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Cold Weather Rule of Thumb(15 posts)

Cold Weather Rule of ThumbFloorTiger
Dec 26, 2001 2:01 PM
I need a cold weather rule of thumb for biking (road)similar to my one for running - - whatever the outside temp is, add 20 degrees and dress for that new temp. I.E., 50 degrees outside means dress for 70 and a mile into the run, you're comfortable. I can't get it straight yet for riding. I'm either too hot or too cold.
An outer layer that has a lot of vents.MB1
Dec 26, 2001 3:02 PM
Cycling is a lot windier than running-if nothing else because you are going faster. First you have to deal with the wind chill-you need a good outer layer.

I wear a Burley Jacket that has a lot of zips-pit zips, velcro cuffs, 2 way zipper and pocket vents. That way I can un-zip as I warm up. I also layer everything, don't wear anything thick just lots of layers. That way the stuff packs small if I have to take it off.

I've ridden centuries down to the single digits F without much problem. Unfortunatly everyone is different-you need to keep experimenting until you find out what works best for you.
re: Cold Weather clothingguido
Dec 26, 2001 3:28 PM
With cycling you have to deal with wind chills not felt running. But air temperatures are still a constant, and a meaningful measure of how to maintain "core body temperature," working in cold weather.

This has always worked for me:

Above 65F: summer clothes, shorts and jersey. Add a polypro undershirt if not working hard, or if its cloudy and damp.

55-65F: Add single layer lycra tights over padded lycra shorts, long sleeve undershirt under summer jersey. It's still warm enough for summer gloves, shoes and helmet. 55F air may "sting" bare skin on legs. Instead of tights, racers sometimes use "hot cream" or Vaseline on their bare legs.

45-55F: Same lycra tights and long sleeves as above. Add full fingered gloves and head covering under helmet. You still want everything to be breathable. A windbreaker will sweat up around 50F.

35-45F: Now it's cold. Add shoe covers to keep your toes warm. Double up leg covering with polypro leggings, or thicker, double layered lycra tights. Wear ski mittens or add nylon shells over full fingered gloves, full coverage cap with ear covers, and a windbreaker on top of a jersey layer and long sleeve polypro undershirt, or windbreaker over a nice warm knitted layer.

You should be slightly cold going out, rather than comfortably warm. No matter how easy it is, you'll warm up riding.
Keep trackKerry Irons
Dec 26, 2001 4:32 PM
As noted by another poster, there's a lot of variability between people. Your best bet is to keep track of what works for you. Windy is different from calm, sunny different from cloudy, humid different from dry, and so if you make a note of what worked (or was too hot/cold) on any given ride, you'll start to dial it in. Also note that there can be a huge comfort difference between riding into the wind and riding with it. Too cold into the wind can be comfortable after you turn around. Hills are another variable. If it makes you feel any better, people I've been riding with for 30 years still ask "How are you dressing today?" and on cold rides there's always someone saying they "blew it" in their choices for staying at the right temperature.
re: Cold Weather Rule of ThumbWoof the dog
Dec 26, 2001 10:01 PM
As always, keep your knees, feet, upper chest and ears covered up, the rest of the body can take windchill no prob. Sometimes its the cold wind that is bad, so instead of layering up all over, just stick a newspaper under a jersey, like the pros, works real well. My booties hold all the evaporation inside, so wind makes for cold toes. Two plastic baggies solve the problem. Or you could spend 2 bucks for toe warmers (one of them heat pack thingies).


Woof, the frosty dog.
re: Cold Weather Rule of Thumbroy Zipris
Dec 27, 2001 4:38 AM
For winter riding around here (SE PA), one important "layer" I too often forget (to my later dismay) is lip balm.
If possible start off up hill.dzrider
Dec 27, 2001 5:49 AM
I live on a 1 mile hill. I take off going up the hill and if I'm not comfortable at the top I come home and change something. This doesn't occur often, but it's better to be willing to change than to ruin the ride.

I add the following items at the following temps. These aren't hard and fast rules, just a guide.

