Author Topic: Getting warm after winter bike commute  (Read 7683 times)

windawake

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Getting warm after winter bike commute
« on: February 16, 2015, 08:06:14 AM »
I'm currently wearing leggings, jeans, a flannel shirt, sweatshirt, and scarf. And I'm freezing.

This morning was about 5f with a windchill. I biked to work, changed my clothes (because I thought my inability to get warm had to do with not changing out of possibly damp clothes), and I'm still cold. I have no problems when I'm biking, but after I get to work I cool down significantly and am then painfully cold regardless of how many layers I'm wearing.

We do have a gym/shower situation that I'd forgotten about, and while I don't love the idea of showering at work, a hot shower sounds like heaven right now.

How do you get warm?

Mr. Frugalwoods

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2015, 08:11:14 AM »
I know how you feel!

I make sure I get a cup of coffee the moment I'm de-layered, and I leave my hat on for the first 20 minutes or so indoors.  I've thought about showering too... but it seems like a lot of hassle.  I usually feel normally warm within 30 minutes of arrival.

A couple of my colleagues have space heaters under their desks, which I'm sure would also make you toasty in no time.

High five for biking this time of year!  We're a hardy band of cyclists...

BCBiker

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2015, 09:24:30 AM »
I occasionally get this feeling if I am forced to sit still shortly after getting to work on a somewhat cold morning (i.e. <10F).  I think it is your body trying to reach equilibrium when going from your body producing excess heat in adaptation to the cold weather (plus excess metabolism from your bicycle commute) to a relatively warm office with plummeting metabolism (because you are no longer active).  I think that your body will get better at adjusting to this situation the more often you do it.  I think I mostly experience this feeling when the temperature is significantly less outside than it has been in the previous few days. Say the following are the morning temps: 30,25, 26, 20; and then all of a sudden one morning it is -5...

Don't let it discourage you!  If you are interested in telling me about your bicycle commute for purposes of publishing it on my blog, I am currently compiling commuters stories and perspectives.  Contact me through my blog: click link below
« Last Edit: February 23, 2015, 03:11:24 PM by BCBiker »

MsPeacock

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2015, 09:36:48 AM »
I get super cold when I walk my dog in this freezing weather. I find that a heating pad fixes me right back up. Any possibility you could use one at work. Just sitting on one for 10 minutes or so should make a big difference.

Tris Prior

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2015, 10:03:43 AM »
I don't bike but I have a long walk to the train in the morning - and I work in a warehouse that's always freezing. What's saving me is a microwaveable heat wrap (handmade!) that's filled with flax. I heat it up and either put it on my chair or wrap it around my neck/shoulders. That, and hand warmers (also microwaveable) in my pants pockets are saving me this winter.

graciehf

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2015, 10:31:01 AM »
I used to have this problem and for awhile I stopped biking in the winter and took the bus instead, because I was just too cold throughout the day and it prevented me from being focused on my work. 

The issue is not how you dress, actually.  To get warm, you MUST take a shower to remove any dried sweat from your body.  If you don't shower, your body will have a hard time recovering.  I have no idea why this is, but once I started showering after my ride in, I never had any issues AT ALL with getting warm. 

On the bottom I wear leggings, waterproof wind pants, thick wool socks with my winter boots and the wind pants tucked in.  On top I wear a longsleeved wool baselayer shirt with a mid-layer jacket (thinner cotton or thicker Gore material depending on weather) and a wind/waterproof Gore cycling jacket top layer. If it's above 30F sometimes I leave out the mid layer jacket altogether.  Then I have a merino wool balaclava by Icebreaker, pretty thick actually, that I pull over my face and wear with ski goggles, so no exposed skin.  And mittens of course.  This setup keeps me happy to -15F and maybe more.  The key is that wool balaclava, because a big issue for me is also lung and throat burn from breathing the cold air, but the wool filters the air enough that I am comfortable!

Best of luck.  I've been having fun this winter!  I should mention that my commute is 10 miles each way, so my get-up probably is more intense than you would need for a shorter commute.

Grace

DoubleDown

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2015, 06:16:50 PM »
The key is to get out your bike, dress in layers, prepare a hot drink, psyche yourself up, then take the layers off, put the bike away and get in your car with the hot drink and turn on the radio.

Sorry, I'm an unhelpful wuss who doesn't bike in extreme cold!

