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How cold will you ride?

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How cold will you ride?

Old 03-05-17, 08:00 AM
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RVH
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How cold will you ride?

I feel like I am a wimp because if it's below 50 I don't ride. Do any of you ride in the cold? If so, how do you handle the layers and not getting too warm, downwind/into the wind, etc.

Bob in New Hampshire (where it's +3 F and 30-mph winds this morning)
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Old 03-05-17, 08:12 AM
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around zero Fahrenheit but on my fatbike.

j.
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Old 03-05-17, 08:55 AM
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I commute to work by bike so I pretty much take what nature offers. In NC, there are usually a lot of mornings in the low 20s F and a few even lower. I think the coldest I have ridden in was 5 deg. F. Every winter I have to recalibrate my layering strategies because I forget from year to year (I would right it down, but then I'd have to remember where I put it!). In general you want to dress lighter than you would logically think. Sure, it's a bit nippy starting out, but you warm up quick. Hands, and to a lesser extent, face are an issue for me below 25 F. I install scooter mitts on my bars when it gets that cold and they do a great job keeping my hands toasty. I will wear a balaclava, too, but really don't like how it covers my mouth. It gets really wet with my breath and then becomes hard to breath through - probably need to make some modifications. We do have a State law that prohibits adults from covering their faces in public, so in the back of my head I think there is some small chance of getting challenged by police.

The big advantage for recreational riding is that lower temps thin out the user population on some of the trails around here.
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Old 03-05-17, 09:00 AM
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I'll ride as cold as it gets hereabouts ... mid 30s. It's been about 40F most days this week.
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Old 03-05-17, 09:35 AM
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I'm definitely a cold wimp, I'm sitting around waiting for it to hit 60 before I jump on the mountain bike and do some neighborhood single tracking. I'm good to around 95 or so on the other end.

Last week I started a club ride in the low 50s, but I knew it was supposed to hit 60 an hour or so later.
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Old 03-05-17, 09:44 AM
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I've been riding in subzero temperatures for over 60 years. It's just normal transportation. I recall one ride at -20 at the age of 13 -- the roads were empty, probably because nobody could start their car. That's an advantage of cycling.
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Old 03-05-17, 09:47 AM
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For me, the coldest this winter was 9 degrees. I wouldn't do that in 30 mph winds though.
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Old 03-05-17, 09:55 AM
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I've gone for a ride in single digit F temps many times. For me, it's not so much the temperature that limits me, but the conditions of the roads. If it's precipitating, and the road surface is questionable for a (road) bike due to ice then I won't go. But if it's dry and no chance of ice I will go. Obviously, even with extra layering, the temp sort of dictates how long I can stay out. When it gets down into the low 20s and teens I'm only good for about 90 minutes.
I've also learned, the hard way, that when I do ride in those colder temps that I have to be careful where I go. I once got a flat out in the countryside when it was about 20F. I took my gloves off to make repairs and my hands got too cold for that very quickly. And it's impossible to make those repairs with gloves on. When I tried to call my wife for a pickup I discovered that I was in a cell dead zone. I had to walk about a mile to get a signal...and by now freezing my a$$ off because I wasn't generating body heat. Moral of the story...stay in civilized areas when riding in extreme cold.

Dan
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Old 03-05-17, 10:04 AM
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My personal threshold is low 30s. Today is in the low 40s and I am going out riding for sure.

As far as layering, I go with Merino wool base layer, jersey (short or long, depends) and windbreaker or wind vest. On the bottom, I go with bike shorts under tights. Merino wool socks, and shoe covers. Long fingered gloves. If below 45 or so, merino wool gloves. Above that, I can usually just go with long fingered mountain biking gloves.
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Old 03-05-17, 10:08 AM
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50+ > for fun and enjoyment
40+ > when I need the exercise
30+ > only for transportation when necessary

~40F is generally my limit though. This is about where I can dress warmly enough yet still evaporate sweat efficiently though my layers, and don't really need face protection.
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Old 03-05-17, 10:08 AM
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When I started bike commuting seriously at 30 years old I'd ride down to 5F. Then over the next 22 years my low temperature threshold rose to 21F. Three years ago, after a snowy winter kept me off the bike and on the treadmill more than I wanted, I decided to push my threshhold down to 12F. Why 12F? and not 10F? That was the temperature the day I decided to ride, temperture be damned. Two winters ago I got a new bike and bought studded snow tires for the old commuter and symbolically pushed my low temp threshhold to 10F.

As far as how to dress, well, they are always discussing this in the winter cycling forum here on bikeforums. I found I had been dressing too warmly all these years and perspiring too much, and that would freeze and keep me cold. That if you can stand being a little colder for the first 10-15 minutes, the rest of the ride is pretty comfortable and much drier, owing to less sweat; and moisture is the enemy.

Every person is different, but the one thing that seems to hold true for everyone is to cover exposed skin at some point. Then it is keeping track of what you wore and how it worked out. I commute with a backpack and always carry an extra layer in case I misguessed, or of the weather changes unexpectedly. I can always remove layers if I get too warm. And in emergencies I have my street clothes, in the backpack, although I've never done that.

At 55years old my hands and toes get colder faster than I remember at 30, and that seems to be my limiting factor at 10F. I know I could get chemical or electric hand warmers, but Colorado Springs doesn;t get as cold as Toronto or Chicago, and had fewer truly arctic days.

The three biggest things that have helped me biking in the cold are: 1) Dress Less (As described above).
2) Loose Shoes. For my coldest rides I will wear cotton socks over wool socks and loosen my shoes and toe clips to allow for better circulation. (Similarly, loose gloves or mittens are warmer than tight gloves).

