Monday, January 10, 2022

It's Not A Mask Mandate, But.....

Cold weather calls for breaking out the serious pogies!
I have a 'rule' of sorts when it comes to cold weather riding. Well......I have a couple of rules, really. One: "I don't have to do anything to prove anything to anybody." So, I don't have to go ride in stupid cold weather so I can post it on social media and have everyone "oooh!" and "aaaah!" over my so called 'accomplishment' . I don't have to show anyone my disgusting 'ice-beard' to show how tough, or whatever, I am. If that offends any of you, sorry......not sorry. In the end, you do you. This is what I think about that stuff in relation to cold weather cycling and myself. 

Rule #2: In light of Rule #1, I don't ride when it gets much below 0°F and especially if there is a windchill. Why should I? It hurts. It takes forever to get dressed/undressed for it. I can get ready for a brisk walk in less time and get my exercise in less time than a bike ride would take. That is- if I even want to get outside. Sometimes even just being out of doors in Winter is a risky business around here. 

Thursday last week it was -3°F and the winds were pretty strong out of the Northwest resulting in a wind chill temperature of -30°F. Definitely not a day to get out and ride, right? Well, rules are made to be broken and I had some experimenting to do! This pandemic thing and its various accoutrements have given rise to an idea for cold weather riding which I wanted to explore. 

The ubiquitous surgical masks, which are a symbol of these times, maybe could be put to use as a face mask for cold weather riding. I had always had issues with any sort of mask for cold weather riding. I've tried several things, even one of those Cold Avenger masks. Nothing really worked all that great for me. I almost always ended up pulling off whatever mask I had on because they drive me nuts. Fogging, wetness, freezing up, slipping, and more things were just too much trouble and when I got to breathing hard, and I wanted the mask thing-a-ma-jig of the day off? I often could not do that quickly while riding, and of course, getting it back on was out of the question without stopping.

There's a surgical mask under that Buff.

Well, I thought maybe a surgical mask, which just loops over your ears, might work. They have a bit of structure around the top of the nose to seal off that area, which is critical to keep steam off your eyes, and they are easily moved on and off. I decided to throw on a Buff as a second layer and for more coverage. Then off I went into the sub-zero gales. 

Did it work? Well, let's just say it did well enough that I think with a little tweaking it will be almost perfection for me. Here's the only downfall in my opinion: The mask section which covers your mouth can suck in and out with your breathing. I found a way around that, but it isn't ideal. What I need to do is to build up a little bit of structure there that can support the mask bit someway. How I haven't figured out just yet. 

But as far as keeping the breath- the steamy exhaling- off my eyes? Perfect! Plus I could take the mask down easily and replace it easily with one gloved hand while riding. This is important for eating and drinking, not just for the heaviest breathing sections, but obviously, it works there as well. And if it worked well in those conditions, well, there is some promise there for my uses and needs.

Anyway, that's it! I thought I'd just share what I was doing to let you all know that these surgical masks don't have to be tossed out if you wear them a few times. I got this one and used it, washed it, it even went through the drier, and it came out well. Of course, I am not going to use it for, you know.....a mask mandate area, but for cold weather riding? Heck yeah!


teamdarb said...

Bread tie and a piece of velcro. Attach velcro to bread tie either with glue side or hot glue gun. You could do two to strengthen the mask more. Attach to mask. You can figure out how to place them easily and only need the hook portion of the velcro.

Chilly Willy said...

I like it. If it's cold enough to want some warmth for your mouth/breath, then it's cold enough to need something over your eyes too - and yeah, that means fogging up. It sounds like you're onto a good solution.

For the mask getting sucked in while you breathe, they make mask supports that keep it off your mouth. I've never tried one. It might work great, or it might just make things more complicated. But a quick search for "mask support" will offer you a bunch of options.

NY Roll said...

I am a big fan of Warmskin cream. I learned in Arctic Warfare school that covering your face leads to moisture and if you are not vigilant you can create a frostbite/ cold weather injury. Again this kind of kicks in sub -10 degrees. But I tend to use Warmskin cream and not shower in the morning. Your natural oils are good for creating a natural barrier.

Tomcat said...

Thanks for bringing this up, GT! This is a novel solution. I like the idea of using a mask support as others have mentioned above. I always had issues with the buff sucking in as it got wet, but i think a mask support/standoff would prevent that issue.

teamdarb said...

Welp I learned something today. Time for ice cream.

Derek said...

Can you take an N95 and punch some small holes in it? Maybe towards the bottom so your breath moves down and out vs up and out? They are stiffer and maintan their shape much better than buffs, cloth or surgical masks.