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How cold is too cold to ride ?

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How cold is too cold to ride ?

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Old 12-05-12, 02:00 PM
  #76  
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This guy rode his bike through Siberia in the Winter http://roblilwall.com/about/adventurer/cyclinghome.

Wrote a Book about it, too. something to read, sitting by the Stove..
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Old 12-05-12, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by bikenh View Post
I've ridden over 19,800 miles so far this year

You're retired, right?
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Old 12-05-12, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by charbucks View Post
I find there are a few distinct "cold thresholds" that require different approaches.

From -5 to -10 C, not really a big deal. It feels chilly, but I can keep my mouth and nose exposed and I'm not too worried.

From -10 to -15, I'm probably going to cover my face, but I might uncover it to breathe hard going up a hill. I tend to overdress in these conditions.

From -15 to -20, I will try to limit my trips to less than an hour. These are the temperatures where you can still work up a sweat when active, but get cold very fast.

From -20 to -25, I'll ride to the grocery store (flat, less than a kilometre), but that's about it. Too cold for me to handle the variable temperatures of riding up and down hills. This is also my cutoff for skiing after getting frostbite on my face.

From -25 to -30, I'll walk to the grocery store and take a bus to work, and bundle up very carefully. This is about the temperature where eyelashes start freezing together, and breathing gets uncomfortable.

Below -30: I do everything in my power to stay indoors. Fortunately, this only happens about 5 times a year.
8C and under. I carry empty water bottles all the time. I only drink when I get to a gas station or whatever where I can fill up the water bottles with warm water. I drink cold water during the summer month but much below 8C I won't drink cold water. I've had the problem with having to go to the bathroom every 10-15 minutes thanks to drinking cold water in cold conditions. I don't play that game anymore.

-5 to -10C, agree completely for the most part. I have ridden down to -9C without any face protection once or twice this winter. Last winter I was always putting face protection when it was even warmer than this. I was also typically adding a fleece on up top. Last winter I didn't have any trouble doing this but this winter the sweat production seems to be holding on lower and lower with less and less clothing on. Heck I'm even sweating this winter with only a thin thermal top and windbreak when its 0C out. Last winter that would not have happened. Last winter when I was wearing unlayered tights I would add long johns at the bottom end of this temperature range. After freezing my nuts, literally, on a ride in mid-December last winter I learnt my lesson.

-10 to -15 I would definitely cover the face and add the fleece top. I like the covered face as I always try to breath only through the nose so as not to create ice around the mouth hole on my neoprene hood. I regulate my effort so I can keep myself to only be breathing through my nose. At least this is what I was doing last winter. This winter hasn't gotten this cold yet.

-15 to -20 Nothing different from above.

Below -20C haven't been there yet to say what I would/wouldn't do. I will admit I have been out ski jumping when it was -29 and the only way I could even hope to stay warm was to stay ski jumping, take the jump and then walk back up the hill for the next jump. That was the coldest day I've ever seen thus far. I'll never forget that day. Actually saw -31/-32C while driving to the jump meet.

I think the biggest secret to riding in the -15C and below is to do like I said. Put on a full face neoprene hood/face mask and stop breathing through your mouth. Make yourself move fast enough but slow enough so you can breath through your nose only. If you can only breath through your nose I have a feeling that helps to keep the heart rate under control which helps keeps the sweat production under control. It's like you said it all comes down to avoiding sweat, which does come down to watching how hard you are riding. I'll have to do some more playing with that as it gets colder this winter. Thanks.
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Old 12-06-12, 10:41 PM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by hairytoes View Post
I think using 'mental toughness' as a way of 'beating the cold' is a very risky approach.

Mental toughness will help you get going. It will help you keep attention sharp when conditions are bad.

It will not help prevent you from getting too cold, dangerously cold. Only appropriate clothing and food will do that.
Good point, it's pretty easy to ignore hypothermia until it's too late. Used to do my paper route in a t-shirt on windless 25 F mornings but it took an hour to warm back up while napping before school. once was bike-messengering on a windy blizzard day in DC & saw a black messenger wearing shorts--his legs were glowing purple.
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Old 12-06-12, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by charbucks View Post
I find there are a few distinct "cold thresholds" that require different approaches.

From -5 to -10 C, not really a big deal. It feels chilly, but I can keep my mouth and nose exposed and I'm not too worried.

From -10 to -15, I'm probably going to cover my face, but I might uncover it to breathe hard going up a hill. I tend to overdress in these conditions.

From -15 to -20, I will try to limit my trips to less than an hour. These are the temperatures where you can still work up a sweat when active, but get cold very fast.

From -20 to -25, I'll ride to the grocery store (flat, less than a kilometre), but that's about it. Too cold for me to handle the variable temperatures of riding up and down hills. This is also my cutoff for skiing after getting frostbite on my face.

