Snot Rockets

A couple of weekends ago, I was out on a ride with an old friend. Before we started, she pulled out a bandana and tied it around her handlebars.

“What’s that for?” I asked.

“Oh, I have terrible allergies,” she said. “I have to keep this close so I can blow my nose.”

Yeah, allergies are bad this year. The latest National Allergy Forecast shows medium-high levels across the northern tier of states, and much of the rest of the country has medium levels. So cyclists – and lots of others – might have to contend with runny or clogged noses. That’s tough to do when you’re putting miles behind you.

Gather ’round, noobs. It’s time to learn another new biking skill: the Snot Rocket.

That rather uncouth term describes clearing the nose without using a handkerchief or tissue. It’s fairly simple.

1. Move your left hand to the top of the bars.

2. Place a finger of your right hand over your right nostril. Try for an air-tight seal.

3. Turn your head. You want to make sure you don’t hit yourself.

4. Check for other cyclists. You really want to make sure you don’t hit them, either.

5. Blow. Hard and short. There should be enough force behind the blow to push the detritus away from your body, so the speed of your bike will carry you past it.

6. Switch hands. Repeat the process on the other side.

7. Clean up. This is where those terry cloth “sweat pads” (yeah, right – we know what they’re really for!) on your gloves come in handy.

It’s not a good idea to let fly if you’re in the middle or front of a group ride. Drop to the back so you don’t accidentally catch other cyclists with your projectile.

My friend has to wait until we stop for a rest before she can undo her bandana and use it. If she learns to blow a snot rocket, she can ride through allergy season breathing deeply.


  1. Barbara says

    Unfortunately this is a reality we all have to deal with at some point during our cycling lives. I knew I’d become a cyclist when I started needing paper towels instead of the more ladylike tissues to manage my constant runny nose(runs like a river!).
    I still can’t bring myself to try the snot rocket. A girl has standards you know….even if she’s in the double-nickel age bracket! No, I keep two ever so neatly folded paper towels in my jersey pockets, one for each side to keep things symmetrical. 😉 I’ve finally figured out how to blow my nose while riding without any problem, so I no longer have to stop just to manage snot.

  2. Janice in GA says

    Unlike Barbara, I have NO problem blowing snot rockets. My nose runs like a river too, especially if it’s the least bit cold out. I do try to wait till no one else can see me.

    For your friend using the bandanna: I often ride my my mp3 player (I know, I know) on a lanyard around my neck. I tie a bandanna to the lanyard. Then, any time I stop (or have a hand free), I can blow my nose on the bandanna.

    Doesn’t keep my nose from getting sore from the (relatively) rough bandanna, though.

    • says

      It turns out that when my wife started riding four years ago, two guys taught her the technique. She says she’s been doing it ever since. Odd – she’s never done while I’m riding with her

  3. Howard says

    You are all so dainty. First of all, learn how to blow it out of both nostrils at once. You don’t have to take your hands off the bars, it saves time and you can do this maneuver at full speed. In fact, it is best if you save your snot rockets for when you are accelerating past someone. It makes you sound like an angry bull and its intimidating. Second, if you are riding near others and worried you might hit them or even if you are riding alone, just blow it straight down; so your kit has dried snot all over it, big deal. Dried boogers, now those are gross. Make sure you flick those off before you get to the next rest stop.

  4. says

    Snot rockets, saddle sores, Vaseline, hot spots on your feet… You’re prepared to go where few bloggers dare to tread! As for snot rockets, I was very displeased at my recent century when a cyclist in the middle of a paceline showered those of us behind him with a snotty mist. Not cool, man. Not cool.

    • says

      Yeah, there’s a time and place for everything. Hope you told him about it. I might have more posts coming about body nastiness and biking – we’ll see.

  5. Jude Bland says

    Pretty pathetic all of you. So poor at riding a bike that you can’t use a hankerchief at same time! Your habit is not only a disgusting, it’s discourteous to others and spreads infections. Would you spit in the street (illegal in most civilised countries)? This is no different.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *