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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 12-29-01, 08:21 AM   #1
capkos
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breathing

I haven't done any winter riding. Is there a temperature below which it is not good to ride? I'm concerned with breathing hard in cold temps. :confused:
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Old 12-29-01, 09:03 AM   #2
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I've skied [cross country] in temperatures down to -25C with no ill effects aside from some temporary hoarseness.
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Old 12-29-01, 09:47 AM   #3
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Like a lot of bicycle enthusiasts who live in cold temps, I ride regularly in feezing temperatures.

Temperatures down to 20 F (-6 C) can be done without a great deal of grief. Below that and you will start to think about taking the car.

Below 10 F (-12 C), and you have to be extremely careful with your clothing. Any mistakes could cost you skin from frostbite - quick.

My personal opinion is that temperatures below about -10 F (-23 C) is pretty punishing and dangerous. Some guys do it, and I have also bicycled in temps below -10 F (-23 C), but I question the wisdom of it.

At cold temperatures, though, you need to cover your skin. For breathing, use a balaklava to cover your nose and mouth. You can damage your throat and lungs by gulping freezing air.

Last edited by mike; 12-29-01 at 09:50 AM.
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Old 12-29-01, 10:54 AM   #4
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For cold temperatures I would recommend layered clothing -not too bulky- Thermo gloves and warm boots with toe-clip pedals, a good knitted hat under your helmet and a long thick scarf to wrap around your neck and face several times. (Tuck the ends into your jacket. It will help protect your chest.) The thick scarf will heat the air before it reaches your lungs and prevent damage. (As an athmatic, this was of special benefit to me.)

I rode, dressed this way, through many Maine winters, regardless of temperature, with no illeffects. Good luck.
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Old 12-29-01, 11:50 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by capkos
I'm concerned with breathing hard in cold temps.
No, the cold air won't hurt your breathing as long as you don't go to too extreme temps. as the other posters have stated. Get out and ride! ...it was 20 degrees this morning & a great ride!

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Old 12-29-01, 09:41 PM   #6
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Originally posted by velo
No, the cold air won't hurt your breathing as long as you don't go to too extreme temps. as the other posters have stated. Get out and ride! ...it was 20 degrees this morning & a great ride!
velo
Actually, Velo, breathing can hurt and it can do damage in really cold temperatures. At around 20 F like you mentioned, it won't be too bad, but at temperatures in the teens and below, it can be really bad.

If you don't pre-heat the air with a scarf or face-mask in temperatures below 0 F, you can really be hurting if you are gulping in freezing air when running, biking, cross-country skiiing, etcetera.

It happens to me once in a foolish while. When it happens, your lungs just scream with pain - a freezing cold pain from the very center of your body which is difficult to describe with words.
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Old 12-29-01, 10:49 PM   #7
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Tru... wear a balaclava... but if you AREN'T wearing a face covering at extremely cold temps, breathing cold air will be the least of your worries. You like you nose, don't you?
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Old 12-29-01, 11:30 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by velocipedio
Tru... wear a balaclava... but if you AREN'T wearing a face covering at extremely cold temps, breathing cold air will be the least of your worries. You like you nose, don't you?
Indeed! Well put, Velo.
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Old 12-30-01, 08:07 PM   #9
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Thank you Mike and the rest of you but when the temp gets down to 0' F I'll be inside ob bike forums or some other worthwhile endeavor.
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Old 12-30-01, 08:24 PM   #10
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One thing I found with cold weather, that all you guys probably already know, is that it is harder to breathe in cold weather. Kind of like the people floating around in the cold water when the Titanic sank, they probably suffocated from the effects of the freezing cold before they drowned.
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Old 12-30-08, 02:05 PM   #11
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This works for me

Hi, my name is Randy and a scarf does work well. I commute to work (approx 30 miles round trip) and when it gets to the single digits in temp and wind chill is below 0 degrees I have a neoprene face mask lined with a light fleece that I wear (also covers my nose). It is vented and I don't seem to get the icing problem around my mouth the way I did with a scarf. Also it is easier to dry out. Like the others have told you it can not be overstated about keeping your skin covered..frost bite sucks!
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Old 12-30-08, 03:42 PM   #12
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I have found that I am fine to around 10F (not including wind chill). Once you get much below that the lungs are definitely NOT happy with a giant gulp of cold air. I bought a PSolar mask last year. The mask does add a little resistance, but I could ride comfortably (but slower) at 2F (-26 with the wind chill).

So far this Winter season I've not seen temps below 15F so I have not yet needed the mask. Usually we'll get some weather coming straight from Northern Canada during January or February... I'll have my mask ready.

Happy riding,
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Old 12-30-08, 03:53 PM   #13
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You can go outside and continue to breathe just fine in any temperature. Oil riggers up here work in -40 to -50 temps. It's all about getting used to it. Spend time outside ... ride your bicycle, walk, play in the snow with the kids, acclimatize.
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Old 12-30-08, 04:17 PM   #14
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In through the nose, out through the mouth. I've felt like someone took a chisel to my lungs once when I went xc skiing in -25F as a teen because I winded myself and took off my facemask and was inhaling cold air something fierce. Since then, I try to concentrate on taking air in through the nose. Its a longer passage to the lungs so the air is warmed just a tad more than if it comes in the mouth. I also wear a balaclava, so the air around my mouth tends to be warmed a bit more than outside air. But like Machka says, breathing is not a problem in and of its self.
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Old 12-30-08, 04:36 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike View Post
Actually, Velo, breathing can hurt and it can do damage in really cold temperatures. At around 20 F like you mentioned, it won't be too bad, but at temperatures in the teens and below, it can be really bad.

