A Frozen Face


by Byron on Dec 22, 2008 at 2:25 PM

My attempt to hold out on riding in the snow – instead sledding, hiking, fun with the kids – is over (Winter won this round) and with Snow Tires on order, it’s time to get out the big guns for cold weather.

Back in the day, I’d ride in all sorts of weather:

I stop at hail. My normal rules of winter weather are nothing under 30 degrees. With this weather in Seattle, that exception is lifted. While my body is covered, that leaves my face exposed. A reader just wrote:

I TRIED to ride my bike this morning, it was about 15 degrees. I’m proud to say that I was able to keep my temperature up but couldn’t stand the wind ripping my face off. If you can send me any links, tips or products to keep my face warm that would be great! I was thinking of goggles but they’d have to fit over my glasses…

I know that feeling; especially in freezing rain. I’ve worn a Balaclava, but find those get too wet and freeze from exhaling – like frozen slobber face. The best thing for the face, and an old racer trick, is to coat it with vaseline.

For more cold-weather riding tips, check this post. And please let us know what you do.

Frozen face photo uploaded by resistzine | more from the Bike Hugger Photostream.

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Thanks! The vaseline method seems a little strange, but worth a shot. Better than being cold.

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My general rule is that I need something covering my face for anything below 10 degrees.  anything above that and my beard does the job just fine.  Weatherbug is telling me that it’s -2 outside right now, so I’m mentally preparing for a cold ride home this evening…

One of my favorite aspects of winter cycling is having an ice-covered beard anytime I get someplace.  One of my least favorite aspects is the constant ice-burned, chapped lips. :(

Googles while riding aren’t that uncommon in Chicago.  I just wore clear “shield” style glasses when I rode around when I lived there and it was manageable.

When its below 10 or so I wear a balaclava just covering up to my chin. Then I use a fleece ear warmer to cover my nose/cheeks, that way I can breath out through my mouth and not get the balaclava too wet.

Also I can’t say how nice a neck gator is for riding in the really cold. Its so versatile. You can pull it up over nose on the down hill and pull it down lower for the climbs.

I use a Patagonia Fleece neck gator.


Fellow cyclists in Wisconsin wear ski goggles with temperatures even below zero.  Personally, I want to see the temps into the twenties (Fahrenheit).  Still, at that temp, water bottles turn to slush.  I’ve found that my feet cause more issues than my face.  I put on as many socks as I can (and still fit in my cycling shoes).  For my face I do wear a balaclava.  I’ve also come to avoid any clothing that contains cotton.  Where I draw the line is with snow and ice.  I’m just not going to go out and ride on snow covered roads.  700 x 23 tires just don’t do well with snow.

Feet are my issues as well; toes. A problem is circulation v. warmth. Meaning not crammed in the shoes with socks, but still warm.

Visit a ski shop, you can purchase a tin of balm for your skin. We use it for cold weather xc skiing.

correct—that does the same thing as Vaseline. Just remember to scrub your face post ride or you’ll break out like a teenager.