Question of the Weekend: Cumulative Snot Volume

06.12.2009 | 12:03 pm

Today I’m pleased to announce a new feature, running on Fridays at, which I call “X of the Weekend.” Actually, the X is just a placeholder. It’s not really called “X of the Weekend,” it’s called “(Something) of the Weekend,” where the “X” or “Something” is replaced with something else. And whatever it is, it’s of the Weekend.

For example, the “something” (or X) for this weekend is a question. And the question is as follows:

“How much snot have you wiped on your gloves, expelled out your nose, or otherwise dispensed of during the course of your cycling career to date?”

It’s an intriguing question, and not at all disgusting. (It can’t be disgusting, because this is a family-friendly blog, and family-friendly blogs don’t have disgusting things on them. QED.) I found myself considering this question this morning as I rode with Mark up American Fork Canyon (see Mark’s delightful account of the ride here). It was a cold morning, which meant my nose was running extra-efficiently. And since I am unable to do the “Snot Rocket” (I have small nostrils, so any time I try the Snot Rocket blowout, my eyes pop out of my skull), I wipe the snot on my glove, then wipe my glove on the side of my shorts.

So. Over the course of this fifteen years of riding, about how much snot have I wiped on my shorts?

Let’s look at the data.

  1. Let’s suppose my threshold for wiping my nose on my glove is constant.
  2. Let’s further suppose the threshold for that volume is 1/8 teaspoon.
  3. Let’s additionally suppose that I wipe my nose an average of twelve times per ride (I wiped my nose a counted 22 times today, but today was cold. Twelve seems like a responsibly realistic number).
  4. Let’s posit — because I’m tired of supposing — that I ride my bike four times per week throughout the year. This is a good conservative average, since I generally ride my bike six times per week during the good weather, and much less often when I have to use the rollers.
  5. Let’s assert that there are 52 weeks per year. Let’s also assert that the extra day or two ignored by this 52-weeks-per-year assertion have been very naughty and deserve to be punished.
  6. Let’s assert that I have been riding for fifteen years. Exactly.

Now let’s do the math:

(12 snots x 4 weekly rides x 52 weeks x 15 years) = 37,440 snots

This total, naturally, needs to be divided by 8, since there are 8 snots per teaspoon. Based on this, I am pleased to report that in my cycling lifetime, I have wiped 4,680 teaspoons’ worth of snot on my cycling shorts.

Admit it: you’re impressed.

Now all we need to know is how many teaspoons are in a gallon (which I’ll convert to liters because I know some of you haven’t yet converted over to the non-metric system), because nobody — certainly not me — can wrap their heads around the idea of 4,680 teaspoons.

I will be back shortly. I am going to fill a gallon jug with water, using a teaspoon.

OK, I’m back. Using the empirical method — and not by just doing a search — I have found there are 768 teaspoons in a gallon.

Hence, in my fifteen years of cycling, I have wiped 6.09 gallons (23.03 liters) of snot onto my gloves, and then transferred said snot onto the side of my shorts.

This is absolutely my most impressive cycling accomplishment of all time.

Assignment: Taking into account the length of your cycling career, individual snot-wipe/blow volume, frequency of snot-wipe/blows, and ride frequency, please report how much snot have you produced and either applied to your shorts, gloves, jerseys, or distributed onto the road (or in Dug’s case, blown into a fine mist that hits everyone in a twenty-yard radius).


  1. Comment by mark | 06.12.2009 | 12:18 pm

    Six gallons of snot. That’s staggering. We used to have a neighbor kid when I was growing up that had a perpetually running nose. I told my mom one day, “I think by the time Matthew is four, he will run out of snot.” I was clearly wrong.

  2. Comment by GenghisKhan | 06.12.2009 | 12:33 pm

    Okay, I like the idea of a weekly theme, but I’m not sure I’m with you on the lead out topic! Though, that may be more the fact that I’m sitting here slurping down a somewhat warm fruit smoothie…

  3. Comment by mark | 06.12.2009 | 12:36 pm

    GK, warm smoothies should be thrown out or used to fertilize the garden. They should not be consumed.

  4. Comment by lt | 06.12.2009 | 12:36 pm

    One of my riding buddies says its not a ride until I have blown a snot rocket. I love snot rockets most effective way to rid yourself of the snot.

  5. Comment by bikemike | 06.12.2009 | 12:37 pm

    what is the metric equivalent to a teaspoon?

