The Chainlink

For those of us who have commuted through the winter, have we become hardier cyclists for the elements?
On days like today, high 30s and low 40s, I find that I can get by with only my trucker jacket and not even have any layers under my clothing.
In fact, a single wool sweater was too much and I sweat a lot.

Anyone else?

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Totally agree.

For the first time, I commuted all winter on bike (8 miles one-way at 3 in the morning, several times a week) and after the bullshit wind/snow/ice daggers flying into my face most mornings, a day like today feels amazing on bike.

I think the worst it got was 2 scarves (1 wrapped around my face), fur cap with ear flaps, 2 shirts, 1 sweater, 1 pea-coat, heavy wool mittens, and two layers of socks with boots. Got to work sweaty, but it was better than being cold on the way there.

Today was a sweater under a light jacket and tennis shoes. I can definitely take a little bite in the air better than I could before this winter.

congrats on your first winter riding!

Eric Langley said:

For the first time, I commuted all winter on bike (8 miles one-way at 3 in the morning, several times a week) and after the bullshit wind/snow/ice daggers flying into my face most mornings, a day like today feels amazing on bike.

Problem is that even after a winter's worth of riding, a slightly warmish (above freezing) couple of mornings threw out any hardening from the cold... when the temps dropped again i felt like i was starting over from scratch.

In fall, when the temps get to the 40's, it feels frigid. In January and February, 40's can seem tropical. Even now i'm longing for 40 degrees at 5:30.

OK, so true!

mike w. said:

Problem is that even after a winter's worth of riding, a slightly warmish (above freezing) couple of mornings threw out any hardening from the cold... when the temps dropped again i felt like i was starting over from scratch.

In fall, when the temps get to the 40's, it feels frigid. In January and February, 40's can seem tropical. Even now i'm longing for 40 degrees at 5:30.

I also just completed my first 100% bike winter and definitely agree that there is a feeling of hardiness during this part of the year. As mike w pointed out though, its all pretty relative. It will be 80 degrees in a few months and winter will seem like a past life. The only real lasting hardiness that is going to be carried over is all the gear and knowledge from sweating/freezing/sliding/crying through the winter.

Oh, there is one more important takeaway from bike winter, gigantic quadriceps! Burn dust and eat my rubber, fair-weatherers! 

This morning's ride I wore: t-shirt on top of a long sleeve thermal, sweat pants, Chuck Taylors, helmet, sunglasses and a smile.

I prefer riding in winter but I appreciated wearing less clothing today. Beautiful day for a Bike ride.

My favorite is the strength gain from training with the additional wind resistance winter gear and weather provide.  I feel like a pro biking in a t-shirt.

I do not think I am hardier physically; my body naturally adapts. I am hardier in attitude; I love that I met the cahallenge and conquered the elements.

agreed!  acclimation is cyclical.  that said it rarely gets cold enough for me to wear a real winter coat.  this year i wore my wool peacoat once when the high was 20F.  

J.A.W. 15.08 km said:

OK, so true!

mike w. said:

Problem is that even after a winter's worth of riding, a slightly warmish (above freezing) couple of mornings threw out any hardening from the cold... when the temps dropped again i felt like i was starting over from scratch.

In fall, when the temps get to the 40's, it feels frigid. In January and February, 40's can seem tropical. Even now i'm longing for 40 degrees at 5:30.

It surely makes a difference.  I have even gotten to the point where I don't wear a thermal under my windbreaker unless it is below 30 degrees.  A balaclava only comes in for mid twenties or below.  A couple of winters ago I never would have considered dressing so lightly.  I also sat in a car and drove 32 miles for eight years before I got a new job and started biking daily.

 I can't wait until it hovers in the mid forties to fifties in the morning so I can bust out some shorts!

I never wore a "winter coat".  My Goretex windbreaker jacket was the outer layer all the way.  It is big enough that I could fit whatever I needed under it.  I don't know if I am "hardier" when it comes to weather.  I will not be breaking out shorts any time soon.  But I definitely find riding in the nice weather easier than it was before winter.  I feel so light without the layers!

I've ridden in winter for years.  The main thing seems to be "if you feel a little cold as you walk to the bike, you've got it right."  The toughest thing is gloves - not the warmth, but how sweaty they get.  I shower when I get downtown, so at the gym I stick a blow drier in each glove for a minute or so, and it helps avoid soggy gloves for the ride home.

Your clothing needs depend on how fast you ride.  Athletic riding?  Go light, and you're good to 15 degrees, if you've got something that completely blocks the wind.  Toodling along?  More clothing, but less wind to deal with.  If you don't have a shower at the end of the ride, go lighter so you don't get stinky. And if you get cold, sprint hard for a block or two, then back off.  You'll warm right up.

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