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  1. #1
    purity of essence scotch's Avatar
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    Age old cold toe problem

    Hi Folks,

    After trying numerous shoe/sock/neoprene shoe cover configurations for winter riding, I still can't keep my damn toes warm for more than 45 minutes. Today was perfect example. Beautiful, sunny day here in northern New England; about 25 degrees, no wind. I set out with a pair of poly pro sock liners under a some Defeet Wool Blaze socks, along with my neoprene shoe covers. Toes were nice and toasty for about 45 minutes before they started to freeze. I'm starting to wonder if I just have poor circulation down there or something.

    So I'm curious to know if folks have had any luck with real cold weather cycling shoes, like the Sidi Winter Freeze or Answer Kashmir winter shoe. I know they cost an arm and a leg, but I think they'd be worth it if they actually worked. I appreciate any feedback/advice. Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Scotch

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    There are tons of threads on this subject if you search for cold toes/feet. It sounds like you are using "summer" cycling shoes in the winter. This doesn't work. Most cycling shoes, including most that are designed for winter are too narrow in the toe box.

    If you can't easily wiggle your toes, your shoe is too tight. Space inside shoes + warm socks = warm feet. I'm talking LOTS of space here. My Lake MXZ 300 winter boots suffer the same problems. I can wear them down into the teens with an oversock, but they are cut too tight to be as good as other options.

    I wear a pair of thinsulate hiking boots and use platforms when temps get down in the single digits and below. These boots are almost 3 sizes too large for me, but ideal for winter cycling. Because my feet have tons of wiggle room.
    Last edited by Portis; 02-11-07 at 12:55 PM.

  3. #3
    bac
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    Senior Member bac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scotch
    So I'm curious to know if folks have had any luck with real cold weather cycling shoes, like the Sidi Winter Freeze or Answer Kashmir winter shoe. I know they cost an arm and a leg, but I think they'd be worth it if they actually worked. I appreciate any feedback/advice. Thanks!

    Cheers,
    Scotch
    I've used the Lake MXZ for the past several winters with great results. I'm like you in terms of my toes getting cold often. These shoes are great for me down to about 10 F. When it gets colder than that, I pop in a set of chemical toe warmers. I've not had cold feet since getting these shoes. For me, they were WELL worth the relatively substantial cost!


  4. #4
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    Yes, careful layering and loose fit help. Also, lifting up more during the pedal stroke helps. Always pushing down cuts blood flow to my toes.
    This space open

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    i live in northern NE also, on a clear day i can see canuckistan from my back yard,
    a pleasant -5 F this morning with slight breeze and a lot of sun reflecting the crystals
    of last night's dusting of snow. wear the same clothes biking that i wore snowshoeing
    this morning. on my feet- two pair of carhart ultra cold boot socks under a pair of llbean
    snow sneakers. left the house about 8 this morning for a couple mile snowshoe hike
    about the back 40 (each sunday morning i backpack about 25 lb of bird/beast feed to
    a few locations in the backwoods) and then a few km bike ride about. next some outside
    chores (play before work on nice days, like today). then more play in the snow, some sliding and
    wrestlinig in the snow with my guys- snow is cold and crystalline- more like sand; i was
    snow covered to just above my waist. back in a little after 12 for some lunch, temp had risen into the
    teens, but a strong breeze had come up and the sky beginning to cloud up; it felt colder at noon than
    it did at 8. i know this combination is not very bikey, but my feet were plenty comfortable.

  6. #6
    purity of essence scotch's Avatar
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    Guys,

    Thanks a lot for the replies. I think I'll either get some platforms and a decent winter hiking shoe or grab the MXZ 300's. I appreciate the input.

