Bec McConnell is an incredible athlete to have in the Premax team, not only because she is a dedicated rider, the first woman to make three Olympics in Mountain Bike Cross-Country, or because she won bronze at the 2019 and 2020 Mountain Bike World Championships. It is also because she understands the importance of skincare, and the role it can play in a successful athletic career, making her a match made in heaven to be one of our #PremaxAthletes. For these reasons, and many more, Premax founder and CEO, Randall Cooper, wanted to sit down with Bec and ask her all about her use of sunscreen, chamois cream, and what can happen when these seemingly simple products are forgotten about.
What importance do you place on sunscreen?
As an Australian, I’m reasonably well educated on the importance of sunscreen, on not getting sunburnt, and skin cancer. For me, I use the Sports Sunscreen every day, and can't go without it. I’m sure we still have a bit of a way to go in Australia in terms of protecting ourselves totally, but in comparison to my teammates in Europe we are definitely more informed, or at least careful. It's so important to take care of your skin, so because I do spend a lot of time in the sun, I make sure to always have the Premax sunscreen on all over. Not just the face, but also on the ears, and anywhere the sun can reach. Sometimes I even apply it twice a day in the Australian summer time, and always using an SPF 50+. On any long rides I try to reapply at least once, because ultimately it's so crucial not to get sunburned.
The repeat exposure you have to the sun in your teens and twenties greatly affects your chances of sun damage or getting cancer in later years. Does this factor into your outdoors lifestyle?
First and foremost, in the short term, If you do get a sunburn while out riding, you don't want to have to deal with the discomfort of peeling. From the perspective of an athlete, and someone who generally has to take good care of their body to succeed in their field, avoiding sunburns is super important for my immediate performance the next day. Then, when you factor in cancer, the skin's general condition, recovery, and how you will feel after training, sunscreen becomes even more vital.
For you, what makes Premax Sport Sunscreen stand out?
That you can sweat even with the sunscreen on. So many types of sunscreen inhibit sweat production to the same extent as an antiperspirant. If I’m putting sunscreen on every inch that’s exposed to the sun, I don’t want those areas to be unable to sweat, and thus be unable to maintain my body temperature when it’s hot. The product needs to be breathable. Yesterday I raced when it was 30 degrees, I had my sunscreen on, and if I hadn't been able to sweat normally that would have really put me at a disadvantage.
Chamois Cream is so important for cyclists. What are your thoughts on it?
I use it daily. Even for a 30 minute recovery ride, I’ll put some on. I remember, before I was introduced to the chamois cream, that I would have issues every now and again with saddle sores. Ever since I've been using it I haven't had to deal with them or worry about it. I know of riders who have had to skip big and important races because they've had surgery due to saddle sores, and I am surprised that it’s still an issue, when there is practically a cure. It's one of the most important areas that you have to take care of as a cyclist, particularly as a woman. You have three points of contact with your bike. It's your shoes, your hands, and your saddle. So it's taking a lot of pressure for hours on end.
The main thing is, if you've got any problems, just go and see someone about it. The last thing you want to do is wind up having surgery and be unable to do what you love. It can also really easily escalate. You might go training one day and just have a little bit of broken skin, or an issue that seems so small. Then you go to train the next day and it’s slightly worse, but you convince yourself, "it's not too bad”, or “it's just a little painful". However, those are the moments when, if you take one day off, and give yourself time to repair, it can make a world of difference down the line. It’s not discussed much because it's not a comfortable topic to talk about, but it's so important.