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    Psychology and temperature

    It seems every time I get ready to go out for a ride I don't feel cold, but as soon as I need to drive somewhere I'm freezing as soon as I step out.

    I'm leaning towards it all being psychological, since I have to unlock my bike, turn on my lights (if it's dark), stow my lock in the holder, attach panniers if I have to carry any thing or reset my bike computer...

    Does anyone else experience this?

    P.S. I'm sure I'll get responses from folks in places that are actually cold, telling me that if they don't blink quick enough their eyeballs will freeze, and that I don't feel cold, because it ain't cold
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    Until I was a teenager, except for elderly people, hardly ever anybody in my environment wore a hat in winter. Maybe below -10C some hats appeared. Then one winter colorful woolen hats became fashionable. Even after the specific fad has died out, from that winter on I observed that people started wearing hats in my surrounding. I continued without a hat but switched from being typical to an exception. So yes, psychology appears to matter a lot in how the temperatures are taken. I am correcting here for the change in the perception with age of who is elderly.

    In my current surrounding, I encounter riders in masks, backlavas, goggles, ski gloves etc., as if straight from a winter mountaineering expedition, when just a little bit of frost (say -2C) appears. Full-blown hysteria is rampant.

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    My problem has been trying to avoid overheating while getting my gear on in the morning. I think the anticipation of the cold has my body pre-emptively cranking up the heat. Getting my shoe covers on can also be a workout in itself.

    I usually carry my panniers into the garage and get the bike off the wall to cool down a bit before putting a jacket on. Fortunately the air is usually dry here, there's nothing worse then humid cold temperatures.

    If you are working up a bit of a sweat before getting outside, that might explain why you are freezing when first going out the door.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
    In my current surrounding, I encounter riders in masks, backlavas, goggles, ski gloves etc., as if straight from a winter mountaineering expedition, when just a little bit of frost (say -2C) appears. Full-blown hysteria is rampant.
    That's funny. Yeah I don't need to mess around with a ski mask until it gets really cold. Though I'm always wearing a hat at/below freezing or my ears get cold.

    There aren't that many cyclists around where I live in winter, though a lot of regular (non-cycling) people wear a huge winter jacket and no hat...

    Quote Originally Posted by gecho View Post
    If you are working up a bit of a sweat before getting outside, that might explain why you are freezing when first going out the door.
    Oh sorry, I had the same problem (warm when cycling, I was cold when driving the car), and thanks I think you've just explained it.
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    Yes, but it's because I don't dress warmly enough if I drive and I do dress warm enough if I ride.

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    I have noticed that I don't seem to notice the cold as much when I am riding--however wearing the same clothes driving I seem to feel the cold more. Generally after the first mile or so I have more heat than I know what to do with.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    There aren't that many cyclists around where I live in winter, though a lot of regular (non-cycling) people wear a huge winter jacket and no hat...
    In my area the number of cyclists thins out tremendously as the cold progresses both in terms of duration and temperature. Those hysterically dressed drop out pretty fast. Judging from tracks, in some years I have been the only rider coming from my side towards the city center in the middle of winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    It seems every time I get ready to go out for a ride I don't feel cold, but as soon as I need to drive somewhere I'm freezing as soon as I step out.
    Does anyone else experience this?
    Since I don't wear any special cycling clothes I tend to have an absolute reference in terms of clothing. When riding across winter I mostly wear clothes that I would wear while walking in late autumn - there is so much more heat generated while riding. At times the first few minutes of riding may be cold.

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    Senior Member CharlieFree's Avatar
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    There is definitely a psychological effect when you first plan on winter riding ("It's going to be cold, what do I wear??!!"). People can overthink it.

    But when you think about it you don't need to go too crazy with gear because you are physically moving and generating heat. For me it's rarely about core body temperature, but hands, ears, and feet (in that order.) Take care of that and you are gold.

    At freezing temperatures, as an example, I dress much differently for cycling than I would to stand around and watch my son's football practice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    It seems every time I get ready to go out for a ride I don't feel cold, but as soon as I need to drive somewhere I'm freezing as soon as I step out.

    I'm leaning towards it all being psychological, since I have to unlock my bike, turn on my lights (if it's dark), stow my lock in the holder, attach panniers if I have to carry any thing or reset my bike computer...

    Does anyone else experience this?

    P.S. I'm sure I'll get responses from folks in places that are actually cold, telling me that if they don't blink quick enough their eyeballs will freeze, and that I don't feel cold, because it ain't cold
    Yes, I love the simplicity of warm weather cycling. In winter it all becomes a complicated mess. I have much less motivation in the winter. But the fun part is figuring out how to stay comfortable and lightweight in the winter. I'd never want to run an errand on a bike in winter. Too much to do for a short jaunt. I'd rather use the truck for something like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
    In my current surrounding, I encounter riders in masks, backlavas, goggles, ski gloves etc., as if straight from a winter mountaineering expedition, when just a little bit of frost (say -2C) appears. Full-blown hysteria is rampant.
    Yes, I noticed that too, and it's really funny. There would also be days that I'd consider t-shirt weather, and yet I see tons of riders on the same day wearing hats, gloves and jackets.... The strangest thing is that I am actually spoiled rotten when it comes to temperature; I get cold easily and detest the slightest discomfort due to cold, so if I think it's t-shirt weather... it really is.