  6. Comment by Lowrydr | 06.12.2009 | 12:37 pm

    OK, I just kinda threw up in the back of my mouth a little after starting this post. Didn’t even try to finish it.

  7. Comment by MrTeamPhillips | 06.12.2009 | 12:39 pm

    I think I did 6 gallons in one horrendous allergy attack. I was (and am still) amazed by the body’s ability to produce mucus.

    As for me, I use the snot rocket to good effect, rarely getting anything on me – woe to the rider who sneaks up behind me. I will guess over the 23 years of riding I have done only about 3 gallons of snot. This is due to less frequent rides, less frequent expellations and generally clear lungs.

    I have had the misfortune of working around dairy cows however. They can generate about a gallon of snot at a time – I know of this first hand.

    The winner however has to be elephants. I know this not from estimation, I had the great delight to see one of my 5th grade classmates tease the baby elephant at the petting zoo until it unleashed the mother of all snot rockets upon him. I did not feel sorry either. 37 years later and it still brings a smile to my face.


  8. Comment by sdcadbiker | 06.12.2009 | 12:43 pm

    Snot rockets are great until you get a proper head cold, which turns snot into treacle and transforms a snot rocket into a “snot slug” which dangles in the wind for a moment before landing, disgustingly, on your cheek.
    There is a nasty head cold circulating my neighborhood right now and the above is taken from personal experience. Eeww.

    So much for summer in Southern California!

  9. Comment by HowardBollixter | 06.12.2009 | 1:01 pm

    Not that I can personally follow this advice, but trailrunner Scott Dunlop looked into accumulated hydration loss of spit/snot.

    I blow. Non-perjoratively, one hopes.

  10. Comment by Dr. Lammer | 06.12.2009 | 1:31 pm

    I waited all day for this post?

    Letsnot talk about it.

  11. Comment by Hilslug | 06.12.2009 | 1:35 pm

    Eeewww. That’s all I can bring myself to say.

  12. Comment by KanyonKris | 06.12.2009 | 1:38 pm

    Do we want to open up this up to include the question of how (in)frequently gloves get washed?

    Once past that first crusty wipe and the glove is re-hydrated it’s fine.

  13. Comment by Ohiorider | 06.12.2009 | 1:44 pm

    Fatty, having worked in a jail over the course of 7 or 8 years, there are few, if any, subjects that can gross me out. I find nothing repulsive with your question of the week.

    Personally I blow snot rockets and rarely have to wipe afterward since I have elevated my technique to an art form. How much have I blown over the years? Thats a good question. I rarely catch colds and the only time my nose really produces anything is when I am riding. I’ll have to do a little research and get back with you.

    Win Susan!!!

  14. Comment by Linda | 06.12.2009 | 1:46 pm

    Impressive, Fatty. But the actual findings may vary as you have somewhat higher altitude snot. Since it is harder to breathe at higher altitudes, this may result in more snot. It’s also colder in Utah longer than say, Florida. Thus the snotification would be somewhat more rampant in your area.

    Thank you for providing a thorough, investigative blog for the previously uninvestigated, outer reaches of cycling.

  15. Comment by The Old Bag | 06.12.2009 | 1:52 pm

    Like sdcadbiker above, I find the common cold to produce inconsistencies which mess up the math. How does one measure the concentrated snot rocket?

    …wonder if I can set up some calculations.


  16. Comment by ae | 06.12.2009 | 2:16 pm

    Being a nurse and a mom of 3 toddlers, this does not gross me out at all. My husband has perfected the snot rocket even while riding so we don’t get snotted on…but I wonder, how much snot has he wiped from the kids noses on his biker shorts or have they come up to him and wiped their noses on his shorts? hum… having 4 kids, I can only imagine what your number there would be in addition to your 6 gallons!

  17. Comment by Dano | 06.12.2009 | 2:23 pm

    Metric equivalent of 1 teaspoon, level, is about 5 ml, or 4.92892161 ml to be more exact.

  18. Comment by Corey | 06.12.2009 | 2:31 pm

    I have never measured volume, but I did create a permanent snot stain in the concrete while bike commuting last summer and waiting for the light to change at Jordon & E470 in Parker, CO

    Go check it out, it’s just in front of the traffic light pole, and feel free to contribute your own.

