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By Kathie Reid
Over the years Jeff Louder (BMC) has been a pretty noticeable guy at The Bend Memorial Clinic Cascade Cycling Classic – he’s been on too many stage podiums to count, and has finished in the top three overall five times, including third overall at the 2009 race, which concluded July 26.
At this year’s race, he stood out in another way – he had an odd circular pink and black object stuck to the top of his helmet.
Louder jokingly told a few people that he was trying to be cool like the Garmin guys whose Tour de France radios were on their helmets at the Tour de France. Actually he was wearing an ultraviolet radiation dosimeter, AKA: a UV collection device. Made by Biosense in Germany, the device absorbs UV rays through a film that is sent back to the German lab for data analysis to quantify Louder’s UV exposure at the race.
Louder wore the device as a favor to Chris Hull, an assistant professor of dermatology at the University of Utah. Hull, who became friends with Louder through racing in the Salt Lake City area, is spearheading a Miles for Melanoma event to be run with the Tour of Utah. Hull and a group of roughly 40 Miles for Melanoma riders will do a ride this Saturday to raise $10,000 to support skin cancer research at the University of Utah.
Hull had the idea to have some professional racers wear UV devices during the Tour of Utah to gather objective data on their UV exposure. The information could be shared with the public to bolster public awareness of the need for sun protection during outdoor activities such as cycling.
This is where Louder came in. Because Hull wanted to have some data to share at the start of the Tour of Utah, he asked Louder to test the UV device at Cascade, which he was happy to do.
Not only was Louder a friend of Hull’s, but he seemed the perfect fit: he won the Tour of Utah in 2008, he had his own brush with melanoma a while back, and his team sponsor BMC is supporting the Miles for Melanoma project by donating a bike frame for the top fundraiser.
Louder also got on board because he thinks the public will benefit by knowing more about skin cancer. “More than anything, (Hull’s) going to be able to use that data to be able to say to other cyclists … ‘Here’s Jeff Louder, he was out in the sun on average three and a half to four hours a day, and he got this much sun’ … We all know getting sun exposure is bad, and apparently we all know how UV is bad, but we don’t really know how much we’re getting,” he said.
At the Tour of Utah, Hull will have Louder and two other racers wear the devices again, and will release that data, as well.
Louder said that being a part of this pilot study has already increased his own attention to skin cancer issues. “It’s true, we all are out in the sun a lot. And I’m probably the poster boy for melanoma more than the poster boy for sunblock,” he said with a laugh. “But I’m doing my best and I’m very aware of the amount of sun that I’m exposed to. I’m doing what I can to try to stay healthy. But even for me, it’s made me think more about it, and kind of consider the consequences.”