As the weather dropped under 50 on my morning rides, I started getting the dreaded Runny Nose.

This is something I remember hating about riding, when I rode a few years back. I’d have to bring tissues with me and stop periodically to blow my nose. It is one thing when you’re just riding on a trail for recreation, something else when you’re riding on the road to go to work. It isn’t that I couldn’t stop, more that I’d prefer to avoid it.

People talk about “snot rockets”, but … EW. No thanks.

When it is just sniffles, I can deal with it. When it gets a bit worse, there are other issues. Snuffling too much can cause a sinus headache, and makes me wonder if it is a healthy thing to do. It also leaves you vulnerable to the fact that when you lean over, say to get your badge out of your bag, you will suddenly be dripping all over the place, which is a pretty nasty state to be in when entering the building where you work. Gross.

So I have been in the habit of carrying tissue in my windbreaker pocket and using them strategically at certain lights. It can still be pretty gross, but a controllable gross, and much less gross than the unintended leaking walking into the building.

I got into my head that using a neti pot might work. So of course I started researching. And I found some interesting information about runny noses.

This phenomenon is caused by the same mechanism that causes a runny nose when crying: tears drain through the inner corner of the eyelids through the nasolacrimal duct, and finally into the nasal cavity, where they manifest as a runny nose.

That was interesting to me to read, because my eyes certainly tear up from the cold too. So there is apparently some connection. And for a change, this morning my eyes ran almost the entire ride (it was the coldest ride so far, 37 at home, 29 at work) instead of stopping after the first couple miles. I also had significantly less running of the nose. It made me wonder if the amount of tears is generally the same, but sometimes manifests as a runny nose, and other times as actual tears.

There is also a “non-allergenic rhinitis“, which includes a description that also seemed to apply, at least somewhat, to me:

But in the vasomotor rhinitis sufferer, oversensitive or excessive blood vessel dilation or contraction causes an overreaction to such stimuli as changes in weather, temperature, or barometric pressure, chemical irritants such as smoke, ozone, pollution, perfumes, and aerosol sprays, psychological stress and emotional shocks, certain types of medications, alcohol, and even spicy food. Thus, while a normal person’s nose may run on a very cold day, a vasomotor rhinitis sufferer’s nose may start running (or go completely dry) simply by walking into a slightly colder (or slightly warmer) room, or from eating food that is slightly warmer or cooler than room temperature.

I am not sensitive like that, but it was nice to learn that the running nose on a cold day is normal. Certainly the issue of a runny nose while biking (and running, though to a lesser degree) is common enough to have a special (and specially disgusting) term for how most deal with this: the snot rocket. This is also why you won’t find a pair of biking gloves without the softer and absorbant material in the prime nose-wiping areas.

However, whether the nose running is normal or I have some degree of vasomotor rhinitis, I really want some kind of solution, and one that doesn’t include shooting some drugs up into my nasal passages. Back to the idea of the neti pot, which was included in the “alternative treatments”.

For some patients, rinsing may be the only effective method for clearing the nasal passages, and can benefit the sinuses as well. Rinsing can quickly become the preferred treatment, as the effects can be dramatic, and probably will become a lifetime daily ritual for those with severe disease. You cannot rinse too often, and symptoms each day dictate the frequency of rinsing.


Unlike other forms of treatment, rinsing will not produce any side effects such as dry throat or mouth, rebound effect, nervousness, or heart palpitations.

So, a neti pot is added to my shopping list.

Based on these articles and others I read, the runny nose should be lessened also by warming the air prior to it entering the nose. Looks like the balaclava needs to be put into play, in addition to the neti pot.