Kris

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2015, 06:42:09 PM »
Hot drink for the win.  Plus, get or make some corn bags:

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=corn+bags+heating+pad&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=36276034598&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7397488995803120191&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=t&ref=pd_sl_uqnogbt14_b

Sorry for posting an amazon link to buy them.  If you have access to a sewing machine you can make them:

http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/organic-fillers-warming-pads-we-compare-rice-corn-and-flaxseed

These are great.  You can make one for your feet and another to wrap around your neck.  Unlike gel or other materials, they never get too hot in the microwave -- just a nice, toasty warm temperature.  My PA gave me some because her daughter makes and sells them at craft fairs.  So awesome.

Rural

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2015, 07:31:03 AM »
Hot drink for the win.  Plus, get or make some corn bags:

http://www.amazon.com/s/?ie=UTF8&keywords=corn+bags+heating+pad&tag=googhydr-20&index=aps&hvadid=36276034598&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=7397488995803120191&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=b&hvdev=t&ref=pd_sl_uqnogbt14_b

Sorry for posting an amazon link to buy them.  If you have access to a sewing machine you can make them:

http://www.sew4home.com/tips-resources/sewing-tips-tricks/organic-fillers-warming-pads-we-compare-rice-corn-and-flaxseed

These are great.  You can make one for your feet and another to wrap around your neck.  Unlike gel or other materials, they never get too hot in the microwave -- just a nice, toasty warm temperature.  My PA gave me some because her daughter makes and sells them at craft fairs.  So awesome.


This can also be made out of old socks. Wash them, throw out the one with a hole in it, fill the remaining one with rice or corn, and tie a knot in it.

GuitarStv

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #9 on: February 17, 2015, 08:54:43 AM »
I bike a lot in cold weather.  When you bike you're kept warm by the exercise.  You have only a couple minutes after getting off the bike before you start getting chilled though, so lock up and go inside quickly!

You're already changing out of the damp clothes which is a good start.  Having a warm shower is critical to warming up.  In lieu of that, grab your hot beverage of choice (coffee, hot chocolate, even just hot water) and chug it down as soon as possible.  Make sure you're switching into different footwear as well . . . damp boots can keep your feet cold all day.

You might also try leaving a hot water bottle at work and then filling it with boiling water and sticking it on your lap, or at the back of your chair.  Those work very well.

windawake

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2015, 10:47:15 AM »
Thanks all for the tips! I do usually make myself several hot beverages in a row after I get to work, but yesterday was pretty unpleasant nonetheless. Today I wimped out and didn't bike.

I might make myself one of those heating pads; they sound really nice.

I think I'll have to start doing the hot shower route. The problem is knowing what the threshold for needing a hot shower is!

Nancy

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2015, 10:56:03 AM »
Huh..I don't have this problem, and the only thing I can think of is that I wear merino wool long johns while at work since my office is pretty cold. Good luck!

darkadams00

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2015, 07:46:43 PM »
Warm office environment at my work. I dress at a level at which I'm cold for the first 5-8 mins and then warm up to moderately comfortable. If I bike a little harder, I can break a sweat. If I slow down and cruise I will just begin to feel the cold. But if I don't drop at least my outside shell layer in the first few minutes inside, I will definitely begin to get hot, almost to the point of sweating.

I do shower at work usually because it's available. No more time to shower/dress at work than shower/dress at home. A warm shower does feel good, but warmth is a by-product, not a reason for me.

windawake

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2015, 09:12:14 AM »
Yeah, it's definitely not an issue of what I wear while biking. I'm very comfortable while on my bike. It's an issue of getting to work and then cooling down to the point that I'm extremely uncomfortable regardless of what I'm wearing or whether I change.

I think I'll bike on Friday (a balmy -2f compared to today's -10f), and I'll shower. I don't shower in the morning so this will be additional time and effort for me, but it sounds like it's probably necessary.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2015, 09:23:28 AM »
We do have a gym/shower situation that I'd forgotten about, and while I don't love the idea of showering at work, a hot shower sounds like heaven right now.

How do you get warm?

Wear a wicking base layer [ie. wool] to get the sweat away from your skin. Wear enough layers that you are not frozen when you arrive at work on most days. Some days will be cold no matter what and I don't worry about them. You may not notice that you are cold when you are riding, but you obviously are so add some layers. Jeans suck for keeping you warm and for keeping you dry.

