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Does anybody else here (from a cold weather place) ride outdoors all winter?

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Does anybody else here (from a cold weather place) ride outdoors all winter?

Old 12-06-06, 04:00 PM
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Does anybody else here (from a cold weather place) ride outdoors all winter?

I'm good down to 20º, sometimes colder, ride daily all winter. Snowstorms stop me, frozen crap on the roads - but that's rarely more than 2 days or so. Here's what I can tell you:

• You need a schedule that allows mid-day riding, or all bets are off. I'm self employed.

• Your body is a furnace. It provides all the heat you'll ever need. Your challenge is to figure out what clothing to wear to trap that heat. Trial and error. I can look at the thermometer and know precisely what garments will work for those conditions.

• You will need a knobby tired MTB for days when the roads are too sloppy/slick for your road bike.

• You need to tailor your riding to the conditions: I will often pick my route dependent on the wind direction - I always like to START with a tail wind. Nothing's much worse than a stiff head wind in the winter before you're warmed up.

• I am often cold for the first 5 minutes or so - but I hit that first 1/2 mile uphill and by the middle of the short climb the initial chill subsides.

The rewards for figuring out how to deal with winter cold on a road bicycle are substantial. But don't tell anyone, we'll keep it our little secret. I LIKE having large state parks to myself on dazzlingly gorgeous February mornings : ). I can ride for an hour and see ZERO cars/people. Love it.

I had 2900 miles accumulated for 2006 by April 1. I do ride more miles in the warmer weather, but the winter doesn't crimp my style too much all things considered. This is the beginning of my third winter of daily riding on the bike, and I'm starting to like it more and more. The cold doesn't phase me like it did in the beginning. It's 50% mental and 50% learning how to deal with it by dressing right/picking your routes, etc. Last year I had a few rides in conditions that I would have previously deemed untenable, and I ENJOYED them:

• 25 miles in the 15-18º*cold on my MTB (OK, didn't enjoy THAT ride too much)

• Got caught out in unexpected snow squalls twice on my 700 x 23c tire road bike, 40-60 mins. in semi-blizzard conditions, the road stayed tractable until I got home on both occasions.

• 63 miles on Xmas day last year, the last 35 miles in the 43º rain, the last 20 in the POURING 43º rain. It was fine.

Which only goes to show that once you're warmed up on a bicycle you can tolerate just about anything. Getting started is always the hardest part of the ride. This isn't about being 'dedicated' or 'hard core' or any of that nonsense. It's about maintaining sanity for me. I go NUTS when I don't ride. And my chronic back pain is much worse when I don't get out every day. Double motivations some cyclists don't have (I didn't 15 years ago, now I do). Coping with the elements seems the lesser of two evils to me.

I was OFF my bike with back issues for five long years. Now every day on the bike and active is great. Which is why getting dropped by the fast guys really doesn't bother me much anymore. Most of the things that used to bother me about riding doesn't these days. I'm just happy to be riding ANYWHERE, at all. Cycling is a gift, and I never realized how MUCH of a gift it is until I lost it. I've been back for the better part of two years now and my perspective has permanently shifted to a better place.

To paraphrase 'Get Smart':

Chief: 'Max, you'll be riding in the freezing cold, wind, snow, sleet and rain on days when no sane agent would EVER be out on their road bike. You'll face danger at every turn.'

Max: 'AND....LOVING it!'

Last edited by patentcad; 12-06-06 at 04:34 PM.
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Old 12-06-06, 04:02 PM
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in a word: yes
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Old 12-06-06, 04:09 PM
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I live in Central Pa and just took a short ride today. I'm pretty sure it's the last ride of the year and maybe on that bike.
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Old 12-06-06, 04:14 PM
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As much as I hate it, I'm going to try this year because I actually have the MTB now.

Monday was tough, though. Mid 20s, snowing, and 18-20 mph winds. I went for 37 miles and found out I need new gloves. My gloves are fine in the 30s, but the 20s killed them.

I definitely ride a lot less, though. I do a lot of 12 mile rides, which is to the end of the bike path and back (the bike path may suck, but it's empty this time of year). My theory is that I can tolerate any kind of weather for an hour or less.
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Old 12-06-06, 04:16 PM
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Boston all-winter rider here. I ride only when it's dry though. I can accept some ice patches but that's it. Riding on 28's now.
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Old 12-06-06, 04:17 PM
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I am good to 30 degrees. I find it interesting that you like the tail wind to start. I like the first half into the wind, cause then I keep telling myself the second half is all down hill. I agree with the state parks all being empty. Road the other day for two hours. One jogger and me.
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Old 12-06-06, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by botto
in a word: yes
+1
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Old 12-06-06, 04:41 PM
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I used to ride below freezing, but it's simply too dangerous on black ice. I had a bad fall just riding in a straight line over some black ice.

Now its just MTB over packed trails.
 
Old 12-06-06, 04:42 PM
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Yes except when it snows/rains.
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Old 12-06-06, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by donrhummy
Yes except when it snows/rains.
wimp.
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Old 12-06-06, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by donrhummy
Yes except when it snows/rains.

