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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 10-07-09, 10:16 AM   #1
Square & Compas
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What could happen?

My commute this morning was in 31 degree F temps. I started out with my Under Armour hood and covered my mouth, ears and most of my head. Could not cover my nose because my glasses fog over. The area around my eyes was fine because of my glasses. But under my glasses the exposed areas of my cheeks were cold and hten I could not feel anything, in fact it sort of felt warm. I do not know if this is because my breath was venting out of the hood and over my cheeks or because my bod tried sending more blood to that area to keep it warm or I could not feel anything because it was numb.

I had to stop and put exchange the hood for my 3 hole "ski mask". The problem with this was on the hills that I climbed I over heated and my glasses still fogged over because of the heat coming off of my head. When I went down hill it wasn't so bad.

My commute was only about 35 min.

If the exposed areas of my face that I have with using the hood was numb, short of frost bite, which is immediate, what are the long term risks with continueing to ride this way? The exposed areas with using the mask are not nearly as much, but my glasses tend to fog over because of the heat generated when I climb the hills. Keep in mind this route is only about 35 min. long.
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Old 10-07-09, 12:23 PM   #2
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I would be concerned about any exposed skin in super low windchills, but
it sounds like you had plenty of body heat radiating from your face this morning.
(I didn't want to believe it was getting that cold already but weather underground
says Sioux City was 31 at 5am. It's usually only a matter of a day or two before
the Chicago area gets what Iowa's having now.) Have you ever worn ski goggles?
When it gets down in the 30's I start covering my whole face, I can't stand having
any of it exposed because my eyes water and my nose runs. I haven't had any problem
with wearing sunglasses under ski goggles.

Perhaps you're fogging issue would be reduced with a lighter hat that lets your head
radiate excess heat away, and/or venting torso heat somehow so your head is not
in a plume of steam coming from your body.

This may not specifically address your concerns, but in case you're interested, here's how I've dealt with these issues:

Across my lower face I wear an insulated and vented mask, it extends from the bridge of
my nose to my neck, has a little "nose vent" angled downward, has mouth holes,
and fastens with velcro in the back, which means I can fine-tune where and how tight it is
around my head, which is important for directing exhalations away from the goggles. They
have some kind of bendable insert at the nose-bridge area that keeps the mask pressed into the gap between cheekbones and nose. I adjust it for tightness
at the upper lip/cheek area, and looseness by my neck.

On my head I wear a helmet liner which seems kind of thin but does amazingly well
once I warm up after 5 minutes or so. This comes down over my ears underneath
the sides of the face mask. If it's down into the lower 20's I have an insulated version.
Both are wicking and breathable which is important because I sweat like a horse at
the least amount of exertion, and give off steam/watervapor like a pot of boiling water.
(I wear this same liner as a hat in summer to wick sweat off of my skull, that's how light it is.)

On my ears I strap on a pair of those 180 earmuff things that clamp around the
back of your head or a pair of on-ear headphones for music, which work just as well
and are actually more comfortable.

Over my eyes I wear a pair of untinted wide-view ski goggles, wide-view to retain
as much of my peripheral vision as possible. The foam gasket will barely overlap
the top edge of the mask and the bottom edge of the hat, but must remain otherwise
sealed for proper venting.

If I feel my chest or neck begin to get overwarm I unzip my jacket to let steam vent
directly instead of getting channeled up towards my face. There have been times
when I took off my gloves to adjust a zipper or mess with my mp3 player and my
fingers were almost totally numb by the time I got them back on, but my face
remained perfectly comfortable(and no issues with dry skin either.)

If it gets down into the single digits I can put the hood of my waterproof/breathable outer shell
up over everything, but I've noticed my head and torso really warm up quick this
way, so usually if my hood is up I'm opening up a layer or two over my chest to cool
off(even in single-digit temps.)

