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  1. #1
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    How to get over fear of the cold/wind?

    I have chickened out of commuting 2 days in a row. I don't have proper cold weather gear (at least as far as stuff marketed that way). I was going to wear sweatpants, a sweat wiking shirt, a light themal shirt, and a windbreaker, my half-finger gloves and helmet.

    I am guessing an upgrade here will help, but any thoughts on how to over come this? (I dont think it helps that I have a small cold).

    I really want to commute at least once a week in the winter. Im not afraid to ride on the road.

  2. #2
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    Cold is definitely a killer and has put the kibbosh on many a ride for me.

    The quicker and less involved it is to suit up (and down afterwards) the better the will to ride will be.

    You may need to invest some money to help you overcome the hurdle.

    One thing you will want is full fingered gloves. Nothing worse than numb digits.

  3. #3
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    Just do it? Actually, I'd propose a trial run of similar length, that way you'd know what to expect and then you'd be able to make an informed decision versus one based on uncertainty while still being able to turn back if it's just too cold given your clothing.

    I've been riding at approximately 40 degrees for pleasure, half-fingered gloves just aren't cutting it. My knuckles go numb from the cold. Unfortunately I've not had any luck finding warm gloves appropriate for cycling that actually fit, everything is either too small or too big. Keeping my ears warm is also a big issue, but one of those fleece ear warmer bands works quite well.

  4. #4
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    I go by the rule that says if you're warm enough in the first mile, you're dressed too warmly for the rest of your ride.

    So I always dread the first mile, during which I will be cold and muscles not yet warmed up.

    One thing I started doing -- stretching in a hot shower before the ride -- helps take care of this first mile problem somewhat. But I gotta get to riding before the warmth wears off, and make sure I'm not sweating right out of the gate.

    Wind? Cold wind? I could do without cold wind. It usually finds the ***** in my cold weather armor.


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  5. #5
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    How cold is it where you live?

    It was 35F here when I left my house this morning. I wore my work clothes + a fleece. I wore gloves (the combo half-finger glove / mitten type) and a thin hat underneath my helmet to cover my ears. I was slightly chilly when I first started but warm within a mile.

    Nothing I wore was special or in any way specific to cycling other than my SPD sandals and helmet.

  6. #6
    Downtown Spanky Brown bautieri's Avatar
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    I don't mind the cold so much as long as it stays out of my ears. Buy a balacava (sp?) and you should be set if cold wind in the ears is an issue for you.

    First mile generally sucks but once you get out you'll be glad you did.

  7. #7
    Senior Member landrover's Avatar
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    Having the right layers is key....biking in single digit wind chills in Chicago is no joke but i have found the right combination to stay warm..even when biking before sunrise.
    Wicking material is crucial...Lou Binik at Foxwear.net( i am sure others have favorites,too)makes custom outdoor wear..he builds according to your needs...my layers are light weight,medium weight and heavy weight for really nasty days...windproof,waterproof polartec material used for vests and pants.
    Motorcycle mitts keep my hands very warm.
    After spending crazy money for winter biking boots that still left my feet cold, i finally found the perfect combination: a pair of low cut fisherman's boots,foot powder(to keep the feet from sweating ) and wool socks.
    My example may be extreme...what temps will you be riding in?

  8. #8
    the actual el guapo atomship47's Avatar
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    for winter riding, i wear basically what you described + pants that break wind.

    i use full-fingered, neoprene gloves (like what they have in the fishing aisle at department stores). you can get them for under $10.

    i bought a head/ear band, but now that i have a liner for under my helmet, i don't use the band anymore. also, i bought the performance neoprene booties that go over your cycling shoes. i tried the neoprene windbreakers that look like socks that go over your shoes, but they weren't warm enough. lastly, wool socks.
    Last edited by atomship47; 10-22-08 at 10:30 AM.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomship47 View Post
    for winter riding, i wear basically what you described + pants that break wind.

    i use full-fingered, neoprene gloves (like what they have in the fishing aisle at department stores). you can get them for under $10.

    i bout a head/ear band, but now that i have a liner for under my helmet, i don't use the band anymore. also, i bought the performance neoprene booties that go over your cycling shoes. i tried the neoprene windbreakers that look like socks that go over your shoes, but they weren't warm enough. lastly, wool socks.