    One thing I do notice though, is that when I am about to do some physical activity, my body sort of "wakes up" and can take on things like cold weather, rain, wind, hail etc. On the other hand, if I know I'm about to plop into a warm car and relax, the cold air feels really brutal and I start freezing immediately. So yeah, there might be some psychology at work here. Or you might simply dress differently for driving.
    Stomping as lightly as I can...

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    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Actually, you should mess around with balaclavas... Eventually after repeated exposure to mild cold your skin's capillaries will be damaged. Once you spend enough time in the cold you'll notice it... people get chilblains, it is common to see very rosy faces(hyperaemia) in the cold. This is the cumulative result of improper care.

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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    Actually, you should mess around with balaclavas... Eventually after repeated exposure to mild cold your skin's capillaries will be damaged. Once you spend enough time in the cold you'll notice it... people get chilblains, it is common to see very rosy faces(hyperaemia) in the cold. This is the cumulative result of improper care.
    Yes and another thing is that articles of clothing that seem unnecessary at first will feel necessary if you spend enough time continuously outside.

    But I've always had a very rosy face. I often get surprised looks from people that don't know me in the winter, and then comments about how cold it must be...
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    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    Yes and another thing is that articles of clothing that seem unnecessary at first will feel necessary if you spend enough time continuously outside.

    But I've always had a very rosy face. I often get surprised looks from people that don't know me in the winter, and then comments about how cold it must be...
    A lot of people do have rosy faces, but this effect will be accompanied by a very slight burning or itching feeling. You'll really notice it when you come back inside. Sudden temperature changes bring it on for most people.

    On the flip side, it is always good to avoid super-hot showers or using steaming hot facial clothes(like a barber might give you)... they can cause the same type of deal.

    Hmm, what else... just be cautious with the cold. If your feet are cold, warm them up very gradually... don't dunk them in hot water. Not being able to feel the cold is also a warning sign perhaps that you aren't used to it, but actually numbed to it.

    Feeling the cold is better than to feel nothing - sometimes when you feel the cold you're not actually cold.

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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    A lot of people do have rosy faces, but this effect will be accompanied by a very slight burning or itching feeling. You'll really notice it when you come back inside. Sudden temperature changes bring it on for most people.
    I used to get this a lot on the front side of my torso. I'd wear too much, and end up sweating then get lazy and instead of taking off a layer I'd just unzip the front of my jacket and then if I rode too long my stomach would be all pink and chilled afterwards...
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    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    I used to get this a lot on the front side of my torso. I'd wear too much, and end up sweating then get lazy and instead of taking off a layer I'd just unzip the front of my jacket and then if I rode too long my stomach would be all pink and chilled afterwards...
    Haha, yes... taking a layer off is a hassle because sometimes you take it off and 5 minutes later you want to put it back on!

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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    A lot of people do have rosy faces, but this effect will be accompanied by a very slight burning or itching feeling. You'll really notice it when you come back inside. Sudden temperature changes bring it on for most people.
    Oh yes, that burn. I've only ever had it when you run out of a sauna and roll in the snow, then run back in. Never had it cycling before.

    OP, i have the same problem. At what temperature do you keep the thermostat of your residence? I live above a restaurant so i don't really have a choice: my apartment is pretty warm most of the time. My theory is that my body gets used to the warm temperature in my apt and stops generating heat, so when i start a ride it's always a few minutes of shivering until i start producing excess heat. A metabolic 'lag,' of sorts.

    I can't imagine where a cyclist would have to live to think that Montreal isn't "actually cold." Greenland? Yikes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by electrik View Post
    Actually, you should mess around with balaclavas... Eventually after repeated exposure to mild cold your skin's capillaries will be damaged. Once you spend enough time in the cold you'll notice it... people get chilblains, it is common to see very rosy faces(hyperaemia) in the cold. This is the cumulative result of improper care.
    Hmm... Something might be wrong with my body as I lack a rosy face and can't recall ever wearing a backlava. Incidentally, there has been some evidence of parents inducing common cold or worse in their children by overdressing them when they were going outside. After getting back and undressing, the children were getting a temperature shock, jumping from a heat bath down to room temperature.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
    Hmm... Something might be wrong with my body as I lack a rosy face and can't recall ever wearing a backlava. Incidentally, there has been some evidence of parents inducing common cold or worse in their children by overdressing them when they were going outside. After getting back and undressing, the children were getting a temperature shock, jumping from a heat bath down to room temperature.
    Probably nothing wrong with you. I don't know if frostbite on exposed skin (separate from hypothermia) is a big issue until the temperature drops below -10c (15f). Though I'm sure enough time below freezing is all it really takes.
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    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    Probably nothing wrong with you. I don't know if frostbite on exposed skin (separate from hypothermia) is a big issue until the temperature drops below -10c (15f). Though I'm sure enough time below freezing is all it really takes.
    I've been riding down to -30C. Come to think of it, I can hardly recall seeing a backlava at downhill skiing slopes where temperatures below -20C might be common, with winds sometimes blowing so that you might fear that your head could fly off. Somehow backlavas are far more popular among riders on the flat at modest temperatures.
    Last edited by 2_i; 11-17-10 at 10:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
    I've been riding down to -30C. Come to think of it, I can hardly recall seeing a backlava at downhill skiing slopes where temperatures below -20C might be common, with winds sometimes blowing so that you might fear that your head could fly off. Somehow backlavas are far more popular among riders on the flat at modest temperatures.
    Well if you're wearing a huge winter hat, and a neck warmer and a scarf and have glasses or goggles, then yeah you don't need the balaclava/ski mask