I've been able to affect my internal temperature a little bit by modulating my breathing- inhaling through nose brings coldest air in, inhaling through mouthholes
brings barely warmer air in, and inhaling air through the mouth from under the mask
(possible because it's looser lower down) brings the warmest air in. Exhaling through mouth under the mask retains the most heat by channeling breath downward to neck and chest, exhaling through mouth holes or nose holes gets
rid of the most heat.

It took me a lot of trial and error (and frozen faceparts) to arrive at this setup, but it works perfectly from the mid 30's all the way down to -28(the coldest i've ridden.)

Just about every piece of cold-weather gear I have was bought from Dick's sporting
goods, with the exception of my headphones(best buy) and boots(redwing.)

If you managed to read this whole damn thing I hope it helps you out.
Good luck!

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Old 10-07-09, 12:47 PM   #3
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Little to no risk? At 32F, while doing an aerobic activity, frostbite seems very unlikely. I have ridden in subzero temps with only a helmet liner for head warmth, and have never had problems keeping warm/preventing tissue damage.
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Old 10-07-09, 03:34 PM   #4
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With the UnderArmour hood I do not over heat and my glasses do nto fog over. I could try the hood with ski goggles. Goggles will cover more of my face and reduce the amount of skin exposed.

I have tried the masks that have the nose opening and holes for the mouth, glasses still fog over.

My glasses fog over if I over heat even if my breath is vented properly, or if my nose/mouth are covered too much and my breath is forced up to my glasses. What I need is a happy medium. One suggestion by another member is a cheap pair of shop glasses over my glasses. I actually tried fitting them over, 2 problems with that. Very uncomfortable on my ears and nose, in fact it hurt. The second is it will cause damage to my glasses.

I have more then one route to choose from, somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 routes. All but one has hills. I took the short route this morning because I was short on time. The long route has no hills. Perhaps the hood will work fine on the long flat route. Won't know, until I try.

What I actually need is something as thin and moisture wicking as the Under Armour hood that has 3 holes and covers as much area as the "ski mask".

Last edited by Square & Compas; 10-07-09 at 03:38 PM.
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Old 10-07-09, 04:20 PM   #5
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Put some vaseline on exposed skin.
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Old 10-07-09, 05:07 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by mistertwo View Post
Little to no risk? At 32F, while doing an aerobic activity, frostbite seems very unlikely. I have ridden in subzero temps with only a helmet liner for head warmth, and have never had problems keeping warm/preventing tissue damage.
+1

At 32F (which is about 0C ... the point when water freezes), all you need is a headband to keep your ears warm, and a neck gaiter around your neck to keep the air from blowing down your neck ... I find cool air blowing down my neck uncomfortable. I leave my face completely exposed and it's fine.

You're probably fogging up because you are wearing way too much on your head for temps that warm.
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Old 10-07-09, 07:14 PM   #7
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I guess i must be exceptionally sensitive to cold, maybe I have poor circulation in my face.
Since I started with the covering my whole face thing I haven't hardly
gotten sick in winter as much though.
I'm way better at handling the heat.
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Old 10-07-09, 07:44 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Square & Compas View Post
My commute this morning was in 31 degree F temps. I started out with my Under Armour hood and covered my mouth, ears and most of my head. Could not cover my nose because my glasses fog over. The area around my eyes was fine because of my glasses. But under my glasses the exposed areas of my cheeks were cold and hten I could not feel anything, in fact it sort of felt warm. I do not know if this is because my breath was venting out of the hood and over my cheeks or because my bod tried sending more blood to that area to keep it warm or I could not feel anything because it was numb.

I had to stop and put exchange the hood for my 3 hole "ski mask". The problem with this was on the hills that I climbed I over heated and my glasses still fogged over because of the heat coming off of my head. When I went down hill it wasn't so bad.

My commute was only about 35 min.

If the exposed areas of my face that I have with using the hood was numb, short of frost bite, which is immediate, what are the long term risks with continueing to ride this way? The exposed areas with using the mask are not nearly as much, but my glasses tend to fog over because of the heat generated when I climb the hills. Keep in mind this route is only about 35 min. long.
It's unlikely that you could get frostbite at those temperatures while doing any kind of movement. Unless you were to lay down in the snow and let your face freeze.

