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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 10-27-11, 06:51 AM   #1
Myosmith
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Is it normal to slow down in cool weather?

Not because of slippery roads, etc. but just due to the colder weather. During the summer I had no trouble cruizing at 18 mph on the flat with no wind, but now that temps have dropped to 40s F I find myself pushing to stay above 16. I'm not talking maximum effort, just cruising speed. I've also noticed that my legs feel stiff and rubbery (if that makes sense) rather than just tired or sore after a long ride.

I'm dressing adequately so that I neither feel cold nor sweat excessively and I'm staying hydrated even though I'm not as thirsty.

Is this just part of riding in the cold?
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Old 10-27-11, 07:40 AM   #2
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It takes a bit longer to warm up but other than that there shouldn't be anything different, especially at that temperature. In fact, I feel stronger in cooler weather because I don't sweat as much.
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Old 10-27-11, 07:45 AM   #3
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Yes it does. I think when you cover your legs, it induces a little resistance in moving them. You're pushing pedals and stretching leg warmers.
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Old 10-27-11, 07:55 AM   #4
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Not because of slippery roads, etc. but just due to the colder weather.
Yes. Extra clothing in cold weather will slow you down both due to increased air resistance and the need to flex it as you pedal. Air is also more dense when cold so that also increases resistance. And the mechanical components of the bike (chain, hubs, BB, pedals) will have just a bit more resistance if the lubricants are colder and more viscous. But I think the main reason is physiological; breathing cold air is less pleasant and I'd expect the oxygen exchange to be slower with cooler air in the lungs, and your body has to use energy to keep extremities warm.
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Old 10-27-11, 12:11 PM   #5
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Funny you bring this up because I've been thinking about the exact same thing for the past couple of weeks. Like you I just don't seem to be able to roll as smoothly compared to the summer. Nice to know it's not just me and I'm not imaging this.

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Old 10-27-11, 01:41 PM   #6
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If it's colder than 35 F then yes .
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Old 10-27-11, 02:33 PM   #7
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It is normal to slow down in cold (below freezing) weather.
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Old 10-27-11, 02:48 PM   #8
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I certainly get slower in the winter. I've heard many ideas on the cause. I gave up worrying about it and just plan accordingly.
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Old 10-27-11, 04:05 PM   #9
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Yes it's normal to go slower in extreme cold. I think it's something to do with the cold air density.
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Old 10-27-11, 04:58 PM   #10
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If it's colder than 35 F then yes .

How about colder than -35F?
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Old 10-27-11, 09:14 PM   #11
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How about colder than -35F?
Good question! At that temperature gasoline is often frozen, so at least you'll have a quiet ride
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Old 10-27-11, 10:43 PM   #12
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"How about colder than -35F?"Good question! At that temperature gasoline is often frozen, so at least you'll have a quiet ride
Growing up in ND, I rode my bike to school at that temperature and I can assure you that there were always plenty of motor vehicles sharing the roads with me. Gasoline is a varied mixture of hydrocarbons without a sharp freezing point, but it stays liquid down to about -150F to -200F. What did sometimes cause problems with starting was the freezing of water contamination in carburetors - but those are only found on rather old cars at this time (my '87 Corolla still has one). More common starting problems are weak batteries when it gets that cold and engines that are hard to turn over due to viscous cold oil (my high school lot had electrical outlets for plugging in engine oil heaters.
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Old 10-28-11, 12:32 AM   #13
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I've been up in northern Alberta when it has dropped to about -50C ... and my car still ran.
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Old 10-28-11, 02:43 AM   #14
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In addition to what's been said already, one thing for OP to check is tyre pressure. Colder air in tyres = lower pressure = more rolling resistance.
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Old 10-28-11, 03:05 AM   #15
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My average speed is dropping due to having to stop pedalling to blow snot rockets every ten minutes.
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Old 10-28-11, 07:58 PM   #16
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Prathmann, where in ND did you grow up. I'm from Rugby, the geographical middle of nowhere. Still living in NW MN not too far from Fargo.

Tire pressure gets checked and topped off every couple of days.

LOL gasoline freezing at -35F. I did convince one woman from Georgia, USA, that we all drove electric cars because gasoline froze up here, after she asked why we all had electric cords hanging through the grilles of our vehicles (for you Southerners, they are actually for engine block warmers to help with starting on cold mornings).
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Old 10-28-11, 08:16 PM   #17
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Maybe I'm weird, but I've actually gotten faster in the cold. 31 degrees this morning and I made it to work 2mph faster than usual. Made it home 3mph faster than usual. This is my very first sub-freezing ride ever, maybe I was just excited. I did notice I was spinning faster than normal (90 cadence vs my usual 80), maybe I was subconsciously trying to spin faster to warm myself up? I dunno.

Then again, maybe my body is just wired for the cold. I love to go cross-country skiing, even when it's -10. When it's 75 degrees out I burn up. I set my thermostat to 65, and sometimes even that is too hot. I've got it turned completely off right now, even though it's 40 out... I feel nice in my 59 degree apartment.
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Old 10-28-11, 10:39 PM   #18
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One thing to consider about tire pressure is whether you are checking it in the garage before you leave. It will drop when you get out and the tire gets cold enough. Dunno if it would make as much of a difference as you have laid out but it's something to consider.
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Old 10-29-11, 02:04 AM   #19
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One more thing to consider...when do you start to notice the speed come back...about the same time the leaves start to come back. Your not getting the same wind block from leaves, crops in the field, etc as you were during the summer months. A 5 mph wind has much more effect on you now then it did back then because back then their was something to stop it. You may think you were riding in calm conditions but rarely is the wind ever calm. Now the same wind you were riding in over the summer is magnified simply due to nothing stopping it other than tree branches. If your in farm land country then you quite literally have nothing stopping it now.

I do agree air density plays a big roll in the change and so does the extra clothing. I don't remember noticing it last fall but I wasn't in the shape I'm in this year. This year I'm noticing the slow down in speed a lot more. Granted like someone else said, at times I'm also noticing a lot more speed than what I"m expecting. It really does depend on weather conditions and where you are riding.
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Old 10-30-11, 07:49 PM   #20
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I notice the same thing. I figured it was the clothes restricting my movement some. Of course when the winter bike/studded tires, etc are broken out then yeah the speed will drop even more.
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Old 11-02-11, 09:48 AM   #21
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Yes. It's normal. I'll leave the reasons to the obsessive but I have thousands of cold miles and many years to prove it.
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Old 11-02-11, 10:02 AM   #22
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Prathmann, where in ND did you grow up. I'm from Rugby, the geographical middle of nowhere. Still living in NW MN not too far from Fargo.

LOL gasoline freezing at -35F. I did convince one woman from Georgia, USA, that we all drove electric cars because gasoline froze up here, after she asked why we all had electric cords hanging through the grilles of our vehicles (for you Southerners, they are actually for engine block warmers to help with starting on cold mornings).
Home was a little town south of Williston for me. :-) The only paved street was US85 running through town. Gasoline wasn't a problem during the winter, but diesel fuel could gel up without the right kind or without additives. I don't miss the high school days of working on a farm trying to keep equipment running during the winter--gas or diesel...
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Old 11-02-11, 10:03 AM   #23
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Yes. It's normal. I'll leave the reasons to the obsessive but I have thousands of cold miles and many years to prove it.
Yup, same here. And in the fall when I feel like I'm "out of shape," a warm day comes along and things are again normal until the next cold front comes through...
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Old 11-03-11, 06:22 AM   #24
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The OP is talking about temperater in the 40s, not subfreezing temperature. That's just cool weather, not cold.
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