From -25 to -30, I'll walk to the grocery store and take a bus to work, and bundle up very carefully. This is about the temperature where eyelashes start freezing together, and breathing gets uncomfortable.

Below -30: I do everything in my power to stay indoors. Fortunately, this only happens about 5 times a year.
Interesting observations; I've only biked at -15/-20 C a handful of times...added an extra layer or two...didn't wear face cover but needed headband that covers ears. In DC area the rare times it gets that cold it's usually not windy which helps. & I did notice that while biking it could be surprisingly comfortable it was easy to get chilled while not moving. Well I admire the northern bikers--on tv/internet I've learned that there are homeless folks in Calgary, Montreal, even Whitehorse, wow, I wonder how they do it.
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Old 12-06-12, 11:20 PM
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It was -19C tonight on my ride home and I actually thought it felt kind of balmy... was not even working that hard as I was riding the Extrabike which has front wheel drive.
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Old 12-07-12, 02:13 AM
  #82  
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Ice rinks of roads are the only thing that stops me and my new home made snow tires put them out of the equation. The coldest I have seen in South Kirea was -22c and I commuted on my motorcycle that day. Actually ended up sweating at -5c today so I guess in Korea no day is too cold to ride.
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Old 12-07-12, 06:08 AM
  #83  
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I don't really have a temperature limit that would make me call off a commute. Not even many conditions will make me call off a commute--Thanks to Kansas City's lovely (not really) weather, I've had the pleasure of riding through just about everything from floods to hail storms to blizzards to droughts. I commuted year-round and one day in 2009 (or very early 2010) the forcasted temperature was -45F...which had me (as well as my coworkers) a little worried, because it was significantly colder than anything I'd ridden in before. The actual temperature to about -35F (with windchill--without, it was a solid -15F or so).

That was the coldest I've ever commuted in. My commute was about 5 miles each way...so long as you're dressed properly (i.e. not too much, not too little), once you get out there and start going it's not so bad.

Even if you're dressed appropriately, your digits will start to get cold if you're out in below 0F weather for a prolonged time as your body draws heat to its core.
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Old 12-08-12, 11:20 PM
  #84  
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I don't ride (or do any aerobic activity) if breathing slightly higher than normal hurts my lungs. That's personally when I think it's too cold to ride. The rest is all about gear and distance.
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Old 12-10-12, 09:36 PM
  #85  
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clothing is a given, but the guys are right about mental toughness, that is what it is all about. I go riding in the cold in Michigan at midnight all the time. It is not for the feint of heart.

I been riding right along, it has been getting down to about 27 degrees so far this year, I love it.

Riding in the winter gives you a sense of empowerment and indeed a sense of being tough and young. I am about to turn 60, here a pic of the bike I have been riding about 20 miles 5 times a week since I bought it 2 years ago for 15 bucks lol. Though I have about 10 riders , this one is my favorite.
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Old 12-10-12, 10:31 PM
  #86  
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I haven't ridden at 40 below yet.

somewhere about 30 below i wind up wearing what is essentially a high tech snowmobile suit.

Baffled parka and pants, gorilla mask and goggles. I need to work on the legs a little bit. a very robust softshell perhaps. However, for extremely cold temps i've found the perfect lightweight footwear in USAF mukkluks. i imagine Steger mukkluks would also suffice but are a bit heavier.

I picked up some nike,primaloft insulated golf pants! for about 20 bucks that may be the bees' knees for quite cold but not arctic temperatures.

i've been riding in leather boots for the most part as it's been so dry around here. I wore LL bean boots today to combat about 6 inches of snow. still using bandanas for face masks, hasn't gotten much colder yet.

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Old 12-11-12, 12:02 AM
  #87  
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I use honey and garlic. During winter especially. No health problems during cold days. This morning ride to work was at about -12 at 5 am. No problems. It is almost never below -15 where I live. But up to that temperature I have no problems. Just dress in layers, leaving top layer to be thin and WINDPROOF. That is the key for me.
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Old 12-20-12, 08:27 AM
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Sometimes I turn around

For the past 3 Winters I have gone, bicycle only.
Occasional commutes, continuous runs to the bank, post office, stores etc, in all weather!
I have to get those netflix movies returned as soon as possible!

But ...
Somewhat below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (0*F), when I step out into the "fresh air", take a steady inhale I feel my nose hairs crystallizing. Just like the superhero being gradually quick frozen by the supervillian, my deeply embedded nose hairs acquire a nice coating of ice. In younger years, I've "weathered" the cold and mopped up the stream of melted icecycles afterwards.
More recently, I've resorted to a multiple wrap of scarf ... recycle a bit of warm breath.

Most recently, when I feel that frosty crinkling ... sometimes, I turn around ... and wait for it to warm up.