  19. Comment by Kt | 06.12.2009 | 2:40 pm


  20. Comment by bikemike | 06.12.2009 | 2:47 pm

    thanks for the conversion Dano. if that is the case, then the snot expulsion equivalent is 4,000,000 quadra-liters in mexican pesos. the euro version is probably more precise. your results may vary.

    please include all applicable taxes, cause if you snot across state lines, it’s a federal offence.

  21. Comment by NW | 06.12.2009 | 3:32 pm

    I accumulate more of the white stuff in the corners of my mouth than the snot in my nose on rides and then wipe that on my gloves and/or jersey. Probably a Chapstick container amount total so far, whatever that would be. Now I feel like I should have more snot being produced too. I’ll work on it.

  22. Comment by akaKathy | 06.12.2009 | 3:45 pm

    Too much to think about on a Friday afternoon.
    BTW – Snot rockets rule!

    Off Topic – I just got my FC water bottles and can’t wait to show them off tomorrow.


  23. Comment by Lisa B | 06.12.2009 | 4:02 pm

    KanyonKris – I wash mine after every ride. To put it delicately, they’re damp, disgusting, and unsanitary. But then, I’m a girl, so I’m betting that my tolerance for damp, disgusting, and unsanitary is probably much lower than most cyclists.

  24. Comment by | 06.12.2009 | 4:02 pm

    Totally on topic! Fatty’s total fills 37.12 bottles.


  25. Comment by Elainemac | 06.12.2009 | 4:11 pm

    Not gross at all, but unbelievable. 12 wipes a ride? Multiply that by 3 for a jaunt and by 10 for a decent ride. My eyes run too. Is there a way to stop it happening though? I’d pay good money …..

  26. Comment by Angie G | 06.12.2009 | 4:47 pm

    Fatty- you are the BOMB!! You have no idea how much I needed today’s blog. I laughed so hard I almost fell out of my office chair.

    I am completely jealous of those that can launch even a decent snot rocket. I have tried, repeatedly and the result is always the same- snot from my nose, across my face to my jersey.

  27. Comment by Flyin' Ute | 06.12.2009 | 4:52 pm

    How did you like that descent this morning? Pretty cold. When LJ and I passed you guys we were freezing. We started at 5am though so maybe it warmed up for you.

    I blew at least 3 teaspoons this morning. And it is definitely time to wash the gloves.

  28. Comment by rantwick | 06.12.2009 | 5:00 pm

    Snot talk is capable of making my wife actually gag. I’m gonna spring this on her when she gets home.

  29. Comment by Martin | 06.12.2009 | 5:12 pm

    This was a first time occurrence for me. I’m on a ride and wipe my the sweat from my nose and it drips again so I do the snot rocket and I have a bloody nose. So what am I worried about? I’m worried that I will bleed on my white handlebar tape. I must stop my ride and get off the bike to wait for the bleeding to stop. I’m not that patient so I finish the ride doing deep one sided sniffles to draw anything back inside. That’s healthy isn’t it?

  30. Comment by Philly Jen | 06.12.2009 | 6:23 pm

    Dude, we love ya and all, but this really blows…

  31. Comment by jeff | 06.12.2009 | 6:34 pm

    I’m glad you weren’t able to measure the volume by looking at your shorts, That would be disgusting!

  32. Comment by MikeD | 06.12.2009 | 6:35 pm

    Fatty, this is an interesting hypothesis, but I think you need to collect more actual data before drawing any conclusions. I recommend collecting your snot during your rides and measuring actual volume when you get home. I’d think that a couple of years of data should be enough to start making some preliminary conclusions.

  33. Comment by dwb | 06.12.2009 | 6:36 pm


  34. Comment by sansauto | 06.12.2009 | 7:07 pm

    My high school English class was in the same room as health classes different periods. One day we went to class to find a quart sized milk container wrapped in construction paper. On the side it said, “The average person produces 1 quart of mucus each day”. Most of it you just end up swallowing.

    Another thought. Riding my first crit at Seward Park I was in the ‘pack’ (it was a Junior race, there were about six of us). I pulled off the front after my pull and drifted to the back. I didn’t see anyone else, so I pulled into the draft. Since I was at the back I took the opportunity to clear my nose with a giant snot rocket. Going around the next corner I saw a guy behind me who had recently been dropped wiping his face off with his glove. I had a lot of motivation not to get dropped that day.

  35. Comment by Dobovedo | 06.12.2009 | 8:29 pm

    Since nobody else has answered the question yet…

    I opted to go by an hourly rate, rather than per ride, as the length and frequency is so varied.

