Cycling with Allergies

It’s that time of year again, when the pollen counts are high and I’m feeling it along with my fellow allergy sufferers. A struggle I’ve had for years, is how to perform with allergies on the bike. Now I just don’t. When I feel it the most, I just ride tempo, base, and relax. For those of us that race, there’s no gain if you can’t go hard.

When the trees are done doing their thing and the air clears, I’m back kitted up with numbers and turning the pedals fast. For commuters, tourists, and the plain-clothes cylists, various treatments can help keep you on the bike and riding.

Pollen Map of Doom


Various Treatments

  • Flush with saline – Mix baking soda 2 to 1 with salt and flush that through your nose and throat. Use one of those baby de-snotter things, if you’re really congested, or a netti pot.

  • Shower frequently – besides the normal bath, I’ll rinse off before and after a ride to wash the pollen off my body

  • Drugs – Those that don’t have allergies think you can just take a pill and be all better, up there pushing the pace. Well, no you can’t. Drugs have side-effects and just dampen the worst symptoms. For me it’s asthma. I take a combination of Nasonex, Astelin, Foradil, and Albuterol.

  • Sleep – I nap, sleep, and rest more at the height of allergy season. I want to give me immunity system all the advantages.

  • Vitamins – A multi daily and vitamin C, along with D for the Seattle area, where we’re sun deprived.

  • Herbs – I’d like to think they help, maybe a placebo effect. Don’t know, but there’s nothing really I found that makes a difference.

  • Acupuncture – when it’s as bad as it gets, I visit my acupuncturist. What I’ve found is that my body is so heightened to contaminants in the air, that anything will set it off. Like, a passing whiff of perfume, cigarette smoke, diesel and so on. The acupuncturist just calms me down and those moments on the table I can try to breath deep and chill.

  • Breathing – over the years, I’ve adapted to breathing excercises and breathing deep on the bike. In the pack, cyclists next to me probably think I’m sighing or doing some weird thing. But it’s just trying to calm down and breathe as deep as I can.

Reader Replies

I tweeted about allergies and readers replied

  • jonesdavide – I ride in Memphis which is notorious 4 causing bad allergies. I use my glove (Castelli) thumb snot cloth & blow alot of rockets
  • woodswittdealy – saline nasal irrigation before & after ride. Singulair. Zaditor for eyes. Astelin spray. Benedryl for emergency.
  • thorn_tree – medicate up and wear wrap around glasses. currently using zyrtec D but I switch every couple of years.
  • jennfields – chin to shoulder, blow! & don’t worry, snot washes off cycling jerseys quite easily. 🙂
  • JeffCole53 – I find farmer blows help – along with Claritin D.
  • spurdave – A netti pot and salt water helps clear out the snoot before and after rides. I bring an emergency inhaler and use non-drowsy drugs. And a whole lotta water.
  • mattmbr – disposable contact lenses and Oakley m frames or radars.


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