Prevent those common colds from interfering with bicycling

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Ever since kids arrived on the scene in this household, fall has been the time of year when my head starts feeling congested and before I know it I'm suffering from a cold.

But considering myself a hard-core cyclist, I ride my bike through my illness. Then, more often than not, the cold turns into bronchitis or a sinus infection and that's the end of my fall bicycling for a couple of weeks.

I've run across some recommendations lately at UltraRob's Adventures blog and from trainer Chris Carmichael about how to prevent and control those colds and at least keep them from turning into something worse.

Hose your nose

It sounds like long-distance cyclist UltraRob gets it about as bad as anyone, with asthma and allergies compounding his problems with sinus infections. He's on antibiotics at least once a year.

Last week he mentioned his success with using a product called Sinus Rinse, in which you shoot a saline solution up one nostril and let it run out the other. Initially put off by the thought of doing this, he tried it and says it's actually quite effective at getting out the crud.

“Even after using it once, my sinuses felt better. After a couple more days of using it, my sinuses felt fine. I used it for a couple weeks and then felt well enough and quit using it. After several days, my sinuses started bothering me again. I guess I need to use it every few days to keep things cleared out.”

Carmichael suggests

In the November issue of Bicycling magazine, Carmichael makes a few very simple recommendations on beating the common cold.

First, drink plenty of water to help snot do its job as a first line defense against colds.

Also, boost your body's immunity by eating plenty of vitamins and minerals in fresh produce. He specifically mentions carrots, apricots, butternut squash and sweet potatoes for their beta-carotenes.

(If you're interested in using healthy foods in quick recipes, check out The World's Healthiest Foods website. Since I resolved to improve my diet after my diagnosis for prostate cancer, I've found this to be an invaluable resource for easy meals using healthy foods.)

Finally, he has his own over-the-counter solution, Zicam nasal swabs which contain zinc. I use zinc losenges to coat my throat when I'm getting sick, but this delivers the zinc to the nose. (Be aware that there are stories out there about Zicam causing decreased ability to smell, which the manufacturer disputes.)

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