When I was younger, I fully embraced tan lines. My natural (and valid) hatred of sunscreen paired with the pure joy of watching my skin turn toasty brown produced an embarrassing number of beach photos in which I appear to be wearing flesh-colored shorts and a T-shirt under my swimsuit. At the time I didn’t care—I loved that I was easily identifiable (from a great distance, in fact) as a cyclist.
But then came the phase of my life in which all my friends got married, which meant I had to wear a lot of dresses. I also started identifying myself as things other than ‘cyclist,’ and somewhere in there also started getting crow’s-feet. I also learned that skin cancer is a big deal. Ultimately, sunscreen became my friend.
But sunscreen wears off, especially if you sweat copiously like I do and like to spend a lot of time riding. That’s why I started to rely on UPF clothing for the big days; the physical barrier provides lasting protection from the sun, no matter how sweaty you get or how long you’re out.
The Wild Rye Sandia jersey is one of my favorite tanline-killers. Striking a unique balance between a tech tee and a proper jersey, it’s got a lightly-tailored cut that pairs equally well with baggy shorts or spandex. It’s made of recycled polyester fabric in two different weights—you get a tightly woven, buttery-feeling fabric over your shoulders, chest and arms; with a highly-breathable, almost silky-feeling mesh through the entire back, under arms, and torso.
The result is a flattering (WIld Rye is a female-owned company, after all), UPF 50 top that ventilates so well, even on hot days, that you forget you’re wearing long sleeves. In fact, the main thing I notice when wearing this jersey is that I’m not stressed about getting burned—it’s like wearing your own personal shade.
I also love that this jersey is available in earthy, neutral colors. Most sun protective clothing comes in pastels, which don’t tend to play well with dirt. You may lose a little of the solar-reflective properties of a lighter-colored fabric, but I think it’s worth it for a top that matches everything and won’t be ruined after a long, dusty day.
It’s worth noting that the previous version of the Sandia had bigger pockets. They held more stuff, but they weren’t supported by the super-lightweight fabric in the back, so they’d sag too much to be useful when really loaded up. I was happy to see that the new version has more streamlined pockets—they’re still not as secure as a road jersey with a fitted hem, but they’re much improved for stashing a phone and a snack. I just pack my fanny pack if I want to bring the heavy stuff like tools or a jacket.
If you have a grudging relationship with sunscreen and have parted ways with your tanlines, a UPF jersey like the Sandia may be your new most valuable piece of kit.
You can check it out and the rest of the Wild Rye lineup here.