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Enjoying winter cycling but my toes! / Connecticut

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Enjoying winter cycling but my toes! / Connecticut

Old 01-16-24, 12:20 PM
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MTBingNinja
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Enjoying winter cycling but my toes! / Connecticut

Good afternoon
I love biking in 98° weather during the summer but I'm on a mission to bike through the winter as I am trying to ride through every town in Connecticut eventually. I have more chunks of time on my hands during the winter months for longer rides. Definetly living and learning. Caught frostnip pretty bad on my toes and fingers on November 25 and still recovering. Since then, been dressing better more proactively. Yesterday I rode in 17°/12° reel feel start, 25°/15° reel feel finish temperatures through Harwington, Burlington, Canton, New Hartford, Torrington. 3:44ET. 10.2mph. 37.59miles. Felt great. Wore Baleaf Pants, Baleaf Jacket, Hikenture Under Helmet Skull Cap Liner, Pearl Izumi lobster gloves, Rockbros shoe covers, Patagonia shirt, GGYD Heated Socks, Under Armor cold gear shirt, Sunmeci windproof neck gaiter. My fingers, legs, core, and head felt great, nice and warm and not too sweaty.

Tried toe warmers with wool socks previously but toes still got way too cold. My toes felt much better yesterday as I wore the electric socks for the first time. I covered the vents of my Shimano SH RP1 SPD shoes as well. I'm guessing my feet are sweating bit a but the cold air is still pushing through a bit.

I'm feeling great and confident riding through the winter now but want to feel a bit more comfortable with my toes. Any advice?
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Old 01-16-24, 12:37 PM
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Get some winter boots. I use Shimano winter SH-MW 701 shoes, the new version is the 702. I have very cold feet and find these warm to 20-25. Lower then that I add a Planet Bike fleece lined overboot which take me to 15 or so. Winter boots are worth every penny you spend, IMO. Like good quality shorts and gloves. And FWIW, I use a size 46 in their wide mt bike shoes and size 47 are perfect with a thick sock in the 701’s.

Last edited by Steve B.; 01-16-24 at 04:17 PM.
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Old 01-16-24, 01:38 PM
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Shoes may be too tight with thick socks. Decades ago on a winter ride off road, a couple of riders were complaining about cold toes. At a stop to regroup, I asked a show of hands: who had cold toes and who was wearing two pairs of socks. The overlap was nearly or exactly 100%.

Also had frostbite in the tips of my fingers years ago, when I was two hours from home in a sleet storm with only a pair of thin cotton full-finger gloves---probably worse than wearing no gloves.

At that, cycling shoes are often too tight, even with thin socks. In my commuting days, I finally gave up on winter bike shoes after a couple of winters of misery. Took off my SPD pedals and installed flat pedals with MTB-style toe clips without straps. The front of the MTB clips was high enough to allow riding with roomy insulated boots. Made all the difference.

A couple of tips: make sure you're warm all over before you head out. I sometimes take a warm shower or ride the trainer for 15 minutes before hitting the road.

And keep a bag that you can stuff excess clothing into as you warm up during the ride. I'd rather overdress and peel layers than shiver for the first half hour. You'll soon get the knack of adjusting layers so that you stay warm without sweating.
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Old 01-16-24, 05:24 PM
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What Trakhak said above. Putting too much stuff inside the shoe will make it tight, and restrict circulation…even if just a little bit. Think outside the shoe. Just wear normal socks, but put on appropriate wind/water resistant shoe covers. Your circulation contributes greatly to keeping your extremities from getting too cold. That’s how I roll. I live in Rhode Island and ride through the winter in the same temps as you over there in CT.

Dan

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Old 01-16-24, 09:20 PM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_
Think outside the shoe.
Got that right.

I was out Sunday for about an hour and a half and man it was cold, like somewhere around 0F with wind chills down to -30F. I wore Sidi winter boots with thin wools socks, also a single hard core outer layer and buffs under a big ski hat.

I really needed another thermal layer in there. Also I can take out the footbed in my boots and wear thicker wool socks, which would have been a good idea. My toes got cold. And the whole weekend was like that, so I was holed up at the girlfriend's house and didn't have enough gear over there.

