Friday, May 1, 2009

Like I’m going to carry a Kleenex

I’ve known one or two cyclists or runners that carry a Kleenex in their pocket so that, as inevitably happens, when they need to blow their nose during a workout, they can politely pause, take out a tissue, address their business, and then dispose of the tissue or put it back in their pocket.

The rest of us are left with little alternative but the good old-fashioned farmer blow. You know what I’m talking about—blowing your nose with no tissue and hoping it doesn’t hit anything. Which can be challenging at 25 mph. Incidentally, I don’t know why this is called a farmer blow, because all the farmers I’ve ever known carry a red bandana handkerchief in their pocket and use that.

Anyway, the obvious downside to this approach is a case of poor aim or insufficient propulsion to clear the orifice. Which is why you should never shake hands with me when I’m wearing cycling gloves. Unless you’re also wearing yours since that pretty much cancels it out.

I’ve heard that cycling shorts are typically black because if you get grease on your hands and wipe them off on your shorts, it doesn’t show. Maybe they should also have a yellow-green panel on the side as kind of a designated wiping place for when the cycling glove has to clear the debris that your respiratory system couldn’t.

The worst situation, of course, is when you think the debris went free and clear but it didn’t. And then ten minutes later you look down at your own shoulder, and there’s a little passenger sitting there. Not that a good flick won’t take care of it, but certainly could be cause for embarrassment in the interim.


  1. I'm good with farmer style (to my wife's annoyance). What's the difference between spitting the gunk out of your mouth and "spitting" it out your nose? Well, except for the misfires you mentioned.

    My left nostril has a higher misfire rate - dunno why.

  2. The one that drives me crazy is when the guy in front of you does the old one nostril farmer blow (with no warning whatsoever), and you have to lock up the brakes to avoid the snot cloud. That works magic for getting me to back off your tail on a ride.

  3. I've never seen anyone pull a hanky out of a jersey pocket, but I've sure seen folks 'forget' to pull out of the paceline before they shoot a snot rocket out of their nose. For the record -- farmer style is the only style for me!

  4. So here’s a true snot-glove story: Back a few years ago, a married friend of mine and his wife used to ride with a lot with a single-guy friend. After a year or so riding together, the wife left my friend and married the other guy. My friend was always amazingly cool about it, and I was/am always civil to the ex-wife and new husband, but secretly I always thought, what a prick.

    Over the next couple of years I ran into them often on trails. The wife was(is?) a pretty serious racer, and the new husband an avid cyclist as well. One thing I both heard and observed over this time was that the new hubby was a total germ-a-phobe. Together they rode with a pack of clean-wipes, and often stopped mid-ride to “freshen up.”

    Now I’ve always done the farmer-blow while riding. In 2006, I did my first road race ever- LOTOJA. I’d never ridden in a tight pack before, and had to blow, but couldn’t do so without spraying several pack-mates. So I blew into my glove. And over the next 200 miles, I blew into one glove or the other, oh, at least 50 times.

    9+ hours later I crossed the finish line. I was in a cheerful mood, recognizing and greeting several friends. One of the other recent finishers was my friend’s ex-wife, and standing beside her was the new hubby (who’d supported her.) Without missing a beat I greeted them and before New Hubby could react, warmly grasped his bare hand with my own snot-and-sweat-sodden-gloved hand in a firm and heartfelt handshake.

    Yes I am a little passive-aggressive.

  5. Alex,

    Best comment ever. Thanks for the story. I was hoping this post would prompt a comment like that.

  6. Many moons ago I was a ski racer. I spent 5 days a week on the mountain. When you spend this much time on the hill you will eventually ski with a nasty gold. One particular day at Solitude going up the old Powderhorn lift during a verfy cold and sowy day I had to blow. I did not want to take my gloves off and I had no tissue anyway so I leaned over the side of the chair and blew the most nasty snot rocket ever. Really it was not so much of a snot rocket as a big long gooey string on snot that hung from my nose down past my skis. I blew 3 or 4 times and it would not break lose. To make things worse it felt like it was pulling my left eye out of my nostrel. My buddy Grey was laughing so hard he almost fell off the lift. There I am with a six foot long hanging snot rocket as I am traveling up the mountain. I had no choice but to wipe my nose with my glove. Now the six foor hanging snot rocket is not attached to my nose but my glove. Geez. Grey is now looking at me with a sense of horror and disgust. I wiped it on the rail of the chair hoping it would break off. It stuck. Now I am using my ski pole to try to knock the goo off. WTF. Anyhow it finally broke off and dropped onto the moguls below where I am sure some bumper ran it over had I am sure it stuck to him.