RAGBRAI LI Route Announced on Jan. 27!

Need sun protection advice!

”God only made so many perfect heads. The rest he covered with hair.” ~ T. Gap Woo

Since last year’s Ragbrai, I was diagnosed with alopecia arreata totalis and lost all of the hair on my head, including eyelashes, brows and beard, as well as on other body parts. While I intend to use the highest SPF sunscreen, I am concerned about “uneven tanning” under my helmet. How can I prevent blotchy tanned areas on my noggin, without restricting the cooling air flow through the helmet?

I am counting on my brethren and sistern Ragbrai’ers for your guidance and advice. Thanks in advance.

See you along the I-O-Way in July.

20 Replies

HelenP, March 23, 2022 at 9:34 pm

You might try a cycling skull cap made of UV resistant, wicking material (like that used in sun sleeves).


Amanda, March 24, 2022 at 8:22 am

Helen beat me to the same advice! Skull cap. Take care and I will see you down the road.


Suds, March 24, 2022 at 9:44 am

Even the lightest skull cap still limits cooling to some extent IMO.
I’m going to try a couple of scalp / hair sunscreen sprays on training rides to see what works best for me.
Sun Bum and Banana Boat appears to be the two widely available options.


JEllefson, March 24, 2022 at 11:01 am

Bald guy here. I always wear a skull cap with a small tail in the back made by Headsweats. The style I like is the “Shorty” which I believe refers to the short tail. I have four of these. There is also a “Heavy Duty Shorty” which is slightly heavier. I have one of these and rarely wear it as I prefer the lighter feel. The skull cap provides great sun protection. I wear Coppertone Sport SPF 50 on all area of my head and neck except for what is covered by the skull cap…..no need. On hot days, it is quite refreshing to take off the Shorty, run it under water, and put it back on. Instant energy boost. When it is super hot, I don’t even squeeze the excess water from the cap and just let it run down by back and shoulders. My wife has thick hair. On hot days, she will squirt her water bottle on top of her head but I don’t think she gets near the relief that I do. There are a few benefits to being bald…


HelenP, March 24, 2022 at 11:30 pm

Even very fine hair can be hot if it’s curly like mine. When it gets long, it acts like a wool hat, with the trapped air insulating. Last year, I took Ye Olde Scissors to it before RAGBRAI, and am very glad I did! I made sure to put sunscreen on my ears, though, and a bandanna on the nape of my neck.

Much like your cap, a bandana run under cool water and then put around the neck is *wonderful* on a hot day!

I’ve been wearing a dry bandanna under my helmet lately, on days when it’s warm enough to not need my new merino wool balaclava (I now understand why people rave about merino!). The bandanna works well — confortable, and thin enough to not affect my helmet adjustment. Seems like one might work well for those of you whose “hair color” tends towards pink. . .!


HelenP, March 24, 2022 at 11:40 pm

P. S., Some bandannas are synthetic, if cotton ones get too soggy.


Kevin Even, March 25, 2022 at 7:54 am

Concur with JEllefson, I too am a bald guy and I wear Headsweats (you can find on web or amazon) they are actually cooling and keep the sweat out of your eyes and offer excellent protection from the sun. There are other similar products available.


“Bicycle Bill”, March 25, 2022 at 2:41 pm

”God only made so many perfect heads. The rest he covered with hair.” ~ T. Gap Woo

Just think of all the testosterone you won’t have to waste growing hair or whiskers.  Save it for better things.



T. Gap Woo, March 25, 2022 at 9:57 pm

Thank you to my brethren and sistern Ragbrai’ers for your sage advice, guidance and wisdom. I knew I could count on you! You folks are the best.

I will visit my LBS and see what they have to offer. I’d rather go there than buy online, in order to keep the money local and support mom-and-pop shops.

BTW, BB, Mrs Woo enjoyed your comment 🤪.

See you along the I-O-Way in July.


direwolf, March 25, 2022 at 11:06 pm

My Sweetie and I are redheads. We use Pearl Izumi sun sleeves and sun legs. We believe PI’s claim that those items keep skin cooler than wearing nothing. We use runner-style ball caps, with a bill out front, to keep sun off our faces. We use lifeguard-grade zinc oxide sunscreen on exposed parts. When we do all that we don’t get sunburned.


HelenP, March 26, 2022 at 12:45 am

I got some “On the Trail” Sun Sleeves from REI Co-op that are excellent, too.

Also picked up a thin pair of similar “Chroma Full Sun Gloves” by Outdoor Research. When I’m doing the long drive home from the beach, I plan to wear them plus the sleeves to keep the summer sun from overheating & burning my hands and left arm.

I’m currently looking for almost-white sun legs (perhaps like these sleeves, which have a very faint, grayish, smoke-like pattern). I want a light color for coolness and visibility, but the starkly white legs are quite the fashion nightmare! *wry grin* (I’ll wear those if I have to, though.)

Anyone know where I could find some sun legs that are not quite pure white?


Sandaltan ., March 26, 2022 at 3:09 pm

A friend of mine uses a “size large coffee filter” between his head and the helmet. He sez “change when necessary”.



Robert Ralfs, March 26, 2022 at 4:53 pm

Get a Da Brimm and use sunscreen. I got educated on my first RAGBRAI ride.


direwolf, March 27, 2022 at 10:05 pm

Helen P and others:

When Pearl Izumi introduced their sun sleeves and sun legs they claimed that the bright white ones are good, but that the black ones are actually cooler. I thought that claim was so ridiculous that it must be true, so I tried both. Indeed, the black ones are cooler than the white ones (even before the white ones get smeared with chain grease and iced coffee). My Sweetie and I speculate on why that might be: swamp cooler effect is greater with black than white?, chemical/physical differences in the black dye result in more effective air flow (black dye adds less thickness to fibers than white dye?), greater reflective sheen of those particular black garments? It is definitely the case that one needs air moving over the garments for them to work.

Sandaltan: Last year in Lytton, just east of Sac City, I had some curbside coffee that tasted like head sweat. Now I know why.


HelenP, March 28, 2022 at 2:02 am

;-) I guess I’m reasonably safe from those smears, since I neither drink coffee nor have a chain on my bike!

Huh, interesting, direwolf. Some desert people wear dark robes, but those are typically thick & loose.

If the thin sun legs/sleeves are dense enough to block UV light, maybe the black absorbs more radiation before it can heat your skin, then quickly dissipates the heat via evaporation. I wonder if you’d use more water, but be cooler, with the black?

I like the lighter ones for better visibility, though. Less vehicle impact on my skin seems like a fine goal! *wry grin*


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