No excuses for not commuting in the cold

1water_darkThe weather’s finally clearing a bit here in Seattle, and I’m starting to see a few more bike commuters on the roads but nothing like a full load. Clearing in winter means chilling, as in the cold kind, and I expect many folks are staying off bikes because of the fear of chill.

Fear not says the New York Times. Yeah, the first few minutes suck but it turns out they always suck for everybody (nobody “just gets used to it”). The risks of riding, running, or swimming in the cold are pretty minimal according to the article, provided you keep your tender bits (like ears) covered. Besides, low winter light makes for some nice vistas best seen by bike. Check a few of them out at the Bike Hugger Urban pool on Flickr


One thing though, I don’t ride under 35 as it’s too risky I think for ice (I don’t commute, as I work from Hugga HQ). When I do get out in the cold, my technique is to spin my legs at a crazy-cadence until I get warm.

For some of us, cold dry air sucked into lungs can trigger an asthma attack, and although it can be controlled with a puffer, another strategy, avoiding the medication route, is to just avoid cycling on the very very few days when we have sub-freezing, cold air.  On the other end of the thermometer, I love riding when the temp is 90+!

Softies!  Ice is the only thing that keeps me away since I live on a big hill.  I rode all winter in Chicago.  I think our “low” limit was around 20.

Most Americans, and Vancouverites, have to stop writing these articles about winter cycling.  Unless you are from Canada away from the Pacific, or from the American Mid-West, you are NOT QUALIFIED!

If you are from Alaska or Edmonton and cycle, I am not worthy.

Honestly, riding in midwestern bitter cold isn’t nearly as bad as 33 degrees and raining/sleeting.  We’d do 3+ hour training rides as long as it was north of 20 degrees.  I rode my bike all around campus and to downtown Chicago no matter what the temp.  I just got pretty used to using ski-goggles.

This morning was a brisk 22 at my house - no problemo.

In Denver when it gets into the 20s I think twice but ride anyway.  Even in the teens or single digits I’ll ride if the roads are clear.  People ski in weather even colder so why not?  I have the clothes for it and I enjoy it.  And it only stays that cold for a week or two out of the year.

I pull my daughter in a Burley and I won’t exposer her to cars on ice so that normally drives us onto the bus or (OK I’ll admit it) into the car.

Grandma and Grandpa made her a “trailer sack” layered up from nylon + space blanket + fleece.  It has never failed to keep her warm.

I don’t have Ted’s asthma issue, and I’ll ride at any temperature in Denver as long as the roads are reasonably clear. A lot of ice, or a lot of snow on top of ice, can be really scary, especially on downtown streets with no bike lanes. But it’s usually not too bad.

put on on your gear, then ride on the trainer to warm up, do like a five minute sprint until your hot, then walk out the door and get ridding before you lose the body heat.  This helps you over come the initial shock

I use a similar technique when surfing in the snow, put on the winter wet suite at home and then blast the heat the whole way to the beach,  that when when you get out of the car your soo hot the snow feels good

I live at 7000 feet in northern New Mexico.  Some mornings it’s in the single digits, but I find three light layers and constant pedaling are enough to stay warm.  It takes about an hour to get to work and only the last 15 minutes seems to be tough on the toes.  The coldest I’ve ridden in is about 4 F.  After that, anything about 15 feels like Spring.

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