Author Topic: Biking to work in -6 degree weather  (Read 7652 times)

slappy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1273
Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« on: December 29, 2017, 06:38:20 AM »
Not me...I am wearing two pairs of pants and two long sleeve shirts and was still cold on my drive in with the heat on.

However, there are two guys at my work who bike to work every day. And apparently I do mean every day, because I saw one of them this morning. It was -6 degrees when I left my house. When I drove by this guy in the parking lot, my car said it was 1 degree.  This guy is a serious bad ass!

honeybbq

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2017, 09:41:16 AM »
That is seriously bad ass. I'm definitely a 'fair weather' biker.

With the cold and rain and dark around here in the pacNW, I feel like there's only so much good equipment can do. Sometimes the bus goes by you while you're passing a puddle and BOOM. 

I've done some cold and miserable 'fun bikes' around here before (the Chilly Hilly, for one) but not for commuting purposes.

I have some co-workers who bike everyday, they are definitely something else.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 18148
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2017, 09:43:50 AM »
I'd miss out on half of the year if I didn't bike in sub zero temperatures.  :P

maizefolk

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5673
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2017, 09:48:24 AM »
Last winter I had one week in early January where car trouble meant I was biking to work, including a couple of days in subzero temperatures (fahrenheit subzero (~-20 C), not piddling celsius subzero).

It definitely built character, but I'm not enough of a badass to plan on biking to work next week since this year I have the option of other means of travel. 

MoneyRx

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 96
  • Location: USA
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2017, 09:57:13 AM »
It's all about the gear. You can be as warm as you want while you ride. I tell people all the time that I am warmer riding my bike in the winter than they are sitting in their car, not moving their body at all and waiting for the car to warm up.

I have people ask me "Aren't you cold?" while I am locking up my bike when I arrive at work and I often very honestly reply, "No I am actually pretty warm right now."

south of 61

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 76
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2017, 10:19:24 AM »
I have colleagues who ride to work in the winter (it's -42 with the wind chill here today). That's bad-ass!
I couldn't do it!

big_slacker

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1350
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2017, 10:51:03 AM »
I have good cold weather gear, but I tend to not ride on the street when it's below freezing just due to worries about black ice and falling. I'm riding in when it's dark and my commute includes a bomb down a big hill that includes a high speed corner.

dougules

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2371
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2017, 10:55:46 AM »
Please tell me we're talking Celsius here.

slappy

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1273
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2017, 11:01:34 AM »
Please tell me we're talking Celsius here.

Farenheit

scantee

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 465
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2017, 11:05:06 AM »
My partner bikes to work all year round regardless of the weather. We are in Minnesota so it does get very cold here. I think the coldest he ever biked the ten miles to work it was -25įF and felt colder with the wind chill.

Gear is important but I think it is habitual for him at this point which is even more important. He is so used to biking to work every single day that weather extremes don't ever deter him from biking.

jim555

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2609
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2017, 11:30:33 AM »
Do you all live in Svalbard?

Blackeagle

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 183
  • Location: Wichita, KS
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2017, 12:06:51 PM »
"There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

south of 61

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 76
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2017, 12:45:40 PM »
Please tell me we're talking Celsius here.

Farenheit

At -40 it no longer matters if we're talking F or C :)

honeybbq

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1430
  • Location: Seattle
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #13 on: December 29, 2017, 12:58:20 PM »
Please tell me we're talking Celsius here.

-40C == -40F

maizefolk

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5673
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #14 on: December 29, 2017, 01:09:51 PM »
Do people in celsius-land (which yes, I realize is essentially the whole world ex-US), talk about subzero temperatures? I kind of assumes that the terminology was specific to fahrenheit where subzero means something different, and much colder, than "below freezing."

dougules

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2371
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2017, 02:18:39 PM »
"There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

Maybe I shouldn't feel too wimpy feeling proud of myself for occasionally biking below freezing.  I was biking uphill in direct sun in 95 degree weather with a 75 degree dewpoint a few months ago.  What was that about "bad clothing" again?

