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Cycling is a fantastic way to stay fit, explore the great outdoors, and enjoy some quality time with friends and family. But for many of us, seasonal allergies can put a serious damper on our love for the sport. If pollen and other airborne allergens have you sniffling, sneezing, and rubbing your eyes, you’re not alone. We’ve got you covered with these 7 pro hacks to help you beat those pesky cycling-related allergies and get back in the saddle in no time.
Choose the Right Time to Ride
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to avoiding allergens. Pollen counts tend to be lower in the early mornings and late evenings, so try to plan your rides during these times. I remember when I first started cycling, I used to head out in the afternoon, right when the pollen counts were at their highest. My eyes would be red, itchy, and watery by the end of my ride. But once I switched to riding in the morning, I noticed a significant improvement in my symptoms.
Fun Fact: Did you know that different types of pollen peak at different times of the day? Grass pollen tends to peak in the late afternoon, while tree and weed pollen are often highest in the early mornings.
As I mentioned, pollen counts are generally lower in the earlier and later parts of the day. But it’s also important to consider other factors that can impact pollen levels, such as the weather. For example, rainy days can help wash pollen out of the air, while windy days can stir it up and increase your exposure.
A personal story that comes to mind is the time I planned a weekend cycling trip with friends during spring. We were so excited to explore new trails that we didn’t think about the impact of pollen. Unfortunately, we started our rides around lunchtime when pollen levels were at their peak, and many of us suffered from allergy symptoms throughout the trip. Had we known better, we would have scheduled our rides earlier in the day to avoid the worst of the pollen.
So, in addition to checking the daily pollen forecast (which you can usually find on your favorite weather app), keep an eye on the weather and plan your rides accordingly. On days when pollen counts are particularly high, you might want to postpone your ride or consider indoor alternatives.
Pro Tip: Keep a pollen calendar handy to track the peak pollen times for different plants in your area.
- Ride during early mornings or late evenings
- Monitor the daily pollen forecast and weather conditions
- Adjust your ride time based on pollen levels
Wear Protective Gear
Suiting up with the right gear can make all the difference when it comes to battling allergens. Wrap-around sunglasses are a must to keep pollen out of your eyes. If you’re particularly sensitive, consider wearing a face mask or bandana to cover your nose and mouth.
You can also try a few additional steps to protect yourself from allergens while cycling.
For instance, consider wearing long sleeves and full-length pants to reduce the amount of skin exposed to pollen. You could also try applying a barrier cream or petroleum jelly around your nostrils to help trap allergens before they enter your nasal passages. I remember trying this trick during a particularly challenging allergy season, and it made a noticeable difference in my comfort levels while riding.
Lastly, don’t forget to choose the right fabrics for your cycling clothes. Look for moisture-wicking, breathable materials that will keep your skin cool and dry while minimizing allergen retention. A useful method for managing hot and sweaty summer rides.
Pro Tip: Don’t forget to clean your protective gear regularly! Pollen can build up on your sunglasses, helmet, and face mask, so give them a good wipe down after each ride.
- Wear wrap-around sunglasses
- Cover your nose and mouth with a face mask or bandana
- Opt for long sleeves and full-length pants
Keep Your Cycling Gear Clean
Speaking of cleanliness, it’s essential to keep your cycling clothes and gear free of allergens. Make it a habit to wash your cycling clothes, gloves, and even your helmet straps after each ride. I used to experience post-ride allergy symptoms, only to realize it was because I wasn’t washing my gear often enough. Now, I keep a separate laundry basket for my cycling clothes, so they don’t contaminate my other laundry.
In addition to washing your clothes, gloves, and helmet straps, it’s essential to clean your bike regularly, too. Pollen and other allergens can collect on your bike’s frame, handlebars, and saddle, so give them a thorough wipe down after each ride. If you store your bike outdoors, consider covering it with a tarp or bike cover to protect it from pollen when it’s not in use.
I learned this lesson the hard way when I neglected to clean my bike after a series of rides during allergy season. One day, I hopped on my bike, only to find that my allergy symptoms flared up almost instantly. After giving my bike a thorough cleaning and making it part of my post-ride routine, I noticed a significant reduction in my allergy symptoms.
Another helpful tip is to designate a specific area for storing your cycling gear, away from living spaces. This will help prevent allergens from spreading throughout your home and affecting you even when you’re not riding.
Pro Tip: Assign a specific day of the week for cleaning all of your cycling gear, including your bike.
- Wash your cycling clothes, gloves, and helmet straps regularly
- Wipe down your bike after each ride
- Store your bike and gear in a designated, clean area
Breathe Through Your Nose
Breathing through your nose while cycling is another effective technique to help reduce the impact of allergens on your body. As a cyclist, I’ve discovered the benefits of nasal breathing firsthand, and it has made a significant difference in my ability to manage my allergy symptoms during rides.
Our noses are designed to act as natural air filters, trapping allergens and irritants before they can reach our lungs. By breathing through your nose instead of your mouth, you can take advantage of your body’s built-in defense system.
Nasal breathing also has other benefits that can improve your cycling experience. For instance, it helps warm and humidify the air before it reaches your lungs, which can be particularly helpful during colder months or dry conditions. Additionally, nasal breathing promotes proper diaphragmatic breathing, which can help improve your overall endurance and performance on the bike.
