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riding in cold weather this week

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helen s

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Jan 4 2014 at 3:38pm #

So I have run a 3 mile XC race in 8 inches of new snow at -15F with 35 mph winds, and rode to work a few years ago when it got down to zero, but I am not looking forward to riding this week.
I need a pep talk, or maybe I am just getting too old for that sort of extreme. I have a car, I can drive, but hate to have to resort to that.

Any words of wisdom?

http://siberiantimes.com/other/others/news/siberian-man-runs-coldest-marathon-in-the-world-in-minus-38c/

Interestingly, -38 C is almost the same as F, 36.4.


Marko82

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Jan 4 2014 at 3:52pm #

… well you shouldn’t have to worry about wolves.

And if you bike instead of taking your car you’ll not have to worry about dead batteries, where to park, or scraping of windshields and such. Just make sure you have a backup plan should you have a mechanical. Rack-n-ride is nice insurance; I had to use it on Thursday night since the roads were impassible in the south hills.


salty

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Jan 4 2014 at 4:11pm #

go and smash the windshield out of your car to even the playing field…

that is one good thing about having a vespa, I’m never tempted to ride it in sub-freezing temps…


Ahlir

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Jan 4 2014 at 5:40pm #

Only Tuesday looks to be really cold, so you still have all the other (relatively warm) days to enjoy the riding. How bad can that be?

In any case, the roads should be fine; they will only start to ice over at minus 30-35 or so. (No, 0°F is not it, that’s just for a reference solution).

Fun fact: you can’t buy a properly winterized car down here (i.e. with a block heater and louvers on the radiator). Good thing you don’t need that stuff for a bike. On the other hand, I’ve started to wonder if there’s such a thing as winter-weight chain oil…


J Z

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Jan 4 2014 at 11:29pm #

Last week wasn’t that bad. There were plenty of tracks on EFT during the week. This week looks serious, haven’t ridden in conditions that cold. Should be interesting.


StuInMcCandless

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Jan 5 2014 at 6:16am #

I’m considering the idea. For me, I’d probably do it in three stages of about 20 to 30 minutes exposure to the elements. First, get the three miles to West View. There, get a cup of coffee in the Dunkin Donuts, and decide whether to bike the rest of the way, or hop on an 8 Perrysville bus.

Stage 2: If I bike it from there, I can still bail at the park & ride lot, or anyplace the next bus catches up with me.

Stage 3 would be to stop at the Crazy Mocha at Federal and North to warm up. From there, I still have 15 to 20 minutes of outside time by the time I bike downtown, lock up, and walk to my building.


stefb

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Jan 5 2014 at 7:52am #

Unfortunately I have to drive to work on Tuesday so I can’t attempt the bicycle commute. I remember riding to work with windchills at or slightly below 0 a few years ago, and I survived. I just covered all skin with multiple layers and took the short way.


byogman

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Jan 5 2014 at 8:18am #

I’m going to try Tuesday, I think. I’ll be doing some jumping jacks and motivational babble to warm myself up for it that morning.

For sure, loosen the boots and put on yet another layer of wool socks?
Also, anyone ever wrapped their toe clips with plastic bags or some such nonsense?

Not sure what to do to prevent frozen fingers, I already double the gloves and still have arrived feeling like it wasn’t quite enough a couple times. Will be wiggling them like crazy. If it got really cold more regularly, I’d invest in hot hands for sure.


gg

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Jan 5 2014 at 9:44am #

It is only one day, then we are back to the cold rain that is more typical for our region. I don’t work that day, so I don’t have to consider the commute. Not sure what I would do? Probably ride with very warm clothes. Sort of makes one feel alive.


edmonds59

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Jan 5 2014 at 9:47am #

This may sound a little odd, but I figured this out recently and it was something I had not previously thought about – ride slower. Use a lower gear, spin, generate more heat and less wind chill.
Also, eat plenty, but eat at least 10 to 15 minutes before you plan to go out so your stomach isn’t drawing all the blood from your extremities.


