Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Bad Habits

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Throughout most of my history as a cyclist, I have had one foot in the world of roadcycling and the other in the world of plain-clothed bicycle commuting. And despite having moved to a rural, hilly area with longer distances to cover, the two activities remain pretty separate for me. When cycling for transport vs sport, I tend to head to different destinations, ride different bikes, wear different clothing, carry more stuff, make more frequent stops, and go at slower speeds. The overall feel of the two forms of cycling is just different. I've made this comparison in the past and it still holds true 5 years later: It's like walking vs jogging.

That said, as a transportation cyclist I have benefited tremendously from the experience I've acquired through roadcycling. The bicycle handling skills I've picked up on a roadbike have helped me with everything from dealing with dense urban traffic, to performing multitasking feats such as munching on an apple while navigating a roundabout situated on a 14% incline.

On the flip side of that coin, I admit that in the course of being a roadie I have picked up some... shall we say, unsavoury behaviours. And as much as I've tried to keep those behaviours contained within the realm of cycling for sport, I am realising with horror that they are seeping into other areas of my life.

I became keenly aware of this one morning on my way into town. Sitting upright on my elegant bicycle, satchel tucked neatly into front basket, I pedaled at my transport pace and enjoyed my surroundings. The sun was shining and the air had that sharp arctic coolness of a northern Spring, accompanied by a lovely refreshing sea breeze. What a nice day for a 7 mile ride into town, I thought, feeling all civilised and transportationey in my tailored overcoat and high heels. And just then, the blithe smile still on my face, unthinkingly I pressed a suede-gloved finger to my nostril and sent, over my left shoulder, a most spectacular rockette de snot onto the manicured hedge of the pretty little cottage garden along the main road.

Only the look of delighted shock on the face of the elderly gentleman who witnessed this, made me aware of the disgusting thing I had done. For a moment I had forgotten that I was not on my roadbike, semi-anonymous in my cycling gear and some 20 miles into the mountains, but in my own neighbourhood, cycling through residential areas, wearing nice clothes and very much recognisable as myself. I could have fallen through the ground with embarrassment. And the man shouting something like "Now there's what I call a woman there!" in my wake encouragingly didn't help matters. "Is this what I've become now?" I lamented, rubbing specs of nasal residue off my tweed sleeve in disgust once at my destination.

And if you're thinking that's gross, I'll tell you what's worse... I have come close to doing this very thing while walking. Through urban areas. Talk about picking up a bad habit.

As I roll my bike through town mulling this over, a tune pops into my head and I imagine Dr. Dre, sitting on a purple velvet sofa in the front yard of a Limavady housing estate, cooing "Show me them bad habits!" as I happen to cycle past.

So I show him, and he's like "Eeew baby, that ain't what I meant at all. Not at all!"

And I shrug coyly and ride away, blowing my nose over my shoulder one last time fetchingly. Hey, if you've got it flaunt it. Took me ages to learn the snot rocket thang anyway. Thank you, roadcycling!

42 comments:

  1. Just last week I had to dodge a "pavement oyster" slung by the rider in front of me who had not the knack of launching the Rocket. He just snorted it up into wherever it goes and then blew it out his mouth like some biological cluster-bomb. Un-cool.

    While I understand your reluctance to do it while in civilian clothes, I agree with you it's better than not having learned how and being a poltroon in the peloton...

    Spindizzy

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  2. By the way, this is one of my favorite posts for long while, I could almost see you hanging in the R.V. and rocking with Dr. Dre in that video clip...

    Spin

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  3. nice tweed, baby.
    nothing else matters.

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  4. Just when I think I know you ...you get your freak on.

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  5. Francesco Moser ,the famous Italian professional racer had the best blow. Instead of shooting over his shoulder he would bend down to the right, head below his right arm squeeze his nose with his right hand and blow downward. It prevents hitting your tweed jacket or riders behind...Practice! Practice!
    Love the photo.

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    1. Also the best direction to hock a loogey. I perk up when I see the rider in front lean down and stick out an elbow so I can ease over a bit in the other direction... in case of crosswinds.

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  6. It's a little known fact: The purpose of tweed's multihued weave is to camouflage projectiles expectorated by the rider and the horse he rode in on. Why else would a tweed topcoat be known as a "hacking jacket?"

