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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 12-13-10, 04:52 PM   #1
urban rider
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When is it too cold?

I know this is an old topic. Today, with the wind blowing and all day snowing it was about -1- degrees outside. I have not left the house. But I was wondering when is it too cold to ride. I know my friend Mohammad rode today.
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Old 12-13-10, 04:55 PM   #2
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It depends on what you wear. is it -1 Celsius or Fahrenheit?
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Old 12-13-10, 05:22 PM   #3
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Never! This morning was below 0F with a wind chill of minus 5. I wasn't even uncomfortable.
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Old 12-13-10, 06:52 PM   #4
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Dressed right you should be OK. At around -5F and under you can still ride but you may need to be more careful and get yourself used to it with short rides building up.
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Old 12-13-10, 07:29 PM   #5
achoo
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Never.

I did 50+ miles in a 35F rain yesterday.

I've done even farther in 12F with 25+ MPH winds.
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Old 12-13-10, 08:39 PM   #6
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It was -8F this morning with a windchill of -20F. Having moved to the upper midwest recently from Phoenix, this is the coldest I have been in 20 years. It wasn't too cold to ride, it was still enjoyable, but without some another layer on my legs and a solution to my foggy glasses, I don't think I'd go out when it was much lower. We'll see though, it's only December...but my commute is 3 miles round trip.
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Old 12-13-10, 08:59 PM   #7
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It's an individual decision that depends on you and your clothing. I've ridden in -20 F. I don't remember what the windchill factor was.

Some folks in The Great White North regularly ride in colder.

I'm sure there's a temp at which a traditionally equipped bike plain wouldn't function. I know that the pawls in freehubs/freewheels can freeze so that you just spin but I personally haven't had that happen.
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Old 12-13-10, 09:25 PM   #8
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the pawls in freehubs/freewheels can freeze so that you just spin
this.

Un-winterized mine are probably good to at least -30C, so I'm not too worried about missing a day in Toronto.
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Old 12-13-10, 09:54 PM   #9
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I have clothing that works comfortably down to 15F for commuting one hour each way. Since the weather rarely gets colder here, I don't want to invest in additional clothing for the one or two days a year I am unable to ride. If I lived in a colder climate, I would get additional gear for the conditions.
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Old 12-13-10, 09:58 PM   #10
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Coldest I have ridden any distance at, or ever, was -46.1 C

Everyone has their own personal cut off when it comes to temperatures and conditions and I for one hate freezing rain and damp cold and would take a dry cold at -20 C over this any day.
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Old 12-14-10, 10:43 AM   #11
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Last Friday when I left my house it was 8F. It was the coldest commute that I've done so far. I dressed well so it really wasn't bad at all.
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Old 12-14-10, 11:54 AM   #12
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To commute: Probably -10F. Since that basically never happens here I'd be willing to just use a personal day.
For Recreation: About 15F. I have too hard of a time keeping my feet warm below that for long periods, and a 40 minute ride just isn't worth it.
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Old 12-14-10, 02:59 PM   #13
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Coldest I have ridden any distance at, or ever, was -46.1 C
That's like in um.. outer space, eh? OK, OK, no Canadian Winter jokes
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Old 12-14-10, 06:19 PM   #14
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I've ridden in 0 deg. F with -20 windchill. Haven't faced colder. I didn't bike the two days before today, when the winds were about 30 MPH and there was quite a bit of snow. But that was because I don't feel confident riding on snow/ice over 20MPH.

Once the temps get in the single digits or lower, it's time for two balaclavas (I don't cover my mouth and nose with the outer one because it's suffocating) and goggles. I've been wearing the goggles pretty much whenever it's 30 or below now because I find it more comfortable on the eye area. I used to wear a heavy wool coat when it got to be around 20 or less, but I'm finding that wearing my illuminite jacket with two long-sleeved shirts underneath is enough to cover most any day, but if I will be riding in negative windchills this year I probably will use the coat.