    I figure about 1 every 20 minutes or 3 snots per hour.
    I am very close to 2500 hours since I started logging in June 2004. 7500 snots.
    Divided by 8 = 937.5
    Converts to an estimate 1.22 gallons of snot.

    I am happy to know that I am a far less prolific snotter/snottie/one-who-snots/snotwipe than the Fat Cyclist.

    I also just put all my gloves in the wash. Heavy duty cycle. With an estimated 1.22 gallons of detergent.

  36. Comment by Lung Cookie | 06.12.2009 | 9:37 pm

    I swore back in high school that I would never need
    Advanced Mathmatics. Boy, was that prophetic or what?
    Some questions are better left unanswered.

    Just because I choose not to do the Mathmatics of Mucus,
    does not mean the experiment was lost on me. You made me
    laugh. That makes you hot snot in my book!

  37. Comment by Elizabeth | 06.12.2009 | 9:45 pm


  38. Comment by Bjorn 4Lycra | 06.12.2009 | 10:03 pm

    Hang on your supposed to expel snot!!! That explains it then my gloves are spotless and so are my knix. As usual I have been doing it all wrong. Out not down. Whoa the lads on our next ride are in for a shock I’m gonna give the rockets a shot anything could happen. Have to do it early tho or else none of them will know it happened.

    Um on a different note. Help – I have tried all legal methods (Itunes etc.- they don’t have it here in Oz) to get a copy of Boom Boom by TRIO featured on Fatty’s first video on Grove (I think) anybody got any alternative methoods

  39. Comment by Clydesteve | 06.12.2009 | 10:30 pm

    11.72 gallons, or 44.3 liters.

    long cycling career, I am taking credit for 30 years, 40 weeksper year 4 rides per week, and 1/2 tsp / snot.

    Logger style. (which bears a certain resemblence to “snot rocket”, but with feeling) I generally get about that much per nostril, but am only taking credit for that much for each 2-nostril sequence.

  40. Comment by roadrash | 06.13.2009 | 4:07 am

    Mid-forties. Fond of the one-knuckled, right nostril farmers blow technique. Allergic to all grasses molds & pollens. Best estimate of total output is 20 gallons.

  41. Comment by rexinsea | 06.13.2009 | 8:40 am

    For some reason I seem to need to blow snot way more on the bike than when I run. I’ve always wondered why. I’m a snot blower, I swear I must blow 1/2 a tablespoon each blow. Two blows per hour. Average 2 rides / week at 2 hours each. 2 tablespoons/ride x 2 rides/week x 50 weeks (I do take some vacations) = 200 tablespoons / year x 15 years = 3000 tablespoons / 768 tablspoons per gallon = 3.9 Gallons.

    I bow to your snot producing excellence Fatty.

    On a separate note – I recieved my NEW Team Fat Cyclist jersey in the mail earlier this week. It looks awesome!! I look forward to wearing it on the LiveStrong Challenge next week.


  42. Comment by kenny | 06.13.2009 | 8:41 am

    I have a theory that during big efforts I start sweating thru my nose. I’ve perfected the double rocket sinus expulsion. I like to call it raging bull. This way I don’t have to let go of the handlebar and it’s very intimidating to my fellow racers.

  43. Comment by not a cyclist...... | 06.13.2009 | 11:18 am

    Ewwww! I use kleenex since I have a badly deviated septum coupled with allergies to everything that grows in MD, and need to stop and actually blow, not just wipe. The main problem is that the tissues get all sweaty when kept in jersey pockets so I have to have at least three per two hours of riding as they just disintegrate after being used once or twice.

  44. Comment by Tim D | 06.13.2009 | 12:29 pm

    I reckon on about 1 snot very 10 minutes, 2ml per snot, 8 hrs riding per week, 52 weeks per year for 20 years.

    .002 x 6 x 8 x 52 x 20 = 99.84 litres

    I think this might be a little under. I suspect I did about 10 litres last weekend alone.

    On the subject of when to was your gloves. If, as you bring your glove up to wipe, the smell causes you to throw your head back, career across the road taking the entire group out, its time to wash. Or burn!

  45. Comment by Eber | 06.13.2009 | 1:10 pm

    I’ve wiped a couple teaspoons of Dug’s snot mist off MY glasses, face, etc.

    I really wish I was faster than Dug.

  46. Comment by dug | 06.13.2009 | 4:11 pm

    “Let’s posit — because I’m tired of supposing”

    this is my favorite thing you’ve ever written.