    Scotch

  7. #7
    Spazzy Member zippered's Avatar
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    i have the lakes too. i bought them before i had access the the collective wisdom known as bike forums though, so i got my regular size which means they are snug. they're great... to about 0 celcius, but then my toes start to suffer. i've suffered a fair bit this year actually; i now have sore spots on almost all my toes that i think might be symptoms of frost-nip...

    in terms of the circulation question though: i recently went to a foot doctor for an unrelated problem. i mentioned that i was having trouble with cold feet, well actually she felt the ice block that were my toes for herself. she showed me how to "test" the circulation in my toes by squeezing them with her fingers and then noting how long it took for the colour (blood) to return. she said that with good circulation the colour should return almost instantaneously... i've noticed after some rides it takes up to 10 seconds for all the blood to return!! there's not much that can really be done about the issue at this stage, but i know now that i'll have to be extra cautious and that i'm not just being "soft" when i complain about cold toes... there really is a legitimate reason why they get cold so easily!!

    i recently bought a package of chemical warmers, which worked well, but i don't like the extra expense/waste. sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

    i also noticed that my feet are often really sweaty (not just when biking), even though they are cold, which makes them even colder. i have yet to try foot powder, but someone around here mentioned that might help. i looked for smartwool socks at mec yesterday, but they didn't seem to have any. i bought another kind of wicking thermal socks that will hopefully fit in the lake shoes, and a thin liner sock to try as well. i guess i'm kind of rambling... hope that makes sense!

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    Quote Originally Posted by zippered
    they're great... to about 0 celcius, but then my toes start to suffer. i've suffered a fair bit this year actually; i now have sore spots on almost all my toes that i think might be symptoms of frost-nip...
    That's funny. I don't even wear by Lake's above 0 Celsius. (32 F) I just wear regular MTB shoes above that temp.

  9. #9
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Have you tried loosening off your shoes, and putting a chemical warmer (get ones for hands because they are smaller) under the ball of your foot where your cleat is? There's a good chance that your cleat is conducting cold into your foot, and therefore your toes are getting cold

    Have you tried wiggling your toes while you ride? Not all the time, of course, but every 5 minutes or so give them a wiggle. If you can't wiggle your toes, your shoes are too tight.

    Another trick is to make sure your calves and ankles are warm. If your calves and ankles are warm, the blood flowing into your feet will be warm. Take a look at duck's feet. Yes, I'm serious ... why can ducks stand in very cold water without any problems? Simple ... they've been designed so that the blood flowing into their feet is warm, and the blood flowing out of their feet warms up quickly. Look it up! We can learn from the duck. I wear thick wool socks that come almost to my knees under my tights. They are great for keeping both my feet and my calves nice and warm. In addition to that, when I ride in really cold temps, I will tuck a chemical warmer into my neoprene booties, and position them at my ankles. It seems to help.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Dumb question, but do you loosen the straps on your shoes? I know this sounds obvious but it took me a while to figure out that my shoes had a good bit of ability to adjust fit. This makes a big difference, you may not even need a different size than you wear in the summer, depending on what shoes you wear and how cold you ride.

  11. #11
    Spazzy Member zippered's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    That's funny. I don't even wear by Lake's above 0 Celsius. (32 F) I just wear regular MTB shoes above that temp.
    my mtb shoes (that i use to commute in) are vented... i like the lake shoes when it is raining!!

    ps. i've tried the "wiggle your toe method"... it helps prolong the numbness, but if i try wearing double socks then the shoes are way too tight

  12. #12
    Spazzy Member zippered's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1
    Dumb question, but do you loosen the straps on your shoes? I know this sounds obvious but it took me a while to figure out that my shoes had a good bit of ability to adjust fit. This makes a big difference, you may not even need a different size than you wear in the summer, depending on what shoes you wear and how cold you ride.

    edit: whoops.

    i don't find the lake shoe velcro straps loosen very well at all. especially if they get too close to other materials, like bike tights!

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    Loosening the straps and/or laces addresses the wrong area of the foot. Remember it is the toes that are in the toe box. The toe box in the Lake's for example is very sturdy and does not flex. Loosening the laces/straps has NO effect on the toe box.

  14. #14
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    My Lake mtn bike shoes (I don't own the boots) have laces, like a normal shoe. I loosen off the laces and I've got lots of room in the toe box. In fact on the colder days, I could probably remove the laces all together for all I use them ... I've got them so loose I can't tie them.

    Oh, it also helped that I bought the shoes a size too big for me.

  15. #15
    Spazzy Member zippered's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka
    Oh, it also helped that I bought the shoes a size too big for me.
    sure, rub it in... *siiiigh*

  16. #16
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zippered
    sure, rub it in... *siiiigh*
    These are what I've got:
    http://www.nashbar.com/profile.cfm?c...untain%20Shoes

    The first pair I bought were just the right size, and then I decided I wanted a larger pair too, so I got them. Those Lakes have been that price for years ... and at that price I can afford several pair. I'm even considering a pair one size bigger than my large pair because once I get my neoprene ankle bands in them, they can be just a teensy bit snug.

