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Living Car Free Do you live car free or car light? Do you prefer to use alternative transportation (bicycles, walking, other human-powered or public transportation) for everyday activities whenever possible? Discuss your lifestyle here.

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Old 02-28-08, 10:43 PM   #1
macteacher
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How do you do it, in sub-zero temps?

Living in Suburban Ontario, with temperatures averaging -15 C, for parts of Jan and most of Feb. how do some of you do it? In the burbs, distances from the house to the grocery store may be 15 min +, distances are to far to walk, and that bitter bone chilling cold i find just makes riding uncomfortabl..i no longer enjoy it. Next week the temps will rise to -1, which is a lot more bearable for me.

Anyhow, just wondering how some of you deal wit the car-free lifestyle in the sub-zero temperatures.
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Old 02-29-08, 04:48 AM   #2
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Living in Suburban Ontario, with temperatures averaging -15 C, for parts of Jan and most of Feb. how do some of you do it? In the burbs, distances from the house to the grocery store may be 15 min +, distances are to far to walk, and that bitter bone chilling cold i find just makes riding uncomfortabl..i no longer enjoy it. Next week the temps will rise to -1, which is a lot more bearable for me.

Anyhow, just wondering how some of you deal wit the car-free lifestyle in the sub-zero temperatures.
Haven't had to ride in temps like that regularly in many years, but when I did I found that wind blocking clothing was the best way to go. I wore the neoprene ski face masks, and usually had a wool scarf on top of that. I also would typically spin and ride in a lower gear. Spinning to keep warmer and slower to avoid the wind chill. BTW don't miss those days much at all

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Old 02-29-08, 06:58 AM   #3
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Pedal harder. Warms ya right up.
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Old 02-29-08, 08:46 AM   #4
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I live just across the river from Ontario, in Sault Ste Marie. Windproof clothing is worth its weight in gold. Pedaling hard does it too, it only takes 5-10 minutes of riding to warm right up. It is not uncommon for me to unzip my jacket a bit by the time I get to work, even in -15C temps.

I also find it helps to drink a warm beverage right before riding, on those really cold mornings.
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Old 02-29-08, 10:56 AM   #5
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Doesn't get that cold here but when its in the single digits in the morning, a scarf thats up over my chin line but below my mouth helps. Knit hat, gloves, decent jacket, and it really isn't bad at all...
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Old 02-29-08, 11:24 AM   #6
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Anyhow, just wondering how some of you deal wit the car-free lifestyle in the sub-zero temperatures.
Being basically a sun-belt kid, I'd have to say that my answer is live farther south.
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Old 02-29-08, 12:25 PM   #7
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My Gortex pants probably help. On milder days they keep the slush off too.

Most of the time just riding keeps you warm.

Even the sting of a cold wind on your face goes away after about 10 minutes.
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Old 02-29-08, 08:15 PM   #8
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We just HTFU and ride....................
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Old 02-29-08, 09:38 PM   #9
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Dress properly.
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Old 02-29-08, 09:39 PM   #10
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I find the first 5 minutes are the most painful. If I do some jumping jacks or jump rope before riding, it really helps.
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Old 02-29-08, 11:19 PM   #11
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Layers, Windproof outer and Fleece under.Cover exposed skin. Goggles.
I am currently good for down to -8 to -10C for an hour. After/below that
it gets a bit painful. I do live in a dryer place than you.
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Old 03-01-08, 06:31 PM   #12
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Dress properly. That is most important thing. Warm, snug and dry you can walk or ride for much longer than 15 minutes. The proper gear can be pricey. We are talking getting out in a Canadian winter (even a SW Ont. winter). I've walked and ridden in sub -30C weather and built up quite a sweat. Only once have I really felt cold. That was -19C with -40C windchill. Got home put on another layer and went back out. Yeah it's hard to keep your fingers toasty warm. If you owned a car you would be cold until you could scarpe ice and snow off and get car heated up. Tha's 10 minutes. In 10 minutes by bike I am 4 miles away and starting to sweat.
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Old 03-01-08, 07:56 PM   #13
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-15C is not fun. I haven't actually biked in temperatures that low yet, because if it's -15C, there will be ice patches setting me up for diversion falls. Not cool, and not safe.

