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"Ideal" cycling temp

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"Ideal" cycling temp

Old 04-13-22, 01:56 PM
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noimagination
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"Ideal" cycling temp

https://pezcyclingnews.com/toolbox/i...-for-exercise/

Really? Neither 10C (50F) nor -4C (25F) sound right to me.
My experience is that I am "faster" when it is quite warm. I've not done any controlled tests, but I feel fastest somewhere in the range 78F (25.5C) to 84F (29C).

Although the article is in Pez, I don't think the study really applies to cycling. I think the following factors (in order of effect from low to high) make the "ideal" temperature for cycling quite different (higher).
1. Cold air is denser, at cycling speeds there is a perceptible difference between air resistance of cold and warm air, though the difference is small.
2. Increased air resistance due to extra clothing being worn, means that cycling at 25F, or even 50F, is less "ideal". Also there is a small amount of effort that goes into deforming tights or knee/leg warmers when those are worn. This is not noticeable for light tights/knee/leg warmers, but for thicker wind-front tights you can feel the resistance to your pedaling motion.
3. Better muscle contraction at warmer temperatures means you can apply more force to the pedals in warmer conditions (up to a point, of course).
4. Increased efficiency of evaporative cooling due to the increased airflow over one's body at cycling speeds means that cycling in colder temps cools your muscles too much. It is more "ideal" to cycle at warmer temps when evaporative cooling balances the heat generated by cycling so that muscles are warm-but-not-too-warm.

Eventually the deleterious effects of higher temperatures negate the positive effects of cycling at warmer temperatures, of course, but IMO the "ideal" cycling temperature is a lot higher than is suggested in the article.
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Old 04-13-22, 02:08 PM
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Any weather you can tolerate is ideal.

For me, day or night between -10c to +20c (+30c if raining) with winds less than 40kph

Not hard limits, but good guidelines.
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Old 04-13-22, 02:09 PM
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less than 4 mph wind, dry, above 50F below 90F
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Old 04-13-22, 03:46 PM
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I think it depends on how every individual can handle heat or cold








Last edited by rodymanners; 04-14-22 at 02:43 AM.
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Old 04-13-22, 03:55 PM
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My preference is between 62* and 64* depending of course on humidity.
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Old 04-13-22, 04:03 PM
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"Used Ta Could Ah" but not any more.

Now days its gotta be above 45F, day time, with dry roads and minimal traffic...

I have become such a weakling... Ha
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Old 04-13-22, 04:37 PM
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I don't focus on speed, so temperature is irrelevant to me.
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Old 04-13-22, 04:41 PM
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25C, no wind.
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Old 04-13-22, 07:31 PM
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I ride mostly in >85 F temperatures >60% humidity, year round . However, I found myself fastest in the 60's at humidity below 50%. Temperatures here very rarely drop below 60F so I have no idea if I will perform better at even lower temperatures.

I grew up and live in the tropics but my ancestors lived high up in the mountains. Never acclimated to the heat as well as several other relatives. Relatives from that tree tend to have strong aerobic base but weak tolerance to the heat.
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Old 04-13-22, 08:12 PM
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Seems like there was a similar thread here in the past year. For me, 60 degrees F (16 degrees C) is ideal. Cool but not cold.
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Old 04-14-22, 05:09 AM
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What is interesting to me is that this is a purported data-based study, presented on a cycling site, which reaches a conclusion that seems, on the face of it, to be irrelevant as applied to cycling.
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Old 04-14-22, 05:23 AM
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Warmer and more humid reduces aerodynamic drag and tire rolling resistance but destroys power output. If I am going to do a 10 mile time trial, I want it 85-90 F as, humid as possible, and low atmospheric pressure like right after a T-storm. By the end of the race, my power is still good but starting to fade. On long rides, I prefer colder temperatures, certainly below 70F. 60-70F is a nice range.
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Old 04-14-22, 06:55 AM
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
What is interesting to me is that this is a purported data-based study, presented on a cycling site, which reaches a conclusion that seems, on the face of it, to be irrelevant as applied to cycling.
If you look closely at the study, the test subjects were athletes. Most likely at the competitive levels and some are probably professional athletes. Higher watts / kg of athletes would certainly result to higher core temperature and if the heat is not dissipated quickly enough, may cause heat stroke. The lower ambient temperatures, the faster you can dissipate body heat and higher power output you can possibly generate without giving yourself a heat stroke.

