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Winter Cycling Newbie: Advice Wanted

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Winter Cycling Newbie: Advice Wanted

Old 12-17-18, 12:34 AM
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fullergarrett
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Winter Cycling Newbie: Advice Wanted

Lately I've been thinking about possibly starting to ride my bike over the winter to my classes at my university. I live on campus, so my commute only takes about 10-15 minutes max. But I noticed earlier this fall that my lungs felt strange after making the commute in 40 degree weather. I didn't do it any more out of fear of getting sick/pneumonia.

Part of my commute is uphill, and I'm out of shape.

I wore a heavy coat, and I've been looking at some other threads in this forum regarding winter riding. Since I'm going to be spending most of my day (six or seven hours) in a hot building, I'm worried that layering up on things like socks, etc. may not be the best option. Any suggestions?
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Old 12-17-18, 07:03 AM
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How cold does it typically get where you live? Pedaling generates a lot of body heat. At 40 F I'd want something to break the wind -- a windbreaker and gloves would probably do it at that temp for a 15-minute ride. I'd probably throw on a light hoodie over my t-shirt. I do layer up as it gets colder. And yeah, storage of all the stuff at your destination is something you'd have to think about.
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Old 12-17-18, 08:53 AM
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I guess this is basically a commuter type query. check out the commuter subforum

recollecting on my bike commuting years, if I did that again, I would prefer to have an indoor space to lock my bike as it drip dried, a similar place for my clothes to do the same, a shower & locker so I could freshen up before being around other ppl & a place to keep fresh, clean dry, clothes & shoes

for me, 13 miles was an ideal distance. when I moved 6 miles from the office, it wasn't worth the bother for such a short ride, so I just drove
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Old 12-17-18, 09:15 AM
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I cannot explain the strange lung feeling that you describe. Please include the area of the country that you will be commuting in and we may be able to provide better information as weather conditions are extremely regional. Also, as rumrunn6 posted above, the commute forum may contain some valuable information for you. Personally, with the short commute you describe, I don't believe you would need a shower that he spoke of unless you significantly overdressed.
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Old 12-17-18, 09:20 AM
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Do layer up. You mention 40 degrees, a sweater (I use a jersey, or long sleeve "technical" shirt) plus windbreaker over street clothes. This morning, low to mid-40's, just the windbreaker over street clothes but it takes me about 10 minutes to warm up then I'm fine.

Your commute being 10-15 minutes you won't necessarily want to "start out cold and warm up" as per the usual advice. But even so, the heavy coat is not necessary. Layer up under the light jacket or windbreaker, remove something if you start to perspire. The layers don't need to take up much room in a backpack.
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Old 12-17-18, 01:57 PM
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Lots of possible reasons for what you're feeling in your lungs. Air temperature is not a likely one, and at least, cold air is no more likely to make you sick.

Is this a route you've taken in warmer weather, without this effect? Is it near any power plant or other facility that may be emitting more pollutants as it gets colder? Do a lot of drivers in your area idle their engines to warm them up when it gets "cold"?

Quick test - unless you have some face covering for warmth (balaclava, scarf, etc), try wearing a paper face mask for a few rides, see if that makes a difference.
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Old 12-17-18, 02:23 PM
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normal clothes. add a pack able jacket and knit hat you can put in your back pack when you get there. no reason to layer up much with that short a ride
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Old 12-17-18, 02:40 PM
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Regarding the "lungs felt strange" and worried about pneumonia if what you mean is an itchy feeling and needing to cough up mucus yes that can happen when cold dry air shocks your mucus membranes and it is exacerbated by more strenuous exercise. The irritation stimulates production of histamines which causes mucus, doesn't feel that bad while you're still going but gets worse after you stop and get inside. It happened to me a couple of weeks ago in fact, gave me a coughing fit and felt like breathing was constricted.

Mainly I just don't ride that hard until later in the winter - the body seems to adapt to it - but also something covering your mouth and nose, like a scarf or a balaclava when it's much colder, will help warm and moisturize the air as you breath it and stop that from happening.
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Old 12-17-18, 03:18 PM
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I live in central Missouri. It's already dipped into the single digits, but it rarely gets any colder. I haven't been riding lately because of mechanical issues with my current bike and wanting to find out a good way to ride without getting sick.

Originally Posted by wphamilton View Post
Regarding the "lungs felt strange" and worried about pneumonia if what you mean is an itchy feeling and needing to cough up mucus yes that can happen when cold dry air shocks your mucus membranes and it is exacerbated by more strenuous exercise. The irritation stimulates production of histamines which causes mucus, doesn't feel that bad while you're still going but gets worse after you stop and get inside. It happened to me a couple of weeks ago in fact, gave me a coughing fit and felt like breathing was constricted.
That's exactly what I experience when riding in cooler weather. I don't really feel cold otherwise except my hands (because on that day I didn't wear gloves.) But it was only in the mid-40s on that morning.

There are some other people at our university who ride their bikes in pretty cold weather - some even making the commute from longer distances and do it even when there's snow on the ground.
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Old 12-20-18, 05:39 AM
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My commute is 2 miles from my house. I wear; normal socks, jeans, a polo shirt and a wool sweater. I wear a light weight wool hat under my helmet, an orange soft shell jacket and some yellow winter work gloves. I also wear yellow safety glasses when its dark or cloudy to protect my eye's when they are without sun glasses. Within the first block your body should make a little heat. I have two reasonably steep hills, and I never get sweaty coming or going to work. So far it's been in the 20's and 30's on the way to work. Previously my winter tires were knobbies. This year I have studded tires. Rode over a ice covered street that looked like glass and love the studded tires. I would think as you commute, your lungs will adapt. Perhaps not pushing as hard and breathing through you nose (if your not already) would help.
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Old 12-20-18, 08:40 AM
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I must be a sight commuting in cold weather: nose running, snot rockets flying, coughing for 3-5 minutes, etc. But the funny thing is that since I started bicycle commuting year round, my sick days have almost disappeared. My theory is that by clearing all that mucus, I end up cleaning my respiratory tract out, and with the mucus, all kinds of respiratory viruses come out that might otherwise get into tissues and start an infection. No germs left in my nose, no sinus infections.

For a 10-15 minute ride, you can probably take it easy and avoid some of that.

When you ride or walk with a heavy coat, what do you do with that when you get into the building at your destination? You can do the same thing with layers, you'll take off a wind shell and polypro shirt, hang them up or stuff them in a backpack.
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Old 12-30-18, 01:38 AM
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Originally Posted by baldilocks View Post
My commute is 2 miles from my house. I wear; normal socks, jeans, a polo shirt and a wool sweater. I wear a light weight wool hat under my helmet, an orange soft shell jacket and some yellow winter work gloves. I also wear yellow safety glasses when its dark or cloudy to protect my eye's when they are without sun glasses. Within the first block your body should make a little heat. I have two reasonably steep hills, and I never get sweaty coming or going to work. So far it's been in the 20's and 30's on the way to work. Previously my winter tires were knobbies. This year I have studded tires. Rode over a ice covered street that looked like glass and love the studded tires. I would think as you commute, your lungs will adapt. Perhaps not pushing as hard and breathing through you nose (if your not already) would help.
Maybe I do it subconsciously (given that breathing isn't something that we pay attention to), but I don't breathe through my nose very well. Especially if I'm exerting myself. Thankfully, I don't live super far from where the destination.

I'm going to be purchasing a new pair of gloves and (possibly, if I can't find the one I have) a hat. Any recommendations for cheap but good gloves/hats?
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Old 12-30-18, 03:16 AM
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Originally Posted by fullergarrett View Post
That's exactly what I experience when riding in cooler weather.
I get that too. The colder it is and the harder I work, the worse it is. It's not every time, but not uncommon. I've had this my whole life. I remember running laps for phys ed in elementary school in wintertime, coughing my head off afterwards. Nowadays I just live with it and consider it the cost of doing business. What am I supposed to do, not ride? That ain't happening.

Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction : https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/...s-have-asthma/

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Old 01-01-19, 07:47 PM
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Merino wool is great for colder weather cycling attire. I would get a merino wool balaclava (a head cover that also covers your mouth and nose). That will help keep your head warm and also help filter out the cold in the air as you breath in. Also merino wool socks are awesome. They help keep feet warm, wick away moisture and are naturally odor resistant. You can find both on Amazon or at a sporting good store like REI or Academy.
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Old 01-01-19, 09:04 PM
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I actually picked up a pair of gloves today. While these aren't bicycling gloves, I picked up something that would be warm and work for other things. Will these work? I also picked up a traditional stocking cap. (Gosh, now I'm starting to look like someone you'd find on America's Most Wanted.)

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Old 01-05-19, 03:42 PM
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Being a cyclist who only just started riding in colder temperatures, I have found that a heavy coat is too much for 40 degree weather. Like the others have said, a windbreaker and maybe something layered under is probably best, because I have found myself starting to sweat after a slight incline. Oh and gloves are a huge plus!
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Old 01-05-19, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rseeker View Post
I get that too. The colder it is and the harder I work, the worse it is. It's not every time, but not uncommon. I've had this my whole life. I remember running laps for phys ed in elementary school in wintertime, coughing my head off afterwards. Nowadays I just live with it and consider it the cost of doing business. What am I supposed to do, not ride? That ain't happening.

Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction : https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/...s-have-asthma/
Hi - I lived with it for 40 years, because no medical professional ever asked the right questions, saw me during an event, or if I asked about breathing problems , they just chalked it up to allergies. For me, hot and humid air actually has caused more symptoms than cold air. I finally got fed up enough to research what possible conditions were consistent with my symptoms, researched pulmonologists by reputation, patient reviews, and education, found one that sounded promising, and made an appointment. The nice thing about that was that they did the basic spirometry testing right there immediately before the appointment, and the results showed I was only able to expell about 43% of lung volume untreated - but it went to over 95% after albuterol (or whatever the drug was they used on me - I think they actually use a differen drug during testing). Blood O2 with moderate exertion was 84 before and 99 after the drug was administered - I remember the numbers because it made a big impression on me, seeing empirical and quantifiable data literally on paper. I walked out of there with prescriptions for albuterol, Singulair, and Symbicort - and after about 10 days/2 weeks I began to realize just what ďnormalĒ respiration felt like - without chest pain, shortness of breath, dizzyness, nausea.

