are notorious for high winds. They come in from the east bringing cold, frosty conditions. From the west, generally stronger, milder though but with more rain that you really need.
Summer can be even wetter but at least it's warm rain beating off your helmet! September and October of late have been lovely! Warm and sunny.
So how can you look good with all these harsh conditions being thrown at you? We might not get searing sun, I t's the wind and rain burn that hurt. It dries out your face, ages your skin, gives you a lovely weathered look and plays havoc with your hair!
Arriving home cold to the bone, wet to the core, skin red from the cold it takes a while to turn from GI Jane into a Beauty Queen. It is achievable though and to be honest, it's not just for girls!! I cycle with a lot of men and have told them the benefits of skin care on and off the bike! ( Much to their partners delight.)
I am no beautician I must point out but I am qualified by epiercence! Braving the elements all in the name of fun takes a special breed! You live and learn the hard way.
Before you leave the house:
So obviously wearing the correct clothing is going to make a difference. Wind and wet proof gloves, shoe covers, base layers are all great but your face is out in the elements.
SPF 30 is a must. So we don't live in a tropical climate. We still need to protect our face from UV rays. We are outdoor people, protect your skin! Wear it everyday, it is the best thing you can do for anti aging.
Vaseline! Lots of it. In winter the wind, rain and cold really do damage your face. I put on a layer of Vaseline over my SPF. It creates a barrier from the elements and stops wind burn. I have tried expensive barrier creams but to be honest they are just fancy Vaseline! Don't waste your money.
Do not use vaseline in the summer though, it can accelerate sunburn. Bring some SPF 30 with you and reapply at coffee time.
Wearing a buff or balaclava is a must in the winter. (Remember to take it off when going into the coffee shop!) Pull it over or just under your nose. It protects the delicate skin on your neck, cheeks and chin. Personally I prefer buffs as balaclavas can be a bit too restrictive and hot but there have been days I have been very glad of mine. It's cold out there.
Keep it under your hat. Your hair that is. Wind and rain can play havoc with your hair. It dries it out, causes brittle ends and breakages. Likewise in the summer it can fade and damage coloured hair. Keep your hat down over your forehead to protect your skin here. I find a hat with a peak great, in the summer it keep the sun off your face and in the winter it stops the rain getting in your eyes!
Deep hair conditioners are not just a nice treat. Apply to your hair before you go out to protect from the elements. Your hair will feel amazing after your shower.
When you get home:
Get out of wet, cold clothes as soon as possible.
I used to make the mistake of trying to get into a hot shower but found my skin was too sensitive. The hot water would hurt, too big a temperature change. Start with a warm shower and gradually increase the temperature is far kinder to your skin and sensitive nerve endings.
My face can look a little red, glowing after being out doors for so long. After my shower I apply some coconut oil to it and let it "rest." Moisturizers just aren't enough and they are full of chemicals.
Later if I am going out I really need to use a good primer that evens out my skin tone.
Once a week I rub pure vitamin E oil into my face, just buy vitamin E capsules and break them open. It's much cheaper than a bottle and it is the same thing.
Massage your skin. I have been using pure coconut oil for some time now and my skin is loving it. Its great for dry, sensitive skin and has zero chemicals. It is also antibacterial (gets rid of nail fungus) and is anti inflammatory. Just what sore tired muscles need. Its also amazing for skin conditions such as eczema. Soothe your skin from the cold and wind. Your face will love it. It's not too greasy, it does soak in. (You can use coconut oil in your hair before your cycle, makes an excellent deep conditioner)
Wrap up. Get warm, keep your toes covered. My feet are always freezing on the bike. I have tried everything but they just get cold. Wrapping up my feet in pure wool socks really helps. My toe nails get a bit of a battering from the constant cold/ numbness. Spend a little massaging oil into them, and finger nails need a little recovery too.
Sunburn doesn't happen often but prevention is better that cure, use your SPF 30. Aloe vera is by far the best remedy. Why not grow your own? All you need is a warm, indoor sunny spot. Break off a leaf if you get sunburn. Rub the goo it oozes to the sore spot for instant relief. Try some on your face too it soothes dry skin! Keep the branch in the fridge and use it for a few days. The plant will recover just fine. You can also buy Aloe vera gel in health food shops/ pharmacy.
Cycling may not be glamorous in Ireland, we always have a rain jacket in our back pocket but it makes trips abroad to warmer destinations all the better. We appreciate the warm!
I can't say I won't age, or haven't done any damage to my skin but at least by taking a few small steps I can slow down the damage, keep my skin healthy and make the most of what God gave me!
Happy Outdoor living!
Join me in warm and sunny Spain, March 2017 for an amazing cycling and yoga holiday.
About the Author:
Sinéad Kennedy is a Physical Therapist, Yoga Siromani and Pilates Instructor, based in South County Dublin. She treats and teaches people from all walks of life, including many athletes, especially cyclists, runners & golfers. Recently featured in the Irish Independant, FIT Magazine, her Yoga 4 Cyclists class has gained notoriety.
A keen cyclist and proud member of Orwell Wheelers she has completed numerous cycling events including La Marmotte Sportive. Sinéad has also completed three Dublin City Marathons, numerous Adventure Races and Half Marathons.
Keen to spread the word on all things related to Wellness, Fitness, Coaching and Travel.