A long hot shower usually sorts me out. I also carry a thermos of hot tea with me and drink it at my desk as I cool down/let the sweat do its thing. After the tea and 15mins of cool down I'd have a shower.

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minimountainmustache

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #15 on: February 22, 2015, 02:37:29 PM »
I have a fairly long bike commute (16 miles) and usually takes me about an hour...plenty of time to get pretty cold by the end. If I don't shower within about 5-6 min of arriving to work, I know I will be chilled to the bone ALL DAY. I have the warmest winter riding boots ever, and super warm socks, but my toes are still always super cold after about 45 min of riding in 5-10 degrees. SO my gauge for shower length is I stay in until my feet are warm! If my feet are still cold, even after a warm shower, I will seriously be cold all day. Also I NEVER wet my hair in the shower at work, that is another way to be really cold all day... Next the key is what you are wearing. I get a lot of crap for wearing "outerwear" inside at work. I just don't care...I always have a down jacket or vest, wool socks, a wool headband, and at least 2-3 warm shirts to layer if I need them. We aren't allowed to wear hats inside, so the wool headband is my way around that while keeping my head warm. If you are really still cold with all of that clothing, consider some of those chemical hand/feet warmers, they can really help!
Also, hot beverages/food are also key. I try to eat foods for breakfast/lunch that are warm, and filling. I save things like salads/fruit for home and dinner. I have coffee when I get to work, and also tea throughout the day if I am really struggling to warm up.

Space heaters can also be good! At my old job I used to keep one under my desk to keep my ever freezing feet warm...

sol

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2015, 02:47:11 PM »
Um, maybe put on a coat?

I'm not sure why being cold after a bike commute is any different from being cold any other time.  Add layers until you're warm, with special attention to hands, feet, and head. 

I have yet to find an office that I couldn't be warm in while wearing the right clothing.  And I used to work in a tent in Antarctica.

graciehf

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2015, 06:54:03 PM »
After you've exercised and sweated under your clothes in cold weather, no matter how many new clothes you put on and regardless of the temperature of the space, it can be hard to warm up. Maybe there are certain people who don't experience this, and I would venture to guess that those are the same people who rarely suffer from cold in general. Perhaps sol is one of those people and if so, lucky him!!! Many of us are not like that, and so we have to do more than just put on a coat.  I think if that tactic worked for windawake she wouldn't have needed to seek our advice! Both her and I live in Minnesota, and I don't know about her but I am a native of this climate. 

Anyway, I believe the dried sweat causes you to be cold and not warm up because when the sweat (a liquid) dries, it takes heat with it, which it leeches from your body.
« Last Edit: February 22, 2015, 06:58:57 PM by graciehf »

windawake

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #18 on: February 23, 2015, 08:10:10 AM »
Thanks gracie, yeah that is the case. I'm a native Minnesotan too. You should check out the Twin Cities meet up thread if you haven't. I've met up with a few people around town and they've all been great!

sol, no need to be rude for no reason. As gracie said, obviously I've tried putting on a coat, as well as 3+ additional layers. Even then, I can still be too cold to focus on getting anything done, despite eating hot oatmeal for breakfast and many teas throughout the morning. I usually don't properly warm up all day. You're lucky if you've never experienced this.

I think the only answer is showering once I get to work. It was quite cold on Friday but I felt totally fine after I took a hot shower.

sol

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2015, 09:59:52 AM »
sol, no need to be rude for no reason.

I wasn't trying to be rude.

I tend to get very chilled after I run, if I come inside all sweaty and then sit down in front of a computer or something.  Something about the process of going from overheated to room temperature makes me feel cold.  But it's a problem I've always been able to solve by changing into warmer clothes.  Like way warmer than would otherwise be necessary.

I think my body tends to sweat for longer than it needs to.  Even if I come inside from a run and take a lukewarm shower to try to cool off, I'll get out and get dressed and ten minutes later be sweaty again.  And sweaty means cold. 

I'm not sure I buy gracie's "dried sweat" theory, as I can't think of any physical reason why that would work. 

johnny847

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2015, 10:10:43 AM »
I'm not sure I buy gracie's "dried sweat" theory, as I can't think of any physical reason why that would work.
Um, maybe because that's the entire point of sweat? When our bodies get hot, they put out sweat, and that sweat tries to evaporate. In order for a liquid to evaporate, it has to absorb enough energy to overcome the latent heat of vaporization. The energy that gets absorbed is (mostly, if not all of it is) the heat from our hot bodies.

sol

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2015, 10:16:26 AM »
When our bodies get hot, they put out sweat, and that sweat tries to evaporate. In order for a liquid to evaporate, it has to absorb enough energy to overcome the latent heat of vaporization. The energy that gets absorbed is (mostly, if not all of it is) the heat from our hot bodies.

