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How cold is too cold??

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How cold is too cold??

Old 11-13-10, 09:49 AM
  #1  
cam05210
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How cold is too cold??

I've ramped up my desire to attempt to ride through the Fall/Winter months here in NC. Unfortunately, due to my schedule, my riding has to occur between 4-7AM which means the temps are now dipping into the 20's-30's at night and the sun is not coming up but the last 30mins of the ride. I got up this morning @ 4:30 to ride before work and took a long pause at the thermometer that read 29 degrees...needless to say, my Tempurpedic won the battle. So where is your cut off point?? I gripe and moan for the first 3-5miles, but once the blood gets going, its not so bad...just those first few miles are miserable...I need motivation!!
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Old 11-13-10, 10:03 AM
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The colder it is, the harder thou shall ride. This motto got me through plenty of Minnesota winters and a 40 mile (roundtrip) commute, where it was often below zero for weeks at a time.
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Old 11-13-10, 10:03 AM
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I can deal with a brief period of 20F temps - after 10 minutes I warm up. But the real limiting factor for me is ice or hard snow on the road. Definately beyond my commuting/traffic dodging capabilities. Lucky for me I live in Southern Calif these days - 30F-40F temps, no ice.
 
Old 11-13-10, 10:12 AM
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I also want to ride into the winter. I recently got back on a bike late in the summer months (used Huffy) and bought a new Giant Boulder SE in October. I don't know where my cut off point is going to be, but I do want to ride into the winter months. I do worry about becoming sweaty and cold out there. Agreed.... once we get out there it will not be so bad. I was riding in the evenings before the clocks went back an hour, now it's dark and rush hour, I just don't feel safe so the weekends are going to be my time to ride. I commend you for attempting to ride so early in the mornings.
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Old 11-13-10, 10:27 AM
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My cutoff point is when the snow is too deep to pedal through

It's all about layers. You need to be slightly chilled when you start or you're overdressed and will sweat. So far I've gone to 10 degrees. Fingers and toes are usually the victims.
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Old 11-13-10, 12:24 PM
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"Too cold"? I know what the words mean, but they don't make sense put together like that.

I commute all year round, even when the temperatures drop into the single digits. Simple low temperatures are, at worst, a mild nuisance requiring suitable clothes.
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Old 11-13-10, 01:27 PM
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My coldest commute last winter was 9F, and I cant imagine going much colder than that. Its hard to wear enough layers for that +windchill to stay warm for 10 miles and still be able to move.
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Old 11-13-10, 02:03 PM
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I'm cold just reading your responses...I can't fathom riding in single digits much less snow/ice etc. Maybe its because my riding is done in the dark...I imagineif the sun is out and its cold that's one thing, but dark and cold just seem so much less thrilling...wish I had a job that allowed weekend/daylight riding...I've recently purchased some nice base layers that should help...
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Old 11-13-10, 04:01 PM
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Have regularly ridden in temps down to 20F but you have to have the right clothing. The extremities in particular of hands- feet and ears. Ski mask and Sealskinz gloves and socks will keep me so I can ride without the pain of when everything comes back to life after being frozen. The rest of the body is layers with the Main points being breathable and windproof. But the best investment I made was a Thermal base layer of Vest and long Johns. Surprising how many times that after only a few miles I have to unzip.---Providing it is not raining.
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Old 11-13-10, 04:23 PM
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if the sweat on your skin freezes, it's too cold.
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Old 11-13-10, 04:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
"Too cold"? I know what the words mean, but they don't make sense put together like that.

I commute all year round, even when the temperatures drop into the single digits. Simple low temperatures are, at worst, a mild nuisance requiring suitable clothes.
Commuting is a great motivator to ride on very cold, and/or wet days especially since I know I will be asked, "You didn't ride today, did you?" I have a reputation to maintain. I have on several occasions in reply to similar threads asked that when one tells their war stories, please add the miles ridden besides the temperature. For my personal best on my 14 mile commute I left the house at 0 degrees F in downtown Boston and arrived at my suburban destination at minus 8.

