That being said, early September is when one's tan line is at its most extreme, and the best for showing off. Last week I walked into a meeting and noticed that the woman across me had the worst farmer tan, and shamelessly showed it off with a sleeveless shirt. When asked if she was a cyclist, she happily went off about a recent ride in Livermore. The guy next to me perked up, said he too was a cyclist, and proceeded to show me his glove tan line. (His son apparently just competed in Nationals.) I was tempted to roll up my pants and show my own tri-colore band around my (lean and powerful) thighs.
The same way a tattoo reminds you of that one time in Cabo or how to write your name in Chinese (useful in case you're in a horrible accident in China and don't have ID), the tan line brings back long, sun-drenched climbs, and the satisfying grit on your calves after a long day in the saddle. The tan line, more than a $8000 bike, is the mark of a serious rider. (Ergo, triathletes, with their sleeveless jerseys and speedos, do NOT count as serious riders.)
Yes, you will be laughed at by whatever non-cyclist is lucky enough to see you naked. The spray-on arm and leg-warmer look is actually not sexy. But I guess the romance of road riding is not for everyone.