Thanks, I understand evaporation just fine. 

My point was that sweat only cools while you are still wet.  Once it is dried it no longer has any effect.  Gracie seemed to be suggesting that once you were done sweating, and dry, you had to change out of those clothes for some reason in order to get warm again, as if the residual salt in dried sweat was somehow cooling you.  Which doesn't make sense.

johnny847

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #22 on: February 23, 2015, 10:28:40 AM »
When our bodies get hot, they put out sweat, and that sweat tries to evaporate. In order for a liquid to evaporate, it has to absorb enough energy to overcome the latent heat of vaporization. The energy that gets absorbed is (mostly, if not all of it is) the heat from our hot bodies.

Thanks, I understand evaporation just fine. 

My point was that sweat only cools while you are still wet.  Once it is dried it no longer has any effect.  Gracie seemed to be suggesting that once you were done sweating, and dry, you had to change out of those clothes for some reason in order to get warm again, as if the residual salt in dried sweat was somehow cooling you.  Which doesn't make sense.
I'm pretty sure that gracie misspoke and meant drying sweat, not dry sweat, because she says when the sweat dries, it takes heat, ....etc.

But in fact if gracie did mean dry sweat, then I agree, that doesn't make any sense.

jopiquant

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #23 on: February 23, 2015, 10:28:49 AM »
I have the same problem even after working out in the gym and after showering. For me it just seems to be an internal temperature regulation problem. I find I get cold pretty easily and heat up very quickly when running. Once I'm back at my desk, after a shower, with the heat on, I stay cold for an hour or so, hot drink notwithstanding. This happens for me whether or not my workout was in cold weather.

Good luck!

powersuitrecall

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2015, 11:15:27 AM »
For us here in Eastern Ontario, it's been a winter to test one's resolve for cycle commuting.  Most mornings are about -20 C (-4 F).  I'm looking forward to spring :/

My strategy has been to underdress a little.  On the cold days, I wear a light fleece, a down vest and a shell with kickass gloves and full face/eye coverage.  The first 5 minutes are spent warming up.  After that, I can moderate by unzipping the shell.

Power on, fellow cyclists!

windawake

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2015, 01:11:33 PM »
Yeah, I don't buy the theory that having sweat in the past would make me colder even if I'm completely dry.

Previously I do think that not changing after biking to work was contributing to me staying cold all day. Even if I couldn't feel it, I think there was some sweat on my base layers (they are not fancy wicking type, they're cotton, I plan to buy some good ones soon) which was keeping me colder. Then I brought clothes to change into and it took me maybe 3-4 hours to warm up but eventually I finally did. Then I showered after my ride and was comfortable all day.

Here's my theory: While biking my internal temperature is warm due to the exertion and I don't feel cold. After I arrive though, my skin is cold to the touch from being outside, especially if the wind has penetrated my layers. Once I'm not exerting myself anymore and my internal temperature cools down, I start to feel cold because my skin is still cold. Since I don't have enough movement or layers to warm up (because bringing that many layers isn't feasible on a bike), I can never shake the chill. If I take a hot shower, it warms up my skin enough that I don't feel cold anymore.

johnny847

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2015, 01:20:45 PM »

Previously I do think that not changing after biking to work was contributing to me staying cold all day. Even if I couldn't feel it, I think there was some sweat on my base layers (they are not fancy wicking type, they're cotton, I plan to buy some good ones soon) which was keeping me colder. Then I brought clothes to change into and it took me maybe 3-4 hours to warm up but eventually I finally did. Then I showered after my ride and was comfortable all day.
I agree with this part - cotton is pretty good at retaining moisture.

