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  1. #1
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    Touring in cold weather?

    Just wondering if anyone has any valuable lessons learned from touring in the cold? I'm expecting to see daytime temps in the 30s, night-time in the 10-0s.

    I have all the right gear for camping in the cold (done it before). But putting together the cycling and camping in the cold is something I haven't done.

    (Also, fwiw, it will be pretty dry and I don't expect much precip.)
    Last edited by fantom1; 01-06-10 at 10:35 AM.

  2. #2
    Flying and Riding sam21fire's Avatar
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    I've done some in Northern CA/Southern OR, wasn't snow and ice cold, but cold enough and sometimes wet. My biggest issue was sweating (I sweat a lot). I had to reverse my dressing routine; take off layers when I started riding, wear just enough to keep warm, then add layers when I stopped for a break. I learned that it was really nice to have a dry set of long underwear stashed away and only used for sleeping. Only other problem I've had was frozen water bottles that I forgot to take out of their cages, or water that was almost too cold to drink. Days are much shorter too and it seems to go from twilight to full dark much faster in the winter, something to plan for.

  3. #3
    40 yrs bike touring
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    When I lived in NW Montana years ago Winter riding and touring required careful layering and adjustment to limit sweating. And as noted above the extra clothes to use when stopping for a rest. We had to make our own studded tires with screws between double booted tires for the black ice on plowed bridges and refrozen snow and ice. Lots of fun but a survival contest at unexpected times. Short days with lots of snow melting for the thermos and rehydration.

    Other snowy tours involved riding up to 5000 meters/16500 feet in the Andes of Ecuador with rain then sleet then snow. Lots of low air pressure for traction in a mix of pumice, snow and ice. Cold windy camping up high but the views were spectacular. Skiing with the bike on the downhill field portions was exciting.

    The best piece of inexpensive but amazing equipment for winter is the Warmlite Vapor Barrier shirt and pants. I stlll use them in more benign conditions even now.
    www.warmlite.com

    Have a careful and safe tour.

  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Days are short, nights are long.
    You know the winter camping tricks? two foam pads, insulated cup, stove board, hot water bottles inside the jacket. Candle lantern for tent warmth, true double wall tent without mesh panels. hang things to dry, top of tent gets nice and toasty!





    keep a lot of things in the sleeping bag at night . water bottle in the sleeping bag to have unfrozen water to start cooking in the morning, Put your shoes in your coat first thing in the morning or keep them from freezing at night by putting THEM in your sleeping bag. thin wool gloves for camp chores and cooking.



    keep flashlight/headlamp inside sleeping bag. not at 10 degrees, but a bit colder, a flashlight left out runs for only a few minutes on alkaline battteries. I wear a mini headlamp around my neck at all times.




    always having a puffy outfit like a USMC happy suit and booties is the way to go, with a hood, for off the bike lounging in cold weather.



    bike touring wise? get a saddle cover. For riding, a very air permeable jacket like a MEC supermicrofit bike jacket or a windshell like a patagonia helium. I like a Gore N2S helmet liner for a hat, keeps the windchill down while riding in such cold. leather gloves with wool liners. knee socks to keep calves warmer. Bring a small square of nylon to shove down the front of your pants if need be to protect the family jewels.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 01-06-10 at 08:21 PM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  5. #5
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    I found this page recently with good info on extremely cold cycling:

    http://www.mountainbike-expedition-team.de/index.html
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  6. #6
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    Cool, thanks. I forgot that I've ridden in sleet/snow that was right around freezing a few times (Crater Lake, OR was the worst, man was that windy and messy), but that only lasted a day at a time. I guess I just wanted to hear about any "tricks" anyone had come up with.

  7. #7
    imi
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    you've probably thought about it already but an emergency aluminium blanket can come in very handy if you get colder than you'd planned...

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    On the return trip from Fredericton NB, to Toronto, Ontario, last Wednesday (December 30, '09 ish) I saw a guy cycling the Trans Canada "Toll Hwy" (no actual tolls ended up being charged on that road). He appeared to have all the gear, panniers, and a trailer. That guy has my respect because it is hellishly cold, potentially at this time of year. Anyone know who is out there?

  9. #9
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Layers of wool. Lots of 'em! We tried the gamut for my son who tends to get really cold. We finally figured out that wool works the best - way better than all the technical fabrics out there.


    Attachment 131488
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  10. #10
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    a big YEAH to wool.

    To me, winter bike touring is a lot like winter ski touring.

    I've specifically found leather gloves over wool liners work best for all day on the bike in those types of temps. Shoes are a bit of a sticky wicket IMO. Predominately dry weather tips this a bit in your favor though.

    I think a nice, fully enclosed overshoe like the showers pass ones would be the ticket, I've used various shoe systems with various success. Expect this to be a weak link. Definetly bring insulated booties (my favs are the OR mukluks) for around camp.
    Don't forget to pack that piece of nylon!

    Here's a link to a winter touring slideshow of mine...

    winter bike tour
    Last edited by Bekologist; 01-06-10 at 08:35 PM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  11. #11
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    Cool slide show.

    And yes, I've got plenty of wool- learned that one early on!

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