StuInMcCandless

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Jan 5 2014 at 11:13am #

As I remember, the last time I rode when it was very cold, one problem point was a lack of overlap between coat and gloves. I think the solution is to repurpose a couple of socks that both don’t have mates and don’t have heels, and stick them on ahead of the gloves.

Toes are going to be a problem, more than anything else. I can only double my socks before I start running out of room, and I don’t want to squeeze the circulation.

Hence my three-mile opt-out.


edmonds59

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Jan 5 2014 at 11:20am #

Stu, if you have an old oversized sweater (or thrift shop!), cut a thing in the sleeves that amounts to an oversized button-hole for your thumb to go into, and stitch the edges. Stick your thumbs in, rock and roll. This is how they do it on $100 running shirts. A thumb-hole.
Anything more than 2 pairs of socks is counter-productive anyway. Make sure the socks you use are good wool, or acrylic fleece if you are wool-averse.


Ahlir

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Jan 5 2014 at 11:30am #

My ride to work is pretty much downhill all the way (and then there’s work but that’s a different story). On really cold days I’ll detour up a steep-ish hill near our house. That’s usually enough to keep me warm for the rest of the ride.

I was out for a couple of hours yesterday and only near the end did I notice my toes start to chill. Wearing summer shoes plus wool knee socks. Of course the weather was rather balmy, way up in the mid 30s. “keep moving” avoids a lot of problems.


Marko82

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Jan 5 2014 at 11:44am #

My .02

Not getting sweaty is really important when it gets in single digits and lower – so over dressing can be just as bad as under dressing. This is why wearing several thin layers is preferable to one heavy layer, because you can adjust your gear as needed. It is important to wear a base layer (the layer directly against your skin) that does not absorb moisture: wool, silk, some synthetics.

Most importantly, I have been changing my route to avoid long stretches that have no stores that I can duck into if needed. If you have a mechanical issue your hands are only going to be good for a few minutes at best, you need to get inside or get on a bus.


stefb

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Jan 5 2014 at 12:01pm #

Put your feet in plastic bags then put your shoes/boots over them.


salty

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Jan 5 2014 at 12:39pm #

Marko, I have been thinking about that a bit – I really wear a lot less clothes on my bike than I would if I were going to be standing around. I was waiting for a late bus last month while wearing my bike gear – I think it was in the teens with really strong gusts, and I was extremely cold. I’m wondering if I should throw an extra coat, hat, etc in my bag.

Oh, and I might have to zip up my pit zippers to ride on Tuesday… It was close on Friday.


Marko82

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Jan 5 2014 at 12:47pm #

BTW, now is a good time to squirt a little lube into the keyhole of your u-lock.


byogman

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Jan 5 2014 at 5:14pm #

stefb wrote:Put your feet in plastic bags then put your shoes/boots over them.

Wouldn’t that turn anything inside the bag layer into a sweaty mess?

I think I’m going loose fit wind screen plus space blanket motif.

Foil with packing tape on both sides at 90 degree angles seems a semi-durable “fabric” I could easily enough make small stuff with.


helen s

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Jan 5 2014 at 5:18pm #

byogman wrote:

stefb wrote:Put your feet in plastic bags then put your shoes/boots over them.

Wouldn’t that turn anything inside the bag layer into a sweaty mess?

If your feet are “sweating” that much, doen’t that mean they are warm? I do sometimes put plastic newspaper bags over my gloves with a hole punched for my thumb- cheap wind and waterproof covers. I suppose that would work with toes also- but my little neoprene toe covers inside my shoes keep my toes toasty every time. They fit over the front of my foot inside my shoe.


stefb

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Jan 5 2014 at 5:37pm #

I would think wool socks (under the bags) would help with the sweat the same way sweating into a wool jersey would.


Ahlir

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Jan 5 2014 at 6:25pm #


I think I’m going loose fit wind screen plus space blanket motif.
Foil with packing tape on both sides at 90 degree angles seems a semi-durable “fabric” I could easily enough make small stuff with.