For walking (my fallback method), it's fine as long as I'm dressed properly. Hat, scarf, down jacket (rated to about -18C), mittens and snow boots for the outerwear layers. Lined wool pants and wool sweater for the mid layer. Button down shirt over undershirt, wool socks and long underwear underneath. I avoid cotton as much as possible. Silk seems to work ok for long underwear, and is noticeably better than cotton. I haven't tested wool or polypropylene, but I would expect them to be better than silk. This kind of setup is fine as long as I'm active. If I stop, I will get chilled. I would expect this set of layers to be overkill on a bike at the same temperatures, unless there was a lot of wind. Typically, I need slightly lighter layers on the bike than I would when walking.

At those temperatures, it is not safe to get wet. If I start sweating heavily, I get nervous, and I'll remove/open outer layers judiciously to cut down on sweat. The hat is the last thing I'm willing to remove, since it does the most to keep me warm. The jacket is not coming off unless I have real reason to believe the temperatures are not really -C.

At around -18C or so, I'll start minimizing outdoor activity. I'm not used to temperatures below that, and have spent a couple years in conditions where below 15C was kind of noteworthy, so I would rather be safe than sorry.
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Old 03-01-08, 08:07 PM   #14
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Anyhow, just wondering how some of you deal wit the car-free lifestyle in the sub-zero temperatures.
Layers of clothing, and attitude.

It really takes VERY cold temperatures (like -30C with wind) before it becomes pretty much impossible to wear enough clothing, and generate enough heat.

But at -15C, you get the right clothing, and refuse to wimp out, within 15minutes you'll be stripping off layers.
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Old 03-01-08, 08:14 PM   #15
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Maybe convert to Fahrenheit for the winter months? We don't hit 0 degrees Fahrenheit until around -18c That way you could be riding in ABOVE zero temps

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Old 03-02-08, 06:37 PM   #16
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...Anyhow, just wondering how some of you deal wit the car-free lifestyle in the sub-zero temperatures.
I don't live car-free, and don't deal with temperatures quite that cold, but you can go riding in temperatures well-below freezing and be "comfortable".

I had winter riding clothes and went MTB riding in 25F-20F temperatures occasionally (for fun) and didn't have much problems with being cold. The only part of me that was bad was my nose, I never found anything good to cover that.

You will sweat when you are riding, you will fee the beads of sweat running down your torso, but the sweat will not make synthetic clothes cold. You should not be wearing any cotton clothing at all, it should be all synthetic or wool.

Get clothes that are synthetic fleece, and that have a windbreaker outer layer. I had a Cannondale jacket that was very nice.

I generally find gore-tex to be a waste of money; it's very expensive and gets damaged easily. It might work good for rain but it's not necessary in sub-freezing cold.
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Old 03-02-08, 07:43 PM   #17
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I only really run into serious problems at around -20 f. / -28 c. When you're moving fast enough at those temps any exposed flesh gets frozen. I froze an eyeball shut last year and it never really recovered. It still tears up like crazy when the cold wind hits it. But short of that it's not too bad. Anything above zero f. is easy to bike, and ice is a lot more fun than deep snow. The key for loger distance is to keep hydrated, which is not easy when the water is cold.
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Old 03-03-08, 12:44 AM   #18
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I have a five-mile commute and I've done it down to 0F / -18C. My core was still fine with just a base layer, sweatshirt, windproof shell, and jeans. I was wearing a balaclava, clear glasses, and earmuffs on my head; mittens and liner gloves on my hands; and just socks and tennis shoes on my feet.

If I had ski goggles, a breath mask, and better gloves, it would have been fine. Be careful with liner gloves - if they get too tight, they can decrease your circulation and actually make your hands colder. Try a liner glove on just one hand sometime. You might be surprised. When your fingers and toes start to get cold, make a conscious effort to keep them moving. Flex your toes up at the top of each pedal stroke and keep your thumbs moving.

