My love/hate relationship with my balaclava…..
You ever have one of those products that you don’t think you can live without, yet you hate it none the less? Well, I do. It’s my balaclava.
Which, by the way, is nothing more than a glorified ski mask. I wonder what happened that we stopped calling them something simple? I can hardly say the word – balaclava, when I do, I get all those a’s and l’s wrapped around my tongue and it comes out sounding something like bologna. Anyway, I looked them up on Wikipedia and found:
The name “balaclava” comes from the town of Balaklava, near Sevastopol in Crimea, Ukraine. During the Crimean War, knitted balaclavas were sent over to the British troops to help protect them from the bitter cold weather. They are traditionally knitted from wool, and can be rolled up into a hat to cover just the crown of the head.
I use one because I’m a weanie when it comes to the cold. If I can keep my face, ears, hands and feet warm when I’m riding, I’m good to go. If one of those start getting cold, forget it. I’m reduced to a shivering pile of bones in seconds. Therefore, I use a balaclava over my normal skull cap if the temperatures get down to around the mid-30′s. At that temperature, I can usually tolerate rolling it up to provide an additional layer over my ears. At about the freezing mark, I need to pull it down over my face….and it’s at that point I begin muttering to myself about it.
I have two faults with the thing…actually three when I think about it. First, using the balaclava over my full face necesitates taking my glasses off. If I don’t, they will fog over the first time I stop pedaling. When I do that, the cold wind immediately causes my eyes to tear up and that makes it nearly as hard to see. Not to mention making me look look like I’m bawling my eyes out if some driver happens to look at me at a stoplight.
Secondly, it’s just kind of tough to breath through the material of the mask. I feel like a fish out of water as I pedal my way up the hill out of our subdivision struggling for air. You’ve got to kind of keep your mouth open the entire time.
Which brings me to the really objectionable reason I dislike using the balaclava. After you breath out of your mouth for a while, the warm breath you’re exhaling pretty much condenses out as moisture on the inside of the mask. It’s not long before you’ve created a mighty pool of drool on the inside of your mask. Then, invariably my nose will start to run because of the cold. If my nose is also covered, ugggh! It’s too much to think about…all that junk running together right where you’re trying to breath!
Actually, there may be a solution for me out there. I’ve seen advertisements for balaclavas that cover your chin but leave both your mouth and nose exposed. The problem is that the only one like that I could put my hands on was at one of the outdoor stores here in town, and it was pretty darn expensive. I had a hard time justifying paying that much for a ”ski mask”.
So there you have it. Would somebody please invent a better way to keep your face warm?
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