55 - long sleeve shirt or arm warmers
50 - leg warmers and warmer shorts
45 - light weight jacket - poly-pro with nylon front
40 - poly pro tights replace shorts and leg warmers
35 - wool jacket with nylon front - warmer tights over lycra
30 - wool sweater under wool jacket
< 30 I go running

I use booties for 45 degrees or less and a balaclava for 40 or less and thicker and thicker gloves as it gets colder. We aren't all the same so a lot of it's trial and error. Now that I think of it, I'm not the same every day either!
good stuff, I'll second itTig
Dec 27, 2001 11:31 AM
You covered a few of the guidlines I considered mentioning. Some say you should cover your knees below 60 degrees, but I don't wear knickers or full tights until 55 or below since it usually warms up later in the morning unless it is rainy. It is important to keep the vascular system in your knees protected from the cold.

The old general clothing rule was, "If you are comfortably warm the first mile, you are over dressed." You covered that one as well.
Dec 27, 2001 7:47 AM
while it is sensible to dress just a bit lighter than what you will need on the bike due to warming up remember that you may breakdown - if you don't have enough warm clothing to complete repairs you'r0e asking for trouble

I found out the hard way - I rode out the Grand Union Canal (in London) last January heading west - it was about 32 degrees plus a wind chill - I had a base layer, jersey and waterproof jacket on top, cycling chorts and long cycling trousers on - perfect (for me) for a sustained riding tempertaure - about 20 miles out (past/near Heathrow) I got a puncture and was looking forward to using my new puncture kit - it didn't work, the patch wouldn't bond with the rubber and when it did it would blow out in a matter of a few hundred yards - at this point (after a frustrating 5-6 tyre/tube changes/patching sessions) and about 45 minutes I started to get cold - really cold - it seriously impeded my ability to get out safely as I got the chills and started shaking - I even had a stem valve break on a spare tube (probably my fault - pushing too hard) - in the end I put a patch on that held under inflation and rode home standing up leaning over the front wheel - luckily I was in a fairly developed area (SE England) and could have always called a cab - but whlie I may not wear everything that I carry - I have enough to see me through a prolonged repair - this is obviously very critical if you ride in places where it is rural/undeveloped...

BTW the patch kit was a no glue Specialized patch that you're meant to just stick on the puncture - don't know why it wouldn't hold for me at that temperature - needless to say I've never used that patch kit again
cell phoneDog
Dec 27, 2001 7:56 AM
Especially in bad weather, I always take my cell phone now. Just a few nights ago, I punctured a Tufo tubular clincher (which I am de-recommending now), and the sealant mostly ran down the outside of the valve, and what little that went in would not seal the hole. I was screwed.

So, I got on the phone and called my wife. I hate to do that, but it beats getting stranded miles from home, especially when it's cold and/or wet.

Dec 27, 2001 8:04 AM
the cell phone is the ultimate piece of emergency kit - I pushed it (almost) too far in the weather I was in - pride wouldn't let a puncture end my ride!!

I was thinking about the Tufo's as my Mich Sprints (cyclocross tyres) puncture very easily - and I'll be doing a route (when daylight returns to this sceptred isle) which is half off road with lots of glass from broken bottles - why do you de-recommend them?

BTW did you check out the Jet Lites?
Dec 27, 2001 8:19 AM
They were very puncture resistant. This was my first flat on either the clincher tubulars or the tubulars (I have the S3 Lite's, around 207 grams).

The problem is that you cannot repair them. The sealant might work for small holes, but the cut I got, only about 1mm, would not seal. This is a problem. Even if you carry a spare, like with true tubulars, it would take forever to change them. Getting the clincher off and on is very difficult. Plus, I could not get the sealant to go into the valve hole very well, making a huge mess and wasting the sealant.

They work fairly well, aside from the repair issue. Now I'm thinking I'd prefer to just use heavy tires and tubes instead, though, which could be repaired roadside.

Consider tire liners I find them almost flat-proof - nmdzrider
Dec 27, 2001 11:11 AM
Dec 28, 2001 10:19 AM
Watch the S3s around the valve stem. I went through 4 of them this season - 3 with failures around the valve stem and one where a pothole brused the casing and the sealant oozed out of an area of the tire. The sealant did work on a tire that found a staple but that was one of the ones that failed at the valvestem a couple of weeks later. I have gone back to Continentals - CompGP front and Sprinter rear.
having to stopguido
Dec 27, 2001 1:21 PM
Well, MJ, out here in the American heartland there's always a fast food-gas station you can get warmed up in, and very likely a backroom you could take your bike and repair a flat.

But I've been in situations similar to yours, in the middle of nowhere, the only way out being on your bike, and it's freezing cold, and you have to use your bare hands to change the flat. Carry a couple of spare tubes. Those no glue patches have never worked for me, either.