Here are a few tips to help you practice nasal breathing while cycling:
- Start by focusing on nasal breathing during low-intensity rides or warm-ups. This will allow you to get accustomed to the sensation without becoming overwhelmed
- Maintain a comfortable and sustainable pace. If you find it difficult to breathe through your nose, slow down until you can comfortably maintain nasal breathing
- Practice off the bike as well. Incorporate nasal breathing into your daily routine and other forms of exercise to help train your body and make it a habit
- If you’re congested or experiencing difficulty breathing through your nose, consider using a saline nasal spray or practicing nasal rinsing before your ride to help clear your nasal passages
By incorporating nasal breathing into your cycling routine, you’ll not only reduce the impact of allergens on your body but also experience a range of other benefits that can enhance your overall performance and enjoyment of the sport. Give it a try, and you might be surprised by how much of a difference it makes.
Pro Tip: Practice nasal breathing exercises off the bike to strengthen your nasal breathing technique when you’re on the bike.
- Focus on nasal breathing during low-intensity rides or warm-ups
- Maintain a comfortable and sustainable pace
- Incorporate nasal breathing into your daily routine and other exercises
Take Allergy Medication
Consult with a healthcare professional to find the right allergy medication for your needs. Over-the-counter or prescribed medications like antihistamines, decongestants, and corticosteroid nasal sprays can help alleviate allergy symptoms, making your ride more enjoyable. I always keep a pack of non-drowsy antihistamines in my cycling bag, just in case.
Remember, it’s important to follow the recommended dosage and instructions for any medication you’re taking. If you’re unsure about which medication is right for you or how it might affect your cycling performance, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.
Finding the right allergy medication can be a game-changer for cyclists who struggle with seasonal allergies. I remember my first few years of cycling, when I would suffer through my rides with itchy eyes, a runny nose, and non-stop sneezing. Then, after talking to my doctor and finding the right antihistamine, I was able to ride more comfortably and enjoy my time on the bike.
Because there’s such a range of different allergy medication available, it’s essential to talk to a healthcare professional about your symptoms and get personalized recommendations for your symptoms. They may suggest over-the-counter options or prescribe something stronger, depending on your needs.
Pro Tip: If you’re planning a long ride or a cycling event, consider doing a trial run with your allergy medication beforehand. This will help ensure it works effectively for you and won’t cause any adverse side effects during your ride.
- Consult a healthcare professional for personalized allergy medication recommendations
- Follow the recommended dosage and instructions for your medication
- Test your allergy medication during a trial ride before a cycling event
Opt for Indoor Cycling
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, Mother Nature just doesn’t cooperate. On days when pollen counts are through the roof, consider taking your workout indoors. Indoor cycling on a stationary bike or attending a spin class can provide an excellent alternative to outdoor cycling while keeping you away from allergens. I’ve found that mixing up my routine with some indoor cycling sessions not only helps me avoid allergy flare-ups but also provides a nice change of pace from my usual outdoor rides.
Whether you invest in a stationary bike for your home, join a spin class at your local gym, or use a bike trainer or rollers, indoor cycling can help you stay fit and maintain your cycling skills while avoiding allergens. Plus, it’s a fantastic way to explore new workouts and challenge yourself with different types of training.
Pro Tip: Make sure the indoor space you’re cycling in has good air filtration and is regularly cleaned. This will help ensure you’re not trading outdoor allergens for indoor ones.
- Try indoor cycling on high-pollen days
- Choose between a stationary bike, spin class, or bike trainer
- Set up a comfortable, well-ventilated space for indoor cycling
Build Allergy Resilience
Lastly, don’t forget that building resilience to allergens is possible. Gradually increasing the duration and intensity of your rides can help your body adapt to allergen exposure, reducing the severity of your allergy symptoms over time. When I first started cycling, I struggled with severe allergy symptoms and I considered giving up the sport altogether. But by taking it slow and gradually pushing myself, I’ve noticed that my body has become more tolerant of allergens, making my rides much more enjoyable.
To build your own allergy resilience, start with shorter rides and gradually increase your time and distance on the bike. It’s essential to listen to your body and never push yourself beyond your limits. If you’re feeling unwell or your allergy symptoms are becoming unbearable, take a break and give yourself time to recover.
Building allergy resilience can be a slow and challenging process, but the reward is worth it. With time and dedication, you might be able to enjoy cycling without constantly battling allergy symptoms, making each ride that much more enjoyable.
Pro Tip: Keep a journal to track your rides, allergy symptoms, and progress in building allergy resilience.
- Gradually increase the duration and intensity of your rides
- Listen to your body and take breaks when necessary
- Celebrate your progress and improvements in managing allergy symptoms
Cycling-related allergies can be a real nuisance, but with these 7 pro hacks, you can stay ahead of the game and keep your wheels spinning. By choosing the right time to ride, wearing protective gear, keeping your gear clean, breathing through your nose, taking allergy medication, opting for indoor cycling, and building allergy resilience, you can enjoy cycling without letting allergies hold you back. Now, grab your bike, and let’s hit the road.