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extreme cold danger cycling

Old 01-13-22, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
good rider! how did it go?
Went well.

Went out riding again last night. Was 27 degrees.
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Old 01-13-22, 10:23 AM
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Odd that it hasn't occurred to anyone to go tubeless. Yes, you might need different rims. Even when I was a kid, car tires were tubeless.

Which is another story. I drove to a party on a particularly cold winter day, giving a ride to some other people. So we partied and then got back in the car to go home. Now then, when a car has been parked for a while in real cold, the bottom of the tire is flat, right? Except that it's frozen flat. The rubber has to warm up by driving on the tires, thump, thump, thump. Which becomes syncopated after going around a corner. Anyway, on this night the tires were frozen so hard that the first thump broke the bead on one of them. So this is back in HS. Rather like the frostbite scars on native men, boys did not wear hats nor boots. Required wear was bare head and ears and loafers. We're Alaskans, right? I did have a car coat and thin leather gloves. So I left the engine running for my riders and changed the tire. Luckily only one tire popped its bead. We went on our way. That's how it is when it's cold.

Or just don't do it. There's a guy I know in Kotzebue who has written about the enormous PITA it is to ride in extreme cold. Basically, your wheels don't go around very well. Your chain doesn't go around very well. Your freewheel is sticky. You have to sit on the saddle and hold on to the bars, neither of which is much fun. I think he used a blowtorch to warm up his hubs.

On my bikes, I always carry a spare tire. I hate that process of trying to find the cause, so I simply replace tube and tire and worry about it later. That's so much quicker and more sure-fire.

Alaska stories. Every Alaskan has 'em. Can't live there without acquiring a few. Then there was the time when I was about 8, playing outside in the summer and a wolf pack entered our clearing . . .

One of the tricks of living the the cold is learning how to exhale so that your outbreath warms your nose. Otherwise it'll freeze.
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Old 01-13-22, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by prj71
Went well. Went out riding again last night. Was 27 degrees.
nice. after my snowy ride last week at 29 degrees I don't mind saying the high 20s is not bad at all. different than my memories of the teens, which I haven't ridden in years
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Old 01-13-22, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
Alaska stories. Every Alaskan has 'em. Can't live there without acquiring a few. Then there was the time when I was about 8, playing outside in the summer and a wolf pack entered our clearing . . .
yikes! learning a lot today! I suspect it would be impossible to defend yourself from a pack of wolves. reminds me of the final scenes of Liam Neeso's movie "The Grey"!
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Old 01-13-22, 02:10 PM
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I well known in the local community for my ability to ride in the cold (and I'm nothing compared with some of the folks I know). I'll ride in -30F/-35C (air temp), and I've done 50 and 100 mile rides in the rain/snow/slush with temps around freezing.

I can ride all day in the cold. But, like many have posted, getting stopped in these conditions can be a problem. I've had a mechanical a few times in the sub-zero temps, and walked 3-4 miles to get back to the house; and I've been lucky to have Frau Toad drive to find me and get me home. For these winter rides, I'm taking tools, tubes, pump, and chemical hand warmers to make sure my fingers can do the work in the cold.

FWIW, I've been planning/training for the Arrowhead 135 for a while, being able to solve a mechanical in the dark and coldest temps you can imagine is a critical skill for this event (like survival-critical) ... and I think I'll finally have the gear I need for next year. My biggest key to success is a bulletproof bike that I know I can trust, and my Pugsley has been that bike. The only times it's failed me was that one winter when I thought I could make my Marge Lite rims tubeless, they are not tubeless compatible, but I've never had flat with tubes.

Here's some shameless self-promotion:

This is from the 2017 Almanzo 100 with temps just above freezing and rain/sleet all day. This course has three support stops on course, I blew straight through the first one, the second (mile 66) is a camp site with a shelter and a fire ... we stopped long enough to use a toilet and refill bottles, many riders were ending their day here with the warmth and shelter. My little group kept our break short and got back on the road. We stopped again, very briefly for the third stop ... I was cooling off too quickly without shelter at this stop to stay more than a minute. The Toad is on the right of the pic with the drop-bar fatbike.



The 2018 Filthy 50 (AKA The Filthiest 50) snow/slush with temps below freezing. I didn't stop once on this ride, and I was feeling the cold ... hard to get the muscles to fire. This ride had many riders turn around after 5 miles to ride back to the start, they just couldn't warm up. Yes, my right hand is bare, the glove is in my jacket, I rode without my glove for many miles to make it easier to get food.




