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How low of a temperature can you comfortably ride?

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How low of a temperature can you comfortably ride?

Old 12-08-12, 10:52 PM
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Carbon Unit
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How low of a temperature can you comfortably ride?

This may sound like a stupid question but I am from Southern California so I am not use to extreme cold. I am considering moving out of state because of the high cost but would like move to some place where I can ride at least 10 months out of the year if possible.

At what temperature do you stop riding? The states I am considering are Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho and possibly Northern Nevada.
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Old 12-08-12, 10:54 PM
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20-110 below 20 it hurts.
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Old 12-08-12, 10:59 PM
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I've ridden in temperatures as low as -40 C/F. That's doable, but not particularly comfortable ... however, it can be better than standing there waiting for a bus in those temps.

And this is a story of my coldest century ride (100 miles in one day). I was doing the Century-A-Month challenge. February 2003 was almost over, and I needed to get a century in or I'd be out of the challenge before it had even really got started. So ... I did it ...
https://www.machka.net/brevet/Coldest_Century.htm
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Old 12-08-12, 11:02 PM
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My limit is 10 F. Anything more is too much of a struggle.
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Old 12-08-12, 11:05 PM
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Haven't done anything below 15 degrees
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Old 12-08-12, 11:09 PM
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I can't imagine riding in cold weather like that. I visited a friend in CT last January and it was like 25 F and just walking outside sucked. I'm just lucky to have great weather year round in socal. right now in HB, it's like 60 F.
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Old 12-08-12, 11:20 PM
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Like most things, it depends.

If it's full sun and no wind, I can be completely comfortable for 3+ hours down to the low 20s, assuming I maintain a steady pace and don't stop for more than a minute or so once warmed up. Overcast and windy and it's no fun below mid 30s, especially if you throw wet roads into the mix.
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Old 12-08-12, 11:38 PM
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About 20f for me. Did a few 15f rides last year that were ok. I prefer 25+ and at 32, not having to worry about frozen bottles is nice.
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Old 12-08-12, 11:42 PM
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I live between Chicago and Milwaukee and ride all year long. If the roads are fairly clear I ride my road bike down to zero Fahrenheit, and I ride my mountain bike down to about -20 Fahrenheit (it usually doesn't get any colder than that in my area).
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Old 12-09-12, 12:44 AM
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I've done single digits a number of times. It's really no big deal. Just take care of fingers/toes whatever using appropriate protection and warmers as necessary and you'll be fine
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Old 12-09-12, 12:53 AM
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when its 0- 40 degres out you are cold as hell the first 10 minutes, then it is generally not a problem.
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Old 12-09-12, 01:33 AM
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Coldest I have ridden at was -46 C and I was comfortable...

Conversely, I joke that I have to ride in Portland in winter to feel cold where it rarely drops below freezing and think it is more a factor of humidity than temperature.
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Old 12-09-12, 06:17 AM
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I ride year round in tn no issues.
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Old 12-09-12, 06:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbon Unit View Post
This may sound like a stupid question but I am from Southern California so I am not use to extreme cold. I am considering moving out of state because of the high cost but would like move to some place where I can ride at least 10 months out of the year if possible.

At what temperature do you stop riding? The states I am considering are Tennessee, Colorado, Idaho and possibly Northern Nevada.
I hope to do the same a little later in life, under 40* it sucks for for me but as long as its dry out I ride in the 20's. I'm n the northeast , last year I was able to ride during most of winter but that's not the norm here.
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Old 12-09-12, 07:33 AM
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It's more about the gear and getting acclimated. Mindset is also important. I've had people tell me I'm crazy for riding a bicycle on good roads below zero F but when I ask them what they are doing on the weekend they'll tell me "skiing, snowboarding, or playing hockey" on an outdoor rink. Same temperatures, similar amount of physical activity, similar speeds but I'm nuts .

There are plenty of threads on how to select and layer clothing for cold weather. Properly outfitted in clothing and bike, you can easily ride in temperatures well into negative digits. One tip is to get a ski helmet. They are designed for similar impacts and similar speeds to cycling but have fewer vents and built-in insulation and a clip for ski goggles. Wool and appropriate synthetics are your friends and cotton is evil.