If you don't pre-heat the air with a scarf or face-mask in temperatures below 0 F, you can really be hurting if you are gulping in freezing air when running, biking, cross-country skiiing, etcetera.

It happens to me once in a foolish while. When it happens, your lungs just scream with pain - a freezing cold pain from the very center of your body which is difficult to describe with words.
What a bunch of horse ****. I've exercised in -50 F, with no ill effects. Lots of people do it all the time.
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Old 12-30-08, 05:38 PM   #16
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Interesting link/article here
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Old 12-30-08, 06:19 PM   #17
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Definitely breathing through the nose is best. The nasal passages are used to warm the air to your lungs. It will save you on the shock. But acclimate yourself is the best. I've ridden in 34 deg F and 40 deg F so far only wearing a Target or Walmart wicking shirt, a short sleeve jersey and a nylon jacket. Light gloves and a doo rag does me fine too. Make a log of what your wear so you know what is best. Make sure that you aren't warm when you start out or you will sweat pretty bad and probably get cold. I'm working my way down to ride in colder weather.

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Old 12-31-08, 08:41 AM   #18
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I felt breathless (more than normal) up the hills in 27-31 degrees today. I don't know what's wrong with me. I Have had panic attacks in the past though, so maybe my whole system is delicate. I found it harder to breathe with a scarf around my neck. I'm so glad it rarely gets below 25 here, but it was picture perfect today and the roads were virtually empty today because everyone was scared about the ice.
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Old 12-31-08, 10:26 PM   #19
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Breathing in cold air.

Wow! Why am I surprised by the differences of opinion on this issue. I shouldn't be, because we see the same kind of conflicting posts on clothing, face protection, and feet/hand wear.

With that said, here is my take. I'm not sure if deep breathing of cold air is something that one must get accustomed to or if our individual bodies handle it differently and some people will never acclimate to it. I have never had a problem breathing in extreme cold. As a daily winter runner, frequent skier, and now daily cyclist, I have been gulping cold air for over 35 years. I have ran and skied in temps as cold as the -20*s. I have never had a breathing problem. Running requires very deep breathing; I did so through my nose and mouth simultaneously.

I have heard many people claim that the cold air hurts if they take deep breaths without some way of pre-warming the air. Certainly, their individual experiences are real to them. I cannot relate to that. I guess that some people are just not able to tolerate it.
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Old 01-01-09, 08:31 PM   #20
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This is my first winter riding in the cold and I've been getting a scratchy throat (30-45) and I seem to get colds more often is this normal?
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Old 01-02-09, 09:52 PM   #21
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This is my first winter riding in the cold and I've been getting a scratchy throat (30-45) and I seem to get colds more often is this normal?
No. I'm an asthmatic and provided I'm not stupid, I'm fine down to about 0F. If I don't dress appropriately, I get quite cold (my hat, gloves and neckwarmer live in my coat pockets, so I *always* have those... I might be missing other critical clothing if I'm being dumb tho). I'm not really acclimated to 0F yet, so I limit my exposure... the other posters aren't kidding when they talk about the dangers of frostbite.

It's important in a lot of cooler climates to drink enough in winter. The air can be quite dry so you get dehydrated quickly.

Most people will find 30F comfortable if they're walking briskly and are dressed reasonably. Hat, jacket, gloves, long pants and boots or insulated shoes. If you're trying to wear winter cycling gear, it might be too light, especially if you are always complaining of the cold. When I bike in cooler weather, I look to be slightly chilly when I start out, but not actively cold. I can always unzip my jacket or take off my hat if I'm too hot. If I'm cold when I start out, the moment I need to walk I'll be freezing... with no way to warm up. Ick.
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Old 01-03-09, 11:38 AM   #22
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Of the many masks I've tried, these motorcycle/ski masks work the best. They work great in all temperatures below 50F down to -5F (maybe colder). They are neoprene so they don't get hot. If you place them correctly, they don't steam up goggles or glasses. The half mask works the best. Easy to breathe even while climbing steep hills. and NO FRIGG'N runny nose!

The DO stink, so you'll have to wash them before wearing otherwise, the fumes really take you down. I've never seen 'em sold anywhere but here: http://motors.shop.ebay.com/merchant/angryguy01 Saw one commuter with the yellow one. I own this one.


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Old 01-04-09, 07:17 PM   #23
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By wearing a balaclava over your face it will heat up your breath and in turn keep your face warm. Wearing inexpensive goggles completes the picture and blocks the cold air from freezing your eyeballs. I ride in single digits and I'm completely covered from head to toe. My goggles do fog up at times, but I'm still trying to solve that problem. Dishsoap seems to work the best, but it still fogs up at certain cold temps. Ebay has some nice thin balaclavas nicely priced.
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Old 01-20-09, 04:16 PM   #24
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Ok, that book linked above says:
Quote:
Mouth breathing... may result in cold irritation to the mouth, pharynx, trachea, and even bronchi when the air temp is below -12C (10F).
I may have gulped in too much cold air, my chest feels a little funny (almost like i've been coughing a lot, but not as sharp a pain) and my throat feels the slightest bit sore when i swallow. I was breathing really heavily in 0F temps (-18C) friday night, helping a guy push his car off the street. I only had a thin fleece scarf over my face, so it wasn't doing much to warm the air. How long before this goes away? any suggestions to take care of it?
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Old 01-20-09, 04:33 PM   #25
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I think its going to end up trial and error personal experience. I've gotten sick from running at 45F more than once. I've walked at -15F with no problem. Biking down to 8F hasn't been a problem but I deliberately try not to get breathing very hard on my one significant hill.

here is a bike specific source

http://www.snowbikers.com/articles/cold_air.html
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