On January 2020, Minneapolis had a polar vortex with air temps nearly -30F (this is not windchill). I did a 90 minute training ride and saw commuters out riding and bumped into a buddy. I made a point to keep it close to home on well populated routes incase anything went wrong.

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Old 01-13-22, 02:12 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
yikes! learning a lot today! I suspect it would be impossible to defend yourself from a pack of wolves. reminds me of the final scenes of Liam Neeso's movie "The Grey"!
Correct. The rest of the story is that they looked neither to the left nor to the right, but passed through the clearing nose to tail and completely ignored my brother and I, who held completely still, not that that did any good. They were on a mission and disappeared into the trees on the other side. "Fear is the little death." Although the French would disagree.
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Old 01-13-22, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
Correct. The rest of the story is that they looked neither to the left nor to the right, but passed through the clearing nose to tail and completely ignored my brother and I, who held completely still, not that that did any good. They were on a mission and disappeared into the trees on the other side. "Fear is the little death." Although the French would disagree.
I was in the woods of NH, early one morning, exploring in my 4x4 while my family slept in a tent some distance away. I was hoping to find a moose to photo just after sunrise. found myself near a river but on an animal trail/path in tall grass. I heard something & turned around, it was daylight now. what I heard was a large coyote? it was walking with a limp. when it entered my path, behind me, from a cross trail, it turned it's head & looked at me. stopped for a second, I was motionless, petrified really, didn't even lift my camera, we were both motionless for a second. then it turned & walked away with a limp on a rear leg, like animals limp when they are missing a foot or leg, but I might be exaggerating. the grass was too tall for me to see it's legs, just it's shoulders. I guess it figured I wasn't a threat. biggest coyote I had ever seen. shortly after, I found my way back to my truck after getting a photo of a duck
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Old 01-13-22, 03:21 PM
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I was following another cyclist at dusk, maybe 1/4 mile back, on the Natchez Trace Parkway. After the other rider passed a point, a coyote trotted out, paused in the road, and sniffed the air. Then it saw or heard me coming and casually trotted back off the road.

Generally I'm not concerned about coyotes, but it did make we wonder what's going on behind me.
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Old 01-13-22, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy
Odd that it hasn't occurred to anyone to go tubeless. Yes, you might need different rims. Even when I was a kid, car tires were tubeless.

Which is another story. I drove to a party on a particularly cold winter day, giving a ride to some other people. So we partied and then got back in the car to go home. Now then, when a car has been parked for a while in real cold, the bottom of the tire is flat, right? Except that it's frozen flat. The rubber has to warm up by driving on the tires, thump, thump, thump. Which becomes syncopated after going around a corner. Anyway, on this night the tires were frozen so hard that the first thump broke the bead on one of them. So this is back in HS. Rather like the frostbite scars on native men, boys did not wear hats nor boots. Required wear was bare head and ears and loafers. We're Alaskans, right? I did have a car coat and thin leather gloves. So I left the engine running for my riders and changed the tire. Luckily only one tire popped its bead. We went on our way. That's how it is when it's cold.

Or just don't do it. There's a guy I know in Kotzebue who has written about the enormous PITA it is to ride in extreme cold. Basically, your wheels don't go around very well. Your chain doesn't go around very well. Your freewheel is sticky. You have to sit on the saddle and hold on to the bars, neither of which is much fun. I think he used a blowtorch to warm up his hubs.

On my bikes, I always carry a spare tire. I hate that process of trying to find the cause, so I simply replace tube and tire and worry about it later. That's so much quicker and more sure-fire.

Alaska stories. Every Alaskan has 'em. Can't live there without acquiring a few. Then there was the time when I was about 8, playing outside in the summer and a wolf pack entered our clearing . . .

One of the tricks of living the the cold is learning how to exhale so that your outbreath warms your nose. Otherwise it'll freeze.
I had to tube a tubeless tire on the road a few month back, due to sidewall damage. It was tough but manageable in that situation, but with cold fingers it would have more stressful for sure.

