Dear Coach Should I Pee on the Bike?
Should you pee on the bike during your iron distance race or get off the bike and risk waiting at the porta potty?
I wasn’t even going to address this topic because many feel uncomfortable talking about it. Today I surveyed many of my recent athletes and got some perspective on this. The responses were varied and some of them really funny, LOL. I think it’s worth sharing my research on this because it might help some athletes make some decisions on whether or not to skip the porta potty at their next race or not, LOL.
I hope my mother isn’t reading this either.
I surveyed about 6 or 7 athletes and I will change their names to protect the innocent, LOL.
My questions were these:
“I’m writing a blog post about peeing on the bike. 1. Have you ever done this? 2.During what race? 3.Biggest reason why or why not?
James: Yes I have… Galveston 70.3, IM Texas, and Waco 70.3. Main reason? Just the convenience and time. Looking at several minutes to get out and back into a tri kit. It’s gross, but your already covered in sweat. I can’t really be pedaling when I do it. I rinse my bike pretty soon afterwards when I do.
Gus: Never had to pee the entire time. Good flow of liquids throughout the day I guess. Also, I didn’t want it (the pee) to fall on nutrition under the seat of the bike and water bottles in the back . I also didn’t want to wear it for several hours. LOL
Meg: For women it’s just a hygiene thing- too much risk of infection and other complicated female stuff. I don’t want to have to clean it all off my bike afterwards either.
Tom: Just can’t make myself do that.
Mason: I tried a few times but it never worked out for me. LOL
I found that I can’t pee while still pedaling so I would have to just cruise for a bit. I figured it would be just as fast for me to pause and hop off the bike and pee real quick. Plus then I don’t feel gross either ha ha.
Nancy: I’ve never done it. I think that is a skill. Also, I don’t normally need to go. I can’t just go while riding or swimming. I would have to stop and think about it.
Tammy: Never peed on the bike, only in the water and even in my wetsuit. LOL
My thoughts on this topic.
I would say that if you are looking for a podium finish in a very competitive race, a Kona qualification, or you want to make All World Athlete, then maybe peeing on the bike is for you. Not having to stop to use the rest room is in essence free time in your favor. I did read one article where the author felt that peeing on the bike should only EVER be during a 70.3 or 140.6 distance race.
If you are an elite athlete looking to earn a spot to a World Championship and every second matters then yes you should pee on the bike if you’re comfortable doing that. I gather from most folks I interviewed, it’s pretty hard to be pedaling while peeing. You want to pee on the bike while going downhill with no other athletes close behind you. How far away should they be? I don’t really know and I am sure no one wants to test this out. If I had to make a guess, I would say at least 20-50 yards away to be safe? The best way to do this is to stand up while coasting and start peeing. Most of the liquid should spray behind you and not go down your legs. For me I would be more concerned that it would get in my shoes. Nobody wants to be sloshing in wet socks soaked with pee, LOL. I guess the best way to plan your relief session is when you are just a mile or two out from the next water stop. That way you can grab an extra water bottle and clean yourself up a bit.
However, if you are going to be freaked out and worried about infection, burning, or chafing, it may not be worth sacrificing your time trying to get comfortable after peeing on the bike. In other words, it’s probably better to stop and use the rest room if it’s going to come back and haunt your thoughts the rest of the day.
If you are an average age grouper wanting to go out there and have fun and your goal is to just finish in a decent time, then no, I would not recommend peeing on the bike. No need.
Now, what about your bike? Is pee dangerous to the carbon, aluminum or metal? I asked my friend David from southwestfarmeworks.com. He’s been in the bike painting business for decades. His answer was this:
“So, pee on a well-treated carbon frame is probably not a problem. Pee on a carbon frame that has a compromised finish also may not be an issue but rinsing the frame would be a way of lessening the chance of a problem. For aluminum it might be a problem. Aluminum can corrode if it's not protected with some kind of finish. We see it all the time. Frames need refinishing and most often this is from sweat, so I would imagine pee would be worse. Steel would be even worse if it's not painted or somehow sealed over. It’s a good idea to wipe down a steal bike especially after a long race or training session. So as long as the frame has a good, sound, and durable finish and it's at least wiped off after a race or training ride it shouldn't be a problem. I think that a little pee on the components would not be much of a problem either.”
I don’t know about you but when I come back from a 55 mile ride in the heat, my bike is usually pretty nasty with dried sweat, spilled sports drink, and dirt. Add pee to the mix and it’s super dirty. If you can squirt a water bottle all over your bike at the end of the race or ride ASAP then towel dry it, that’s better than nothing. Make it a point to wipe down your bike with some de-greaser the second you get in the door, then give it a good cleaning the next day. I use Simple Green and water to clean the cables, housings, seat, chain, crank, cassette, handlebars, and brakes etc. Dry thoroughly with a clean towel.
I hope you gained some perspective by reading this article on this rather unusual topic. As a coach I do get asked questions like this sometimes and I wanted to share this with you. Bottom line: peeing on the bike is purely a personal preference and depends on your race goals.
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Ironman University Certified Coach
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