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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.

View Poll Results: What is the weak link in your cold weather cycling comfort?
Hands 17 21.79%
Feet 42 53.85%
Eyes 3 3.85%
Face (other than Eyes) 10 12.82%
Core Body 2 2.56%
Other 4 5.13%
Voters: 78. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 12-11-08, 12:50 AM   #1
J.C. Koto
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What is (or was) the weak link to your cold comfort?

Unless my search-fu is weak today, I haven't seen a thread like this, so here it goes.

What is (or if rectified, was) the weak link that kept you from riding in comfort when it got cold outside? That is, was there some part of your body that no matter what equipment, tips, etc. that just wouldn't stay warm enough to safely ride through the winter? (i.e. frostbite or hypothermia issues). What steps did you take to figure out something that worked, or did you give up riding in certain cold temperatures?

Today, I discovered that my weak link is the feet. I thought for sure my eyes would be the weak part since they tend to water (even freeze) over even in moderate temps, but my eyes seem to be adjusting to the cold pretty well. The feet, though, have so far proven to be problematic. Judging from other threads scattered around BF and on bike blogs I read, this seems pretty common. I did read this thread and learned quite a few things I can't wait to try, but so far, a short walk can be a godsend for cold feet.

So, what have you all? Tips tricks or recommendations of comfort issues that a winter cyclist should be aware of before spending all that cash?
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Old 12-11-08, 01:04 AM   #2
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Well, it was feet until I figured the whole keeping-my-feet-warm thing out:
http://www.machka.net/whatworks/coldfeet.htm

And then it was hands ... but I've figured that out too, only I don't have an article for that yet.

Now I'd probably say that my thighs are the coldest part of me when I ride on cold days, and unfortunately, they leave me feeling quite chilled for several hours after the ride. I know I need to wear more layers over my thighs, but I've got to be careful about that because of knee issues. The dilemna is ... warm thighs and sore knees ... or cold thighs and pain-free knees.

Of course, none of this has kept me off my bicycle in cold weather. And I've never experienced a situation where there "was there some part of my body that no matter what equipment, tips, etc. that just wouldn't stay warm enough to safely ride through the winter? (i.e. frostbite or hypothermia issues)". Perhaps the temps have to drop below -40C/F for that.

Oh, but wait ... I have experienced hypothermia ... under these circumstances:
http://www.machka.net/brevet/2005_600.htm
But I'm not sure there would actually be equipment to prevent hypothermia under those circumstances.

Last edited by Machka; 12-11-08 at 01:14 AM.
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Old 12-11-08, 08:23 AM   #3
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was feet. now figured out

was hands. now figured out

was head. now figured out.

was calorie intake. now figured out.

was hydration. now figured out.

was bike. now figured out.

was motivation. now figured out.
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Old 12-11-08, 08:25 AM   #4
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Cold Arms
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Old 12-11-08, 08:31 AM   #5
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The problem I have is not clothing or lack thereof, but having places to carry extra clothing. Layering is great if you've got a 3-bushel backpack, otherwise, you peel off a layer and don't have anywhere to put it. I've got some panniers on my Christmas list that should help.
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Old 12-11-08, 10:15 AM   #6
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My feet is the only problem I have. I use winter MB shoes (Diadora) that is one size bigger with a thin silk sock and a thick smart wool sock over that. When the temps get below 25 my feet are good for an hour before they start getting cold. Another 30 minutes and they're really cold and painfull. Anything in the teens or lower I'll limit my ride to one hour or less. I have booties but they're for the road and don't fit well over the Diadora's. The rest of the body is fine no matter the temp.
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Old 12-11-08, 04:01 PM   #7
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I chose "Core" to describe the phenomenon of having made all the cold issues tolerable but being unable to warm up for an enjoyable training/fitness ride after as much as an hour in the saddle. This is an unambiguous signal to get out of the saddle for the day and seek the company of sane individuals.
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Old 12-11-08, 09:34 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
Unless my search-fu is weak today, I haven't seen a thread like this, so here it goes.

What is (or if rectified, was) the weak link that kept you from riding in comfort when it got cold outside? That is, was there some part of your body that no matter what equipment, tips, etc. that just wouldn't stay warm enough to safely ride through the winter? (i.e. frostbite or hypothermia issues). What steps did you take to figure out something that worked, or did you give up riding in certain cold temperatures?
Feet are the most uncomfortable, but now tolerable with new neoprene boots. Fogging eyeglasses with goggles were the most hazardous but now solved. See:

Winter Commuting

post #47

I've been so persistent in my quest to present my solution, that I am now a nominee for the The First Annual Pcad BF Road Cycling Futility Award ;-)

Edit: I just noted on the poll that no one listed face (other than eyes) as a problem. I think it is facial coverings that force the moist air up into goggles and eyeglasses to cause fogging.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dobber View Post
No offense, but I suggest you get use to riding with a bit of exposed skin. I use to regularly commute in sub-zero temps with just safety glasses. 10-15 mile commutes. Your cheeks will get a bit rosey, but your not getting frostbite.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 12-11-08 at 09:45 PM.
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Old 12-11-08, 09:43 PM   #9
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Feet. Fix is platform pedals and footwear appropriate to the temperature. When it's really cold, I ride a singlespeed with big clunky BMX pedals and boots or pacs with wool socks. I'm not going to go fast in that weather anyway, and it works fine.
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Old 12-11-08, 11:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Well, it was feet until I figured the whole keeping-my-feet-warm thing out:
http://www.machka.net/whatworks/coldfeet.htm

<SNIP>
Machka, *that* is some great info! Thanks for posting the link!
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Old 12-11-08, 11:58 PM   #11
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Machka, *that* is some great info! Thanks for posting the link!
No problem.
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Old 12-12-08, 12:07 AM   #12
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Jim from Boston,

I remember reading that thread back in August and being inspired by your post #47 -- linked here for quick reference.

