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  1. #1
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    new to commuting

    hi, I am going to start commuting to work which is a ten mile ride. The thing is I live in MA and tomorrow was supposed to be my first time. The weather calls for temps in the mid teens when I start out at 6:15 am. I was thinking it was going to be ten degrees warmer, but no. So now I am in a quandry thinking that is to cold to ride for me. I realize others ride in colder weather, but I am not sure that I will be warm enough. I have ridden when the weather is in the low 30's but this is a big difference. Any body got words of wisdom?

  2. #2
    Senior Member NCbiker's Avatar
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    Move South!

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    yeah but my job is up here in mass, so that is not doable yet.

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    I've been flirting with taking the plunge for a little while and my opinion is, if your just starting out and you don't have the gear, or feel your not prepared, reschedule. Wednesday is supposed to be a lot warmer (I'm in MA too).. and from my experience, if your just starting out in something, and your not comfortable, its hard to keep the motivation flowing. There is of course the danger of making perpetual excuses, so if your afraid of putting it off, don't...

    Here is a pretty good video for how to dress for subfreezing temps... FWIW, your body generates a lot of heat when you are cycling, so it is very possible to over dress for the temps...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8i7vcboSje0
    ~Chris.

    On a long enough time line the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    It might be a good idea to wait a day, but if you tell us what you were thinking about wearing then we might have some suggestions.

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    I have a thin bottom layer for a top, and then a polartec fleece for a second layer, and a windproof top layer for the top. for the bottom I have a pair of longjohns that are for winter outdoors activities, just a pair of gym pants to put on top of those. I have fleece socks with nylons for my feet, and a pair of winter gloves for my hands. and a head band for my ears that fits under my helmet. I have used the headband before and it keeps my ears warm. also I was planning on my cycling shoes, any ideas you guys can give will be helpful.

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    That's why we have goggles, scarfs, gloves, jackets, coats, boots, socks, underwear, hot coffee, and mates!

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    I think you are likely OK on your torso and your legs and probably on your feet, too. Not so sure about your hands and head. You want REALLY warm gloves, and I would wear some sort of skull cap or thin beanie under my helmet at that temperature. For me, a headband would not be enough.

    FWIW, my ride is just as long as yours and I have ridden as low as 18 F. I hope you go ahead and try it. But if you wait a day until it is warmer, that's OK, too.

    Good luck!!

  9. #9
    Senior Member WonderMonkey's Avatar
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    I would not ride in tomorrow with it being your first day. Take your bike to work with you if you can and do a ride at lunch (if possible). That way you will still get a ride in and you can sample the weather.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    In this end of the state, they are forecasting 13F and a 10 mph wind at 6 am. You're generally on the right track, but at that temperature I would wear something on my face like a balaclava. Frostbite on cheeks or nose is a possibility. If you don't have something to cover your face, I would advise waiting for a warmer day. For me the breakpoint on that is if the windchill is anything less than 17F or so. On the other hand, my commute in is less than 4 miles, so my exposure time is lower than yours will be. I would make sure to have a *really* warm pair of gloves as well, and maybe an extra layer of socks.

  11. #11
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    Just do it man. Wear lots of clothes and peel them off as necessary, don't overthink it.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    This thread has some great info in it, especially the posts by tsl: http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...yer?highlight=

  13. #13
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    I'm thinking go for it. Here's why.

    You're close enough that you'll either be fine or a little chilled. If you're a little chilled, you aren't going to die or get frostbite or anything really bad in just ten miles. Uncomfortable, perhaps. And perhaps not. It depends on how hard you pedal. And if you do get too cold, just pedal harder. You'll warm right up.

    Plus, it's going to give you experience you'll need for planning for other cold mornings this spring, and you'll know what you need to buy for next autumn and winter.

    We've all learned what works for us and at what temperatures by trial and error. Here's your chance to begin learning before winter hits next year.