Well, ok.
Just make sure you don’t scare any small children along the way.

ProTip: wearing a Darth Vader helmet as a fashion accent.
And be sure to post a photo to this thread.
:-)


jonawebb

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Jan 5 2014 at 6:36pm #

Hmm.. I was thinking it’s going to be -6 Tuesday morning but now it’s up to 0. So that’s not so bad. I may ride after all.


J Z

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Jan 6 2014 at 2:02pm #

Plastic bags over wool socks cuts the wind, no different than a nylon windbreaker/rain jacket over base layer. Pretty standard ride in, the cold stuff isn’t here, yet.

City must be worried about the weather, got buzzed by Pgh Police motorcycle officer with a side car on EFT at around 8 this morning.

Nice to know someone would find me in the event of “misfortune”.


ericf

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Jan 6 2014 at 3:41pm #

Plastic bags on feet are intended to act as a vapor barrier, not a wind break. The only safe way to do this is to put your feet in the bags, then put on socks. The idea is to keep your socks dry, and should only be necessary in extreme cold.
OTOH, Putting bags over socks acts to trap all moisture in your sock, rendering it totally ineffective as an insulator.


StuInMcCandless

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Jan 6 2014 at 4:00pm #

My understanding is that you want a wool layer next to skin to wick away normal sweat from the skin. Then you want an insulating layer for trapping body heat. Possibly two of those.

Somewhere outside of there is the shoe itself.

Outside of that, you want protection against external moisture. Would regular shoe covers (or plain old galoshes or plastic bags) be sufficient for that last one?

The idea of my feet being in direct contact with a plastic bag sounds icky, whether it’s January or July.


jonawebb

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Jan 6 2014 at 4:21pm #

I don’t think you need protection against external moisture when it’s as cold as it’s going to be tomorrow. It’s just going to fall off.
Some people claim that a plastic liner next to the skin keeps heat loss from evaporation occurring, but that just doesn’t make sense to me from a physics point of view.
I’m not planning to ride tomorrow, as I’m too much of a wimp, but if I were I’d load up on wool layers and put a light shell over everything. In my experience, it would be too hard to manage the trade-off between heat and sweat production on the inside and cold on the outside. No fun, and why ride if it’s not going to be fun?


byogman

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Jan 6 2014 at 4:44pm #

I did very limited experimentation and am pretty sure I felt the difference from my “space blanket” in clip boot toe covers and “hot hands” in my tests Sunday.

I considered the plastic bags thing, but by my intuition, with the relative lack of airflow within a boot and relative lack of importance of a tiny layer of plastic as a pure insulator (I’d think), I just wasn’t real clear on what the bags could really do except keep sweat on me rather than letting it into my socks, which if my socks are thick wool that still insulate kinda ok when damp seems less worthwhile?

I don’t know, I know a lot of people say it really helps, which is probably stupid to ignore but I think I’ve decided I’ll be looking hobo enough already on the bike.

And once I’m off, I’d kind of like to walk into the office looking human. Though for sure my glasses will instantly totally fog (if they aren’t fogged already) and I’ll have ice beard so that battle is probably lost. Anyways. I’m too lazy to change shoes, so maybe that’s it at the end of the day.

I didn’t ride today because of another errand. Will let you guys know how my approach worked tommorow unless the kids being home from school keeps me working at home. Otherwise will just report Wednesday if I feel a significant difference over the course of a real ride.


helen s

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Jan 6 2014 at 6:22pm #

Jon, I am glad to hear you are wimping out for riding Tuesday- it makes it easier for me to do so also. I am planning on riding on Wednesday.
I think the idea of bags on feet is as a wind barrier- as someone else said, there will not be much available moisture. Think of them like mitten covers for your feet. I usually wear running shoes to ride in, which are very porous for wind effect. Trapping warm air and accompanying moisture next to your skin sounds much better than allowing below zero air to freeze that moisture and cool your skin even further from evaporation.
If you are worried about your feet sweating too much, why would that concern not apply to the rest of your body? Even on warm days when my shirt is getting wet from sweat, my socks never get wet unless it is running down from my legs.