    I do all the breaking wind, so my pants don't have to *rimshot*

    Those all sound like excellent ideas. I sweat a good bit, so hopefully I can get warm from the exercise and stay dry all at once. The protection for the ears seems like an excellent idea. I guess I can put together what I have and give it a go tomorrow

  10. #10
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechKnowGN View Post
    Those all sound like excellent ideas. I sweat a good bit, so hopefully I can get warm from the exercise and stay dry all at once. The protection for the ears seems like an excellent idea. I guess I can put together what I have and give it a go tomorrow
    If you sweat a lot, make sure to have a wicking or wool base layer so you don't get a chill. I've got similar issues, and especially when I'm snow-camping I have to be careful. Getting your base layer clothes all sweat-logged will cause you to get chilled.

  11. #11
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    I definitely have the wicking shirts. legs im not as worried about.

  12. #12
    Neil_B
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    I've done a couple of winter tours with another poster. These involved extended riding riding in temps in the 40s or below - and one day in the rain as well. What I wore:

    Helmet
    balaclava
    bib shorts
    compression shirt - for both warmth and to keep loose skin in place.
    long sleeve bike jersey. if you don't wear jerseys a long sleeved synthetic shirt should work.
    a Performance synthetic fleece jacket
    a Performance cycling jacket - any light jacket will work.
    rain jacket - if needed.
    tights
    wool socks with a liner sock
    hiking boots

    The trick I discovered was to layer. If I get too warm, I can take something off.

  13. #13
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    And im only commuting 5 miles each way. But I go as hard as I can usually, so it's not a casual 5 miles. Layering sounds like a good idea.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    I start with over-sized polyester shell jacket, and either tights or gore-tex type rain pants if it is raining or windy, and add synthetic or wool under-layers as required. Fill-fingered gloves and a balaclava are also a must-have.

    As it gets colder, I add more layers, thicker gloves (serious ski gloves work great below 20 F), shoe-covers, and maybe a thicker knitted stocking cap between my balaclava and my helmet.

    I don't ride in everything, though. I don't ride in ice, or when it is below 5 F. It is not worth the hassle that it takes to ride when it is that cold to me (at little over double the normal time it takes me to commute any other time, due to the added clothes changing at home and at work). I also seem to have to stop more often for equipment problems when I'm bundled up like the Michelin man.

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  15. #15
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    I've done a couple of winter tours with another poster. These involved extended riding riding in temps in the 40s or below - and one day in the rain as well. What I wore:

    Helmet
    balaclava
    bib shorts
    compression shirt - for both warmth and to keep loose skin in place.
    long sleeve bike jersey. if you don't wear jerseys a long sleeved synthetic shirt should work.
    a Performance synthetic fleece jacket
    a Performance cycling jacket - any light jacket will work.
    rain jacket - if needed.
    tights
    wool socks with a liner sock
    hiking boots

    The trick I discovered was to layer. If I get too warm, I can take something off.


    Fort Washington, PA, December 23, 2007.

    For more about the tour, read Neil F.'s account:

    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/dectour2007

  16. #16
    Neil_B
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechKnowGN View Post
    And im only commuting 5 miles each way. But I go as hard as I can usually, so it's not a casual 5 miles. Layering sounds like a good idea.
    That will help too when it warms up after you are done work.

  17. #17
    Neil_B
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    Not to thread hijack, but one side effect of weight loss you may develop is sensitivity to cold. Its now two years (to the day!) since I lost the first 100 pounds, and I'm still bothered by cold much more than I was back in my 400 pound days. Still, it's only a small drawback.

  18. #18
    the actual el guapo atomship47's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
    I've done a couple of winter tours with another poster. These involved extended riding riding in temps in the 40s or below - and one day in the rain as well. What I wore:

    Helmet
    balaclava
    bib shorts
    compression shirt - for both warmth and to keep loose skin in place.
    long sleeve bike jersey. if you don't wear jerseys a long sleeved synthetic shirt should work.
    a Performance synthetic fleece jacket
    a Performance cycling jacket - any light jacket will work.
    rain jacket - if needed.
    tights
    wool socks with a liner sock
    hiking boots

    The trick I discovered was to layer. If I get too warm, I can take something off.

    forgot to mention the balaclava for windy days!

    i use wicking shirts. however, and i have this problem in the summer as well, they can only wick away so much before they (or the next layer of clothing) are soaked. to avoid chills then, just don't stop riding for more than a minute or two.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member lil brown bat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TechKnowGN View Post
    I have chickened out of commuting 2 days in a row. I don't have proper cold weather gear
    Just how cold is your "cold weather"? Kind of hard to suggest anything without knowing that.

  20. #20
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    Today the ride would have started at 31 degrees and ended half an hour later at 34 degrees.