I rarely use albuterol - only if Iím exposed to strong irritant like smoke or chemical fumes, but I take Singulair and Symbicort every day, and add in pseudoephedrine many days - that combination gives me about 95% relief. I see the pulmonologist about 3 times a year, and repeat the spirometry test yearly. Heís tinkered with the doses a few times, but keeps me on the same 2 drugs - as he says, why change it if itís working.

Just putting this out there to encourage people who experience symptoms to get it checked out - there are effective treatments. Personally, Iíve never experienced any side effects from the meds, but some people do, so itís not perfect and ymmv, as they say.
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Old 01-05-19, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DaveQ24 View Post
it went to over 95% after albuterol (or whatever the drug was they used on me - I think they actually use a differen drug during testing). Blood O2 with moderate exertion was 84 before and 99 after the drug was administered - I remember the numbers because it made a big impression on me, seeing empirical and quantifiable data literally on paper. I walked out of there with prescriptions for albuterol, Singulair, and Symbicort - and after about 10 days/2 weeks I began to realize just what ďnormalĒ respiration felt like - without chest pain, shortness of breath, dizzyness, nausea.
That's very interesting, great detail. I'm glad you got such good results.
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Old 01-06-19, 09:21 AM
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Originally Posted by fullergarrett View Post
I actually picked up a pair of gloves today. While these aren't bicycling gloves, I picked up something that would be warm and work for other things. Will these work? I also picked up a traditional stocking cap. (Gosh, now I'm starting to look like someone you'd find on America's Most Wanted.)
Those gloves should work. How cold does it get in Missouri? FWIW, I like thinner gloves when temps permit, and sometimes go with a set of cross-country ski gloves. I also run pogies -- see photo below -- on a couple of my bikes. Yesterday I was out in mid-30s temps that were above freezing, and the Moose Mitts in the photo were all that I needed.


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Old 01-10-19, 10:49 AM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
Those gloves should work. How cold does it get in Missouri? FWIW, I like thinner gloves when temps permit, and sometimes go with a set of cross-country ski gloves. I also run pogies -- see photo below -- on a couple of my bikes. Yesterday I was out in mid-30s temps that were above freezing, and the Moose Mitts in the photo were all that I needed.


that is one ice covered pier? wow
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Old 01-11-19, 03:24 AM
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Hey, You can use Thermal jacket, leg warmers, and warm gloves. Don't know much your local temperature but, I guess these things would do the job
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Old 01-11-19, 12:48 PM
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Originally Posted by eugew23 View Post
Being a cyclist who only just started riding in colder temperatures, I have found that a heavy coat is too much for 40 degree weather. Like the others have said, a windbreaker and maybe something layered under is probably best, because I have found myself starting to sweat after a slight incline. Oh and gloves are a huge plus!
That is exactly my experience. I used to wear a polar-tech fleece over my moisture-wicking biking shirt and under a windbreaker. The result was it was too hot, even in sub-20s. So I have peeled off the polar tech fleece. Instead, I wear a Nordic-Trac jacket I normally wear for running or xc skiing under the windbreaker. I wear it with the zipper down. The result is much more ventilation and less over-heating.

I have two different sets of gloves. I have a pair of high-viz light weight gloves for about 25-32F and Perl Izumi high-viz winter gloves for about 0-25F. I sometimes sweat in the Perl Izumis but this winter I've decided I'm "all-in"

For pants, I have two pair of long running pants (aka sweat pants.) One pair is a Champion Duo-Dry which tends to be pretty dry as advertised. If very cold or raining I wear over them a pair of "Columbia rain pants" that I got on clearance

Last edited by parkbrav; 01-11-19 at 12:51 PM.
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Old 01-17-19, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by JonathanGennick View Post
I like thinner gloves when temps permit, and sometimes go with a set of cross-country ski gloves. I also run pogies -- see photo below -- on a couple of my bikes. Yesterday I was out in mid-30s temps that were above freezing, and the Moose Mitts in the photo were all that I needed.
those are nice, love the color. beefier than mine but still they make all the difference. a little disappointed I'm NOT using the expensive gloves I bought last year & this year. it needs to get colder than low 20s around here. wutz wrong with January this year?

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Old 01-17-19, 02:09 PM
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6 View Post
those are nice, love the color. beefier than mine but still they make all the difference. a little disappointed I'm using the expensive gloves I bought last year & this year. it needs to get colder than low 20s around here. wutz wrong with January this year?
If you don't like the weather around here, wait 5 minutes. hah. Sunday will snow, freezing-rain, then quick freeze around 5F Sunday night into Monday morning.

The Weather people are saying that the Polar Vortex will bifurcate this winter, causing weather. BOLO!
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Old 01-18-19, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by parkbrav View Post
The Weather people are saying that the Polar Vortex will bifurcate this winter, causing weather. BOLO!
A bifurcating vortex! Images from Ghostbusters come to mind.

I just by their firehouse on Sunday evening, btw.
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