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Old 12-11-13, 03:07 AM   #1
Telly
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When to call it quits (for the day of course!)

Hello everyone,

It's been the third day of not commuting by bike and the fifth since I've ridden and I was just thinking out loud on when a cyclist should commute and when the commute becomes too dangerous or uncomfortable to do.

My question concerns today's extreme weather with winds gusting to around 80kph (50mph) and low temperatures (around 2* C with a windchill of -5* C).

How many of you have ridden, or ride in these conditions, especially in traffic since my commute takes me along a major coastal road along the southern suburbs which provides very little shielding from the wind?
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Old 12-11-13, 04:55 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by Telly View Post
Hello everyone,

It's been the third day of not commuting by bike and the fifth since I've ridden and I was just thinking out loud on when a cyclist should commute and when the commute becomes too dangerous or uncomfortable to do.

My question concerns today's extreme weather with winds gusting to around 80kph (50mph) and low temperatures (around 2* C with a windchill of -5* C).

How many of you have ridden, or ride in these conditions, especially in traffic since my commute takes me along a major coastal road along the southern suburbs which provides very little shielding from the wind?
When I lived on the coast, I rode in those conditions, however I took a much more circuitous route home to avoid being blown over into high-speed traffic. Wind freaks me out more than just about any other type of inclement weather.
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Old 12-11-13, 07:05 AM   #3
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I have ridden in temps that cold but not with the wind factor that you are describing. My thought is to call it quits when you do not feel comfortable riding. Riding in my opinion is for enjoyment, uncomfortable does not equate with enjoyment for me. Just my .02. Hopefully the weather changes for the better for you soon.
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Old 12-11-13, 07:10 AM   #4
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I call it quits when it ices. I just don't have the gear for it and don't trust the cars. Temps don't fall below the teens here so ice is the only deal breaker.
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Old 12-11-13, 07:18 AM   #5
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I don't deal with heavy rain, ice, sleet and snow. Fortunately, we get very little frozen precipitation in NC, and it isn't worth the investment or trouble to install studded tires for such infrequent occurrences. Heavy rain, I just don't like, and thunderstorms are just dangerous. It's messy, obscures my vision (glasses), and gets my bikes filthy. I have called off rides due to wind as well, if gusts are 35 mph and higher, but that doesn't happen very often around here.

Anyway, I wouldn't have any qualms not riding in the weather you are describing. I ride for fitness and enjoyment, not torture.
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Old 12-11-13, 07:21 AM   #6
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Winds gusting to that much are too dangerous around here as the risk of getting blown into traffic are greater than I'm comfortable with. I've ridden in crosswind gusts to 55 mph out in the country and those put me into the oncoming lane of traffic. It'd have been the ditch if from the other direction. 40 mph crosswind gusts is about my limit here in the metropolitan area.

For cold weather riding, it's been dependent on the ride length. My current commute of the past ten years is 23 miles all the way to work, or 16 miles to pick up the light rail. With the 16 miles, I start seriously thinking at 5F, and give up at 0F. The logistics of cold weather riding start adding more time and effort than I care to put into the insanity. :-) Back in the short 10 mile commute I had once upon a time, -10F was my lower limit.
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Old 12-11-13, 07:33 AM   #7
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I would call it quits for the day when you start to feel uncomfortable and not enjoying it anymore. I have ridden in very cold wind chills down to -15F but that high wind your talking about is almost too much. Also, something to remember is to allow more time in bad weather.
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Old 12-11-13, 07:35 AM   #8
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I agree with the others, if you feel uncomfortable (unsafe) then I think you should take the day (or a week or more) off, I say wait until the weather is more reasonable if you have other transportation options. It's not worth getting hurt. I kind of look those bad weather days as breaks for my body. I think it's good to take substantial breaks occasionally (depending how for you commute), let the knees and things recover from all that repetitive motion. Of course I don't always practice what I'm preaching here. We have been having some bitterly cold and snowy weather in Co. and though I did take some days off, I also rode a few days were I thought to myself afterward, that I probably shouldn't have.
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Old 12-11-13, 08:13 AM   #9
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I'm fairly new to cycling and I do it for fun, so if there is a day where I know I'm just going to hate riding or have a greater than normal chance of getting into an accident, I won't do it.
I've ridden in some cold weather and been uncomfortable, I enjoy the challenge,but I won't do:

heavy rain
ice-don't want to wreck to save 5 dollars of gas
heavy wind- makes my commute extremely difficult and I don't want to get blown into traffic.
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Old 12-11-13, 09:04 AM   #10
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I have no problem with temps or Wind, what is my bigest concern is Snowy pavemnent because it makes me slow and my commute take too long.
Limits are a very personnal thing, When I'm not comfortable and confident on the bike I don't ride.
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Old 12-11-13, 12:27 PM   #11
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The freezing temperature doesn't bother me, but when the wind blows from the side, in gusts, at speeds like that, it gets dangerous. Thankfully, that doesn't happen all that often where I'm at, but if you know it's gonna be a windy day, it's worth planning those parts of the route that the wind's from the side so that you're not in bad traffic.
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Old 12-11-13, 04:30 PM   #12
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50mph wind would cause me to drive in. I haven't hit a low temp yet, but we'll find out how 8-10F is tomorrow morning. I also won't ride if it's over 95F. Just not fun anymore.
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Old 12-11-13, 04:46 PM   #13
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Yesterday morning while driving (sorry!) across the Natoma Crossing bridge in Folsom, the road was marked down to one lane and there were a number of skid marks to the rail showing where people hadn't kept it together. The bike lanes on that bridge are separated but I imagine it was equally as icy.
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Old 12-11-13, 04:47 PM   #14
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Today's commute would have been very dangerous if I rode to work since the roads were filled with broken branches and littered with garbage from overturned (or overflowing) trash cans. At one point on the way to work, I stopped at traffic lights and my little car was being jolted by the gusts. If I were on my bike, I would have been forced to stop at that specific spot since the wind would have definitely knocked me down.