    Also downhill skiing not as representative of cycling as is cross country skiiing, because you go downhill for a few minutes at a time and can go inside whenever you feel cold.
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    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
    Hmm... Something might be wrong with my body as I lack a rosy face and can't recall ever wearing a backlava. Incidentally, there has been some evidence of parents inducing common cold or worse in their children by overdressing them when they were going outside. After getting back and undressing, the children were getting a temperature shock, jumping from a heat bath down to room temperature.
    Ha ha. You're welcome to continue being a miracle of modern science... no sweat off my clava!

    Quote Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
    I've been riding down to -30C. Come to think of it, I can hardly recall seeing a backlava at downhill skiing slopes where temperatures below -20C might be common, with winds sometimes blowing so that you might fear that your head could fly off. Somehow backlavas are far more popular among riders on the flat at modest temperatures.
    Oh a manly man. Well, some people do stupid things... what can i say? At least there is a little bit of evidence to support covering up your face when it's -30C(btw cycling 10 minutes to the grocery store on a bicycle doesn't count). Did you know that frostbite is common and frostnip is most likely certain if you spend 30minutes outside at -28C with uncovered skin?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    Also downhill skiing not as representative of cycling as is cross country skiiing, because you go downhill for a few minutes at a time and can go inside whenever you feel cold.
    It is not quite like that. If a lift gets stopped due to wind conditions you may be up stuck in the air in the snow blizzard for 1.5h. Few times I've been in situations of being covered uniform with frozen up rain, with fog on top and no idea in which directions to go, etc. The roughness of weather that you can encounter in cycling is a joke for me compared to what you can encounter in downhill skiing. For that reason, a backlava in cycling continues for me to be on the side of a joke.

    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    Well if you're wearing a huge winter hat, and a neck warmer and a scarf and have glasses or goggles, then yeah you don't need the balaclava/ski mask
    There is some reason for this pile-up of several elements of clothing in that you can regulate the temperature by putting on or taking off one element or another. Ski boarders, though, have surviving a tumble as their first priority and do not want to have pieces flying off. You actually more likely to see a backlava on a snowboarder than a downhill skier.

    There is finally again a psychological factor here. A downhill skier might not what to be caught dead with a backlava just as I believe a road bike racer would not want to be caught dead with a triple crank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2_i View Post
    It is not quite like that. If a lift gets stopped due to wind conditions you may be up stuck in the air in the snow blizzard for 1.5h. Few times I've been in situations of being covered uniform with frozen up rain, with fog on top and no idea in which directions to go, etc. The roughness of weather that you can encounter in cycling is a joke for me compared to what you can encounter in downhill skiing. For that reason, a backlava in cycling continues for me to be on the side of a joke.
    You are not moving on the chairlift and can use your warm hands to warm your ears, face, wherever else is cold. When cycling you are creating a 10 to 20 mph additional wind wherever you go... Look at what 20 mph of extra wind does to frostbite times:

    Wind Chill Chart

    Maybe you go faster going downhill when skiing but you don't do it for anywhere near 30 minutes at a time, let alone hours...
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    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    You are not moving on the chairlift and can use your warm hands to warm your ears, face, wherever else is cold. When cycling you are creating a 10 to 20 mph additional wind wherever you go... Look at what 20 mph of extra wind does to frostbite times:

    Wind Chill Chart

    Maybe you go faster going downhill when skiing but you don't do it for anywhere near 30 minutes at a time, let alone hours...
    Indeed, and i've been skiing in very cold conditions also... the situation is not the same as a run rarely lasts long enough for the added wind-chill to really get you. When you get to the bottom there is plenty of time to warm hands and face... the issue with cycling is that the cold is often a non-stop head-wind for as long as you're on the bicycle. Your face has no time to catch up.

    I should also add, that some people are less prone to frost-bit... i've heard(this may be wild rumour) Inuit and some northern europeans have on average slightly higher levels of subcutaneous fat on hands and face, theory being that the extra insulation helps them to stay out in bitter cold a bit longer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bijan View Post
    You are not moving on the chairlift and can use your warm hands to warm your ears, face, wherever else is cold. When cycling you are creating a 10 to 20 mph additional wind wherever you go...
    You are stuck on the lift because of the wind. The wind blows tiny particles of snow into the air and every gap you have is filled with those. You are not alone there as some sort of exception, but every person on every filled chair is in the same type of situation as you.

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