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    1. Ha, hacking jacket! Brilliant : )

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  7. Hmm, when doing any activity outdoors this is the way I roll. Didn't learn it from biking, don't consider it a bad habit, just something one needs to do (always look before firing, however). Riding for transportation in everyday clothing doesn't change anything, I can't pedal and blow my nose at the same time, that would be like walking and falling.

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  8. Yeah, the snot rockets have made their way into my mainstream transportation cycling as well. They just make sense.

    That, and riding stance. More and more I'm adjusting my transportation bicycles to position me closer to a road cycling position. And I notice that I keep more weight off the saddle more frequently.

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    1. My preferred handlebar height has definitely traveled downward as a result of roadcycling. The only thing keeping me upright is, there is a limit past which the shoulder seams of my blazers start to get stressed. Can't have that.

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  9. Haha, funny post. Breathing easier is so worth the non-cyclist social outrage.

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  10. As long as no one was behind you...

    I was riding one beautiful day and a man who was passing me said good morning and carried on. What he didn't realize is that he hadn't sped up enough to truly put distance between us and decided to send the "snot rocket" behind him without looking. Unfortunately for me, it landed right on my face (too close to my mouth as far as I was concerned). As if that weren't bad enough, I continued to ride on his tail - with him oblivious to this fact. A stretch up the road, it happened again.

    Even thinking about it now (two years later) makes me ill.

    I'm all for doing what needs to be done, but I could've lived without this moment in time forever etched in my memory/gag reflexes.

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  11. LOL! OMG I laughed at this one, in part because I found myself in precicely the same situation not too long ago, having shocked a man of a certain age when he saw me let one fly. I love the way you capture a moment in words. Thanks, beautiful. I needed a good belly laugh... :D

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  12. I used to teach 4th grade and I insisted that the job of mucus was to capture dirt and dust, insects, etc and move it away from the lungs. "This gathers in your sinus cavities," I would tell them. "Pressure builds up and if you don't get rid of it eventually your face will explode." The students would laugh and, for some strange reason, quit bugging people who would go digging for gold, pulling delightfully long, stingy boogers out and wiping them on their trousers / socks / shirt sleeves / etc. Amazing what you learn in school, eh?

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  13. I've never mastered the art of the snot rocket, but cycling tends to make my nose run and eyes water, so I tend to have a handkerchief in my jersey pocket. Judging from some of the looks I get, blowing your nose on a flamboyantly printed hankie is just as outlandish as the tweed-clad bogey-blow...

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  14. If you need additional lessons, just watch Madison Bumgarner, pitcher of the S. F. Giants. Dude blows snot rockets almost as far and fast as he pitches. Unfortunately, he does this on national television during close-ups ;-). I have never gotten the hang of it, so I keep tissues in the slot of my handlebar bag.

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  15. haha! I sometimes have that lapse of whatever-it-is. problem on my commute or other transportation riding is I'm a little more upright, and the angle of exit is not the same when I'm more hunched over on my roadbike and I'm usually wearing much less form fitting clothing, thus I have found myself in a somewhat messier predicament while getting to work.

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  16. I know this is not likely to be an issue for you, but just be glad you're not peeing. I've found the convenience of being able to stop briefly, lean over, and whiz while on a randonnée that I eschew using the bathrooms (and losing sight of my bike) at controles. Who knows where this might lead if I was taking long rides continually.
    I remember, during the Beijing Olympics, the riders riding out to the Great Wall for serious, exhausting climbs, stopped to take a break in that vast city. Surrounded by millions of people and TV crowds. they found some bushes.

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  17. We're on a week's tandem tour of Norfolk. I have to constantly remind myself not to snot rocket. Apparently the stoker doesn't like it when I do!

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  18. I remember suddenly yelling 'HOLE!!!' whilst driving my Mini south on the I-95 towards Ikea Stoughton. The kids in the back seat were quite surprised!

    It has to be said though, the I-95 does look like a sieve hole-wise...

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  19. 1. It *is* "'rockette' science"; and
    2. You had to travel to Ireland, to end-up in Radio City Music Hall.

    Very nice post (and G.E.'s contribution, too)

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  20. Great post!

    As I have often said, there's nothing glamorous about cycling. I hadn't realised that the lack of glamour had reached transportation cycling too. :-)

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  21. Wool jerseys IME are better nose wipes than synthetics. I combine "sporty" rides with utility and "utility" rides with fun: most of my riding is turning 3 mile errands into 20 mile detours, so I often have to deal with sweat and other liquids in public situations.

