Friday, October 21, 2011

Bicycletiquette #1

Dear Jasper,

With this cool autumn weather, I find that my nose runs a lot while I’m out cycling. I’m a Kleenex man myself, but I’ve observed some of my fellow cyclists employ what my Granny called the Farmer’s Hanky while riding (you know, the tissue-less nose blow, which involves pressing one’s finger against one nostril and then blowing snot out the other). Is this revolting practice really appropriate?


Confused and Disgusted

Dear CAD,

Having been blessed with a mighty beak, I am well qualified to weigh in on this age-old matter of bicycle etiquette and tell you just what is and i-snot kosher when it comes to blowing one’s schnozz mid-ride. Listen carefully.

If you are wearing tweed while pedalling, then, without doubt, a cloth hanky is called for, preferably in silk with a pattern complimentary to your tweed (polka dots are timeless). The hanky should fit nicely in your breast pocket (sticking just over the edge), next to your pipe, moustache wax, and mini-bugle.

If, CAD, you are dressed more casually but only riding a short distance (say, commuting to work), then you may wish to forgo any kind of hanky or tissue and simply opt for the time-honored combination of sniffling, throat-clearing, and spitting. This is mainly recommended for when cycling alone.

If you are on a long ride or if there are ladies present, then, CAD, you may want to bring along your stash of tissues stuffed in a pocket or down your pants. This method, while slightly less disgusting to some than the other options mentioned below, is not without its downside. Where does one store the used tissues? Unless you devise a strict wet/dry tissue storage regimen, things can get messy. You may end up with mucus-smeared debit cards and Clif bars. Or leaving an unsightly trail of crusty tissue balls on the roadside.

The final and most controversial option, CAD, is the rustic one preferred by some of your colleagues. This approach has much to recommend it, and we believe it entirely appropriate in certain situations—mainly where one can be discreet. But if you are going to attempt a blow-on-the-go, please, do it the right way.

First, move yourself to the rear of your group, so as to minimize collateral damage. Next, assess the wind for direction and speed before choosing a launching side. Finally, be sure to aim out and down, so the snot rocket achieves sufficient trajectory to clear your person. You don’t want to be that rider covered in ribbons of his own mucous. For final touch ups, we recommend that soft material on the top of one’s cycling gloves.

There is one final, rarely seen variation of this maneuver—but it’s not for amateurs. I speak of the no-hands, double-nostril nose blow. This has the obvious advantage of keeping both hands on the handlebars, but there is increased risk of self-smearing. We recommend practicing this one in the shower first before unveiling it on the road.

So you see, CAD, the Farmer’s Hanky is, in fact, appropriate while cycling, at least for some. So get over your revulsion. Life in the saddle can’t always be pretty.


  1. Do I dare bring up the question of what to do when I have to pee on the move?

    That is one situation when bibs work against you. . .

  2. Dear Readers,

    Sound as Jasper's advice is to practice the double-nostril blow before trying it on a ride, if you are sharing your shower with a lady, please consider depositing your practice snots somewhere where, should they fail to make it down the drain, they will be less likely to end up on the bottom of someone's bare foot.

    Yours Truly,

    A Concerned Fellow Reader


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