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A cold feet solution, not immediate though

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A cold feet solution, not immediate though

Old 01-31-12, 03:53 PM
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A cold feet solution, not immediate though

After having cold feet last winter and this the first part of this winter I'm not noticing the cold feet anymore.

What did I change? Nothing.
What did I do? Kept riding in cold weather and let my body acclimate to the rigors of riding in cold weather, including having the cold feet.

Yeah, it sounds crazy. Back in December and early January using the same clothing I'm using now I would get cold feet, real cold feet at time. After one hour my feet would cold. I won't say painfully so unless it was really cold out. I would notice the cold feet though.

In the past couple of weeks things have started to change. I have ridden as many as 117 miles in one day, starting out in sub zero F temps in the morning and haven't had 'cold' feet. Yeah, the feet have been cold but nothing like they used to be after only being out for only an hour in much warmer weather. Now I can be out all day with temps much colder than what I used to be riding in and I still don't get cold feet the way I used to.

The secret is to RIDE. Ride in cold weather and let your body adapt to riding in cold weather. I'm amazed at the difference that I have noticed this winter. It's a total reversal from last winter or even from earlier this winter to right now. I used to try to focus my rides around places where I could get inside to warm up if I needed to. Now I don't even worry about that anymore. I haven't been having any trouble staying warm, including my feet. The equipment hasn't changed...the body has.

The only thing that has changed has been the amount of exposure to cold weather riding that I have did. It has increased dramatically. I rode 1606 miles in December and 1566 miles this month. My body has acclimated to the cold so I don't notice the cold the way I use to. I rode 50 miles on a day when the temps never made it above 10 degrees F. It started out around -5F. The very next day started out at -3 and climbed into the lower 20s and I rode 117 miles. I've put myself out in the cold environment and my body has adjusted to it.

I will fess I do notice the feet get chilled quite nicely if the socks get wet from road moisture otherwise I really don't have any problems keeping my feet warm anymore.

It's not the equipment you need it's the adapted body you need. You only get the adapted body by riding in the environment your trying to adapt to. I've heard of freedivers diving in regular swimsuits under ice...yeah, basically butt-naked freediving. How do they do it. They don't just jump in, they acclimate themselves by diving below thermocline during the summer months and let their bodies adapt to the cold water. When winter comes around their bodies are ready for diving in icy conditions.

It's the same mentality for bikers that bike during the winter months. I'm a believer in it now. It's not about the equipment/clothing you wear...it's about how adapted your body is to the conditions you are riding in. The more time your body has had to adapt the better your body will be able to handle the conditions.
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Old 01-31-12, 07:44 PM
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I think you've hit upon an important point. If you approach something like winter cycling with the mindset that you're just going to do it and be fine with the cold, then you'll be ok. Get out there and do it, and your body will adapt. Granted, some people find it easier to adapt than others....

I've lived in the NE US my whole life except for about three years in grad school in South Carolina. I had this housemate who would often be gone for days at a time, then he would come home at some random time for a few days. A lot of the time when he was gone, I would turn off the AC and open the windows because I wanted to really acclimate to the hot sticky weather. I found I couldn't really do that when I was in AC nearly 24 hours per day. It would drive him crazy to come home and have to turn the AC back on and close all the windows, because there was no way he wanted to put up with the heat for more than the 30 seconds it took to walk from the car into the house. Anyway, I got so I didn't mind the South Carolina summer so much....
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Old 02-01-12, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by bikenh
It's not about the equipment/clothing you wear...it's about how adapted your body is to the conditions you are riding in. The more time your body has had to adapt the better your body will be able to handle the conditions.
+1

I've been giving that advice here for years. It's nice to have someone else beating that drum.

It's not unlike those cyclists who think they can buy speed, then find out they have to work for it. You can't buy warm, you have to adapt to the cold. I begin that process every October.
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Old 02-01-12, 09:15 AM
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If you ride year round, you'll become acclimated to the conditions. You can ride comfortably at almost any temperature if appropriately dressed and acclimated.
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Old 02-01-12, 09:42 AM
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Originally Posted by tsl
+1

I've been giving that advice here for years. It's nice to have someone else beating that drum.

It's not unlike those cyclists who think they can buy speed, then find out they have to work for it. You can't buy warm, you have to adapt to the cold. I begin that process every October.
The one thing I can definitely say is that it is amazing just how little you can wear and still feel fine. I like your statement about beginning the process in October. This past fall I had quite a few shocking rides that I never expected I would have. The one in particular I can remember QUITE well was heading into the library one afternoon to get online. It was in the mid to upper 40s so I didn't think a thing about only wearing cycling shorts and a long sleeve thermal top. A couple of days earlier I had finally purchased a fleece headband that would fit all the way over the ears. I had seen keeping the ears warm was the one thing I needed to find a way to do without also keeping the head warm. I hadn't taken the fleece headband with me or the fleece mittens.

As I left the library around sunset for the 5+ mile ride home the temp had dropped a bit...I didn't realize how much until after I got home and looked. I remember thinking as I was riding home that if I just had the fleece headband and the homemade fleece mittens I could keep riding all night long with the temps the way they were. I was quite comfortable.

I got home and walked inside and headed to the kitchen window to take a look at the thermometer that hangs all day long in the shade right outside the kitchen window. I almost had a heart attack when I saw the temperature. It was onlu 36 degrees out. That is when I started to realizer just little I needed on to stay warm while biking.

You really don't think that the energy/heat you are creating from pedalling would be create enough warmth to keep you warm while moving so fast and creating such a wind chill factor. It doesn't take as much as what you think.

Unfortunately by looking at the 15 day weather forecast for NH it doesn't look like I'm going to get a chance to try to break my -5/-3 degree(depend on which temperature reading you want to consider) mark this winter. I definitely will try colder, even when doing long miles. I figure I will have to wait until next winter though to get the chance. The interesting challenge is the short hop/skip/jumps that only last 30-45 minutes at a stretch. I might be stupid enough to try -20F in that kind of cold if I got the chance. Heck I've ski jumped in -20F temps why not ride a bike in that kind of cold?
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