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Wow! I'm just breathless

Old 12-03-06, 07:37 PM
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Wow! I'm just breathless

What is it about riding in cold weather. I've lost about 2mph, and working harder, or so it seems. It it me, or are the lubricants stiffening up, or what? Um, I consider 25f to 35f to be cold. Go ahead and laugh.
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Old 12-03-06, 08:55 PM
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It's because you're wearing all that clothing.
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Old 12-03-06, 09:14 PM
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That's a possible. I thought it might be some physiological reaction to the cold itself, but probably not. If it were, people in the northern great plains states and interior Canada would have to hibernate.
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Old 12-03-06, 09:17 PM
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I've noticed the same thing, but I was guessing it had something to do with air density.
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Old 12-03-06, 09:29 PM
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Normal phenomenon. I usually lose about 3-5 mph in the winter. I've heard several justifications:

1. extra aero drag of heavy clothes
2. grease in bearings stiffens
3. air density
4. cardio is less efficient when pulling in cold air

Take your pick or think up more reasons.
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Old 12-03-06, 09:58 PM
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It is really tough when you are moving through cold air at speed. Low lying moisture chills you and slows you down. Getting warmed up takes a lot longer and breaks cool you down. bk
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Old 12-03-06, 09:59 PM
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Could you be overdressed? I was recently and I couldn't figure out why riding was so damn difficult. Then I took a heavy coat off and put a lighter one on and suddenly I was going much faster.
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Old 12-03-06, 10:25 PM
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Originally Posted by BlazingPedals
Normal phenomenon. I usually lose about 3-5 mph in the winter. I've heard several justifications:

1. extra aero drag of heavy clothes
2. grease in bearings stiffens
3. air density
4. cardio is less efficient when pulling in cold air

Take your pick or think up more reasons.
I'm going to go with highly doubt for #2 and #3 alex.
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Old 12-03-06, 10:35 PM
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I went out this morning in temperatures around 12f. By far my coldest ride this year. I was a little bit overdressed and definitely felt it. I was running short of breath on flat roads at a pace I could hold easily during the summer. I think wearing a neck gator over my mouth was interfering with my breathing too much, plus all the clothes add resistance.

But it sure felt great to be out riding.
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Old 12-03-06, 11:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Nermal
What is it about riding in cold weather. I've lost about 2mph, and working harder, or so it seems. It it me, or are the lubricants stiffening up, or what? Um, I consider 25f to 35f to be cold. Go ahead and laugh.
Ok..I will laugh. Thats bordering on tshirt weather.
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Old 12-03-06, 11:15 PM
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Oh thank God - I thought it was just me!
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Old 12-04-06, 04:14 AM
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Originally Posted by operator
I'm going to go with highly doubt for #2 and #3 alex.
Actually, going from 25C (77F) to -5C (23F) increases air density by about 11%. That equals an increase in drag by 11%. That alone should slow you down from 15 mph to 13.6 mph for the same effort.
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Old 12-04-06, 08:46 AM
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That much, CdCf? I'm surprised. That was the one hypothesis I was ready to toss.

Thanks Maelstrom. I'm glad we got the old horse laugh out of the way.
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Old 12-04-06, 08:58 AM
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The problem I have with "cold" weather (okay, I'm talking anything below about 45 degrees F) is that I have bronchial asthma that's triggered almost exclusively by cold air. Unfortunately, riding a bicycle in cold temps is about as bad as it gets for me because of the constant 'breeze" in the face and also because one tends to breathe harder when exercising anyway. Stubborn as I am, I try all sorts of things to combat this, from Bacalavas to scarves, and they help some, but basically I have to hit the exercise bike to get my fix if it gets really cold. I've had this problem since I was a kid; I don't have severe asthma "attacks," in my case it's mild bronchial asthma, but it's enough to slow me down or even shut me down at times. In another life, I think I'd live in the tropics-

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Old 12-04-06, 10:24 AM
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I know, well biked. I sold my last bike to a friend, and took her for a few rides in the early spring. She loved it, and ended up missing two days work. I do still wonder if the colder weather has a less noticible effect on those of us without the chronic respiratory problems.
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Old 12-04-06, 10:24 AM
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I have a hard time breathing in the cold, even if im just walking and its windy. A few times I was close to passing out. The worst time I was riding to work, it was really cold (in the teens F), and very windy. Had to get off my bike, pretty much fell off my bike, and crawled into a clump of trees to catch my breath. I could see the building I work in down the street, but it might as well been 100 miles away.