So what kind of electric socks are you using?
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Old 01-16-24, 09:42 PM
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I have been a winter road rider and commuter for 45 years. I have tried a lot of socks, bags, shoes, boots, covers in rain, sleet, snow storms, during my daily 40-50 mph cruise downhill in 10°F-40°F. The best thing I have found is a pair of 45NRTH Wølfgar boots large enough to comfortably fit my favorite thick merino wool socks. They are especially good at insulating between freezing metal pedal and foot.
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Old 01-16-24, 10:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Thigh Master
I have been a winter road rider and commuter for 45 years. I have tried a lot of socks, bags, shoes, boots, covers in rain, sleet, snow storms, during my daily 40-50 mph cruise downhill in 10°F-40°F. The best thing I have found is a pair of 45NRTH Wølfgar boots large enough to comfortably fit my favorite thick merino wool socks. They are especially good at insulating between freezing metal pedal and foot.
Funny, I was reading a thread asking if folks slowed down when it gets cold. I guess you don't do that.

I think -13F to -16F ambient at night was my coldest achievement on a bike. I was also wearing full backcountry ski gear and vintage Asolo boots on platforms with gator covered toe clips.

Those Wølfgar boots look very nice.
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Old 01-17-24, 08:27 AM
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Originally Posted by Trakhak
Shoes may be too tight with thick socks. Decades ago on a winter ride off road, a couple of riders were complaining about cold toes. At a stop to regroup, I asked a show of hands: who had cold toes and who was wearing two pairs of socks. The overlap was nearly or exactly 100%.

Also had frostbite in the tips of my fingers years ago, when I was two hours from home in a sleet storm with only a pair of thin cotton full-finger gloves---probably worse than wearing no gloves.

At that, cycling shoes are often too tight, even with thin socks. In my commuting days, I finally gave up on winter bike shoes after a couple of winters of misery. Took off my SPD pedals and installed flat pedals with MTB-style toe clips without straps. The front of the MTB clips was high enough to allow riding with roomy insulated boots. Made all the difference.

A couple of tips: make sure you're warm all over before you head out. I sometimes take a warm shower or ride the trainer for 15 minutes before hitting the road.

And keep a bag that you can stuff excess clothing into as you warm up during the ride. I'd rather overdress and peel layers than shiver for the first half hour. You'll soon get the knack of adjusting layers so that you stay warm without sweating.

Hi Trakhak, how many weeks did it take you to recover from the frostbite? Any permenant damage?
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Old 01-17-24, 09:35 AM
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oof, 12° is tough. I don't ride past the low 20s with the usual wool socks and shoe covers. I don't think I could keep my feet warm at 12°. I'd need to switch to SPD style pedals and thick Northwave style boots.

Last edited by RB1-luvr; 02-05-24 at 07:27 AM.
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Old 01-17-24, 02:23 PM
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Old 01-17-24, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by MTBingNinja
Hi Trakhak, how many weeks did it take you to recover from the frostbite? Any permenant damage?
Fingers were back to reasonably normal in warm temps in a week or two. Complete recovery took a couple of years. The main (weird) reminder during those years: if I ate a big meal, the tip of my right hand index finger would slowly lose feeling and turn a kind of translucent greenish. Analyzed and still judged expendable as a consequence of the previous sleet storm ride by some emergency brain protocol, I guess.

Funny thing: on a tough mid-20's F winter mountain bike ride a year or so earlier, I broke through what I thought was thick ice while riding across a narrow stream. Dropped the bike in the water, shoes soaked, legs soaked up to my knees. Gear cables frozen, brake cables frozen.

Grabbed a couple of rocks and bashed the front brake cable between them so the brake would work. I was warm enough from the hard riding for the 15-minute ride back to the car to be comfortable. No deleterious effects.

Last edited by Trakhak; 01-17-24 at 07:09 PM.
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Old 01-17-24, 07:03 PM
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Originally Posted by MTBingNinja
Hi Trakhak, how many weeks did it take you to recover from the frostbite? Any permenant damage?
You sometimes don’t. I’ve had FB on my fingertips, when exposed to cold they start to ache and it can be painful, I have to pay attention to always be wearing at least some glove liners if doing anything outdoors in temps under freezing,
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Old 01-17-24, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
You sometimes don’t. I’ve had FB on my fingertips, when exposed to cold they start to ache and it can be painful, I have to pay attention to always be wearing at least some glove liners if doing anything outdoors in temps under freezing,
Well, yes, there's that. Out for walks on cool days, my girlfriend wearing a light jacket and light gloves and me wearing a couple of jackets, neoprene gloves, a neck gaiter, and a wool hat down over my ears, she usually takes off her gloves after 15 minutes or so because she's too warm. When I pull off a glove and take her hand, hers feels hot to me, mine feels like ice to her.
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Old 01-22-24, 07:06 AM
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Originally Posted by marko_1111
Got that right.

I was out Sunday for about an hour and a half and man it was cold, like somewhere around 0F with wind chills down to -30F. I wore Sidi winter boots with thin wools socks, also a single hard core outer layer and buffs under a big ski hat.