I did see one two cyclists today and say some tire marks – so someone was riding today.


stefb

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Jan 6 2014 at 7:39pm #

I rode. Just the back if my thighs were cold from wind at my back on the way home.

So how is wearing plastic bags on the feet any different than wearing wind proof pants or a wind proof/waterproof shell over wool?


byogman

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Jan 6 2014 at 7:44pm #

My feet have iffy circulation so they get cold easily yet are perfectly happy to sweat at the same time.

I don’t know why I’m built in such a stupid way, but there it is.

I’ll grant that the bags really help a lot of folks. Or that they’d probably help me. I just can’t wrap my mind around how the wind barrier or vapor barrier explanations make much difference inside a laced up leather boot.

A wind barrier to be effective and not just conduct the windy cold right through should either include insulation behind it or at least not be directly against the next layer, no? And vapor pressure and wind speeds should not combine to a lot of cooling power inside a boot on a cold day either, I’d think?

Which leads me back to the wet sock vs. dry sock insulative difference against a boot surface continuously super-chilled on the outside by the wind. Which is meaningful, but I’m trying to screen the wind, and the rest of the effect applies only inasmuch as my feet will be icky at the end of the ride. I believe I demonstrated just how icky I can be when my skin doesn’t breath on the first teamdecaf ride of the season when I took off my backpack and it showed its outline on my shirt in sweat in super-high contrast and with laser precision.

So, depending on how you look at it, that’s either a lot of reason to use the bags directly on my feet, or a lot of reason not to. In the end, I’m thinking of going my way because… it’s my way and I want to try it. And it’s shiny.


edmonds59

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Jan 6 2014 at 7:55pm #

Every video clip of Chillmageddon on the national news featured a bike rider tooling through the scene or in the background! Chicago, Nashville, Minneapolis. Every one. Pretty damn great.


RustyRed

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Jan 6 2014 at 8:14pm #

edmonds59 wrote:Every video clip of Chillmageddon on the national news featured a bike rider tooling through the scene or in the background! Chicago, Nashville, Minneapolis. Every one. Pretty damn great.

I noticed that too.
I want to ride downtown tomorrow just to bike-bomb the media trucks and reporters’ shots.
“I’m on a bike!”


Pierce

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Jan 7 2014 at 12:41am #

I rode both around 3pm and then again around 9:30pm

I think it was colder at three because it was more windy. I think I was actually warmer than normal because I overdressed thinking it was going to be super cold. I had to pull over both ways to take off a layer and on the way back, to take out an inner pair of gloves I was wearing

The only annoying thing was that my balaclava froze to my beard on the way back, so it was hard (nearly impossible) to adjust and my glasses would frost up when I stopped

I wore nylon/cotton mix cargo pants over some Pearl Izumi AmFib pants (probably overkill, didn’t wear the cargo pants on the way over) Had a super thick Pearl Izumi jacket I never wear because it’s always too warm. Worked tonight though. I also had a knit cap between my boxers and pants, which is nice. Seems to be one of the few areas that gets cold without that addition

I was kind of disappointed it wasn’t cold enough to try something else I potentially figured out… I have two extra non-cycling balaclavas, which can be placed on the handlebars and provide functionality like those handlebar mitt things

I also used my MUSA splats from Rivendell, which I think helped, even though they’re designed for rain

I also think it’s colder to drive if only because it takes a few minutes to warm up the car, whereas when it’s this cold, I’m usually too warm if I stay inside for very long, which means by the time I cool down from outside, my cardio is up enough to makeup the difference


Drewbacca

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Jan 7 2014 at 12:54am #

I never made it to my bike today, I was having issues just walking around… I need to invest in a good, vented, balaclava, as my glasses getting fogged up had me shoveling snow half-blind. It wasn’t just the usual fog, either, it turned to ice instantly.

