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Old 12-03-07, 05:39 AM   #1
macteacher
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When is 'cold' too cold to commute?

I was going to commute this morning....but after i felt the cold... temps at -1....wind.. feels like -6 by the afternoon its dropping to -6... feel like -14.. so i elected no bike for today..

does anyone else have a cut off point? these temps are all celcius
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Old 12-03-07, 06:07 AM   #2
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With the right clothing, the cold should not be a problem. Keep your hands, feet and head warm, and you'll be fine.

While I have not yet ridden in -14 C temps (hasn't got that cold here, yet), it has got down to -8 C (not sure what the wind-chill is), and I've been riding anyway. I'm not sure how much I will like riding in the snow, though. We'll see.

I think I'll be fine up to about 20 C below, but my motivation to ride will probably decrease with the temperature .
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Old 12-03-07, 06:12 AM   #3
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As long as I'm warm, I'll ride in any temp. I will not ride on ice or snow.
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Old 12-03-07, 06:39 AM   #4
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I agree that it does not have to be a problem, provided you have the right clothing! If you do not, however, think twice about it. Check out the Winter Cycling forum here, or www.IceBike.org. I've ridden in subzero (F) temps, using one of these heavy balaclavas, mittens with handwarmers, and double-socks in boots on flat pedals. Don't worry so much about your torso and legs; your core will warm up as you ride. Worry about the extremities.
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Old 12-03-07, 06:52 AM   #5
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Yeah... wear the right clothing...

We have to start layering when it drops below 60 deg F here!

Seriously though... I admire you guys up north. I could never survive the conditions that you folks thrive in!!
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Old 12-03-07, 06:54 AM   #6
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As long you're dressed correctly then, given the Iditabike temperatures in Alaska, there's no real bottom limit.

However, hail has stopped me from riding. Sleet, an ice storm, gusting winds and, possibly, torrential rain would probably stop me from riding as well.
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Old 12-03-07, 07:19 AM   #7
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I don't know how it works with celcius, but for fahrenheit there are two temperatures, one for the thermometer reading and the other is what it feels like. 70 degrees is nice because it always feels like 70 degrees. 95 degrees sucks because it feels like 105 degrees. And 30 degrees likewise, because it feels like 20 degrees. So I'll say that when ever the "thermometer" temperature differs from the "feels like" temperature by + or - 30% it's either too hot or too cold to ride.

Oh, but then there is the bike's air speed velocity to figure into to this. That's always going to take a few degrees off. So 95 degrees which would feel like 105 degrees off the bike, but at a good clip on the bike would feel like 95 degrees. And 30 degrees would feel like 20 degrees off... you know, there's too much math involved in this. Why don't you ask another question.
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Old 12-03-07, 07:28 AM   #8
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I had planned to ride all winter, but the heavy pea soup freezing fog (10 feet visibility) has changed my mind. At some point in my mind there IS a point where the cold and visibility (safety) converge and it's just not worth it. I can hop on the exercise bike and be safe and still burn some calories. Best wishes to all those brave souls who challenge the winter wilds, you have my respect.
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Old 12-03-07, 07:38 AM   #9
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I'm much more worried about summertime humidity and temperatures than I am bothered about wintertime here.
I've cycled in temps barely above freezing, and as long as I had a hat, gloves, and layers, I was fine; I think it will need to get pretty cold (below 25F?) before I start to have second thoughts. (Of course, I keep my bike inside, so the bike itself is never that cold!)

25F is pretty cold for us! I'm sure this is nothing for JohnBrooking and our Canadian commuters.

So far the cold has made a difference in my comfort for the first mile or so, and has not mattered after that. By the end of a 6-mile commute I'm wearing far fewer layers than I was at the beginning.
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Old 12-03-07, 07:38 AM   #10
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Does anyone else have a cut off point? these temps are all celsius

Nope.

It's -20C/ wc -27 here in sunny Alberta, we've had an inch of snow overnight, and I'm just heading off to work.
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Old 12-03-07, 07:41 AM   #11
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I think my temperature cutoff would be about -25C/-10F. Last year I did about 5 miles in -3F which works out to about 19 below zero in Canada (eh?)

Wind chill makes very little difference to me under 10F/-12C, because I don't leave any skin exposed whatsoever, and my extremities are usually layered thick enough to actually get NO breeze whatsoever. If I start to overheat, I'll zip down and ventilate a bit. My gloves just barely cut it last year, so -10F/-25C is what I'll go with. I don't think I'd go any lower than that for a commute, but this is Kansas and it really doesn't get that cold too often.
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Old 12-03-07, 07:55 AM   #12
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I don't care how cold it gets. I dress appropriately, cover exposed skin, and if there's ice or snow, I allow some extra time for the commute.
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Old 12-03-07, 08:03 AM   #13
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0F. However, my concern is more with the road conditions than temperature.
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Old 12-03-07, 08:07 AM   #14
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Absolute zero, seriously though, at a certain temperature, cold is cold and if the mercury drops even more I don't notice a difference. I once rode with other people in a Critical Mass for 1 hour then had my 30min commute home in -25degC plus wind chill. Once you get used to the cold it is fine and you really don't notice it.