Imma

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 2911
  • Location: Europe
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2017, 03:40:44 PM »
Do people in celsius-land (which yes, I realize is essentially the whole world ex-US), talk about subzero temperatures? I kind of assumes that the terminology was specific to fahrenheit where subzero means something different, and much colder, than "below freezing."

We talk about subzero temperatures, but the meaning is exactly the same as 'below freezing'. After all, 0 C = freezing.

We don't actually experience subzero F temperatures in my country. The coldest it gets is about 0-30 F in winter (30F much more often than 0F) and we all call it subzero. I happily bike to work in these kind of temperatures and I'm never cold as long as I wear proper clothing (=mostly cover the extremities, gloves, scarf to cover your nose, thick socks, your core doesn't get cold).

I seriously can't even imagine how cold -40F is so I have no idea what I'd do, but if you're used to biking and living in a colder climate I imagine it's not a lot different from -20F or 0F as long as you keep moving and wear the right clothing.

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2106
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #17 on: December 30, 2017, 07:41:02 AM »
I struggle when it gets sub zero (F).  I can keep my body warm, but face becomes an issue.  If I wear a facemask, my glasses fog up.  If I don't wear the glasses my eyeballs feel like they're going to freeze in place...

Other than a SCUBA mask with a snorkel, how can one solve both issues when it's that cold?

maizefolk

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5673
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #18 on: December 30, 2017, 07:51:43 AM »
I have a pair of prescription ski glasses (they look a little like this one), which I ordered online a few years ago for about $20. They do a good job of isolating the air around my eyes which keeps my eyeballs warmer, and keeps the humidity from my breath from getting the chance to condense on my lenses.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 18148
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2017, 07:55:43 AM »
My solution to the fogging issue is to get a face mask you can pull down/up easily.  Your glasses will fog when you stop and clear when you get moving, so every time you stop pull the face mask down to prevent moisture build up.

ketojenn

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 16
  • Location: North Dakota
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #20 on: December 30, 2017, 08:21:49 AM »
I walked to work today, it's -30, wind chill of -50(F) and it honestly doesn't feel any different than yesterday at -11.  I'm planning to run today, just because I can and it freaks warm weather people out.  I don't think I could survive the tropics.  I hate being hot.

HomeSweetLab

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 23
  • Age: 30
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #21 on: December 30, 2017, 10:38:22 AM »
I walked to work today, it's -30, wind chill of -50(F) and it honestly doesn't feel any different than yesterday at -11.  I'm planning to run today, just because I can and it freaks warm weather people out.  I don't think I could survive the tropics.  I hate being hot.

I've noticed that once it get's below about -18C (0F), I don't notice a difference between the temperatures. Everything below that point just feels F'ing cold.

-10F = F'ing cold
-50F = Still F'ing cold

The average temp where I live stays below freezing about 4 months out of the year, but it rarely drops below -18C (0F). I have no problem biking in the -10C mornings here, but I'm not sure if I would bike in -30C or -40C.

BlueMR2

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2106
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #22 on: December 31, 2017, 07:53:01 AM »
I walked to work today, it's -30, wind chill of -50(F) and it honestly doesn't feel any different than yesterday at -11.

The really funny thing is that when it gets cold like this I'd rather walk than drive.  I can dress warm for the walk and be fine.  If I have a car, now I'm saddled with a mechanical device that does NOT like the cold, and if it fails due to the cold I'm stuck out there for an extended period of time trying to fix it/get it towed...

Channel-Z

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 143
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #23 on: December 31, 2017, 08:06:15 AM »
This current cold snap is just stupid, with lows below zero (F) almost every morning. I wouldn't try bicycling to work. Even with proper clothes, you lose dexterity and range of vision.  Even though we're good for a couple of sub-zero mornings each winter, I find it amusing Target doesn't sell ski masks or any face protection at all.

When people complain about 100-degree heat in the summer (central U.S., we get all the weather), I tell them I would take 100 degrees over 10 degrees (F) any day of the week.