  21. #21
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    That's do-able. I will get soundly criticized on this forum for saying this, but in weather like that I wear jeans. On top I layer a t-shirt, turtleneck and a hoodie, although a windbreaker would be better than the hoodie I think. I just don't have one right now.
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  22. #22
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    In Alaska we have a saying, "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear." If we quit being active any time the weather got nasty, we wouldn't get any exercise. I know people in Fairbanks, Alaska, who regularly commute by bike in the winter, even though the temperatures drop to about minus-50 or lower during the winter. Here is a link to some winter cycling tips from All-Weather Sports, one of the bike stores in Fairbanks, http://www.allweathersports.com/winter/winter.html.

    I live in Southeast Alaska (Sitka) and here our concern isn't so much frigid temperatures, but ice and freezing rain. We still ride all year, but in the winter many of us use studded mountain bike tires and wear better gear. Some cyclists wear scuba gloves, because they keep the moisture off the hands and don't stay wet like fleece gloves.

    I'm pretty low-tech during my commute (which is only a mile or two), and I wear my work clothes (Dockers, dress shirt, trail shoes) with a fleece shell and GoreTex rain jacket, maybe a pair of lightweight rain pants if it's really pouring or windy. Go for lots of thinner layers, so you can peel off a layer if you get too hot, and remember to stay hydrated (which can be a problem in winter). Camelback water systems work well in the winter because your body heat keeps the water from freezing like it does in a water bottle (in really cold climates they wrap the water hose with insulation). I've ridden parts of the Iditarod Trail during the winter, and haven't had too many difficulties with the frozen ice and snow, but fresh snow can really make things difficult (let some air out of your tires to they can spread out more, which helps you ride more on top of the snow instead of digging into it).

    If you're commuting during the winter make sure you wear more reflectives and add a couple of headlights and taillights to your bike because the darker nights make you harder to see for the drivers.

  23. #23
    That Guy McTrey's Avatar
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    This is my first winter riding but for me, the easiest way to make myself ride to work in the cold is to lose my car keys.

    It's also helpful that the car isn't running now anyway because of a busted alternator, but that's a story for another time.

    At about 0530, when it's time for me to go to work, I put on my khaki cargo shorts (yes, that's right, my khaki cargo shorts), an underarmor cold gear turtle neck, and a fleece jacket. Add to that some batting gloves and a knit cap, and I'm off and...biking.

    It was 38 degrees when I left the house this morning. But I felt fine.

  24. #24
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    If your commute is very long, get out and ride around locally in the cold to see how it works. That way, you won't be 10 miles from home when you decide it's too cold.

    At one time, I lived in the right place to go snowshoeing, and one of the challenges there was to find a backpack big enough to tote all the clothes you needed to hold. Go up hill in the sun, and you could be naked and still sweat (not that I tried it). Sit by the frozen lake at the end of the trail, and you'd put on every stitch of clothes in your backpack and still be cold.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  25. #25
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by atomship47 View Post
    forgot to mention the balaclava for windy days!

    i use wicking shirts. however, and i have this problem in the summer as well, they can only wick away so much before they (or the next layer of clothing) are soaked. to avoid chills then, just don't stop riding for more than a minute or two.
    The key is the mid layer and exterior layer, heat is what drives wicking, the inner most layer should be a layer that moisture passes out from fairly easily, some of the polyester based materials are quite good, silk is also good if you prefer natural materials. The next layer needs to be able to either also drive through moisture or absorb it, wool is good for absorbing, many of the polyester fleeces are good for driving it through. The outer layer should allow moisture thorough but not standing water, realise that the temperature at the outer layer is considerably lower then at the inner layer, so in many ways materials like wool are good for absorbing what it can't drive through. However wind is a bigger problem then cold, on a bicycle your exercising, so you are generating heat, it's a careful balance that you want to keep enough heat that your warm enough, but not enough that you over heat and start to sweat hard. A general rule is that if you are standing still you need to dress for 10℃/18℉ colder then what it actually is, if your exercising hard, you need to dress for 10℃/18℉ warmer then what it is. You need to experiment though at different temps because everyone is different so YMMV.......

    One hint, when looking at mid layers, one really should keep 2 thin weight layers and one mid weight layer around, if you need a heavy weight layer you can always wear all three at once. Otherwise you can swap around, this is especially good when you find that you have limited storage space, such as on a cold weather walk or cold weather tour. What you might find ideal is to get 2 fleece based thin layers and a wool mid weight layer, combining them gives the best of all worlds......

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