Another time I was hanging onto a light pole for a while, because I was so light headed from not enough air, wanting to ask somebody for help, but was to embarrassed.
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Old 12-04-06, 10:27 AM
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The same thing happens to me in cold weather too--except that I get the urge to ride every November after about 9 weeks of travel and no cycling. I blame it on the extra drag from the clothing and the extra pooch I've added from the travelling
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Old 12-04-06, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by well biked
The problem I have with "cold" weather (okay, I'm talking anything below about 45 degrees F) is that I have bronchial asthma that's triggered almost exclusively by cold air. Unfortunately, riding a bicycle in cold temps is about as bad as it gets for me because of the constant 'breeze" in the face and also because one tends to breathe harder when exercising anyway. Stubborn as I am, I try all sorts of things to combat this, from Bacalavas to scarves, and they help some, but basically I have to hit the exercise bike to get my fix if it gets really cold. I've had this problem since I was a kid; I don't have severe asthma "attacks," in my case it's mild bronchial asthma, but it's enough to slow me down or even shut me down at times. In another life, I think I'd live in the tropics-
I have problems with broncial asthma as well and your post reall hits home. My ride today started around 40 degrees with a slight easterly wind. Within 10 minutes I was sweating even though I was underdressed and I could already feel that cold air bothering my chest. 15 miles later I get home and the cold air is bothering my chest so much I'm nauseous. Normally the cold air doesn't bother me that much, but this was my first ride in temps this cold since last winter so I think my body has some acclimating to do. Even then the cold air does bother me some.

I would try a bacalava or a scarf, but I'll sweat to death within a few minutes. My solution is to try and keep my chest as warm as possible. This means a jacket or vest when temps are under the mid 60s...even then I may use one because of the cool ocean breeze. Once I get home I drink some hot tea and rub vasoline on my chest to get some warmth in there.
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Old 12-04-06, 11:36 AM
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Originally Posted by here and there
I have problems with broncial asthma as well and your post reall hits home. My ride today started around 40 degrees with a slight easterly wind. Within 10 minutes I was sweating even though I was underdressed and I could already feel that cold air bothering my chest. 15 miles later I get home and the cold air is bothering my chest so much I'm nauseous. Normally the cold air doesn't bother me that much, but this was my first ride in temps this cold since last winter so I think my body has some acclimating to do. Even then the cold air does bother me some.

I would try a bacalava or a scarf, but I'll sweat to death within a few minutes. My solution is to try and keep my chest as warm as possible. This means a jacket or vest when temps are under the mid 60s...even then I may use one because of the cool ocean breeze. Once I get home I drink some hot tea and rub vasoline on my chest to get some warmth in there.
Yep, it's frustrating. I first realized I had this problem when I was around eight, and I remember when I was in junior high I was on the cross country track team, and a few days before our biggest meet it got cold and wet, which put me in distress and I couldn't run in the meet. Back then I didn't have the sense to take many preventative measures, and I'm sure I was out running in the cold leading up to the big meet...........I'm forty-four now, and there was a time a few years ago that I rode with a doctor quite quite a bit, and she had severe asthma. When she found out about my problem, she encouraged me to go to my doctor and ask about Advair, which is basically a preventative maintenance medicine for asthmatics. I did, and the doc put me through a bunch of respiratory tests, gave me "breathing treatments," etc. And I was put on Advair and took it for about three months during the winter. It did me no good, unfortunately. I've known my doctor since we were both about two, and once I said to him, "look, you know how much I love to ride a bicycle. Is there anything I can do so that I can keep riding through the winter without this bronchial problem flaring up?" Actually, I think that's when he put me through the breathing treatments, prescribed Advair, etc. I've pretty much resigned myself to having this problem (believe me, it could be worse), and I've learned how to control it pretty well with limiting my exposure in the worst conditions. During normal activity (walking around, not excercising hard) I'm rarely affected by the cold, it's only if I do vigorous exercise in cold weather that I'm seriously affected, and I'm never affected in warm weather. A cold wind in the face, though, is pretty tough on me, and unfortunately that's pretty hard to avoid on a bicycle during cold weather.

One more thing: is anyone else who has a similar problem very prone to bronchitis? I've had bronchitis more times than I can count, and it usually ends up with an antibiotic prescription being the only thing that will knock it out.