Don't expect to ride at the same speeds and position as you will during the summer, but you can still get in a good workout and have a lot of fun.
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Old 12-09-12, 08:05 AM
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comfortably? low 40's F.
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Old 12-09-12, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
I've ridden in temperatures as low as -40 C/F. That's doable, but not particularly comfortable ... however, it can be better than standing there waiting for a bus in those temps.

And this is a story of my coldest century ride (100 miles in one day). I was doing the Century-A-Month challenge. February 2003 was almost over, and I needed to get a century in or I'd be out of the challenge before it had even really got started. So ... I did it ...
https://www.machka.net/brevet/Coldest_Century.htm
Wow! My coldest ride was 0 degrees F(-30 windchill) for 12 miles. That seems sort of wimpy compared to what you did. What kind of gloves did you use and how many layers of gloves? Since my coldest ride, on a hybrid, I've been riding a road bike where the temperature is much more of an issue
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Old 12-09-12, 08:43 AM
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We have rode in the teens and single digits. But 20's are pretty much my cut-off now (older/wiser?). It is not that it can't be done but the layers and lower speed do not out weight the benefit. I do think that riding in colder temps has benefits that are intangible, like better illness immunity and the strength of character to do something regularly few can bring themselves to do ever.
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Old 12-09-12, 08:49 AM
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Agree it's all about gear and there is probably no lower limit.

For me, my limit is about 10-15F.
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Old 12-09-12, 09:03 AM
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I draw the line at about 40F for long rides. For short hops to the store, no limit.
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Old 12-09-12, 09:24 AM
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I grew up in San Diego, spent 25 years in the Bay Area, and moved to Boulder, CO 6 years ago. It is an adjustment and you certainly cannot ride every day of the year, but you can ride all winter. I get 250-500 miles/month dec/jan/feb. You have to get the clothing right, and be able to ride in the best part of the day - forget before/after work, you have to ride at lunch.

I ride "comfortably" to about 38, "comfortably enough" to about freezing, and then ride uncomfortably down to about 27, below that and I'm just not going out. Once it's below 40, I just don't want to be out more than 2 hours.

It's not just the temperature, it's about how often it snows and even more about road conditions - it's very sunny here even in winter, so after it snows, it's usually only a few days before enough roads are plowed & melted so you can ride. Occasionally we have 10 days in a row where the roads stay messed up, but not that often.

TOday the forecast high is 22, I am riding my trainer.

Last edited by valygrl; 12-09-12 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 12-09-12, 09:34 AM
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I stop for sure once it's near freezing. I climb enough that temps and humidity change pretty dramatically, so if it's even near freezing in a cool, shaded, damp mountain valley, the odds of ice are significant enough that it's not worth it to me to risk a spill on a fast descent or curve. The temp isn't the limiter for me really (you can always wear more clothes) - it's the ice that you don't see that I'm worried about.

Learn to love your trainer, and this whole outdoor riding in ridiculously cold temps isn't really a factor though. My trainer workouts are equal if not higher quality and more time-efficient than my outdoor rides. (They hurt pretty badly though.)
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Old 12-09-12, 10:01 AM
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Living in the PNW, it's ice for me, too. The roads can even seem clear but still have ice in the shade. It's not worth it. That means I might miss 2 weekend rides/year, which is not too bad. I go skiing or snowshoeing instead. The group has shown up a couple times at our usual ride start with appropriate sports equipment: snowshoes. I don't mind riding in the rain down to just above freezing, as long as it hasn't frozen or snowed at sea level. But comfortable - that's probably down to 40° and raining.
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Old 12-09-12, 10:26 AM
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Comfortably, low 60's. I don't do much pleasure riding below 50F and below 40F is only commuting or utility rides. 10-30 has never been comfortable to me, but that generally happens here for about a month.

Move to a southern state and you can pretty much ride 11-12 months of the year.
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Old 12-09-12, 10:45 AM
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I've ridden in the mid teens with no problem. The first 5 to 10 minutes are the toughest. Once you're warm it's no different that any other ride other than having the extra layers on. As far a riding "comfortably", I'd say round 45 as in I actually like that temperature. Did 35 miles yesterday at 50 and felt it was close to optimal. I think the 45 to 70 range is my sweet spot.

I'm actually more sensitive on the high end as I don't like to be out with it over 85 but will if I have to.
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