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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 12-07-04, 07:19 PM   #1
stokell
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I discovered biking again about 12 years ago. Since then it has been my overriding passion. I sold my car and started biking to work. I began extending my season. First it was April to October then March to December. For the last 8 years I've biked year round.

That might not be a big deal for some but Canadian winters can be long and tough even when you live 'down south'. I've found how to stay warm dry and comfortable and I thought other year rounders might like to share their tips for those who have wanted to but never done.

My real secret is layers. I wear I polyester long sleeved top. I was never sure what 'wicking' meant until I wore a cotton t-shirt on a long run. Now I never wear cotton in the winter because it holds the moisture next to your skiln and theat means you will be cold and wet.
My next layer depends on how cold it is. Below -10 I wear a polyester fleece. Otherwise I have a fleece jacket with a full zipper and a very high neck and then an outer shell with pit zips. For my neck I have a tube that also can cover my nose and mouth when needed and a really great ear cover. When very cold I wear a polyester toque under my helmet and a shower cap on top of the helmet. The latter is also good for protection from rain and snow.
To protect my hands I use glove liners and a leather glove. When it is very cold I have a pair of Paul Izumi (Is that what they are called? Don't make me go downstairs and look).
For my feet I wear my regular shoes and when it is wet I add a pair of boot covers I bought from Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC).

I don't lean into corners when it is slippery but instead keep my bike upright and lean out using my body to turn the bike. I learned this technique while sailing...I think they call it 'hiking'.

So now it's your turn. Any other great advice for 50+ winter cycling?
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Old 12-07-04, 08:07 PM   #2
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Are your temps, (i.e. -10) Fahrenheit or Celsius?

Also, you might want check out icebike.com and the Winter Cycling Forum on BFN.


Picture from Icebike.com


But, I don't plan on doing that. Too much of a chance for a fall, and since I am on warfarin, I don't feel comfortable taking chances!

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Old 12-07-04, 10:44 PM   #3
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I bike year-round in weather-wimp coastal San Diego County, but I leave the Bianchi, with its 23mm tyres, at home when the roads are wet.
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Old 12-08-04, 04:27 PM   #4
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If commuting, pull out your glove liners between am and pm commutes so they completely dry out and thus are warmer for the pm ride
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Old 12-08-04, 04:55 PM   #5
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Well, it was a brisk 50F today, with a wind of 15 mph, and I went out for a lovely ride, and stayed perfectly warm.

But that is about as cold as I want to bike!
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Old 12-08-04, 05:15 PM   #6
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Heck, you need to dress better. It's not cold when temp is lower. I thought it would be, but with proper dress you don't feel cold. At 50F you're not even on the Wind Chill chart. Wait a few hours when it's 40 or lower and then you can talk about cold.
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Old 12-08-04, 05:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
Heck, you need to dress better. It's not cold when temp is lower. I thought it would be, but with proper dress you don't feel cold. At 50F you're not even on the Wind Chill chart. Wait a few hours when it's 40 or lower and then you can talk about cold.
I repeat my simple statement.

"But that is about as cold as I want to bike!"

Period.

At 65yo, I set my own standards.
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Old 12-08-04, 06:37 PM   #8
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I find that the chemical handwarmers help quite a bit. They make them for both hands and toes now and on a long cold ride they can make all the difference in the world.
www.heatmax.com
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Old 12-08-04, 07:58 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by DnvrFox
I repeat my simple statement.

"But that is about as cold as I want to bike!"

Period.

At 65yo, I set my own standards.
What I was a tad flip? Well, when we're "seniors" out to pasture we can say anything.

My point is simple: you love biking. You should be able to bike down to temps of 40F with no problem. You only need 3 items:

1. gloves. Even those old work gloves work fine.
2. a windbreaker. With the gusts we get, riding in the wind is not fun and a good enough reason to not ride.
3. some head covering: ear muffs, head band, silk head ski mask.

Without all three of those, I would say wait for a better time/day. With those you can have a few more days of enjoyable biking. Again more important than the temps is the wind. I would suggest not riding when the gusts are above 18mph.

later
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Old 12-08-04, 07:59 PM   #10
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Have 2 head coverings:

a full head mask for the am ride
ear muffs/head band for the warmer pm ride.
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Old 12-08-04, 09:55 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
What I was a tad flip? Well, when we're "seniors" out to pasture we can say anything.

My point is simple: you love biking. You should be able to bike down to temps of 40F with no problem. You only need 3 items:

1. gloves. Even those old work gloves work fine.
2. a windbreaker. With the gusts we get, riding in the wind is not fun and a good enough reason to not ride.
3. some head covering: ear muffs, head band, silk head ski mask.