In my own experience, I was a bit faster at higher temperatures (90F) when I just got into cycling and never had any issues. It felt easier to pedal the bike at higher temperatures. Perhaps due to less drag, less friction/rolling resistance, etc.

But now, at significantly higher power output, I can only achieve my peak performance at the lowest temperatures and that's 60F, 30% humidity for me so far in this tropical region. During 90F, 60% humidity, if I do harder efforts than a recovery ride, I get varying degrees of heat stroke symptoms.
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Old 04-14-22, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
Warmer and more humid reduces aerodynamic drag and tire rolling resistance but destroys power output. If I am going to do a 10 mile time trial, I want it 85-90 F as, humid as possible, and low atmospheric pressure like right after a T-storm. By the end of the race, my power is still good but starting to fade. On long rides, I prefer colder temperatures, certainly below 70F. 60-70F is a nice range.
Pretty good summary, though for me it would be 5-10 degrees cooler. I did time trials once a week for a three decades and my ideal conditions were 80 F, high humidity, and no wind. For long-distance rides, 75 F and low humidity are much preferred.
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Old 04-14-22, 10:29 AM
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Depends if the sun is out or not, but 60-70F.... Preferably with a tail-wind!
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Old 04-14-22, 01:53 PM
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Today its 55 with 20 mph wind gusts. Gonna see how cold it feels and maybe go ride .... maybe wave off. I rode several times in March down to about 40 degrees. I have decent gear and can handle it but man ....it is hard on my neck and not much better on my leg.
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Old 04-14-22, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by qwaalodge View Post
If you look closely at the study, the test subjects were athletes.
That is a good point, and one I did think of after I posted. You see pro cyclists racing with bare legs and arms in temps that would have me covering up, most likely because, as you say, they're able to put out so much more wattage than I that they can maintain their body temp. On a recovery ride, on the other hand, a pro would likely wear more than I, due to their much lower % body fat.

It's analogous to when my wife and I ride our tandem: I've got knee warmers, a wool t-shirt and a wind-front jersey; she's got full booties, thermal wind-front tights, wool t-shirt, wool ls base layer, ls cycling jersey, cycling jacket and cycling shell.
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Old 04-14-22, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
That is a good point, and one I did think of after I posted. You see pro cyclists racing with bare legs and arms in temps that would have me covering up, most likely because, as you say, they're able to put out so much more wattage than I that they can maintain their body temp. On a recovery ride, on the other hand, a pro would likely wear more than I, due to their much lower % body fat.

It's analogous to when my wife and I ride our tandem: I've got knee warmers, a wool t-shirt and a wind-front jersey; she's got full booties, thermal wind-front tights, wool t-shirt, wool ls base layer, ls cycling jersey, cycling jacket and cycling shell.

These aren't just runners, they're endurance runners, a really specialized kind of athlete. I have to wonder if this would generalize even to other types of runners, who likely have different body builds and shorter times to endure.
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Old 04-14-22, 07:08 PM
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Originally Posted by noimagination View Post
That is a good point, and one I did think of after I posted. You see pro cyclists racing with bare legs and arms in temps that would have me covering up, most likely because, as you say, they're able to put out so much more wattage than I that they can maintain their body temp. On a recovery ride, on the other hand, a pro would likely wear more than I, due to their much lower % body fat.

It's analogous to when my wife and I ride our tandem: I've got knee warmers, a wool t-shirt and a wind-front jersey; she's got full booties, thermal wind-front tights, wool t-shirt, wool ls base layer, ls cycling jersey, cycling jacket and cycling shell.
Perhaps true, on recovery rides. I wouldn't mind wearing regular wool articles either if the need comes to that. I ride all-weather. It just happens we have no winter here and never got to cycle in winter temps.

