Cold Weather Riding

Learn about riding in the cold

It’s that time of the year when the temps begin to get colder and colder. What is a cyclist to do!? Listen to Victor and Coach Rob as they discuss the finer points of riding and training in the cold. Here are just some of the topics that are covered in the show.

Winter is usually the time lots of recreational cyclists hang their bikes up. You don’t have to!

  • How cold is to cold?
  • Will riding in the cold and snow hurt my bike?
  • Will breathing cold air hurt my lungs?

The biggest aspect of having a successful winter ride is dressing appropriately.

  • What clothes do I have to have?
  • What winter clothing is unnecessary?
  • How much does all this stuff cost?
  • Can I get these items cheaper?

Eating and drinking in a winter ride is different but with some planning you can make it happen with ease.

  • What should I drink on a ride?
  • How much should I drink?
  • What should I eat on a ride?
  • How much should I eat?

Taking care of your bike after a winter ride is crucial!

  • Can I use my road bike or do I need a special bike?
  • What parts of the bike need the most care?
  • What things can I do to my bike to ensure I don’t get a flat?
  • What can I do to limit a wet butt when riding in snow and slush?

Why do I want to get out an ride in the cold?

  • Fewer motorists and pedestrians are out.
  • You may see more wildlife.
  • Colder air seem to motivate riders to move  bit faster.
  • Your competition is probably doing it more than you are
  • You don’t have to – You could move to Grenada

The alternative is the TRAINER

  • If you have no plans to ride outside in the cold, relocate to warmer climates and plan on hanging your bike on hook all winter expect the following:
  • Still not going out side but don’t want the above to happen then you are going to need to break out the trainer
  • Listen to our show on trainers to learn more about trainers

And we have the quick tip too! We hope you like the show. Don’t forget to leave us comments here or on facebook. We are also looking for show ideas for 2013!

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  1. Jim of Northern Michigan says

    Really enjoy the podcasts. I always learn something that I can use for my rides and commuting.

    I agree with John of Pittsburgh that mittens are warmer than any gloves I’ve tried especially when temps are down in the teens or 20s. I like lined leather as the leather shell blocks the air flow.

    Something that should be mentioned that I have experienced is that your derailleurs and caliper brakes can freeze up in wet snow showers or unplowed trails with wet snow (hovering around the freezing point). Decide to ride or not I guess. I put a little additional play in the brakes and gently work them every couple of minutes – you can feel them lightly pop loose. Any other suggestions? W/O the play you get a whole new perspective of your winter wonderland (don’t ask me how I know that). I switched to a single speed as sand, salt, and ice are too hard on the derailleurs and I can’t afford a fat bike at this time.

  2. I’m so glad you guys decided to do the Cold Weather riding show in December. The Riding in Heat show in August didn’t really help me out in June and July.

    Just kidding.

    You guys do a great show and I especially enjoy the continuing argument of whether Victor is a guru or a diva.

  3. John of Pittsburgh says

    Great podcast guys! I have one comment and one question:

    I felt that one aspect of cold weather riding (from the pov of a daily commuter) not addressed is that on days when the air is both very cold (lets say anything below 45 F) and dry you should wear sunglasses or some form of eye protection.
    The surface of your eyes can dry out so that they will feel like they’re burning. The first winter I rode home to/from work, I’d have to sit on my couch at home with my eyes shut for at least a half-hour and listen to the TV. I’d open my eyes only to see a blurry screen through these big, wet tears. For many years I thought this was just my own problem until a coworker complained to me how could I stand the eye discomfort she’d experienced recently.

    My preferences are for the orange or rose lenses but I have a set of yellow for night riding. And I endorse the uplifting effect of the lighter shade lenses, grey gloomy skies take on a twilight appearance.

    Oh and the question: is there a magic formula for effectively defogging glasses? I’ve never been able to completely solve that problem.

    Thanks! Keep up the good work.
    – John

    • With regard to defogging, I generally believe that to be a problem with ventilation, I bet it’s when you’re not on the move. I deal with it by pulling the glasses down my nose until I start moving again.

      I’ve always wondered about the divers trick of rubbing spit in your mask, maybe try a final wipe after licking the inside of your specs. I think there is stuff out there but the reviews are spotty.

      • John of Pittsburgh says

        I’ve tried the spit-on-lense (to prevent fogging) trick, you just get a smeared field of vision. This year I’m searching for a pair of glasses with openings on top and sides to aid venting, drawing enough cold air behind the glasses to avoid fog (condensation). But wearing a balaclava makes the fogging worse in my opinion.

  4. Great podcast, as always. Comment with regard to the panniers, Santa is bringing me a seat post rack/bag combo. I have no desire to install a permanent rack on the “racer”, but until I get more experienced and kitted out, having a convenient place to stash a couple of layers is necessary, there’s only so much stuff you can pack in a jersey pocket (or even two, a la Victor). The other thing is that I easily go through 2 bottles of fluid on a 3 hrs+ ride, so more room for goodies (IPA, turkey sandwich, etc.). Today for example 40 degrees on departure, 60 on return, I was chilly for the first 30 minutes and ready to strip to my shorts with an hour to go. Anyway, I’m optimistic this thing will do the trick and of course it can come off in the spring.

    Thanks again for a great source of information.

  5. Cat Eye Cadence manual lists operating temp as 32F-104F. Outside of that range, the computer response will be slow or the LED will go black. I had incorrect rpm and mph.

  6. My bike computer does not work properly when temps get to 35F or lower.

    My riding jacket has a sweater knit chest and down arms. Allows for great sweat management. Use skin lotion on my face to cope with dry wind but it does interfere with sweating.

    Cannot decide if gloves with fingers or mitten style are best for low temps.

    • I have not heard too many issues with bike computers at low temps. Though where I live it never really gets much colder than in the low 30s. Would like to hear from some riders in extreme cold.

      Lotion sounds like a great idea. I have used oils. I suppose it has the same effect

      You should have both. Mittens are warmer but you lose dexterity. Gloves have gone super high tech with materials and I find them nearly as warm as my mittens.

      Thanks for the comment

    • John of Pittsburgh says

      lloydfour – My experience has been that you will need mittens for temps below 30 F. Fingers seem to stay warmer when they’re together rather than separated. I know that on very cold rides my fingers feel fine but my thumb will suffer.

      Lobster style mitten/gloves seem popular and the bar-mittens have many fans. I have yet to try either.

      I have a great pair of mittens that work, even into the negative digits (but for this winter, I may add heat packets for temps below 5 F.)

      Also, I’ve read that keeping your forearms and wrists warm is key to warm fingers. That feels true. – John

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