Now that the weather's cold, my nose gets plugged up after about a mile and inevitably some runs down my throat and I have to pull over and spit. I feel like stopping all the time is probably confusing to the cars behind me and seek a better solution. What's the best (safest?) way to deal with this?

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    Anyhow, it's funny or at least interesting in how there so many well considered answers on spitting. – user313 Nov 2 '11 at 4:34
  • Why the close vote? It be icky, but the question is clear. – Goodbye Stack Exchange Nov 2 '11 at 18:37
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    Someone down-voted earlier which I also don't understand...It's gross but I don't see any difference between this and a question like "how to minimize sweating on commute" – fbo Nov 2 '11 at 18:52
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    my problem is mostly running nose, but not to the point of having mucus. i can't even 'snot rocket' it. i blame it mostly on LA's air quality than cold weather. – gcb Nov 6 '11 at 18:08
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    What a great question :-) I have this problem all the time but never thought to ask it here – Phil Hale Nov 8 '11 at 22:22

10 Answers 10


Well, this probably sounds gross and I'm kind of reluctant to say it, but I'm able to blow the snot out of my nose without hitting myself or my bike. I try to only do it when there's no one around, but occasionally that isn't possible. Basically, I turn my head so my nostrils are towards the ground and exhale forcibly through my nose. I'm not sure it will work for everyone--perhaps I have remarkably straight nasal passages?

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    Another approach is to put some sort of something (eg, an oversized wrist sweat band) on your wrist to blow/wipe with. And, of course, many bike gloves have "nose wipers" on the backs of them. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 2 '11 at 1:21
  • @DanielRHicks: True, but personally I find "blowing out" is more effective at clearing the passage. – OMG Ponies Nov 2 '11 at 2:59
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    whoa, you can clear both nostrils at once? I always do the one nostril at a time technique. – dotjoe Nov 2 '11 at 21:14
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    I can clear both at once. And I definitely use the "nose wipers" on my gloves to make sure I don't have snot wandering down my face. That's more of a paranoid move though. It's not usually too bad. – ananka Nov 3 '11 at 2:40
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    Some nasty old lady verbally abused me for doing this once. She was across 4 lanes of road, there was no-one within 10m of me, I blew my nose on the footpath, she said I was 'disgusting' and people had to walk there. She was walking a dog. I wonder where that pisses? That is typical of Sydney though, radio listeners, newspaper readers, TV watchers are all trained to hate cyclists. Upvote though, because no cranky old tabloid reading, shock-jock listener is gonna stop me blowing my nose. For my own safety, I might take your tip of doing it when no-one can see me though. – Jason S Nov 4 '11 at 3:58

There's no great way. The main problem is that inhaled cold air causes an automatic reaction in the nasal passages to create more mucous. And to a degree simply having cold air blowing against the face around the sinuses creates the problem. Some people will experience this worse than others.

You can try using some sort of scarf or maybe a surgical mask over your nose to sort of warm the air going in. The problem with this, of course, is that if your nose is running you can't wipe it without removing the scarf/mask.

Or you can use various drugs (OTC decongestants and nasal sprays) to try to control it.

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    Plus anything over your face will tend to collect condensation from your breath. – Cascabel Nov 2 '11 at 3:40
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    In general, I'm a notorious proponent of the snot-rocket technique. I find that when I wear a scarf or neck gaiter over my nose that this tends to increase my nose running. – memnoch_proxy Nov 2 '11 at 3:46
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    Re: decongestants, nasal sprays, I'd avoid prolonged use. I find that a saline solution applied with a neti-pot is all that's necessary to shrink my sinuses in about 20 minutes. – memnoch_proxy Nov 2 '11 at 3:48
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    +1 for the snot rocket. 1) Press on the left side of your nose with your finger; 2) Blow. This actually clears both sides for me 95% of the time. Just pull out of the paceline before you do this. :) – Stephen Touset Nov 6 '11 at 1:46
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    Yes, please pull out of the paceline. I had a guy do this at a bike tour earlier this year. He missed me, but really disgusting to have that come anywhere near you. – Kibbee Nov 7 '11 at 21:37

Yeesh! Why stop? Spit down and to the side. Keep going.

