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As your seasons turn colder and darker, finding the motivation to cycle becomes more searching.
If you have the verve, energy and willpower to leap out of bed, before consuming your overnight oats carefully prepared the night before and then step onto your bicycle, all within 20 minutes of waking up, you are a hero.
Whether it be for a commute or a training ride, or even popping down to the shops, getting on to your bicycle sometimes requires effort in itself, especially if the weather is against you.
Getting the right clothing, layered correctly in anticipation of inclement conditions can feel like a chore. But modern cycling clothing is advanced enough for you to carry less weight, hold on to less moisture and feel more comfortable than ever.
The core of the body – the torso – is the most necessary area to keep warm and for good reason. It contains the vital organs which keep you moving and safe when riding. Feet and hands are often protected too as you tend to feel the heat leaving them quickly.
The face is an area which is sensitive to cold and we’re going to look at some of the ways it can be protected without too much compromising and hopefully share the benefits of keeping warm as the thermometer scale drops.
Why Does My Face Get So Cold When I Cycle?
As an effective regulator of temperature and also our best life-preserver, when it is cold the body tends to move blood inwards and closer to the vital organs to protect them, which is why the extremities are hard to keep warm. The face, feet and hands are usually the first to feel the cold.
It’s a good idea to want to keep those digits and your face warm.
Whenever you exercise, your body creates some heat. The body finds ways for that heat to escape. The pores in the skin open up to permit more of this blood flow and attempt to cool you off. This helps to reduce the body’s temperature.
Blood vessels in the cheeks open up, or dilate, and send that heat to the surface of the skin, where it radiates away. Think about sportspeople you’ve seen on the TV if you don’t want to recall cross-country runs at school in winter. Or have a nice memory of a children’s book or poem about rosy-cheeked youngsters playing outside. The regulation of the body recognises the cold and acts.
How Do Cyclists Keep Their Face Warm?
Choosing an appropriate item of clothing to keep the face warm is vital for an enjoyable bicycle ride when it is cold. Protecting the face from the elements is good for physical protection and reduces any anxiety levels by limiting the discomfort you feel. Keeping cold out helps you ride further.
How Can I Protect My Face While Cycling?
Let’s take a look at some of the clothing available to help keep your face warm and dry in the cold. Some of them are very versatile and have a wider application in the world. Most have their uses outside of cycling in the urban environment.
You’ll need to make them an early part of your dressing-for-cycling routine as it’s practically impossible for most to fit over a helmet. They are great with cycling caps and need only minor adjustments to work around any eyewear you take with you rides.
A snood is defined as a hairnet. They were popular in factories when the hair needed to be pulled away from the face and went up over the back of the head.
They are very functional and these days have developed more material around the neck. They are a tube-like construction designed to put all the way over the head and pull back up from the neck over the face.
There is usually enough material to either fold back over the face for more protection or pull down to protect face and neck. The material is usually man-made. It’s versatile to help from the rain too. Sizing is vital to prevent putting pressure on the face. They can be worked around spectacles or cycling sunglasses.
The Buff Merino Neck Warmer Snood is made from 100% natural merino wool which is warm in cold conditions. One of its other properties is that it is extremely odour-resistant. It’s versatile too and a classic that you could use for other days out in the cold.
- Wide range of wearing styles and possibilities. Enjoy versatility and freedom in one product.
- UltraStretch technology: highly stretchable product designed for top comfort and performance.
- Protect yourself against the ultraviolet radiations from the sun. Designed for best protection in sunny environments.
Cycling Face Mask
Face masks tend to be functional and specific to one purpose. Some have adjustable nose strips and even a small gap across the nose area to help with the increased breathing workload of exercise. They fit around the face with hooks over the ears.
They can come in models which help with anti-pollution measures like replaceable filters.
Their design may be more suited to quick commutes when you know you will be back in the warmth quickly. They could help you want to help limit the ingestion of airborne particles, especially on your urban rides.
The Castelli Viso Face Mask is a good wind and rain blocker, is well-lined and also offers protection to the lower ears.
This face mask covers your mouth, nose and lower ears to ensure you keep your face warm even when cycling in the more bitter cold of weather conditions.
Cycling Neck Gaiter
The neck gaiter can be your go to product in any signs of bad weather as the all-round protection offered is a real bonus. Materials are lightweight and product developments mean that more technology is pumped into making them work for you.
They are also tube-shaped and once you’ve popped them all the way over the head they usually fit from the nose down to the end of the throat and over the ears.
Some can be double-sided and most are thermal as you might expect.
The CYCL Face Guard offers all the above with the twist of an added built-in nanofibre air filter to give you protection from nasties such as smog, dust and allergens.
- INTEGRATED AIR FILTER: Tube scarf with integrated nanofiber filter. Filters 99.5% of PM0.1 and 99.9% of PM2.5
- Protection from pollution, smog, dust, allergens, pollen.
- Washable and reusable up to 50 washes
Is a Buff a Neck Gaiter?
While Buff may not describe their products as ‘neck gaiters’ that is effectively what their products are. Neck gaiters are very flexible and encompass the entire neck and can be adapted to cover different parts of the head as you wish – just as Buffs do.
Incredibly handy for longer, winter rides when the weather starts cold, stays cold and finishes cold. You put it on before your helmet and keep it there for the full ride.
Modern materials mean you are less likely to feel the itchy rubbing and moisture retention of old-school woollen versions.
You might be more likely to experience some fogging of glasses than other face-warmers we’ve mentioned, but the cold air around you does help with this regulation.
The Bontrager Windshell Cycling Balaclava offers protection on cold winter rides, with insulation, water-repellent fabric and a clamshell design so you can pull it down if you are climbing to give better airflow. Some laser-cut holes in the mouth and nose areas help with regular breathing. The company indicates an outside temperature use down to -12 degrees Celsius.
An insulated balaclava for ultimate head, neck, and face protection on cold winter rides. Lightweight, windproof and water-resistant. Fits comfortably under helmets, too.
How to Keep Your Ears Warm When Cycling
Sometimes these parts of the head feel the cold first but you don’t feel the need for an all-over wrap up. Modern cycling clothing is adaptable enough to help here too.
Headbands are great at keeping the cold out and creating a simple thermal barrier which is unfussy. They don’t keep out noise so you don’t need to have too many extra concerns about not hearing other road users or talking to your cycling companion.
They fit under the helmet and can easily slip into any pocket when you want to take it off. Fabrics tend to be insulated for winter riding and some are cut tighter and lower-profile to limit any heat transfer away from the head.
Black Sheep Cycling’s Elements North South Headband is functional and comfortable – the band widens at the ears.
Thermal Cycling Caps
These have the look and feel of traditional cycling caps with modern adaptations of thermal fabrics and full head and ear coverage. The protection to the ears is usually double-layered and many will fold in for better temperature regulation as needed.
The Bontrager Thermal Cycling Cap ticks all of the boxes above.