Without all three of those, I would say wait for a better time/day. With those you can have a few more days of enjoyable biking. Again more important than the temps is the wind. I would suggest not riding when the gusts are above 18mph.

later
I have all of those, and still I don't want to bike below 50F, especially in a 15-20 mph wind.
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Old 12-08-04, 10:09 PM   #12
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went out in high 30's from winfield to naperville ill, mixed trail and road, about 28 miles the way i go. used polartec cap with earflaps.(would like a brim for glare) mouth and nose thing till it got too hot. two heavy wool shirts with windbreaker. jeans with lounger pants for another layer under. two pair socks with cheap boots. cotton gloves(lined gloves make my hands hot). just had to wiggle my toes which is all that got cold.

as long as the ice and snow crunch the tires have some traction, when they dont yikes.

looking forward to some more rides as long as its not to icy

wheeler crossline 3000 35 tires 21 speed
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Old 12-08-04, 10:45 PM   #13
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My biggest problem cycling in sub-40F weather is cold hands.
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Old 12-09-04, 09:08 AM   #14
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My biggest problem cycling in sub-40F weather is cold hands.

The hard part is between 40F and 30F. For example, today at 39F after a short 5 mi commute, hands sweating and just cooking. I missed the change in wind speed. I dressed for 15 mph wind and from the time I started it dropped from 17mph to 0mph. Ugh. I didn't wear anything special: just a mask [bacaclava], fleece, windbreaker and gloves. My mistake was keeping the liners in the gloves. Tomorrow, I'm pulling them until the temp drops 10 degrees. The windbreaker gloves are enough. I'm also planning on swapping mask for ear muffs, to dump more heat.

Best advice I received on what to wear in the winter is to keep a spreadsheet, and rate how well you can guess what is the right clothes to wear. I'm getting closer, but only been a few weeks of commuting so still learning. If you want I can give you the categories. Probably the biggest thing catching you is wind chill. Wind chill kicks in when the temps are 40F or below. For a rough guide, if there is wind drop 11 degrees from the temp and dress for that temp.
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Old 12-09-04, 09:27 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
Heck, you need to dress better. It's not cold when temp is lower. I thought it would be, but with proper dress you don't feel cold. At 50F you're not even on the Wind Chill chart. Wait a few hours when it's 40 or lower and then you can talk about cold.
According to the wind chill calculator on the official noaa site, at 49 degrees F. a 15 mph wind will cause a wind chill temp of 43F. True, it won't take 50F, but it will accept 49F.
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Old 12-09-04, 09:38 AM   #16
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Add some winter cycling shoes and temperatures of -10 C are reasonable. Windproof pants (fronts only), windproof jacket (breathable), layers, balaclava and helmet, eye protection. No problemo!
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Old 12-09-04, 10:22 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by DnvrFox
According to the wind chill calculator on the official noaa site, at 49 degrees F. a 15 mph wind will cause a wind chill temp of 43F. True, it won't take 50F, but it will accept 49F.

We're both right. The chart only goes up to 40F but the calculator goes to 49F. Congradulations you found the chart I hve posted on the wall for reference before commutes.

You would think their chart would go to at least 45.

Actually what I do is put data in a spreadsheet:

date
time group
humidity
wind mph
bike mph
total wind speed: wind + bike
temp
wind chill: calculated with the formula at the bottom on the NOAA chart 11.01.01

My short summary is:
Frostbite occurs at:
wind chill above -17 == longer than a 30 minute ride
wind chill between -18 and -33, a 30 minute ride
wind chill between -34 and -54, a 10 minute ride
wind chill below -54, a 5 minute ride

As many others pointed out, there is a problem with the NOAA formula for wind chill. Version 2 is better than version 1 as it is more realistic, but unlike the heat index there is no inclusion of humidity. Hopefully there will be a version 3 with a humidity variant.


I don't want to ride at those temps, but want for reference so I enough clothes, or, cough, drive.
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Old 12-09-04, 10:38 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
We're both right. The chart only goes up to 40F but the calculator goes to 49F. Congradulations you found the chart I hve posted on the wall for reference before commutes.

You would think their chart would go to at least 45.

Actually what I do is put data in a spreadsheet:

date
time group
humidity
wind mph
bike mph
total wind speed: wind + bike
temp
wind chill: calculated with the formula at the bottom on the NOAA chart 11.01.01

My short summary is:
Frostbite occurs at:
wind chill above -17 == longer than a 30 minute ride
wind chill between -18 and -33, a 30 minute ride
wind chill between -34 and -54, a 10 minute ride
wind chill below -54, a 5 minute ride

And I look out the window to see sun, clouds, rain or snow, check our flag blowing (or not) in the wind, and look at the outside wall thermometer to make my decision!

Last edited by DnvrFox; 12-09-04 at 10:44 AM.
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Old 12-09-04, 11:18 AM   #19
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hey, whatever works for you. You do get a few miles under your belt in a year, so no worries.
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Old 12-09-04, 11:21 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by HiYoSilver
hey, whatever works for you. You do get a few miles under your belt in a year, so no worries.
Just a few miles - I have only hit a bit over 4,000 miles this year, which beats last year by about 500.

Nothing in comparison to many of the folks around here, though.
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Old 12-09-04, 11:22 AM   #21
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I rode pretty much through the winter last year, after 20+ years of hanging up the cleats in October. As I've gotten older, I've started gaining 20 pounds over the winters, then taking off 12 or 15 of them in spring. Do that for awhile, and pretty soon you're bigger than a Buick. My knees hurt too much to run and I have to drive 30 miles to ski, so . . .
I was surprised how well it worked and how much I enjoyed it. I live in Reno, and we don't have really severe weather (days in the 30s--Fahrenheit--are usual, though it can go to the teens; nights are generally 15 or higher). You don't need much special clothing in those conditions. I wore pretty much what I'd wear for Nordic skiing, with extra attention to my feet. I didn't bother with fenders because we're on the edge of the desert and don't get much rain, and ordinary tires (Pasela 700x35s) work well enough except on ice. We rarely have snow or ice on the ground for more than two or three days anyway, so I just wait it out. Same thing with lights--I can usually get out for an hour or so at lunch, and my commute involves a couple of miles on a freeway shoulder, so I don't commute in winter.
I've been lagging this year because of family and work stuff, but I should be out from under that in a few days. The bike's already in the parking garage and I plan to start using it tomorrow or Monday.
One word on equipment: I have several old bikes that weren't worth selling when I bought new ones, and I converted an old Trek to singlespeed (all it took was a BMX freewheel and a $1 spacer to correct the chainline). It works great around town, and maintenance consists of hosing off the gunk and lubing the chain. Worth a try if you have an old bike around.
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Old 12-09-04, 11:32 AM   #22
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Hey, DnvrFox--re Warfarin and cycling:
Don't remember if we've discussed this before (I've corresponded with a couple of people about it), but I've been a warfarin-taking cyclist for more than 15 years. You'll want to check with your cardiologist, of course, but mine has been supportive (to the point of insistence) that it shouldn't change your life. I tiptoed around for a couple of years after I started taking it at age 44, and then I had a spectacular crash and didn't die and I sort of relaxed. Be sure to wear a helmet, because intercranial bleeding can be really bad news, and expect comprehensive bruising if you have a bad fall. At least in my case, though, there haven't been any serious problems. I even cut a finger nearly off (stupidity with a pruning saw) and was able to stop the bleeding quickly with just a little pressure.
If your doc is ultra-cautious, you might want to get a second opinion. Mine is a former ultramarathon runner, now an ultra-distance cyclist, and he's convinced the benefits of the exercise are well worth the additional risk.
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Old 12-09-04, 11:35 AM   #23
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Quote:
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Hey, DnvrFox--re Warfarin and cycling:
Don't remember if we've discussed this before (I've corresponded with a couple of people about it), but I've been a warfarin-taking cyclist for more than 15 years. You'll want to check with your cardiologist, of course, but mine has been supportive (to the point of insistence) that it shouldn't change your life. I tiptoed around for a couple of years after I started taking it at age 44, and then I had a spectacular crash and didn't die and I sort of relaxed. Be sure to wear a helmet, because intercranial bleeding can be really bad news, and expect comprehensive bruising if you have a bad fall. At least in my case, though, there haven't been any serious problems. I even cut a finger nearly off (stupidity with a pruning saw) and was able to stop the bleeding quickly with just a little pressure.
If your doc is ultra-cautious, you might want to get a second opinion. Mine is a former ultramarathon runner, now an ultra-distance cyclist, and he's convinced the benefits of the exercise are well worth the additional risk.
I sent you a PM a few minutes ago re: meds and cryogenic ablation.

Doc is well aware of my bicycling exercise and approves. He says "Exercise is good" and also encourages my continued heavy weight lifting and walking (right now about 3 miles per day).

But, I didn't like bicycling on ice before the AF, and I still don't.
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Old 12-09-04, 02:45 PM   #24
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My we've come a long way from winter biking to medications. I guess we must all be over 50 then.

Just for those of us who don't think in F:

According to thermometer on my MEC jacket -20F is about -5C

I'm confused by F. In C water freezes at 0 and boils at 100. As far as I know everyone in the world, except the USA uses this scale.
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