Most likely the problem is that your face and body are not yet climatized to the cold weather. I realize some winter bike riders have sensitive faces (to the cold). But I don't think there is any risk of frostbite unless there is a blood circulation problem.

As you found out if your face and head is too warm you can't keep your glasses un-fogged. You can put some stretchy medical tape on your nose to keep the wind off. This will help stop the numbing sensation without letting your face get too hot under the ski mask.
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Old 10-07-09, 08:15 PM   #9
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Most likely the problem is that your face and body are not yet climatized to the cold weather. I realize some winter bike riders have sensitive faces (to the cold). But I don't think there is any risk of frostbite unless there is a blood circulation problem.
+1

And one of the reasons why people think they are sensitive to the cold is because they aren't climatized to it. Most people live in a warm house, travel to work in a warm vehicle of some sort, work in a warm building, and return to their warm house by means of a warm vehicle. They never get outside for extended periods of time to get used to the cold.

Even if it is -10C, or -15C, or -20C or colder, I encourage people to get outside more. Go for a walk at lunch when the sun is its highest ... you'll get some Vit D that way too. Walk or cycle to and from work or school. If you're in a snowy area, spend several hours outside on the weekends cross country skiing, snowshoeing, or skating. In addition to the commute, go for a ride in the evening or earlier in the morning (with lights and reflectors, of course) ... and ride lots on the weekends. You'll discover that you do get used to it, and it really isn't so bad.


Here's an example ... I am living through a chilly Australian winter which, for me, backed onto a Canadian winter. In the past year I've experienced 46 days above 15C, 13 days of those were above 20C, and 1 of those days was above 25C.

The outdoor temperatures here in this part of Australia have been anywhere from about -1C to +10C (50F) for months now ... since before I arrived in June. The cabin where Rowan and I live is not well heated, and although we've been working on the insulation ... it's better than it was ... the indoor temperature has reached around 15C (59F) by the middle of the day since before I got here in June. There have been several mornings where it was about 4C or 5C (40F) in here when I got up. Our toilet block, however, is not heated or insulated so if it is 0C outside, it is 0C in there. So, for most of the past 4 months, I've been living in temps below 15C indoors and out. And before I came to Australia, while I was still in Canada, it was that chilly and colder outside, where I spend quite a bit of my time, for most of the past year.

Now, when I'm in temperatures above 20C (68F), I'm sweltering. What used to be considered "room temperature" is now too hot. 15C is a nice comfortable room temperature for me.

As it starts to warm up here ... soon, I hope because I would like to experience some warmer temperatures at some point again ... I will likely gradually climatize to the warmer temperatures.

But you've got to experience the temperatures ... spend lots of time in those temperatures ... in order to adjust to them. And most people can adjust to them. The body is remarkably adaptable.

Last edited by Machka; 10-07-09 at 08:20 PM.
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Old 10-07-09, 09:50 PM   #10
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i did some hour or two long rides when it was around -20 Fahrenheit or colder late last season. if i threw my body into that situation right now i wouldn't fare well at all. it's early in the season. give it time, in a few months when its below zero and you're blood is thickened up and your acclimated this is going to feel like summer on the equator relatively speaking.

if you have problems with your glasses fogging up try taking it a little easier and controlling your breathing better.

i have a face mask like this http://www.bikersden.com/public/Prod.../Thumbnail.jpg its neoprene and is kinda thick, breathes well.
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Old 10-07-09, 10:25 PM   #11
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Get yourself a real balaclava, one made out a wind stopping fabric such as Gore's windstopper or Polartec Windbloc... these fabrics don't provide much insulation/loft, but they cut the wind to zero, keep snow melt off your face and head and let sweat vapour out... this is all you should need until things get very cold

I'd recommend outdoor research's Sonic Balaclava. You can get it at MEC.
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Old 10-15-09, 08:08 PM   #12
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Sq&C- have you figured out a comfortable yet non-fogging setup?
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