The Delicate Art of ‘On-the-Bike’ Evacuation

Posted: August 14, 2012 in Bike, In Transition
Tags: , ,

There is one, well, rather ‘sensitive’ (or ‘distasteful’ perhaps?)  topic that relates to triathlon that I’ve, so far, been able to avoid.  It’s a topic I’ve already dealt with in my swimming forum but not specifically for the bike, as it’s very, well, shall we say ‘unsavory’; in fact, so much so that I’ve been avoiding this particular situation like I might the eventual release of the ’50 Shades of Grey’ to the cinema.  In case you haven’t figured it out yet, what I’m really referring to is the need to pee whilst cycling.  I mean, when you’re on a training ride it’s no big deal to pull over and drain the main vein, is it?  But while competing in a race…what to do, what to do?

I’ve already made the conscious decision to never – ever – piss in my wetsuit for multiple reasons but, primarily, time-wise, we’re only talking – at max – about a little over an hour at best.  Hell, even at 40-years of age I can hold my bladder for that short period of time.  I learned that specific skill on family road trips a long time ago.  But the bike represents a much more complicated problem as; for starters, I’ll be on it for a much longer period of time.  In fact, the typical human bladder holds only 2 cups (500ml) of liquid, and I’ll be consuming a lot more than that in that time.  For point of reference, I can expect to be on the bike for five plus hours during Ironman Wales and given the amount of liquids I’ll be consuming whilst doing so, the chances are I’ll need to take a major leak at some point.  As gross as it sounds, it may be a skill worth getting somewhat familiar with on my training rides.

Believe it or not, I’ve seen informational-type diagrams at bike shops attempting to describe how to accomplish this feat with the assistance of other riders where one rider holds another rider’s seat; a third rider is holding the second rider, and the first rider is making a beautiful graceful stream arching away from his bicycle. Getting help seems like a good option, but how does that work exactly?  I can’t picture asking another rider mid-race to help me pee.

Good sir! I am ill at ease! My full bladder bespeaks a most disquieting pain, a pain at once nightmarish and exquisite. My body cries out to me as if bedammed for nigh this fortnight. Were that it were not so! Perchance thou couldst hand my seat whilst I heed the beckon of nature’s most insistent call. Prithee, answer man!

No, probably not.  Besides, riding in such close proximity to other riders is strictly illegal in Ironman competitions, not to mention that one probably would have no desire to be anywhere near me under such inauspicious circumstances, particularly given that the Wales course is known to be extremely windy.  So this would never work.  This is probably just one of those things that one needs to tackle alone.  ‘Mano e’ Snako’, if you will.

Before I tried my hand at this skill, first, I consulted my Bible:  Google.  God bless Google; is there anything it doesn’t know?  There I found a few helpful suggestions to point me in the right direction.

  1. Make sure you’re safe from legal repercussions.
    Urinating in public may violate indecent exposure, public nuisance, and disorderly conduct laws, not to mention someone might see your wiener.  Shit, in some states, you can become a sex offender for urinating in public (mental note to self: never pee on the bike in the United States).
  2. Make sure you’re riding on a slight decline.
    If you’re going too fast, you don’t want to lose control of your bike. If you’re going too slowly, you sure don’t want to have to pedal midstream.  You might as well just stop and get off your bike or pull a Lisa Nowak and simply wear a diaper.
  3. Learn the proper technique.
    Extend one leg and rotate the opposite hip towards the extended leg.  Free your member from the top or bottom of the shorts, and let rip. Tap as necessary.
  4. Make sure you really need to go.
    The first time you try this, understand that Nature doesn’t have to be making a polite house call; ding-dong!  No, nature needs to be banging on the door with an oak cudgel, shouting and threatening to breaks windows.
  5. Account for shrinkage.
    You may not have as much capacity for extension as when you started the ride.  Lot’s has been going on in those shorts over 180k including extensive sweating and a vigorous see-sawing back and forth.  You do the math.  You’d shrink away from seat too in an effort to evade the ruthless onslaught.
  6. Once you start, don’t stop until you’re done.
    It doesn’t matter if you think you see the lights of an approaching car or an oncoming cyclist.  Shit, even if an alien craft suddenly lands immediately in front of you and its passengers exit and proceed to perform a Welcome Watusi in greeting, for the love of God – stay committed!  Otherwise, you’ll finish your ride with a soggy bottom or as a yellow, pissy stain on the side of the road.

Sounds easy enough, right?  So armed with this new knowledge I ventured out for a test drive.  What could possibly go wrong?

