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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 12-14-10, 08:26 AM   #1
Doohickie 
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First cold weather commute of the season

By standards of the yankees here, this ain't nuthin', but I did my first commute in chilly weather of the year- mid 30s. For some reason I've been especially sensitive to the cold this year compared to past years. This morning I wore tights under cycling shorts, a long sleeve tee, sweatshirt and windbreaker, and hat and gloves, and.... actually felt pretty good except for a couple of cold spots. By the time I got to work though my body had pretty well adjusted and I felt pretty good.

Up until this morning I was seriously considering giving up commuting for the winter and just being one of those three season guys (which is wimpy here in Texas where our winter is like spring or fall up north). But after this morning, I thinking.... bring it on!
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-14-10, 09:17 AM   #2
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Congratulations!

Doesn't matter what the temperature is. If it's 10 or 20 degrees colder than you're used to, you won't have the right clothing figured out the first couple of times, and it will be a challenge...

Though once you drop below freezing, it gets more complicated as stuff starts to, well, you know, freeze
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Old 12-14-10, 09:43 AM   #3
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Single-digit commute for me this morning.
  • Studded tires
  • Three layers - top and bottom
  • Three pair of socks
  • Oversize boots
  • Balaclava
  • Hat
  • Helmet cover
  • Ski mittens

I was fairly comfortable. It did take a while to change clothes at work though.
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Old 12-14-10, 12:05 PM   #4
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Mid 30s sounds great right about now. It was -11F when I left this morning.

How long is your commute? I find that keeping my hands, feet, and face/ears warm makes the rest of my body feel much better. If one of those parts is cold you'll suffer no matter how warm the rest is.
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Old 12-14-10, 03:45 PM   #5
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My commute is 17 miles, takes about 1:15 on the way to work typically. (Usually longer on the way home due to usual headwind and sometimes my dawdling.) I used to have a 7 mile commute and was rarely, if ever, cold when I got to work. Cold to begin with, maybe, and then I would warm up. But with a 17 mile commute, sometimes after I warm up, the wind and the cold conspire to make my toes and fingers numb by the end of the ride. Nothing too bad so far though.

Typically I would consider commuting down into the 20s; the coldest I've ridden in here in Fort Worth is 17 degrees last January, running errands for a few hours.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 12-14-10, 04:10 PM   #6
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Congratulations, Doohickie.

I was going to say something snobbish (sorry, but I laugh at those temperatures now, laugh I say ;-), but then I realized how big of an accomplishment it was for me to ride my bike past September not to long ago.

Just keep learning as you go along and pickup whatever additional clothing you need. I just picked up a watchman's cap, an ear warmer headband, and some gloves for $2 from my local salvation army.
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Old 12-15-10, 08:19 AM   #7
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I've commuted in those kind of temps before, it's just that... for some reason the cold is affecting me more this year. I grew up in Buffalo, so I know cold and all that.

The biggest adjustment I've had this year probably isn't so much the weather as it is the distance. About a year ago my job assignment switched and an easy-peasy 7 mile commute turned into 17 miles each way. At 7 miles I could miss as far as clothing goes and tough it out. Numb toes? Meh. It's only 7 miles. But when I get chilled 7 miles into a 17 mile ride, those last 10 miles are hell. I did that this morning- it was a little warmer and I overdressed and had to take some stuff off a few miles into the ride. It sucks when it's the other way around though and I realize that I should have put on another pair of socks or whatever.
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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, 10:04 AM   #8
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Riding in the cold can be really invigorating, especially first thing in the morning...wakes me up before work. Here are some good tips if you plan to ride all winter, both for commuting and leisure riding.
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Old 12-15-10, 03:22 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
I've commuted in those kind of temps before, it's just that... for some reason the cold is affecting me more this year. I grew up in Buffalo, so I know cold and all that.
You just got to get acclimated all over again. This year seems to be unusually brutal. My areas usual temperatures this time of year is right around 30F. So far the high teens and low 20's have been the norm. Now that your a Texan your probably just spoiled ;-) Although living in Buffalo you have definitely paid your dues.
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Old 12-15-10, 11:11 PM   #10
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Now that your a Texan your probably just spoiled ;-)
No doubt about that. I wrote yesterday about my first cold weather commute. This morning it was 50 and I was close to record speed with a 13 mph tailwind for most of the ride in. Riding home was much warmer, mid 70s, so I just wore shorts and a t-shirt. The wind had kicked up though so it was kind of a slog into a 20-25 mph headwind (par for the course around here). But still, it was plenty warm which always makes the wind easier to deal with. The temps will be dipping again until the weekend, when I have a 30 mile group ride planned.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

Last edited by Doohickie; 12-16-10 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 12-19-10, 08:05 AM   #11
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Since I am looking at temps in the teens and below with 8' of snow in the next 3 months; I have to admit you sound like a weather weenie. But acclimating is part of it, I got just as uncomfortable and cold when I lived in SC. Actually it sounds like you're overdressing a bit.

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