I'm leaving this climate in a few months, otherwise I would upgrade my gear. Right now, I start to get uncomfortable around 0F. Even 10-15F is so much nicer.
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I generally find gore-tex to be a waste of money; it's very expensive and gets damaged easily. It might work good for rain but it's not necessary in sub-freezing cold.
My windproof shell is the greatest biking accessory I've ever bought. Cutting out the wind is about the only thing I need to do to keep my core warm.
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Old 03-03-08, 03:06 AM   #19
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When it drops below -10, I'll put on a wool hat. And the Lovikka mittens are donned below freezing. My ex found this great old American sailor's jacket, made of thin and light, but pretty warm and windproof wool. It is the best biking garment ever. Light, short and keeps me warm in whatever weather. I also use it for jogging in the winter, below -10 I can wear it with a t-shirt. Biking in really cold weather is really much more pleasant than walking, or any other mode of transportation for that matter. If you are in decent form, you will not even get blood taste in your mouth! Other than that, I don't see my biking in the winter should be different from the summer. What I do hate is when the snow turns to a grey-brown sleet...
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Old 03-03-08, 03:00 PM   #20
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I remember the Indians who used to live in my area. When traveling or hunting, they would be practically naked in the coldest weather. When they stopped moving, they stayed warm with animal skins (later wool blankets) and a small fire. The Europeans who ran them out also worked, traveled and hunted outdoors all year without any of the "miracle fibers" we use today.

It's mostly psychological. Be tough, keep moving, look for the beauty of winter instead of always thinking about your modern brainwashed beliefs that it's too cold. and remember that in a few months you'll probably be *****ing that it's too hot!
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Old 03-04-08, 05:00 AM   #21
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Yes, as long as it is not too windy and you keep moving, you'll never freeze. The key is to understand that discomfort is not the same as danger. And naturally, if yaks can make do with wool, why would we need fleece? Nothing beats wool, leather and other natural materials.
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Old 03-04-08, 09:06 AM   #22
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Yes, as long as it is not too windy and you keep moving, you'll never freeze. The key is to understand that discomfort is not the same as danger. And naturally, if yaks can make do with wool, why would we need fleece? Nothing beats wool, leather and other natural materials.
Wool doesn't come from yaks, and Eskimos don't walk around naked.

Proper clothing will help a LOT with being more comfortable, and synthetic fleece costs a lot less money than good-quality wool.
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Old 03-04-08, 11:18 AM   #23
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OK, sure, yaks may have hair rather than wool, but they sure don't wear synthetics. Neither do eskimoes, at least they didn't use to. People got on fine before oil-based materials came along. Wool is free if you have a sheep. As is leather if you have a pig, horse or cow. Think about the steps involved in making synthetic fleece, you probably couldn't list half of them.
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Old 03-04-08, 02:17 PM   #24
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I don't know in that much detail what the Inuit (please don't say 'eskimo', it is, as I recall, derived from something derogatory) wear, except that it involves layering and furs and windproofing and hoods set up to prevent wind from hitting the face and mittens and bulky clothes designed to be able to retreat into them to keep everything warmed up. I know the Athabaskans here needed furs and heavy fiber clothes and windproofing and layering. Walking around 'half naked' in cold windy weather is just stupid.
As for fiber choice, cotton is an odd fiber and it's a bad one. Nobody here used to have it, so that wasn't a concern.
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Old 03-04-08, 02:32 PM   #25
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When it drops below zero F, I add ski goggles to the coverup. No exposed skin is the key. -22F is my coldest bike commute so far. When I used to run, my coldest was -31F. You'd think there is potential for lung damage breathing really hard in those temps. It is amazing how quickly air heats up on the way into your lungs. After years of winter running I did end up getting some fatty deposit formation on the surface of my eyeballs. Doctor says not to worry unless I want contacts (would have to be trimmed off). He says it is not uncommon in people who live outdoors in harsh conditions.
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