My strategy is simply to always be able to get to safety on foot. I'm quite capable of roadside repairs for typical issues, but unexpected things sometimes happen. I don't rely on a functional bike to keep me alive.
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Old 01-13-22, 04:38 PM
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I’ve ”always” been able to work myself warm, so apart from hands and feet, riding in the cold hasn’t been a problem for me.
Then one afternoon, I was riding home from work at about -18C/ 0F, and something just wasn’t right.
Couldn’t get my heartrate up, couldn’t keep my speed up.
When I finally got home, I was so cold that I couldn’t unlock the door. Not only b/c the key was such a small and fiddly thing, but also b/c I wasn’t entirely clear on how to operate it.
Wife had to help me in, help me out of my clothes and into the bath. After a 30 minutes soak I STARTED to shiver. Change of water and another soak before I stopped.
After some investigation, it turned out that I had developed asthma, triggered by cold air exercise. This was what prevented me from putting in enough effort to maintain body heat.
Quite scary in hindsight.
Partly b/c when I ride, ski or skate, that somehow blocks the sensation of being cold. I don’t shiver, teeth don’t chatter. Nothing. No warning.
Well, it can feel a bit nippy to the exposed skin, nose, cheeks - but that’s about it.
I usually feel OK - until I stop.
And when I do, I can be in such poor state that there’s no guarantee I can get going again.
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Old 01-14-22, 04:50 AM
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that chamois cream works well to protect from cold, use that from the knees all the way up to the stomach, insides of thighs and stomach get beet red without it, made a huge batch from a copycat recipe otherwise it would get expensive quick.

i just realized that if i ditch the spare wheel and replace the weight of the wheel with an equal weight snickers bars that i could walk home in the cold for 50 miles after a failed flat tire repair and get a better workout as well as a story to impress the local LBS crowd. Would not be anything like the Sami rain deer herders who thrive at minus60, who, BTW are facing hard times as the Artic is warming at a rate 4 times higher than predicted. The Sami have a hundred different names for snow and ice, depending on what kind it is.
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Old 01-14-22, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by cjenrick
The Sami have a hundred different names for snow and ice, depending on what kind it is.
ha!
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Old 01-14-22, 09:41 PM
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I bike commute to work (about 14 miles each way) and even during Winter time. Rode out when it was -10 F last week. Several layers of clothing is what I use on my steel bike with Schwalbe studded tires. Had a flat last week going through some unpaved trails. Made it to work barely and had to change out there. Just curious how you guys keep those tires from deflating on the ice and snow.
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Old 01-15-22, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Pugs2xLove
Just curious how you guys keep those tires from deflating on the ice and snow.
magic wand ... hehe just kidding. yikes, that ride sounds harrowing
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Old 01-15-22, 06:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Pugs2xLove
Just curious how you guys keep those tires from deflating on the ice and snow.
I very rarely get a flat in winter. The snow and ice cover all the sharp objects.
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Old 01-16-22, 06:36 AM
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all day road trip in the car, 4 degrees to start the day, 15 degrees at my destination, then home at 8 degrees. no auto flats. yay. saw / came across a serious 3 car highway accident at a highway spilt. 1 car wound up on ea. side of the split w/ 1 car head-on into the split. big sand barrels took the blow & lots of airbags deployed. no one was out of the cars & it was such a dangerous area I couldn't imagine stopping to help. called 911 & the dispatcher was already on it. feel bad for that 1 car and also the 1st responders. when it's brutal out - it's best to stay in. for yourself & anyone that has to come help you

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Old 01-17-22, 05:56 PM
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Most of the times I have got dangerously cold, the temperate wasn't actually very cold at all. When it is extremely cold I'm more likely to increase my margin for safety by limiting time outside and staying closer to home.

Often it is close to freezing and the high humidity prevents evaporation so my base layer and gloves end up getting drenched, then as I start getting tired it becomes more difficult to stay warm. I'm tempted to add one more piece of heating clothing to my arsenal, a heated vest to boost my core temp late in a long ride. But I'm talking 2.5 - 3.5 hour rides, not just going out for an hour.

Generally I don't get cold until I stop riding. 10-15 minutes after a ride I get the chills, and raynauds may make my fingers go numb and white even though I've changed and put on a sweater. Its that reaction to stopping is why I don't like long mid-ride stops in the cold or going for a post winter ride lunch with a group. It seems to be circulation temporarily diverted from the digestive process reactivating and distributing cold around the body.
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Old 01-18-22, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Pugs2xLove
I bike commute to work (about 14 miles each way) and even during Winter time. Rode out when it was -10 F last week. Several layers of clothing is what I use on my steel bike with Schwalbe studded tires. Had a flat last week going through some unpaved trails. Made it to work barely and had to change out there. Just curious how you guys keep those tires from deflating on the ice and snow.
there is no way to stop a flat. you either make it with a slow leak, fix it wherever it totally fails, or uber. cold weather can make things go sideways way quicker with a flat. I always carry 2 tubes in the winter and tires are tubeless. I have snapped off presta valves several times in the cold. a couple guys I ride with are using tire inserts and tubelss so they can just ride flat if need be.
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