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  1. #1
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    Winter slower than summer by about 15%

    I had a co-worker ask me how long it takes to commute to work, so I downloaded the recent 5 years of bike trips and had a look. I deleted all the distances greater or shorter than my commute distance to eliminate errands and joy rides and then plotted by month in order to have a look at seasonal variation. Then to put some numbers to it I defined summer as June, July, and August and winter as December, January, and February and ran some averages. Looks like about a 15% drag for me, all things combined (temps, wind, stupid studded tires, pedal swap to platforms for the winter, etc.). I'm in central Indiana, max summertime temps are up over 100F a few days per year, probably 105F excluding heat index effect, lowest wintertime temps are probably negative digits a few days per year, lowest I remember is about -7F, ignoring wind chill effect, and that was just a couple months ago. Anyhow, it makes a fun picture and it explains well why I've always moved my wake-up time to ten minutes earlier on Thanksgiving weekend.

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    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Neat graph! I think a 15% drag would be optimistic in my case, since I take an alternate route (which adds miles) in addition to the studded tires, deliberately slower riding, and the occasional tripoding/hiking over snow too deep to ride through normally. Oh well, it makes one stronger and faster for when spring comes around.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
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    cool

    The slowdown seems to start pretty early, lIke October, maybe even September

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    3/4 of December is in the autumn but everybody still considers it being in winter. 3/4 of March is in the winter but everybody still considers it being in the spring. Same with June and September.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Jim from Boston's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilbur Bud View Post
    I had a co-worker ask me how long it takes to commute to work, so I downloaded the recent 5 years of bike trips and had a look. I deleted all the distances greater or shorter than my commute distance to eliminate errands and joy rides and then plotted by month in order to have a look at seasonal variation. Then to put some numbers to it I defined summer as June, July, and August and winter as December, January, and February and ran some averages. Looks like about a 15% drag for me, all things combined (temps, wind, stupid studded tires, pedal swap to platforms for the winter, etc.)…
    Nicely defined and well-constructed graph, and it mirrors my own experience on my year round, 14 one-way commute. Beside many of the obvious winter impediments of the heavy beater bike, winter clothing, and sloppy streets, I have speculated a physiologic drag on performance. I wonder if the tissue fluids in the muscles, a mixture of proteins, electrolytes and water, might become more viscous in the cold weather, hindering the contractile properties of the muscle fibers, making pedaling more sluggish.

    Just one of those things I think about as I slog to work on those dark winter mornings.
    Last edited by Jim from Boston; 03-14-15 at 09:54 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member timvan_78's Avatar
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    commuting in the dark = riding more slowly?

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by timvan_78 View Post
    commuting in the dark = riding more slowly?
    Well, not for me, I love riding in the dark, and in this data set I'm covering the same route over and over, so pretty well memorized, even the road defects. Mornings seem to always be minutely slower than afternoons, but I figure that's due to not yet being awake for the first fifteen minutes while in the afternoon my balloon is full of the day's accumulated stress and caffeine.
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    Senior Member Bat56's Avatar
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    Instead of month you should try temperature. And figure out how to control for snow on the ground. Maybe do this by a data request for city plow time. But temperature alone would be cool.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bat56 View Post
    Instead of month you should try temperature. And figure out how to control for snow on the ground. Maybe do this by a data request for city plow time. But temperature alone would be cool.
    Well, temperature is always possible, but it's not so interesting due to winds causing more variation on a day-to-day basis than anything else. Maybe you're envisioning a clean answer like the nice red line, but there's a lot of scatter in there. Central Indiana really doesn't receive a lot of snow, it usually just gets cold and maybe an ice storm or two. Maybe one or two heavy snows per year.
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  10. #10
    meh Hypno Toad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wilbur Bud View Post
    Well, temperature is always possible, but it's not so interesting due to winds causing more variation on a day-to-day basis than anything else. Maybe you're envisioning a clean answer like the nice red line, but there's a lot of scatter in there. Central Indiana really doesn't receive a lot of snow, it usually just gets cold and maybe an ice storm or two. Maybe one or two heavy snows per year.
    WOW! I'm super-impressed with this data and graph!

    I know my winter commutes are slower, but I ride different bikes for winter and summer, so I can't make this comparison. However, I have noticed that the cold can have a major effect on my speed. When I ride out with temps at -10F I am much slower than when temps are 10F. I'm never sure if the cold makes the bike slower (stiff tires, grease is cold in bearing, ...) or is it the cold making my muscles less effective.

    Winter brings many challenges to extend my ride time: snow, ice, studded tires or fat tires, dark, longer routes, and generally more cautious about road conditions.
    I didn't say it was your fault, I said I'm blaming you. There's a difference.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Dave Cutter's Avatar
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    Nice job!!! Who doesn't enjoy a good chart! I just went digital with my cycling records. Looking forward to that kind of records.

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