I haven't needed to use your advice yet, but frankly, I can't wait to try it out!
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Old 12-12-08, 06:00 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by J.C. Koto View Post
Jim from Boston,

I remember reading that thread back in August and being inspired by your post #47 -- linked here for quick reference.

I haven't needed to use your advice yet, but frankly, I can't wait to try it out!
Thanks for your nice reply. Here's what dekindy said:

Quote:
Originally Posted by dekindy View Post
I will have to admit that I am truly amazed. It only got down to 32 degrees Fahrenheit with no wind chill this evening. That is still a good test. I had zero fogging!

I simply added a pair of safety glasses as suggested by Jim from Boston... I wear a Foxwear balaclava (positioned so that it does not cover my nose or mouth) and my Adidas Gazelle glasses with optical inserts. Normally they fog so much when I stop that I cannot see anything. I had zero fogging tonight! I would have to add that I also wiped my lenses with Clarity Fog Eliminator wipes. This only helped marginally in the past but I wanted to mention it. Apparently keeping the cold wind deflected lets the lenses stay warm enough to prevent fog from forming. I will test this in colder temperatures. For now I am completely sold!..
This morning I was listening to a talk show and Jim from Boston called in--that's how I'm introduced when I call in and chose that as my user name ;-)
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Old 12-12-08, 09:50 AM   #14
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This is an unambiguous signal to get out of the saddle for the day and seek the company of sane individuals.
It's time to get the backcountry skis ready to go and start associating with those who think winter camping is a good idea.

Feet have again and again been the issue for me because I can't get used to platform pedals for anything other than urban type screwing around on the old bomber. I keep coming back to thick socks, better shoes, better insoles, shoe covers, even thicker socks, etc. Every step gets me another 5F and I'm down to riding in 15-20F. Unfortunately, I expect the weather to drop below that before I can try the next trick or two and I'll soon have to set the bikes aside until February. There's only one day in next week's forecast with a morning low above 12F and we're supposed to get 6 inches of snow that day.

What I really want is an spd winter shoe that isn't so garish that it can't be worn throughout the work day. Yunno, looks like a work boot but with a recessed cleat that nobody would know about if I didn't show them.
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Old 12-12-08, 10:17 AM   #15
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feet with hands almost as bad. Probably good for an hour in the low teens with my current setup.
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Old 12-18-08, 05:59 PM   #16
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feet: my solutions include
1. lake winter cycling boots, with wool socks, good down to 30 degrees F
2. adding toasty feet with above, good down to 20 degrees F
3. neoprene toe covers with above, good down to 10 degrees with toes beginning to notice cold after
60+ minutes.
4. have neoprene shoe covers to replace toe covers but haven't need them yet.
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Old 12-18-08, 07:04 PM   #17
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Ears + Hands.
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Old 12-19-08, 08:53 AM   #18
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Feet. Without warmers the Lake 302's are still quite limited in the north.

The face can be a challenge given the complexity of the issue.

Anyone having trouble keeping their core warm is approaching a special kind of stupid.
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Old 12-19-08, 02:05 PM   #19
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<SNIP>
Anyone having trouble keeping their core warm is approaching a special kind of stupid.
I agree for the most part, except for the possibility of keeping *too* warm, sweating, then you know what
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Old 12-19-08, 02:10 PM   #20
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Feet until I got my Sidi winter boots.


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Old 12-19-08, 02:19 PM   #21
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It was my feet after I hit 40 years old then I bought..."treated" myself to Gaerne Eskimo winter riding boot, awesome-ness in size 10.

Last edited by TRaffic Jammer; 12-19-08 at 05:38 PM.
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Old 12-19-08, 05:23 PM   #22
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Probably my hands, though it's hard to say, but I need gloves for anything under about 50, and often with short sleeves when it's in the upper 40's. Feet aren't too great either. They have been cold in normal socks and trainers after prologed exposure in the 30's.
Strong point: Legs. I can wear shorts down to 40 and not suffer for it, though I generally try to cut the line at 45, so I don't need my knees replacing.
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Old 12-19-08, 05:52 PM   #23
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So far I have not had any issues down to 25 degrees when it is clear out. I bought a balaclava, big winter boots, gore-tex gloves, soft shell, dri-fit shirt, and leggings. Today it was 34 degrees and raining with wind and my thighs got really cold. I was only wearing leggings with a pair of shorts over, so I might look into rain pants, although people have said they do not breath enough.
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Old 12-19-08, 09:01 PM   #24
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Feet have always been an issue. Last year I just used platform pedals on the MTB and wore my workboots down to 10 degrees and I was OK, not warm but ok. Now with me into road biking and wanting to wear my clipless all year, I have my shoes,toe covers,5mm booties plus I just got "40 below wigwam socks", I went out @ 30 degrees and my feet were actually hot, later this week I think tues morning it will be 15 degrees so we'll see then.
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