I remember the first time a broke sweat during physical activity. I was 7. My father and I were at a driving range in Reno, NV. It was summer and we were smashing golf balls like two made men. After we finished a large bucket of red stripers, I felt something rolling down the side of my face. A droplet had made its way from my hairline and down to my cheek. I looked at my dad and he was sweating too. I followed dad’s lead and did not wipe it away. For the first time in my life, I could do something dad could do: work myself into a good lather. I had entered the the sweat zone.
For years it never bothered me, sweating that is. All my activities–Baseball, Basketball, Flag Football–could and should involve a fair amount of perspiration. Then I took up the bike.
The bike messed things up. Suddenly vision became exponentially more important. And sweat, while part of the activity, was now a foe that had to be dealt with.
I tried headbands, bandanas, and cycling caps. I even had a pair of sunglasses that had a sweat absorption bar atop the lenses. They all worked to a point. Eventually my sweat rate would overwhelm them. And I should point out that my sweat comes with extra salt. The sting has at times forced me to pull over to clear it from my eyes.
All of this why you see me here in pictures with what looks like a plastic band across my forehead. It’s actually not plastic, it’s soft, medical-grade polymer with an adhesive backing. Instead of soaking up sweat, the strip’s “V” shaped channel diverts sweat away from the eyes.
The product is form Veo. Turns out the company founder, Jim Shapiro, has the same problem on the bike a lot of us do: a cocktail of perspiration, salt and sunscreen that rolls down the face and into the eyes. So Jim turned to his connections in the medical supplies community to develop prototypes and eventually landed on what is now the Veo Sweat-Diverting Strip.
My first ride with a Veo strip, I got the thing to high on my forehead. My helmet collapsed the channel and I ended up with my usual result: an eyeball brining. I later learned to place the strip just above the eyebrows. I also properly shaped the strip to curve down slightly at both ends. With the strip in place correctly, it kinda looks like your forehead is frowning.
My second and subsequent rides went much better. Most notably a hard and hot ride in the Topah-Topah mountains above Ojai, CA. The climb to the ridge is on dirt and exposed. No wind and temps in the mid to high 80s. As I made my way up the 1 hour+ ascent, the sweat began to pour. The Veo Strip was positioned between my POC and my eyebrows. I could feel the sweat making its way down my forehead. I squinted in anticipation of the subsequent burn but it never came. Instead the drops rolled around the sockets and down the side of my face.
Veo Strips come in clear and sevet colors. They are single use and come in packs of six for $8.99 or 30 for $29.99. A buck a strip or more per ride. Not a deal breaker but the old sweatband certainly has a better cost per pedal stroke. So here’s how I approach it: I wear them only on hard rides. Rides where sweat is guaranteed. Long days in the saddle where I know I could be forced to pull out my hanky to clear the saltwater from my eyes. On those days, I stick a Veo Stripto my forehead. Coffee rides and recovery rides, sans strip.
Veo also plays up the idea of keeping the forehead exposed to airflow. They say headbands obstruct our natural cooling system while Veo Strips do not. And that maybe true, but it wasn’t my point. I just want to see and be as comfortable as possible when the riding goes Hot Yoga. And for those times, I slap a Veo Strip on my forehead.