Scarf methodology:
1st wrap - fairly tight
2nd wrap - reasonably loose
3rd wrap - baggy
Object is to produce multiple pockets of recycled - warmed air.
Volumeous outer layer is liable to accumulate most of the ice, from your exhales.
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Old 12-20-12, 11:23 PM
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I am not crazy cold weather guy, and if a someone doesn't want to ride below a certain temp, that is cool with me........but, Tundra Man, you can't give yourself that rugged handle when also saying that "your wife doesn't allow you to". ; )
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Old 12-21-12, 07:40 AM
  #90  
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Originally Posted by 53 NRTH View Post
I am not crazy cold weather guy, and if a someone doesn't want to ride below a certain temp, that is cool with me........but, Tundra Man, you can't give yourself that rugged handle when also saying that "your wife doesn't allow you to". ; )
Actually, she's the one who gave me the handle. When we got married 18 years ago she moved from New Orleans to South Dakota. After the first winter when I'd be outside shoveling snow for hours in sub-zero temps to her disbelief, she gave me the monicker.
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Old 12-21-12, 11:05 AM
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I had a friend in Buffalo once tell me that its too dangerous to do cardio exercise in cold weather because the lungs cant handle cold air. I asked her "how do people climb Mt Everest then ?"
Well, from what I'm told you will pass by a lot of frozen corpses on your way to the summit. Conditions are too rough to haul out the bodies so they just stay where they die. Not sure that they pass away because of lungs not being able to handle cold air though.

I will say that I've played a lot of outdoor hockey in cold-cold weather and I think there is a danger in hyperventilating in sub-zero temperatures. My lungs felt weird afterwards. But hockey is more intense and there's a difference between the hyperventilation done under anaerobic exertion vs. the heavy breathing done under aerobic work. I've cross-country skiied in the same conditions and didn't experience any cough afterwards.
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Old 12-25-12, 08:07 AM
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Studded tires and layering keep me going all cold season. The coldest here has been -15F with a North headwind. Here in the state of Misery the humidity plays a part too. I'm beginning winter #6 for commuting. I seldom drive a cage. I did that three years ago in a Christmas Day blizzard. At work the perimeter patrol car got stuck three times in the middle of the road.... with me driving it. That was my last wuss-out day in the winter.

At the moment it is 12*F wind chill 3* with 90 % humidity. 9:37 AM North of Kansas City, Misery USA. Merry Christmas.

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Old 12-25-12, 09:51 PM
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I'm from MN, and there are plenty of races here in January and February that if on the right day can be below zero.

I've trained in negative degree temps before and as long as you're dressed proporly, it's a lot of fun.

http://www.arrowheadultra.com/index.php

Doesn't get much colder than this though ^
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Old 12-30-12, 11:58 AM
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I got a second opinion from my bike the other day. It was maybe minus 15C and zi had driven across the city so the bike had been outside for a good hour. Stepped off the bike to manouver past some snow banks, and just barely brushed the rear fender when swinging my leg over the seat. Snapped off the fender.

This is a Topeak Defender series seatpost mounted mtb fender constructed largely of polymers. I have no doubt they'll warranty it but - it clearly wasn't designed with wo ter use on mind. Which is too bad cause I kinda liked it!
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Old 12-30-12, 01:41 PM
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It's been -40F for the last two weeks or so and I declare that too cold to enjoy. It warmed up to +10F the other day so we got out for a ride and will go out again today. Love it when +10F seems warm.
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Old 12-30-12, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by digibud View Post
It's been -40F for the last two weeks or so and I declare that too cold to enjoy. It warmed up to +10F the other day so we got out for a ride and will go out again today. Love it when +10F seems warm.
My hat's off to you sir. I rode about an hour in 25f today...very comfortable. For you, it would be shorts weather!

btw, to me, studs are like velcro on the road. Love em.
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Old 12-30-12, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by digibud View Post
It's been -40F for the last two weeks or so and I declare that too cold to enjoy. It warmed up to +10F the other day so we got out for a ride and will go out again today. Love it when +10F seems warm.

Oh boy already? When compared my 11F looks like summer time

Hopefully, up to -15F next week!

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Old 01-05-17, 11:22 PM
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Just finished 40 mins ride, i am pretty amazed of the human body


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Old 01-06-17, 07:25 AM
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I'd probably wait the cold snap out if it were near twenty below. Ten below I can do. Twenty below.., I'd probably wait.
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Old 01-06-17, 07:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Burton View Post
This is a Topeak Defender series seatpost mounted mtb fender constructed largely of polymers. I have no doubt they'll warranty it but - it clearly wasn't designed with wo ter use on mind. Which is too bad cause I kinda liked it!
I use the same fender set (RX/FX). They're good fenders. Anything plastic will snap at that temperature,
even metal: I snapped an alloy front skewer last winter.
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