Only everything!  Fuck sticks!

Upon my first attempt, what I experienced could only be described as a severe case of ‘performance anxiety’.  Trying to maintain my balance and keep on a true course on the bike while fishing around in my shorts as I were fishing around for loose change proved to simply be too much to focus on.  I could just envision myself wrapped around a guard rail or telephone pole with my member still tightly grasped in my hand.  No way, Jose!  The combination of going downhill, steering, braking and trying to pry out my wanger was just too much to concentrate on safely.  Heaven’s forbid if any motorists should try and pass at precisely that moment either.  It was a recipe for disaster.  And Lord knows I don’t want to have to explain to my coach that I will have to forgo my Ironman after four years of training because I couldn’t wait to take a leak.  Nuh-uh…fuggetaboutit.

So that leaves little option then: stop or get wet.  So what if I do choose to pee on the bike?  How, umm, gross is that really going to be?  My initial concern (besides the ‘ick’ factor) would be that I’d now have an abundance of acidic urine to sit in and endure for the remainder of the bike and run and, considering how much I’m prone to chafing with just sweat alone…seriously, Ouch!  I guess there’s only one way to find out.  I suppose one way of looking at it, is that I’m already pretty stinky given that my fat, hairy ass has been sweating away on a bike seats for hours.  How much worse can it get?  Oh yeah, normal sweat (a long bike ride can yield several liters of it) contains water, salt, and, yup, urea.  Yes, that means you’re literally peeing through your skin when you’re really working hard and perspiring like a mofo.  So what’s a little more in concentrated form in your cycle shorts?  At least that’s the attitude I’m taking for the time being anyway.

So during my next long bike workout, the goal became to, shall we say, experiment, with the whole pee issue.  Hey, they say that ‘knowledge is power’, right?  So around the 4.5 hour mark of my six hour cycling odyssey I made the conscious decision to whiz without stopping.  Yup, I just quit pedaling momentarily and let ‘er rip.  I know, right?  But I have to say, the feeling was strangely comforting.  I’m not saying I’m going to be making a habit of this, like pissing myself while walking the aisles at the supermarket or anything, but it wasn’t altogether…unpleasant.

As it turns out, what I passed wasn’t really acidic or, pee-like even at all.  Nope, it was practically just water as that’s what I had also been taking in for the past four and a half hours anyway.  Sure, water that had first passed through my gastrointestinal tract first, not to mention Mr. Happy, but water nonetheless.  Making things even better was giving myself an additional fresh splash of water from my water bottle to ‘wash up’ whatever might still be lingering behind in my chamois, kind of like a douche-on-the-go I guess.  It really wasn’t that bad.  But, there are a few caveats that one must still take into consideration:

  1. Never, repeat, NEVER eat asparagus the day before competition, or any day for that matter where an ‘On-the-Bike’ evacuation might be called into play unless you want to be inhaling sulfur for the rest of your race.
  2. Make sure you’re hydrating exceedingly well throughout the ride before you even consider opening the flood gates, otherwise, who knows what you might be dowsing yourself with.
  3. Be courteous, try and avoid peeing when there are others nearby, behind you, or, hell, anywhere that be remotely considered as inside the ‘splash zone’.
  4. Always give your shorts a thorough going over once you get home with soap and water, ever before you toss them into the laundry machine.  You can never be too careful.

I’m not trying to indicate that this is going to happen all the time now just because I’ve gotten over ‘the fear’.  Hardly!  I’m not likely to just let things fly while I’m out on my group rides with the ‘ol TryForce gang, hell no, but at least I know that when push comes to shove out on the race course that I can still conduct business without necessarily needing to stop and saving precious time in the meantime.  In fact, I deem this as a “race day only” type of scenario.  Hey, no one ever said that triathlon was a ‘pretty’ sport.

Besides, what happens on the bike stays on the bike.

  1. It has been explained to me by my nurse girlfriend that, medically speaking, “evacuation” refers to the act of pooping and “elimination” more correctly refers to that of peeing and I don’t care. “The Delicate Art of On-the-Bike Elimination” doesn’t have the same, well, zing to it. Therefore, I am sticking with my original title regardless of it’s medical accuracy. Think of me what you will.

    P.S.> It is very doubtful that I will ever feel the need to poop whilst riding my bike. Sometimes are just not attempted.

  2. Jeff says:

    you do realize that you are now destined to poop the poop of all poops ever pooped by a pooped triathalon cyclist 😉

  3. Jen says:

    LMAO!!! Best blog EVER!!!! Ps…loved Shakespearean Terry!!!

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