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How to Cultivate a Tan Line

Philadelphia Bike Ride

The Neopoli-Tan

Whether touring, hiking, or performing any other sort of extended outdoor travel, the miles are endless, the days are long, and when you’re finished you’re left with little more than the fading memory of fleeting thoughts. For this reason, it’s important to maintain some sort of record of your travels. Some write in a journal and others talk into a recorder, but I recommend a form of record keeping that predates both the written and spoken word. I’m talking about tan lines.

The sun is a friend that writes things down for you when your hands are full. Between holding onto your dropdowns, checking your GPS, and reaching for your water bottle, there’s no easy way to prove to the world that what you’re doing is as amazing as it is. Sure, you could update your Facebook status at every break, but News Feeds roll by in the blink of an ever-reddening eye. How can you really be sure that everyone knows how special what you’re doing is?

The easy solution is to have an eye-popping, conversation-starting, envy-inducing tan line. What have you been doing? they’ll ask. Why, I’ve been being interesting, you’ll respond. Then you can deftly segue into stories about life on the road; the mountains you conquered, the chains you broke, the bears you wrestled. You can also be confident that every time you look down at your own tan lines, a flood of memories will surge into your mind, allowing you to talk effortlessly and endlessly of your trip.

Here are some tips on how to make sure you reach your full tan line potential:

Pro Tip #1 – Wake Up Later than You Planned

This may sound like an odd tip, but it’s actually an ingenious way to trick your best judgment. When people are rushed, they forget things. When running behind while getting ready for work, you may forget to put on deodorant. When running behind while getting ready to ride, you may forget to put on sunscreen. Look, I can’t recommend that you ride a full day in the sun without sunblock (that’s just not healthy), but I can say that without harmful UVA and UVB rays being blocked, you’re really able to add some color.

Pro Tip #2 – Aim High (Contrast)

If you really want that tan line to pop, you need to offset your extreme tan with some extreme pastiness. A great tan line isn’t just about the sun you get, but also the sun you don’t get. Hot day making you want to take your shirt off? Fight the urge. Feel like a swim in a lake after a long day? Not until after the sun sets, my friend. Trust me; you’ll be thanking yourself for your self-restraint when you look like Rocky Balboa with Apollo Creed’s arms.

Pro Tip #3 – Express Yourself

Your tan line is an extension of yourself. It’s a tacit way of saying, This is me, world! So do it up. If you like to knit, wear crocheted gloves for a fun, but expressive hand tan. If you’re a fan of multi-flavored ice cream, alternate between short sleeve and sleeveless shirts so your arms get a nice Neopoli-Tan. If you enjoy clich?s, but aren’t into needles, press your leg against a greasy chain ring and have a reverse tattoo by the end of the week. The key is to not limit yourself!

So put down your smart phone, lotion up your chamois, and set the controls for the heart of the sun. Or at least for its glorious ultraviolet rays.

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