Thursday, February 01, 2007

Sunburned and loving it

Date: Jan. 31
Mileage: 37.3
January mileage: 893.4 (Oh, so close)
Temperature upon departure: 30

Climbing up from Sheep Creek today, I was trying to determine the strange sensation boiling up from my core. I held my hand over my eyebrows as I squinted into the blaze of sun. The gesture made me think of sunglasses. Sunglasses? I remember sunglasses. People wear sunglasses in the summer. Summer? I remember summer. It's hot in the summer. Hot? I remember hot. Could I possibly be hot?

Shortly thereafter, I started peeling layers off. I have a great clothing system in place that compensates for the nuances of even a couple of degrees. But it doesn't take into account dry weather and direct sunlight. First went the PVC layer. Then the gloves. Then the balaclava.

Suddenly, I was having all sorts of strange sensations. The wind flowing gently through my hair. A pleasant chill on my ungloved fingers as they clutched the cold handlebars. The warmth of sunlight on my bare skin. That sunlight, seeping into surfaces on me that are never exposed, ignited a rush of melanin that made me feel like I was out in the heat of July.

After my ride was over, I set to scrubbing the thick mask of slush grime from my face, just like I do every day. As the gray grit sloughed off, a tell-tale pink hue began to emerge.

I'm normally one of those people who becomes horrified at the prospect of even a minor skin burn. But, now ... well ... I don't even think the stores here stock sunscreen.

Even my coworkers noticed my new, healthy glow. "You look like you got some sun!" they exclaimed. To us pasty-faced Alaskans, it's the ultimate badge of honor.