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The Coldest Temperature You Will Ride In Is . . . .

Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.
View Poll Results: What is the coldest temperature you will ride in . . .
61 - 70F
51 - 60F
41 - 50F
31 - 40F
21 - 30F
11 - 20F
01 - 10F
-9 - 0F
-19- -10F
Something else? - please tell us below. Thanks
Voters: 251. You may not vote on this poll

The Coldest Temperature You Will Ride In Is . . . .

Old 11-01-11, 09:15 AM
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The Coldest Temperature You Will Ride In Is . . . .

Winter is approaching in the Northern Hemisphere - so . . .

  • No or little wind
  • Clear sky, no precipitation
  • 10+ mile ride
  • Level or near level
  • Daylight
  • Average speed 12+ mph
Or as many of these as your riding situation fits. (And, I am sure I forgot something above, which someone will kindly point out to me. )

So, what is the coldest temperature Fahrenheit you will ride in?

And, what secrets do you have about staying warm???

Last edited by DnvrFox; 11-01-11 at 09:42 AM.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:45 AM
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I have now had a couple of rides starting out at 30 degrees, warming into the mid 40s. My issue has been cold fingers and watering eyes. The fingers I can deal with by getting different gloves or lobster mitts. But the eye thing is more difficult.

I wear a wool beanie under the helmet. Full finger gloves. Wool zip neck top, with extra long sleeves with a thumb hole, I pull these sleeves down to keep the tops of my hands warm. Plain old nonbiking windbreaker type light jacket. I would prefer a jacket with pit zips. Terry tights. Wool socks.
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Old 11-01-11, 09:47 AM
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I voted -9 to 0, which is about the coldest range I have ridden in, but only because that's as cold as it ever gets here. I would ride at lower temps.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:05 AM
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Saw this thread in iSpy (so I'm under 50). As a fellow Denverite, I face the exact same weather as the OP. It's supposed to snow tomorrow, so I definitely won't ride tomorrow. It also snowed on this past Wednesday, but the ground was clear of snow on Friday. I was lazy and didn't get to ride until Sunday. It was a brisk 45 when I started, and it warmed up to 59 when I got home. I was comfortable in my legwarmers, bib shorts, long-sleeve compression shirt, and jersey.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:13 AM
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The 31 to 40 range is about as cold as we see here in western Oregon, so that's about my limits. I've been out in colder temps (below freezing), but it's no fun.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:14 AM
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It doesn't get really cold in NW Florida but I rode a century in an ambient temperature of 21F with a 20-35Knot wind. Don't know what the wind chill would be on the chart. As the Road captain and the one that layed out the course I felt it was my duty to ride regardless.

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Old 11-01-11, 10:25 AM
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Our coldest ride of 2011 was on Jan 1. The temp was below 32 (26-30 I am guessing) when we left the park.

If I lived in a colder climate, I would have more cold weather clothes. I normally only wear lycra knee and arm warmers, and a jacket, but it usually warms up to the 50's Dec thru Feb.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:29 AM
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32 F, pretty much. I'm basically a roadie so it comes down to a decision between what's more heinous, riding below freezing or riding the trainer. If the roads are nice and clear and it's bright and sunny out, I might go a few deg lower than 32.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:34 AM
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The coldest I've gotten to so far is -19* with the windchill on a 13 mile commute. It was not a pleasant experience and I'm not looking forward to the next time. AT ALL!

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Old 11-01-11, 10:40 AM
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The parameters of the poll are hard to fit within the conditions I usually have here. I did ride Sunday in 28 to start but ended in the mid 50s. If it was forecast to stay in the 30s I wouldn't have ridden. So while I'll start on a sunny day in calm conditions in the upper 20s it had better warm up. I guess I would say if the temp wasn't going to increase, the mid 40s are about where I draw the line to start. I don't have many flat sections to ride so I have to deal with both climbs and descents and dressing for that is problematic when it's cold.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:40 AM
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I voted for 11 -22. I will ride with buddies on the road with temps that cold but would rather ride inside. Mountain biking in cold temps is really nice because you are going slower with out the wind chill and the ground is frozen allowing for super gripping as long as the track is snow and ice free. Wearing the proper clothing is vital in cold weather riding, over dressing can be just as bad as under dressing due to sweating and dampness in the clothing.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:41 AM
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I used to live in Michigan. I rode during the winter. I found that below 15 degrees, I did not get a decent workout because the wind chill generated by the moving bike kept me from riding fast enough to get a decent work out. Besides, at that temperature, it made sense to switch to cross country skiing.

Here in FL, it almost never gets below 31 degrees and very rarely does it get below 41 degrees.
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Old 11-01-11, 10:57 AM
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Road conditions are probably the limiting factor. I don't like to ride on ice or in slush.

My coldest ride last year was after New Years on mountain bikes up at Fair Hill preserve in Elkton, MD. I think that the wind chill was -17 degrees and the air temperature was just below freezing. Actually, it was a lot of fun, except where we had to cross smooth frozen puddles (scary) for a few feet at a time.