Main thing is to avoid spitting on the cyclist(s) behind you.

I really don't know why this is a problem. Common sense usually works well.

2 Common Sense Rules

  • Don't spit or blow snot on the folks behind you. (Such as a pace line or other commuters)
  • Avoid spitting or blowing snot on public places such as sidewalks or bike paths, etc.

On to peeing, I guess...Out in the country, find a tree and go behind it...in the city, find a bathroom at Starbucks or whatnot..

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    Yeah, certainly I spit while riding -- whenever a bug flies into my mouth, which seems to be amazingly often. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 2 '11 at 2:09
  • What I hate is when you go to spit and realise you're being drafted by someone. Then what do you do? – stib Jan 24 '14 at 7:01
  • The question on here about drafting came to the conclusion not to do it unless you make your presence known. Sounds like a problem for the guy behind. – BPugh Jan 24 '14 at 13:41

In cold weather, having a runny nose can make you want to stop and spit, but the runny nose itself is an issue too. If you're like me, having mucus constantly overflowing your nostrils, dripping down your face is extremely uncomfortable. One can stop and blow one's nose and wipe the face every couple minutes to alleviate it, but that's time-consuming and is problematic in traffic and on hills.

A solution I discovered is to use a short folded scarf which wraps around the head, a strip snug against the face that covers from the upper lip to the middle of the nose. This way, even if one's nose gets stuffed up, the nostrils aren't directly exposed to the cold wind, and drips will be absorbed by the scarf for the duration of the ride instead of going down the face. By covering only the nose and not the mouth, you'll be able to spit as needed too.

It's gross, looks odd, and you'll have to wash the scarf each time, but you'll be able to bike without stopping, and without the persistent uncomfortable feeling of running snot on your face. This one technique improved my quality of winter cycling dramatically.


Keep your mouth closed when you breathe. Holding the tongue against the roof of the mouth can make it easier to keep those passages warm and humid while you breathe through your nose.


Fisherman's friend or some other strong pepermint candy is a common remedy against such annoyances. I like Fisherman's cause it lasts quite long in the mouth - takes me 10 minutes to "eat" it.

  • "mint cake" is another option, with similar effect. – Criggie Nov 22 '20 at 18:42

A lot of gloves designed for running or biking have a little bit of fabric on the index and thumb specifically for wiping snot off. You may want to consider using one of these, such as this one.

  • I think these wipers are for sweaty forehead, but still. – arne Jan 24 '14 at 6:22
  • The fabric is fleece-y, so it should be nose more so than forehead - the location + material choice + way you wipe your forehead normally doesn't really help for forehead. Under Armour explicitly states their running gloves have them as nose wipes (underarmour.com/shop/us/en/coldgear-liner-gloves/pid1234587). This is reasonably common to ski gloves as well (and at least one company, Snot Spot, makes after market glove wipers: youtube.com/watch?v=-75ColsoVoM). – Batman Jan 24 '14 at 7:11

I have the same problem, which I solve by blowing to the side, and then wiping my nose on my shirt sleeve. When my wife found out what I was doing, she crafted a velcro "snot rag" that wraps around my forearm. Works well and easier to launder.

  • Blow it away out of your nose while riding, to the side;
  • Carry a cloth (handkerchief) to wipe your nose thereafter, so that it doesn't continue to be uncomfortable;
  • If you come to a full stop, clean as much as you can with the two previous manoeuvers, so as to increase mucus-free time.

I guess I'm on my own not wanting to see people, whether pedestrians or cyclists, flobbing out phlegm. Take one of @Idigas' Fisherman's friends and use old school cotton hankies. Even one-handed should be fine in many places (possibly not whilst running a red).

(Also not good is the sound of phlegm snorting.)

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