(From The Best Bike Blog 2006 Archives) You're rolling down the road at 23-25mph and it hits you. You squinch your nose and turn your head away from the offending poof. Woo-wee! Dang. That's nasty.
In the peloton it is nearly impossible to figure out who poofed. There are too many variables and outside sources to figure it out, such as: traffic & bike noise pollution, changing wind direction, and turbulence from churning pedals and legs. Not to mention, based on physics and aerodynamic principals, the rule that whoever smelt it-dealt it does not apply. Within a second of the poof leaving the poof factory, it can be dozens of meters away.
However, one rule does apply. If you smelt it, it most definitely came from within the "cone of poof probability" in front of you. The vortex of the "cone of poof probability" is the shorts of the person in front of you and stretches forward in either direction to the sides of the peloton. Poofs on a bike don't travel side to side too quickly. So the person directly to the right or left of the person in front of you are unlikely sources of the poof.
The first thing you need to do is figure out whether it was an actual poof or some other offending odor. It's not so easy. But, if you're on a route that you're familiar with, you should be familiar with the odors in that area. Is there a creek or river nearby? Are you in a trashy part of town? Are you out in the farmlands? Does the odor smell like any of these things? Or, does it smell like the remains of a mushroom & broccoli omelet or day old pizza.
Ah ha! Now you know it was a poof. But, who poofed in the peloton?
First, let's revisit the "cone of poof probability." The "cone of poof probability" is rather small and based on the speed you're traveling at. At ten miles per hour, the cone may be a ninety-degree angle from the buttocks of the person in front of you. However, at 25 miles per hour, that cone gets much thinner, maybe only 60 degrees.
What you need to do, is count the number of people in that area. Say you're in the front third of a pack of fifty riders, traveling at 25 miles per hour. There are maybe 18 people in front of you. But, at 25 miles an hour, there are probably only 8-9 people within the "cone of poof probability."
Now, out of those eight and based on pure experience alone, I think you can rule out the really skinny riders. For some reason, larger riders tend to poof more in public. Maybe it's because they eat more meat, cheese and fats. I do. I weigh 163 and have been know to poof in the peloton. I'd use 155 pounds as your cut off. That should at least cut 4 people out of the equation.
So, now we're down to 4 or 5 riders over 155 pounds that could possibly have poofed in the peloton. Now it comes down to an educated guess.
Do you know those riders? Who's the fattest, not the biggest? Who's more jovial? Who's more outspoken? Who's the prankster? Who's the goofball? Who's most unkempt? Who's got the messiest car in the parking lot at the race? Who would think it's funny to beef a poof in the peloton? Who wouldn't care about poofing on his fellow racers?
Out of the five possible offenders, rate them. On a scale of one to five, who's the most likely poofer? I'm pretty sure by now you know whom poofed in the peloton.
So, now what. Big deal. You know whom poofed. What good is that information? I really don't know. I don't think there's a USCF rule against poofing in the peloton. But, by now, having taken your mind off the race for a few minutes, you're probably relaxed and recovered.
I'd attack that damn poofer.