When I was but a young Velominatus, my poor mother was often horrified/embarrassed/disgusted by my typical boy’s habit of sucking back the mucous from the back of my throat and swallowing it… yes, I know, now you’re disgusted too. Taking me to seek a cure from the good Dr Edwards, he let her down somewhat with his prognosis that what I was doing was actually a good thing to clear the sinuses, yet suggested that swallowing was actually better replaced by spitting the gunk out. I claimed a moral victory over mum, as much as an eight year old can over their much wiser matriarch. And so I went through my youth and adolescence into my adult years reinforced with the belief that the guttural snorting and consequent ejection of my snot rockets was in fact something to be proud of and even healthy. Not that I flaunted it, but whenever a girlfriend, mate or colleauge would roll their eyes and declare what a pig I was, I could confidently refute their assertions with the endorsement of the good doctor. I really should have had him write me out a disclaimer note to produce on cue and validate my excuse, and pinned it to the nearest wall with a sticky green exclamation mark.
Of course, it’s not the kind of habit that one just practices whenever the need arises, and carefully timed and stealthily executed ejections became the order of the day. But whenever I got on my bike, the need to clear the passages became more evident and necessary, compounded by the deep breathing and extra work the lungs and throat were required to undertake. Riding a bike and spitting seem to go together like fucking and orgasms (I’m speaking for myself here, but you get my drift). It’s a ritual that is inherent in the ranks from the recreational rider through to the pros. But even among my riding peers, there are always those who share my mother’s view that I’m nothing more than a snot riddled pig and that I should just put up with the discomfort of limited oxygen transportation and the inconvenience of a throat/nose full of lung butter.
So through necessity I’ve been forced to develop over the years a series of methods and moves designed to lessen the impact on my fellow Velominati, and still allow me to keep operating efficiently. Here are some of my top snot tips for the mucously challenged Velominatus.
- Pick your moment: You don’t want to be cruising through the CBD at lunch hour and fire a mucous missile into a throng of suits and ties and their hot PAs/mistresses. Wait until there is a clear area with little foot traffic, and eject accordingly.
- Aim carefully: Direct your snot scud towards the traffic side, not the sidewalk. No-one, myself included, wants to step in someone else’s golly, so if it hits the tarmac it will soon be run over by a car or washed into the gutter in the next downpour.
- Warn your compadrés: If you are riding in the bunch and need to clear the decks, let your cohorts know that you are about to eject the pus pilot.
- Swing out: After checking behind for your riding buddies and approaching traffic, deviate from the paceline a touch and let ‘er rip. This way the riders behind won’t have to sully their Vittorias with your tread tacks.
- Aim low: One of the best techniques I’ve developed is the under the arm trajectory; leaving your hands on the bars, tilt your head down between your road-side arm and torso, and let fly directly at the road. This way you are not firing into the air, risking a breeze picking up the projectile and blowing any errant offspray back towards the following riders.
- Rapid fire: Put some oomph into the ejection, keeping the green globule in a solid mass so it hits the road with a thud. It’s a rather strangely satisfying sound when you get it just right!
- The Bushman’s Hanky: For clearing the nose. This can be a whole different ball game, and more care is often required when the hooter is in need of clearance. Place a finger over one nostril and really give a quick, forceful blow through the other. This should be done in conjunction with the swing out and while aiming low (see lead photo). Do both nostrils on the same side of your body, so as not to be firing into following riders on both sides of you.
- Tidy up: After you’re done getting the cavities cleared, use your glove or sleeve to remove any excess that might have clung on. There’s nothing worse than looking over at the rider next to you and seeing a green soldier hanging from their hooter, or dribble flapping in the wind from their chin. It’s enough to make you barf, and that’s a fate even worse than having someone else’s snot stuck to your fi’zi:ks.
Just don’t let my mum see you.