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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 01-13-05, 11:47 PM   #1
naisme
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It's friggin' colder than H-E-double toothpicks out there tonight. And blustery, fortunately I have a way home that isn't on two wheels. I feel like a wiener for whimping out on a 15 mile commute in the -10F, with -20 to -30 windchill. I just can't see loosing a finger, a toe or worse to commute. Call me a whimp...
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Old 01-13-05, 11:56 PM   #2
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No way. There's hard core and then there's stupid. Your hands, toes survive for a better day.

Last edited by vrkelley; 01-14-05 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 01-14-05, 01:38 AM   #3
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-- I'm impressed that you commute FIFTEEN miles one-way in any weather.
Makes me wonder how the bicycling folks in Holland and China deal with (real) cold weather.
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Old 01-14-05, 01:56 AM   #4
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I won't call you a wimp: I'll call you smart. Riding in extreme cold with no wind takes foresight and finesse... doing it with winds can be downright dangerous!
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Old 01-14-05, 01:57 AM   #5
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The Dutch have a relatively moderate climate. I doubt they ever need studded tyres.

naisme, I hereby refuse to call you a whimp. Got a problem with that?

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Old 01-14-05, 09:11 AM   #6
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You are not the wimp here.

I've lived all my life in Southern California. If it's less then 40F I don't ride my bike (anymore). My old bag of bones can't take the cold like you young whippersnappers.

This forum really opened my eyes to cold weather riding. You guys are ANIMALS! My helmet's off to you.

On the other hand, if you would like to come out in the summer for a ride in 105F weather, I'll be glad to ride along.
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Old 01-14-05, 09:39 AM   #7
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I started commuting thinking to myself I'd ride every day unless there was 6+ inches of snow. Packed snow is no problem, water is no problem. It's the ice and to some extent the cold. 9 miles is too far to go on ice, it just takes too long and it's not worth falling. I don't have/need studs since the ice conditions maybe occur 10 times in a season. On the cold, I have pretty much set a 10F degree limit. Below that and/or ice, I ride the bus.
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Old 01-14-05, 10:06 AM   #8
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yeah they were talking about the minneapolis area weather this morning on the radio. a quick check of weather.com shows -9F. that's just crazy...
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Old 01-14-05, 10:18 AM   #9
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RE: Riding or not riding due to weather...it's impossible for us to know your road conditions. Maybe black ice on one section of the road, flooding on another. OR if your ride is protected from the winds, maybe it's OK to ride.

It's totally your judgement call.
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Old 01-14-05, 10:19 AM   #10
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My brother the science trivia whiz says that you can "flash freeze" your lungs by breathing air at -40F. I have not confirmed this with a reliable web site or other source. 15 miles in -25F would be tough. What, that is about 1.5 hours? I've been out in 10F weather for about 1.5 hours and my toes were frozen solid and painful to thaw for hours. I imagine there is proper clothing to survive those temps, but probably beyond the typical winter commute. Nope, definitely not whimp territory. Hats off for even considering it.
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Old 01-14-05, 10:21 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eubi
You are not the wimp here.


On the other hand, if you would like to come out in the summer for a ride in 105F weather, I'll be glad to ride along.
105F? WOW! kuhl! I suffer at temps over 70F. That's cuz Seattle doesn't get much warmer than 80F. Just not used to it.
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Old 01-14-05, 10:41 AM   #12
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OK, I was whining to my friends the other day because I was riding in 35 with high humidity. Of course, I had only tights, arm warmers, a vest, and a balaclava to help keep me warm.

I, too, refuse to call you a wimp.
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Old 01-14-05, 11:07 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bsyptak
I started commuting thinking to myself I'd ride every day unless there was 6+ inches of snow. Packed snow is no problem, water is no problem. It's the ice and to some extent the cold. 9 miles is too far to go on ice, it just takes too long and it's not worth falling. I don't have/need studs since the ice conditions maybe occur 10 times in a season. On the cold, I have pretty much set a 10F degree limit. Below that and/or ice, I ride the bus.
I've ridden a couple of times in sub-zero F temps, with double-gloves, double-socks, thermal underwear, and a facemask. Also, I only had to go ~5 miles each way. Even then I stopped halfway to warm up. Definitely do not do it unprepared.

Packed snow is no problem? I find it to be a real problem on the side streets near my house. Granted, the hard-packed stuff is not so bad, but invariably there's always loose slush as well, which is slippery as anything. But unless there is an active winter storm, the main roads are usually okay. The condition of the main roads is usually my determining factor. I definitely don't ride in winter precipitation.
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Old 01-14-05, 11:20 AM   #14
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-47F here this morning!

naisme, bro, I thought you were doing your longer commute last winter in even colder weather. I won't call you a wimp, but just wondering. I do think it wise to forgo the bike in favor of your safety.

