Subzero Cycling

When the temperature drops below zero (degrees Fahrenheit), many would never even consider hopping atop a manual two-wheeler. But what if one needs to get to work and the options are:

(1) Waiting outside to hop aboard a crowded, slow train which will take twice as long as bicycling, when it is not broken. What if there’s a measles outbreak “…and the infected woman had taken the T while contagious and sought treatment at a busy Roxbury community health center…

(2) Sitting in one’s car waiting for long, slow traffic, for which it would just as long as bicycling, if not longer.

Why give up the peace and solitude of bicycling just because of a little cold? Welcome to the realm of the die-hard, young grasshopper. When one is dressed property, it’s not really so die hard after all.

When biking below room temperature, every twenty degree drop necessitates a change in clothing. At 60 degrees, a light jacket will suffice. At 40, a heavy jacket, hat, and light gloves are needed. At 20, add a clava and maybe some glove liners or thick gloves. At zero, add ski pants and a ski mask to the mix. If its snowing, a ski mask is a must as bicycling into snow is no fun. Darth Vader will have nothing over you. And don’t forget warm boots. I have found wearing two long sleeve layers to work great.

One positive thing about cold weather is the lack of standing water. That’s right, no puddles, and if it’s cold enough no slush either. This means not having to worry about water proof boots, should one need to navigate puddles later in the day. At first, I thought ice would be a problem, but it didn’t turn out to be that much of a factor. My bicycle, being made of cheap, common steel, weighs 50 lbs. It also has mountain bike tires, the same tires the bike shop uses for rental. So it can’t go that fast. In case you were curious about bicycling over ice, check out this extreme video:

Glaciers, Bikes, and Airplanes from Blue Ice Aviation on Vimeo.

If you have bicycle lights, consider taking them inside, as batteries tend to get sluggish in the cold. Other factors come into play in subzero weather, factors one wouldn’t expect. My fingertips got cold, even in gloves. I figured it was because I was holding the brakes, which were cold, but later on in my ride they got mysteriously warm again. I attribute this to blood circulation warming me up, quite literally.

Things one would take casually in warmer weather turn into operations when it gets cold, such as the “parking the bicycle at a rack and locking it up” operation. This required my hand be exposed to cold weather but for a short time it wasn’t so bad. Then came removing the lights which had to be taken inside. This all took time and would not have been necessary if was a bit warmer. Things also break more easily. The plastic tab holding down my bicycle lock decided to snap off, so I had to buy a new one.

Overall, the trip was pleasant and in the sun, but the snow covered walkway was like a trail and would have been better on a mountain bike with full suspension, but the mountain bike tires helped. On the way back my fingers didn’t get so cold even though they were into the wind. Automobile traffic was insane, making it easy to pedal around and through the gridlock.

10 Factors To Go For A Winter Bike Ride – Of course this is easier said than done especially when your sat at home with the fire blazing, the last thing in your mind is “you know what? I wanna go freeze my ass off at the local trail” but there are a great deal of reasons and advantages to taking your trusty steed out for a blast. …

Technorati Tags: , ,

This entry was posted in downhill mountain bikes and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *