I’m not sure how long it was that NASA worked on the Snot Rocket after the success of the Apollo missions. Someone there knew they would never have more political capital than after putting the first humans on the moon. The entire agency, the entire nation, had a ton of snot we needed rid of, like an early spring cyclist on a first training ride. A snot rocket, the Schnoz Project, then begat the term we “athletes” have adopted for our own mucus-y launchings.
Let’s just recognize up front here that there are spitting cultures and non-spitting cultures. Here in the U.S. of A., we tend to eschew spitting. It’s not sanitary in some way, although I don’t know a lot of people who are licking the ground, so I’m inclined to say this is just one of those random cultural idiosyncrasies.
For myself, I am an avid snot rocketeer. There was a time when I was younger and more demure about such things, that I held back, and then, of course, during the bulk of the corona virus pandemic, I “read the room” and kept my bodily fluids to myself. Otherwise, I’m a prolific user of the hobo’s hanky. In fact, the older I get, the more my nose seems to run. Either that or blowing one snot rocket triggers some gland to secrete more mucus, because actually our bodies use that stuff for various tasks, and my body rather resents having to replace the goo it just made, just because I’d prefer to breathe through my nose occasionally.
Mucus’ main function is to protect your body from irritants, to coat the surfaces of your mouth, nose and sinuses to shield them from viruses and other bad stuff, but also to provide a medium for that bad stuff to leave most expeditiously. Still, there is obviously too much of a good thing, especially if you’re trying to convert oxygen into glycogen at an advanced rate while pedaling a bicycle. And thus, I am fully in favor of the snot rocket.
Still, it’s a high risk move.
For those of you reading these words and thinking to yourself, “You know, I used to find it disgusting, but Robot’s thoughtful exegesis of the snot rocket as a culturally neutral way to maintain mucoidal homeostasis has me convinced I’m gonna try it,” I will herewith give you detailed instructions for the successful expulsion of your own gooey projectiles.
Step 1: Check the Scene – I’m of the opinion that these expectorations are hygienically neutral, but that’s only true if you’re effort doesn’t hit another person. If you snot on someone, I cannot guarantee they’re gonna be excited about it. So make sure you’ve got room. (Pro Tip: In a paceline, might not be the prime launch pad locale, unless you’re on the back).
Step 2: Close One Nostril with Index Finger or Thumb – I have seen daring types attempt the double rocket. I don’t recommend this for reasons that should be obvious, but all of them pertain to control and directionality.
Step 3: Turn the Head and Lean in the Direction of the Still Open Nostril – Your first priority, obviously, is to get the excess snot out of your head, but a strong secondary priority is to clear your shoulder, which, in case you haven’t noticed, is situated right next to your head. If you simply turn and blow, you’ll besmirch yourself. Unless you’ve sprayed your jersey/jacket with teflon prior to departure, you’re gonna end up with an unwanted souvenir.
Step 4: Blow Hard – Just like one of NASA’s fine efforts, you need to achieve escape velocity, “the minimum speed needed for a free, non-propelled object to escape from the gravitational influence of a primary body, thus reaching an infinite distance from it.” Half measures will avail you nothing. Step 4 requires decisiveness, resolution, and at least a half lungful of propulsion.
Step 5: Wipe Your Schnoz – This is what the back of your glove or any part of your sleeve is for. If you have performed Step 4 correctly, then Step 5 shouldn’t be a big deal.
Step 6: Pretend It Didn’t Happen – As I said above, there are spitting cultures and non-spitting cultures. You want to reduce your nasal load, but you’re not trying to lose friends and alienate people. It’s best just to deny it ever happened, which, again, is why Steps 3 and 4 need to be carried out precisely and confidently.
OK. I hope we all learned something here today. If you know what it is, clue me in. Week-by-week I’m turning out these useless reviews, and it’s possible they’re making me dummer.