Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ask the Banter- Peeing on the Bike

I recently got this email from the BIL. I haven't responded to him directly via his specific orders:

You need an "Ask the Banter" weekly Q&A session. I have several questions of course, but I think that others can generally be enlightened by your humorous treatment of these problems. Each week I'll send you a question. If you have time banter me the answer.

I like the BIL a lot and he seems to be as motivated as anyone I have ever met in triathlon. He uses me as guidance and we compete in sport (albeit at a distance). I've also come to learn that he is very purposeful in his ways and that his purpose is not always on the surface. Maybe this message is the BIL's way of telling me that I'm running pretty thin on material. Even if that is true (I won't show my cards now), this "Ask the Banter" idea is a great one and I'd be a complete doofus to pass it up (currently I'm only mostly doofus). 

Now that we've laid the canvas, it's time to paint the picture:

When do you pee? I know it's basic, but there are a lot of complications involved. If you are pedaling past a store and you are 3/4 full do you pull over and pee there, knowing that it's the last one for some time. Are you manly enough to pee by the side of the road? Do you actually pee in your tri-suit? (do you practice this as well I mean on race day I can see it, but it's got some Ick factor) I thought that maybe you would have more insight than I because you pee more often.

This is a fantastic question. Okay, there are many questions involved here so I will do my best to explain what is going on in the Banter World in hopes that the BIL, or anyone else out there, can take advantage of my genius. 

When do you pee?
It should be noted that there are different answers to this question based on different situations. Therefore, I have a very complicated, calculitic formula for peeing during a bike ride. I'll do my best to break it down into middle school level pre-algebraic portions.

First situation, if ride is not a race, but a training ride, and if the training ride is more than 90 minutes, and if I am less than 75% finished, and if I have a run scheduled after the ride, and if...
Okay, I could go on for another couple of weeks on the scenario, so I'll middle school it down. If I am riding and I know that I'm not going to make it back home before I start to have a bladder-pressure induced whimper, I will stop and pee. 
How do I know it is time to stop? This question was not asked, but implied. I hate stopping a workout for trivial things (because I errantly believe that stopping will ruin my workout) so I never plan ahead. I've also learned that my bladder does not have an accurate gauge. What I think is 3/4 full may actually be as much as 7/8ths full or as little as 7/16ths full. I suck at guestimation. Therefore, when my desire to pee is greater than my ability to enjoy the ride, it's time to go. Symptoms of this include:
  • Looking at available trees as potential urinals
  • Rationalizing that some farmer's barn would provide great cover
  • Not caring if I take my tri-bike off-roading
  • Wishing that my Garmin had a searchable GPS feature
  • Trying to remember the exact location of that 7-11 that saved me in the past
Once it gets to this status, it's only a matter of time before pee will present itself.

Are you manly enough to pee by the side of the road?
Yes. Never question my manliness.

Plus, I have done so many, many times. Often I will find a spot that has some coverage or seclusion. Trees are nice. A hill works well. If you are in luck, and this happens once in a long while, there will actually be a convenience store or a Starbucks in the area. Just be careful walking on waxed tile in bike shoes.
Remember: Make goofy face
Also, before taking care of business in Mother's nature, you must do the 'glance around guiltily like you are trying to get away with something' look. Mainly you are looking for cars or other cyclists. Most of the time, you won't care about their presence. You just what to know who your main witnesses are. 
Some people will stop, stay on their bike, and lean a little to the side (see graphic to the left). I, for the most part, will lean my bike against a tree, walk a couple of feet to seclusion, and take care of business.
Do you actually pee in your tri-suit?  
Disclaimer: I'm kinda glad that this post is getting long. Hopefully, all of those who are going to be grossed out by this answer have stopped reading by now. If you are still reading, please ready yourself for what happens next...

Um, sometimes. And by sometimes, I mean only in a race situation in which stopping will ruin my chances of achieving a race goal. 
Translation: I have peed many, many times on my bike. (If you just went, "EW!", please remember that I kindly told you to stop reading.)
See, we triathletes are a different breed of moron aggressive. Over the years, we have invented things to save 20 seconds over the course of a 2 hour ride. 20 SECONDS! These inventions include time-trial bikes, aero-helmets, and velcro-laced shoes. We will spend copious dollars on deep-rimmed/ disc wheels, bike computers, and training guides. We simply draw the line at race catheters.
Is there an 'ick' factor? 
To the unenlightened, sure. Let's put this in perspective:
  • We already smell
  • Our fat, hairy, sweaty butt has been in contact with the seat for hours
  • Sweat is composed of water, salt, and, yup, urea (among other things)
  • A bike ride can yield several liters of sweat
  • Your bladder only hold roughly 2 cups (~500 mL)
  • Most of the liquid misses your bike
See, you are already dumping large amounts of pee on your bike. Yet, for some reason, people tend to get grossed out when you apply it in concentrated form.
A few riders have mastered the stand, pull it out, and pee (look right). This may be less gross, but in my opinion, also less safe. There is the on-going argument on whether the over the shorts or the under the shorts is the better route.  Note: This technique is significantly more challenging for the ladies.

Do you practice this as well?
I have in the past. Not anymore. Once you've learned how to pee, there's not much left to practice. I can give you some tips. I had planned on making a training video, but the Wife simply refused to participate as the camera woman. Further, there were a couple of lines in the script that she had a moral objection to. That left me to do all of the videography myself and it's really not safe to pee on the bike, one-handed, while holding a video camera.

Peeing on the Bike Tips.
  • This exact topic is the main reason triathletes don't wear socks on the bike
  • Practice while riding in the rain. It makes things 'flow' easier
  • It's easiest when going downhill
  • Don't pedal. Leave your legs in the 6 o'clock/ 12:00 position (This provides a nice path for the stream down your leg, into your shoe, and out of the holes purposely built into the soles.)
  • Learn how to relax
  • You may need to stand a little bit to remove some urethra pressure
  • Use your water bottle to rinse off afterwards
  • If you must pee a second time, use the same leg
  • If you still choose to ride in socks, ALWAYS have a back-up pair in transition or near your running shoes
By now, I suspect that I have sufficiently answered the question and lost a few readers in the process. If you have successfully mastered the 'pee' on the bike, you are now allowed to wear this shirt in public, brought to you by
If anyone else wishes to take advantage of my omniscience, by all means, please ask. Leave a comment on any post and I'll do my best to answer any and all of your needs.


  1. Hi,
    Thanks a lot for the post. Yesterday I finished a 300 km race. It rained heavily and apparently it makes you sweat much less and you need to go more often. After 150 km I needed to go. After 200 km I desperately needed to go and decided to do it on the bike, but I couldn't. After 220 km I had to stop and fix it. I lost the peloton and was 15 minutes behind my friend over the finish line.
    That will never happen again. I will start practising immediately. I also think it will solve potential dehydration problems because I have always had a fear for drinking to much and having to stop for a pee.
    Following your advice will solve the problem. A special thanks for the trick with the socks!

    1. Lars, 300km race is nothing to attack without the proper preparation. Good luck to you, my man, in all of your endeavors and keep us updated as to how 'practice' is going.