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Old 07-14-12, 11:43 AM   #1
Hangtownmatt
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Do You Ride on Bad Air Days

I never used to give this much thought, so maybe I'm just getting older and wiser, but I thought I'd find out what the rest of you think. I primarily commute and generally average 30 miles a day. The last several days the Pollution Index was at the high end of unhealthy for sensitive groups. I opted to drive my car even though I do not suffer (yet) from any respiratory issues. Am I just being overly cautious?

Matt
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Old 07-14-12, 12:15 PM   #2
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I keep my hair short enough that it ...... Oh, you said bad air day??

What is a bad air day?
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Old 07-14-12, 02:55 PM   #3
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What is a bad air day?
You probably don't know because Coupeville, WA probably doesn't have bad air.
Here's what we see in Atlanta most days between May and October. Many days are well over 100 on the chart.
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Old 07-14-12, 03:18 PM   #4
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Yes, I ride. I don't ride as fast or as far though and I benefit from being able to ride on well shaded trails through the woods if I need a break. On days like that I ride very early and humidity is both the biggest problem and sometimes the source of extreme beauty.

Some mornings I'm out at 6:30am and as the ride goes on shafts of sunlight light up the moisture in the air between the trees. Beautiful but very very humid. It's weather in which you take maximum advantage of "wicking" clothing.
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Old 07-14-12, 05:11 PM   #5
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Due to a nearby wildfire our PI has been hovering right around 140. The dry California heat doesn't bother me so much as I'm concerned about the deep inhalation of particulate matter. It just seems that riding in those conditions would do more harm than good.

Last edited by Hangtownmatt; 07-14-12 at 05:12 PM. Reason: clarify
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Old 07-14-12, 05:16 PM   #6
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Last year The Great Dismal Swamps had fires and we had several weeks with "bad air."
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Old 07-14-12, 05:29 PM   #7
ursle
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Bad air is a killer, high humidity is what I consider bad air, no I don't ride in bad air
But you mean particulate matter bad air, no I don't ride in bad air.
but I ride for exercise, if I were commuting I would ride, easy ride, no deep breathing, just transportation.
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Old 07-14-12, 05:46 PM   #8
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I keep my hair short enough that it ...... Oh, you said bad air day??
Yeah, that was my first reaction when I first read the thread's title.
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Old 07-14-12, 05:47 PM   #9
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It was a Bad Air day here. A leisurely ride through suburbia was a pleasure. No heavy breathing except for the cutie walking the dogs.
Yes, I ride but take it easy.
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Old 07-14-12, 06:21 PM   #10
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It was a Bad Air day here. A leisurely ride through suburbia was a pleasure. No heavy breathing except for the cutie walking the dogs.
Yes, I ride but take it easy.
In my youth, I just pedaled on. I distinctly remember one time cresting a several hundred foot hill and tasting the lead in the air.

My answer was to move to a place with cleaner air.
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Old 07-14-12, 06:31 PM   #11
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I live near a refinery. Every day is a bad air day here! I don't go out of the house on Orange air quality days, beyond getting mail and paper. On yellow air quality days, the mornings are usually still okay for light riding.

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Old 07-14-12, 07:15 PM   #12
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What is a bad air day?
My coworkers claim that everyday is a bad air day around me, oh wait that's bad wind.
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Old 07-14-12, 07:58 PM   #13
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I ride no matter what (commuting, same as you), but I also don't have any known allergies or respiratory issues.
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Old 07-14-12, 07:59 PM   #14
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We have the occasional Ozone Alert days in Indy.
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Old 07-14-12, 08:10 PM   #15
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Meh, it's nearly as bad in your car anyway, unless you have a scrubber to take care of gasses as well as a fine filter to take care of any particularly fine particular matter, beyond what a normal air filter would be capable of. Oh, and your interior would have to be air tight. May as well ride. The cardio will do more good for you than the small benefit you would gain from not breathing in as much crap. My plan is to move somewhere cleaner.
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Old 07-14-12, 11:11 PM   #16
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There was a study that found significant lung damage to bicyclists riding in the wrong parts of town. Can't find it right now, but here are a couple of links.