As some of you might have read in my other posts, the temperatures here in Athens rarely reach freezing point, but the cold is more pronounced than anywhere else I've been. I clearly remember visiting Moscow on a number of occasions with the temperature ranging from -10* to -20* C, and never feeling really cold. Today while wearing almost identical clothing, and with the temperature having reached around +5* C, I really felt the cold. The difference was the humidity being quite high (around 70-80%) compared to Moscow which was, if I remember correctly somewhere in the low 40's.
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Old 12-11-13, 10:57 PM   #15
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I clearly remember visiting Moscow on a number of occasions with the temperature ranging from -10* to -20* C, and never feeling really cold. Today while wearing almost identical clothing, and with the temperature having reached around +5* C, I really felt the cold. The difference was the humidity being quite high (around 70-80%) compared to Moscow which was, if I remember correctly somewhere in the low 40's.
Interesting observation. I wasn't aware of humidity making such a huge difference in the cold as well. In fact, since you mentioned that it was very windy, perhaps the wind chill was what made the difference?
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Old 12-12-13, 12:45 AM   #16
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Interesting observation. I wasn't aware of humidity making such a huge difference in the cold as well. In fact, since you mentioned that it was very windy, perhaps the wind chill was what made the difference?
The above observation is regardless of the wind factor. Maybe it's something other than the humidity, but other people have also noticed it too. In fact, I remember a friend which was visiting from Vancouver B.C. stating that it felt colder that the actual temperature at the time.
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Old 12-12-13, 06:01 PM   #17
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Most of us can be comfortable by dressing for the cold. Wind and the wind chill that is created changes everything. If we are an experienced rider and find ourselves not enjoying a commute or have realistic worries about our safety, take a day off. There are plenty more rides to be done.
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Old 12-12-13, 06:09 PM   #18
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80kph, I would be more concerned about being struck by something like a tree branch. That can be hazardous.
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Old 12-12-13, 06:27 PM   #19
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Mostly, I will not commute by bike if I would not commute by car.
If I'm going into work, I'm going by bike.
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Old 12-12-13, 06:34 PM   #20
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Hello everyone,

It's been the third day of not commuting by bike and the fifth since I've ridden and I was just thinking out loud on when a cyclist should commute and when the commute becomes too dangerous or uncomfortable to do.
There's no rule, and we each make thisdecision on our own terms. If you, like me, bike commute because you want to, then t he time not to simply when you don't want to. Years ago, I'd act like I had something to prove, and ride under dicey conditions. Age, experience and scuba diving broke me of that kind of thinking.

It's too easy to let pride, ego, subtle forms of peer pressure cause you to make poor decisions. In situations like this I now apply the cave divers' unwritten contract --- any diver can call any dive, at any time, for any reason, or for no reason.

If you choose not to use the bike because you think it's unwise, or simply uncomfortable, I won't think any less of you, and you shouldn't think any less of yourself.
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Old 12-13-13, 07:34 AM   #21
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A big thanks to everyone for your opinions; this thread was more academic in nature since as FB stated, I find myself being caught up in a competition (with myself), and sometime my pride or ego impairs my common sense.


Ride tall* and stay safe!
*with the exception of drop bars!


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In situations like this I now apply the cave divers' unwritten contract --- any diver can call any dive, at any time, for any reason, or for no reason.
That's a golden rule, and one which my flight instructor kept quoting before every single lesson or flight. "If it doesn't feel right, there's always tomorrow".

Last edited by Telly; 12-13-13 at 07:38 AM.
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Old 12-13-13, 08:45 AM   #22
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Strong winds plus ice scare the bejeezus out of me. Either on their own is doable.
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Old 12-13-13, 09:49 AM   #23
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That's a golden rule, and one which my flight instructor kept quoting before every single lesson or flight. "If it doesn't feel right, there's always tomorrow".
Almost any activity with a serious element of danger has a similar rule. The one I know that pilots say is "there are bold pilots, and there are old pilots, but there are no old bold pilots".

These endeavors have these sayings because they attract people who are willing to take risks, and all too often begin measuring themselves by how far they'll go. In the dive world, pairs of divers often die on dives that neither really wanted to do, but neither was willing to be the first to suggest cancelling.

We now see some of this in bicycling when people join clubs that have them "competing" with others via the internet. Who can make the fastest time on a descent, who has the most continuous streak of riding, and so on.

There's nothing wrong with competition with others or yourself, or setting goals and pushing your limits to reach them. OTOH when the desire to make a goal overrides the internal brakes we all have, we enter murky waters, and wind up trusting luck to separate heroes from victims.

So push your limits, but if you find yourself doing something only because not doing it means not meeting some sort of goal, the internal alarm should sound.
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Old 12-13-13, 11:10 AM   #24
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a Cold weather pattern in a warm Med country is quite different , than what the same -5c would be
in the mid continent ,, Moscow or Minnesota..

A place that sees cold weather regularly, has created solutions for Cycling, Like the Finns making Studded tires.

Ice on the ground here and people stay home. traffic after dark quite low.
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Old 12-13-13, 11:55 AM   #25
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When to call it quits (for the day of course!)

The cold doesn't bother me, but big branches or trees falling on me does.
As many above, if you don't feel comfortable, be safe
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