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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 01-15-04, 09:45 AM   #1
P. B. Walker
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Something I'll never understand

Why is it that when I'm out in some cold weather rides (under 32F) the parts of my face will feel cold, but not freezing or painful, but my feet, hands, and thighs feel so cold that they are either in pain, or I can't feel them at all? You'd think the exposed skin on my face would be the worse part of my body, cold-wise.
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Old 01-15-04, 09:56 AM   #2
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How tight are your gloves/shoes and how hard do you grip the handlebars. The problem with hands and feet is that anything that is constricting the blood flow of your hand or feet will cause blood to leave the area and without the circulation of blood, your hands/feet will simply get cold. The winter riding elevates things cause typically we're wearing thicket socks, gloves, etc. I have two MTB shoes that I use to ride in, one being a half size larger because it is OK in the warmer months, I know my usual commuting shoes would be too tight and too constricting in the winter. Gripping the handlebars too tight also has the same effect, loss of blood, loss of warmth.

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Old 01-15-04, 10:22 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P. B. Walker
Why is it that when I'm out in some cold weather rides (under 32F) the parts of my face will feel cold, but not freezing or painful, but my feet, hands, and thighs feel so cold that they are either in pain, or I can't feel them at all? You'd think the exposed skin on my face would be the worse part of my body, cold-wise.
Yup, it's all about blood-flow in the extremities. Make sure that your shoes are not too tight, and for extra help, use booties and/or toe warmers for your feet. Get good wind-resistant gloves that also are not too tight for your hands.

Good luck!
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Old 01-19-04, 11:06 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by P. B. Walker
Why is it that when I'm out in some cold weather rides (under 32F) the parts of my face will feel cold, but not freezing or painful, but my feet, hands, and thighs feel so cold that they are either in pain, or I can't feel them at all? You'd think the exposed skin on my face would be the worse part of my body, cold-wise.


It is also about biology. While the clothing can help, your face (with the possible exception of the tip of your nose and your ears) is more resistant to cold temperatures than your hands or feet. It has to do with several things including the proximity to your heart to the body parts in question. Your face is about a foot from your heart, and depending on your stature, your feet and hands are considerably further away. Another factor is which of your parts your body feels are important when your body is placed under stress (like riding in cold temperatures). Blood flow is diverted to parts that are the most essential, and your head will win out over your extremities every time. A third consideration is that your body is trying to conserve it's core temperature. While blood flow is increased to exercising muscle, to conserve your temperature your body will prevent blood from flowing to the surface of your skin and your extremities in cold temperatures. You can make up for this reflex by wearing a layer that creates a warm air pocket at the surface of your skin. A windbreaker layer over tights, or brushed tights might work. I have worn Brushed polypro tights down to the low 40s (F) and been comfortable riding off road. If there was more wind, I may have wanted a windbreaker to help hold the warm air next to my skin.


I hope this helps.
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Old 01-19-04, 01:55 PM   #5
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I think I might add to that initially, my hands and cold are almost always initially cold in single digit temps. Doesn't matter what I wear, but when I step out of my semi warm garage into the bitter cold, my body seems to overreact and initially my hands and feet will be mildly cold, loss of feeling, but then it will return once my body adjusts. Not sure if anybody else encounters this but its normal for me. It usually only takes me about 1/2 to 3/4 a mile to warm up and if I'm still cold after that, then I know I didn't dress warm enough.

Another reason you have to learn to dress with experience. I would of never thought I'd be warm enough by just stepping outside for a short time or a 1/4 mile.

Jay
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Old 01-21-04, 09:33 AM   #6
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I've switched to the Lobster style Pearl Izumi gloves which have more room in them and my hands have been nice and toasty since. I've also tried to make sure there's more room in my shoes and that seems to have helped a bit. They aren't exactly toasty warm, but they aren't in pain anymore.
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