Beyond that, complaints around Chicago today centered around component failure such as sticking free-wheels and non-functioning derailleurs. It would seem that the limiting factor is not having proper grease/lube/oil for sub-0 temps.

Clothing seems to be workable with enough layers, although I have to say that -45 windchill cut straight through all of my layers and had me uncomfortable in less than twenty minutes of exposure… might have been ok on the bike, but only if I rode hard.

On the car front… my clutch pedal took about twenty seconds to retract until I drove around a bit. The gears felt like they were lubed with mud. My power-steering hose popped off, likely due to too much pressure and the viscosity of the fluid.


HiddenVariable

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Jan 7 2014 at 1:09am #

i rode today, and will ride tomorrow. it’s only about 15 minutes there, 25 minutes back. i saw someone else riding on my way home today, around 6 when it was, well, around 6 degrees out. it was like 25 degrees on the way in, so no concern there.

i wore toe covers, wool socks, wool tights (i only ever wear these below 10-15), a wool zip-up with thumb holes, over my normal work clothes and under a light nylon jacket, two pairs of gloves, a scarf, and a winter hat.

when i got home, my face was the coldest (obviously), though the facial hair helps mitigate that. i generally move my scarf down below my mouth to facilitate breathing, so that doesn’t cover much of my face. if we got more than one day like this every several decades, or if i was going to be more exposed, i would buy some goggles.

my toes were beginning to get cold, and i wouldn’t have wanted to be out for a few hours dressed as i was, but i could probably take it again without more discomfort than i could stand. my legs were a wee bit chilly, but i could probably have stayed out like that for any length as long as i wasn’t riding into the wind the whole time.

my hands were beginning to get cold, but only my fingers, and mittens would be the easy way to solve that.

my upper chest and the top of my head were already beginning to sweat when i got home. it’s tough to imagine a thinner layer that could offer enough protection than what i wore, but it seems like mitigating sweat will always be an issue.


edmonds59

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Jan 7 2014 at 7:05am #

Pierce wrote:I also had a knit cap between my boxers and pants, which is nice. Seems to be one of the few areas that gets cold without that addition

I get that also. I have little problem dressing warmly enough everywhere else, but that junk gets cold in temps as high as the 50′s. A cyclists codpiece would seem to be a marketable idea.


jonawebb

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Jan 7 2014 at 8:18am #

I drove today, as planned. Everyone seemed a little mixed up this morning, driving extra slow, having trouble figuring how to enter the Parkway.
BTW, a pair of ski goggles works well for keeping your vision from fogging up on cold days. I wear them whenever it is cold enough to require a balaclava.


RustyRed

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Jan 7 2014 at 8:39am #

http://www.chainringfilms.com/

“A Winter of Cyclists captures the inaugural Icy Bike Winter Commuting Challenge. The film follows twelve cyclists as they attempt to bicycle commute during the winter months.

Watch as they challenge each other during the cold, dark and snowy Colorado winter and experience the surprising comradery that forms as nearly 200 like-minded riders from across the USA, Canada, and other countries join in the Challenge.

For those who cycle in the winter now, this film is a tribute to you. And for those who are considering it, catch a memorable glimpse of what could await you.”

(oh, heck.. I didn’t realize they want $ to see the whole film. Sorry. Well, the trailer’s cool)


byogman

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Jan 7 2014 at 8:39am #

The space blanket hot hands and in the toe-clip shoe covers worked quite well. Had the same gloves and socks/boot setup and the gingers and toes were barely cold at all today whereas they’ve felt pretty chilled in recent riding without the space blankets in temperatures 20 degrees warmer. And it was on a substantially slower ride due to thick, slow traffic, wind, and my legs not warming up to produce enough power. Also have to check tire pressure, betting that’s running low at these temps.


Drewbacca

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Jan 7 2014 at 8:44am #

Over-glasses ski goggles are definitely on my to-get list now, as is an investment in more wool layers. Lobster gloves too!

Seeing as my car is out of commission, I’m on the bike today by necessity!

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