How to keep my lungs warm when biking in the winter?
December 19, 2003 5:04 PM   Subscribe

I'm wanting to do some outdoor bike training this winter, in preparation for going over the Rockies next summer. But, of course, riding in the winter isn't pleasant. The biggest problem I've run into is that my lungs start freezing when I get into a hard climb, while the rest of my body is overheating from the extra layers (essential for big downhills). Any tips on clothing choices that get the best of both worlds, or ways to keep my lungs warm?
posted by kaibutsu to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have you considered a fluid trainer? I do triathlons in the summer, as well as time trials and distance bike events. During the winter (or marathon season), I back way off on the bike. The only regular bike work I get is either on the trainer or spin class. I wait until March or April before I start riding my bike regularly.
posted by patrickje at 5:12 PM on December 19, 2003

Windblock fleece will take the place of a few layers. It's really breathable neoprene sandwiched between two cosmetic layers of polartec, and it provides amazing warmth and decent moisture removal. I use mine for cross-country skiing. L. L. Bean and Patagonia both make good jackets out of the stuff.

I don't have any good advice to shield your lungs. I just avoid running or biking outdoors in winter. But I too would love to know the solution.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:23 PM on December 19, 2003

One thing you may want to consider is the altitude-the air is thinner up there and it doesn't take that much to affect athletic ability. My son will be in Colorado Springs next year and he has already been warned to do extra pt now to try to compensate-and Colorado Springs is practically the flatlands.

I second the motion that you find other ways of training while it's so cold outside. Lots of options, and crosstraining isn't a bad idea anyway.
posted by konolia at 5:28 PM on December 19, 2003

I do some xcountry skiing. Nice compliment to biking. Anyway, you do get used to it (down to -15°C or so), but below that, you do need to cover your mouth and nose. Traditionally, one grows a full beard. If this is not an option, ski-shops sell neck tubes or you can go ultra-stylish and wear a full balaklava.
posted by bonehead at 5:37 PM on December 19, 2003 [1 favorite]

I'll second what bonehead said, and i'll point you towards this being discussed on the forum.
posted by Hall at 5:43 PM on December 19, 2003

My fiancee has been saying great things about this line of clothing.
posted by anathema at 3:17 AM on December 20, 2003

bonehead, did you mean to link to this?
posted by cbrody at 8:43 AM on December 20, 2003

Just want to add that you should inhale through your nose, not your mouth. This warms and moisturizes the air before it enters your lungs. If you have trouble with sinuses (I do) get comfortable blowing your nose on the bike, either one handed or no hands--sorry, no link; it just takes practice.
With respect to dress, I try to make sure my hands, feet , head and trunk are well insulated. Legs seem to stay warm on their own! I use my arms to bleed off excess heat so I'll wear a heavy long sleeve jersey with a couple of short-sleeve jerseys on top and then a jacket with pit zips to aid in thermal regulation. Some people wear a pair of good winter gloves and bring along some thin, waterproof, wind blocking overmitts for long slogs into a headwind or if there is precipitation.
One other thing to consider is the danger you face from an extended, unscheduled stop out in the middle of nowhere or a quick dump of rain or wet snow. Ten minutes spent struggling with a flat tire on a cold windy day can do serious long-term damage to your fingers.
posted by xiffix at 10:51 AM on December 21, 2003

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