  47. Comment by Michelle | 06.13.2009 | 5:55 pm

    I laughed so hard I cried. This morning was a super snot ride! With bugs flying up my nose and in my mouth I was blowing them out as fast as I could. I have to tell you though I think that an 1/8 of a teaspoon snot is way small! I have way more output than that – thanks to allergies!
    Thanks Elden for this great post!

  48. Comment by USAFANARC | 06.13.2009 | 9:44 pm

    Hey Ya’ll,
    I bought a men’s XL Sleeveless Team Fatty jersey and I’ve decided that I just can’t sport the sleeveless look so I’m going to stick to my shortsleeve version. I took the tags off but never wore or washed it. Anyone want to buy it at cost? $70 + shipping. Email me if interested:

  49. Comment by Beth | 06.13.2009 | 11:25 pm

    Wow…..what a blog…..uplifting at times and a reminder that indeed we WERE going to use math when we um…”grew up”….kinda gross yet strangely enthralling……;)

  50. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 06.14.2009 | 12:32 am

    I have a problem with calculating such a thing. Not the grossness factor, because as a cyclist, and school teacher, and parent, I have no upper threshold for grossness. My problem is with the complexity of the algorithm necessary for my asymetrical nostril function. Not to mention the fact that as a trackie I’m what would commonly be described as a fair-weather cyclist.

    My nostrils function in a weird way while cycling. The left nostril is like the Tardis of snot; when it’s ready to go the output is in increments of full-teaspoons not eighths; but that’s in the icky weather, so I’ll go with Fatty’s 1/8. Plus, from the left they fly clear with a near sniper quality straight line trajectory. The right nostril, however, can only generate about one quarter the velocity, with a similarly diminished accuracy. It’s easier to not bother with the right, just leave the goop in there until it accumulates to the level where it climbs over into the left side and is immediately ejected.

    So starting with my first competitive nasal outburst… 1982 to now – 27 years.
    Sporadic riding, even in the warmer months; anything from 5 a week to once a month.
    3-5 ejections per ride (fair-weather remember).

    That’s 27years x 52weeks x 2.5(ish)rides x 4snots x 1/8 = 1755teaspoons of snot = 8.9 litres.

    Maybe we should have saved it all up for one of those bizarre Japanese gameshows.

  51. Comment by tim | 06.14.2009 | 8:05 pm


    I hope you are getting some of the economic stimulus money. Important research like this needs to continue.

    If we can find a market, or use for this organic product we may be able to lower the trade deficit.

  52. Comment by SurlyCommuter | 06.15.2009 | 8:26 am

    CSV is not just a handy file format anymore.

  53. Comment by Lisa C. | 06.15.2009 | 9:42 am

    1.25 teaspoon. My nose doesn’t run when I ride, so even though my per-wipe output is twice yours, I’ve done it maybe five times.

    However, I ran the numbers for when I’m not riding, and totaled them over the course of my lifetime.
    118 gallons.

    I need to ride more.

  54. Comment by Randoboy | 06.16.2009 | 7:00 am

    With the amount of cold-weather base riding I do during the winter, between snot-rockets, crash-landings (hits you or your bike instead of the pavement), and aborted take-offs (stays on your face), I estimate my lifetime expectorant output at 1.8986 × 1027 kg. Or, put simply, the mass of the planet Jupiter. I expect the Earth to become a small sun the next time I sneeze.

  55. Comment by FujiGirl | 06.16.2009 | 8:33 am

    Where I’m from, we refer to the art of making a snot rocket as to “farmer blow”. I’m pleased to say as the only “girl” in my group, I can farmer blow better than any man I’ve encountered. I suspect in the past 7 years, however, I’ve only blown around one gallon. Not nearly as impressive as I’d have thought. Generally I get a clean blow, however, there is a significant amount deposited on the glove to the shorts, and also directly onto the shoulder of jerseys (if I’m wearing sleeves). I have also had the case of the snot slug. I enjoyed your blog. My first visit – think I’ll be back!

  56. Pingback by Fat Cyclist » Blog Archive » Seattle LiveStrong Challenge IV: A Shout-Out to Susan, Co-Captain ClydeSteve’s Ride Report | 06.23.2009 | 2:30 pm

    [...] saw Team Fatty guys every so often and tried to interview some of them about important questions of their riding career. I would have liked to work together with someone in this section for the [...]


Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.