That being said, the above requires, as other people have indicated, layering and correct clothing is a must.

Enjoy the cold, 'tis what I say. Just think, its better to be out in the cold producing your heat than some sucker in a car huddling over the heater vents that haven't started pumping out heat and paying for that nice blast of cold air!
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Old 12-03-07, 08:11 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ax0n View Post
I think my temperature cutoff would be about -25C/-10F. Last year I did about 5 miles in -3F which works out to about 19 below zero in Canada (eh?)

Wind chill makes very little difference to me under 10F/-12C, because I don't leave any skin exposed whatsoever, and my extremities are usually layered thick enough to actually get NO breeze whatsoever. If I start to overheat, I'll zip down and ventilate a bit. My gloves just barely cut it last year, so -10F/-25C is what I'll go with. I don't think I'd go any lower than that for a commute, but this is Kansas and it really doesn't get that cold too often.
I ditto this. If I won't ski in it, I won't bike in it. -10F is about my limit for skiing. I rode in on my bike when it was -4F last winter and did ok. I tried another time at -7F, but the conditions were such that I kept fogging my glasses. I went back home and drove my car. I think I've fixed that problem but I'm not possitive.

That said, it rarely gets down to -10F in Cleveland. I doubt it does in Toronto, either.


Note that below about 15-20F I'll wear my ski coat. It has pit zips. Works great.
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Old 12-03-07, 08:38 AM   #16
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It was between -2F and -8F here this morning (different readings from different gauges) and I did just fine. I had two layers on my legs (REI Headwinds + regular athletic pants) and three layers on my torso (cheap Old Navy fleece sweatshirt + cheap Old Navy fleece jacket + REI Express Jacket) with army surplus mittens and two balaclavas. The mittens are the most ridiculous things you've ever seen, but wow do they keep my hands warm.

I was cold, but I was fine. My feet were the only part of me wishing I had another layer of clothing (only one pair of socks with my Answer Kashmir boots).

We had snow this past weekend, so it was fun riding this morning. I love riding in the winter for the additional challenge.

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Old 12-03-07, 08:52 AM   #17
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Wet sleet with howling wind will stop me. Just plain cold isn't a problem, I layer up.
When the snow is half rain, your clothes get soaked then it freezes with the windchill. That's horrible. As I get older I find my wrist joints just gradually sieze in those conditions. Then it becomes hard to brake and steer. The rain and sleet freeze onto my glasses and I can't see.
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Old 12-03-07, 09:01 AM   #18
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No cut off point for me. This year it has hit -26/-36 with the wind, and I kept riding. Last year I went
-38/-45 with the wind. Dress warm and block the wind.
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Old 12-03-07, 09:42 AM   #19
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You guys really need to specify Celsius or Fahrenheit, especially if you don't put a state or country in your location. Although, the closer it gets to -40 degrees, the closer the numbers actually line up. I hear -7 degrees and it send a chill through my spine. I'm thinking lots of layers, ski goggles or other good eye protection, no skin showing, and all that. Then I realize it's celsius, and I'm thinking why the hell would someone think 20 Fahrenheit is a big deal?
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Old 12-03-07, 09:44 AM   #20
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I think about 0F is "too cold" for me to have a comfortable ride. I have ridden in frigid (frigid to me is anything below 20F...) weather and with enough clothes it was alright. But 0 or below is really, really cold. I don't think I could handle it for more than a couple miles.
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Old 12-03-07, 09:48 AM   #21
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-1 or -6 is nothing, just go out you'll enjoy it. For me it's anything below -20, since i don't have the proper headgear.
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Old 12-03-07, 10:11 AM   #22
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You guys really need to specify Celsius or Fahrenheit, especially if you don't put a state or country in your location. Although, the closer it gets to -40 degrees, the closer the numbers actually line up. I hear -7 degrees and it send a chill through my spine. I'm thinking lots of layers, ski goggles or other good eye protection, no skin showing, and all that. Then I realize it's celsius, and I'm thinking why the hell would someone think 20 Fahrenheit is a big deal?
Ski goggles were the only other thing I was missing this morning that I should have had. I have a few different pairs but haven't yet gotten them out for the season. Goggles and one more pair of socks and I would have been good to go.

That being said, I still can't wait for the ride home. I love this time of the year.
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Old 12-03-07, 10:39 AM   #23
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I dont worry about the Temp
I watch for Ice and Wind
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Old 12-03-07, 11:02 AM   #24
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Today's forcase is a high of 32F and a low of 24F with 40 to 45 MPH hour wind gusts and blowing snow. The commute was fine and I was definitely NOT cold. All I wear on my body is a T shirt + Fleece pullover + light wind breaker, a pair of tights on my legs, winter boots to keep my feet warm, an old pair of ski gloves to keep my hands warm, and a beany cap under my helmet. This was one of my slowest commutes ever, but I was sick all of last week, and the wind was pretty serious. I was never cold. I figure I'm good with this setup till about 20 F, under that I have to start worrying much more seriously about frostbite.

Happy riding,
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Old 12-03-07, 11:03 AM   #25
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I think mine would have to be a bit above freezing point or rain only because i don't have the proper clothing/equipment for dealing with either.
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