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  1. #1
    Senior Member JoeOxfordCT's Avatar
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    Can you breath through a full face balaclava ?

    Hi All,

    I am contemplating getting a balaclava to help keep my face warm for winter rides on my road bike. I have always wondered though how easy it is to breath through them, especially if you're huffin' & puffin' hard.

    I have seen designs that have perforated holes over the mouth, a slit for the mouth/nose, and some that have a removeable cover that goes over the mouth & nose. Was has been your experience with these and what can you recommend ??

    Thanks !

    Joe
    Oxford, CT.

  2. #2
    Belt drive! vtjim's Avatar
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    I don't have a problem with mine, and it has a screened hole for my mouth. (Funny when I get to work/home and there are lines of frost going from the hole around both sides of my face.)

    Anyway, in CT you probably won't need a balaclava that much. You should try a hat or headband for your ears and a neck warmer that you can pull up over your chin/jaw when necessary. I find the 'clava to be unbearably warm over say 20 degrees F, and even below that it can be uncomfortable. I'm a bit hot-blooded though, so your mileage may vary!

  3. #3
    Senior Member JoeOxfordCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vtjim
    I don't have a problem with mine, and it has a screened hole for my mouth. (Funny when I get to work/home and there are lines of frost going from the hole around both sides of my face.)

    Anyway, in CT you probably won't need a balaclava that much. You should try a hat or headband for your ears and a neck warmer that you can pull up over your chin/jaw when necessary. I find the 'clava to be unbearably warm over say 20 degrees F, and even below that it can be uncomfortable.
    Yeah I was able to ride down to about 20 degrees last winter without one.....
    Which is not to say I wouldn't like to try one....just to see.
    I sweat easily though so I would be concerned about being a wet mess by the end of a ride.
    My main concern however was being able to breathe....

    BTW....We went to VT a couple weeks ago for the first time (for me) since I was a kid.
    We went to the Stowe/Waterbury area. We drove up expecting late fall and instead we got snow....pretty but unexpected. As we drove around the back roads I kept muttering to myself how nice it would be to ride here in the summer.

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    I tried riding with one last year at about 15F. My sweat on the inside of it was too much to handle. I found a skull cap works for me down to 8F. However, the 'clava is a performance product and may not fit that well. I can not remember how it fits.
    Anyhow, I intend to stick with the skull cap and throw in a neck gaiter that can optionally cover the chin and nose. Perhaps if I tried a tighter and better made 'clava it would work out better.

  5. #5
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    I have a nice super thin one that rocks as I still get some venting effect.
    In extreme cold if it's soaked with sweat it can freeze as well, which is a whole new can of worms.
    I won't even think of putting it on until it's -15, -20C. Breathing is never an issue with my thin one. My wooly mammoth 'clava is for hanging around at the ice races.

  6. #6
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    I have a cheap polypro balaclava and I can't get enough air through it. Its fine for a slow pace but as soon as I start climbing or hit anykind of headwind I am quickly struggling. I have to pull the mask down below my mouth to get enough air.
    I find I really don't need them for my commute down into the teens.
    Craig

  7. #7
    Senior Member JoeOxfordCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DataJunkie
    I tried riding with one last year at about 15F. My sweat on the inside of it was too much to handle. I found a skull cap works for me down to 8F. However, the 'clava is a performance product and may not fit that well. I can not remember how it fits.
    Anyhow, I intend to stick with the skull cap and throw in a neck gaiter that can optionally cover the chin and nose. Perhaps if I tried a tighter and better made 'clava it would work out better.
    You know I have a neck gaiter but I never actually wear it around my neck. I wear it as a hat when it gets real cold because I can pull it down well over my ears. The open top lets heat escape while still keeping the top of my head out of the wind.....of course this was last winter when I was frequently riding without a helmet.
    I have regular winter hats but I find that I can't get them to really comfortably cover my ears. My haircut is basically a crew cut so I don't have any hair to help keep my ears warm. I would have to look for a skullcap that has some good earflaps to it....

  8. #8
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    I still have my relic cold weather riding hat given to me by Thomas Durst of Panisonic/SportLife after a 50k day-before-the-race leg warmer before the Grand Prix D'Ameriques in Montreal in the 80's. Still warm...and his mom sewed his name in it...

  9. #9
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    I have no hair. Well.... a small amount that I shave off.
    My skullcap is a novara brand basic skull cap. It is large enough to cover my ears. So far the best head covering I have found.
    My neck is getting cold in the lower 20s this year. I was thinking this neck gaiter would help that and I could occasionally use it to cover my chin and nose.

  10. #10
    Gone, but not forgotten Shiznaz's Avatar
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    I have a fleece balaclava thats pretty warm. I throw it on if I feel I'm going to be cold but I don't have any specific temperatures that I put any gear on at... I can breathe through it pretty well, but its got a big enough opening I can pull it down under my chin so that it covers my whole head and neck except for my face.

    Balaclavas are really nice if you have to ride to work and you just shaved 5 minutes earlier, as the cold air will really dry your face out.

  11. #11
    Senior_Member2 diff_lock2's Avatar
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    First problem, make sure the helmet fits over it...
    Second HUGE problem, if you were glasses they get fogged up if it’s not tight against your face and the air you breathe out your nose also fogs up the glasses... I’m at (~-9C, ~16F), and it’s really windy sometimes I’m sloen down to walking speed with gusts of serious wind., oh and exposed skin burns…

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I use a balaclava with an opening for my whole face. I can pull it up over my mouth and nose if I want, but it's not usually necessary, even in the cold temps I ride in. I usually just hook it over my chin so that my neck is nice and warm, but my nose and mouth are exposed, and that's good enough.

