By Scott Martin
Most cycling skills are simple to acquire.
Want to climb better? Ride up hills, fast. Don’t eat foods that contain fats, sugars or, well, calories. Make sure you were born with lungs the size of air bags.
Want to descend better? Ride down hills, fast. Don’t eat foods that will make it back up past the lump in your throat. Make sure you were born with a brain the size of a ball bearing.
But one biking skill is agonizingly difficult to pick up. It requires hours of practice and demands iron discipline. Many riders labor for years but never attain proficiency.
I’m talking about nose blowing.
Part art, part science, nostril cleansing marks the successful practitioner as a true cyclist. The others just blow.
You’ve seen these proboscis posers. They discreetly pull a tissue from their jersey pockets and dab daintily at their nose. Or they pretend to wipe their sweaty brow on their shoulder when they’re actually honking into an armpit.
This is just wrong, people. Here, possibly for the first time in print, is the right way:
(a) Tilt head to one side of bike. When clearing left nostril, tilt head to left side. And vice versa.
(b) Clamp right thumb over right nostril with fingers slightly curled. (Well-bred riders may extend the pinky if so desired.)
(c) Forcefully exhale through left nostril. Don’t namby-pamby it, or you’ll decorate the top tube.
I heard recently from a reliable source that it’s possible to empty both nostrils at once. Apparently people with an equestrian background excel at this, because you get penalized if you remove a hand from the reins in competition.
And I thought horseback riding was just a backwater sport populated by people wearing funny hats and tight pants. Unlike cycling.
Scott Martin has been writing about cycling for more than 15 years. He worked as an editor for Bicycling magazine for 10 of them and wrote the “Scott’s Spin” column for RBR from which this is republished. He has also covered cycling for several national magazines.