    I've been wearing those Lakes for nearly 4 years, in all sorts of weather conditions, on long rides and short rides, and even on some fairly lengthy hikes. Very comfortable.

  17. #17
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    Loosening the straps and/or laces addresses the wrong area of the foot. Remember it is the toes that are in the toe box. The toe box in the Lake's for example is very sturdy and does not flex. Loosening the laces/straps has NO effect on the toe box.
    My Sidi Thetas and Bullets in the Mega size loosen up nicely all the way down to the toe box. I guess maybe it depends on the shoe and the shape of the foot, but I find I can easily get toe room for some thick socks by adjusting the straps. The Thetas and Bullets do have too much mesh for optimum cold weather riding, but that is another story. In any case I get by fairly well down to the mid - upper 20's without shoe covers.

  18. #18
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    With two pairs of thick socks in my Lake's i can completely remove the laces and loosen the straps and it doesn't matter. The shell of the toe box is simply too narrow.

  19. #19
    Senior Member Hambone's Avatar
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    I was having a big problem with frozen pointer toes (granted I was wearing road shoes, but I had the liners and the warm socks and the booties over my shoes.)

    Then I struck on a solution: I took an extra large Dunkin Donut coffee cup and cut it in half down both sides and across the bottom so I made two scoops... I put one half between each shoe and the bootie, it added styrofoam for insulation and wind blocking.

    Problem is not 100% gone but the "Piggies who stayed home" are much toastier than they had been.
    Inside me is a thin man dying to get out.
    (He is kept comfortable by some pie, a half case of Bud, two cheese-dogs and a big screen Sony.)

  20. #20
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    If you're shoes/boots are too tight, you're piggies is gonna get cold. I opted for the Answer Kashmirs because they are just a bit bigger for me than the Lakes. I wear a 48, so another size bigger is not always an easy option. I get by just fine with a thin wool sock, thicker wool sock and the boots, down to 0F...though I did put on some overbooties when it was below zero last week, just in case.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  21. #21
    Senior Member Hambone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    If you're shoes/boots are too tight, you're piggies is gonna get cold. I opted for the Answer Kashmirs because they are just a bit bigger for me than the Lakes. I wear a 48, so another size bigger is not always an easy option. I get by just fine with a thin wool sock, thicker wool sock and the boots, down to 0F...though I did put on some overbooties when it was below zero last week, just in case.
    I think it was the single digit windy mornings along the Hudson River and over the Brooklyn Bridge combined with the open weave on the top of my shoes -- not the tightness of fit.

    I'm loathe to go out and buy another pair of shoes for the 10-15 days of really cold stuff I have to face. Riding is expensive enough as it is. But come next Christmas, if I've been a good Hambone, maybe Santa...
    Inside me is a thin man dying to get out.
    (He is kept comfortable by some pie, a half case of Bud, two cheese-dogs and a big screen Sony.)

  22. #22
    Infamous Member chipcom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone
    But come next Christmas, if I've been a good Hambone
    yeah, like that's gonna happen.
    "Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws" - Edward Abbey

  23. #23
    Senior Member Hambone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chipcom
    yeah, like that's gonna happen.
    what was it Mae West said, "when I'm good I'm great but when I'm bad... I'm better."

    Ah, I'm not fooling anyone.
    Inside me is a thin man dying to get out.
    (He is kept comfortable by some pie, a half case of Bud, two cheese-dogs and a big screen Sony.)

  24. #24
    Solo Rider, always DFL
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    So chipcom, how are the Answer Kashmirs? I have been considering them, and can't find anywhere to try them on. Are they wide/narrow, high/low volume? How much larger did they run than what you are used to?

    Also, do they take MTB cleats?

  25. #25
    cyclepath daredevil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hambone
    Riding is expensive enough as it is
    Oh boy, I hear ya. We're never gonna stop needing or wanting bike stuff are we? If nobody's mentioned it yet, plain old baggies over the socks works surprisingly well in moderate conditions. Otherwise, until you can get new shoes with plenty of room, just use a couple of those chemical packs on the few bad days. They're pretty cheap.
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