The best definition I heard of a cold weather ride is one where your water bottle freezes solid--a good index of temperature and time (distance). For my commute, that usually happens at below 20, and more likely 15 degrees.
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Old 11-13-10, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Commuting is a great motivator to ride on very cold, and/or wet days especially since I know I will be asked, "You didn't ride today, did you?" I have a reputation to maintain. I have on several occasions in reply to similar threads asked that when one tells their war stories, please add the miles ridden besides the temperature. For my personal best on my 14 mile commute I left the house at 0 degrees F in downtown Boston and arrived at my suburban destination at minus 8.
My daily commute is only about 3ish miles each way. Of course, it's also uphill and usually into the wind both ways. (No, really, there's a hill right smack dab in the middle of the commute. Unavoidable without going a mile+ out of the way onto busier streets. And my ride is such that I end up riding partially into the southwestern prevailing wind in both directions, usually while going up the hill.) There's usually a meaningful amount of snow on the ground for at least part of my commute, too.

My shopping trips are a little farther, but not much.

My trips aren't as bad as some, but they're pretty bad by many standards.
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Old 11-13-10, 05:28 PM
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It's never too cold.

Too icy or snowy, yes. When you can't GO, there's no point to it.

Too cold? No way.
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Old 11-13-10, 05:52 PM
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I've done a couple of rides where it was around 30 when I started in the morning, and I couldn't keep my hands and feet warm. But that's mainly a gear question, and if you're going to be riding in that temperature a lot, I'm assuming you could solve it one way or another. People sure ski when it's that temperature.
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Old 11-13-10, 06:31 PM
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The coldest that I've ridden in was around -30F, but that's as cold as it gets around here. Had a former housemate who was from Fairbanks, and he'd ridden all winter up there where it regularly drops to -50F. For short trips where the temp is down to about -15F, I actually stay warmer on the bike than in the car (which is still not very), because the heater in my car sucks and takes forever to warm up.

There is no too cold, just too deep (snow, that is).
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Old 11-13-10, 06:45 PM
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Originally Posted by cam05210 View Post
I gripe and moan for the first 3-5miles, but once the blood gets going, its not so bad...just those first few miles are miserable...I need motivation!!
This actually means you're dressing just about right for your ride. I use 2-3 miles as my guideline, but every ride and every rider are different.

Sad to say that anything you do to make the first couple of miles more pleasant is likely to completely ruin the subsequent miles due to overheating and sweating through your clothes.

Originally Posted by five3x11 View Post
The colder it is, the harder thou shall ride.
This works really well for me, especially in those first couple of miles before I'm warmed-up.
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Old 11-13-10, 06:56 PM
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My coldest ride was a 6.5 km commute, and the temperature that morning was a crisp and fresh -40C/F. By the time I returned home that evening it had warmed up to about -35C or so.

My coldest century was this one ... (click link for story). I was doing a CAM (Century-A-Month) challenge and this was February's ride that year. The starting temperature was -32C/-25F. And no, I didn't bother carrying a bottle after the first lap because it froze solid within about 10 minutes.
http://www.machka.net/brevet/Coldest_Century.htm
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Old 11-14-10, 01:03 AM
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My coldest commute was -10 Celsius, a bit lower with the windchill (it doesn't get much lower than this in Toronto in January and February). I don't ride on snowy streets but cold days are easy as long as I dress for it. Ski helmet, goggles, face mask, rain jacket, warm long sleeve shirt, bike shorts, tights, windproof pants, wool socks, boots and ski gloves. Snug as a bug on my bike.
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Old 11-14-10, 12:47 PM
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ask this again in the Cyclocross forum, as the race kit even at the highest level
even in the snowy courses at the end of the season

is a skinsuit with some pretty light underlayer , but as said in #2,
the effort level is quite high,

at least for those that want to remain in the same lap with the leaders.
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Old 11-17-10, 08:55 AM
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HTFU!

