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  1. #1
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    cold temps vs. miles

    So in the thread "how cold is too cold" I mentioned the coldest I'd commuted in was 25f so far this year. Now this is on a 12 mile one way commute. I leave my house at 5:15 am so its dark, and the return trip is at 3:00pm.
    The first mile is usually cold till I warm up, then comfortable for the next 6 or so.. After that I've usually broken a good sweat. so when I pull up at a stop light for any amount of time I can get a little chilled. So balancing clothing ,temp, and distance can be hard.
    what I am wondering is those of you who commute in near zero to negative temps how far is that commute ? If my commute were 5-6 miles I figure I'm good to possible single digits so I might go intermodal when it gets much colder and ride to the train about 4-5 miles. Of course that means using a real beater cause the station is in not so great of an area and I'd have to leave the bike locked up outside all day.

  2. #2
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I have commuted at -40C/F. My commute was 6.7 km each way. Just short enough so I could dress warmly when I left the house and not overheat by the time I got to work.

    But I've also done a century in bitterly cold temps:
    http://www.machka.net/brevet/Coldest_Century.htm

  3. #3
    tougher than a boiled owl droy45's Avatar
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    Well my commute is 15.5 miles one way and if its that cold out, I will not sweat at all period. I try to always pace myself and not over do it especially in cold temps, because your body is consuming alot of energy trying to stay warm you can tire very quickly if your commute is fairly long. I will put on an extra under layer at that temperature and generally start out a little cold and quickly come up to temperature to be comfortable. In all my years of winter cycling I found that tempertures below 20degF I've needed to concentrate on staying warm and not worry about getting hot. In the mid temperatures like 30's and 40's things get pretty tricky to stay comfortable and practice makes perfect. Warmer than that then its shorts and jerseys etc so adjust that as needed.
    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

  4. #4
    Senior Member
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    I think I run a little bit warmer than most . I can break a sweat standing still. I guess I also have to
    work on pacing myself. I've stopped sprinting for lights , which is tough since I have 23 on my
    route.

  5. #5
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    If you wear merino wool as a baselayer and pace yourself, the sweat becomes less of an issue. The wool keeps much of its insulating value, even when wet.

    My commute is 6 miles, and I have done it down to near zero F, with temperature not really being a problem. At bitter cold temps, and assuming you have a good wool baselayer, the hands and feet become the limiting factors. For a six mile ride, thick wool socks are good enough to get me there.

    Another thing to consider in bitter cold is what your Plan B is, if you have a mechanical breakdown you can't immediately fix. Rare occurrences, sure, but know what your plan is. Carry a cellphone with a couple of emergency options, etc., or whatever is appropriate for your route.

    At six miles, you are talking about 40 minutes in the bitter cold, and absolute worst case breakdown of 3 miles from home or work. At 12 miles, double both of those numbers. Perhaps carry extra warming layers in case of emergency, if appropriate.

    FWIW, I've never had a breakdown strand me like that, I'm just considering possibilities.

    Good luck, I wish you success. Beating bad weather while cycling can be a joyful and rewarding accomplishment.

  6. #6
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
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    Back in the days of a short 10 mile commute, I'd go down to -10F, but didn't really enjoy it. :-) The last ten years, it's been 16 miles to the light rail station, or 23 miles all the way to work. I've "gone soft" and sort of bottom out at 5F aiming for the light rail, or 10F going all the way. It's a lengthy commute time-wise under summer conditions, and the added time in the winter due to cold, roads, etc., have put it into the "not worth it" category below those temps.

  7. #7
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    My commute is 13 miles in each direction. Central Indiana temperature range is 0F to 105F, plus heat index and minus windchill. I don't keep detailed weather records but probably only 1-5 days per year at 5F or below (wind chill would make that range appear lower), worse for me is the headwind as somehow it seems to switch seasonally and I generally get a strong headwind on the way into work during the colder months, which is an agonizing leg-eater, but staying warm is more related to dressing to suit conditions so it's been a few years since I arrived at work really too cold.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Fynn's Avatar
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    Reports of sweating in the winter always baffle me. I am not arguing that it doesn't happen, or that it shouldn't but personally, I never have it happen. I dress just warm enough to not be unpleasant at the start of a ride. That usually involves peeling off a couple of items before the ride is over but I never let myself get hot enough to sweat.

    Regardless, the length of ride shouldn't have much to do with it unless you are talking several hours. I usually ride around 20 miles in these temps and again, after warming up, few clothing adjustments are ever needed.

    Then again, I never "sprint" to lights or anything else. I think maintaining a moderately hard pace is the key. Enough to stay warm, but not enough effort to sweat. If I am sweating that is a sign that I am over dressed.

  9. #9
    back in the saddle bent-not-broken's Avatar
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    When my commute was 5 miles I rode every day down to -20F. The issue was making sure I had no exposed skin, with eyes a challenge. At the end of the 20-25 minutes on the bike by finger tips and toes were reaching their limit.

    I now commute 15 miles and 8F with a 12 mph headwind is my coldest. I definetly sweat and even with merino base layers I get chilled. Wind block on the front and back venting help. I find at 50 minutes my fingers and toes are reaching their limit. Any more layers and I would drown in sweat.
    Bent

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  10. #10
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    QUOTE=bent-not-broken;16301096]When my commute was 5 miles I rode every day down to -20F. The issue was making sure I had no exposed skin, with eyes a challenge. At the end of the 20-25 minutes on the bike by finger tips and toes were reaching their limit.

    I now commute 15 miles and 8F with a 12 mph headwind is my coldest. I definetly sweat and even with merino base layers I get chilled. Wind block on the front and back venting help. I find at 50 minutes my fingers and toes are reaching their limit. Any more layers and I would drown in sweat.[/QUOTE]
    Glad to know Im not the only one sweating in the cold. This morning it was a balmy 36 f . Shorts , windblock legwarmers,
    wool socks, wicking tshirt, windblock softshell, and bandana over baldhead under helmet and full finger gloves with minimal
    insulation. By the time I got to work the bandana was soaked. I've worked outdoors all
    my life and know how to dress for the elements. At least this morning I didnt feel a chill.
    Forecast tomorrow am 50 and drizzle. Shorts and tshirt. Nice !!

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