Anything above freezing isn't a problem if you know how to layer and have proper gloves, I think. PG

Last edited by Phil_gretz; 11-01-11 at 10:58 AM. Reason: Fair Hill - the old Dupont land
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Old 11-01-11, 11:15 AM
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I will start my rides when it is in the mid to low 30's as long as it's going to warm up at least to the low 40's. If it's going to stay in the 30's I'm usually on the trainer. I'm lucky cause I also ride motorcycles so some of my MC clothes and some of my ski clothes can used used for cold weather bike riding. Plus my wife is a seamstress/designer so if I cant buy it she can more then likely make it.
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Old 11-01-11, 11:19 AM
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I have pulled up in front of Bally's Gym at 9 degrees on my motorcycle. My comfort zone in those low temps are about 25 minutes tops.. On the bicycle, I have rode the 7 miles to the subway in 11 degree temps. I have on layers (4)motorcycle cold weather gloves. Comfort zone about 25 minutes. That means after 25 minutes, time to stop and get warm. I go pass my comfort zone, I am unsafe and freezing.

This winter I am thinking about getting some electric socks. I think they might work. Although I will come out and ride in the low temps, I will not mess with the snow/ice.
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Old 11-01-11, 11:28 AM
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As a lad I rode in any weather at temps down to -20 deg. Today (me at 65) that has changed to the point that I don't leave the house when temps dip below freezing. My legs just won't take cold anymore. Damn!!!!
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Old 11-01-11, 12:01 PM
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I checked the +10 range because at the speed given I'm still not in the frostbite category according to the wind chill chart. But, it would have to be a pretty special circumstance before I would ride in weather that cold.

I've ridden in below freezing temperatures a couple of times. One time it turned out to be fun. As the day warmed and I saw new territory and I was able to shed clothes it was a good time. The other time was a group ride with temps in the +20F range. The day was bright sunshine but cold and the route was hilly. It was never fun. My two reasons for riding are, first and foremost, FUN and fitness. That day brought neither due to frequent warming stops.

Now I think that freezing with the forecast it will warm is as cold as I'll go. On the other hand on a motorized vehicle like a snowmachine I have fairly routinely rode in -40F/C weather. Big difference though.
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Old 11-01-11, 01:25 PM
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No limit. One difference between cars and bikes is that bikes will start at all temperatures.

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Old 11-01-11, 01:40 PM
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I just started riding again(did as a kid and in college) now at 53, started April '11 so I haven't found my limit yet. I've gathered some cool/cold weather gear to keep riding as long as I can. The lowest temperature so far I've ridden in was on Sunday where it started out at 36F(2.2C) and ended, after 20 miles, around 45(7.2)--plus a nasty wind chill factor since it was fairly breezy. I'm hoping I will be riding when it gets in the 20s F here. Generally, we get a 2 or 3 weeks during the year in the teens with highs in the 20s. Most of the time Winter in my area is in the 30s to the 70s--depending on where the front is over our area. Hampton roads is a winter wonderland--you never can predict what the winter temperatures will be in this land. This reminds me...I need to get a balaclava in preparation.
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Old 11-01-11, 02:21 PM
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Temperature isn't really a determining factor, because you can dress for it, what is, is road conditions, around here, if it's below freezing, there is likely to be ice on the road, and I don't like riding on ice, studded tire are illegal for road use here.....
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Old 11-01-11, 03:05 PM
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I actually love riding when its between 50 - 55. I will, if forced, ride when its in the high 20's/low 30's but that is cold for me. Living in sunny CA I don't have much experience with really cold weather. On a trip through Utah, one morning started out going downhill when it was around 28 degrees. My hands and brain stopped working and I had to find someplace to warm up before travelling on. I think the downhill was the problem. Had I been climbing, the temp would probably be OK.

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Old 11-01-11, 03:33 PM
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I once rode to work in 18F (-8C) temperatures. Not fun.
Now that I'm retired the coldest I want to ride in is high 30s. That's with lots of sun and little to no wind.

On a related note, I've found that my average speed decreases (on either bike) once the temps get cold enough for knee or leg warmers and full finger gloves. It really slows when I add a vest or jacket. Seems my muscles are rebelling against the idea of being out in the cool/cold.
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Last edited by RonH; 11-01-11 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 11-01-11, 04:32 PM
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Voted 21 to 30 as that was the temp I rode in last winter-- Below freezing but not on the road. Too much ice on thin slicks and I am Chicken.

However offroad and Snow- Ice or Mud and there is not a great deal of difference betwen them--Except falling in mud and Snow is a soft landing. Ice still hurts. I have ridden when colder but below freezing is about my limit nowadays--Providing I can find that damn Ski mask that has joined the sock Fairy.

Edit---And speed goes way down. Still do the same routes and hills- Providing the snow is not that deep- but speed well below normal due to the 10Lbs? of restrictive clothing I wear.
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Old 11-01-11, 04:51 PM
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Under 50 here but I commute 365 unless there is a holiday.

In the PAC NW we get rain, sleet, snow, more rain, and a lot more rain. Winds can howl up to 30+ mph inland and double that on the coast.

As long as I can ride on the road and not ice skate to work I am good. I made the news last year for biking in a December "snow storm". There was no storm, just really big flakes that freaked people out.

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Embrace the suck patch on the beanie.

My commute is not level and my windchills would be about that except my down hills are 20+ mph. So 0 degrees with a 20 mph windchill is cold especially when you are getting pelted with sleet.
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Old 11-01-11, 04:57 PM
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When I was in my 20's and in the military, I did a winter survival training course in Greenland and handled it quite well. Now, I guess you can call me a wimp because I don't like cold weather and don't handle it very well. Thus, the reason I live in Florida. I can take the low temps as long as there is no wind. I just can't handle it when it's cold and there is a wind blowing, even a slight one. We get breezes from the Gulf and the bay and those winds bring moisture with it and it just cuts right through me. Since riding generates it's own wind, I usually don't ride if the temps get in or below the mid to low 50's. Then, it's trainer time.
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