    Anyway, I was standing in the checkout line at Sprouts this afternoon heroically sniffling to keep the secretions from exposing themselves and surreptitiously wiping the nose on the shoulder of my jersey -- pollen counts are high. The deep red merino was as soft as Kleenex and discrete about the residue.

    Man, that sounds indelicate. But the jersey is good for at least 3 more riding hours.

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  22. I have always presumed that cotton bike gloves are sold for precise cleanup after a good blow. What I can't figure out is why manufacturers switched to lycra gloves.

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  23. I just sniff it back in, myself. You being a psychologist, Velouria, you’d probably tell me that means I internalize everything (whereas you don’t!), and you’d probably be right, otherwise I’d comment on your blog more often than I do. Rest assured I always read it, though, and I’ve learned a lot over the years (even how to fling snot over my shoulder!). :) SRAM markets a shifter grease called Jonnisnot but I don’t know where the name comes from. I suppose V-Snot would be the leather-and-twine Tweed-Ride-style organic alternative. Actually, I often wonder how many cyclists notice that the backs of their cycling gloves almost always have a ‘fleece’-type material behind the thumbs, presumably to wipe your nose with. I suspect there are plenty who haven’t noticed – some people don’t notice much – but it’s there, at least on the gloves I use.

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    1. I prefer the terrycloth variety of nose-wiping glove fabrics personally. The psychoanalytical implications are staggering.

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  24. I don't recognise the need for this behaviour - unsightly and unhygienic - I would positively be ill if I witnessed this - can we not carry tissues?

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    1. Strictly speaking there is no need for it. But when cycling effortfully at high speeds in the cold/wind there will be times your nose is running continually and this "method" can be useful. There is an assumption though when doing it, that you're far enough from civilisation that no one is there to witness it. (And if snot is blown along an empty country road and no one is there to see it, did it really happen? That sort of thing.) So my take on this behaviour is that it's fine in that context. But if someone is there to witness the act (let alone be its unwitting recipient, a la G.E. above), you're doing it wrong.

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    2. I think we have all experienced the 'running nose', whether cycling, running or walking in cold weather - I suppose it depends on the extent to which we are willing to engage in behaviours when alone that we would ordinarily avoid when in company. To that end I understand when there are no options available , for example if a person was travelling or camping in the countryside and in need of a restroom but there is none available, then to seek out a secluded area for that purpose, is acceptable. We all see things differently but I just think that what you have described is quite revolting, though I concede my response would appear to be contrary to the general opinion here.

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    3. Oh agreed! It's revolting, that was my point. Hope to never do it again.

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  25. When this was first suggested to you as an alternative to suffering from everything running down your face whilst on your Boston -area commutes, you were horrified.
    Now you are horrifying. Yet still natty. Well played. (grin)

    So what do you make of the fact that Ibis markets a higher-end cycloçross bike called the Hakkalügi?

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  26. While riding home from the grocery store today, I stopped at a light and pulled a tissue out of my pocket to wipe my nose. To my left was a car also waiting for the light. The driver was very elegant looking in a small black dress with dark glasses and dark hair. She wiped her nose with her hand and then pulled something out of her nostril. I had to smile. What you describe is far from unusual when one cycles and is in the moment. There are far worse habits.

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    1. Ooh I have seen drivers doing disgusting things in their cars at stop lights, with the sort of absent facial expressions that suggest assumptions of complete privacy/invisibility. I think when a person spends so much time in their car that they feel they live in it, they sometimes forget their "house" is transparent.

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  27. The thickness of social varnish.; one day in a canoe and you start killing people with bow and arrow:"Deliverance"(great novel, great film).

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  28. Interesting post! When I first got into cycling and read about "snot rockets" I was a bit appalled. But after getting more serious about riding and doing longer rides in cool MI weather, I warmed to the idea. It beats fumbling out tissues with gloved hands, hoping not to lose them in the wind. (I won't litter) This post reminded me that I performed one yesterday while working in my vegetable garden....I don't think any of my kids noticed. ;)
    -Anne K.

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  29. Oh! Could not stop giggling for some minutes! I soooo empathise with your horror and, of course, you are right . . . it's completely unforgivable unless a lycra-clad and anonymous but so easy to do. Best chuckle of the day.

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  30. Looking at the photo, I thought the bad habit you referred to was sticking out your pinkie. How wrong I was.

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  31. I would like to know where you bought the very fine looking tweed jacket and if they mail order to France?

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