Sorry to threadjack-

Last edited by well biked; 12-04-06 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 12-04-06, 11:44 AM
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It's my thread, well biked. Some of this is usefull to me, some to others, so just threadjack till your heart's content.
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Old 12-04-06, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Nermal
It's my thread, well biked. Some of this is usefull to me, some to others, so just threadjack till your heart's content.
Thanks, Nermal.
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Old 12-04-06, 11:58 AM
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i'm a lot more stiff in the cold as well. i don't feel like i have the same range of motion that i do in the summer. getting far down in the drops is harder, my muscles take a while to warm up, my nose is dripping all the time, and my lungs can only take in a limited amount of cold air. all those little things add up. plus, it's generally more windy as well.
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Old 12-04-06, 12:04 PM
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This is a well known phenomena. There are a lot of reasons given and I'm sure a lot of them are valid. At the end of the ride, you are slower, that's all that matters. I have one typical route that i ride year round. In the winter it takes me about (conditions vary) 15 minutes longer to complete 21 miles on my mountain bike on unpaved roads. This is considering temps below freezing, the lower the slower.
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Old 12-04-06, 12:41 PM
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I'm a bit of a newbie- bought a bike in April and have ridden the short (2.5 mi) commute to work virtually every day since. I'm determined to cycle through the winter, but today was the first day that hovered around freezing and I really noticed what you guys are talking about. I felt so sluggish, and not just because of the wind. I haven't had real asthma problems since childhood but I was definitely kinda winded when I got to work (instead of not winded at all.)
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Old 12-04-06, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by well biked
Yep, it's frustrating. I first realized I had this problem when I was around eight, and I remember when I was in junior high I was on the cross country track team, and a few days before our biggest meet it got cold and wet, which put me in distress and I couldn't run in the meet. Back then I didn't have the sense to take many preventative measures, and I'm sure I was out running in the cold leading up to the big meet...........I'm forty-four now, and there was a time a few years ago that I rode with a doctor quite quite a bit, and she had severe asthma. When she found out about my problem, she encouraged me to go to my doctor and ask about Advair, which is basically a preventative maintenance medicine for asthmatics. I did, and the doc put me through a bunch of respiratory tests, gave me "breathing treatments," etc. And I was put on Advair and took it for about three months during the winter. It did me no good, unfortunately. I've known my doctor since we were both about two, and once I said to him, "look, you know how much I love to ride a bicycle. Is there anything I can do so that I can keep riding through the winter without this bronchial problem flaring up?" Actually, I think that's when he put me through the breathing treatments, prescribed Advair, etc. I've pretty much resigned myself to having this problem (believe me, it could be worse), and I've learned how to control it pretty well with limiting my exposure in the worst conditions. During normal activity (walking around, not excercising hard) I'm rarely affected by the cold, it's only if I do vigorous exercise in cold weather that I'm seriously affected, and I'm never affected in warm weather. A cold wind in the face, though, is pretty tough on me, and unfortunately that's pretty hard to avoid on a bicycle during cold weather.

One more thing: is anyone else who has a similar problem very prone to bronchitis? I've had bronchitis more times than I can count, and it usually ends up with an antibiotic prescription being the only thing that will knock it out.

Sorry to threadjack-
In my case I had bad problems with asthma/bronchitis as a kid. It was so bad the doctors told my mom I'd have to wear a sweater or something to keep my chest warm year round. To some extent, that's true. For bike riding I pretty much keep my chest covered year round (usually with a wind vest), except in the hottest of summer days and I keep myself covered up whenever I'm in an air conditioned environment.

My asthma/bronchitis problems died down for many years and in my teenage years it flared up pretty bad again. I'm 24 years old now and the only time I feel the asthma bother me is during exercise in the cold...actually just with bike riding because of the increased wind, during heavy pollen times (pine tree pollen is the #1 culprit), when I work in dusty environments, and during heavy santa ana winds when it is dry as a bone and very dusty. My asthma has never been so bad that I have needed an inhaler...I've only needed an inhaler a few times when I got very sick with bronchitis. Cycling has been a godsend for me. It is much more comfortable than running and it has strengthened my lungs. I do pilates and yoga regularly which has also helped strengthen my lungs.

I'll avoid riding in the rain as for me that's bronchitis waiting to happen and I avoid dry, dusty, windy conditions. Once I get warmed up the cold isn't so bad, but the killer for me is that within the first 2 minutes of leaving the driveway I encounter a hill where I easily reach 25-26 mph just coasting. During the warm months, I love it, but when it is 40 degrees out and I've just left a relatively warm house going down that hill chills every bone in my body. A few minutes later I encounter another hill where I can reach similar speeds just coasting. It was after going down the first hill today when I began to feel nauseous because of how badly my chest hurt. I've never had lung burn that bad and I hope I never do again. I definantly need to find some sort of face mask to use at least during those two descents and when I encounter a cold headwind.

And as far as bronchitis is concerned, everytime I get sick there is a chance I'll develop bronchitis so I'm extra careful when I'm sick to give myself plenty of recovery time. Eating a healthier diet, drinking herbal teas, and eating foods that help strengthen the bronchiols (radishes for example) have helped cut down on me getting bronchitis.

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