Me and a bud (greaterbrown) did a century in the Catoctin mountains last December 29th in average temps of 28F and northwest wind of 20 MPH, gusts of 24 MPH. I rode the entire ride on Schwalbe Marathon Winter studded tires.

http://bimactive.com/ba/journal/archives/10783/20091229


2009 Year-end Civil War Century by greaterbrownbaer, on Flickr

In 2008, I did the ride, solo, in high winds, sideways snow and branches falling out of trees on regular road tires:

http://bimactive.com/ba/journal/archives/10783/20081231
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Old 11-17-10, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
My cutoff point is when the snow is too deep to pedal through

It's all about layers. You need to be slightly chilled when you start or you're overdressed and will sweat. So far I've gone to 10 degrees. Fingers and toes are usually the victims.
Originally Posted by Arcanum View Post
"Too cold"? I know what the words mean, but they don't make sense put together like that.

I commute all year round, even when the temperatures drop into the single digits. Simple low temperatures are, at worst, a mild nuisance requiring suitable clothes.
What they said.

Last winter was bad simply because of an ice encounter -- put a foot down to catch a slide-out, snapped a bone in the (L) ankle. Rode for four more weeks before the X-rays showed the break. THEN I had to wear the air-cast! (WTF?!?) Single-digit temps, meh. Layers.

Two winters ago, my job was at another location, across town -- 33-38 min. ride under better conditions; in the cold, blustery conditions of THIS day, it took nearly an hour. -5F, 25mph winds gusting to 40, black ice patches, and heavy traffic. It HURT, but I did it.

No more ice, period; snow, only if I can still see my tires (I ride MTB).
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Old 11-17-10, 09:11 AM
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I'm not willing to suffer a great deal... I've been commuting from the off-campus garage to the police station. Just little over a mile, so it's only a few minutes on the road. Lowest temps so far in the mid-30s.
With my "bike patrol" uniform, I'm pretty comfortable. I wear a fleece balaclava, put the fleece liner in my jacket, and wear heavier "thinsulate" gloves.
This morning, my knees were a bit cold. The bike patrol uniform pants are a nylon-type material with built-in bike shorts, but they don't have the double fabric on the knees you'd expect.
My big problem is the "non-allergenic rhinitis", which means my nose runs like a sieve when it gets much below 50.
I arrive at the station with my head tilted back to allow drainage.... Annoying.

Longer distance riding would require some more stuff.... I have neoprene "socks" at home, those and a pair of tights or knee-warmers would probably take me down into the 20s in some comfort.
At my age, the thought of hitting the pavement is pretty intimidating.... No snow or ice for me.
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Old 11-17-10, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by DX-MAN View Post
No more ice, period; snow, only if I can still see my tires (I ride MTB).
Studded tires my man. If you're serious about riding in bitter cold, snowy winters, they're the only way to roll.
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Old 11-17-10, 10:53 AM
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I grew up in Anchorage, AK. I rode my bicycle year 'round, even on the snow (no studded snow tires), even on the days when it hit -40 (which almost never happens, but it did happen, and my paper route still needed to be done, so on to the bike I went ...)

It's all about dressing properly. Thermal underwear, mittens (way warmer than gloves), boots, ski mask are what it takes at forty below, and it's not a problem.

Good times!
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Old 11-17-10, 11:41 AM
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Last year I would ride to class in 15F-20F. Two miles up hill into the wind. The worst part was that I would dress for the ride, which meant a light jacket, a wind breaker, jeans and a ski mask. I'd be freezing when I would have to walk to a different building.
On longer rec rides, I won't ride below 25F or so. I've got bad circulation in my feet, and I haven't figured out how to keep them warm. It just hurts too much for a ride to be enjoyable.
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