Archive for February, 2008

I was planning to write a piece on why cycling is bad for your teeth.  I thought it was quite a good idea at the time.  I would have covered various reasons why people with teeth shouldn’t cycle.  
The piece would have explored the orthodontic angle;  starting by explaining that the air pressure in a bicycle tyre is more than three times greater than in a motor car tyre.  As a road bike doesn’t have any shock absorbers, the jarring that occurs over every centimetre of the road is quite significant.  So, when a cyclist raises the water bottle to his mouth to take a sip, his teeth are in a very vulnerable position: he has to close his lips around the nipple to avoid spillage.  And as you well know, your lips are in close proximity to your teeth.  So there is a very good chance that the water bottle could knock his teeth each time he takes a drink.  Assuming each sip gives him 50ml of sustenance, a 750ml water bottle could collide with his teeth approximately 15 times on his ride.  Imagine the long-term consequences of such action – I bet you can see his dentist smiling already.  Many cyclists have two bottles – one for water, and one for Energade or a similar motion potion.  All of these supplements are saturated with various forms of sugar, and we know what THAT does to your teeth.  Never mind the additional supplements that cyclists take, like Gu, Vitrace, Breakthru, Fast Fuel, Isostar and the rest.  Chock-full of magic things to make your ride faster…and rot your teeth.  The second part of the article would have postulated something slightly less scientific; but nevertheless a theory worth considering.  I was going to continue by saying that God gave us lips to cover our teeth.  I mean, why else are they there?  Now, most of the time cyclists are riding, they are breathing through their mouths.  And more often than not, they are grimacing with the exertion of their efforts.  The natural consequence of this is that their teeth are exposed to the elements.  Apart from the goggas that tend to fly into one’s mouth on such occasions, there is also the risk that your teeth are exposed to many more contaminants than usual.  Examples are exhaust fumes from passing cars and the occasional stone thrown up by the back wheel of the rider in front of you.  Another contaminant is airborne dust, usually comprising ingredients too horrific to contemplate (if you think I’m exaggerating, just blow your nose after a long ride, and examine the contents of the tissue).

However, my biggest concern about exposing your enamel to the elements, is the effect of the ultra-violet rays from the sun.  I don’t think that anyone has completed a study on this vitally important issue.  Perhaps now is the time, if it is not too late already.  If you think I’m being pedantic, then I challenge you to show me one old cyclist with good teeth.  Go on then.

As I was saying, I was going to write this piece on why cycling is bad for your teeth, and mentioned the possibility to Hunnee in the car on the way home from our 60km Fun Ride in Stellenbosch this morning.  My suggestion was met by a stunned silence, followed by “Is this the sort of crap you think about when you’re on your bike for three hours?”

After his snort of derision, I added that I had also contemplated the possibility of introducing the Haka to our Soccer Game on Thursday.  I asked him to picture the scene: 11 women of assorted ages, sizes and fitness levels, running military-style onto the A-field at Villagers, with lipstick war-stripes on their cheeks.  They would arrange themselves in a formidable formation in front of the other team and commence chanting.  I envisioned the choreography to be a bastardisation of the Macarena, accompanied by the lyrics of “Humpty Dumpty”.  All in a very menacing tone of course.  I told Hunnee that I had got quite excited along a particularly steep stretch of the R44, but that I had found the actions quite difficult to perform, as I had to keep pedalling and could not take my hands off the handlebars to rehearse the demoralising effect of our new war dance.

I knew I had lost him when he looked out of the window, and a lone tear coursed down his cheek. We drove in silence the rest of the way home.

NEXT WEEK: Why cycling is bad for your nether regions.


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