However, I have experience hiking up mountains at <0 C <32F. On one occasion, the temperature is just below 50F at the beginning of the climb. I wore two layers of wool. Not soon after, I began sweating and went down to just one thin layer of wool even with winds gusting to 20 mph. I imagine sweating even more if I was cycling. However, on a bike. I'd probably be wearing long sleeved jersey, long pants (no exposed skin) if the wind chill factor is down to 0C
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Old 04-14-22, 07:39 PM
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For me, I like it warmer. 81F/27C is ideal with about 40% humidity. Sunny and no wind is even better. I'm fine with temps ranging between 70F/21C and 95F/35C.
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Old 04-14-22, 07:51 PM
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60-65F and dry-ish is about perfect for me. Warm enough that I can wear a minimum of clothing, but not so warm that I need to manage a lot of sweat and drink more water.
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Old 04-15-22, 01:52 AM
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If I have to wear covers over my shoes, it's too cold to ride. For me there is no upper temperature limit, cycling is one of the few sports which keeps me cool as I can move fast enough for the wind to cool my skin. The only bad thing is that when having to stop for a drink or at a traffic light, when the wind ceases the body temperature spikes, and can cause dizziness and fainting.
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Old 04-15-22, 06:13 AM
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Originally Posted by 50PlusCycling View Post
If I have to wear covers over my shoes, it's too cold to ride. For me there is no upper temperature limit, cycling is one of the few sports which keeps me cool as I can move fast enough for the wind to cool my skin. The only bad thing is that when having to stop for a drink or at a traffic light, when the wind ceases the body temperature spikes, and can cause dizziness and fainting.
For me, it's true that I've not experienced an upper temp. limit (for just a ride, not talking about performance here), and I agree that when it's warmer you just sweat more and experience more cooling thereby, even when it's humid. However, though my body is not unbearably uncomfortable, I have had trouble with (a) my feet, closer to the even hotter pavement, can get painful; and (b) my head, with the sun beating down, the part of my head under the helmet, can feel like it's being hammered by the sun.
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Old 04-15-22, 06:46 AM
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I prefer cooler temps for sure. Yesterday was ~10*C and it was awesome. I've ridden from below -20*C to above 30*C and I would take the the -20 over 30, but maybe not over +20. I hated every second on the 30*C+ ride. Every lungful of air felt like the air had been baked. do not want.

I also prefer no wind but living on the east coast, that's a vanishlingly rare event. Anything under 20 kmh is considered low. Worst I've commuted in was gusting to over 70 km/h (in the summer) and the worst I've ridden in was gusting over 100kmh (winter storm - took more than an hour to ride 5km... probably could have walked faster lmao)

"perfect" for me is when I'm almost uncomfortably cool for the first 5-10 minutes of riding - those are the days I over-heat the least for the rest of the ride.
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Old 04-15-22, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Bearhawker View Post
I prefer cooler temps for sure. Yesterday was ~10*C and it was awesome. I've ridden from below -20*C to above 30*C and I would take the the -20 over 30, but maybe not over +20. I hated every second on the 30*C+ ride. Every lungful of air felt like the air had been baked. do not want.

I also prefer no wind but living on the east coast, that's a vanishlingly rare event. Anything under 20 kmh is considered low. Worst I've commuted in was gusting to over 70 km/h (in the summer) and the worst I've ridden in was gusting over 100kmh (winter storm - took more than an hour to ride 5km... probably could have walked faster lmao)

"perfect" for me is when I'm almost uncomfortably cool for the first 5-10 minutes of riding - those are the days I over-heat the least for the rest of the ride.
True, it's a lot easier to deal with the cold, just wear more layers.

Hot can be ok but ONLY if it's DRY. But Hot and Humid is just punishment. I think NASA or maybe the US Army tried to invent active cooling systems for conditions like these for soldiers and astronauts. Bottom line is, it's a lot more complicated and difficult to keep cool in the very hot environments than trying to keep warm in very cold environments.

And the fact a lot more people die in heat waves than cold spells or blizzards reflects the vast difference in difficulties dealing with either situation.
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