Worst commuting weather I ever experienced was about 38 F with rain and strong headwinds, at night to boot. I'd rather be dry at 10 degrees than wet at 40 degrees.
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Old 12-14-10, 10:38 PM   #15
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I'm putting it somewhere around -20 f. Wind can make that a lot worse, not just because of wind chill but because wind sucks and screws with my temperature regulation.
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Old 12-14-10, 10:43 PM   #16
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It's gonna be tough tomorrow. The temp in the morning is only gonna be 50*F

(And it will be up to mid-70s by the ride home )
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-15-10, 03:23 AM   #17
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It's gonna be tough tomorrow. The temp in the morning is only gonna be 50*F

(And it will be up to mid-70s by the ride home )
Bite me.



It warmed to a few degrees below freezing today...
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Old 12-15-10, 08:10 AM   #18
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Close to my best time this morning. I forgot to mention the strong tailwind that was also predicted.

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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-15-10, 10:49 AM   #19
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I think you need to also consider what's around you when you're riding, and how to handle a breakdown. I was riding last week and broke my chain. I was fine at that temperature, but I'd be concerned if it was so cold I wouldn't be able to use my hands effectively long enough to get back on my bike.
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Old 12-15-10, 12:31 PM   #20
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I made through a winter in Laramie WY which has about the same weather as much of canada, there was a few days i rode where it was approaching -30f, though in laramie they don't use windchill factor so god know's what it felt like. There only ended up being two times i couldn't ride one day it snowed something crazy and by the morning there was 18inches of snow on the ground, another time got an ice storm and my bike was frozen to the ground and by the time i got it unstuck with salt and warm water i was already late and just hitched a ride. My winter living there made me really love moving back to boise
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Old 12-15-10, 12:33 PM   #21
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I think you need to also consider what's around you when you're riding, and how to handle a breakdown. I was riding last week and broke my chain. I was fine at that temperature, but I'd be concerned if it was so cold I wouldn't be able to use my hands effectively long enough to get back on my bike.
Thats a good point, take to long of not moving much in -30 weather and you can die of exposure if not dressed properly.
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Old 12-15-10, 12:47 PM   #22
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I'm sure there's a temp at which a traditionally equipped bike plain wouldn't function. I know that the pawls in freehubs/freewheels can freeze so that you just spin but I personally haven't had that happen.
I've ridden in 6F temperatures and haven't yet had that issue. I do notice that the freewheel gets strangely quiet in the cold.
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Old 12-15-10, 03:22 PM   #23
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Ugh. I just got back from a 15 mile ride.
I was planning on doing 30-40 miles, but I had to cut it short.
The wind chill is about 5F if you're standing still.
I was hoping that after a few miles of pumping, my hands would thaw out, but the faster I went, the harder the wind hit me! Toward the end, my eyes started feeling "sticky" and my vision was getting blurry, so I was sure I had to stop.

Ironically, walking around afterward I was completely fine and warmed up. So I contemplated another go at it, but a quarter mile trial through the parking lot brought me back to my senses.

I realised back when it was about 30F that I needed to think about getting glasses and better gloves, but this was a pretty painful lesson!
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Old 12-15-10, 03:31 PM   #24
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Dressed right you should be OK.
This ^

I ask people if they ski and point out that they are outside for most of the day, in the cold. most of the time spent standing in line in order to sit still in an exposed chairlift high off the ground so you can spend a few minutes sliding down a hill. No one thinks you're crazy for skiing when it drops below zero, but get on a bike and your suddenly delusional.
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Old 12-16-10, 01:48 PM   #25
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When it started getting quite cold here a couple weeks ago, the freewheel on my singlespeed started acting wonky. The chain would only "grab" at certain spots in the rotation of the freewheel. I'm guessing that there might have been something that froze up the pawls. After a few days it got better, though it did not get any warmer. Whatever the frozen problem was, it was temporary. Yesterday morning it was -4F here. I was fine temp wise, except for my toes after about 45 minutes. Coldest windchill I have ridden in was around -25F. Again, that didn't really make me cold.
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