Snow stops me. As does heavy rain. But not light to moderate rain, I've gotten rather used to riding in that. Doesn't bother me much anymore. When the winds get over 25-30mph sustained, I'll sometimes bag it as well. High wind is pretty much the worst.
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Old 12-06-06, 05:00 PM
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mais oui. Even in the snow. Makes for some interesting riding.
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Old 12-06-06, 05:07 PM
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do you warm up on rollers or trainer before going out? I was okay down to about 40 in Atlanta. It wasn't cold enough often enough to justify colder weather gear.
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Old 12-06-06, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Dial_tone
do you warm up on rollers or trainer before going out? I was okay down to about 40 in Atlanta. It wasn't cold enough often enough to justify colder weather gear.
do you flog the bishop before gettin' lucky?
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Old 12-06-06, 05:13 PM
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Originally Posted by TheKillerPenguin
mais oui. Even in the snow. Makes for some interesting riding.
You're not kidding. That snow squall on Calls Hollow Road in Ramapo last Feburary was a bit too much like 'The Shining' for any self respecting roadie. I had my cellphone and I kept telling myself '1 more mile and I'll call Stony Point Taxi' but I kept going and within 20 minutes the snow abated and the sun reappeared. Whew.
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Old 12-06-06, 05:16 PM
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Originally Posted by botto
do you flog the bishop before gettin' lucky?
Many people do...you last longer that way.
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Old 12-06-06, 05:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Dial_tone
Many people do...you last longer that way.
endurance has never been a problem. guess that's the price one pays for all of those year lifting weights and shooting 'roids
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Old 12-06-06, 05:21 PM
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This thread is blowing my cover. No more responses. Let's bury this before all the bike weenies realize they CAN ride all winter. God, that would suck.
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Old 12-06-06, 05:25 PM
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Originally Posted by patentcad
This thread is blowing my cover. No more responses. Let's bury this before all the bike weenies realize they CAN ride all winter. God, that would suck.
doubt it, most weenies are wimps

coldest ive ever seen it get here since I went car free is -5 F and it hasnt slowed me down at all

ive seen the city get shut down due to snowfall 3 times, only one of those times did it stop me from riding, my mtb with studded tires had issues trying to go thru about 20" of fluffy snow, once it got cold and froze the next day is wasnt a problem though
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Old 12-06-06, 05:29 PM
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Originally Posted by botto
in a word: yes
Actually, four.

Same here.
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Old 12-06-06, 05:29 PM
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I commute 5 days a week to and from work, and then I'll go out riding on the weekends for fun.

During the commute I do have to ride more carefully because it's dark, and you tend to be in a hurry to get to work. I ride down a quiet side street most of the way, however once I cross the bridge, I get into Downtown traffic which can get hairy at times. You really have to watch out for the Chocolate mousse snow that has ice hiding under it, for it is slippery, and the snow will redirect your tires. I used a 240 count stud tire(s) that really helps. Having a good HID light also helps me to see the road ahead and any potential problems. I find it easiest to pick a path well in advance.

I dress with just a light base layer, a 100wt polar fleece, and a 3 layer Gortex Shell. For pants I wear a 100wt fleece pant and a 3 layer Gortex Shell. A balaclava on my head, DH ski gloves and I seem good from -10C to -30C so far. On the colder days I start out colder, but I'm warm with in 4 blocks, so far I think I have the clothing dialed in. Once it starts to get colder say -35C, I'll have to start wearing Ski Goggles.


Here are some pictures, because I like taking & posting pictures

-27C On the road to work





-15C Just Having Fun











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Old 12-06-06, 05:37 PM
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Yep, but i park the road bike in favor of mountain bikes.
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Old 12-06-06, 06:19 PM
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My last post was from work, I just got home. It was a good ride, -19C, and damn I'm breathing hard and tired.

It's a lot of work, for mentally you have to be ready for it each day, and physically, it's tough. The bike is a lot slower in the snow with increased rolling resistance, and deep snow can be a real slog fest. My front tire is at 30psi and my back is at 35psi for more floation. My saddle is 1" lower so I can plant my feet at a moments notice, this takes away from pedaling efficiency. Add to that I'm using DH platform pedals so you can't pull up on the up stroke.... My commute that is very easy in the summer, has me breathing hard by the time I get to work or get home.


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Old 12-06-06, 06:25 PM
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Realistically, 14 Farenheit (or -10 Celsius) is the last range that can be comfortable, although
with a Balaclava, double pants, double coat and double hat, you won' t be cold, but will
it be worth your while to commute in this manner, to work, for example? Nope!

Regarding a MTB, although I often dispise it in dry or good weather, when it's rainy,
or when there's 6 inches of snow on the ground, an aluminum frame MTB literally flies
over the snow and bad surface conditions, surprisingly, which is impossible to do with
a hybid or road bike.
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Old 12-06-06, 06:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Dial_tone
Many people do...you last longer that way.
Endurance is about aerobic health and state of mind.

Yes, I ride all winter. Yes, I ride in the rain. Yes, I am just a little bit crazy.
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