    FWIW, if it's like it was today in Upstate NY, it's not too bad at all. The air is dry, which helps an awful lot and the winds were light. Cold and damp is a real bear, as is really windy.
    Last edited by tsl; 03-05-12 at 09:46 PM. Reason: typoz
    My two favorite things in life are libraries and bicycles. They both move people forward without wasting anything.
    The perfect day: Riding a bike to the library.—Peter Golkin


    Lucky for me, I work at a library and bike to work.

  14. #14
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    What he said^. Only thing I have to contribute is that you might want to use platform pedals and regular shoes/boots in the truly cold temps. I hear the cleats are a real heat sink and make it harder to keep your feet warm.
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  15. #15
    ride for a change modernjess's Avatar
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    I agree with tsl and from the looks of your gear set up you'll be totally fine, with one caveat. I would wear a thin skull cap alone, or maybe a thin balaclava. Exposed facial skin in that temp isn't a big deal at all for me but I'm really acclimatized to it. I'd also be willing to bet that your feet might get sorta cold by about 3/4 of the way in regular cycling shoes, but so what, it wont be the end of the world or your toes.

    The folks here that are sounding the alarms and telling you not to ride are the ones who don't ride in cold weather and probably never will. If you are determined to do it then just go for it. It's not rocket science. Get dressed, get on the bike and ride.
    Last edited by modernjess; 03-05-12 at 10:13 PM.

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    to all, I did it, it was 15degrees out this am and sunny. So after reading everything everybody wrote, my changes were I wore a leather sneaker with fleece socks, and wool socks. I wore a scarf around my head and face with the headband. I wore a heavier glove. My hands were cold almost from the outset, and my feet got cold about four miles away from work but big deal. I had a great ride!! thank-you to everybody for your help.

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    Good for you! I always knew you had it in you!

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    I hope you didn't ride in today. 2 degrees at my house in Central MA, windchill on a bike would be about -20. If you don't have the right gear that can get painful. Tomorrow is supposed to hit 60, much better day to start your ride.

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    Yeah, good for you! I agree, tsl's advice above is really good. I hope you keep it up.

  20. #20
    Bike addict, dreamer AdamDZ's Avatar
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    I second what others said above, but I also like to recommend that people try to do a test run on a weekend before actually riding to work. And yeah, I'd also wait for a more "comfortable" weather to start.

  21. #21
    Senior Member tarwheel's Avatar
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    Like I said in another thread: Riding in the cold is 50% mental and 50% gear. You need the attitude that you're gonna ride regardless (unless it's just plain foolish or dangerous to do so), but you'll be cold if you don't have proper clothes. The coldest temps we've had in NC since I started bike commuting 5 years ago were about 15 F and I was warm enough, altho my water bottle froze solid during the ride. Getting yourself out the door is the hardest part.

    If you live in MA, you probably have the right clothes. The hard part is figuring out the right combinations of clothes because you don't want to overdress. If you wear too much, you'll start sweating and then get really cold at stoplights. For me, I am dressed just right if I'm a little chilly during the first 1-2 miles. If I am warm from the start, I am probably dressed too much and will start sweating. I get around that by opening up zippers to let in cold air.

  22. #22
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    Good job. The weather coming later this week will serve as an awesome comparison. I started commuting March 2011 and was cold the first couple months, but as soon as weather turned around (mid June) it essentially guaranteed I would continue commuting indefinitely. Keep it up!

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by essiemyra View Post
    to all, I did it, it was 15degrees out this am and sunny. So after reading everything everybody wrote, my changes were I wore a leather sneaker with fleece socks, and wool socks. I wore a scarf around my head and face with the headband. I wore a heavier glove. My hands were cold almost from the outset, and my feet got cold about four miles away from work but big deal. I had a great ride!! thank-you to everybody for your help.
    Good for you! See, you survived to type again. If you took the advice of some of the folks on this forum you'd never get on your bike unless it was a sunny warm windless day. Welcome to the dark side!

  24. #24
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    now I guess the next big goal is riding in inclement weather, I have never taken my bike out during the rain. I have been riding for fun for since I was a kid, but never in the rain. I will have to wait and see if I am that hardy a soul. I also have to invest in fenders and rain pants.

  25. #25
    Share the road. bugly64's Avatar
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    Congratulations!

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