Though I don't quite agree with this part.
Here's my theory: While biking my internal temperature is warm due to the exertion and I don't feel cold. After I arrive though, my skin is cold to the touch from being outside, especially if the wind has penetrated my layers. Once I'm not exerting myself anymore and my internal temperature cools down, I start to feel cold because my skin is still cold. Since I don't have enough movement or layers to warm up (because bringing that many layers isn't feasible on a bike), I can never shake the chill. If I take a hot shower, it warms up my skin enough that I don't feel cold anymore.
Once you come inside, your skin is in contact with air that is room temperature, and hence, your skin should warm up.
Also, I think you've got it reversed. If your core is cold, then your extremities will get colder as your body conserves heat. But it shouldn't work the other way around--your extremities being cold while being in a room temperature environment shouldn't force your core temperature down and make you feel cold. Your body is generating heat from within, and the temperature gradient between your skin and the air is working in your favor to heat you up.
Finally, if you want to bring more layers, then I suggest getting a pannier (assuming you have eyelets for a rack on your bike).

windawake

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2015, 02:31:47 PM »
When I get inside after biking, I don't feel a sensation of cold per say, but if I touch my thighs with my hands the skin is frigid cold to the touch. I don't feel cold while biking, not in my hands or toes which doesn't mean my core is conserving heat while biking. So why wouldn't it work that way? If my core temperature cools down at room temperature, it makes sense that having legs that are freezing to the touch would impact my overall comfort level and cause my core to keep cooling down. As I said, it's just a theory. Because when I took a hot shower (ie. warmed up my skin) I was perfectly comfortable even wearing fewer layers than normal.

I do actually have one-sided and two-sided panniers. And all the layers (eg. leggings, jeans, another tshirt, underwear, a flannel shirt, sweatshirt, and scarf) plus my normal work stuff like lunch and my computer end up filling both sides of my panniers quite full. Anyways, I think showering is the only thing that'll work, just from pure experimentation.

johnny847

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2015, 02:41:12 PM »
When I get inside after biking, I don't feel a sensation of cold per say, but if I touch my thighs with my hands the skin is frigid cold to the touch. I don't feel cold while biking, not in my hands or toes which doesn't mean my core is conserving heat while biking. So why wouldn't it work that way? If my core temperature cools down at room temperature, it makes sense that having legs that are freezing to the touch would impact my overall comfort level and cause my core to keep cooling down. As I said, it's just a theory. Because when I took a hot shower (ie. warmed up my skin) I was perfectly comfortable even wearing fewer layers than normal.

I do actually have one-sided and two-sided panniers. And all the layers (eg. leggings, jeans, another tshirt, underwear, a flannel shirt, sweatshirt, and scarf) plus my normal work stuff like lunch and my computer end up filling both sides of my panniers quite full. Anyways, I think showering is the only thing that'll work, just from pure experimentation.
When you said you feel cold, without any qualifiers to say your extremities feel cold, I took that to mean your core temperature is low.
If your extremities are cold, then your body conserves heat for your core, so your core shouldn't be cooling down. At least, not to any significance when you are inside because the air indoors is going to be warmer than your skin after you've just stepped inside, meaning your skin is warming up too.
Also, a shower doesn't just warm up your skin. It warms up your entire body, including your skin and your core.

Have you tried getting a hot drink after you get to your desk? This usually works for me after I've walked to my lab in the cold (well, it's actually not that cold where I am, but sometimes I am inappropriately dressed).

windawake

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2015, 06:27:16 PM »
Yep, I mentioned earlier that I eat hot oatmeal for breakfast, make myself several hot beverages in a row, change my clothes and wear many layers, but I still cannot get warm. My workplace is not particularly warm, it's probably around 68. Over an hour after I get to work the skin on my thighs remains very cold to the touch. I can't really explain it further, except that it sounds like others have experienced this too. I'm talking about biking to work when it's around zero degrees Fahrenheit plus a windchill.

johnny847

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #30 on: February 23, 2015, 06:30:22 PM »
Yep, I mentioned earlier that I eat hot oatmeal for breakfast, make myself several hot beverages in a row, change my clothes and wear many layers, but I still cannot get warm. My workplace is not particularly warm, it's probably around 68. Over an hour after I get to work the skin on my thighs remains very cold to the touch. I can't really explain it further, except that it sounds like others have experienced this too. I'm talking about biking to work when it's around zero degrees Fahrenheit plus a windchill.
The room temperature of 68 sounds kinda cold for an office space...now I see why you're having such trouble.

davisgang90

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Re: Getting warm after winter bike commute
« Reply #31 on: February 24, 2015, 04:02:45 AM »
I always shower at work (Pentagon has an athletic center, I park my bike outside).  If it is a particularly cold ride, I'll jump in the hot tub after the shower.