http://www.bikeradar.com/fitness/art...-threat-28264/

http://www.active.com/running/Articl..._Athletes_.htm

http://letsgorideabike.com/blog/2011...and-bicycling/

Personally I go out of my way to get away from traffic. I have a nice bike path with not a lot of pollution.
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Old 07-14-12, 11:16 PM   #17
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Man I feel lucky to live where I do... The only time I've ever seen smog is when I visited California...
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Old 07-15-12, 07:26 AM   #18
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When you live downwind of illinois, Michigan and Ohio, you have no choice.
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Old 07-15-12, 08:59 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hangtownmatt View Post
I never used to give this much thought, so maybe I'm just getting older and wiser, but I thought I'd find out what the rest of you think. I primarily commute and generally average 30 miles a day. The last several days the Pollution Index was at the high end of unhealthy for sensitive groups. I opted to drive my car even though I do not suffer (yet) from any respiratory issues. Am I just being overly cautious?

Matt

Something to bear in mind: in-car pollution can be higher (two to four times, maybe up to 10x higher) than in the surrounding area. So taking the car doesn't necessarily help us on these days. For example (random google): http://www.aqmd.gov/news1/1999/in_car_facts.htm

Some takeaway points:
It's worst in the congested slow lane
Being behind slow, high-emitting trucks is a large part of it
Air filters don't seem to help much
Rolling down the windows does help

Common sense is that avoiding the dense traffic would mitigate it, but that suggests that we're better off after all riding our bikes on the residential roads and trails as we normally do rather than taking the car on the obvious routes. Or, possibly, even driving on the same bike routes (as much as possible) might still be worse than cycling.
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Old 07-15-12, 01:13 PM   #20
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Something to bear in mind: in-car pollution can be higher (two to four times, maybe up to 10x higher) than in the surrounding area. So taking the car doesn't necessarily help us on these days. For example (random google): http://www.aqmd.gov/news1/1999/in_car_facts.htm

Some takeaway points:
It's worst in the congested slow lane
Being behind slow, high-emitting trucks is a large part of it
Air filters don't seem to help much
Rolling down the windows does help

Common sense is that avoiding the dense traffic would mitigate it, but that suggests that we're better off after all riding our bikes on the residential roads and trails as we normally do rather than taking the car on the obvious routes. Or, possibly, even driving on the same bike routes (as much as possible) might still be worse than cycling.
I'm not disagreeing, but when I'm riding my bike I know I'm breathing much more deeply than when driving my car. Someone suggested riding, but taking it easy. That, and avoiding dense traffic makes sense.
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Old 07-15-12, 01:30 PM   #21
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High humidity keeps me off the bike. Off my Ducati too.
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Old 07-15-12, 07:44 PM   #22
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Staying off the bike because of humidity? REALLY? Are you afraid that you might sweat too much?
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Old 07-15-12, 09:12 PM   #23
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That smog and smoke can damage your lungs. And, if you have asthma like I do--it will really put you in a world of hurt. Matt, if you're really in 'Hang Town, well-I know where that is and didn't know the smoke was getting up that far. I'd take the car! Here in Carson City, we only have bad air if there's a fire somewhere.
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Old 07-16-12, 11:56 AM   #24
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That smog and smoke can damage your lungs. And, if you have asthma like I do--it will really put you in a world of hurt. Matt, if you're really in 'Hang Town, well-I know where that is and didn't know the smoke was getting up that far. I'd take the car! Here in Carson City, we only have bad air if there's a fire somewhere.
Hangtown = Placerville. I commute down into Sacramento. The fire's practically next door in Newcastle. Depends on which way the wind blows. This week will be great! The delta winds will blow the smoke away and keep temps in the 80's.
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Old 07-16-12, 05:08 PM   #25
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Started out on a ride yesterday in high humidity, knew it would be tough. As I was leaving my neighbor said "are you riding today,the air quality is bad", I told him I would see him in a couple of hours and went for my ride. So yes, I ride when I feel like it.
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