    A couple tips though. I find the balaclava I have is a bit loose, so I wear an ordinary winter headband (which you can pick up at Walmart or wherever) under the balaclava, and then if it is really cold out, I add a neck gaiter around my neck over the balaclava.

  13. #13
    Senior Member JoeOxfordCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I use a balaclava with an opening for my whole face. I can pull it up over my mouth and nose if I want, but it's not usually necessary, even in the cold temps I ride in. I usually just hook it over my chin so that my neck is nice and warm, but my nose and mouth are exposed, and that's good enough.

    A couple tips though. I find the balaclava I have is a bit loose, so I wear an ordinary winter headband (which you can pick up at Walmart or wherever) under the balaclava, and then if it is really cold out, I add a neck gaiter around my neck over the balaclava.
    Hi Machka,

    I was just poking through your site. Do you use aero bars on any of your rides ?
    If so how do you set them up ?
    You don't ride a tri-specific bike I believe......

    I have another thread I started today asking about aerobar setup on traditional or standard road bikes:
    Aero Bar setup for road bike different than for Tri bike ?

    From what it sounds to me to really get to most out of aerobars you need to deviate from a standard road riding position....
    Last edited by JoeOxfordCT; 11-01-06 at 12:47 PM.

  14. #14
    Belt drive! vtjim's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    and then if it is really cold out, I add a neck gaiter around my neck over the balaclava.
    I tried that at -10F and had to take the gaiter off. Thought I was going to die of heat stroke.

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vtjim
    I tried that at -10F and had to take the gaiter off. Thought I was going to die of heat stroke.
    I know!! I'll deck myself out like that ... and halfway through the ride I make a sudden stop to start ripping off all the layers because I'm melting!!

    But that neck gaiter is good when the temps go even colder, and I always take one with me in a pocket or bag just in case it's colder than I thought.

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeOxfordCT
    Hi Machka,

    I was just poking through your site. Do you use aero bars on any of your rides ?
    If so how do you set them up ?
    You don't ride a tri-specific bike I believe......

    I have another thread I started today asking about aerobar setup on traditional or standard road bikes:
    Aero Bar setup for road bike different than for Tri bike ?

    From what it sounds to me to really get to most out of aerobars you need to deviate from a standard road riding position....
    I used to use aero bars, but they are banned on the PBP, so I took them off at the end of my 2002 season and haven't used them since.

    However, I put them onto my trainer bicycle which gives me some extra hand positions, and therefore extra comfort, when I'm using my trainer.

  17. #17
    back in the saddle bent-not-broken's Avatar
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    I use a light weight, open faced bavlaca down to 10F. Below that I add a neoprene lower face mask with the mouth cut out. It came with little holes and I about drowned in my moiste breath. I cut a one inch 'blow hole' and I'm good down to -10F. If only I could solve my frozen eyes.

    Bent

  18. #18
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    Always better to ride with too much when dealing with crazy cold. You can lose an extra layer but you can't make one appear from nowhere.

  19. #19
    Senior Member JoeOxfordCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    I used to use aero bars, but they are banned on the PBP, so I took them off at the end of my 2002 season and haven't used them since.

    However, I put them onto my trainer bicycle which gives me some extra hand positions, and therefore extra comfort, when I'm using my trainer.

    Why were they banned for the PBP ?

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeOxfordCT
    Why were they banned for the PBP ?
    They are dangerous ... especially when riding in crowds. They are also pointless on a course like the PBP ... you're either standing while you climb hills, or in the drops for 3 seconds while you descend. I didn't miss them at all.

  21. #21
    Dances With Cars TRaffic Jammer's Avatar
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    Machka ...have you ever ridden the double wide rims?

  22. #22
    Senior Member JoeOxfordCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    They are dangerous ... especially when riding in crowds. They are also pointless on a course like the PBP ... you're either standing while you climb hills, or in the drops for 3 seconds while you descend. I didn't miss them at all.
    Not that I would know but....I never pictured the PBP to be that crowded a ride....it is huh ?

  23. #23
    Very Senior Member MikeR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeOxfordCT
    Hi All,

    I am contemplating getting a balaclava to help keep my face warm for winter rides on my road bike. I have always wondered though how easy it is to breath through them, especially if you're huffin' & puffin' hard.

    I have seen designs that have perforated holes over the mouth, a slit for the mouth/nose, and some that have a removeable cover that goes over the mouth & nose. Was has been your experience with these and what can you recommend ??

    Thanks !

    JoeOxford, CT.
    I have one with the holes and I have one that is all material but can be pulled up over your mouth. The holes don't really make any difference. They both fog my glasses unless I am going fast downhill. That's no problem because I only need to cover my mouth when I'm going downhill fast. I pull the cover off my mouth on the up hills and pull the cover up just at the top of a hill. We have no flat routes around here.
    It's better to cycle through life than to drive by it.

  24. #24
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeOxfordCT
    Not that I would know but....I never pictured the PBP to be that crowded a ride....it is huh ?

    Well there are over 4000 riders. They send off about 1000 or so a little bit early (they are the fast ones and the ones with different machines like recumbents, tandems, triplettes, etc.) ... and then they send the remaining riders off in waves of 500 every 15 minutes or so. Then by the time you reach the 400K point, you're already meeting the riders that were sent off a couple hours before you on their way back. You rarely ride alone out there! You're usually surrounded by a couple hundred riders.

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TRaffic Jammer
    Machka ...have you ever ridden the double wide rims?
    I'm not sure what double wide rims are ... rims that are twice the width? Like for iditabike type of stuff?

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