I've not been able to commute by bike since right after Christmas. We have had over 15" of snow and rarely seen temps above zero for the day time high.

Be safe, stay warm.

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Old 01-14-05, 11:26 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by eubi
<snip>come out in the summer for a ride in 105F weather, I'll be glad to ride along.<snip>
Or, if 95% humidity sounds tempting, North Carolina awaits!
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Old 01-14-05, 11:33 AM   #16
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I'm not going to call you a wimp, either. I only had 3.75 miles in it, and that was enough for me. The wind yesterday was the killer. I'll do the commute today, but I'm kind of wondering if a ride I was going to do tomorrow is such a good thing...
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Old 01-14-05, 11:54 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billh
My brother the science trivia whiz says that you can "flash freeze" your lungs by breathing air at -40F. I have not confirmed this with a reliable web site or other source. 15 miles in -25F would be tough. What, that is about 1.5 hours? I've been out in 10F weather for about 1.5 hours and my toes were frozen solid and painful to thaw for hours. I imagine there is proper clothing to survive those temps, but probably beyond the typical winter commute. Nope, definitely not whimp territory. Hats off for even considering it.
I hate to make a rare post with contradictory arguments, but I can't let this one pass. Since this is the commuting forum, and not the cold weather forum, I'll try to keep this brief. Yes, cold weather is dangerous. Yes, you can develop painfully cold digits, and if you try hard enough, frostbite. But 10f is not that cold, when you are properly prepared for it. I've both bike commuted and worked in sub-zero weather for hours at a time w/o bad effect. I did a gorgeous nightime snoeshoe hike at -43f- not damage. Heck- many of the outdoor industry people (ski resort folks, surveyors, loggers, guides) do it all the time. At the extreme, polar expeditioneers have figured out how to make this work. The question is, do you know how to handle it, and do it safely? I don't mean to flame, or slam anyone, but anecdotal "my fingers froze at 10f" doesnt inform the conversation.
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Old 01-14-05, 12:02 PM   #18
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I just reread my previous post, and decided it's silly. I countered anecdotal stuff with anecdotal stuff. Sincere apologies. Be sides, cold is an individual thing.
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Old 01-14-05, 04:40 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingFoo
Or, if 95% humidity sounds tempting, North Carolina awaits!
Good Point, KingFoo. No thanks. That 100F weather usually has low humidity and as long as you stay hydrated, you will feel reasonably cooled.

If the humidity is too high your evaporative cooling mechanism just won't work anymore!
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Old 01-14-05, 08:39 PM   #20
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As a guy who used to commute in Montana and N. Dakota, distance is really the biggest factor on winter commuting. I can ride 2-3 miles in all kinds of crazy stuff-- deep snow, blizzards, black ice, -70 F windchill.... but 15 miles is a really long ways in bad winter weather.

I've never had frostbite... but I have had some of my worst crashes when I was too cold or tired to really be riding safely. Nothing is worse than crashing on the ice after you're cold. And I didn't have a cell phone back then! Just dragged the bike and my sorry ass to the nearest store or farm house and ask to use the phone.
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Old 01-14-05, 08:55 PM   #21
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Yeah. Weather can change quickly and you could be forced to go many miles to your destination (or returning home). It's not always possible to account for every possible weather change. On top of that...if you get a flat that really sucks.

Quirky as it sounds the foot that is closest to the passing traffic seems to get colder than the other one. Can't explain it.
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Old 01-14-05, 09:40 PM   #22
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I'm just glad to see Naisme (Nah, it's me?) posting.
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Old 01-17-05, 10:12 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrkelley
Quirky as it sounds the foot that is closest to the passing traffic seems to get colder than the other one. Can't explain it.
I'd guess the wind blast from the cars would contribute to this (even if the "blast" was slight).
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Old 01-17-05, 10:27 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naisme
It's friggin' colder than H-E-double toothpicks out there tonight. And blustery, fortunately I have a way home that isn't on two wheels. I feel like a wiener for whimping out on a 15 mile commute in the -10F, with -20 to -30 windchill. I just can't see loosing a finger, a toe or worse to commute. Call me a whimp...
Whimp!!!! (just kidding)

Seriously that sounds pretty cold. I keep taking myself into temps that i never thought i would ride in. We have had it pretty cold around here according to normal temps. The coldest i have ridden in is 1 F so far this year. The windchills are the big thing though. This pic was taken early Saturday morning 20 mile ride with temp 6 F and windchills around -10 to -15 F. Note the frost around my head. No, it wasn't snowing, i think that is from the heat leaving my body.

I have still managed to ride pretty comfortably in these temps but i agree that a person can be over zealous and end up looking pretty stupid, if not dead. I hope i'm not that dumb but i guess time will tell.


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Old 01-17-05, 10:29 AM   #25
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Hey, I use those same safety glasses. Never fog. Work great with a BMX helmet also. Love 'em...
What's brand is that neck thing?
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