Bidons and food poisoning a question

So went back to Ireland on vacation and as soon as I landed got out on the Carbon horse. Naturally it being Ireland it was bucketing with rain most of the time.

After a couple of days of this Motezuma put in an appearance and wiped me out for the week. I never had a bout of food poisoning last longer than 48 hours before. This was an epic one and I couldn’t figure out what had caused it. One of the candidates that got floated my way by some other Irish cyclists was that I had picked up some … err… slurry (pig shit spread as a fertilizer) on my bidon during the watery rides. Really? Anyone else heard of this sort of thing…? I had a friend who was a Kayaker. He went down a long time ago with the rest of the UK nationals competitors due to some waterborne stuff one year. Probably a similar agri run off. That was compounded by the water authority opening the sluices for the competition that weekend. But Bidons? Seems unlikely.

I don’t have any mudguards on my front wheel, and there’s certainly some spray that comes up. Most of it hits the bike but I can imagine some of it hitting the bottles. On the other hand, ‘fresh rain’ ought to be wiping it off.

Perhaps the other thing is entirely unrelated to the bike. Maybe the travel involved picking up a bug on the plane? Maybe you’re enjoying the food and drink a bit too much on vacation, and some bug in the food on a meal out?

That seems more likely.

I suppose its possible, but I’d think we’d see it much more often if it was a common risk. I’m terrible for just drinking out of my bottle, even if its mucky, never caught anything from it (afaik, of course).

I remember a lot of people coming down with a stomach bug after a cross race on a field with a lot of cow dung. They blamed that, but I think it was that there were only 2 toilets for 500 people. Think you’re more likely to pick somehing up from other people, than from outdoors.

I put upset stomach’s down to things like that in the past (bidon contamination) but it turned out I had underlying health problems (thankfully sorted now). If you haven’t already done so I suggest you talk to your GP. A simple blood test put them on the path to find my problem.

1 Like

Way back in the day, John Tomac had that exact same issue….picked up giardia from cow (?) dung getting on his WB. Wrecked his whole season IIRC.

Absolutely possible.


Chicken get vaccinated against salmonella now, so don’t think it’s the eggs, especially if you cooked them. However if you were staying in some sort of farm house, how busy was it before you got there? Maybe there was something brewing in the water pipes, if they hadn’t been flushed for a while.

With no professional backing, my instinct would be to see if you can find any common threads- if you friends experienced similar symptoms that might indicate something dietary, and likewise if there’s some familiarity amongst other cyclists in your area it might point at a local/environmental source. (Though in either case I think the odds would be low enough not to merit any changes in routine)

I like to believe that the small bacterial colony brewing at the bottom of my bidon makes me immune to most foodborne illnesses, but apparently that’s just me being disgusting.

1 Like

Sounds extremely unlikely. Obv anything is possible but I would not bet a dollar on it personally.
I don’t think you’d get that sick from a few specks on your bottle even if it did catch some. I get sand and dirt on mine all the time and never have been ill. I’d tack it up as dumb luck and don’t get into any funny stuff like bottle covers! Lol

There is a big difference between sand and dirt vs. fecal matter. there is a reason why they make restaurant employees wash their hands when they return to work from the bathroom…a single worker can infect dozens of customers very easily. A speck of pig schitt off the road can easily make one person sick.

1 Like

The probability of that occurring is negligible. Not worth taking measures to reduce the likelihood in the future. That’s my point

All depends on where you ride…on most trails / roads, probably not. On farm roads or in conditions like what was descipred in the OP? Much higher.

And the only thing you need to do is get a cap for your water bottle…like this one from Camelbak.


Agricultural run off is a big source of food poisoning. For example, if you recall the big national Romaine Lettice recall of a few years ago, the e coli contamination was suspected to have been caused by run off from neighboring cattle farms. Also, it is not at all unusual for manure to get moved around by truck on roads in farm country, either for fertilizer or just as a biproduct of hauling live animals.

I don’t get too worried about most road spray but, if you ride in certain types of farm country there is much more chance the roads are contaminated. And if they are and its wet, that spray hitting your bottle, and face if you are unluckily enough not to be leading the peloton ., is almost certainly contaminated too.


Happened to a bunch of riders at DK one year. I think somewhere in the mud marathon there was supposed to be some manure run off. In that part of the world it’s not unusual to fertilize a field with manure using what’s called a ‘honey wagon’.

Really nasty stuff. Not to be trifled with.

1 Like

This exact thing happens in Snohomish, WA, USA, every fall and spring when cow manure runs across the road in a farming area frequented by cyclists.

It only took once to learn. Do not ride that road when raining.

1 Like

The amount of fecal matter that is capable of running across the road is not just a spec or two. Literal streams of brown go across the road in some areas where I’m from. The stream comes straight from a cowshed.

As I mentioned above… it only took once to learn.

In my case, I didn’t invest in bottle protection. I just refuse to ride that particular road unless it’s been bone dry for a >1 week (so basically only in July/August).


I just want to second what @Dr_Alex_Harrison said…some of the nasty stuff you can get from such a circumstance is the real deal. It’s a great way to lose 10 kilos but it can also lead to real, enduring health problems.

If runoff is likely to be a problem I have some bottles with spring-loaded caps on them…I think they’re Dawn2Dusk or something like that? Hmmm…here they are. Just what I use. They work but they are a little expensive for sure.


The worst ever bout of gastro Ive had, Im pretty sure was caused by cow slop flung up off the road riding in the rain

My commute used to take me past an abatoir, around the same roundabout the trucks coming in use. It was also winter so I also had an abundance of facial hair at the time, riding in the rain, often get a bit of rain dribble from the mo into the mouth. Combine these 2 items and it was pretty much the worst pain ive ever experienced


We have a big, classic gravel race here in Norway (Birkebeinerrittet) which has had up to 15 000 (yes 15 thousand) riders at the most and every time conditions are wet, the term “birken stomach” turns opp again. The route crosses a low mountain area, home to literally several thousands of sheep. Wet roads and terrain, sheep shit and drinking from dirty bottles gives a lot of people stomach problems in the days following the race. The strava comment threads on peoples races can be hilarious/vomit inducing in themselves.


Yes - it can happen.

These are useful and light → Elite


same here :v: