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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 11-20-12, 10:16 AM   #1
dramiscram
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FROZEN TOES, I tried everything.

As soon as temperature drop below 5 celcius (41f) my right foot toes get cold, when it drop to 0 celcius my right foot toes freeze and my left foot toes get cold. At -5c both feet toes freeze.

I tried everything I could think of: Thermal sock, wool sock, both at the same time. In my cycling shoes, my cycling shoes with shoe cover, plastic bags between the shoe and the shoe cover with no improvement at all.

This morning I tried with my winter boots on, it was a lot better but still my left foot toes were starting to freeze when I got to work this morning ( -5 celcius, 27 kms ride to work ) Last winter I went ice fishing for 10-12 hours with those boots and my feet remained very hot all day long, these are very good boots so I'm a bit discouraged this morning. The only thing I can think of is buying battery heated shoe soles.

Is there something I did wrong? I'm strating to think I have a blood flow problem in my feet.
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Old 11-20-12, 10:22 AM   #2
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First go to the doc and check the blood flow issue, there are a few things that can cause this and the doc can rule them out.

Second, have you thought of electric socks? Pretty popular for hunters. Get something that has ULTRA thin wires or they may bother you on the soles since you are pressing on them.

Thirdly I've heard of a few people having iodine deficiency that cased them to get cold, but you are getting cold WHEN it's cold outside, iodine deficiency usually means the person is cold all the time, even when it's warm. In this day and age with iodized salt in so much food it is pretty rare.
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Old 11-20-12, 11:30 AM   #3
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Sounds like possible circulation to me, so get that checked out first. At 41░F, I can still wear shorts with a long sleeve shirt and light gloves.

If they dont' find anything, keep your legs warm. When it gets too cold, I have to add to my legs even though they aren't cold. Gotta keep the pipes warm so to speak.
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Old 11-20-12, 11:35 AM   #4
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Have you tried felt or wool insoles? That makes all the difference for me.

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Old 11-20-12, 11:42 AM   #5
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First, make sure the fit of your combined socks and shoe/boot are loose enough that you are not compressing your foot with the extra layers. Socks need to be loose and have lots of air space to keep you warm.

After that, since your commute is probably more than an hour, when it's below freezing, consider putting a chemical warmer between the socks and over your toes. I wear sandals down to aboiut -5C or -6C and it's enough with two pair wool socks and a chemical warmer over the toes and bent down in front of the toes, although my commute is shorter than you at 20 km each way.
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Old 11-20-12, 11:53 AM   #6
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Have you tried felt or wool insoles? That makes all the difference for me.

--J
Didn't think about that, I'll check into it, thanks
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Old 11-20-12, 11:56 AM   #7
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since your commute is probably more than an hour, when it's below freezing, consider putting a chemical warmer between the socks and over your toes. I wear sandals down to aboiut -5C or -6C and it's enough with two pair wool socks and a chemical warmer over the toes and bent down in front of the toes, although my commute is shorter than you at 20 km each way.

What do you mean by chemical warmer?
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Old 11-20-12, 12:06 PM   #8
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Are you keeping your core warm enough? What about your head/neck/ears/gloves? This morning's temp was 32f, and with my core/head/hands taken care of, my feet weren't too bad (Sidi Dominators, neoprene booties).
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Old 11-20-12, 12:08 PM   #9
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If you went ice fishing for a day in those same boots last year without a problem - it ain't the boots! It isn't even cold yet here (Quebec) and you'd be generating more heat pedaling a bike than you ever would ice-fishing! Suggest you follow through with a check-up for blood circulation issues.
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Old 11-20-12, 12:21 PM   #10
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Don't forget you adding wind chill when you ride. I have the same issue with both hands and feet in cold weather. Someone already said to basically be sure your shoes are not to tight. That helped me some.

the chemical item that was mentioned are the thermal warmer that are activated when exposed to air. The brand I have used is Heat Factory. Hers is another brand http://www.warmers.com/ItemDetails.a...FYw-MgodOlsAhQ called Grabbers. These usually work well. At $1 or so per use a little expensive.
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Old 11-20-12, 12:23 PM   #11
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There is such a thing as Reynaud's Syndrome. It's quite common. Seldom to the extent discussed here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynaud's_phenomenon
but having circulation reduced more than normal by cold is common. Most cyclists I know with this problem have a temperature below which they do not ride. Period. Chemical warmers do help, but for someone with Reynaud's not so much because they don't address the real problem, which is lack of blood flow.

OTOH, the ice fishing thing says maybe that may not be your problem. It could be a saddle or fit problem. Perhaps some saddle, fit, or clothing connected thing is reducing circulation to your legs.
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Old 11-20-12, 12:43 PM   #12
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agree strongly with this - First, make sure the fit of your combined socks and shoe/boot are loose enough that you are not compressing your foot with the extra layers. Socks need to be loose and have lots of air space to keep you warm.

This makes a big differnce for me. I also use the chemical wamers for temps below 20F for my 1 hr commute.
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Old 11-20-12, 12:46 PM   #13
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Make sure your foot isn't snug in the boot. Several times I've made the mistake of wearing too thick a sock which reduced circulation and made my feet colder. You need to have some wiggle room.

I also wear MEC rain covers over my shoes / boots. The rain cover block the wind and create a little insulating air pocket. With the rain covers I can wear my summer SPD shoes down to about -3C. They also increase the effectiveness of my winter boots down to about -12C for an hour. Beyond that I have electric toe heaters on a pair of insoles.

There's something about cycling that makes my feet colder than just walking. Normally I just wear sneakers all winter long, which I've used to go for 2 hour walks at -15C. I bought my first pair of winter boots in about 15 years just for winter cycling and they still weren't warm enough. At a certain point I need an active heat source for my toes.

The chemical warmers you see in stores need oxygen to function. Unfortunately in a boot there may be inadequate oxygen for them to function. There are gel packets that can be regenerated by boiling. I think the gel ones are one quick shot of heat and will not go for hours like the powder packets will (if they have sufficient oxygen).
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Old 11-20-12, 12:53 PM   #14
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Sounds to be a circulation problem.
A cooling of the foot or leg causes your blood vessels to constrict-contract, causing more cooling ... a cascade effect.
If this is a problem restricted to cycling, your saddle is likely the culprit, restricting free blood flow.

Try a different design saddle, a thinner one(?), noseless(?), or at least try canting your saddle to the left, which might allow better, unrestricted, blood flow to your right leg. ... ?

Also, I recommend a thin layer of closed cell foam as a shoe "pad". Better than open cell foam or pads.
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Old 11-20-12, 01:07 PM   #15
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Plastic bag between the shoe and the shoe cover doesn't do much especially if your boots are waterproof. Put the plastic bag directly on your feet to avoid contaminate the insulation with sweat. Have you checked if your boots are wet or not? Wet boots can take weeks to dry once they are wet.
Increase blood flow : maybe you could try adding a compression tight to increase deep blood flow in your legs.
Bigger boots if yours are too tights.
Better wind resistance : cut a plastic bottle and add it to the front of your boots to improve the wind resistance. But because you have tried the plastic bag trick my guess is the next point.
Better insulation with wool socks or neo overshoes.

The coldest part of the shoe due to the cold wind is the front on a bicycle. Unfortunately, the toes which are the part of the foot which is the most sensitive to cold are also at the front.
The effect is bigger riding a bicycle than skiing or walking because of the speed of the bicycle and the ground clearance (fluid mechanics: boundary layers)

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Old 11-20-12, 01:31 PM   #16
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So , get some winter boots and flat pedals. I like the sorrel type, with a removable felt liner. Or go with an insulated winter hiking boot, good for -40F. Buy them 1 or 2 sizes larger, so you can fit 2 pairs socks. And some chemical toe warmers. They have charcoal and iron powder in them, open them up and they last for 4-6 hours.
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Old 11-20-12, 02:32 PM   #17
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So , get some winter boots and flat pedals. I like the sorrel type, with a removable felt liner. Or go with an insulated winter hiking boot, good for -40F. Buy them 1 or 2 sizes larger, so you can fit 2 pairs socks. And some chemical toe warmers. They have charcoal and iron powder in them, open them up and they last for 4-6 hours.
That's the set up I had this morning, my Sorel boots and platform pedals. So I guess I'll try the chemical warmer at least once to see if it works, I'll take an appointement with the Doc and I'll try a different saddle because I sometimes felt numbness in my right foot during longer ride this last summer
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Old 11-20-12, 02:44 PM   #18
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You could try these as well, used for outdoor activities.

You squeeze them and they keep ypu warm for hours.

Place them in your shoes between your socks and soles of your shoes, never on bare skin.

http://www.sportswarehouse.co.uk/pro...l#.UK09nGfiKKk
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Old 11-20-12, 02:51 PM   #19
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That's the set up I had this morning, my Sorel boots and platform pedals. So I guess I'll try the chemical warmer at least once to see if it works, I'll take an appointement with the Doc and I'll try a different saddle because I sometimes felt numbness in my right foot during longer ride this last summer
If those are the same boots that worked for ice fishing, and you get numbness during the summer, then I would look at bike fit rather than a circulation issue. My boyfriend had a similar numbness problem (in his hands) and asked the doctor about it, and he basically waved it off and said "oh yeah, that can happen". He then went to the bike store and they told him his bike was too big - swapping for a shorter stem helped somewhat, but now he's thinking about a new bike.

If it were truly a circulation problem, then I would expect the same thing to happen during other activities.
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Old 11-20-12, 02:59 PM   #20
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Or a little bit of everything as changing boots improved the situation without totally solving the problem

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Old 11-20-12, 03:01 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
There is such a thing as Reynaud's Syndrome. It's quite common. Seldom to the extent discussed here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raynaud's_phenomenon
but having circulation reduced more than normal by cold is common. Most cyclists I know with this problem have a temperature below which they do not ride. Period. Chemical warmers do help, but for someone with Reynaud's not so much because they don't address the real problem, which is lack of blood flow.

OTOH, the ice fishing thing says maybe that may not be your problem. It could be a saddle or fit problem. Perhaps some saddle, fit, or clothing connected thing is reducing circulation to your legs.
Yeah - I have that myself and it can hit just as easily at the beach in the middle of summer as on a cold winter day. The best strategy I've found is to overdress which keeps the core temperature high and increases circulation to the hands and feet in an effort to shed excess heat through them. Underdressing does the opposite and circulation is reduced to the hands and feet to maintain core temperature. Sometimes the reduction is a little ...... out of control.
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Old 11-20-12, 03:06 PM   #22
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try canting your saddle to the left, which might allow better, unrestricted, blood flow to your right leg. ... ?
.
What do you mean by 'canting' your saddle?, I'm french speaking so there's some english words that I don't know yet.
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Old 11-20-12, 03:34 PM   #23
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Femoral Artery

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Originally Posted by dramiscram View Post
What do you mean by 'canting' your saddle?, I'm french speaking so there's some english words that I don't know yet.
Twist or turn saddle or seat a little to the left - should relieve pressure on right inner thigh.
Seat pressure possible near 20-21


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Old 11-20-12, 03:36 PM   #24
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Here are some guidelines for numbness. The problem with raynaud's syndrom (if it is the case here) is that there is no real explanation of the root of the problem

http://www.sq-lab.com/en/sqlabor-en/...talien-en.html

http://www.sq-lab.com/en/sqlabor-en/ergonomie-en/der-weg-zum-perfekten-fahrradsattel-en/unterschied-zwischen-mann-und-frau-en.html

General tips for numbness:
  • Select a more upright sitting position
  • Ride standing up
  • Do not ride with a heavy backpack
  • Increased pedal pressure relieves the pressure on the saddle
  • Reduced body weight reduces pressure on the saddle
  • Use thinner seat padding
  • Sit as far back as possible at the widest area of the saddle
  • Slope the saddle a little forward/downward
  • Optimize geometry (SQlab recommends body scanning CRM)



Last edited by erig007; 11-20-12 at 04:57 PM.
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Old 11-20-12, 04:28 PM   #25
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Try a wind barrier of some sort. I tried the plastic bag thing with little success. Then I got a pair of Gore City overshoes, they're windproof, and my feet stay plenty warm now. Keeping the effects of windchill off your feet make a world of difference.
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