3) Anti-fog for the glasses. I just use soap. A few years ago, after scratching up my glasses I decided to start cleaning them with warm soapy water and air drying them, either with a hand dryer, or blowing on them with an empty pen tube or pinched straw. I just use hand soap, either bar or liquid form. And it's usually so dry in colorado in the winter I can just lightly blow on them. WHat happens is the soap leaves an light invisible film that acts as a surfactant which causes water to bead up and inhibits fogging. As I pushed my cold weather threshhold town to 12F and then 10F I noticed I didn't have the fogging issues as badly as I used to have, even with my belaclava over my mouth and nose. (Oh yeah, a light nylon belaclava just to break the wind, not anything heavy).

The bottom line is, the older I get, the more I realize everybody is different, and there is a wide range of tolerance levels, which change over time as we age. I say push your limits until it's slightly uncomfortable and see if you can adjust to that...and then push a little more another time. At some point you will not enjoy any of what you're doing. That may be a good place to set a limit; although there are some folks that aren't happy unless they're making themselves miserable. And if you're in the 50+ Forum, you are probably wise enough to avoid attempting anything too dangerous, although once again, there are some folks that will tempt disaster until disaster wins.
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Old 03-05-17, 12:49 PM
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I used to go mountain biking with a group of guys every single Saturday no matter what. Cold weather was simply NOT an acceptable excuse for missing. You'd get laughed at every single week until somebody else had an unexcused absence. I don't know what our coldest ride was but I know it was sub zero. I had some 3 finger mittens for my hands but feet are the hardest to keep warm. The most uncomfortable weather, by the way, is temperature in the 30's but with rain.

This winter I told Mrs. Grouch that my current go/nogo line for riding is 30 degrees. I have no doubt I could do it but riding in weather colder than that would require buying some different clothes.
Actually, 40 degrees sounds a lot better to me.
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Old 03-05-17, 01:07 PM
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60s
Snow shoeing or hiking below that.
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Old 03-05-17, 02:55 PM
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When I can get out, -6 C (20 F for my friends in the States) Sadly, Road bike in the shop for tune up, new brake handles, and moving bar end shifters to new Gevanelle brake handles. Hope to get her back this week. Mountain bike on trainer in the basement. Wife says its too cold to go out on the tandem.
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Old 03-05-17, 03:23 PM
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Mid 30's. About as cold as it gets around here.
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Old 03-05-17, 03:40 PM
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Eleven degrees yesterday with gusts up to 29mph. I found myself wishing I had brought my ski mask. I keep my rides short in winter, and only ride utility. I only have a three month window of optimum road riding conditions. You probably have it a bit harder up in Waterville Valley, with the elevation
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Old 03-05-17, 03:58 PM
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Mid 20s, anything lower and it hurts to breath.
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Old 03-05-17, 04:18 PM
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Here in the PNW we ride road bikes. The only people I know who broke the "never ride when it might be icy" rule broke collarbones.

My rule is not to ride after a hard freeze or snowfall until the temperature rises above 40 the next day. Other than that, temperature in the dry really doesn't matter to me. It almost never goes below 25 here. In the rain, I've become a wimp in my old age and won't ride in steady rain below 40 anymore.
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Old 03-05-17, 04:29 PM
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My lowest commuting temperature is the one in which my hands and feet become uncomfortable for a 40 minute ride. This temperature changes as the fall progresses. In November it's about 40 F. By the time I hang it up for the winter, I've adapted and it's upper 20s. The wind plays into this, also. I might not ride if it's 40, dark and windy, but if it's 30, sunny and calm, I might.
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Old 03-05-17, 04:32 PM
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Now that I'm getting "older" (I'm 72) I won't ride in anything colder that 45-50F.
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Old 03-05-17, 04:33 PM
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In the winter I'll call it "no go" at 14f. That's cold enough for me. In the springtime it's different. If it's 35-45f, no probs until my toesies go numb. Our spring is in stall mode and I'm back on the MTB for very short rides just to keep my legs somewhat in shape until the roadbike comes out again.
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Old 03-05-17, 04:34 PM
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I've ridden down into the 20s on my road bike, but below that it's no fun at all. But with the proper clothing it's no big deal. FWIW, I wear a Gyro ski helmet when the temps are below 35F. Makes a big difference.
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Old 03-05-17, 05:15 PM
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Being retired and older, my start temp is 65. That way I can ride in shorts. I hate riding with anything on my legs. I have a pair of tights, and have ridden in the 50s, but didnt like it much. As far as I am concerned cold hurts, and Im not into pain, thats why I ride bents too.

OTOH I will ride when the temps are up around 100.
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Old 03-05-17, 05:43 PM
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I'm usually so desperate to ride in March that I'll try my luck at least once between 0 to 5C. A few between 5 and 10. Anything above 10 is fair game, but I prefer riding at 25C or thereabouts.

Lots of layers at the colder temps. On top, a merino wool t-shirt, a fleece-lined jersey, and a waterproof windbreaker on top of all that. Down below, shorts, long underwear, fleece-lined tights, socks, neoprene booties. Full finger gloves at any temp below about 12C. Below zero, it's snowshoes or crampons on the mountain for me, depending on snow and ice conditions.

Remarkably my first ride this year was on February 25th. It was +18C. In Quebec. Yesterday, exactly a week later, it was -18C!!! Since I was just getting over the flu (it classified by my wife a man-cold until she got it, then she upgraded it to a full flu; she's allowed to do that, she's a doctor LOL!), I stayed indoors 1 meter from the wood stove.
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Old 03-05-17, 05:50 PM
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For my work commute (50-55 minutes) I'll ride down to the lower 20's or upper teens, (F) unless there is a killer head wind. I've done single digits a few times and had issues with frozen toes/fingers. For short rides to the store or around the neighborhood, even lower is doable.
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