Sunday, February 15, 2009
A Sticky Subject
Q. Sometimes when I'm riding my bike, my nose starts running profusely like I've got a bad cold, even though I'm feeling perfectly healthy. What's going on here, and what can I do about it?
A. Fear not, gentle rider, you are not alone. This is a common condition, and is also experienced by runners, rowers, skaters, skiers, as well as indoor workout enthusiasts. It is a medically recognized phenomenon, and has been dubbed exercise-induced rhinitis. It happens to a majority of active people, whether they are normally prone to allergic reactions or not, and can happen in cold, hot, or mild weather.
Many people carry a pack of tissues with them, and stop to "take care of business" as needed. However, in some riding circles, unnecessary stops ("ridus interruptus") are discouraged. In this crowd, the otherwise crude practice of the "snot rocket" is socially acceptable and encouraged. Especially effective variations on technique are even admired.
If you're unfamiliar with this technique, you may want to practice during a solo training ride. You'll find what works best for you, as far as which way to lean, which hand to use to for which nostril, and whether or not to reverse your technique for the opposite nostril. When riding with a group, protocol dictates that you move to the rear of the pack to avoid an unfortunate incident that might lead to the next frequently-asked-question, "What's the best way to clean mucus from carbon-fiber?"
Even with a refined technique, you'll probably need to wipe away any excess with the back of your glove. This, by the way, is the reason that most cycling gloves are made with a small, soft, fleecy patch on the back of the thumb.
This is also, by the way, why you don't EVER shake hands with somebody that is wearing cycling gloves...