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· Deranged Touring Cyclist
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6,189 Posts
The hardest thing for me about cycling in the cold is the need to intentionally under dress for the prevailing conditions. Despite having ridden through several winters now, I never enjoy the sensation of chill on walking out the door. It always feels like I've miscalculated, should add another layer or a heavier jacket. Judging the degree of chill remains a bit tricky. Too much and you won't warm up in the saddle. Too little and you'll end up sweaty and cooking in your layers. At least, until you slow down and a chill takes hold thanks to the sweat.
 

· Maturity Challenged
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1,179 Posts
Not going to ride today...
Temperature is 3-degrees with wind gusting over 50mph across the flat Oklahoma prairie.
Wind chill shows to be minus 27-degrees.
 

· Deranged Touring Cyclist
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6,189 Posts
Local news just announced that Denver saw its coldest temps in 30 years overnight: -24*F or -31*C for those who prefer metric. Our high for the day was -7*F (-21*C). We are forecast for double-digit negative temps again tonight before the deep freeze lifts beginning tomorrow. By Christmas, we are forecast for a high of 50*F (10*C).

I had actually hoped to get out for my first ever sub-zero ride today, but it wasn't to be. I have missed out on very cold weather rides the last couple of seasons. I'm trying to change that this season, but it's a big jump from the 23*F (-5*C) that's my lowest temp ride this year to going significantly sub-zero.
 

· Deranged Touring Cyclist
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6,189 Posts
^^ Weather types aren't always right, but boy, when they are! Ours were trumpeting about the huge cold snap for days in advance. Sounded strange when we were hitting 50's during the day and struggling to make the freezing mark at night. When it hit, right about on time for once, Denver sustained the largest temperature swing in its history: temp fell by 37*F in one hour. Nor did it stop there. We ended up with a mind boggling 75*F temperature swing from the day's high to the following morning's sub-zero low.

In a broader sense, the weather types seem to get it right just often enough to keep me interested in what they have to say. In this case it was nice to know this crazy swing was on the way, even if I didn't really believe it until the mercury began its plummet.
 

· Deranged Touring Cyclist
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6,189 Posts
Today temps were around the freezing mark. It occurred to me that it sure does take longer to dress for a winter ride than a summer one. In summer, I throw on padded shorts, MTB shorts, a jersey, a do-rag on the head and some sandals or shoes and socks. Good to go, save for sunscreen application.

In winter, even a light dress day looks like this: sock liners and padded shorts followed by a smartwool base layer, with the base layer covering the sock liners and the socks themelves pulled on over the base layer's lower legs. Add insulated pants and boots, and the lower body is done. Now a thin mid layer on the torso and a do rag or insulated hat on the head. Add gloves, helmet, glasses, and you're almost ready. Now add spare layers and heavier gloves to the trunk bag before going back in to don helmet, glasses, and gloves.

Even the simple act of tying the laces on my boots is rendered more difficult by the fact that my paired sock liners and socks mean the laces must be adjusted to be tight enough but not too tight last they hurt circulation and make my feet prematurely cold despite any insulation. Donning socks over sock liners is similarly fiddly: you not only can't end up with any wrinkles or folds, it's also critical to start with the sock liner loose enough on the toes that when the sock is pulled on over it, it ends up taught on the foot without being tight. Tight equals toes falling asleep and bad circulation. Taught equals comfort for hours. The difference is...less than I would like but pretty solid with experience.

Donning sock liners is a PITA, but I find that my feet stay warmer when I use them vs. when I don't. Provided I use them correctly, of course :D. They nevertheless add to the effort required to get ready to hit the saddle, as do the rest of the winter clothing options.

Summertime is much easier, even with sun screen. I typically apply that first thing, wait ~15min for it to set, then get dressed and roll. That delay easily accounts for a lot of winter prep time, but in summer I merely sit and read my way through the curing time. In winter even the smallest things take longer and require extra consideration and/or fiddling. Get something wrong and you suffer, cut the ride short, or both.

That said, some of my most memorable rides were undertaken in winter. It takes more effort to gear up for the cold, but it sure is worth that effort. It also gets easier with repetition: my first few winter rides are always...rough. It's so much easier to do just about anything else. Still, if I can hit a certain minimum number of rides, it gets easier. Never easier than in summer, but so very worthwhile.
 
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