I really needed another thermal layer in there. Also I can take out the footbed in my boots and wear thicker wool socks, which would have been a good idea. My toes got cold. And the whole weekend was like that, so I was holed up at the girlfriend's house and didn't have enough gear over there.

So what kind of electric socks are you using?
Hi Marko,
I bought the GGYD Heated Socks, 3.7 4000mAH Rechargeable with three levels. They're working out good, better than just wool socks. I wore them two rides ago withoug wearing a wool sock on top and they were good. Yesterday I was out in 6 degrees real feel in Connecticut for 40 miles and added a wool sock on top of them. Seemed to help just the same but my shoes were way tight. Next week I'll experiment with the electric socks, no wool socks but add toe warmers. See how that goes. I'm drooling over the Wolfgar Cycling Boots but $495 is steep but can rationalize that it would be a good investment if I continue to ride my bike through the winter which indeed I am enjoying and that is coming from a guy who loves riding in 98 degree weather. It is kinda fun to experiment, seeing what works and what doesn't but then again to want to sacrifice comfort with my toes in the process. My winter outfit in general is tremendous, my toes are the weak link that I am addressing currently.
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Old 01-23-24, 10:45 AM
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A pitch for vapor barrier here. Even cold feet sweat and moisture reduces the insulating properties of socks and shoes. This is a particular problem when the breathability of footwear is decreased by shoe covers. Placing something as simple as a plastic bag over the foot or a liner sock keeps insulating layers dry and warm. The skin gets wet, but I, at least, forget about the feeling after a few minutes and foot powder reduces it. I've done this for extended winter hiking and snowshoeing trips and found it very helpful.
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Old 01-23-24, 12:11 PM
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Originally Posted by MTBingNinja
Hi Marko,
I bought the GGYD Heated Socks, 3.7 4000mAH Rechargeable with three levels. They're working out good, better than just wool socks. I wore them two rides ago withoug wearing a wool sock on top and they were good. Yesterday I was out in 6 degrees real feel in Connecticut for 40 miles and added a wool sock on top of them. Seemed to help just the same but my shoes were way tight. Next week I'll experiment with the electric socks, no wool socks but add toe warmers. See how that goes. I'm drooling over the Wolfgar Cycling Boots but $495 is steep but can rationalize that it would be a good investment if I continue to ride my bike through the winter which indeed I am enjoying and that is coming from a guy who loves riding in 98 degree weather. It is kinda fun to experiment, seeing what works and what doesn't but then again to want to sacrifice comfort with my toes in the process. My winter outfit in general is tremendous, my toes are the weak link that I am addressing currently.
Hey thanks man. I've all but eliminated icicle toes since investing in winter cycling shoes, but I've also been intrigued with the idea of heating elements for quite a while. My concern is thickness because I have an issue with nerve pain in my feet and currently wear a metatarsal pad inside my sock, so I worry about adding volume in an already sensitive area. I've also looked at heated insoles but have been unwilling to go through a trial and error exercise.

Oddly, my weak link this year is my arms. My arms have been getting cold. I may even get arm warmers to wear over a base layer inside a jacket or jersey.

But yeah those Wølfgar boots look awfully nice, and BIG, although something tells me that's not a factor once you're on the bike and don't even notice your feet.
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Old 02-05-24, 07:20 AM
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Wow, I lucked out! Scored a pair of brand new Bilvet Quilo Gen2 SPD Cycling boots on ebay for $100 in my size!!! Figured I look on eBay to see what was available and couldn't believe it that it was that low of a price and in my size 9. A lot of other boots going for around $350 there. Wore them on Saturday during 25° reel feel temperatures and feet felt great while wearing regular socks. Can't wait for the next <10° to really put them to the test.

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Old 02-22-24, 12:32 PM
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Every time I place my heels on the pedal spindles & pedal like that for a few minutes, from midfoot forward to the toes warms right up. If I let them get cold-cold, I may have to heelstomp for as much as ten minutes straight to get them toasty again.

I’ve got 45nrth Ragnarock boots. They’re okay; less bad than trying to use summer clipless shoes. I like them when I know it’s going to be pouring 33° rain and I’ll be soaked through in under 10 minutes or if the snow is thick enough that I absolutely have to be clipped in for some of the roads.

Space is important. Most days I prefer leather boots with LLBean shearling insoles, thick wool socks, and merino longjohns under stretch jeans. Sometimes I’ll add some gaiters for extra coziness. This is my second New England winter in Red Wing Weekender Chelseas and I only wish they were an inch or two taller to stay under/in my pant legs & keep the oven action going.
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