Blackeagle

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 183
  • Location: Wichita, KS
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #24 on: December 31, 2017, 04:09:09 PM »
DH and I were out biking today in -35, as long as the snow is clear, itís really not a big deal.

And I was proud of myself for going out for a walk when it's been in the teens for the past couple of days.

Milizard

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 762
  • Location: West Michigan
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #25 on: December 31, 2017, 04:42:42 PM »
A lady was out jogging in sub-freezing weather a few weeks ago, and a teen driver slid on a patch of ice and killed her. That's what you've got to watch out for, and wouldn't walk or drive along busy roads in that kind of weather, even if the cold didn't bother me.

SC93

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 605
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #26 on: December 31, 2017, 07:56:05 PM »
When I first moved to Omaha back in 1990 my only form of transportation was a bicycle so I had no choice.... except when my bike had a flat and then I had to walk. One day I was walking to work and a cop rolled to a stop.... rolled down his window and asked where I was going. I told him to work and he said, "Well you shouldn't be out here, it's -17 degree wind chill". And then he said see ya and drove off.... Thanks for nothing officer!! The least he could have done was give me a ride....

Milizard

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 762
  • Location: West Michigan
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #27 on: January 01, 2018, 09:12:43 AM »
A lady was out jogging in sub-freezing weather a few weeks ago, and a teen driver slid on a patch of ice and killed her. That's what you've got to watch out for, and wouldn't walk or drive along busy roads in that kind of weather, even if the cold didn't bother me.

In my city, not going out in bad icy weather isnít an option, since thatís 5 months of the year.
Itís a very rare and extreme day that my patients will even cancel their dental appointments due to weather here, and even then itís not because of the danger, itís usually because the traffic is so bad that they wonít make it on time.
Mega snow storms and icy roads can really gum up traffic due to accidents.

My phone autocorrect likes to take over sometimes. I meant that I wouldn't ride my bike along busy roads. I'll drive in nearly any kind of winter weather.

CptCool

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 248
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2018, 10:29:44 AM »
I've noticed bikes get MUCH slower once it gets below 0F. My commute in the summertime will usually take ~20min, but today (-15F or so) it took ~30min.

Is this due to the cold weather affecting the bike somehow? Or is it just my body that gets slower in the cold?

maizefolk

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5673
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2018, 10:53:01 AM »
For me, I find that I'm riding slower because my stopping distance at the same speed more than doubles in subzero (F) temperatures. I just have standard rim brakes and the rubbery stuff in the brake shoes seems to get really hard and lose a lot of its ability to grip the wheel rim. I don't know if more upscale brake bike brake technologies would have the same issue.

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 18148
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #30 on: January 02, 2018, 11:03:17 AM »
I've noticed bikes get MUCH slower once it gets below 0F. My commute in the summertime will usually take ~20min, but today (-15F or so) it took ~30min.

Is this due to the cold weather affecting the bike somehow? Or is it just my body that gets slower in the cold?

Air is denser in the cold.  You'll use significantly more effort trying to move through the air than in the summer.  Aerodynamics are therefore more important during cold weather than warm (but most people will ride in a more upright position during the winter, which actually makes this worse).

You couple that with the fact that in most places it's windier in the cold, and yeah . . . you're not going to go as fast.  :P



Pro-tip - some bearing grease that bike manufacturers use will not lubricate properly once temps get well below freezing.  After stripping out the old grease and replacing with snowmobile grease (designed for use at -40) my wheels on the winter bike roll significantly better.

dougules

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 2371
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #31 on: January 02, 2018, 11:08:54 AM »
This current cold snap is just stupid, with lows below zero (F) almost every morning. I wouldn't try bicycling to work. Even with proper clothes, you lose dexterity and range of vision.  Even though we're good for a couple of sub-zero mornings each winter, I find it amusing Target doesn't sell ski masks or any face protection at all.

When people complain about 100-degree heat in the summer (central U.S., we get all the weather), I tell them I would take 100 degrees over 10 degrees (F) any day of the week.

To be honest I'd prefer really hot weather to really cold, too, even if you throw in Southern humidity.  Neither is fun, though.  My point was just that you can't use clothing or gear to help you with heat like you can with cold. 

MrsPete

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3513
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #32 on: January 02, 2018, 07:07:18 PM »
As my daughter would say, "I'm not about that life."

ducky19

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 649
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #33 on: January 03, 2018, 06:20:31 AM »

AMandM

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1280
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #34 on: January 03, 2018, 08:49:10 AM »
My husband recently started bike commuting, only to be hit with the cold snap sweeping the US.  He had to stop because he couldn't control his brakes and gear shift properly with mittens on or with his usual lightweight gloves.  Could one of you subzero riders recommend good gloves for riding in the freezing cold?  It's gone down to single digits Fahrenheit (-13 C), but temps in the teens (around -10 C) are more common.  Thanks!

GuitarStv

  • Senior Mustachian
  • ********
  • Posts: 18148
  • Age: 40
  • Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #35 on: January 03, 2018, 08:53:54 AM »
I use heavy snowmobiling gloves at those temperatures and wear a thin pair of gloves underneath for doing stuff that requires fine motor skills like locking the bike up.  Shifting and braking may not be possible on some bike setups.  (I can't use combines road brake/shift levers with heavy gloves, so put some bar end shifters on my winter drop bar bike.)

CptCool

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 248
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #36 on: January 03, 2018, 10:54:25 AM »
Agreed - he might just need a different style of brakes and shifters if they can't be controlled while wearing mittens. I just use regular mittens that I'd use for other winter activities such as skiing

rkrowlett

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #37 on: January 03, 2018, 11:34:05 AM »
Try a pair of Bar Mitts (Pogies). They are installed on the handlebars with the levers on the inside. Then you can use lighter weight gloves that are easier to manipulate. Also, make sure the handle bar is insulated with bar tape wherever it is grabbed. A bare metal bar will suck the heat right out of your hands - even with gloves/mittens.

h82goslw

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 182
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #38 on: January 05, 2018, 09:18:33 AM »
I have a pair of prescription ski glasses (they look a little like this one), which I ordered online a few years ago for about $20. They do a good job of isolating the air around my eyes which keeps my eyeballs warmer, and keeps the humidity from my breath from getting the chance to condense on my lenses.

I was thrilled to see this post as I cannot wear my glasses while snowmobiling or skiing.   But I just looked these up and theyíre almost $200. What did you get for $20?

maizefolk

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5673
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #39 on: January 05, 2018, 09:40:19 AM »
I have a pair of prescription ski glasses (they look a little like this one), which I ordered online a few years ago for about $20. They do a good job of isolating the air around my eyes which keeps my eyeballs warmer, and keeps the humidity from my breath from getting the chance to condense on my lenses.

I was thrilled to see this post as I cannot wear my glasses while snowmobiling or skiing.   But I just looked these up and theyíre almost $200. What did you get for $20?

I went through one of the discount online stores. But unfortunately this morning with a bit of googling all I can find is discontinued models.

https://www.zennioptical.com/p/ski-goggles/7045?skuId=704518
https://www.eyebuydirect.com/sunglasses/frames/umaillet-black-l-8028

If they've backed out of this market entirely, apologies for getting your hopes up.

Edit: forgot the "un" in unfortunately.
« Last Edit: January 05, 2018, 10:42:48 AM by maizeman »

h82goslw

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 182
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2018, 10:32:56 AM »
Thanks maizeman.  Will check out those sites. 👍

Slee_stack

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 877
Re: Biking to work in -6 degree weather
« Reply #41 on: January 05, 2018, 12:36:48 PM »
Overall warmth wise, the right clothing can fix a general 'too cold' problem.  However, there's only so many snot rockets I can blow before cold riding just becomes annoying for me. 

On a good note, riding in 95F and moderate humidity isn't as bad as I used to think it was.  I find excess sweat far more tolerable than streaming mucous.